Would You Rather

I love reading by the Christmas tree at night. It is just enough light to see by, but not so much one can’t start winding down from a busy day.

My compression hose went through the wash today. This week I thought of a new ‘would you rather’ question; you know, those kinds of queries that don’t have a good choice on either end. Sunburn or frostbite? Rotten food or no food? My new one is: would you rather be greatly annoyed by the constant sagging of your compression hose, or the rush of pain in your legs while you stand? At first glance, I would choose the hose, but after some months in them, I’m not so sure. Feeling like the saggy baggy elephant develops a craziness in me that I get to where the hose HAVE GOT to come off or I would go insane.

Today was hose free, but pain accompanied, as I said. I ran some errands, and while I am up and doing, I usually don’t have as much pain as when I am standing still. I went to the grocery stores, to Goodwill to drop off some bags that sat in the van a while, stopped at the library for some reserved books, and home again after my world tour.

As I walked in with two more books, I realized how many good books I’ve got in my queue right now. Another would you rather question, but where all the choices are good. Here’s what I’m working on:

Last Mitford book, To Be Where You Are. I just started, but have been delighted so far. This has been my umpteenth time rereading the Mitford series, and I even did the Father Tim ones. Though I found them dark the first time, this time they seemed sweeter. Goes to show you are never the same person when you reread a book! The title of my blog came from the Mitford books, too.

The Assault. This is a sequel to Invitation, a book by four authors I read in October. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book, though it had a lot of spiritual battle stuff (Peretti is one of the authors) and kind of scary stuff. I told the ladies at book club about it, and at the time I couldn’t put my finger on why I liked it so much. Now I know. It’s all about Jesus! He shines through the darkness, and those who have a relationship with Him in the story are the most powerful against the enemy. Here’s hoping the sequel is as promising.

Little Dorrit- this classic of Dickens was mentioned in a Mitford book, so I thought I would read it. It looks promising, too. Duh, it’s Dickens! It has to be good.

I Have Lived A Thousand Years is a memoir of the Holocaust. I know nothing about it other than that. Of all the books in my pile, it is the most likely to be opted out in my would you rather game. We’ll see if I get to it.

Sewing By Me

We unpacked the Christmas decorations this week, and I saw in a bag one of my many unfinished projects- Christmas stockings.

Originally, I had purchased these cute ones from Hallmark years ago, not ever imagining that I would need 13-15 of them. I did find one on eBay last year, which was super exciting, seeing these are at least 10 years old. But no luck this year with the Internet, so I’m stuck coming up with a few more homemade to look like the others. This is difficult because even with all the fabric choices at JoAnn and Hobby Lobby, I haven’t been able to match any colors, not even red or green! So they are brown, and cream, with red and green accents.:)

So I look in the bag and I think, how pathetic, I only needed to finish two more and I’d be done, why didn’t I finish them last year? But I must have miscounted; though I did finish the two today, I still have two more, plus the one for baby. I think I will do two reindeer in brown, then maybe try again to find the same green or red for another snowman or Christmas tree.

Here’s the list so far, as I am inept at posting pictures:

Three green with snowmen (original)

Three red with Santa (original)

Two brown with gingerbread men (homemade)

Two cream with candy canes (homemade)

In progress: two light brown with reindeer, one green with Christmas tree

Here is a link to when I was first trying to add to my collection. Luke didn’t think the blue coordinated well enough, so I pitched the snowflake last year. But you can see the originals in the top picture.

valerie.luvaburton.us/?p=484

 

Bacon Karma

Last week, we went to see Tim Hawkins with some friends. Since we hadn’t seen this couple for some time, we arranged to eat at a restaurant beforehand, and catch up. As funny as Tim was, I think our fun at the restaurant closely rivaled the main event.

We met at Outback. I had given our friends their choice; if it were up to us we would have gone elsewhere because we think their food and service are lousy. This set the stage for the evening, I’m sure. As we are seated looking at our menu, I marvel to the group that the trend right now must be to take a perfectly good piece of meat and pile another meat on top of it, in an obnoxious way. The steak had crab on it, the chicken bloomin’ onions, and the salmon was piled with bacon. This last pictured meal looked pretty good to Joel, so he ordered it.

