Will there be mountains in heaven?


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This is for me today. You are welcome to read, but I need to hear this. Today.

Don’t think that the good days are from Jesus and the bad days aren’t.  Things don’t happen by accident, they are purposeful and orchestrated, always.

In the day of prosperity be joyful,
But in the day of adversity consider:
Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other

I remember wondering about that portion of Handel’s Messiah where the choir sings,

Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain.

thinking, “why would we want just flat land with straight roads, heck, we’d be in Kansas!”

We live in a crooked, rough world full of sin, sadness and suffering.  Wise people and fools live in this crooked world but wise people understand God’s plan includes crooked things, fools never learn.  Fools try to change the course that God has set before them, wise people learn to navigate.  So, how does the wise person navigate through the rough hard things in life?

1.  Wise people begin by understanding God did not intend for us to have an easy, carefree, simple, painless life.

2.  Wise people understand they are not God’s public relations with a slapped on happy face.  In the day of adversity wise people embrace grief.  Wise people go through sadness and mourning, while foolish people try to ignore it.

Better to go to the house of mourning
Than to go to the house of feasting,

Sorrow is better than laughter

The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning

When times are sad, you need to mourn, go through it.  Eating, drinking and partying when you’re depressed is foolish. But then, when times improve, eat, drink and be merry.  When times are bad, mourn and grieve but then when times are good, play Settlers of Catan with your kids, go to Baskin Robbins for ice cream, and read books to them in bed.

3. Wise people choose their friends carefully.  He who walks with the wise grows wise.

It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise
Than for a man to hear the song of fools.

Wise people have friends who will pray for them and be there for them.

4.  Wise people accept that ultimately bad days come from God.  Ministry to others comes out of pain and brokenness, we don’t wish for it and we wouldn’t choose it but through it we are able to talk about God’s goodness in a way that convinces.

If we lived a simple, carefree, painless life we would never need Him, we would never seek Him, and ultimately we would die apart from Him.  So, he brings us trials.  God has made our lives complicated and crooked on purpose but one day He shall make “Every valley exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain.”

We have to be able to say of some situations, “This stinks,”  and then move on knowing by faith and not by what we see right now, ‘that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.’

As we discussed this Matthias proclaimed triumphantly, “If it’s true that good things come out of bad, we’ve got a whole lot of good coming!”

Eight Mile


 

 

 

Jason't hair doesn't really look like this. I swear. I may have been the one to give him the haircut.

I was chomping at the bit this weekend to get out into the mountains since it is getting close to snow season and traversing the trails without snowshoes will soon be impossible.  Sunday was clear and cold and a perfect hiking day.  It turned from fall to winter as we crept up the 3.5 mile trail until we reached the iced-over lake where we spent some time sliding rocks out as far as we could across the ice until we had enough on to break through.  I think we are both teenage boys at heart.

 

Happy Anniversary to Me!


And we have been best friends!

Ok, so I’m a bit late to post this.  Our anniversary was July 28th but it took forever to get these pictures taken.  I knew it would.  Things happen and that always fell to the bottom of the proverbial totem pole.  Anyway, yep, it’s been 10 years now and since it’s a bit of a big one, Eric promised me a trip to San Francisco!  I’m so excited for the photographic feast that San Francisco will offer.  I’m so hoping to visit Tail of the Yak.  Looks like a super cool shop.  And then there are the 11 places to eat in San Francisco.  Eating my way though San Francisco!  Does it get any better than that!

Tail of the Yak

Happy 10th to us!

Lobster Feed


Plenty of lobster plus...

plenty of brown paper plus...

 

lots of seating for great friends...

 

the wine cannot be forgotten either...

 

all makes for a stupendous lobster feed.

 

The kids are always enthralled with the lobster.

 

 

 

As if lobster weren't enough, as it was getting to be dusk...

 

we had an out door jam session. Really fun!

 

 

 

 

A Little Wedding


I just wanted to share some of the wedding photos that I took about a month ago.  It was a low key affair but it  was the first one I have ever done and that considered I was quite pleased with some of the shots.  I love to take photos but I have to admit that I still get nervous when it’s time to do a shoot.  Apparently I’m not the only one.  It makes me feel better to know that even the best photographers feel some nervousness.

