Christmas at the Small House.

31 12 2007

I have been rebuked for not posting, so I will try to catch up.  I’m afraid this will be a long one…

We spent the week before and after Christmas at the Small House.  Packed the van so full we had to take out the center seat.  Looked rather like the Grinch’s sleigh with cake, ham, presents, suitcases, fans, sleeping bags and odd bits and ends of furniture (plus two large rugs) tucked in about the children.
The house was a pleasant suprise- larger than I remembered, freshly painted, and the dreadful ceiling fixed.  Neal left the kitchen for me to arrange, which I did happily for the first two days.  Scrubbed everything thoroughly- nasty black stuff much in evidence.  Neal bleached the moldy refrigerator before I arrived.  He said cleaning it out was a gruesome job and he didn’t want me messing with it.  As Neal is not over-sensitive to dirt, it must have been horrendous.
I could not believe how much cleaning and arranging there was to do considering there were only about four pieces of actual furniture in the house.  Stayed very busy for the entire trip- ripped out the rotten wood under the bath sink, cleaned everything that wasn’t moving.  Bren cleaned the shelf above the hall closet that is the top half of her two-story “bedroom.”  She is quite pleased with it.  She thinks it is as wonderful as an aerie, as mystical as a turret bedroom.  Which is kind of pitiful when I think that she’s been stuffed onto a shelf that is 4 by 6 by 2 1/2 at most.
Donal’s portion isn’t much larger, being half of a utility room.  He will be bunking tightly beside the washer and dryer with just enough room at the foot of his bed to put his dresser.  We splurged on $5o worth of sheet linoleum to cover the holey plywood floor, wiped the spiderwebs off, covered a couple of holes in the wall with plastic and duct tape, and moved him in.
The children are being splendid about the whole thing- Bren loves her “Spider Monkey’s Nest,” and Donal enthusiastically decked his wall with big tin beer signs left by the former owner.  His comment: “I love anything colorful!”
The yard is decent- close to half an acre with trees to hang swings from, sand to dig in, a couple ready-made “forts” in thickets, and a really scary big hole we temporarily covered with window screens held down by chunks of concrete.
Christmas was lovely.  Neal went out late at night and cut down a small pine tree from a vacant lot.  He propped it in a corner and I contrived to decorate it.  Surrounded by presents it looked fairly nice.  The kids were pleased to get some candy in their stockings.  I recieved a music downloader about as big as a cigarette lighter that I am still trying to learn to use.  Also some really nice perfume, so my husband is high in favor.
The last night we were there, as I sat on the end of Neal’s bed brushing out my wet hair, my mind kept racing.  Do we keep visiting for a month and move in on the 1st of February like we planned?  How much will it cost to move enough of our furniture at $60 a trip to gas up Neal’s truck?  And how can I make the house look nice enough to sell when I need to bring so much of the furniture?  Should we buy cheap Salvation Army furniture to get us by and leave the house set up?  How could we- we have no money!  Around and around like a rat on a wheel….
Finally Neal came in and lay down beside me.  We prayed together- a very comforting thing, leaning against his chest and holding hands while praying.  Every time we do it, I can almost feel my trust in him growing larger and larger.  Being married… well, it’s the most wonderful thing in my life.  I love my children with a passion that verges almost on insanity, but most of that love is outward-flowing.  I have to take care of them.  I have to be constantly alert, constantly solving problems.  With my husband, I can rest.  Laying on his shoulder is my safe place.  It’s about the only place I feel safe on earth.
We finally decided that the most sensible thing was to go ahead and let his company pay for our move.  They’re going to pack & move us for free.  So we’ve made a plan for where to put what, shipped a lot of old worn-out stuff to the dump, given some stuff away, and we should be packing to leave by Monday the 7th at the latest.  The movers estimate it will take three days.  I don’t have a definite move date yet, but I’ll post one when I have it.

It has been hard, much harder than I thought, to let go.  I ran into Beverly S. at A.C. Moore.  It is hard to comprehend a world where I will not run into her again.  We’ve never been close friends, but I have loved her since the days when she was the only person in the church my shy toddler daughter would hug.  I still have to say goodbye to Edith, to Betsy, to Beverly R.
We went to our last covenant group meeting at Tex & Ruthie’s tonight.  It hurts.  I have nothing more to say about that, I guess.  It just gol-darned hurts.
I have this persistant impression that no one really likes me- not particularly popular, not on anyone’s party list, etc.  So why, can you tell me WHY, do I let my heart get so sewn up with people?  Maybe I’m just not good at letting people see how much I care about them.  I still have to deliver jars of jelly to P. Abbye and Carolyn, and those will be really hard “last hugs” too.
Feeling very sorry for myself.  Told Neal “It’s hard to move,” and he responded, “Well, I’ve already moved.”  Thought that was rather callous under the circumstances, but it did kind of clear up my priorities.  No matter how many people I love here, my place is with my husband and my husband is already living here.  Time to bite the bullet, old girl.

