Tag Archive | Christ

Fish heads


Here’s the song reference.

Bugaboo, Beanie and I passed a pleasant hour this morning reading the story of Jesus multiplying the loaves and fishes.  It’s a perennial favorite around here, partly because we are a fish-loving family, partly because it’s a good reminder that Our Lord always provides us with more than we need, but does not want us to waste a crumb of it.   The girls and Baby Guy, who was up early and making merry mayhem as his sisters worked, enjoyed slices of bread as an after-breakfast snack while they colored.

After we had finished the day’s assignments, we decided to make tuna melts for lunch, since we had been talking about the loaves and fishes.  Bugaboo piped up, “Mommy, it will be kind of like we’re having lunch with Jesus!”  It’s a favorite meal around here, and an easy one for little hands to help prepare . . . unless, of course, those little hands are busy digging through the dress-up bin.

While we ate, I asked the girls if they remembered whether Jesus had anything other than bread and fish with which to feed everyone, including himself, that day.  They both shook their heads in the negative, so I followed up by asking them what we had that Jesus did not that day.  Beanie pointed out that our fish had mayonnaise and cheese on it, and Bugaboo noted that we had yummy fruit cocktail to go with our meal.

“Girls, did Jesus complain about only having bread and fish to eat?”

“No, they story just said they had lots of leftovers.”

“Look at your plates, and think about what you just told me about our lunch.  Think about it for a minute.  Jesus provided something better for us than he provided for Himself.”

“He must love us a lot.”

“Indeed.  Can we tell people we love them by giving them the best we have?”

“Yeah, but what if we like what we have?”

“That’s okay, too, but always remember that Jesus gave us His best.  Can we remember to give our best, too, whether it’s sharing our food or doing our chores or our schoolwork?”

“Okay.  Did Jesus have to sweep the hallway?”

“I’ll bet He helped His mother, Mary.”

“Yeah, He probably did.  He was a good little boy. He probably didn’t complain about it, either.”

Our little blessings amaze me sometimes.

Later that afternoon, we set about making feathers for our annual “turkey of thanks.”  I cut orange construction paper feathers until my fingers got numb, and had to ask Bugaboo and Beanie to save some of their gratitude for tomorrow.

Turkey of thanks

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for Your abundant provision for us, and for little blessings who give praise and thanks to You for Your bounty. You feed us when we are weary with living bread, and quench all our thirsts with Your living water.  Thank You for never having let our children know hunger, not for food, not for love, not for comfort.  Please enrich our hearts with humble gratitude and a fervent desire to share Your blessings with all those who hunger and despair; open our eyes to their sufferings and their eyes to Your love.

 

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

What hurricane? There’s puddles!


My kids are fearless.  Bugaboo, Beanie, and Mr. Man broke out their galoshes about an hour ago.  I made them come in when the wind really started to roar.  Here they are.

If you are looking for local information about Hurricane Sandy, here are the links I use:

WTOP radio

Free-Lance Star

National Weather Service

National Hurricane Center

Today’s prayer: Lord, please grant all those in the storm’s path wisdom.  Please have mercy, and send Your comfort and peace to the fearful.

Nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile


Here’s the song reference.

Beanie is a notorious grump when she rolls out of bed in the morning; like her father, she is not a morning person, and she is not bashful about letting the entire world know her feelings about the hours before noon.  She shambled out around eight o’clock, grumbling unintelligibly and whining a plaintive, “Nooooooooooooooooooo, I don’t want anything to drink,” when I offered her a choice between milk and cider for a waking-up beverage.

About half an hour later, as I was emptying the dishwasher and trying not to wake up the Y-chromosomed contingent, all of whom enjoy a good opportunity to sleep in, she stomped into the kitchen and announced, “I’m hungry now.  I want scrambled eggies, please.”

I patiently explained, at least five times, that we only have a couple of eggs left, and I needed those for something I’ll be cooking later today.  This state of affairs was quite unacceptable to Beanie, and she proceeded to spend the next fifteen minutes whining wordlessly about the injustice of it all.  Finally, after I had baked a batch of cheese biscuits, she complained that she did not WANT biscuits, she WANTED her breakfast to smile at her.  I reminded her that I only respond to properly phrased requests.

