And Then There Were Five
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On 4/23/14 at 4:23 PM Walter Andrew joined our tribe, and we are quite delighted to have him. The night we learned I was pregnant - literally minutes before we learned - Joe prayed to God letting go of his dream for another biological child. One of life's funny little moments. We learned at our six week ultrasound that there had been an identical twin who hadn't developed. I remember feeling equally grateful and sad. One of the screening tests came back with a high probability that Walter had Down Syndrome, but after ten tense, sad days a more accurate test ruled it highly improbable. Pregnancy after miscarriage was really difficult. Even after he was born it took me a day or two to feel like he was ours to take home. But I'm so glad he's here and that we've gotten to hold him and squish him and pet him. I'm not sure if it's the losses in between or maturing as a mother and a person, but I have more reserves for the sleepless nights and growing pains than I had with my first two babies.

The little guy is pretty precious. I know that all loving parents think their babies are precious, and I'm sure that they really, truly believe that - but Walter is the most precious baby in the world. His cheeks are so kissable, and he's quick to smile and laugh. He longs to be in the mix of whatever we are doing. When he's well rested he can take on the world. He loves water and dives for it anywhere he sees it. He's eight months old now - babbling, cruising, and even practicing standing unsupported! My favorite is to watch Coco and Art with him. They all adore each other and make me feel like I'm living in a 50's sitcom. In our conversations leading up to Walt's entry into this world we talked about how there would be tough times and how we needed to remind one another that it wouldn't always be that way. And Coco often does remind me at crucial moments! But it seems like those hard times are few and far between.

Coco is six, and I delight in her! Daily she makes me laugh and surprises me with her maturity and her desire to do what is good and right. Last year around this time she had just finished working through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, which we ironically found stressful and challenging. Part of her personality is that she has this nearly paralyzing desire to never fail, which means she can be astonishingly reluctant to try new things. So we finished the curriculum, and I continued to work with her here and there. But I can distinctly remember the first time she voluntarily read something on her own. We were in the grocery store parking lot when she pointed up and said, "Mom, that says 'liquor'." I said, "If you can read the word liquor, then you can read pretty much anything you like." She began reading everything we owned, and a few months ago when she asked for something creepy we gave her Harry Potter. Her brain has just run off with the joy of reading, and I love it! But don't ask her what 8+5 is. She'll growl at you and tell you it's not math lesson time.

Art is four, and he's a little imp. I remember how independent he was as an infant. Once when he was about eight months old, I set him down on a beach to see what he would do. He began rapidly crawling away and never looked back. After thirty feet I ran to catch him, and he hasn't changed much in that regard. He often wakes up and begins his morning without us. We'll discover him sitting at the table, drinking a cup of water and watching the cat eat the food he gave her. The flip side is that he's quick to help himself to candy without asking or to try to clean up a gigantic mess without consulting us. He's had the benefit of listening to Coco's lessons, and now he's working through TYCR. He boldly jumps in and isn't afraid to make mistakes reading. He quietly points out words that he knows in our daily life too. I think he'll love reading (how can he not in our family?), but I think his strongest gift appears to be body awareness. He's pretty good with his hands and his feet, and like his father he loves any activity that involves a ball.

I still remember the ones we lost. I wonder what it would be like to have had twins. Children born near the due dates of my miscarriages are living reminders of how old those babies would be if they had lived. But by the grace of God, I'm in a better space now than I was the last two years. Looking back I wonder if I was a little depressed. It felt like there was a moment after Walt was born when a flip switched somewhere. What had previously been completely unmanageable was now possible even though I had a newborn. I hope I never have another miscarriage (I hope that no one ever does), but if I do I hope that I can be more in touch with what's going on and seek help if I need it. I'm thankful for the love and support I found through God, through this randomly amazing Facebook miscarriage group and through my husband and local friends. By God's grace I never doubted his faithfulness or felt far from his presence. There were moments when all I could hold on to were God's promises.