We visited a new church- Assemblies of God.  They were all nice people.  I liked the sermon, the kids found immediate friends.  It was a nice building, a nice nursery, nice music…. nice nice nice!  But it wasn’t home.  I didn’t know anybody.  I felt like I had more than the normal assortment of knees and elbows and was desperately plagued by my old ailment of wanting to get to know people but not being able to think of anything to say.

Well, in other news…. Webkins are here!  (Whether we want them or not… just kidding.)  Brenna recieved a kitty from Hannah, and the jealously factor was so bad that when I noticed a display of the creatures in my grocery store I immediately bought a koala for Donal and a tree-frog for Mike.  You may notice a decrease in the amount of my postings as I now have to beat my way through a crowd and issue threats to get at my computer.  For the uninitiated (and I can hardly believe there are any) Webkins are stuffed animals that come with a computer access code.  The code allows the child to log on to a site where they can play with their animal, bathe it, feed it, take it gem minining, play arcade games, and build it a house a good deal bigger than the one we’re renting!  Must admit- stifling a desire to possess a Webkins of my own.  I can hardly get my kids to share!

I can download all the Statler Brothers songs I want onto my music doo-hickey.  Spent some time trying to look up old eighties songs.  Anybody out there remember “Electric Blue?”  Hah!   Found They Might Be Giants and had a memory rush of college days and driving all night to a concert that got canceled and nursing a bourbon drunk all the way home.  Now what was that guy’s name?  Hmmm… Oh, and “Raisin in the Sun,” who sang that?  It’s like some kind of  quiz show.  Name that tune…  I also, and this was a REAL nostalgia rush, found Johnny Horton singing The Battle of New Orleans.  I can remember choreographing a dance to that song when I was about eight and Matt was six.  It was our very favorite- that and Snoopy vs. The Red Baron.

Holy smokes, I’m getting old!


Snatches of Grace

20 12 2007

Five minutes on my knees,
a quick prayer pacing around the playground,
or a sudden ear to hear while frying onions.
Today the clouds lined up, orderly,
like furrows- the field of the sky ripening
blush pink, then orange, then gold,
and I cried while carpooling, wanting
only you,
                  only you.
It comforts me to think that,
like my husband, you understand
the children’s demands
and don’t mind our stolen intimacies
behind closed doors during Sesame Street,
or confidences whispered over the murmur
of the washer.   Some day
we will have whole days
to speak and read and then be silent,
re-learning one another, joining hands
and coming apart in the intricate dance
of worship.  Then I will again
have time to seek Your face.
For now I am grateful for snatches of grace.

A Household Tip

18 12 2007

If you have Play-Doh that’s beginning to dry out, try this tip.  Give it to a 1 1/2 year old to play with.  By the time the child finishes chewing it up like gum and spitting it all over the floor, it will be moist (ew!) and pliable again.



18 12 2007

       Children are amazing.  Donal, usually the last one to drag out of bed, got up this morning to make hot spiced cranberry juice and sugar cookies.  The two little boys are leaning over the table assisting in their pajamas, and his sister is arguing with him about how much flour to sprinkle on the pastry cloth.  They pre-heated the oven, cracked the eggs into a cup, and just generally gave the impression that they really know what they’re doing.  Isn’t that cool?  I like seeing my children act independant, running loads of laundry, changing diapers, cleaning rooms, decorating, starting slips of succulents, and cooking on their own.  I’m very proud of them.  (If it were up to me, we’d never be baking cookies in our pajamas!)

          Hannah and Greg spent Sunday with us.  Hannah walks into the house and says, “Ooooh- I LOVE your tree!”  Now, she has a perfectly beautiful, huge, bead & ornament-covered tree at home that I have always admired.  Our tree is a scrawny apartment-sized tree designed to take up a minimum amount of floor space.  We only decorated with the non-breakable ornaments this year, and six kids put all the ornaments on.  Donal & Bren did most of the lights, and the little boys keep re-arranging things to suit their own tastes.  To me, it looks like something the cat knocked over.  But Hannah said she loved it, and she was really serious!  Can you beat that?  Kids are funny.