 

 

 

 

Taite’s Photos


I don't think Taite has had very good photos on here of late, especially the hospital ones, so here are some better ones of her.

This is my particular favorite.

She's doing quite...

 

well!

 

Zac and Cait’s Photo Shoot


The backdrop was amazing!

I thought I’d share some of the family photos I took of Zac and Caitlin when I was out there for the 4th of July.

 

Summer Vacation


Eric actually had the 4th off so we took a little jaunt over to my sister,  Caitlin and Zac’s place in Wallowa, Oregon.  If you have never been to Wallowa and if you should ever be on this side of the country, a stop in on Cait’s little B&B is a must.  The weather was amazing, the mountains were clear, and the lake was freezing.  Not that I would know.  I never stepped a toe in it but I did shove someone in who told me it was cold.

We had breakfast in the great outdoors with all- you- can -eat...

doughnuts. They were the most amazing doughnuts ever. I'm a bit picky about my doughnuts and I won't touch the jelly ones. But Caitlin insisted. It was homemade strawberry jam on the inside. If I had jelly doughnuts like that to eat, well, need I say more, they were amazing.

We went to an outdoor jazz concert with this...

for the back drop.

Al fresco dining with wine, cheese, hard salami.

and blackberry pie.

Eric couldn't decide if he should jump, so I helped him make up his mind.

Caitlin captured these little gems.

A Little Outing


 

My in-laws are visiting and so we decided to take a little trip to Walla Walla.

Walla Walla sweet onions

Olive turned out to be a great little place to have lunch with five little kids.

We had an upstairs room that looked down into the kitchen...

where we were able to watch them make...

our pizzas.

A stop at Bright's Candies finished the day.

And everyone got a nice big cone.

Some bigger than others. But the ice cream was all gone in the end.

Photography


A little Fox in the orchard.

Well, half of my New Year’s resolution has gone a bit by the wayside.  It’s the painting part.  I’ve not been doing a painting a month.  I have been painting, it’s just been things like the back porch.  The photo portion has been going really well, though.  I love my camera and I can get so sucked into taking pictures that I forget about everything else around me.  Dinner, screaming kids, and schooling that has to get done.

Have you seen the work of Justin Hackworth?  Amazing!  I want to get that good.  By the way has anyone tried Snapfish for making prints?  I’m wondering how the quality is.  I still like to put together photo albums and would like to have good quality prints made that don’t cost too much.  Anyone out there?

 

In the spring I took all the kids to the cherry orchard since it was in bloom.

 

Fox was bad for the photos session, but the other kids thought it was pretty funny.

I gave up trying to get Fox to cooperate, and just took the other kids' pictures.

Canon, Anwyn, and Athanasius

Mom and Dad

 

 

Keep Calm and Carry On- It’s Just a Wedding!


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So will you be watching the wedding?

And When I Get Home and Look at the Mail, I’ve Been Called For Jury Duty!


Well, well, well.

Taite is back home.

We have had a roller coaster of months.  When we first began to deal with Taite’s inability to eat, what I really wanted to do was ignore it and give it a chance to go away.  Hmmm, nope, that didn’t work.

So, we encouraged her to just eat, regular food just less of it.  Nope, that didn’t work either.

Finally after trips and tests we realized she needed liquid-y foods and liquids.  And really that didn’t work too well either.

When we took her into the ER at the hospital and each hospital employee in turn said something to the effect of, “Oh, my gosh, you look really ill, do you need a wheel chair?!”  And I looked and Taite and she looked at me and we thought they’d gone batty.  ’Course she didn’t need a wheel chair, she looks the same as she did yesterday.  Then they put her on IV fluids and sent us home with IV fluids (because her doctor uncle had come to see her from Iowa and he could give her the IV at home).

And then a few days later, Taite’s esophagus just closed up tight, the end.  And that’s when we headed for Seattle to get a feeding tube until surgery.

And it was then that like a huge slap in the face, I realized that actually no, ten Cheetos a day and a swig of water would not actually keep a person alive actually.  It was such a slow yet steady decline that in the end we were left to feel like total idiots.  I mean, who would think a handful of Cheetos would get a person through the day!!?  Truth be told, they weren’t even Cheetos, they were a knock-off generic brand, “Cheez Pleezers.”  Really!  Who’d give a starving child a knock-off brand!!?