Here is what I am commanding you to do. Be strong and brave. Do not be afraid. Do not lose hope. I am the Lord your God. I will be with you everywhere you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

I'd like to know the future please...
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I started an entry with this same title three months ago to express my concerns over our fourth pregnancy, which ended with a D&C on April 13. There were warning signs that the pregnancy wasn't going well, and it was another early loss. My midwife was supportive, and God gave me a great OBGYN.

In some ways bearing this loss was easier than the first. Joe and I went to a counselor who theorized that I may have grieved the first loss globally. I'm not sure why that expression appeals to me - grieved globally. Like my grief was the size of the entire planet the first time and so I had less work to do the second time? I am an overachiever. We went to a counselor not because we were shaky; oddly we feel more solid than ever before. We went because our decision going forward seemed so pivotal. I'm not particularly confident I can carry another baby to term. I know statistically and logically it's possible, but my heart doubts. My OBGYN is willing to do some low-level intervention stuff (daily drugs) that may help, but we don't have conclusive answers for our losses. I've read that they only find answers 50% of the time. So in some sense trying to conceive another feels like volunteering for suffering. I am inclined to take a little break and prayerfully consider closing up the biological family expansion plan in favor of the foster care adoption plan we've always wanted to pursue. Joe isn't ready for that, however. I respect his feelings and do desire more tiny babies (most foster care adoptions are for older children, and it would be a few years before we were ready to do that), but I was concerned that I might resent him if we had more miscarriages. He was concerned that I wasn't ready to weather more losses so soon, and he wasn't excited about the precautionary possibly unnecessary drugs. The counselor helped us sort through everything, and we're going forward in faith.

God in His divine wisdom and providence had our women's Bible study going through Paul Miller's A Praying Life, which is chock full of practical goodness. He has a chapter about when life is hard; he calls it being the desert. "You come face-to-face with your inability to live, to have joy, to do anything of lasting worth. Life is crushing you." There are different ways to live in the desert - determination, denial, despair that leads to bitterness or crying out to God and relying completely on Him. God is simultaneously the infinite, eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign God of the universe AND my personal Lord and Savior who hears my every prayer, seeks me when I'm lost, and comforts me when I mourn. I'm in good and capable hands. I'm reminding myself to choose trusting God in this dry and dusty place. I've slipped into worldly determination and despair, but by God's grace I've recognized the folly and fallen back into His arms where I hope to stay.

Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. (Hebrews 5:8)

Ups and Downs
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As I reflect on the past year (it's it too early for reflecting? am I supposed to wait until after presents are opened?) I am grateful - grateful that we all grew and grateful to have the year behind us. It has easily been the most difficult year of our married life with Joe's mini job crisis and job change, dealing with marriage problems that weren't directly related to the job stress, the miscarriage, and our homeschool/older children transition.

I've learned that God's grace and mercy are sufficient for today and that they will be sufficient for whatever tomorrow will bring. There were days that I felt overwhelmed, days that I felt distraught, and days that I felt completely apathetic. But through Christ and to God's glory, I survived and sometimes even sang His praises in the midst of tears. I learned that relying on God for what I need is a daily submission. I learned that I need a lot less than I want and much less than I think I need. Ultimately my only need is Jesus on the cross - anything more than that is a sweet bonus.

I've learned that Joe really does love God and me. I've learned that God really does love me.

I learned that change is always hard - even if it's a change you want. Each year of homemaking with children brings change because the children change. (Duh, right?) We have less time with friends now that we have the structure of homeschool (Duh again, right? homeschool), and I mourned that loss. But God reminded me that one of the reasons I want to homeschool was to bring us closer together as a family. People tell me that when the children are older homeschooling will be less effort on my part, but by its very nature homeschooling will be work for me. I've learned what works for me: to prepare for the next session of homeschool immediately after the conclusion of the last session and to plan weekly. Sometimes work is immediately rewarding, and other times it just feels like work. I'm a homemaker to serve God and my family and that is and has to be enough motivation to do it.

