A New and Very Important Rule

Don't put cars down Tembo's jammies.


Storing leftovers in yogurt containers is a good idea.

Checking to see whether a particular yogurt container holds yogurt or leftovers before reheating is an even better idea.



Especially Yummy!

Bosey was very excited to see these on the breakfast table.

"Special blueberries!"


Valet Parking Only

And a gratuitous picture of Timmo, just because she's cute.

And also, because I uploaded the wrong picture at first.


Guest Blogger: An eventful supper, as narrated by Meepo, transcribed by Dadders

Wuggers is choking.

Wuggers is choking on s'ghetti.

Wuggers is covered in choking!

Wuggers is sad.

Wuggers is sick.

Wuggers is gonna go to the doctor.

Gonna fix the Wugger.

I need a hammer.

I'm gonna fix the Wugger.

Wuggers' alive!

Momma's a doctor.



It was an exhausting trip, but good, and I'm glad I went.

Painful as this time is, somehow I've come back more invigorated than drained. It has been such a blessing to see the way their church has gathered around them, and is holding them up through this ordeal. I've never seen a church that size with such a close-knit community. The size of the congregation didn't prevent them from having an intimate circle around them, but rather provided ever widening circles underneath, all supporting one another. There was very little for us to do, besides be with Uncle Jim and the kids, sharing memories, crying and laughing together. Every few hours more food would quietly appear on the table, and the fridge would fill with more drinks. The bathrooms were cleaned, the carpet vacuumed, the lawn mowed... it was a beautiful thing to see the Body of Christ in action, and it was a great privilege to be a part of it.

Aunt Cindy lived her life in such a way as to make mourning her a thing of beauty. All the memories and sharing... by the end, I felt like surely I must have just attended a really superb seminar on godly womanhood. Only better. Thinking about her life was a good thing.

The memorial service was deeply painful. This is not how it's supposed to be. Death itself is not how it's supposed to be, but even in a world of death, this isn't when it's supposed to happen. Gone, right in the middle of everything, and her absence forms a stark and sharply defined silhouette.

In the midst of it all, though, the hope of the resurrection was never far behind. Aunt Cindy had selected the music before she died, and we sang and we sang and we sang. We stared tragedy straight in the face and sang in triumph

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt of life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand


Question of the Day

Er... night, that is.

Does the lap baby count as my one "personal item"?

Bonus question:

Why did I think that getting the 7am flight as opposed to the 6pm would let me sleep tonight?

No, this just gives me time to pack stuff like... oh... say, clothes. And other things I might want.


Bliss is...

...having a back that doesn't hurt.



Tomorrow morning, Tembo and I are flying out for Aunt Cindy's memorial service.

You never can tell, but I'm not planning on any blogging between now and our return on Wednesday.

So please don't think I've fallen off the blogosphere, and do check back after Wednesday.

And if you have room in your prayers, I'm sure my Uncle Jim could use them, as could my cousins Andrew, Timothy, Christopher, Gwendolyn, and Ellen.

Cindy leaves quite a gaping hole.

On a much lighter note, I could use prayer too... that's a couple of really long flights with a toddler...



She asked if I was okay.

It's one of those questions that just has no answer, because if I was, it wouldn't be okay.

And yet my grief is so tiny in comparison. I don't have to face the day-to-day chasm of her absence... not like that. It puts everything into perspective, and the very pain I feel forces me to confess that I am very okay indeed, and I have no answers for the not-okay-ness of it all.

She was so beautiful... is so beautiful. In all our flip-floppy musings about where to settle down, Andy was drawn to Pennsylvania because Pennsylvania is vibrant and centered and full of life and beautiful. I was drawn to Pennsylvania because of her. Because that is how she is. Andy wanted to come to Pennsylvania because he wants to live somewhere beautiful, I wanted to come to Pennsylvania because I wanted to learn to become beautiful like her.

Somewhere inside I knew it was futile, but I kept on hoping, because I didn't know what else to do.

And now it is beyond hoping. I will meet her again, somewhere more beautiful than Pennsylvania, more beautiful even than she is.


Out of whack

Yesterday, everything was so good. So free and easy.

We went to Home Depot, and then to the train station to watch the trains go by. We didn't get back until 6:30, but the housework was all very much under control, so even though we had a late supper, everything was peaceful and orderly and not a bit rushed.

I pulled out my flute and improvised while Andy got the kids into jammies, and then we pulled out the keyboard and let the wuggies play along.

Such good family time, time being just exactly the family we want to be.

And then... something snapped.