The bliss of a feeding tube.  Man, oh man, I was onto that; every time the hour came ’round I was there pouring that concoction of vitamins and minerals into the bag and starting the pump.  Twenty four hours a day that girl was being fed.  And like one of those pet sponges that you put in water and they grow big, Taite came back to life.

And then it was finally time to fix her up with surgery.  And I was scared.  The pump was so darn reliable and so full of calorie goodness.  I packed two days worth of cans for the four hour trip… just in case.

I had reason.  The mountain pass we had to travel was closed the day before her surgery for avalanche control and blizzards.  We weren’t sure it would be open in time to travel to her appointment.  And what if we got stuck up on that mountain for days.  I had to take the feeding tube food… to last for days.

And then at long last surgery.  And it is scary.  Our dear pastor is here with us and kneels down and tells Taite that he and she are going to recite something together.  And they do:

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We are thankful, hopeful, and scared.

Taite’s anesthesiologist comes in to tell her in his beautiful South African accent what he’ll be doing, and then goes down the hall and comes back with a bear for her, tells her to give her mum and dad a hug.  Taite, mum and dad start crying and her anesthesiologist wonders, “Do you always cry when you hug your mum and dad?” “No,” Taite says.  ”Well, anesthesiologists give good hugs in the operating room if you need one, FYI”  He takes her by the arm and he and she walk down the hall, through the surgery room doors and are gone.

Four hours later she is out of surgery and we are thankful and hopeful.

The next morning Taite has her first drink of clear liquid.  It goes down.  And we are thankful.

She will be on a diet of pureed foods for the next six weeks.

Any great recipes for tasty savory or sweet pureed consistency foods you could share?

(The title of this post- totally true!)

Less and Less Guilty


Matthias valiantly making plans to protect his candy stash

So, it would be justifiable that Taite has been absent from school for weeks on end.  But Matthias has simply been AWOL.  It’s a guilty thing to see my perfectly fit and healthy son lazing about because I am either not around or unable for now to teach.  And the weeks tick by, tick… tick…tick.

I began to mentally summarize his day and that helped me feel somewhat better.  Having finished reading the entire Harry Potter series and Lord of the Rings series, he decided- on his own- to begin reading The Iliad.  Well, that’s something.  We were interrupted from reading the Aeneid so Matt thought he’d read the other side’s perspective in the meantime.

Then I found an electronics lab kit that my sister had given us.  Matthias has been creating all manner of things.  He put together a light and motion sensor and then placed it in his secret candy drawer to catch anyone trying to steal a Tootsie Roll.  So, that’s something too, keeping his candy from being stolen.

And drums.  He’s been doing overtime practicing for the big St. Patrick’s concert coming up  March 5th.  Andrew came home from watching one of his practices and said, “Matt actually knows how to play the drum.”  ”I know,” I replied.  Andrew said, “Well, I knew he beat on the thing, but I saw him practicing with the group and when they are playing he is too- in perfect rhythm!”  ”Ya,” I said, “He even can read the music for it.”

And basketball.  He has practice every week and a game.  His team is one game away from being undefeated!

And then, of course, there’s Calvin and Hobbes. And if that’s not enough catechism, there’s the real thing too studying The Epistles and Revelation.

And math… he’s working through Algebra 1. And at the rate we’re going he will be done by April.  OK, I’m feeling less and less guilty.

Meanwhile on the other side of the mountain, here's Taite pre-NG tube

Taite


Thank you to everyone who has been praying for Taite.  We continue to need wisdom as we figure out our next few weeks.

Taite has been having a lot of difficulty eating and drinking anything.  Even her spit was not going down.  For a 5′ 5″ girl her weight has dropped to a scary 80 pounds.  We finally took her in for some tests and then were sent to a Children’s hospital where she underwent some more tests, some under sedation and some fully awake. Taite has been a very brave young lady.   Bravery makes a parent cry.  We have been on a roller coaster of hopeful highs to despairing lows.  We are now in waiting pattern for a call from the doctor with some results and probably a referral to a surgeon.