I've learned that people of all ages learn slowly, in fits and spurts, over long periods of time - and that's just how it is.

I've learned that giving when I don't want to changes my heart for the better. I've learned that I waste a lot - time, money, energy, emotion - and that God can redeem and renew me. I've learned to say no with less guilt. I'm learning to think before I speak. I've learned that God's word is living and transformative in a way that I hadn't realized before. I'm learning to be content in my circumstances and to seek God. I'm learning a little about prayer and sacrifice.

I've learned I can't do it all and good enough is good enough. I've learned to turn my daily to-do list over to God accepting that He may have a different plan for my day than I do. I've learned to appreciate others' beauty and talents. I've learned that memorizing scripture makes walking with Christ more natural and internal. I've learned that God works in my life through his followers, and I pray that He uses me too. I'm learning more and more that this world is not my home, which is good because I can't keep these walls clean to save my life.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

God is good even when life is hard.
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You probably know that 1 out of 5 pregnancies ends in miscarriage. Joe and I miscarried last weekend. Sad, right? We weren't too far along - just 7 weeks.

We bought a minivan on a Monday. I started bleeding Tuesday, and I had my first prenatal appointment on Wednesday. The midwife ordered a sonogram, and the embryo (why can't we call it a baby? that seems silly to me) looked fine. The bleeding continued. My folks picked up Coco and Art Thursday evening, and I pretty much stayed in bed watching Hulu.com. Friday it got much worse, and I just knew. I wasn't soaking through pads and my cramps weren't bad, but I knew. My midwife wanted to see me on Monday, but Joe didn't think we should wait that long - plus Monday was logistically challenging with the kids. So we went to the urgent care center across the street, which is ridiculously posh. Flat screen televisions in every waiting room posh. After a couple of hours the doctor finally gave us another sonogram and confirmed that the embryo's heart had stopped.

I know without a doubt that everything happens for a reason - especially early miscarriages. I know that God is good and that his plans for me are good (that's in Jeremiah and Romans). I can see how gentle he was with me through this. Allowing me a chance to "see" our little one healthy on Wednesday, the fact that no one gave me false hope, the fact that the bleeding built up gradually allowed me to come to terms with what was happening slowly, that my parents were free to keep the children three nights, that Joe was off of work and insistent on going to the clinic for confirmation, even that stupid flat screen television in the private room was evidence of God's loving provision through an awful ordeal. And of course I have the comfort of my two beautiful children. Even the timing of the miscarriage and the Olympics are a small blessing; I have cuddled on the couch in front of the television all week (Art can identify all the daytime sports). Our friends have really done a bang up job loving and supporting us while simultaneously allowing us room to grieve. God is good.

Joe and I seem to be weathering the loss fairly well together. He's been so sweet and gentle to me, and he's grieving too. He's spent a lot of time planting vegetable seeds this week. I'm making horribly tacky jokes like how can we possibly nurture seeds to life, and he's laughing with me - sometimes making his own. We've had (and still have if I think about it objectively) an easy marriage. Loss is shitty, but I know I'm far from alone. How can we be anything less than grateful? I hope and pray that I would be singing God's praises no matter how bad our circumstances may be; I've had moments this week when I could.

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Kids, Homeschooling and Poop
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Arthur and Collette play so sweetly together. Collette said she wants to be a mom when she grows up. I asked her what a mother does. She said a mom cleans. I asked, "Anything else?" She replied, "Takes care of babies." I pressed her again, and she said moms also love. I like her idea of motherhood.

