Thursday, April 26, 2007

If Wishes Were Bike Trailers . . .

A few days ago, my husband and I were poking around the makeshift shed out back that houses such oddities as a broken roto-tiller, a freezer that our house won't let us plug in without shorting the electric, a lawnmower on which we haven't quite figured out how to test the starter, and various booster seats and gardening tools.


We were pulling the bikes out to get to the lawnmower, and I casually said, "You know, we could use another bike trailer."



Be careful what words slip unguarded from your tongue!


The next day, my beaming husband came home from work a little late. And from the back of the car, he pulled out . . . another bike trailer. He has this knack for going into a thrift store and emerging with some treasure for which he paid next to nothing. I have a knack for going into a thrift store and emerging with yet another article of clothing which will not fit and which I will recycle to another thrift store. I like to keep the inventory moving, I guess . . . but I digress.



Yesterday, after about a half hour of airing up tires, filling water bottles, finding shoes, changing diapers, putting on shoes, stocking the trailers with the "guest riders" of a stuffed mouse, a turtle backrubber, a green shoestring, and a yo-yo, we were ready to go.  We popped the kids into the trailers, hopped on the bikes, and took off.


And when I say "we" hopped on the bikes, I guess I should really say *I* hopped on the bike. My husband deftly swung to his seat and started pedaling. But this is the guy who for FUN!!! took a bike trip after his senior year of high school. And not like, "Let's take a biking tour of Williamsburg"; this was a bike trip through CANADA, starting from Alaska. The kind where you use your graduation money to buy a Cannondale instead of a sensible used car and get together with three other guys to buy an old school bus and paint it purple and turn it into  your mobile home for sleeping in at night after you bike and in order to eat you stop in the next town and ask what kind of work you can do to pay for your feed and . . .


You get the idea. Macho stuff.



Whereas MY most memorable biking moment comes from biking in the parking lot of the local YMCA, where there was rut after rut after rut, and I kept thinking, "I WILL NOT hit those ruts; I WILL NOT hit those ruts" and so of course I hit every one of them, which sent me flying into the air only to land painfully on the hard bicycle seat, hands clenching the handlebars, every ounce of my being saying, "I WILL NOT hit those ruts!" and every ounce of my body heading right for them. I don't have terrible aim; I have terrific aim. I ALWAYS hit exactly what I most want to avoid.


But anyway. He deftly swung up to his seat; I hopped and hopped and hopped until I finally got up on mine.


But the ride was glorious. It was just a simple ride to the next farm over, where we got out and loved on the pygmy goats and honked back at the geese. And then we got back on our bikes, rode home with our shirts over our mouths to avoid eating the gnats that insisted on hovering over us (note to self: there is no way to keep a V-neck over your mouth when biking!), unloaded the kids and yo-yo and shoestring and turtle and mouse, and raced inside to scarf down the cold dinner that was waiting.  And then we smiled at each other and talked about how fun it was to race down the hill in a bike trailer and wondered whether the farm would get some more pigs and cows and horses.


And I'm wondering, as I stiffly sit here, aching in places I had forgotten about, whether we couldn't really use a massage chair.

Benjamin, Eden, and Lily


Abraham and Miriam

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday -- Easy Filing

In order to keep our papers straight without having to run to the (upstairs) filing cabinet every time the mail comes in, I use an expandable file folder (the kind with the handle that has a plastic latch to close it). I have labeled the inside tabs with the months of the year. In the very front, I put bills to be paid. After the bills have been paid, I label "PD 5-25-07 [or whatever the date is]" with the check number or online confirmation number. Then I stick it behind that month's tab. Everything that needs to be filed gets put behind the month that I received or paid it -- car registration paperwork, kids' medical information, etc.


Then, once a year, I go through and toss what I no longer need and file the rest. It takes me less than half an hour total to do this.


It works for me! For more WFMW tips, go here.

Overnight Muffins

Either make up a batch of muffins and let the batter sit in the fridge until morning (works with most muffins that don’t have banana in them), or use this recipe:


Adapted from Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2003
Copyright 2002


1 c. oats
2 c. buttermilk (or 2 c. milk with 2 T. vinegar mixed in; let sit for 5 min.)
1 2/3 c. flour (I use freshly ground soft white but any will work)
¾ c. brown sugar or Sucanat
2 T. vegetable oil
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 c. blueberries, or chocolate chips, or dried fruit, or . . .
2 handfuls nuts, optional (required in this household!)


ombine oats and buttermilk in a medium bowl; cover and refrigerate overnight.
Combine flour, Sucanat, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. If using freshly ground flour, refrigerate.


Heat oven to 350.
Mix buttermilk mixture and dry mix together. Add eggs and vegetable oil. Mix.
Fold in fruit, chocolate chips, and/or nuts.
Spoon ¼ c. batter into 24 greased or lined muffin cups.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Breakfast Plans

I find one of the hardest things for me is making split-moment decisions that are actually productive. In order to minimize the opportunity for chaos, it is helpful for me to have a plan that alleviates at least some of these decisions.


