Tag Archive | Bible

Autumn breeze, makes me feel fine

Here’s the song reference.

As is our custom on Sundays, we spent the afternoon over at Nonno and Deedaw’s house.  Somewhat uncharacteristically for Virginia, the afternoon was warm and golden, with temperatures high enough for the tiny people to gad about in short sleeves.

Once we had exchanged greetings with Nonno, Deedaw, Nephew, Frank and Megan (Manie’s brother and his lady friend), the midget mob began agitating to be allowed to play out in the spacious back yard.  Since it seemed almost blasphemous to disallow them the pleasure of enjoying the blessing of a springlike autumn afternoon, we adults did a quick shoe check and then dispatched the lot of them into the fresh air and sunshine.  As Nonno was resting, Frank was working on a project, and Deedaw, Megan, and I were busy with household tasks, Manie was nominated as the safety patrol officer.

Baby Guy decided to stay inside for a while, and delighted Nonno with his exploration of the toy bins in the family room and his grinning, chortling toddler babble.  Eventually, though, the littlest member of the tribe decided that he missed having playmates, and meandered over to the back door in search of his siblings and cousin.  I paused to open the door for him and notify Manie of his entry into the afternoon melee, then returned to cleaning a head of cauliflower.

A few moments later, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and looked to see which little blessing had come in looking for a drink.  Much to my surprise, I saw the motion in question had come from Nonno, who had decided that his grandchildren were far more interesting than the afternoon’s football offerings (particularly after what the Ravens did to the Raiders), and that he would therefore prefer to enjoy a little fresh air and sunshine himself.  Megan had caught the same movement from where she had been working, and the two of us fussed over him as he descended the steps onto the patio, in spite of his assurances that he was fine and did not require our assistance.

Off into the madding midget crowd went Nonno, perhaps a little shorter and thinner than he was when I first met him almost a decade ago, with his head slightly shinier, but still with the same smile in the presence of grandchildren I first saw gracing his entire face the first time I saw him playing with Niece, who was a wee girl of three and a half at the time.  It is the smile of a man who rejoices in what the Lord has sent, and one that encompasses every part of his face, not just his lips.  There are days when the tribe is particularly trying that I call that smile to mind, as a reminder of how deeply and madly grateful we are for our quiver full of arrows.

I watched through the kitchen window for a moment as he kicked a soccer ball for one child, guided another gently towards the playset, pointed out to Manie that the swing needed to be moved to a higher branch of the big magnolia, then fetched Deedaw from the laundry room, whispering, “No, really, you need to look outside.  This is way better than laundry.”

As she neared the door and saw Nonno, head glowing in the afternoon sun, face aglow with the joy of being surrounded by rowdy little kids, she smiled gently and shook her head.  After giving me a quick nugget of cauliflower advice, she leaned on the back of a nearby chair for a moment, watching the mayhem unfold in the yard, with Nonno bobbing through it like a balding rubber duck in a wave pool.  She remarked that he’s happier when he has kids and sunshine around, and that the combination of the two put more color in his cheeks, before she headed back to the dryer.  Her smile was a little brighter, too, and played about the corners of her lips a little longer.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for blessing us with Nonno and Deedaw, and for blessing them with length of years.  You have made them like trees by a river, who prosper all those who spring from their branches.  Grant us the grace of many days in their company for us and for Your little blessings, that we may be instructed by their example of faithfulness to each other and to You, and thank You for the gift of allowing us to love and serve them as their autumn and winter approach.

I’ve got my love to keep me warm

Here’s the song reference.

Bugaboo skipped into the kitchen yesterday morning before the sun was fully up, clad in her first-day-of-Faith-Formation dress.  She loves that dress, partly because it’s pretty and has a poufy crinoline, partly because she picked it out all by herself.

scottie dog dress, crinoline

In all honesty, I share her enthusiasm for the garment in question, but there aren’t too many  November days with just the right combination of warm temperatures and plans to stay indoors all day that make wearing it feasible.  The fabric is lightweight, and the tulle skirt isn’t really conducive to rough-and-tumble play, which tends to be a feature of the tribe playing outside, particularly when there are big piles of leaves just pleading for children to jump in them.

“Mommy, don’t you just love this dress?

“I do, Bugaboo, and I’m still very proud of you for choosing it.  Unfortunately, it’s November, and it’s a little cool for it today.  You can wear it for now, while you’re in our nice warm house, but later today you’ll need to change or you’ll get cold.”

