Friday, August 26, 2011

Two Is Better than One

I'm talking age here, not quantity. 

Although, sometimes, twins are better. And sometimes, they are exasperating. And always, they are exhausting.

But right now I'm talking age.

While I enjoy holding someone else's newborn, snuggling in to breathe in their newborn-ness (unless they're formula babies, and then I have to breathe from afar because I find that smell nauseating, even in my own offspring), and marveling over the tiny-ness of new life....

I am so glad that child is not my own. 

It's not that I don't like or even love someone else's child. It's that for almost ten years we have had at least one very much loved newborn/toddler in the house; and after ten years and eight children's worth of experience (or our experience with eight children, however you say it), it has been absolutely true that children become much more enjoyable after the age of 2.

So I'll snuggle your newborn and smile at your newborn and truly be awed by her cuteness, but you may have her back because she's really no good to me until she's at least 2.

Gideon and Salem have not yet reached the 2-yr. mark. But they're almost 19-mos. old, and they are showing promise of becoming worthwhile munchkins. For instance: I have been able to sit in church with them for the entire service, morning and evening, for the past three (four, maybe?) Sundays. This is monumental to me. Remember, their father is the pastor and does not sit in the pew (oddly enough). So while I can farm out the others, those two have been my special charges; and until recently, they won every battle. Say what you will about my parenting methods, but I know why they behave now. They behave because for one week while we were on vacation, Ethan sat with us as we were in a church two thousand miles from our own. And that one service, he handled the disciplining and correcting. And they sat, quietly, after that.

And also, they are close to 2.

And close to 2 means words make more sense to them, and consequences start to make sense. And it means that they can more effectively communicate what they want or are frustrated about, and they can better understand rather abstract ideas like, "Gideon's turn. You need to share."

It also means their sense of humor is starting to be honed, which is really important to me. It really is! The two kinds of people that absolutely annoy me the most are 1) worriers and 2) people without a sense of humor. I want to send both kinds of people to bed with no dessert EVER unless they can come back downstairs with a happy face.

And seeing an 18-mo. old crack up because I said in my most stern voice, "JON-JON! You come here RIGHT. NOW." when his name is really Gideon, thereby blowing my authoritative cover...well, that is funny. So ha ha ha, and now, Gideon, really do come here.

It's just so freeing (and yes, especially with twins) to have them reach these little plateaus of independence. I don't have to follow them around the hill that is our yard for fear they will fall on their faces. If they do fall, they are old enough and seasoned enough to wipe the dirt from their hands and continue on without the screaming that used to follow. They can get their own diapers, and take things to the trash, and put things back when I say, "Put that back."

And it's wonderful. It's wonderful!

Two is wonderful. And two are wonderful (and also, yes, exhausting).

But mostly, wonderful. (And exhausting.)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real}: Aug. 18

Bear with me.


These pictures are from our road trip back to Virginia from Colorado.

Kansas is on the way.

And, as you may remember, I have a soft spot for Kansas.

Kansas is calm. Kansas is rolling. Kansas is easy. And Kansas is where my pa's from (but we call him Dad). And so, for Dad, I took these Kansas pictures.

And also, I took them for me.

Come on...SUNFLOWERS for the highway signs? That's so cool!

This is solely a memory aid for me...for when I want to know where a large-family friendly hotel is in Topeka, Kansas.

Then Ethan asked, "Why are you taking all these dumb pictures? Hey -- why don't you get a picture of the place where we just got drive-thru coffee?"

And I said, "Why, thank you dear, that's a superb suggestion."

Because we are a TEAM!

And here's a little known thing you can do when you're driving in Kansas. Well, no, technically you can't. So don't ask me how this happened. But it did. Or maybe it didn't. I'm taking no responsibility (or lack of it).

But the next time you're on a very, very long road trip, crank up the volume, shake your graham-cracker encrusted diaper bottom, and see if you don't feel better.

For more photos of everyday life, visit


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On Blogging

I have a complicated relationship with blogging. I enjoy blogging, so long as I feel it requires nothing from me; and I enjoy reading others' blogs, so long as I feel they require nothing from me.

Maybe that's not so complicated.

But I hate formulaic blogging.

Do you know what I mean? These are the heavily followed, heavily commented upon blogs that contain post after post of 

  • four bulleted items to include in every prayer time, or
  1. ten numbered chores to be done each day, or 
important underlined things never to be forgotten when trying to get out of debt, or

Nuggets of Wisdom Encased in Headings, or

Did you know you should end each post with an italicized question in order to get feedback?

and I just want to scream, "OH, GET OVER YOURSELF!!"

Because, really, most of the problems that women have (and it is mostly women) who read these blogs could be solved by the gentle, solid advice to "Get. Off. The. Computer." (Please do note my hypocrisy here. I am, after all, on the computer. But I shouldn't be.)