“Will you make me a breakfast that smiles at me, please?”

“That’s better.  I have apples and yogurt.”

“I DON’T WANT APPLES AND YOGURT!”

After I sighed, prayed, and counted to ten, I explained to her that today is the day we need to eat what we have in the refrigerator, since there is a storm coming that might knock out our power for a few days.  I also explained that we should thank God for what we have, and that it is completely possible to turn apples and yogurt into a smiling plate of breakfast.  What sealed the deal was getting her to understand that she could dip her apples in her yogurt.  Beanie is an inveterate dipper.

“Okay.  I just want to make sure it smiles at me.”

Sure, I could be stern and tell her she’ll eat what she’s given and like it, but it’s been a stressful few days around here for reasons that have little to do with the coming weather event; Nonno is in the hospital again, and we’re all worried about him and Deedaw.  I’m also trying not to fall into the habit of commanding instead of persuading; I don’t want to set a dictatorial example for our little blessings, the eldest of whom is bossy enough as it is.

Moments later, I presented her with a plate:

This was quite acceptable to Beanie.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You have provided abundantly for all our needs.  Help me teach Your blessings to give thanks always for your bounty, but grant me the wisdom and grace to teach the lesson with gentleness and love.  Grant that I may make our home a peaceful haven no matter what storms may rage in the skies or the streets, and keep me mindful that we are saved in You.

Lord, please comfort, guard, and strengthen the emergency responders and the utility linemen, and all those who seek shelter or flee from the coming storm.  Open our eyes to those who need a share of the blessings You have given us.

 

Enjoy the silence


Here’s the song reference.

After a day full of chaos involving four tiny people, a lot of yard work, not nearly enough laundry, three home-cooked meals, one emergency birthday cake delivery, several heated arguments, almost no football, and probably too much watching of and listening to news, my husband and I are curled up on the couch, dipping Oreos in chocolate milk and listening to “When the Levee Breaks.”

One of the lessons we’re trying to teach the bairn brigade is that when you know a storm is coming, you watch for the opportunity for quiet the Lord will send before it hits.  Tonight is that quiet, and we will spend it reading and listening to some of our favorite music, after passing the earlier part of the evening reading the children’s favorite books to them.  This is our moment of peace, and it is a treasure.

Several people chimed in after yesterday’s post with a few things I neglected to mention, and I forgot a big one myself.  Here are the odds and ends:

– Avoid irony, buy a good fire extinguisher.
– If emergency management officials tell you to stay off the roads, please listen to them.
– Spend a little time making sure you know what your local radio stations are, and that you can tune to them on your radio.
– After a storm, some communities open their libraries as emergency shelters.  Check with your local library.
– Pack a “bug-out bag” just in case you have to evacuate.  Make sure you have one for each member of your family, including each pet.
– Remember that electric chain saws don’t work without electricity.  Apparently, there are such things as electric chain saws.
– Keep a pair of sturdy shoes on of near each member of your family at all times, along with heavyweight pants, shirts, and outerwear.
– Know the most direct route to the nearest fire station or hospital, along with at least one alternate route.  Do not use these routes during the storm unless there is no way for you to communicate and you will otherwise die without immediate medical attention.
– Pray for wisdom and grace, and not just for yourself.
– If you’re completely ready, call a local organization serving people who are homeless, elderly, or have disabilities, and see if anyone near you could use some help.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, Your disciples cried out to You in fear in the midst of a storm; You calmed the storm and comforted them.  Help us teach Your blessings that there is no storm, no crisis, through which You cannot guide us.  Please make our house a peaceful refuge for Your blessings and for any friends or family who seek shelter here, and let us never confuse the words “peaceful” and “quiet.”  Please place Your protective arm around all the first responders and utility crews who will most certainly find every kind of strength taxed over the next few days, and grant them the company of many people who believe in the love for neighbor You taught us.

Get ready, get reeeady


As soon as the tribe awoke and ate breakfast this morning, I bundled them all into Fran the Van to pick up a few last-minute supplies; we’ve done a few more road trips than usual this summer, so some of my stocks of “easy eats and drinks” were more depleted than I like them to be when the emergency management people are warning people to prepare for power outages lasting over a week.  While using my rewards points to score a bunch of freebies at Walgreen’s, a gentleman of roughly my father’s age surveyed our little band and commented that he has four granddaughters he’s raising.  I complimented him on his dedication and energy; it takes a special person to raise another generation at an age where many people are contemplating a life of retirement, and shook my head as I commented that I didn’t know how I would do another round of child-raising if I had to raise my grandchildren.