For right now we are thrilled to all be back at home.  Hotels are only nice if you’re on vacation.  And we had thought our trip would be a quick 24 hours so we were running low on clean underwear and socks.

It was really terrific to go to Matthias’s basketball game today, and even better that they won and are still undefeated after their fourth game!  He had a cheering crowd of three sisters, one brother, two brother-in-laws, six nieces and nephews, and a set of parents.  I think that’s why they won the game.

My First Painting of the Year


This resolution had been good for everyone.

Yikes! the first month of the year is almost gone.  I was leisurely looking at a magazine on the couch the other day when I flew up in a frenzy remembering I had a painting to work on.  So here it is as I promised, my first painting of the year.  It’s a good thing I will have all our readers to hold me accountable to this resolution or I would never get around to doing this. 

The photos will have to wait till next month since my camera has not yet come but I am sooooo excited to get it.  I pretty much check out the front door every day to see if a package has come.  I have a lens, a camera, a photo book, and a soup tureen coming to me and what’s the first package we get?  Oh, Eric’s shoes- that he won’t need till spring.  Errrg!

Here is the first painting of the year. I didn't say it would necessarily be great or grand but it does keep me in practice.

The kids love to paint, actually Athan didn't feel like it today so no pictures of him.

New Year’s Resolutions


To help jump-start the year, I checked out a drawing book at the library.

I have some wonderful art supplies that don't get used as ofted as they should. I like Arches watercolor paper and Windsor Newton paints.

I can’t believe I forgot to post my New Year’s resolutions. I actually came up with one this year.  I don’t usually make them because I find them a bit depressing.  It seems like you set yourself up for failure. 

All that having been said, I am really pretty excited about mine this year.  I am setting myself the goal to do one painting a month, oil or watercolor, and I have, at one point in the month, to take my camera with me everywhere I go and come home with at least ten good photos.  This one is pretty exciting to me because Eric promised me a new camera for this endeavor.  I am totally jazzed!  I plan on all you readers holding me accountable.  I hope to post through the year all the pictures and paintings (only if they turn out) that I produce.

I have it in my head that for the month of January I want to paint a bird picture in watercolor.   I think the kids and I will have an art day today especially if I want to get it done by the end of January.

I painted this one several years ago using a National Geographic.

This is a small picture I have above my bed.

How a Black Velvet Jacket became a Rooster


I am feverishly working to get my house back in order before we go back to school.

My closet became my place for storing gifts and wrapping gifts and I could hardly step foot in it.  That was first on my list.  Behold, a can of cranberry sauce.

Next, was the pantry.  All the cans, bags and boxes of food had become a jumble.  I cleared out and cleaned it all up.  Behold, the face mask I wanted to use at Halloween.

Then the toy closet, little pieces found after the game had been put away were perched bare naked on the shelf waiting for the covering of a box.  Behold, the Bath and Body Works air freshener.

I decided, no, I would never, ever, ever wear the black velvet jacket I bought at Coldwater Creek, ever.  All sorts of treasures went into my ‘go away’ bags.  When I delivered them to a drop off station, the man asked if I would like a receipt.  Just then I glanced down and there stood this regal rooster, I mean, who would be getting rid of such a thing!?

“No receipt, but I would take that rooster.”

“We can’t do that.”

Then as I went back around the car to get in, I spied this man grasping the handle of the back seat door.  He gave a quick glance in both directions, opened the door and gently set the rooster on the seat.  ”Don’t tell anyone.”

“I won’t tell a soul.  Thank you so much! and Happy New Year!”

“Happy New Year to you too.”

The Gift of an Ordinary Day


In a second it all changed.

Sadly, Erin and Tim and Valiant were heading back home that afternoon.  Also very sadly, Jason and Aileen had left early that morning.  Unfortunately, it would soon be just the five of us.  I had already decided the tree was coming down.  It was dead.  It had been dropping dustbins of needles for days.

We had feasted with such abandon these few days, that the seven dozen eggs were gone and had been for a day, bread was running very low; the milk was gone too.  I would restock that afternoon.

Towels and sheets were piled and ready to wash, one last wash load of Valiant’s small clothing was drying.

