Thursday, September 8, 2016

Silas' 6th Birthday and Some Anecdotes

I just saw Silas at the library playing with another boy. He was chasing the younger boy around, silently. Every now and then the other boy would RUN to the shelf and pullout a book or a few books and throw them on the floor. And every time he did, Silas would go over and put the book back into the shelf. And then the little boy would do it again. And Silas would silently pick it up and reshelve again. Then the book chunks started getting bigger and bigger. Next time the boy ran over to pull books out, Silas stood in front of him and said, "don't mess up the books." The boy got a little upset with him. But Silas stood firm.  -July 18, 2016

Us: "Silas, would you like a little brother?"
Silas: "No. ...I can play with my sisters now." June 2016


(Continued 2-07-17) It's been such a long time since I journaled on here! I wanted to relate about Silas, and his turning six, and Golden, and her turning 8. We'll do Silas in this post, even though his birthday is later, because I already related two summer anecdotes about him above!

Silas' birthday was a home day. Thomas had the car at work, so we were home bound, but auntie Martina had sent him $50 and I had bought him a few presents, the most memorable of which was a 50-pc set of crayola colored pencils. We ALL fell in love with them! And spent most of the day in fact on my bed coloring! Silas was being really generous and sharing them.

Later we had a party at the Mariners Museum! The Thompsons were able to come and so were Mrs. Crowder and Asher. We had baked a cake and decorated it with blue frosting and fruits that the girls made into boat-shapes! It was a HOT day and I feared the icing would melt--it was whipped-cream based--but it didn't and I think Silas had a good time.

Silas, you are beautiful. Thank you for being so sincere, and so willing to help--you have a great attitude about that, and it shows your heart of gold. I love that you love the outdoors and animals so much (animals are your favorite thing in the world), and I love your enthusiasm about dinosaurs. Haha--I know I will someday miss you going into "T-rex mode." You are serious and funny and sweet and still Smiley Silas. What an amazing gift you have been to me and Daddy, for six whole years now. I pray you grow in wisdom and faith this year--that you would find strength when you need it, believe in the angels God has placed around you, that you would find comfort when you need it, and encouragement and hope. You are doing so good. Thank you too, for being my enthusiastic trash-bag replacer. You have no idea what a help that is! I love you like crazy. I can't wait to take you to the jungle! Love, Mama

What we did all day on Silas' birthday

They like beer for some reason. He got his own non-alcoholic beer for his birthday dinner! 

That's a peach-boat cake.

Opening some cool stuff. This was a badminton set that I got him. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Golden's 8th Birthday

Golden the Golden.

This will be addressed to you directly.

You're precious, wise, thoughtful. I love your sensitive spirit. You're hilarious, original, and such an amazing artist. You're a really good friend and I love seeing you interact with people. You've been a delight for eight whole years! Don't hesitate! God made you powerful and smart and capable. I pray for the strength and wisdom to keep building you up in your identity in God. You are a true jewel in the world, Golden. Always believe you can do anything.

On your birthday we went to Whole Foods for breakfast with Daddy.

I think it was a "stack the cats" game.

Several days later we had your party at the Fort Eustis Aquatic Center which has a fun pool and a slide! Miss Genie came with Genevieve and Rachel and several of her older children and it was super fun! 

Although I have to say, I was wrestling with that dang cat cake for FOREVER and I made us really late, and I was so stressed that I yelled a lot, and for that I am sorry. I hope that part is erased from your brain. I love you so much. May you grow as a healer and a seer this year. May you know your identity as in Christ beyond anything else, and may it give you amazing confidence! 

Mommy-daughter picture 2016!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Fear is Like the Daddy Long Legs

I just observed a daddy long legs--a big one--crawling off the rail to thes side of me as I sat on the front step at Hidden Hollow Homestead (which is seemingly our summer home). He came out from behind my coffee cup and gangled his awkward strings of legs up over the white wood rail, moving the sharp mouth-pincers about in a nervous way.

He looked a fright. Those yellow pincers, sharp; and would they inflict a bite, or poison into the skin? His ghastly overlong legs shivering through space. How they would feel on the back of my neck... He looked like fear itself.

And then I realized: fear itself is exactly like this spider. Shaky, ugly, inducing the shivers. Hungry yellow mandibles, and looking like a formidable adversary. And yet--afraid himself, with very little power--no power, in fact, to do damage to me. The power of fear is only that which is given to it by those that actually do have power--the children of God. And when we forget that we are the powerful ones, the "most frightening things in this place" (paraphrase from Robinson Crusoe, a passage of literature that has changed my life), that's when we look at fear and get all a-shiver. How ugly it is! How menacing! And how, then, we cower before something that is nothing but an ugly, impotent spider, that knows in its very body that it is meant to die, and exists only to get a last meal in the shadows before it is found out and ultimately smashed.