And so I try to stay away from these sorts of blogs. They have enough followers; they don't need me. But sometimes I have gotten suckered into following what I thought was a humorous, well-written (if not oft-written) blog about daily (or weekly, or monthly) life, only to have that blogger decide she (because it's always been a "she") needed to use her blog for money-making purposes; and before I know it, this enjoyable blogger has gone to some blogging conference and now daily (and sometimes twice a day) composes unenjoyable posts of four bulleted items to include in every prayer time, and ten numbered chores to be done each day, and important underlined things never to be forgotten when trying to get out of debt, and Nuggets of Wisdom Encased in Headings, and does she have to end each post with a question?

And then what am I to do? Because I know this person has it in her to be funny and poignant and witty and relate-able, and she's selling herself short (I hate it when people say "pun intended," so I won't) by making money and gaining followers.

Really, this is a no-brainer. What am I to do?

Unfollow her, of course! I don't know these people, and they don't know me. I don't have time to worry about Charlotte (name changed to protect the sell-out)'s writing career or financial status. Just as I am not under contract to finish a poorly-written book, I do not have to continue reading a blogger who has fallen.

What is the point of all this? I don't know, really, except to say that if you are not writing post after post of informative, instructive tidbits of wisdom, if you are not receiving comment after comment and link-up after link-up, if your self-esteem is not dependent upon feedback to your posts...

I think you're on the right track.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Teacher's Dirty Looks

This summer is a summer I'd like to see gone. It's been hot, humid (which it's NOT supposed to be here!), and buggy. The yard work has been constant, and I've learned with this hilly lot of ours that I abhor yard work and gardening. I had suspicions that such was the case, but this summer has confirmed it. I love to look at other people's gardens, and I think wildflowers are marvelous. But the toil and sweat and bug bites that have to be endured to tend to such cultivation...I find absolutely not worth it.

And I'm not sorry.

All that is not to say that I'm ready for fall. I've had several homeschooling friends write blog posts full of hopes and dreams and curricula. I can almost see their eyes widening in excitement as they describe the year's course load.

And my eyes start drooping.

And all THAT is not to say that I want to have imbeciles for children. I want them to learn. I want them to engage in society on an intelligent level. I want them to get lost in a book (fiction or nonfiction) so that I have to say their name twice before they hear me.

I want all that...sort of.

But really? I'm not ready for the headache that is homeschooling. I am no longer new to this. The excitement of training little minds in the way that we would have them go and turning on quarter-sized light bulbs has considerably waned. The training is constant, and the light bulbs self-extinguish over matters so trite as who answered the last question or whether thumb-sucking is allowed.

And, too, I'm probably suffering my usual malady of over-reaction to excitement around me. 'Round about this time, homeschooling mothers everywhere gather to excitedly share what wondrous new methods and books will be gracing their homes this year. And that something inside of me that has always bristled at too much emotion, too much excitement, too much smiling...rises up to say, "Bah, humbug!"

I do feel that my homeschooling philosophy has somewhat evolved. I now feel that there probably is no "best" as far as curriculum is concerned. I've known smart classical homeschoolers, smart textbook homeschoolers, smart Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, smart eclectic homeschoolers, and even smart unschoolers. I've also known bratty, intolerable classical homeschoolers, textbook homeschoolers, Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, eclectic homeschoolers and unschoolers. And, might I add, their mothers.

Here's the thing: we (personally) don't homeschool because we feel our children will be socially or academically superior. That is an anticipated bonus for which we eagerly hope. But we homeschool because we truly believe that there is no such thing as a "neutral" education. You can only serve one master, and public schools have made it clear that their master is not Christ. I won't speak for Christian schools, except to say that I attended and taught at one, and my conviction is that that education would not bring you to a clear knowledge of the gospel. It taught legalism and social activism exceptionally well, and I remember tolerance of very bad biblical interpretations. In other words, it left a young, impressionable Christian girl (and woman, even) very confused.

So we homeschool because we can pick the material and methods that we feel best adhere to the Word of God, and we have a Standard that does not waver and a Master Whose throne we can boldly approach.

That does not mean that I look forward to homeschooling. I dread it. It's another thing to be borne with the gritting of the teeth and a grain of salt, as far as I'm concerned. There are those treasured days when light bulbs do come on and thumbs stay out, but there are far more when there is no point in measuring the days' worth by the lesson plan.

Unlike gardening, this cultivation cannot be left to the wild. I must, and do, and will bear down and buck up. We will crack open the books, occasionally even enjoying them. I will endure the sweat and toil, knowing that, for the time being, this is best.

And then I will count the hours until next summer.
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