I heard a little click, and my shoulder erupted in pain. It felt like I should be able to twist a little bit, my back would pop, and I'd be okay... but no. Still there. By now my whole right side is feeling limp and achy, everything hurts.

I have an appointment with a chiropractor this afternoon, and I'm praying he can take care of it.



Works for Me Wednesday: Sorting out my laundry system

Last week, we had an out-of-control laundry situation.

One week of spring cleaning later, and we have a big, but controlled laundry situation. Which, really, is the best you can hope for when you have three in diapers, I think.

Part of the reason things are so much better now is because I washed, dried, folded, and put away approximately three-hundred-mazillion-forty-eight loads.

But that's only part of it.

The main reason things are under control now, and the only reason I was able to that much laundry, is our new laundry hamper.

I'm not sure how wholeheartedly I can recommend the particular product. It's kinda flimsy. Serviceable, but not terribly stable. And the mesh separating out the compartments won't hold out if you happen to overfill one of them. But the concept is absolutely wonderful, and turns laundry into something that makes sense.

The whole idea of a tripartate laundry hamper is, of course, to divide the laundry according to color, but I've got my own system right now. We don't happen to have any new red items at the moment, so I haven't been worried about colors. Instead, I'm dividing up my laundry according to "needs extra attention" and "just throw it in." It's amazingly easy to do a load of wash that you don't have to even think about, and it's very energizing. And a load consisting solely of stained items actually isn't that bad, either. Instead of feeling despair at how many items need pre-treating, I feel a great sense of accomplishment as I push through all the "hard laundry."

My third category won't be necessary once things are more under control, but right now, I really do need a "don't bother washing it until you're through with the stuff we actually wear" category. The too-small clothes to give away really do need to get washed... someday. But it's much lower on the priority list. Besides, it's just a bad situation when those clothes that you only wear because there's nothing else clean wind up on the top of the laundry pile, and end up being the only thing clean once again.

The other wonderful thing about our new hamper is the lid and the overhead bar. This means that I can fold everything right there at the dryer, pile it up on the lid, hang stuff from the bar, and wheel the whole thing right into the various bedrooms. It's all right there, and I'm not tempted to procrastinate on the whole putting-it-away bit.

So that's how I'm getting the laundry done.

It works for me!

Meaningful Choices

Sometimes I forget just how much easier choices can make things for everybody.

Tembo loves brushing her teeth, for instance. Which is wonderful, but there does come a time when the toothbrush needs to go back into the cabinet. Taking the toothbrush away results in a terrible tantrum. Holding out a hand, or even better, a hat, and asking her to put the toothbrush in it... well that is just an utterly delightful game, and the command is met with sweet compliance and joy.

Of course, she really does have to learn to obey us, just because we said so... but there are enough opportunities for that sort of thing as it is. I'm far more interested in Aristotelian virtue than Abelardian virtue. I want to make it as easy as possible for her to get in the habit of joyous obedience. Much practice in a struggle toward painful obedience doesn't seem terribly helpful, and anyway, we aren't in danger of running of those excercises. There's no way to make it fun to stay inside the yard, but she has to learn to do it anyway. She doesn't know why it's important, but we do, and she has to learn to trust our judgment. Trust and and obey.

Part of learning to trust us, though, is being actively involved in the logic of our commands whenever possible, actively experiencing our judgments as directed toward her benefit and empowerment. When we make it easy for her to obey, she obeys us better... not just in the instances where we make it easy, but also in the instances where it's unavoidably hard.

The other day at lunch, Isaiah started in on a doozy of a tantrum as I pulled down a loaf of bread and began making sandwiches.

"Cer-yal! Cer-yal! No sammich! I wan CER-YAL!"

But then I asked him if he wanted a peanut butter sandwich or a cheese sandwich.

He quieted instantly. "Cheese sanwich."

I pulled out the block of cheddar.

"No, cream cheese!"

Well, okay. Why not.

"Do you want jelly on your sandwich?"

"No jelly. Just cream cheese."

"Would you like me to cut it, or not cut it?"

"Cut it!"

"Should I cut it into squares or triangles?"


"Should I cut it into two pieces or four pieces?"

"Four! Four triangles!"

By this point he was beaming as only Isaiah can beam, and the whole room was filled with the piercing brilliance of young joy.

They just desperately want to be a part of things, that's all.

The other day, Andy was mourning the loss of his teen years. If only he could go back and be ten years old again... the things he could have done to prepare himself for greatness, if he had caught a vision of purpose and virtue then, before it was too late, before the opportunities were gone.

Is there any hope for our children and the children that we teach? Or is that sort of vision impossible apart from age? Are teenagers just inherently lazy?