He smiled, and told me I was blessed to have such a well-behaved crew (they really were angels this morning).  I thanked him, then told the tiny people that the nice gentleman had just given them a very kind compliment, and it would be appropriate to say, “Thank you, sir.”  Beanie and Bugaboo obligingly flashed winning smiles and piped up their thanks, but Mr. Man hung back for a moment.  After he had conducted his thorough contemplation of the situation, he very solemnly walked over to the gentleman, stuck out his little hand to be shaken, and with great seriousness, lisped out, “Sankoo, suwr,” in his very best big-guy voice.

Both the gentleman and I managed to keep it to very broad grins.  This was tougher for me as I had to stifle giggles while praising Mr. Man for his excellent deportment.

Having finished our transaction at Walgreen’s, we headed over to Giant to restock the dog food supply and pick up a couple of items with excellent sale prices, along with an extra bag of Mr. Man’s beloved “mishmawwows” and some fresh milk.  We made it home a little after 11:00, and, given the general chaos in both stores, I’ll be quite happy not to venture within several miles of any retail establishments for the next week or so.  Lunch was eaten, tiny people were tucked in for naps, and I broke out my laptop to put up a post on Facebook inquiring whether any friends needed help preparing for the storm.

While no one needed anything specific, several dozen people asked for more information about what I do to get ready for major weather events.  I have an insurance background and, I’m told, a fairly healthy dose of common sense, so I may have a few things on my prep list that are a little uncommon.  Because of the interest from the Facebook community, I decided to post a quick prep list on this blog tonight.  I hope that it’s interesting to many of you, and that none of you ever have a real need to use it.  The pantry and cooking parts are actually the last entries.

Prioritize

This should be common sense, but even for me, that’s not necessarily so.  As you prepare, remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The stuff at the bottom of the pyramid HAS to take priority.  Extend that hierarchy to helping your neighbors — in other words, love your neighbors as yourself, and make sure they have what they need for basic survival.

Mien it

Be calm, kind, and courteous.  If you have tiny people, they will take their cues from you.  If you are braving the madding crowds on the roads or in the store, greet people with a smile and a gentle word, and offer to help shoppers who are older, herding kids, or have disabilities reach or carry heavy or hard-to-reach items.  Kindness is contagious.  So is ugliness.  Sow carefully.  If you go about your work cheerfully, you’ll find all the annoying little tasks are less onerous.  I recommend music while you work!

Money talks

Get cash.  ATMs and credit card machines will not work if there’s no power.

Record keeping

Get IDs, insurance policies, and medical histories for your family together, including your pets.  Write important phone numbers in indelible ink on heavy cardstock or cardboard.  Important phone numbers should include your insurance companies’ and utilities phone numbers.  Don’t count on being able to text or get numbers from your cell phone address book.  Go through your house with a digital camera holding a FRESH memory card and photograph everything, including wide shots of every room.  If something has a serial number, get a clear, readable picture of it.  Do the same for your vehicles and yard equipment.  Finally get a good photograph of each member of your household, including your pets. Take all of these documents and seal them in a ziplock freezer bag, then seal that bag in another ziplock freezer bag, then secure it, at eye level, to a wall in a closet or interior, windowless room.  If you have an insurance claim, your adjuster will love you for this.

Systems check

This is the time to fix any leaks in your plumbing.  A small leak in your toilet now can mean a big fat headache when you’re having to flush it with pitchers of water.  Similarly, if you don’t have a secure drain plug in your bathtub or sink, filling it with water so you’ll have extra on hand will be a waste of time.  Also, find and learn how to use your main water valve.  If you wait until the middle of a storm to figure this out, the rain may not be needed for an indoor swimming pool to develop.  Make sure you have whatever wrench you need to shut it off.

Start unplugging electrical gadgets that you don’t ordinarily use.  This is a good, generic energy-saving tip at any time.  Check your electrical cords and power strips for fraying and for dirt.  Clean and replace them as necessary.  Charge your rechargeables and then turn them off.