That earned me a distinctly pouty Bugaboo face.  Luckily, I was still typing yesterday’s blog post, and thus had a browser open.  Inspiration struck.

“Hey, Bug, come here a second.  Let me show you something on the computer.”

She trudged over, scowling mightily.  I pulled up the bookmark for the Weather Channel and pulled her up into my lap.  After giving our oldest a hug and a kiss, I pointed to the screen.

“Can you tell me what that is?”

“It’s the weather.  It says 35 and clear.”

“Right.  Do you know what that means?”

“It means it’s not raining and I should be able to wear my dress.”

“Well, you’re half right.  It’s not supposed to rain, but 35 degrees is pretty cold, sweetie.  If it was three degrees colder, it would be cold enough for snow.”

“I like snow.”

“I know.  I like snow, too, but I wouldn’t like it too much with bare legs and bare arms.”

“The upper parts of my arms and legs aren’t bare.”

“True.  Tell you what.  It’s 35 degrees in the refrigerator.  Why don’t you open it and put the bare part of your arm inside, and tell  me what you think.”

“Okay.”  She thumped down from my lap, opened the fridge while standing on her tiptoes, and thrust her arm inside, shoving it between the lettuce and the cake pan.  “Hey, that’s COLD!”

“Exactly.  Now, do you think you would be happy wearing that dress outside right now?”

“Uh, no!  That’s way too cold!”

“Bright girl.  Come back over here for a minute.”  Wide-eyed, she climbed back up into my lap, rubbing her chilly arm to dispel the goosebumps she’d sprouted.  I clicked on the “Today” tab, and asked her again what she saw.

“It says 65 and clear.”

“Right.  Do you know what that means?”

“Well, 65 is more than 35.  It’s going to get hotter, so I can wear my dress later and not be cold.”

“Let’s see about that.  Here, stand up for me.  Let’s do an experiment.”

I pulled the chair over to the sink and turned on the tap, bumping the control arm of the faucet until the water temperature was about 65 degrees.  “Come on up, Bugaboo.  Put your hand in the water and tell me what you think.”

“That’s not very warm.”

“Right.  That water is about 65 degrees.  If that was the temperature of the air on your arms and legs, would you be comfortable?”

“Probably not.  I’d probably complain.  I’d probably complain a lot.”

“Right.  65 degrees is as warm as it’s supposed to get today.  Because it’s November, it won’t be that warm for very long, either. Most of the day will be cooler than that.”


I ticked the control arm to warm the flow of water slightly.  “Now try it.  This is about 80 degrees.”

“That feels good!”

“Right.  If it was going to be that warm, it would be a good day to wear that dress.”  I nudged again, so the water temperature was about 100 degrees.  “Now what do you think?”

“That’s kind of hot.”

“Right.  That’s about 100 degrees.”

“I like popsicles when it’s that hot.”

“So do I.  That’s because the popsicle’s temperature is only 32 degrees, and eating it makes us feel cooler.”

“Oh.  So I should probably find some long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.”

“Bingo, Bugaboo.”

“If I touch the window, will it tell me how hot or cold it is outside?”

“Yep.  That might be a good thing to do when you’re trying to decide what to wear in the morning, too.”

“Okay.”  With that, she bounded off of my lap and over to the kitchen window.  She giggled when she touched the cold glass, then puffed a breath onto it to make a little patch of fog.  As she touched the condensation with a finger, her eyes widened.”

“Mommy, the glass is a little warmer where I breathed on it!  I was going to make a picture, but I just noticed breathing on the window makes it warmer.”

“Good observation, Bugaboo.  Why do you think that is?”

“I guess because my breaths are hotter than the glass?”

“Right you are.  And when you warm the glass suddenly, like you just did with your breath, that causes the water vapor in the air to condense on the glass.  You’re basically making a small cloud on the window when you do that.”


“It really is, honey.  That’s why, in the fall and winter, you and Beanie can stand by the windows making pictures on them like you do.  Since the cold weather is back, maybe you could practice your spelling words like that, by making fog on the windows and writing your spelling words in it.”

“That would be awesome!  Could we really do that?”

“Sure, why not?  The point is to learn the words and work on making them neatly enough that people can understand what you’ve written.  If we can have a little extra fun with that, so much the better.  You could even do spelling practice in the van that way.”