The answer lies, I think it what ten-year-old Andy actually did with his time. Rather than pouring himself into diligent study and relationships with wise mentors, young Andy spent all his time playing Hero's Quest, building up a virtual character well prepared to achieve greatness.
Could he have learned to see himself as the young hero, and poured that energy into real-life growth? Or was that time not as wasted as it seems? Did the silly video games actually provide him with the narrative structure to see meaning and purpose in his own life now?

I don't know.

But in the mean time, we will involve our children in the small but truly significant bits of life, like setting the table and folding the clean rags and throwing away their diapers and putting away the train tracks and pushing the start button on the dishwasher, and we'll teach them to delight in their important contributions to our family life. We're looking forward to the day when balancing the checkbook and paying the taxes and making the most of our grocery budget will be exciting math projects for the kids.

And we'll tell Tembo to place the toothbrush in our open hands, and delight with her in her free will and volition, as she chooses to obey.


I'm looking forward to sitting down with a cup of coffee in our brand new study after the kids are in bed, and figuring this one out with Andy.

It's what nerds do on dates.

Well, broke nerds, anyway.


He is risen!

The Lord is risen indeed!


Spring Cleaning

Jessica talks about spring cleaning during Holy Week here, how it makes a fitting culmination to lent and a good preparation for Easter.

Good thoughts, as always--if you don't read her blog, you should--and they ran parallel to my own thoughts on the topic. As we drove The Container Store on Thursday, I mused about how I wished we had time to do a Seder. Andy rightly pointed out that getting organized actually has deep spiritual implications, and will do us a lot more good, just by way of clearing out the space and time to focus on important things throughout the year to come.

Maybe next year.

And so my mind flitted through delightful images of teaching the wuggies about God's faithfulness through Israel's long journeys, culminating in Christ. Grimacing at the horseradish, hiding the afikomen, and, of course, the preparatory scurry about the house, clearing out the leaven.

Suddenly, I realized that was exactly what we were doing--getting rid of the leaven. The Festival of Unleavened Bread began with a call to simplicity. Don't even wait for the bread to rise!

And so it is that we are going through our home, clearing out everything that might slow us down in our journey to the Promised Land.

An important element of our spring cleaning is also going to be putting up pictures of Jesus. I'm finding that I desperately need visual reminders of who he is. I can make words so complicated, parsing and analyzing and dissecting. There's a place for that--a very important place, indeed!--but sometimes I can get a little out of focus.

I've been spending a lot of time in the Sermon on the Mount lately, and the familiar words take on new meaning as I picture his face. Spoken from a faceless authority, they are harsh and impossible demands. Spoken from the lips of my redeemer, they become a call to freedom and gracefulness. An easy yoke and a light burden, not the unattainable goal, but the way.

I've always wondered why he warned us against the leaven of the Pharisees, but it makes sense now. It's so easy to take good things, and make them so complicated that they utterly obscure the point, and hold us back from following Jesus freely.

Pictures force me to meditate on Jesus as a whole, his deeds in light of his words, and his words in light of his deeds.

That wholeness cuts right through everything, and clears a path to holiness.


Good Friday

I want to mourn, but I cannot. My soul is too overcome with the gladness of who you are. Your face dispels all bitterness.


Maundy Thursday

It wasn't cold.

Did Holy Week come earlier last year, when spring was still winter?

The foot washing was symbolic and moving. Moving because, as Father David pointed out, it wasn't symbolic. Not at the beginning. Just necessary and a little bit gross and ever so practical.

Like diaper changing.

"Wash my hands and my head as well!"

Like Peter, I swing from extreme to extreme with fervor and intensity. Hold me, Jesus, to the right. Center me.

"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

I cannot stop thinking perfect the harmonies are, how well suited to the text and how exquisitely realized. Designed to draw me to the text, yet my soul balks at the hard words.

"...Thou didst answer. But I am a worm and not a man..."

Inwardly, I praise the discretion of the pageantry. The choir at the back, the dimming of the lights, the stripping of the altar.... still and quiet and self-forgetful. And yet I cannot stop analyzing--that would be to listen.

"My betrayer approaches."

I find myself clutching at my sweater, shivering after all.

It is very cold.


WFMW Car Edition: Saving on Gas

Do you ever have those weird moments where you're carrying on two entirely separate trains of thought in the back of your head, and then suddenly you realize that they're exactly the same?

Like how I've been frustrated that I had absolutely nothing to contribute to the Car Edition of Works For Me Wednesday, even as I was brewing a post on gas-saving tips. Yeah.