       Another example- the two kids came to see Imagine Christmas with us that night.  It was fabulous.  We sat in the back row, and the kids sat up on the backs of the chairs so they could see really well.  Donal got so excited a couple of times he almost knocked Greg over.  (When Madison appeared, everybody in our group cheered, and the people in front of us glared so hard I bet their eyeballs hurt the next morning.) 
       When it was over and we had gathered the two little boys from nursery, we had to press our way out of the lobby.  In that kind of situation, little boys are at an advantage, being able to navigate between people’s legs with a speed and agility unreproducible in grownups burdened with diaper bags, coats, and babies.  So we were shoving through the crowd and hollering, “Michael!  Wait for us!”  The path of least reistance led right by the senior pastor.  He was holding court in the middle of the lobby, shaking hands and recieving people’s congratulations. 
       Greg stopped and said, “Excuse me?”  The Pastor turned, all smiles, and greeted him, obviously expecting to hear how much Gregory had enjoyed the lavish spectacle the church had just put on.  Instead, Greg pipes up and says, “I lost the lenses from my sunglasses in the sanctuary.  If you find them, please call me.”  I wanted to burst into laughter at the look on the man’s face.  The bible says God is no respecter of persons, and children aren’t either!  I’ve spent seven years so awed by the senior pastor that I could barely shake hands with him, but Greg thought nothing of walking up the man and asking him to hunt for a lost piece of plastic.  I loved it.

Housework won’t…

17 12 2007


 Lisa gave me this for Christmas.  Proof that she knows me for what I really am and still loves me!

That’s better than warm chocolate chip cookies and watching Monk, if you ask me. 😉

New Photos

17 12 2007

I took the kids to the Arboretum for a photo shoot.  Well, I’m not Millie Holloman, but I had some really cute models to work with.  Brenna could hit six hot poses in less than a minute, and Patrick is coyly adorable.  Anyhow, check them out in the Photo Gallery page.

Stuff & Nonsense

17 12 2007

Wow!  Imagine Christmas was really over-the-top gorgeous.   I couldn’t believe the stage set when I walked in.  (I loved the swirly trees.)  Lots of great things- Coni singing a capella probably topped the list, but the kite dancing guy was really incredible.  So was the snow falling on the Christ Child’s face.  Karen Pray is terrific.  I think the entire team deserves about a month to crash and just be human.  (and notice Carolyn- not once did I use the word “awsome!”)  (oops.)

I really loved the Vinyard Christmas production, too.  The angels were dressed like the FBI, only with a dusting of gold glitter all over their jackets.  And they did the whole story contemporary, so instead of announcing Jesus’ birth to shepards, they showed up at a soup kitchen.  My four-year-old is still going around bouncing and singing that song.  Way cool!  I cried so much my neck got wet over the teen-age Mary and her expressive husband.

Neal just left again, and we’re all sad.  I can hear Brenna crying in her room.  But next weekend we go to stay for the first time at the Small House.  We’ll be there nearly a week on a trial run to see what furniture & stuff we need to move from here to there.  Waiting…waiting for the house to sell…

Neal has now visited four churches there, and will hit at least one more on Wednesday.  I’ll get to visit my first one on Sunday, and possibly another for Christmas Eve services.  I am very nervous.  I’ve never picked a church before.  When I accepted Christ seven years ago, I opened the phone book, pointed and said, “I think we should go here.”  Now we’re a good bit more choosy- we all have a lot of ideas about what we want and what we don’t want.  I wonder how long the search will take, and how will we know?  Will we just walk in and say, “This is it!”  Or will it take longer than that?

I think Donal kind of summed things up in our bedtime talk tonight.  “I feel really wierd,” he said, “and I don’t know why.”  I do too, though I have a pretty good idea why.  We’re not really AT any particular church, not really living in any particular town, floating between two homes, unable to take any kind of lesson or commit to any activity because we’re not really sure what we’re doing after next week!  I feel really wierd, too.

Things to do tomorrow: take the books to the library, bake a lemon poundcake with fruit in it (pretend fruit cake?), make Brenna clean her room, make Donal do his fractions, mail the presents to my grandparents, and do a lot of laundry.  Rah.

Favorite Book of the Moment: I’m enjoying the Nero Wolfe novels- I think I’m falling for Archie Goodwin.  Fortunately, I don’t think it’s mutual, because I’m already taken.   Very good to snuggle with my husband again.  I did my best to be fetching this weekend.  Have to remind the fellow of why he bothers to come home!