Just then, Beanie shuffled into the kitchen, swiping at her eyes with the sleeves of her nightgown and snarling at the day.  She started when Bugaboo rushed at her, crowing, “Beanie I just learned the COOLEST thing and you have to come here right now and see this and Mommy can I have a paper towel to wipe of the window so we can do it again and no Beanie really you have to come here right now this is awesome and Mommy can Beanie have a paper towel too and do we have to go anywhere right now because Beanie and I want to make fog and write in it and Beanie come here let me show you if you breathe on the window you make your own fog and that’s what we do whenever we breathe on windows when they’re cold and . . .”

You get the general idea.  Bugaboo wiped the window with a paper towel and gave it to Beanie so she could check the temperature, then breathed on it to warm it and gave it back to Beanie.  They worked together, wiping the window, checking the temp difference between the towel and the window, breathing on the window and the towel, drawing faces and animals and writing their names.  Beanie doesn’t often giggle until she’s been awake for at least an hour, but the two of them stood at the window together, laughing and nudging each other, each trying to capture a little extra pane space for herself.

Today’s prayer:  Thank You for Your blessings, Lord, and for the wonders of Your creation that await their eager exploration.  Kindle in their hearts and mine a sense of awe at all the simple miracles of each day, and lead us to see Your breath in the fog on a pane of glass.  Use our sense of wonder and our desire to appreciate Your creation as a beacon to draw souls to You, and guide us to point out and rejoice in all that is beautiful by Your hand.  Through our sharing of the beauty You have made, let us proclaim Your truths.

Human rain delay

This one is actually a sports reference.

Beanie is a very deliberate little girl in nearly everything she does.  When collecting leaves for a school project, she examines each leaf minutely to ensure that it has characteristics that are pleasing to her; when performing the forbidden “couchy-couch” jump, she carefully surveys the floor where she’ll land if she misses as well as her landing spot, to ensure that no obstacles or siblings might cause her a harder landing than she intends.

This tendency, while wonderful in terms of her work habits (you should see her cleaning the kitchen baseboards, which is one of her chores), can occasionally cause a little friction in other areas.  There are six people and two dogs who live at our house, in a total of just under 1400 finished square feet, and we have two bathrooms.

We had a busy afternoon and evening planned yesterday, which meant that, in order to not have a profoundly grouchy tribe halfway through everything, I had to snuggle everyone down for naps by around noon so we could be mobile by about 3:30.  Baby Guy and Mr. Man obligingly curled up in their beds and fell asleep as soon as their blankets were tucked in around them, Bugaboo brought a pillow, blanket, and pair of stuffed penguins out to her preferred napping spot on the loveseat, and Beanie . . . well, I reminded Beanie that she needed to go to the potty before she cuddled up to her big Funshine Bear for her nap.

Beanie is also a world-class lollygagger when there’s something she does not want to do on tap.  One thing my precious perpetual-motion machine does not like to do is nap.

Five minutes after I sent her into the upstairs bathroom, Bugaboo informed me that she needed to go, too.  I sent her downstairs and, since I also needed a rest stop, went in to check on Beanie.  A pile of uneven shreds of toilet paper lay on the floor between her dangling feet, and the loose end of the roll was torn into a triangle with a hypotenuse of about 18 inches.  I tore that off, handed it to her, and said, “Okay, Beanie, are you done going potty?  If you are, it’s time to wipe and get off the potty so other people can use it.”

What seemed a perfectly reasonable request to me was met with an ear-splitting howl of, “I DON’T WANT TO USE THE RIPPED PAPER I WANT TO USE THE STRAIGHT PAPER IT WON’T RIP RIGHT,” tears, and emphatic gesticulations at the pile of toilet paper scraps on the floor.  Her problem was threefold:  firstly, that she desperately NEEDED a nap, secondly, that she did not WANT to take the needed nap, thirdly, that she couldn’t get the toilet paper to tear neatly along the perforations.  Imperfect toilet paper squares are not acceptable at certain times in Beanie-land.

Carefully tearing off a few squares and handing them to her, I soothed, “Okay, Beanie, time to wipe and flush now.”

“I can’t.  Another drop of pee got made while I was trying to get the toilet paper to behave, and I want it to come out in the potty so it doesn’t get in my panties.”