Find and set a clock that does not require electricity.  Don’t depend on your cell phone.  You may not be able to charge it.

Figure out how you will pass the time without the  Internet or television.

Fill the gas tanks of all your vehicles.  Check and top off all your fluid and your tire pressure.  Make sure you have usable spare tires.

Find the main breaker for your dwelling, figure out how to turn it off, and clear a path to it.  If your power goes out, shut that breaker until you have a chance to unplug everything.

Test your sump pump, if you have one.  Make sure it works, and get it serviced if it doesn’t!

A couple of small battery operated fans can be useful, as can a space heater.  If you use a kerosene heater, check your kerosene supply and then triple-check your ventilation scheme.

Check (and replace if necessary) the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

What’s in your fridge and freezer now?

Eat it. Especially if you have seafood or shellfish and have no way to smoke it for longer-term preservation. If the storm ends up not materializing, or the power stays on, at least you’ve had a tasty seafood feast. If you have anything frozen that requires a microwave to cook, and you don’t have a generator, eat that, too! Don’t buy any more perishables. In the meantime, fill ziplock freezer bags about 1/2 full with water, seal them tightly, and pack them around the food in your freezer.  The more densely packed your freezer is, the longer foods will stay safely preserved.

Power

Get a generator.  Once you have the generator, figure out how to connect it to the truly essential things before a storm or other disaster hits.  Make sure you have whatever extension cords you’ll need.  If, for whatever reason, a generator is not an option for you, make sure you have the following items that can run on battery or hand-crank power:

— Radio.  Oh, and get a NOAA weather radio.  They’re under $20 and come in quite handy.
— Light sources.  Never underestimate the candlepower of a book light!
— Coffee maker or hot pot, for boiling water
— Optional-but-awesome:  portable DVD player

A power inverter that plugs into the cigarette lighter of your car is a delightful thing to have.  Make sure you have a good battery in your car, and plenty of fuel.  Save the inverter for dire need, because you don’t want to use all the gas in your tank charging electronics.  If conditions are genuinely awful in your area, you’ll need that gas.

If you can afford a solar array, and are able to install one safely, they can be terrific, but bear in mind that one falling tree can trash your power source.  A solar charger for things like cell phones might come in handy as well.

Make sure you have a LOT of batteries in the sizes your gadgets take.  There’s nothing more frustrating than having a drawer full of C cells when what you actually need are AAAs.

Communication

If you have a land line, as we do, make sure you have at least one phone that does not require electrical current to run.  If you are cell phone dependent, take two precautions.  First, put a pound of rice in a ziplock freezer bag and seal it, then put that bag into a second bag and seal it. If your phone gets wet, you can now dry it.  Second, get to know your neighbors!  Find out who your closest neighbors that have land lines are.  Citizens band radios are not a bad thing to have, and if there’s an amateur radio operator in your area, get to know him or her.  In almost every disaster situation, cell phone communication is disrupted.  Set up a way to check in with relatives who are out of town.

That said, take the time to make sure all of your phones and other e-pliances like Kindles are fully charged before the storm hits.  Keep a charger in a ziplock freezer bag, too.

Speaking of neighbors, remember to check on them, too.  On our “to-do” list for tomorrow is checking on the non-English-speaking family next door to make sure they have what they need, and checking on several neighbors who are elderly.  Remember Matthew 25:31-46.  It’s relevant.

Repeat this sentence frequently:  “My smartphone may not work for a week.”  Plan accordingly.

Outdoors

Clear out your gutters and storm drains.  Pull or cut the dead branches off your trees and get them away from houses.  Fold up and bring in patio furniture; stow children’s outdoor toys and bicycles in sheds or in the house.  Set up a rain barrel or two — this can be quite helpful if you need to wash some clothes or flush a toilet.  Garden wagons and coolers are wonderful for this in a pinch.  Look at what you have that can hold water, get it secured, and use it accordingly.  Once the rain stops, cover it with plastic sheeting or tarps so you don’t end up with a mosquito habitat.  If you can, check your roof for leaks and get in touch with a roofer to handle the small stuff before it becomes big stuff.  Check the caulking around your windows and refresh it if you need to.  Get some corrugated pipe and attach it to the end of your downspouts; route it so that the water flows out at least ten feet away from your house.  If you have a swing set, take the swings off and bring them inside.  Rake and bag your leaves so they don’t re-clog your storm drains.