So occasionally I remember to plan ahead . . . when I am working according to plan, this is what we have for breakfast –



Monday – Muffins (Overnight)
Tuesday – Toast
Wednesday – Waffles (Overnight)
Thursday – Thoakmeal (Overnight)
Friday – French Toast (Overnight)
Saturday – Scrambled Eggs


As you can see, there are a couple of themes here: 1) I like overnight recipes, which means I prepare them the night before, let them sit overnight in the fridge, and just heat in the morning, and 2) Each breakfast has the same beginning letter as the day because I need all the memory helps I can get (well, we cheated on Soakmeal, but Thoakmeal is how my 3-yr. old says it and it makes it more convenient to go with Thursday).


For morning snack (on those mornings when breakfast is early enough to warrant a snack – VERY rare), we usually have some sort of fruit with or without peanut butter.

Rock-a-Bye Baby

This is a present that 22-mo. old Abraham left for 3-mo. old Eden when he saw her crying on her blanket outside.

There's nothing like a token of brotherly affection . . .

Friday, April 20, 2007

How Embarrassing . . .

After some puzzled expressions and fervent head-scratching, we figured out that Edee will be 3 months on Sunday. Not yesterday. We go by the day of birth, not the due date.


Aaaaarrrrggggghhhh. Fifth Child Syndrome has already struck!

Whoever Said, “There’s No Such Thing as a Stupid Question” Never Taught Eighth Grade

As an elementary student, I used to mentally roll my eyes when teachers gave the ol’ “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.” I was never quite sure what they meant by this. I had heard plenty of Stupid Questions, most of them from my parents’ mouths: “What did you learn in school today?” “Do you want to help make a salad?” “Do you enjoy being miserable?”

And then as an eighth-grade teacher, there was a whole new onslaught of Stupid Questions: “Do I have to do the homework?” Only if you want to pass. “When they say we can’t chew gum, what about the organic kind that automatically disintegrates after about an hour of chewing?” The issue is not that they think you will choke. “How do you know I didn’t use the sources in my bibliography?” If you had used them, you probably would not have done a 5-page research paper on porcupines calling them “porkypines” EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

As a parent, I field Stupid Questions every day: “Do I have to take a nap?” “Can I just have dessert?” “Why is your belly so wrinkled?”

But even worse and far more dangerous than Stupid Questions are Stupid Answers. And sadly, I have been hearing the worst kind of Stupid Answer a lot lately. In the wake of the tragedy this past week in Blacksburg, Virginia, we have vacillated between the two stations our television gets, squinting our eyes and craning our necks to see the local and national news concerning Virginia Tech.

And we can testify that a lot of Stupid Answers have come through that screen. They haven’t been Stupid Answers because they answered Stupid Questions; they have been Stupid Answers because they miserably fail at answering the most serious and most important of questions: “Why?” “What does it all mean?” “How could someone do this?”

Like the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, fingers are wildly pointing all over the place. More gun control! Less gun control! More medication! More education! More communication!

We are told that “We are Virginia Tech!,” that “The whole world is our family,” that “Community brings healing.” And while much of this is the sleep-deprived, grief-driven talk of people scrambling to find some sort of platitude that will prove to be the Balm of Gilead, the Truth is not in these platitudes.

Not that it’s too surprising. It is a rare moment when one turns to Channel 4 (or 5, or 6…) to see Truth proclaimed. But what IS alarming is how many pastors, church group members, prayer vigil organizers, etc. are spouting the same kinds of empty platitudes. It grieves me to think that someone is comforted by the size of a prayer vigil – despite the fact that different gods are being petitioned. Why, at a time when it is most sought after, do we withhold the Truth?

"Let me hear what God the LORD will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints;
but let them not turn back to folly.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
that glory may dwell in our land.

Steadfast love and faithfulness meet;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Faithfulness springs up from the ground,
and righteousness looks down from the sky.

Yes, the LORD will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him
and make his footsteps a way."
 (Ps. 85:8-13)

I need to speak the Truth to my family. I need to speak the Truth to my neighbors. I need to speak the Truth to those questioning the sanity of our world. It’s not sane! It’s not right! Our familial relations to this world are sadly rooted in our all being fallen sinners with no hope of redemption apart from the righteousness and peace that kissed at the cross. There is no magic number of candles or prayers or ribbons or laws that will take away the sin of this world.

Fortunately, there doesn’t need to be.

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit."

(Eph. 2:13-22)

So yes, I believe there is such a thing as a Stupid Question. But it is nowhere near as devastating as a Stupid Answer.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The One Who Changed His Mind about Newborns

is three months old today! My husband's opinion of Newbornia was always that it was a necessary, albeit boring, part of childhood. Once they hit around 5 months, they were no longer the squirming, irritated creature that viewed Papa as the necessary, albeit boring, transportation to Mama. And so he has always impatiently waited for the 5-month mark, when they start smiling at Papa for Papa's sake and not because Mama's standing behind him.