As we waited (a while) for our food to come, we tossed around bad restaurant experiences. Luke and I talked about how I have sent plates back before, a dubious character trait he might not have married me had he known about. One time at Bob Evans, the salmon fillet was so tiny, I felt I had to say something. “I’ve ordered a lot of salmon,” I remarked to the waitress, “and this is the smallest portion I have ever been served.” She patiently explained that they are all the same weight, that they come prepackaged and are served as they are. “Well, can I at least have some more coleslaw?” I reasoned.

Our friends and Luke had a good laugh at my salmon story, and at me, when Joel’s salmon came to the table. A single, scrawny piece of bacon lay across the fillet, and we all busted loose. It looked nothing like the picture! He commented how he could say something to the waitress in a nonthreatening way, to find out where the bacon went, when the waitress overheard him. “Oh, the picture is of the 12 ounce, not the ten ounce. Somebody else complained about that, and that is what I found out.” Oh, my. We were talking too loudly before dinner; the bacon fairies heard us, and figured what goes around should come around. What great memories to be had, though. It isn’t often you can tuck away two great salmon stories.

Middle Love

Both of my middle children got to do something fun with a friend this week. Abbie was invited to a girl’s house for her birthday on Wednesday, and today we are hosting Caleb’s buddy.

Abbie was originally invited to a sleepover a few weeks ago, but the distance and inconvenience of it was off-putting. Plus, we really don’t do sleepovers unless they are at our house, and we don’t even do that anymore. Unless you count every night. Kids everywhere. So I was really wanting this afternoon with her friends to work out. I ended up driving her to Marion, giving me some good alone time. I was going to shop thrift stores over there for maternity clothes, but it started to rain and I would rather be home laying down or eating (see previous posts). Abbie’s friend’s mom shared some toddler hand-me-downs for Julia, so I came away feeling quite blessed.

Today we picked up Caleb’s friend, and planned on going to the Y since it is raining again today. He seems so uncomfortable in our home when he visits, but came out of his shell once we were in the van headed to the Y. Right when we got here, someone discovered puke in the pool and they cleared it and cleaned it for the next half hour. I felt bad for Caleb and friend, but we just waited it out. They finally got to swim and slide, and appear to be having a blast. I opted not to swim today, and am glad I did. I couldn’t stomach getting in right after an episode like that. The kids are happy, though.

 

New Mercies

I commented in my last post that I don’t miss much of it now that we don’t go to the Sunday church service. One thing I miss is the opportunity for Luke and Aliyah, especially, to play music and sing together. We do some songs in our makeshift Sunday morning service at home, but it isn’t as good as having a mic and having a sound system (hopefully behaving) projecting. The other night when Luke’s cousin visited, we sang some songs together, and it was so nice, we put more effort into it than we had been and the sound was great. This makes me want to dress up our Sunday offerings from now on, too. Plus, we’ve got Christmas tunes to practice on piano.

Luke has a controversial situation in his school system with a student that has gone on for a few years now. The student was due to be in his class this grading period, but Luke has just found out there will be some change and the student will not be in it after all. I believe this is one of those ‘He answers before you even ask’ kinds of mercies, and am hoping this is the closest Luke gets to the controversy.

I’ve been asked again to paint the window of a business in Bellville for Christmas, in time for small business Saturday. This isn’t because I have much talent; there are a lot of windows and few volunteers. Last year I volunteered, thinking, how could I not do something like this, and did a couple of holly wreaths. This year, all year, I have been thinking of a way to incorporate Christmas cookies- they can have simple round shapes and nice bright colors. I thought of a gingerbread boy and girl; the boy is putting a star on the top of a Christmas tree cookie, and the girl is looking on, delighted. I did a sketch earlier that I’m pretty happy with, I just have to decide how ornate the gingerbread people should be. Less is more on a window.