ANYTHING in your yard can become a missile.  If you can pick it up, so can the wind.   Get it inside or tied down.  Pay particular attention to outdoor decorations (we’ll be moving pumpkins today) and trash cans.  Patio umbrellas need to be closed and stored.  If you have propane tanks for a grill or heater, move them to shelter.  Even a well-anchored shed is good.

Indoors

Find all of your insurance policies.  READ THEM.  Call your agent if you don’t understand something.  Check your coverages and limits and make adjustments if you need to.  Once you’ve done all that (this may sound familiar), put the policies in a ziplock freezer bag, seal it, put that bag into another one and seal it.  Tack it securely to a wall in a closet or interior, windowless room.

Use Sharpies to write with.  They’re waterproof.

Many styrofoam coolers are watertight; the ones Omaha Steaks uses are particularly good.  Put foodstuffs, books, several changes of clothing, blankets, and towels into these.  If you don’t happen to have any, put those same items into . . . you guessed it, ziplock bags, which you then want to store up off the ground in a closet or interior, windowless room.

Do all of your laundry before the storm hits.  Give the inside of the house a thorough cleaning (ah, that’s a hard one for me!), then make sure you have plenty of cleaning supplies on hand.  Rubber gloves are very good to have, as are a couple of extra buckets.  Bleach is an essential; you can wash dishes in it, and you can use it to purify water if you have to.  While away the stormy hours putting everything away and making sure there are no obstacles on your floors.

There are some hardware items that are very helpful to have on hand:  a couple of sheets of plywood, a couple of boxes of nails, a hammer, a FULLY CHARGED cordless drill, a hand saw, both kinds of screwdrivers, an adjustable wrench, several tarps or pieces of heavy plastic sheeting (in a pinch, vinyl shower curtain liners will do), electrical tape, duct tape, pliers, and twine.

Keep a supply of paper plates on hand.  It’s easier than washing dishes, especially if you have a boil water advisory.

If you have a FoodSaver or other vacuum sealer, you can very quickly put important papers, matches, or medications in a waterproof pouch!

Pets

Find your pets’ vaccination records and put them with the insurance policies — same procedure.

Have a month’s supply of food per pet on hand.

Count each pet as a family member when you’re laying in a supply of water.  The rule of thumb is one gallon of water, per person, per day.  That is a VERY LOW estimate of the actual water you’ll need, but it is a survivable amount.  And please, don’t leave your furry kids outside during a storm.  That’s cruel.

Health and hygiene

Make sure everyone has a good wash before the storm hits.  I highly recommend keeping a bottle of liquid castile soap (Dr. Bronner’s makes my personal favorite) on hand; it rinses quickly and cleanly, and if you are trying to wash your hair and body with a pint of water, it’s a lifesaver.

Get your prescriptions refilled before the storm hits.  If you use medications that require refrigeration, make sure you have some plan other than ice to keep them refrigerated.  There are small fridges that can be stored and run in a vehicle. If you have to use that option, make sure you have an extra tank of gas stored in a safe but accessible place.

You will want to have a first aid kit that is rated for hikers and other outdoorsy types, with larger bandages and the like.  If anyone needs a detailed list, say so in the comments and I’ll add one.  In the meantime, make sure you have supplies of hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic ointment, cortisone cream, calamine lotion, baby powder, petroleum jelly, Epsom salts, and alcohol-based mouthwash.  The mouthwash, because it is alcohol-based, can be used as an all-purpose disinfectant.  You’ll also want to have hand sanitizer (oodles of it), aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and Benadryl on hand.  A case of baby wipes is a VERY pleasant thing to have around.

Tiny people

Our kids are all weaned.  We make it a point to keep a can each of powdered baby and toddler formula here.  If you have a tiny person who develops a tummy bug, you can give him or her the formula to keep the wee one hydrated and at least minimally nourished.  If you have a neighbor with a baby who is in a predicament, you have the makings of a life-saving blessing.  Consider it.

In the meantime, make sure you have adequate diapering supplies and even more adequate means of entertaining children that do not require power.  I recommend books, small craft kits, blocks, stickers, cards, dominoes, dolls, cars, and board games.

