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Ch-ch-ch-changes

Oh look, you’re back! So am I!

mikiwindowseat

Lots of changes happening around here these days, ladies.  Firstly, we’re moving. Yep, we’re moving house. And although I’ll be sad to leave this lovely old Victorian with its oak woodwork, ten foot ceilings and charming little nooks and crannies; I’m more than ready to say good-bye to its leaky plumbing, cracking plaster and frail electrical system. Broken toilet? Flickering lights? No worries! In just a few short weeks such horrors will be easily remedied by a simple phone call to Mr. Friendly Landlord. I couldn’t possibly be happier to leave home ownership behind. And wait ‘til you see the new place… you’re gonna love it just as much as we already do. I promise.

But moving to a new home is only the start of the new adventures around here.  With most of my children long since done with their schooling and Noah teetering on the edge of *sob* high school, my homeschooling journey seemed to be coming to an end.

Enter Arianna.

bigbrotherlittlesister

Since Amelia is caring for our darling little friend fulltime now, and since her mother is interested in homeschooling, and since she’s also a wonderfully obliging individual who’s only too happy to totally make my year, it looks like we’ll be starting all over at pre-school once again. And since Early Childhood Education is one of my passions (and incidentally the subject of my degrees), I am insanely ridiculously excited at the prospect. So while we’re packing and moving house, I’m busy sorting through all of my manipulatives and curriculum and educational philosophy materials.

ariannabirds

Soon it’ll be a little bit Waldorf-y and a lotta bit Charlotte Mason around here. With a smidge of letter of the week tossed in for good measure.

SO STINKIN’ PSYCHED!

And one more teensy thing:  you girls know that I’ve always been all about the baked goods: Monday morning muffins, Friday evening pizza, coffeecake, fresh homemade bread. And butter!

blueberrycoffeecake

I surely do love me a good stick of butter, oh yes! Well my friends, it looks like all of this self indulgence and unrestrained butter consumption has finally caught up with me. Apparently all it took was a little… ahem, episode last April to wipe the smile off my doctor’s face. Some further testing over the summer resulted in a fistful of prescriptions. BMI testing confirmed the fact that I have pretty much become the human equivalent of that stick of butter I love so well. By last month my doctor was looking downright stern as he suggested I acquaint myself with the works of Dr. Dean Ornish. Dean Ornish as in no-fat, no-caffeine, no-refined carbohydrates, fer cryin’ out loud! How am I supposed to live like that??

Why, with a smile on my face, that’s how… what didya expect?

Some things never change.

smilingme

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.

Proverbs 17:22

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Joyful waiting

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, and if you’re not altogether certain of what exactly Advent is, don’t feel badly. You’re not alone, my darlings. I myself was not totally clear on the concept until alarmingly recently. But never fear…

It’s YouTube to the rescue!

I love this video by Busted Halo* which explains Advent in a lighthearted, warmhearted and encouraging manner. Advent is all about hope and joy and preparation… getting ourselves ready for the most amazing gift. Such good stuff.

So, how does this “getting ourselves ready” look ’round these parts? Well, we’ll be decorating the house this afternoon and having a special dinner this evening. We’ll be making an Advent wreath and lighting candles every week. We’ll be doing the daily scripture readings and fun activities found in Truth in the Tinsel, a wonderful resource created by a, much more creative than I, young mother. I, personally am going to be trying to focus more closely on the hope part of the process than I have in the past. Less on preparation of the house and the table and what’s going to be under the tree and more on preparing my heart. More joy.

Joy is good.

What does the Advent journey look like at your house? Do tell!

*Busted Halo is a Catholic based website and while there is much there that I find uplifting and enjoyable, I am not Catholic. I’m Baptist. So yeah…. theological differences abound.

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I love the way He operates

A year ago, my daily quiet times of Bible study and prayer were the high points of my day. Opening my Bible was the first thing I did every morning… right after getting myself a cup of coffee. I sat propped up in my bed for at least an hour, reading multiple passages and writing copious notes in my study journal.For the last several decades of my life, my daily periods of scripture study and prayer have been a constant. Day in and day out, during vacations and Christmases, with newborn babies and angsty teens, as a newly-wed and as a newly-single-mom, I never missed a day. I never wanted to… that meeting with Jesus was the thing that coaxed me awake some mornings. Always my time with Him was what got me through to the evening. Back then, if you had told me that there would come a time when I would struggle with maintaining a daily study time, I would have laughed. I would have patted your hand and maybe given you a hug…an oh-so-patronizing sort of hug, because I would have been sure you were wrong.

But then a few weeks ago, as I was writing the date at the top of the page in my prayer journal, I noticed something: there were some dates missing. And as I flipped back through the pages, I saw other gaps… a single day. Two days. A weekend. I remembered mornings when – somewhere between fetching my cup of coffee and opening my Bible- something else grabbed my attention. Never anything terribly urgent or important, just things like getting an early start on the laundry or making something a little extra for breakfast; maybe checking my email, maybe finishing up a blog post. Little things, but by the time I was done, my cup of coffee was empty and the kids were starting to stir. It was almost time to leave for Mamie‘s, or past time to get started on school. I always planned to have my quiet time later in the day…. but usually I didn’t. Usually I forgot.