 

 

Hello Thomas

The two littles are watching Thomas the Tank Engine. We have cleaned house and really don’t want to get any toys out, so cartoons it is. A relative of ours is visiting that we rarely see, so in one sense we want to make an okay impression. On the other hand, he only comes around once every five years. What’s he going to do, ridicule us on Facebook? Big deal. But he’s a good guy. Lots of stories and talk. He likes to talk.

We haven’t been to a Sunday church service in a coon’s age. It seems more reasonable to get together as a family in our home, than keep visiting churches we are fairly certain are not going to be a good fit. I have been thinking about what I miss about going to church on Sundays, and it is surprisingly little. I do like to share in some kind of Christmas musical or pageant from time to time, and it would be nice to find a concert or two this holiday season. Maybe the local paper will have a list, or I can ask around.

On Thomas, Duncan was passed up for a ride in a hot air balloon for the twins’ birthday. What kind of children’s programming is this? Don’t worry, he set the balloon loose. Maybe he can give the twins a ride now.

 

Something To Celebrate

I have to remember to pull the chicken out of the oven when I am done here. It is not baking, just sitting in the only free space I could find in our cluttered kitchen. But I am not complaining about my full larder- this means I can cook and bake things that make me cry with happiness.

On October 1, I took a pregnancy test, and the positive result was not a surprise. But it did give some legitimacy to the emotional rollercoaster I had been on for a few weeks. At one point, I was experiencing a panic attack similar to those in my postpartum days, and I wondered if it could be menopause. No, just a really intense pregnancy. I’m not feeling well physically, and that gives way to feeling down and depressed a lot of the time. As I go through my days, two thoughts are always at the forefront:

If I could just lay down…

and

When is the next time I can eat?

Because, anytime I am eating I feel good, much better than when I am not eating.

This has birthed (ha, ha) a new appreciation for good food, and I actually get pretty excited about certain meals these days. The other night, I was not up to cooking dinner, so Luke asked Sarah if she could make something. The plan was to have chicken pot pie, and I had all the ingredients for that, but it sounded gross to me. She decided to transform the ingredients into a chicken noodle soup, that further transformed into chicken and noodles when it turned out too thick. I put some in my mouth and immediately wanted to cry, it was so good. It tasted like Bob Evan’s, but better! And now I knew how to make this dish again, and feel good again, for much less money than Bob’s. It is for dinner tonight, too!

Making Mexican rice last night, and smelling it come out of the oven, aroused a similar teary reaction in myself, and I got to thinking. Man, there are some foods which are so, so good, and what a sweet mercy of the Lord to have this pregnancy be one where I can celebrate those foods and not have to avoid them. Here is a list of the ones I’m loving right now:

Chicken and noodles

Mexican rice

Guacamole

Chicken salad with grapes and walnuts

Tomato basil soup (the smell of basil sends me over the moon!)

Tuna salad (seriously, the saltiness is great)

Fried eggs on toast

Blue cheese dressing

Kettle chips

Peanut m&Ms

Anything with Sriracha mustard on it

This is only what I have discovered so far. I still have six months to eat to my heart’s content.

Disclaimer: This is not intended to promote overeating, during pregnancy or otherwise. I only gained five pounds in my first trimester, to my surprise, so I must be doing something right.

Please note: The real celebration, the real joy, comes from knowing our little 13th (16th) wonder is on the way. Though I feel crappy, it isn’t anything like other women experience during pregnancy. I’m just trying to put a fun spin on things while I’m feeling so low. Thank the Lord for good food; I might be much lower without it.

Weird But True

I just had to get away this afternoon; packing and preparing for our trip to Virginia had me a bit rattled. When I am alone in the van, it is so quiet and I am aware of all the sounds the carriage and doors make. There was a strange scratching sound today, which reminded me of the mice. A few weeks ago, Luke was leaving to take the kids to cross country practice. As he backed out of the driveway, ahead of the van in the rocks was a mouse with a baby in its mouth. It sat there a second, as if in shock, then ran with its cargo into the weeds. I was convinced that it must have fallen out of the van when Luke left. This was confirmed a few days later when I was sitting at a light in town, and all of the sudden there is a mouse on my windshield! I turned on the wipers and made it jump off and escape behind a streetlight. We have had mice chew through wires in previous vehicles, so seeing these creatures nest in our van concerns me. But Luke doesn’t seem worried. Just wait until one comes to meet him while he’s driving, this time on the inside of the windshield.