Light

Oil lamps, camp lamps, candle chandeliers, candles, and flashlights are all in the mix at our house.  We also have a LOT of book lights.

Pantry items

Please bear in mind that I’m not giving an exhaustive inventory of the contents of my cupboards; it would bore you to tears.  This is what I would recommend for a family of six for a month:

Six boxes of whole grain cereal
Four boxes of instant oatmeal
Six boxes of granola bars
Ten to twenty cans of fruit, depending on the size of the cans
Large tub each of raisins, dried apricots, and banana chips
Four large boxes of dry milk
Eight to twelve gallons of juice, in single-serve containers if your budget permits it.  Juice does not mean Kool-Aid, but Tang is okay.
Ten pounds of couscous
Ten pounds of polenta
Twenty pounds of rice
Five pounds of grits
Five pounds of bulgur wheat
At least thirty bouillon cubes
Twenty cans of soup
Twenty large cans of tuna
Ten large cans of salmon
Twenty pounds of dried beans
Ten pounds of nuts
Ten pounds of nut or seed butter
Twelve large cans of crushed tomatoes
Thirty cans of vegetables
Ten cans of potatoes
Three gallons of olive oil
Thirty pounds of flour
Lots of potatoes and long-lasting squashes (butternut, acorn pumpkin, hubbard)
At least fifteen pounds of apples
Multiple cans of shelf stable grated cheese
A couple of cans of “squeeze cheese”
Jerkies and dried meats.  Use these sparingly, as they tend to be very high in salt, which will dehyrate you.
At least one full case of EVAPORATED milk (NOT sweetened condensed milk)
Five pounds of coffee
Cocoa mix and tea
One gallon of water per person or pet per day
Chocolate, candy, or individually wrapped snacks.  Bags of Halloween candy are great.  A little sweet can be a great mood elevator.

These are just things that can be quickly used.  You can make a quick and very tasty bread by mixing flour, water, and a little olive oil, rolling it very thinly, and toasting it on a grill.  If you have a generator, you can add a lot of variety to that list — those are the basics for a family of six for a month, with extra to share with neighbors who were not able to prepare.  It’s critically important to us that we have that extra to share.  I imagine most of you have spices and seasonings on hand.  Bear in mind that caffeine can relieve a lot of headaches.  This is not, for the record, an exact list of what I have in my pantry; I stock up when certain things go on sale, so I have a little more of this, a little less of that, and a whole bunch of stuff that’s not on there at all.  Listing it all would take me a full day!

Cooking

We have a gas grill.  Get extra propane.  I also highly, highly recommend acquiring a fondue pot that uses either tea lights, Sterno, or denatured alcohol.  You can do most minor warming things and light cooking over a Sterno or tealight burner, including boiling water.  During the wailing height of a windstorm, it’s probably a bad idea to be outside grilling.  If you have a charcoal grill, figure out how much charcoal it takes you to cook one meal, then multiply that quantity by 90.  Camp stoves (the kind that use bottled gas) are beautiful things, but be very careful using them indoors.

This is taking longer than I thought.  I’ve been writing for two hours.  Please tell me what I missed or forgot to cover in the comments, and I promise I will address it tomorrow.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for Your blessings, who brought smiles to many tense faces today.  Focus my mind and my heart on that simple joy that loving my neighbors brings, and mold me into the example You would have them follow.  Please comfort all those whose hearts are fearful in advance of gathering storms, whether meteorological or spiritual, and grant them peace and the grace of security in Your friendship and infallible love.

Getting kind of hectic


Here’s the song reference.

Days that begin overcast and foggy tend to bring a cranky tribe, and this morning was no exception.  As glorious as fall in Virginia can be, it does tend to bring some rather murky mornings.  Bugaboo stumbled out of her room this morning quite thoroughly out of sorts, to the point that she was invited by Daddy and I to return to her bed, and a seriously grouchy Beanie shambled out a few minutes later to be greeted with the same invitation.