I'm struggling to get back into our routine after 4 weeks off and even moreso not to whine about it. I managed to get some of my weekly routine cleaning done this week, kept the television off and resumed my quiet time. I'm behind on my BSF homework, though. I miss seeing friends too. We took Coco to dance class Monday night while Arthur and his buddies played on a playground, and I watched two sweet boys this afternoon. Usually we see friends nearly every day of the week, and we like it that way. Coco is enjoying her first non-family sleepover tonight. Arthur felt very betrayed when I had the audacity to allow her to leave without him. "Coco? Go? Shoes?" Then there were lots of sad noises.

When I think about our days and our routines and homeschooling, I start to feel anxious. It feels like our days are just right as they are now, and I hate the idea of giving something up or squeezing something in. A large chunk of our daily time is spent on free play and reading fiction, and I want to guard that. I suppose as the children grow older free play will become less important or will change to fill the time differently. And I protect their free play time because I feel like they are learning important skills (independence, how to use their imagination, problem solving, social skills, experimentation), but I suppose when we begin homeschooling in earnest they will be learning valuable things during the time we take away from free play. And I hope what and how they learn will be as rewarding and as delightful as play fighting and dolls are now. One of my friends pointed out that I probably "teach" more now than I realize I do. I guess we'll see.

Speaking of homeschooling, I've begun making more of an effort to intentionally teach Coco some of the preschool basics. There's an awesome Handwriting Without Tears (HWT) curriculum, and it's really given me some food for thought. Awhile back I had half-heartedly tried to teach her how to write the letter A. This curriculum so much more wisely begins with how to correctly hold a writing instrument and aim it. I think the first letters it focuses on are E, F, and L, which makes so much more sense than beginning with A. It has wonderful ideas about how to teach - Play-do, blocks, crayons, chalk - and it breaks down the conceptual process. It's kind of exciting actually. There are a few capital letters she has yet to recognize reliably, but once she gets those we'll venture into phonics. Maybe we'll think about reading in the summer or the fall depending on how things are going? I sneak in math throughout our day. Monday I asked for 5 leaf soup, and when she brought me 8 leaf soup we walked through subtraction. It's really fun to watch her learn and grow, but for some reason it's much more intimidating to think about teaching her phonics or pattern recognition than it was to teach her to use a fork or a toilet.

Another reason I'm nervous about homeschooling is that I know little about teaching. Like jumping in with the letter A - that sounds so logical to my adult mind, but once I read the HWT book I realized that it was silly to start there. I'm still slowly reading Charlotte Mason's philosophy of education books, and I love everything she says. I'm pretty fairly convinced this is how we want to begin, but I want to know without a doubt I'm making the best choices for my children. Does anyone have that level of certainty? I suspect not.

Speaking of the toilet, Arthur is potty training. We've experienced some challenges with a high fever and reoccurring diarrhea, but he's so excited and gung-ho I haven't had the heart to put a pull up on him during the day. After a week of night-time diarrhea and poor sleep, we did decide he would wear special night-time underwear (pull-ups). I hate how expensive pull-ups are compared to diapers, but I think the momentum and confidence (he wants to step into his undergarments now) are worth it. He wasn't even waking up when he wet the bed in underwear. Collette had over a year between day-time potty training and night-time; so I'm not worried about doing it in phases with Arthur. I read this eBook called the Three Day Potty Training Method and loved so much of the author's advice. But I am skeptical that all children can master toileting in 3 days even if they are healthy. The author has a fun, encouraging focus that balances the child's learning with the parent's responsibility. And Art is rocking the pee pee. There was one day when he thought it was good enough to go through his underwear on the potty, but I think we're over that hurdle. He even made it through two and a half hours of errands this morning. Now if we can just get rid of this diarrhea once and for all. I bought lots of yogurt, white bread, crackers, applesauce and white rice. Lord willing, he'll be healthy in a few days. No more strawberries for two weeks!

Our four weeks out of the normal routine (vacation, illness, potty training) has led Arthur into a nursing regression. I've weaned him back to twice a day, and it is the strangest thing to be nursing a toddler in Toy Story underwear. Part of me cherishes every session, knowing he won't be nursing much longer. The other part of me thinks it might look a little absurd to the outsider - a boy old enough for underwear nursing and cuddling with his mom. Oh, well.