At this point, I realized that going downstairs to use the other bathroom, which a flushing sound indicated had just been vacated by Bugaboo, was probably not a good idea, as it would start a new battle between Beanie and the toilet paper.  I turned around and started wiping the vanity top while waiting for Beanie to finish.  Some moments later, I heard the sweet sound of two little feet hitting the floor and turned around to, I hoped, use the pot myself.

Beanie, upon descending from her throne, had stationed herself at an angle that made it impossible for me to sit on the fixture without sitting on her.  I asked her if she was done, and smiled at her chirpy, “Yep!” before asking her to please move just a little bit.

“I need to pull up my pants first so I don’t trip.”

Reasonable enough.

It seemed a little less reasonable five minutes later, when she was still pulling up her underwear . . . one . . . millimeter . . . per . . . elastic . . . gather . . . at . . . a . . . time . . .

“Beanie, HONEY, Mommy really needs to use the potty.  Could you shuffle over a step or two for me, please?”

She shuffled right into the doorway — the very doorway I needed to walk through to get to the commode.

“Beanie, do you need some help?”

“NOOOOOOOOOOO!  I’m a big girl.  I’m being careful ’cause I don’t want wrinkles in my panties.”

Okay, at least that was a new one.

“Sweetie, you’re blocking the doorway.  And you really need to pull up your pants and snuggle Funshine in your cozy bed.”

“Funshine would be sad if I was wiggly because my panties have wrinkles.  I don’t want Funshine to be sad.”

I remembered to pray before I said, or did, anything else.  My thoughts were a little poisonous at that point.

“Honey, Mommy’s going to be sad if she pees in her panties because she can’t get to the potty.”

“Yeah, and then you’d have to get a towel and clean it up, too.  That would be yucky.”

Deep breathing, in through the nose and out through the mouth, really is a highly effective relaxation technique.  I did so a couple of times as she meticulously continued to raise her completely unwrinkled panties.  I have seen freshly ironed shirts with more wrinkles.  Finally, I gently picked her up and moved her just enough to gain access to the toilet.

She turned around and looked at me, and said, “Mommy, we’re supposed to be patient with each other, especially if we’re trying to get something just right.”

“You are correct, Beanie, but we’re also supposed to be considerate of each other, especially when someone has a big need.”

“I have a big need to keep the wrinkles out of my panties.”

Twenty minutes later (no, really), I finally tucked her blankets around her, silently fuming at the insane amount of time it had taken her to use the potty and get into her bed.  After snuggling her in and giving her a kiss and a whispered admonition to take a nap, I closed her door and, wearily, walked over to the couch to lay down for a few minutes myself.  Bugaboo had taken advantage of the delay to build a village for her penguins on the loveseat, and after requesting that she deconstruct it so she would have enough room to lay down for her own nap, I plopped down on the sofa to rest and think.

I cracked a wide grin as I remembered the many times I had prayed for children, for patience, and for the time of their childhood to slow down so we could savor it.  Well, He certainly does answer my prayers, and does so with a great sense of humor.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You have lovingly given me those things I have asked for in faith.  Please fill my heart with the same amount of patience with Your blessings that You have shown me, and when I must correct or reprove, keep my voice gentle and my face mild.  Make me a teacher to them who instructs gently and joyfully, responding to trials with love and grace.

Hello, I love you

Here’s the song reference.

Taking kids to vote

We voted as a bloc, as it were, yesterday.

Before we disembarked from Fran the Van, I reminded Bugaboo, Beanie, Mr. Man, and Baby Guy that we would greet each and every person we met with a warm, “Good morning, sir,” or, “Good morning, ma’am,” and an honest smile.  We spent the drive to our precinct singing selections from “Wee Sing America” and talking about how the Lord gives us free will.  We had talked about choices earlier in the day, and even took a vote on what we would have for breakfast (President Pancakes and Vice President Sausage were the victors).

As we walked the gauntlet of electioneers, Bugaboo, Beanie, Mr. Man and I greeted every poll worker for every candidate exactly as we had discussed.  Baby Guy chimed in with giggles and waves.  Each man and woman returned our greeting warmly and offered us sample ballots, which we politely declined.  Mr. Man hopefully extended his hand to each one, and was rewarded by at least a dozen smiling handshakes.

