Thursday, November 18, 2010

Birthday Girl

She's seven today.


When I was pregnant with her, our second child, EVERYONE said, "What will Benjamin do when the world doesn't revolve around him anymore?"

You know what he did? HE GOT EASIER. The day she was born, that newly 2-yr. old was instantly less clingy and happy to entertain himself. And you know what his chief entertainment was? HER.

I don't blame him. She has these sparkling brown eyes (from my mother) that are so deep and dark you honestly can't see her pupils. She's game for anything: tree-climbing, bike-riding, joke-telling, bunny-chasing, and baby-watching. Well, all right. She's game for almost anything. We're still working on those morning chores.

She was named Lily Ann Arvilla: Lily being Ethan's pick, which I OK'd because you can make it a Bible name if you read the English version of Song of Solomon (Lily of the Valley). "Ann" was after my mother, and "Arvilla" was after Ethan's maternal grandmother, who was very Swedish daun't-cha-know.

She walked at 7 1/2 months (I am not making that up!) and has continued to be a physical powerhorse. She is very strong and limber. (And also slow, when it comes to morning chores.)

Lily is our tenderhearted girl. A sharp word can quickly bring tears, and she is often the one to console a crying sibling.

Ben recently told his Sunday School teacher that he didn't know how he survived the first two years of his life without her.

Well, the truth is that he DID survive life without her. He just didn't enjoy it.

Our family is much happier with you in it, Lily. I love your sparkle and even your sass and of course your dimple.

Happy birthday, Sweetie!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Grandma's Kitchen

is almost Salem-sized.


The thing is, this is only incredibly fun to them because there is an official label warning against this very type of behavior.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Generally Speaking

I have always been one to pooh-pooh stereotypes and generalities. You're a homeschooler? Suddenly you love denim jumpers. You have eight children? Then you must cloth diaper and cut your girls' hair yourself with a mini-chainsaw (you know, for the one time in ten years they actually trim their hair).

I realize there are large families that homeschool, wear clothing that missionaries would only wear under duress, and call matted locks a virtue.

There are also uber-cool large families that homeschool. You would never know it by the trendy clothing labels or the lithe figure the mother cuts as she snowboards the slopes, but they are out there.

At least, I've read their blogs.

But you can't stereotype me. I'm not trying to say I'm complicated. There's absolutely nothing multi-layered about me. What you see is what you get - what my mouth doesn't say, my face clearly reveals. Well, my face and my children.

But I don't fit into either group. I'm a reluctant homeschooling mother who counts it a success to get dressed by lunch and not have my toddler run naked on the side of our house that faces the overpass. 

Every day is a all-out battle to not duct-tape my children to their desks* or drink the entire bottle of merlot at one sitting.

I'm only sort of kidding.

Every day is hard. Very hard. I was just remarking to Ethan and then later to some friends that at the end of the day, I can't say, "Well, I would have had more time if I hadn't ... knitted ... or read ... or sat on the porch ... or played on the Internet ..." I don't do any of those things. I wasn't complaining ... I know everyone has a different set of struggles - I have to be a martyr; Ethan has to live with a martyr. But right now is an especially busy time in my life. The babies are mobile and active. And when it comes to chores, the older children are often immobile and passive. There is the constant cycle of making food, cleaning up food, making food, cleaning up food.

The laundry is a sure thing. There always seem to be books and Legos and doll clothes and hair things and dress-up clothes and crayons spread around, no matter how many cleaning sessions we have in the day.

And again, I am reminded of two things: I CAN'T DO THIS!!! and IT DOESN'T MATTER.


It has been a blessing to have my laptop out of commission. I have been spared from the Internet reading I somehow always find myself doing ... those readings that major on the minors (and don't we all ... and isn't that also called idolatry?). You know, the ones that chasten anyone who isn't supporting five third-world children or visiting poverty-stricken nations or cleaning their mudroom daily or raising their own chickens or ... you know the ones. It is one thing to do those things and quite another to preach those things.

I'm tired of all the unordained women preachers in the form of bloggers! (Incidentally, I also have zero tolerance for ordained women preachers. But that's not my point right now.)

We need to realize that we are all in different places spiritually and physically and financially and intellectually. We don't know what Sally's or Linda's or Ashley's lives are really like. The ONLY thing that is true for all of us is that we are sinners in need of a Savior. I need that Savior every day. My mission is not to save the world. I can't even save myself. My mission is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever ... with the life He has given me, the kids He has given me, the resources He has given me.

I think there are times when we need to turn off the computer, close the magazines, shut the TV cabinet, and open the Word. It is only when I take the time to read the Bible ... and not use the excuses of meals and laundry and Legos and crayons and dress-up clothes ... that I am given any hope. My hope doesn't come from what I need to do. It comes from what has been done by Someone else. I can't raise my kids perfectly (or even well). I can't follow my plans for a complete week of school. I can't keep (or get) my house clean.

And you know what?

It wouldn't matter if I could.

*Incidentally, I went to Christian school for my education. And I distinctly remember sitting in first grade and watching Mark D. get duct-taped to his desk because he refused to sit still. It wasn't cruel  and it wasn't even that unusual. It was just funny. He finally sat still so we could continue our seatwork, and I doubt it even struck us as something to tell our parents. I'm just saying...


On to some fall pictures:

We went to Crabtree Falls, where it was pouring rain and we only made it out of the van for a 5-minute run across the bridge. But it was a gorgeous drive - nature in all of its autumnal splendor. We plan to revisit another day.

Then yesterday, we went to Betsy Bell Park, which is a very narrow road up the side of a very large hill. There's a beautiful view of Staunton from the top. And there is another beautiful view:

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Benjamin reminded me that, as of November 6, I no longer have eight children 8 and under.

I have eight children 9 and under.

Which, you understand, is a drastically different statistic...

to the 9-yr. old.

Can this be right? Was it really over nine years ago that the principal - my boss - announced to the entire middle school chapel that in eleven years a new student would be joining them, and that new student would be the Allison baby that was making Mrs. Allison run from the classroom retching?

Was it really a whole nine years ago?

And really? It was only a day over nine years ago that the Allison family consisted of a legal-clerk-turned-bookstore-clerk-turned-historical-renovator-turned-teacher-turned-farm-boy and me, a disgruntled Christian school teacher. And now there are ten of us, eight of whom answer to "Preacher's Kid."

Was it really only nine years ago?

My father remarked that he can't believe Ben is nine. NINE! I know he really meant he can't believe he's old enough to have a daughter old enough to have a son that's nine.

I can't believe it either.

I have been blessed with a son who is as close to being a carbon copy of his father as is humanly possible. (And heaven help me...really! Heaven, help me!) The twinkle in his blue eyes (inherited from his father and mine) means he gets the joke. The crinkle in his nose means he doesn't want to admit it's funny. And the subsequent wry comment means you're not getting the last laugh.

He's a good big brother. Especially if you define "good" as "willing to teach younger siblings the hard, cold facts of life in between ticklings and dress-up clothes and 'Survivorman.'" (And by the way, Benjamin, it is not normal for a 3-yr. old to tell her grandparents you can drink elephant pee if you get thirsty. )

He's a deep thinker. I am often surprised at the depth of his questions and the insecurity of my answers. I thank God that his father is a kindred deep thinker and biblical scholar.

You were a wonderful start to our family, Benjamin. I'm so glad God gave us you! And I'm so glad God gave you your siblings. Do you know how unique and wonderful it is to live with your best friends?

We love you. Happy birthday, son!

From a few years past: sharing a chair - and a laugh - with his best friend

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