Anyway, did you all know that those big numbers on the gas station signs... those big numbers that keep getting bigger and bigger... well, it turns out that they aren't gas prices after all. Nope. That's the price of gas PLUS tax PLUS credit card fees. The tax part is inevitable, of course, but some places will actually knock off 8-10 cents a gallon off their posted price if you pay in cash. I know that Arco and Valero do this--I'm not sure about any other stations.

The other way we save on gas is by buying premium, ironically enough. We get so much better gas mileage with the expensive stuff, that we actually end up paying slightly less per mile. We don't save much on gas, and but we don't lose anything either, and our engine is much, much happier. Which translates into less time and money spent at the mechanics.

It may or may not turn out to be worthwhile for your particular car, but it works for us!


Joke's on us

Yesterday afternoon, as I was paying for my groceries at the farmer's market, I paused, trying to remember what date to put on my check. I'm always having to ask the cashier, but ever since they put that 2 doz. per family limit on the eggs, I've been coming 'round an awful lot, so I figured that the question was probably getting pretty old. After a few facial contortions, I remembered that March had just ended... "Oh! It's..."

"No," she smiled, "that was yesterday. Today's the second."

Bummer. I'd missed it again.

On the way home, however, I realized that we'd been the recipient of a fantastically delightful (not to mention disorienting!) joke.

Saturday night, Justy watched the kids, and Andy and I went out for a night of superb amateur theatre. We had a great time, but Shakespeare didn't write short plays, and when you factor in driving the babysitter home and then discussing the interpretation of Malvolio over a bowl of ice cream.... we didn't exactly get to bed early.

Which was problematic, because we really, really needed to get to church on time.

Of course, it's always a good idea to get to church on time, and it's always just a little bit out of reach--though we've been doing much better, lately.

But this was Palm Sunday. And Palm Sunday only comes around once a year, and the extra-special part is at the very beginning. And Palm Sunday when you're three? That only comes around once, period. We had to get those wuggies to church on time.

Moreover, I had to rehearse for the Easter service. I had to be at church an hour early. An hour and a half, if I didn't want to be sight-reading.

We crashed into bed Saturday night without even setting our alarms, and in the morning I woke in a panic, desperate to know what time it was. I glanced up at the clock, but the clock was gone. That's right, the boys knocked it over. Shoot.

I booted up the computer.


Upon seeing that I had an hour in which to get everyone ready for church, I promptly fell back asleep for "just a few minutes more."

But amazingly enough, this time it really was just a few minutes more, and after that, I really was ready to face the day.

Clothes. Must find clothes for everybody. I tiptoed into the boys' room, and glanced into their drawers.


I had done a load of laundry every single day, some days two, and yet the laundry pile stands as massive ever, and the twins had nothing to wear to church. Nothing. I seriously do not get it.

I quickly picked a few key items out of Mount Shirt-and-vest, told the washing machine to forget about the second rinse, and started a load.


I threw on a dress, ran a comb through my hair, started the coffee pot, and began frying eggs as quickly as I could. (I didn't break a single one, either. Am I good, or am I good?)


I dressed Tembo, fixed her hair, hoped that she wouldn't smear herself with egg yolk, and dashed out the door, leaving Andy to do the rest.

When I got to church I had to try several doors before I found one that was unlocked. The choir room was utterly deserted. Were they in the sanctuary?

No, the early mass had already started.

I looked for a clock.

It said 7:55--I guess every building has to have at least one forgotten clock leftover from the time change. That meant that it must be 8:55, and I was 10 minutes late. JAC had said it would just be a quick run-through... but how was it that they were completely gone so soon?

One of the ladies setting up in the kitchen asked what I was looking for, and I told her I was trying to find JAC and the musicians.

"Oh, they usually come around 8:30."

It took me a few minutes to figure out if she was speaking of 8:30 as in the past,
or yet to come, but it slowly dawned on me that the clock was right after all.

Daylight savings came two weeks earlier that our computer expected, and we'd reset it manually. Now the computer had automatically "sprung forward" all over again... and I had time! Wonderful, gloriously unexpected time!

Time to find my part, and run through it. Time to warm up, and remember how to coax a beautiful sound out of my flute. Time to improvise freely and playfully and meditatively and worshipfully. Time, flute in hand, to prepare my soul for the eucharist.

Wonderful, wonderful gift!

Sometime later, Andy pulled up with the van full of wuggies, discouraged that the laundry had caused them to be 45 minutes late.

Or 15 minutes early, as the case may be.

Quite the April fools. Quite the April fools.