Inside the precinct, we continued greeting the people we met, from the election judges to the other voters.  People smiled, and told the tiny people what nice children they were, and commended me on their good manners.  With the exception of a minor Beanie meltdown, they weathered the 45 minute wait to cast our ballot beautifully, and made a couple of new little friends along the way.  After we voted, one of the electioneers was kind enough to take our picture.  Once we returned home, we taped a sign to the door of our little house in a swing neighborhood of a swing state so some very weary children could take their afternoon nap.

Deterring doorknockers

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for little blessings who rejoice in being salt and light to the world.  Help me teach them always, in my words, in my deeds, and in my silences, that we owe our first allegiance always to You, Who sacrificed Your life for ours.  Let my words and deeds also show them that we render unto our temporal leaders the respect they are due, and we love all of our neighbors, not just the ones who agree with us.  Lord, we serve You first, and we serve You best by being Your face to this world, in hopes of bringing others into the warm embrace of Your friendship.  We do this because we love You; grant us the strength, the courage, and the grace to share that authentic love, which does not fall into easy, feel-good gestures, but which daringly passes through the narrow gate.

STOP! Jamma time!

Here’s the song reference.

By 7:00 tonight, Baby Guy’s clothes were covered in three meals, one dessert, plenty of spilled milk, and a dog hair topcoat.  Since it was within a half hour of his bedtime anyway, I decided to change him into his pajamas before something decided to eat him.  Our youngest, however, was not at all pleased with the proposed wardrobe change, and babbled his displeasure all the way to the changing table.  Once we arrived at the changing table, the babbling turned to a rather vociferous series of complaints, accompanied by plenty of flailing and kicking.

I rubbed noses with the smallest member of our tribe to distract him long enough to get his pants off, got his diaper changed by distracting him with his toes (I swear, I feel like an octopus sometimes), then played a quick round of peekaboo while wrestling him out of his shirt without getting any of the goo from the shirt on his hair.  Once divested of his cruddy clothes, Baby Guy decided to use this sudden ease of movement to attempt a triple-twisting somersault off the changing table.  This athletic endeavor was met by my thunderous shout of “STOP!

His lower lip started to quiver, and I felt bad for bellowing.  Granted, I had to make the point, quickly and unambiguously, that triple-twisting somersaults off the changing table are a terrible idea, but I didn’t have to be quite as loud as I was.  I whipped his pajamas in a circle around my head and chortled, “Jamma time!”

Baby Guy’s little face erupted into a broad grin, and he started to giggle.  As I wrangled him into his footy pajamas, I sang in my most ludicrous voice, “Doon doon doon doon, doon doon, doon doon CAN’T TOUCH THIS!” and tickled him.  We were both still laughing when we made it back to the living room where the rest of the family was waiting, with somewhat bewildered expressions, for a bedtime story, prayers, and lullabies.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the four little blessings You have entrusted to us.  Help us teach them and protect them gently, so that they have no doubt about what is right and good, but also have no doubt of our love for them.  Your yoke is light; grant us the humility of heart to follow Your example.

Little eyes and ears

My election day plea is not a pitch for any candidate, but a simple request:  Many people bring their children to the polls with them.  Please do everything you can to ensure that the quality of adult social behavior those impressionable eyes see is the quality of behavior you would want them to emulate.

John 13:34-35

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

34 A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

35 By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.

Peace be with you all.

— Kelly

How easy it would be to show him how you feel

Here’s the song reference.

We moved our classroom over to Nonno and Deedaw’s house today; the cousins were spending the day there, and it was a rare opportunity for the six of them to enjoy each other’s company for most of a day.  Bugaboo made a brief attempt to snow Deedaw and Niece into believing that she really couldn’t read her assigned passage, but righted herself when I came in to ascertain why it had taken 15 minutes for her to decipher five lines of thirty-six point text.  Deedaw, Niece and I smothered our chuckles at her red-faced and rapid reading of the page thereafter.  Interestingly, Beanie finished her seatwork in record time, and received showers of praise from both Deedaw and Nonno as a result.

It was actually a very pleasant homeschooling morning, although I was slightly discombobulated from having to extract books and materials from a backpack instead of my little kitchen cubbies.  Mr. Man, Baby Guy, and Nephew wandered in and out of the dining room where we had stationed ourselves, I took a couple of diaper-changing breaks, and Deedaw produced a largish pan of macaroni and cheese just as the last math problems were solved.  We even worked in a round of the “Austrian Yodeler” song.