Last week we got a strange package in the mail. It was an ordinary brown box, and weighed next to nothing. Curiosity was killing me, waiting for Luke to come home and open it. He wasn’t expecting anything, and frowned when he pulled out 200 pairs of earplugs, the kind you’d use in factories or around heavy machines. What? He called the company, which wasn’t all that helpful. “I guess it’s your lucky day!” The operator responded. What were we to do with all these earplugs? Aliyah was headed to a Tenth Avenue North concert that weekend, so Luke planned on trying to sell some there. When they got there, they saw that the event was giving earplugs away for free. Oh, well. We are set for life as far as healthy hearing goes.

 

Where We Are

I’ve been well so long that I forget what it’s like to be sick. Last night a (rare, now) headache started, and I’m slowly recovering from it this morning. Sitting and walking slowly around the house, I see it all in a new light. Do we really live in such a mess? I read once where the author assured that we have to decide what level of tidiness we can manage, and try to keep things there. Well, I must have dropped the bar; this place needs work! With the older kids gone Saturdays at meets, and me not even able to boss the littles effectively today, I see how much I do and how not much I delegate. Not good, says Jethro to Moses. True, true.

Life itself seems to be in a state of disorder and confusion for us right now. We have not found a church that we feel ‘fits’, though I know this takes time, and goes both ways. You get when you give. But  ‘a girl without a church home’ has never described me. I mean, I was in church before I was born. The closest thing to a wilderness I’ve experienced before this was our brief try at a church plant, but even then I had my married family to surround me, if not many church family members. (Luke’s dad was the pastor and his brother in law the associate pastor/elder. We rarely had more than twenty at a service, as I only had four children then.😃) But God is my portion.

My mom was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. While it was not a surprise, it still signals the closing of a door on some things in life, and ushering in a new season of uncertainty. We would like my dad and mom to move closer to us so that we can help with her care, but that means even more changes for my dad, who is feeling a bit overwhelmed already. All in God’s time.

So, that’s where we are. Lots of tangled messes waiting for God’s deft fingers to work them out.

 

Good Things

Martha Stewart likes to promote the fun, fanciful, and fine with the above phrase. From vegetable noodlers to warm slippers, these are the things to have right now, to enjoy life to the fullest. I read something today that reminded me what the true ‘good things’ really are.

I guess a woman with cancer refused treatment because she was pregnant. Then, the baby, a girl, had to be taken at 24 weeks and did not survive. Then, the mom died, two days later. She leaves behind a husband and five children. Man, right there is a couple of people I would just love to hug. I will look for her in Heaven, but him? He’s got a very difficult row to hoe. I doubt it is feeling very much like a good thing to this husband and father that his wife and baby are gone.

A BSF lesson question ties into this, too, in a strange way. It says, “What results of suppressing the truth (see Romans 1) do you see in your own life and what will you ask God to help you do about it?”

I wrestled a bit with this thought, then concluded that maybe a good place to start would be to isolate some problem or issue I am having right now; perhaps this difficulty is a result of me suppressing God’s truth. But then I thought, that isn’t the only reason we have trouble in our lives. It may be just as likely the bad thing is not a result of my sin, if we’re talking averages.

And let’s not forget these dear ones who hardly know how to move forward without their sacrificial wife and mother. Nothing in this says, they must have suppressed the truth to get here. In fact, this has God’s truth written all over it, but it still hurts. So. Badly.

Sigh. But who of us really know if we would trade a single tear, a single blow, a single loss, if we could see it all the way He does. I would be willing to bet we’d see them as Good Things to rival Martha’s any day.