After fifteen minutes of trying to figure out what the distaff half of the bairn brigade and I could agree upon as an acceptable breakfast, I shoved plates of waffles in front of my daughters, feeling more than slightly surly myself.  In all honesty, I would rather have curled up with Butler’s Lives of the Saints and a cup of warm, creamy chai than slog through math and penmanship with distemperate children.  Such is the glamour of every teacher’s life, I suppose, whether in the family kitchen or the institutional classroom.

While the girls were snarking at their breakfast, I made the morning call to Grandma, who was having an equally slow-starting morning, then shooed the girls off to dress and brush their teeth.  Sometimes being able to choose a favorite dress or shirt shakes them out of a morning misery, and Bugaboo was a little cheerier when she came back in her flouncy dress with the scottie dogs on it.  Beanie, usually the household ray of sunshine, was still scowling, to the point that she actually complained at each and every crayon in her 64 count box of Crayolas before she would even consider coloring her picture of the Annunciation.

There are reasons I start every single school day with faith lessons.  One of those reasons is that it reminds me to thank God for my children and that I love these little blessings, for whom we prayed so fervently and so long, on the days when they are not particularly likeable.  It reminds me why my husband and I made this choice for our family, and that every work of our hearts, minds, and hands can become suffused with joy when we offer it to Him.  We read about St. Anthony Mary Claret and St. Helen, whose picture on the cover of the Treasury of Saints caught Bugaboo’s eye (she’s wearing a crown in the picture, and our eldest always enjoys a story about a princess, empress, or queen).  After we had prayed together, cajoled Beanie into coloring her picture, and read the story of the Annunciation from their Bible, I set the girls to practicing their penmanship while I made the morning call to Deedaw.

It was right about then that Mr. Man and Baby Guy woke up in even worse moods than their sisters had managed.  I did managed to duck behind the door before the Mega Bloks Mr. Man had pulled into his crib connected with my cranium; fortunately, he didn’t have very much ammo, so I had a stern word with him after I handed Baby Guy his cup of milk.  Luckily, almost every Baby Guy bad mood can be cured with milk, food, and a few verses of the “Austrian Yodeler Song” (a quick aside – you should hear it when we all break into this at Wegman’s to keep the little fellow calm if the shopping takes too long).

Having wrangled two little boys into clean diapers and decided they could jolly well stay in their pajamas, I headed upstairs, Baby Guy contentedly slurping milk as he rode on my hip, Mr. Man caterwauling at the injustice of having to walk up the stairs as he trailed behind me, and heard the shriek from Beanie just as I hit the top step.  Apparently Bugaboo decided to “help” her little sister with her penmanship by offering “helpful” advice on how to hold the pencil, hold the paper, form the letters, ply the eraser, sit on the chair, breathe through her nose . . . okay, I made that last one up, but you get the idea.  When I entered the kitchen four short steps later, Beanie was hurling invective at Bugaboo through freshets of tears, while Bugaboo, the picture of injured innocence, looked up at me and said, “Mommy, I was just helping her be a better student.”

I counted to ten in five languages, sent them both back to their chairs with instructions to finish their writing assignments, and managed to get both boys tucked into their chairs while I rounded up bowls of cereal for them.  It is a great blessing that a bowl of cereal will occupy Baby Guy for at least half an hour, particularly if the cereal is round, as he must see how many pieces he can convince to roll across the ray of his booster seat before he eats them.  When Bugaboo reminds him he’s not supposed to play with his food, he cheerfully hurls a piece across the table at her.  Many are the times when I “didn’t see him do that.”

After another hour of the howl-elujah chorus, we appeared to have reached the point of diminishing returns.  The girls were defiant, I was waspish, Mr. Man was trying to grab every writing implement in sight, and Baby Guy started crying every time I opened my mouth, which tells me I was yelling.  I gave the order to clean up their workspaces and head for the living room, where I awaited them on the floor.

“Okay.  Bring me some stories.”

I was immediately mobbed by four smiling, snuggling angels, each with a favorite book in hand.  We passed a pleasant half hour curled up on the living room floor together, none of us caring that I hadn’t had time to sweep up the dog hair this morning, sharing stories and a song or two.  Just as the bairn brigade started getting contentious about whose turn it was to select the next story, I spied the big shipping box full of craft supplies that had arrived the day before.  After hastily dumping the contents on our bed, I announced to the tribe it was TIME TO PLAY OUTSIDE, and that they could take the box with them.