After lunch, the shorty syndicate wanted to go outside.  Niece, before heading outdoors, asked Deedaw where she might find a rake. Having been directed to the shed, she proceeded to gather the leaves in the side yard into neat piles.

I should point out here that Nonno has been ill of late, and has had a lot of difficulty getting outdoors to do his usual yard work.  Deedaw and I had discussed that last night, and I had assured her that over the course of the week, I would take care of the leaves.  Heartened by the unexpected assist from Niece, I grabbed the other big rake, distributed toy rakes among the tinier helpers, and set about raking and bagging the backyard.  Bugaboo did heroic service fetching and delivering the big leaf bags, and helping pile leaves into them. We managed to get in a couple of hours’ worth of work before Mr. Man and Baby Guy started “need a nap” meltdowns.

After Bugaboo and Beanie awoke from their naps (the boys were sacked out until nearly dinnertime), I called Deedaw to see how she and Nonno were faring.  Niece and Nephew had gone home with their father by then.  I marveled to Deedaw about Niece’s willingness to help, and asked her if Deedaw had instructed her to assist.

“No.  She did that all on her own.  She asked if she could do that right after she got here this morning.”

When I teach my seventh grade Faith Formation class later this week, and ask them the same question I ask every week, Niece will have provided a shining example for young people only a year her junior.  Oh, the question?

“How did someone say ‘I love you” without using words or giving you any material thing?”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for a niece who sets an example of comforting the afflicted for Your blessings.  Without words, she showed a love that is patient, kind, and humble.  Please grant Your blessings the wisdom to remember her wordless teaching as they grow, and help me to reinforce the lesson with my own thoughts, words, and deeds.   Grant us all the grace to honor our parents as we should, to be Your face to them as they have been to us.  They are Your first gifts to us.

All we need is just a little patience

Here’s the song reference.

No specific tales of the tribe today, but I wanted to share something I’ve learned from this particular political season, a lesson I’m incorporating into every formal subject we study and the rest of life, too.  I have been terribly discouraged by the willingness of so many people to rely on soundbites for information, and assume the information thus presented is accurate simply because it confirms their own opinion.  With only a minor amount of diligence, and an Internet connection, it’s pretty easy to separate fact from fiction.  This is basic research of a type my generation conducted in the library, looking up periodicals on microfilm or microfiche.  The technique and its utility transcend time and technology.

Unfortunately, the whole story usually doesn’t fit neatly into 140 characters.  Thought, logic, and reason are required to find out what is true, and a humble acknowledgement of one’s own biases is a prerequisite for recognizing truths that may be unpleasant or disagreeable, that contradict what we desperately want to believe.

In the end, this is a thoroughly Christian concept; Christ Himself admonished us, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many.  How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.”

I desperately want to teach my children to enter through the narrow gate in all things.  Everywhere from Scripture to Alcoholics Anonymous, the folly of choosing the easier, softer way is decried.  No matter where their hearts or political leanings may lead them, I want them to hold and defend their convictions with rigorous honesty and humility, and with the deepest respect for the humanity and dignity of all their interlocutors.  Sometimes, even following Christ’s commandment to love one another as He loved us is a part of that narrow gate.

Peace be with you.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, create humble hearts in us, and grant us the grace of understanding the difference between intelligence and wisdom.  Please help us teach Your blessings that it pleases You when we are diligent in every endeavor, but never more so than when we are in pursuit of truth.  Lord, You are all-good and all-knowing, and You never lie.  Help us to walk in Your paths in all things, and when we have choices to make, let us look first to Your guidance.

Slime, slime, everywhere there’s slime

Here’s the song reference.

One of the great Halloween traditions at our house, and the one perhaps most eagerly anticipated by the tribe, is the presentation of gifts to our wee tribe that are, shall we say, not suitable for polite company.  There are gummy body parts, toy bugs, snakes, and spiders, and other treats that verge on the vile.  The kids, of course, think this is perhaps the coolest set of little surprises they receive all year, and as a result, we rarely have any trouble getting them to eat dinner on Halloween night — the brown paper bags will not appear if so much as a morsel remains on their plates.

This year’s offerings, in addition to ghoulishly blue ring pops and pumpkin-shaped marshmallows, included little canisters of glow-in-the-dark slime.  My husband and I remember the goo fondly from our own childhoods, and giggled madly when we discovered it in the dollar bin at Target.  We rationalized giving this to a kindergartner and two preschoolers by considering the possibility of a science lesson about non-Newtonian fluids.  Homeschooling has its perks, you know.