Fear is nothing but a fear. I will not fear a fear.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A Golden Evening Experienced Through Real Eyes

I have to write this down, because it is a momentous day. Pippa learned how to correctly pronounce "girl." She has called it "GORE," ever since she learned how to talk. It is a bittersweet moment. We keep teasing her, "No, it's gore!"
"No, it's not, it's 'girl.'"
I tell her, "Who told you?! Who taught you about girls?!?"
Pippa, without missing a beat, responds, "God."

Silver was adorable personified today. She was trying to jump in the living room with Silas this morning. It was like a beautiful slow-motion indie video. In the filtered morning light in the brown room on the humble wooden floor, she danced. Up went one leg, bent knee out, up went her hands as she tried to use them for momentum. Then down. Then, deliberately, carefully but enthusiastically, UP! And softly back down.

This evening was unearthly beautiful. The air was saturated in golden light radiating from a sun setting in a splendor of heavenly marigolds. The clouds, a moody mixture of dark gray and orange, split here and there to reveal a brilliant crystal blue above. Everything seemed clearer, sharper, and unreal.

The light hit the maple and lit up all the leaves for a few minutes, turning it into a fantasy tree of quivering gold and green geometry. We lay there, on the picnic blanket, getting lost in the dizzy hugeness of the sky from this perspective. It was surprisingly cool outside. The breeze blew a steady, gentle freshness whole scene. At one point it started to rain. Silver drops coming down and blessing us like showers of jewels.

The children saw the first fireflies of the season, and chased them with awe and delight until well past the velvet dusk, naming them things like "Glow-Glow, but Glow for short," and Harold, and bringing them to me as I sat on the front step, drinking in all the visual poetry with every part of my being.

Silver, dressed in nothing but jeans, found Silas' brown John Deere baseball cap, put it on, and tottered over to me, saying, "hat, hat!"

For once, I let the camera lie still in the house. I needed the moment, I needed to lock in on it with my soul, experience it undiluted instead of through the eye of the shutter.

Yesterday, I also took my moment. I have been trying to slow down again and breathe moments of beauty as used to be so easy to me when I was younger and not so... responsible. Worrying about the bills isn't going to pay them. It seems helpful to worry about them, but it's really counterproductive. I still get to slow down, I still get to enjoy, I still get to be a presence-person. God said He would provide all our needs.

I had been to an exercise class after 3 or 4 days of feeling very dizzy. When I came home, Thomas had built a large fire with thick parts of the trees he's been cutting down in the yard. The fire pulsed and popped and sparked like some live alien trying to communicate a fierce message of love.

The children had roasted hot dogs and marshmallows already and were inside, but I stole a moment and slipped outside with four marshmallows, and squatted by the fire, my old familiar place, the smell bringing me back to 27 years ago, to a tiny adobe village in the Albarradas mountains of Mexico...

And tonight, as I sang "How He loves us, Oh," and played on the guitar, Silver sang with me, "Let it go!!"

Close enough.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Pippa's Fourth Birthday

You're a little genius.
You're strong.
You're original.

Pippa is a combination of rainbow and TNT. The girl has ideas. The girl has energy. A lot of energy.

We were awestruck that this little thing is turning four already, and celebrated it at home with much gusto. Pippa celebrates everything with gusto. Gusto is her middle name.

I love the way she dresses herself.

I love the way she does manual labor in a princess dress.

And her bravery of deciding to get her ears pierced. The girl was determined AND decided on her course of action. Perhaps a little surprised, when she found the first side hurt, but she still went through with it and is as proud as ever.

I love the way she loves butter.

Why yes, that is whipped cream on top of a butter stick. Happy birthday.

And... the Mahnkens came over on her birthday! Boom. Seven extra children makes a party if I ever saw one. I love that Veronica took on the trip right before their huge California road trip. And it was the first time she had driven their behemoth van such a great distance, and the first time she had come over without the hubs. I salute her. Bonfires and park days and Old Navy trips galore! (Just kidding. It was two days. There was only one instance of each of those.)

So we made the froofroo cake, and happy-birthday-ed and these slappy hand-thingies we had purchased and given out made us wish there had been no party favors at all, and I still see them or pieces of them on my floors every single day but can't bring myself to toss them because as gross as it is, the children STILL play with them and love to do it, so...

Anyways. Pippa. This firecracker birthday girl.

Always look up to Jesus. He is excited about you. He is close to you. He will never leave you. He has great things for you. You will lead people with your voice. The way you love to recite scripture and sing is just beautiful. Your voice has power to effect change in the earth. You know that! Proverbs 18:21 is one of your favorites, and you committed it to memory really quickly. Your voice is a special gift that was notable from the day you were born, and I can't wait to see what happens with it as you hone it, as you use it in the presence of God, as you bend and discipline your will for the purpose of power and love and a sound mind. You've got this! God's in you! I am so blessed to be your mommy. You have made me an extra level of rich.