Life is precious, isn't it? Even the hard parts and the uncertainty.

That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever. (Psalm 30:12)

And to All a Good Night
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Thanks for the recent kind comments and prayers. Joe's mother's boyfriend's kidneys are failing, and Joe is going up to New York for a few days soon. I wish we could all go to support and love our family in person.

aftondays recently posted about her evening routine, which I enjoyed reading. I thought it would be fun to write about mine as well. Around 5 or 5:30 I feed my ravenous children some hodge podge dinner - usually something different than what Joe and I will eat because I have not yet finished making our dinner. I try to read Psalms or the gospels to the kids while they eat. They are more likely to sit still in their chairs if I'm sitting with them, and I think it's a great opportunity to absorb scripture while their mouths are full. If the kids aren't too messy from feeding themselves, they help me clean up from their meal, clean up from the day, and usually they will help me work on dinner for Joe and me too.

Then the kids enjoy a long bath together. Joe arrives home from work at 6, and they're often still in the bath. Sometimes I play with them in the tub, sometimes I try to sneak in learning with our bath toys and sometimes I read a book or surf the net on my iPod Touch. Joe helps me get the kids into their pajamas and plays with them for a few minutes. I try to encourage quiet play like all the books and articles about sleeping recommend, but there's lots of screaming, running and ball throwing with Daddy.

Around 6:30 and after small teeth have been brushed, we gather on Coco's bed and read stories - first fiction, then Bible stories. Sometimes I ask catechism questions. (Art knows Who made him!) We pray as a family, encouraging the kids to say their own prayers, which is sometimes precious but often absurd. Hugs and kisses all around. Then Joe reads a chapter or two of a story to Collette while I nurse Arthur in a glider in his own bedroom. I like to sing hymns while I nurse, and Art likes to play with my hair or hit me with his lovey. I put Arthur down after ten or fifteen minutes of nursing. He falls asleep on his own if he hasn't fallen asleep while nursing.

Who ever finished tucking his or her child into bed first finishes dinner. Or sometimes the day has gotten away from me, and we don't begin making dinner until this point. Dinners lately have been very simple and quick. I have made more ambitious meals in the past, but I'm out of the habit now. We eat. We have one at home date night a week when we intentionally plan an activity together, and we allow ourselves the option of spending one night each away from home (Joe plays soccer or basketball; I go to Book Club, the gym or meet friends). Otherwise we may spend time talking, doing something together (watching a television show or movie, but I dream about listening to books or sermons or playing card games together), doing different things in the same room or apart. Joe likes to follow sports news, watch or listen to games, or play games on the Nintendo Game Cube, and I like to play silly iPod games or read books. We rarely go to sleep at the same time. I try to make it into bed by 10 to read. Joe can go to sleep anytime between 8 and 12. Who ever goes to bed first kisses the other one good night, and if we've been doing different activities we often end up talking about whatever it was we were doing, which is one of my favorite parts of the day. Other times it's a simple kiss and good night.

Writing about our evening routine is pleasantly soothing.

God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. (Genesis 1:5)

A Bit of a Rough Patch
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I should be asleep, but I ain't. I'm trying to avoid buying $20 Tealuxe Royal Coconut tea, which I usually stretch to last two months. So really not that indulgent, right? I convinced Teva that they should pay return shipping on Coco's broken sandals, and that really they wanted to replace them with boy colored, smaller sized sandals for Arthur. Surprisingly it didn't take much effort. I agreed to help teach women's Bible study once or twice this semester; this is a task for which I feel woefully unprepared. Lord willing, I won't teach heresy or lead anyone too far afield.