EXCEPT for this one. She has smiled at him, and he at her, since Day One. I know they say it's only gas, but it seems a little suspicious to me that she would ONLY have gas when HE was holding her and EVERY time HE was holding her. And now you should hear her chuckle! She has this deep, rumbling chuckle that just gets everyone chuckling.

Happy 3 months, Eden!

Master List

Kendra at Preschoolers and Peace gave her Master List for Costco, and she posted Margaret's as well. We no longer use Costco (for various reasons, one of them being that ours is located in the mall and it's a booger to find parking and get everyone inside and then back out once the cart is full of unbagged groceries). But we have enjoyed our local BJ's. We view our BJ's trips as a family "outing"! However, we try to limit ourselves to what we know we can't purchase cheaper somewhere else (read: Walmart). Here, so far, is what we have found to be cheapest at BJ's:

whipped cream in a can (for the iced coffees!)

maple syrup
chocolate chips (Nestle semi-sweet)
nonfat dry milk

diapers -- Luvs size 4, Berkley & Jensen size 1/2
toddler wipes (Berkley & Jensen)
infant wipes (Luvs)

Please share your lists, too!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday: Trash Bag Holdup

Because we have a 13-gallon trash can that likes to let go of 13-gallon trash bags . . . and the 30-gallon trash bags end up sitting around too long waiting to be filled after we take them out of the can . . . and the thought of 30 gallons of diapers is just a little too repugnant for me . . .


Hey, it works for me! For other great WFMW tips, go here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Abominable Gardener


Charlotte Mason, Anyone?

I was reading Home Education by Charlotte Mason and decided we needed to do more "nature walks," especially now that it's starting to get nicer out. So I took the kids for a walk the other day (picture this: 5- and 3-yr. olds walking, twins in double stroller, baby in sling).

This is what we learned:

  1. Trees have buds on them. Which has nothing to do with some birds being called budzzards.
  2. The tracks we were following were those of a tracktor. Now I know why they're called that.
  3. Pine trees are part of the forevergreen family.
  4. Mommy thinks we have a lot of fox or cat poop on the farm road. Lily thinks it is duck poop. Mommy remembers that it is goose poop. Lily knows poop better than Mommy. (And, once again, a discussion on how Ludwig Bemelman's Madeline says "poo, poo," which does not mean "poop," but try explaining that to a 3-year old.)
  5. When Mommy says, "Those are not good walking shoes" about black shiny clappy church shoes, she is right.
  6. Next time, Mommy should say, "Take those off and put on your sneakers."
See what a productive time we had? Charlotte Mason would be proud! Ahem . . .

This Is the Day

OK, so I'm new at blogging. Well, at writing one . . . I have been a blog junkie to 2 or 3 blogs for quite a while now. But being the mother to five young children (five 5 and under -- there's a pair of twins in there) and the wife to a very talented (if I do say so myself) seminarian who is admittedly stretched a little thin (work, school, church, kids, ahem . . . wife), I find myself needing a place to organize my thoughts. So at least SOMETHING of mine will be organized!

I am realizing that there are 3 main things that help my sanity:

  1. Getting a shower before the kids are up. Well, OK, before the kids are out of their room and into the kitchen and . . . eating lunch.
  2. A large cup of homemade iced coffee, especially if it's a mocha.
  3. Sunshine! Pouring in the windows, splashing across the floor . . .

But these are really incidentals. Of course, I have to include the No. 1 Priority, which is . . . Time in the Word (you knew that was coming, right?). Spending time in the Scriptures will not clean my kitchen OR re-wind the tape that my 22 mo.-old daughter has (AGAIN!!!) pulled out of the Hank the Cowdog audiocassette OR fish the cereal out of the milk carton (courtesy of my 22 mo.-old son) OR take away the responsibilities that come with the blessing of children.

BUT!!! Spending time in the Scriptures WILL bring me to where I am supposed to be. It WILL remind me that I am just a temporary citizen in this (very messy) Kingdom of Man but a permanent citizen of the (cleansed through the blood of the cross) Kingdom of God. It WILL take my focus off of myself and my eensy teensy little part of the world in this eensy teensy little part of history and WILL show me God's focus and His hand in history.

Spending time in the Scriptures reminds me, once again (because, like those ever-grumbling Israelites, I am more than a little forgetful), that cleaning my kitchen and re-winding an audiocassette and fishing cereal out of milk are not stumbling blocks to my sanctification. They are part and parcel of my day, to be used for the glory of God.

And, when I can order them, so are showers and iced coffees and sunshine.

"This is the LORD's doing;
   it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the LORD has made;
   let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Ps. 118:23-24).
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