The slime in question was the surprise hit of Halloween.  As soon as each child finishes breakfast in the morning, she or he sets about clamoring for a tub of slime. Beanie is particularly enamored of her wee vat of green goo, and has merry adventures with it and her little Care Bears toys.  This morning, while Bugaboo was curled up on the couch watching her Saturday morning cartoons, Beanie meandered into the kitchen, where I was attempting to assemble a grocery list, and plumped her rump into her chair.

“Mommy, I want to play with my slime, please.”

“Okay, Beanie.  Please keep it out of my coupons, okay?”

“Can I get a Care Bear to hide in it?”

“Sure, why not?”

As she pelted out of the kitchen to retrieve a toy, she chortled back over her shoulder, “I’m getting Share Bear, because slime is more fun when you share it, and Share Bear knows lots about sharing!”

For the next hour, a curly-haired, shining-eyed little blessing of a girl played contentedly with her pool of slime and a pink plastic bear, narrating the bear’s adventures as she went.   First the slime was a mud puddle, then a sleeping bag to wrap around the bear, then a skating rink, then a green donut, then a meadow, then a frisbee, then a pizza, then a BIG GOOEY MONSTER that would have eaten the poor bear had Beanie not rescued her from its evil clutches.

I could sit and listen to Beanie tell stories for hours.  She is completely unselfconscious about it, and equally oblivious to anything that’s going on around her.  Give her a pile of confetti, and she names the pieces and sends them on quests.  The common thread in all of her adventures is kindness — everyone has to share and use nice words.  I love that about her.

Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for this little blessing who cannot abide ugliness. Help me teach her that she must show the same love towards others that she insists upon in her play, the same gentleness of manner and speech that You used.  Cleanse my heart of anger and rancor, that I may be Your face to her and thus teach her with more than words.

Turkey in the hall

Here’s the song reference.

Every November, we have a tradition of drawing a big picture of a turkey and adding construction paper feathers to it throughout the month.  We inscribe each feather with something for which we wish to give thanks to God.  The kids love it; when Bugaboo burbled out of her bed this morning, she accosted me in the kitchen, demanding, “Mommy, where’s our turkey?  It’s November, and we still have Halloween stuff on the closet door (the turkey lives on the door of our hall closet).

Since Manie decided to take off work for the latter half of this week, he was home to help supervise lessons and toddlers while I worked on the turkey.  The giant avian is my major creative endeavor for the  year. For the record, I failed exactly one class in my entire academic career.  That class was art, as it happens.

At any rate, we had an uncharacteristically mellow morning at our house; the girls worked on their lessons which, by happy coincidence, happened to involve a lot of coloring today, Baby Guy wandered in and out of the kitchen bringing us various objects to admire, and collecting the occasional hug and kiss.  Mr. Man decided that this was not a good coloring morning for him and claimed the most sought-after thing at our house — a room full of toys all to himself.  He camped out in the family room, watching Fireman Sam and “rescuing” stuffed animals that he hurled onto the computer desk and bookshelf.  When his show was over, he pored over a stack of picture books, gleefully calling out the names of things he recognized, including the letters that made up the words and the numbers on the pages.  We checked in on him every ten minutes or so, and tried to persuade and/or bribe him to come join us upstairs, but he was having too much fun being able to do whatever he wanted in peace.  He didn’t come upstairs until lunchtime!

In the meantime, Manie had found a Dover coloring book, “Famous Lovers From Literature,” and decided to model proper coloring and crayon-sharing techniques with Bugaboo and Beanie.  Beanie actually colored all her pictures without having a meltdown over her crayons this morning, and Bugaboo was completely agog at Daddy’s ability to stay completely within little tiny lines.  I love the days when he’s around to add his own gentle instruction to the girls’ lessons, especially where art is concerned.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the quiet, gentle mornings we spend together, for the stout roof and walls that protect us from the cold, wind, and rain.  Thank You for the infinite number of colors with which You graced Your creation, and for eyes to see and marvel at every subtle hue.  Help us kindle a love for every shade on the spectrum in Your blessings, and please help us teach them that every color has its own special loveliness.  And Lord, please help us remember that while it is not good for man to be alone, even You sought out solitude.  We thank You for building such a family as this for us, and ask for the grace and wisdom to shepherd it as You would.