People are suffering, and I'm lost in it. Joe's mother's boyfriend is in hospice after battling lung cancer for the last year and a half. There's a lot of anger and hurt with Rob (the boyfriend) and Jason (Joe's younger brother). Somehow I feel like we're letting them down because we live in Florida and haven't been back to New York since Rob was first diagnosed. We have plans to travel in October, but that may be too late. I wish we could be two places at once. My uncle is halfway through his cancer treatments, and he's having an especially rough time. He has lumps in his lymph nodes, and they couldn't find the source. His neck is burned inside and out from chemo. He needs a feeding tube but has been too dehydrated. My grandfather's health is declining rapidly too. He called 911 at 2 AM with hallucinations. He's made it clear that he doesn't want to leave his house. I thought about volunteering to help, but my small children wear his nerves and leave hazardous obstacles in his path. I want to be able to do more than pray for them. I want to singlehandedly save to day, restore their health, say the magically comforting words, renew their spirits. I am reminded once more that I'm not God.

Speaking of that wonderful Deity, praise the Lord for Arthur's swim lessons this summer. Collette got some sort of chemical in her eye at my parent's pool earlier this week. While my mom and I were flushing her eye with water, I left Art in the pool with my dad. When I glanced at the pool I saw Art rolling in four feet of water. I screamed at my dad, and he grabbed Art who had miraculously not inhaled any water. He wasn't even choking and was only a little upset. He's such a tough guy. I had to call poison control about the chemicals in Collette's eye, which turned out to be fine. It was a scary afternoon. I want to wrap my children in bubble wrap now. Or strap them into their car seats semi-permanently.

Add into that a little friendship drama - trying to love my neighbor as myself and have compassion for a difficult person. It's hard not to slide into malicious gossip. I feel like our relationship is important, and I am failing her.

So mostly I've been in denial. Reading lots of fiction and being sad. Spending vain minutes considering whether or not to reorder expensive tea. But tomorrow is a new day. Lord willing, it will be a day filled with peace, grace, patience and courage.

My soul cleaves to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word. (Psalm 119:25)

And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon
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Arthur is napping, and Coco is "resting" quite loudly in her room. This is the pattern for most afternoons. Arthur seems to be dropping his morning nap. At least we've missed it most of the last week.

Collette's games of pretend are becoming more elaborate, and she is intentionally funny. She's still pretty sweet and cooperative - especially with Arthur. She loves stories, books, movies and dress up. She loves her friends and cries when stories take a sad turn. She's struggling with fears and potty accidents. We are trying to respect her fears without fueling them. She's always slept with a nightlight, but now she also has a flashlight, we set up about a dozen stuffed animal friends and leave the door cracked. We've let her sleep with us a couple of times when she was upset in the middle of the night, but we don't sleep well with her. I think both issues are normal.

Arthur insists on eating at Coco's big kid table and doing everything she does. He's learned to climb up on the coffee table, stand on the arm of the couch and jump down on the cushions. I suspected I'd regret allowing Collette to do this, but they both love it so much. The joy on his face when he steps off the couch and the giggles that escape are so precious. He answers yes or no questions. He nods and says, "Deah!" or shakes his head no. He can open up our toy bins and often helps himself to toys if we are not quick enough to respond to his demanding grunts and points.

Soon-ish we'll need to replace our dishes. I ordered a new set, but the manufacturer has changed them in the last eight years. The manufacturer and product number are the same, but we don't like the new version. It's not a near enough of a match either. I found a $100 for four place setting I liked well enough on Amazon, but I'm not sure we want to spend that much on new dishes. I guess I'll look around for dishes that we could mix with our current set before we buy all new ones. I'm a little unreasonably disappointed that we can't replace the originals. I am sentimental. Coco comes by it naturally.