In other news: Yard sales. I like ‘em… as does Noah. Over the weekend while we were out- ostensibly fetching paint- the two of us ended up stopping at one sale after another. “This is the last one,” we’d promise each other every time I parked the car, and we’d grin. We’d grin because we knew that driving along not five minutes later I’d spy another hand lettered sign. I’d slow down just for a quick look. I’d spy a table of glassware-that-could-possibly-be-jadeite and we’d just have to stop. Just for a quick look, dontchaknow. Turnabout’s fair play, so when Noah saw the EXACT WHEELBARROW HE NEEDED TO DO THE YARDWORK PROPERLY, we stopped yet again. Noah quickly checked the dollar bills in his pocket and charged off to stake his claim on the barrow, while I toddled along behind.

Well, other than the aforementioned wheelbarrow, the pickin’s were pretty slim. I aimlessly sifted through tables spread with rusty screwdrivers, mismatched pieces of Tupperware and other assorted leftovers from someone’s life. Then underneath some harvest gold polyester net curtains I caught a glimpse of little bit of a pale green painted something. It was something wooden; faded, worn and painted that distinctive pale green that was so commonplace during the 1930′s and 40′s (which just so happens to be my favorite color.) I pushed aside the curtains and, with the side of my hand, smoothed dust from the cluster of little blue flowers painted on the green surface.

“Oh my goodness, ” I thought. “What’s this?”

It was a tiny little folding table of sorts; my nana would have called this a bed tray. A little old pale green wooden bed tray with a rim ’round the edge and blue painted flowers. Blue painted flowers that just match the blue of my old faded bed linens. A tray to hold my Bible open to just the right spot. A little rim to hold my journal steady while I write those notes I so dearly love to write. Sturdy little turned legs to bear the weight of my cup of coffee… and maybe a cinnamon roll.

Okay girls, you can call me a crazy-pants if you want. Go ahead, call me a froot-loop. Say I’m a loon. Everyone turn to their neighbor and say, “Yup, the girl’s a flake fo sho.” I don’t care. But seriously, when I first caught sight of that pale green paint, you know what I thought? I thought of Him, reaching out and giving me a bit of a nudge. Smiling and whispering a little confidential bit of a whisper.

“I miss you,” He was saying.

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On Thursdays I visit Mamie

Mamie lives around the corner from me in a house that was originally built as a replica of Monticello.

Photo from Getty Images

 

Mamie had a career back in the day when women with careers were called “business girls.” She worked at the bank and took up golf and decorated her lovely home. She and her husband invested their money wisely and traveled the world and they never had any children. When we first moved into the neighborhood Bill was still alive, but that first year he had a stroke and the year after that he passed away. Shortly after that Mamie fell and broke her hip and then she had a stroke and then she started wandering the neighborhood in the middle of the night calling for her cat Andy.

Nowadays Mamie can’t be alone, so her niece Eileen has arranged for an assortment of friendly women to come and sit with her in shifts. Gail sleeps over most nights and sometimes she brings her new little grandson for Mamie to hold. Michele spends the afternoons. Mamie loves the homemade strawberry jam she brings. A few months ago I started visiting with her on Wednesdays and Thursdays. I go over first thing in the morning and relieve Gail so she can get home early enough to have a snuggle with that new grandson before the day starts. I sometimes bring a bit of bread dough in a loaf pan along with me. After it has a chance to rise, I bake it in Mamie’s oven. Usually Mamie is still in bed fast asleep when I come. Sometimes she doesn’t want to get up. Sometimes she has terrible nightmares, so I sit on the side of the bed and we pray together and talk about happier things until she’s ready to rest again. Often she mistakes me as a nun.

“Did you know the sisters at Saint Joe’s?” she asks, her faded watery eyes staring intently into my own. “I used to work for them when I was a little girl. I used to clean for the sisters at the convent.”

“No Mamie, I never knew the sisters, but I’ve heard they were very nice.”

“Oh, they were! They were. There was one little sister who used to work in the kitchen… oh, what was her name? Why can’t I remember her name?

“Sister Alco?” I suggest.

“Yes! Yes! Sister Alco! She was so cute.” Mamie sighs, then she leans in and whispers conspiratorily, “She used to make me cookies and set them aside for when I was done cleaning.”

“Goodness!” I say. “It sounds like she was very fond of you.”

“Oh she was… she was. And I was very fond of her.” Mamie leans back on her pillow. “They wanted me to be a nun, but I didn’t …have …the …calling,” she murmurs.

Yesterday morning I went into her room to find her sitting up on the side of her bed. Her eyes were bright as if she couldn’t wait to tell me some wonderful bit of news.

“I just had the most marvelous dream,” she crowed. “Someone came to my house and brought me fresh bread and strawberry jam for my breakfast!” She took my hand in hers and patted it. Then she leaned her head back and laughed.

And then I helped her to walk out into her bright beautiful sunny kitchen where her breakfast was waiting: a blue and white china cup of coffee with cream and two sugars, a thick slice of fresh bread still warm from the oven and a little pot of homemade strawberry jam.

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