Love, Mama

Not a perfect picture of either of us, but we're both in it!

Here's Pippa reciting Proverbs 18:21, just before her fourth birthday:

She's going places. With Jesus!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Sparrow's Tenth Birthday

My girl, the one who made me a mother. She was ten this month and I'm still trying to catch up in my mind to the fact that I am a mother at all, still trying to grasp how my love of another human being, my husband, could have made this new thing, this whole person with a huge everlasting soul, and she tells me she is already ten, and could she please buy a Kindle with her birthday money this year. She's the one who cries over disappointments but also with compassion, who flares up quickly and then loves you so passionately the next moment that all is forgotten. There is so much of me in her. So much of her in me by now, it's impossible to think of another path for this journey I call my life.

And she? How is her life? is it joyous and hopeful and exciting? One hopes that in God's mercy she is remembering the evenings snuggled on the bed reading, the impromptu trips in the car, the friends invited over for bonfires. One hopes that the mother's stress, the oft disappointments of things we have to say no to, the recurring frustrations as we work out chores and habits in an ever-changing family, will be gently erased off the essence of her memories.

She is awe in a capsule. Her ability to see another's trouble, to quickly repent, and her love for her sisters and brothers... they are extraordinary. Her insight into people and sensitivity to their intentions and desires... make her a constantly interesting person to talk to. I like her AND I love her. Her love for Shakespeare and chemistry--yes, even at ten--they make me stand back and attempt to take a breath and hold on tight because she's a tangled ponytail in my house one day, but will be changing the boundaries of  the earth tomorrow. She will yet teach me more than I know. My ceiling is her floor.

Last night, as I was walking through this old house...

I go from the front to the back. Checking on the party of girls who have come to gather to celebrate her life. In our home. There they are, gathered around. Friends. They giggle, playing the yucky jelly bean game and filling these halls that were empty for three years with the untainted laughter of youth. That youth that thinks it will live forever. Or knows it will. Outside, the embers of the bonfire are glowing their last warm glimmers. It starts to sprinkle. A cool, Virginia spring rain, giving magic food to the budding irises. Walking through the kitchen, the sink is clean, because I have wiped it. Because it is mine, and there were all those times when we didn't have a sink. I remember washing dishes in bath tubs, and in borrowed rooms. I love my dominion in the kitchen. I pass under the festive birthday flags and down the hall, to peek in on the baby in the large nursery with walls of blue. The lights of the star lamp are scattered all over the ceiling and walls, casting over the room a glow that sings its own kind of lullaby. Her dreams will be joyous and unmarred. She sleeps in the crib we have used for the last four babies and brought with us from across the country. Her sheets smell fresh because I washed them today. I remember too, years without washers and dryers. Laundry is my joy. I pass into the back room, where Thomas has fallen asleep with the middle and the elder little. They are pressing into him one on each side. The four year old has her hand across his chest, she knows she takes care of us all. He is completely blissful and breathing like a steady tide. This is what he always wanted. Redemption. I pray with them and kiss them goodnight. As I turn away, I can't recognize the odd feeling I have, here, on these old wood floors, and suddenly I know it: it's the feeling called being home.

Even in these tattered walls, paint half done, insulation so-so... Even in this unremarkable suburb, where things are close by, but communion with nature is further away than my childish soul would like to remember... we have come home.

And Sparrow? Here you are, growing into a lady before our eyes. You are beautiful. Thank you for always being more than willing to help. I trust you for many things, and you are through and through a delightful and trustworthy girl. You are learning so well. You are loving so well. Your intentions are gold. I love your fun-loving ways, your humor, how we can share and appreciate stories together. I love to watch your eyes, pure and innocent. You have such a strong sense of duty, and I want to tell you that I appreciate that so much. It is going to grow into good friendships, good wifehood, and good motherhood (if you choose to get married of course!).Your heart is being held by God, and I pray you know that fact more deeply than anything else you know about yourself. Your purpose is to be yourself in God! Can't wait to see what you do this next year! So excited we get to be here with you, watching you!

This past year, let's think about some of the fun stuff we did:
-Lived with the Stroupes for two months
-Visited the Mahnkens a LOT of times
-Went to Busch Gardens in the summer
-Celebrated Cow Appreciation Day
-Moved into our new house
-Went to Maymont in the fall
-Went to Ikea with Miss Genie
-Went to the Smithsonian in Washington DC with Miss Genie
-Sang at the church talent show
-Had our first Christmas at our own home
-Planted flowers in our own yard (you got snapdragons!)
-Planted strawberries and blueberries
-Read "Twelfth Night" together
-Got a King-sized bed and had many reading evenings on it!