By then, the sun had started to break through the clouds, and the mob needed little encouragement to riot.  I carried the box and Baby Guy down the stairs, then started to sweep the kitchen.  Hearing great joyful mounds of bubbly giggles from the back yard, I grabbed the camera and ran back downstairs.  The uninhibited joy of four little kids with a big box rinsed the last of the sour taste from my mouth.  The rest of my day’s work was offered with a much more joyful heart.  I’d rather lift up joy as an offering to Our Lord than surliness.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, Your Scriptures tell us to train up our children in the ways they should go.  Help me guard my tongue as I teach them, that I do not train them up to be shrewish with the errors of others.  I am not perfect, and sometimes need the reminder in my children’s voices of how I prefer to be taught when I am in error. Gentle my words and my voice, and when my tone is sharper than necessary, remind me that You taught lovingly, repeating Your lessons patiently.  Mold me into a teacher after Your example, in all things, Lord, and grant me the grace of a heart that seeks Your counsel before any word is spoken.  You have the power to calm any storm and soften any heart.

Someone like you


Here’s the song reference.

I have been genuinely appalled at the tone of our national discourse for some time.  There is so much dehumanizing language being flung about that it’s nearly impossible to listen to, or read, any public conversation without being hit in the head with some nasty epithet or other.  Because of this apparent degeneration in the way we relate to one another, I’ve become very determined to teach my children early and often to see every person they meet as another child of God first, to find common ground with every human being they encounter, and to hold fast to those commonalities when people’s behavior becomes unlovable.  It is a difficult thing to learn, and an even more difficult one to teach.

As it happens, one of Bugaboo’s assignments today was in her God and Me! devotional, a book I heartily recommend.  The title of the lesson was “Be Receptive,” and opened with Romans 14:10.  We talk a lot around here about how only Jesus Christ can judge a soul, and we are called to love everyone, because none of us are sinless; while some behaviors are unacceptable, we are never to indulge in hatred against our brothers and sisters, and are always to remember that Christ came for all of us.

Bugaboo loves her devotional, because it has lots of nifty crafts and projects in it, and she enjoys the stories, too.  She and I both particularly enjoyed this passage, found on page 36:  “People, like snowflakes, can look the same, too.  It’s easy to lump people together into groups, especially when you think they’re different from you.  However, when you look closely at each person, you’ll find that people are different and special in their own ways — just like snowflakes.”

After we read, we did the little project (dripping candle wax into ice water to make “snowflakes,” and observing that no two were exactly alike, but all had something in common),  and prayed the prayer at the end, to wit:  “God, help me to be receptive to all of the different and special people you send my way.”  A flash of inspiration hit me at that point, and I grabbed the ads from Sunday’s newspaper, quickly spreading them out on the table in front of a wondering Bugaboo.  I pointed to the people in the advertisements, and asked her, about each one, “What do you have in common with this person?  What about this person is the same as something about you?”

She lit up with excitement, her voice rising as she found that this man was wearing black pants like hers, this lady had brown eyes like hers, this boy liked Spider-Man like she does, this girl had a beaded necklace like hers.  It was that beautiful moment of clarity when I realized she understood, because after the third person, she stopped pointing out all of the superficial differences and started paying attention to the similarities.  Still superficial similarities, yes, but enough for even a five-year-old girl to understand that she can find some commonality between herself and anyone she meets.  When stymied by one particular picture of a man, she said, “Well, he’s a person, and I’m a person, and that’s how we’re alike.”

YES.

Now if I can get her to bear that in mind when she starts taking an interest in politics, it will have been a mighty lesson, indeed.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for a daughter who understands that, in the end, we are all Yours and precious in Your sight.  Thank You for the ability to love even those who speak harsh and ugly words, and for the strength to call ugliness what it is.  Please, Lord, grant me the grace and wisdom to always see Your children first as Your children, and to pray without ceasing for those whose hearts and minds are so twisted by hatred and covetousness towards those who differ from them.  Help me teach Your blessings that You never resorted to profane insults or wishing harm to those who did not believe in You; rather, You begged Your Father to forgive them.  And Father, please help me remember the wisdom shared by a friend today — that no disagreement over politics is worth the love of a friend.  Help me set an example with my own language of how friends should speak to one another.