Joe and I have been asked to participate in a leadership Sunday School class studying the Westminster Confession. On one hand, I was very excited and optimistic. It's a serious class involving scripture memorization and in depth scripture reading about our theology, which is a topic I haven't delved into much since college. Joe and I could easily work together and quiz one another. On the other hand, I struggle to prioritize serious Bible study in my day-to-day life, and it feels like we're too busy. I've missed four classes - three due to sick children and one because we were out of town. The one class I attended I only sat in for about ten minutes before Arthur insisted he'd like to see his mom. Maybe it would be better now that he's dropping his nap... I should just jump in with this week's homework and verse memorization.

Who is the man who fears the LORD?
He will instruct him in the way he should choose.
The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him,
And He will make them know His covenant. (Psalm 25:12 & 14)

Food for My Soul
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I returned from our church's women's retreat, which was a little over 24 hours in historic St. Augustine. It was a nice experience, but I must be less of an extrovert than I once was because I'm drained. I walked in the door and my precious children were on me like lovely, sticky glue. I drowned in a sea of giggles, hugs and kisses. I am a wealthy woman indeed.

Unfortunately the house stunk of cat pee. Sun is terrified of our children and for the second time she got creative rather than come through the house to use her litter box in the garage while they were awake. I had the futon mattress on the floor (since I needed to put the recently washed cover back on), and unfortunately she chose to relieve herself on the futon. Fortunately my friend has a carpet/furniture cleaner, and Joe is picking it up now. We don't really want to move a litter box into the house. I'm not sure what we're going to do other than keep Art's door shut and chase her into the garage when she looks antsy.

My life is thrilling, no?

The talks at the retreat were simple yet encouraging - almost more discussion than presentation. I was moved during some of our worship for friends who have gone through tough spots over the last year. How do people keep the faith when life is shitty? We talked about the disciplines of grace - prayer, meditation, fellowship, Bible reading, sacraments, and worship. I realized one of the reasons I struggle to read the Bible is because I struggle to be a good listener. It's work to wait on the Lord, to listen and obey. Just like Collette struggles to listen and obey, I'm rushing off with excuses and "good" intentions. Prayer? I can talk to God all day long, but don't ask me to be still and listen. We talked about how disciplines become habits and how habits carry us through our struggles. As I looked around the room at the women I admire and love, I was overwhelmed by how easy my life has been. I haven't lost babies or been betrayed by my husband. I haven't struggled with chronic illness or survived cancer. I haven't struggled with loneliness and unanswered prayer for years. My heart ached for the women and marveled at their devotion. These are women who walk with God, and I am humbled to be in their presence, to know them and to love them. I'm humbled by God who grieves with them and comforts them. My God is an awesome God.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)

Better than I deserve
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It's much too late at night for me to begin a post.

I am in love with coupons. Seriously. I buy two papers and my friend gives me her coupons. I went bargain hunting in a drugstore with coupons for the first time this week. A-mazing.

Arthur is taking steps. I've counted as many as six, but he doesn't do the typical hold an adult's hands and walk thing. If I try to hold his hands so he can walk he hangs like a monkey, which looks more fun to me. He is a little obsessed with teeth. Given the opportunity he will reach out to touch anyone's.

We've switched from dance to swim lessons for Coco. I'm not sure how long we'll be able to afford lessons. Let's hope she's a quick learner. Everything is pretend all the time with her! Lots of Pixar themes since we were all sick last week, and she watched oodles. I'm going for zero television this week to compensate. And I am thinking about a regular, scheduled devotional time for us as a test run for homeschooling.

Some changes may be afoot. I'm not sure how things will shake out, but deep down I'm hoping that nothing changes. What's that expression - the more things change the more they stay the same? Suffice to say I like things just the way they are, and I self-righteously feel entitled for things to remain just so. I have a lot of idols. God is a jealous god.

We have a busy week ahead. A big park playdate tomorrow (it may get in the 80's!), women's Bible study (ironically about change - anyone see a theme?), an overnight trip to visit a college friend in our old college town (!), Arthur's baby play group, and Disney this weekend. Hopefully the gym two or three times as well. God is good.

Off to bed, sleepyheads.

The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the LORD. (Proverbs 16:33)

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