Those D.C.  travelers would leave at 2 p.m. and arrive home the next day at 2 a.m.  They really needed one last good meal.  Brats, potatoes and onions with a side of sauerkraut and peas before the long trek were quickly fried up.

Tim and Erin can both fly with three extra check-on bags for free!  (Remember when regular folk could do that?)  The back of the car was loaded full, and we all packed in to see them off.  We kissed them good-bye.  They entered the passenger only realm; we waved at them one last time and left.

Cars halted at the cross walk, and then Matthias decided to jump over a steel railing, and slipped.

And smacked his head into the main post as he spun to the other side of the railing.  Shaken, he got up, I asked if he was alright.  I should never ask Matthias if he is alright, he’s always alright, even when he’s not.

A huge goose egg suddenly appeared on his forehead.  I would be the first to shriek, “Oh wow, that looks really bad.”  Andrew, ever the EMT, gives me this look of, “don’t send the boy into shock with your fright.”

In the car, this egg manages to get even bigger, when I look over at Andrew, I can tell he’s concerned too.  We pull into the Urgent care center, the receptionist takes one look at him and sailing past the full to brimming waiting room, directs us immediately to an exam room.  And tells us she thinks they will have to send him to the emergency room at the hospital, the black hole where people wait forever and are not seen for days.  NOooooo.

One little question and that all changes, “Have we seen him here before?”  ”Why, yes, you have, you removed staples from his head not too long ago.”  An established patient.

Waiting for the doctor, I suddenly remember that I am supposed to be watching Fox soon while the rest of the nearby grandkids go to Voyage of the Dawn Treader, in 3-D.  I forgot my phone.  So we wait for the doctor and Meghan doesn’t know.

Waiting, the goose egg slowly recedes to chicken egg and then later yet to one magnetic rattlesnake egg size bump.  All the while Matthias is saying,”I feel fine.”

The doctor arrives and looks Matt over, and then begins to tell him about how amazing  blood clotting is.  Matthias takes over from there and agrees that, “in clotting, the blood amazingly forms a kind of net of fibrin….”  He’ll be fine.

Home for five minutes and in walks Meghan with Fox, “You’re early,” I say.

“I left you a message on the home phone.”

“Oh, we just got home five minutes ago.”

In a second I was reminded how often my days are so wonderfully ordinary that I do not even remember to thank God for the  gift of an ordinary day.

Ordinary is good, very good.

Thank you, God for ordinary days.

Is Santa Claus Naughty or Nice?


We’ve decided we are doing Santa.

And I’d like to say I have some wonderfully heady reason as to why I think it is a good practice. But I don’t. More, I just think it sounds fun and can’t do any harm.

I think about the way Zac and I play with our kids on a daily basis. We play “monster in the closet”. We pretend the bathtub is full of mermaids, and that the carrots on their plates come to life.  We go along with the story that Freyja is a cat named Kish, spending endless hours walking her around the house on a bathrobe tie, while she communicates only in meows.

Why couldn’t we pretend someone in a sleigh is bringing them all sorts of gifts with his pet reindeer? Frankly, it sounds like something Freyja could have come up with herself. Children imagine, and pretend, and act out games all the time, and parents often get pulled into their world, even if it is just eating some imaginary scrambled eggs they’ve prepared in their play kitchen. Why then, is it such a faux pas to go along with the story of Santa?

I have noticed a few negative effects of Santa, but I think those are entirely up to the parents to keep in check.

I wouldn’t want to put more emphasis on Santa than on Christ’s birth, Santa should always remain a sideshow, a small addition to the many traditions we have. Like cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Santa is about as important as cinnamon rolls. We could have Christmas without him, but is fun with him too.

I don’t think I’ll be threatening my children that Old St. Nick has some high moral standard that they had better live up to if they want any goodies. (I have heard this one used in the grocery store) That is where it does seem to get a bit mean-spirited of parents. So far, we seem to be getting fairly good results in the discipline department without Santa’s help. And besides, the threat seems to lose it’s weight and severity in, say, July.

And then there’s the issue of your kids “finding out”. Yes, they’ll realize it was all a hideous lie, and now they don’t think they can ever trust you again, and they’ll probably become wayward, wandering delinquents and end up in jail before they turn fifteen. Maybe some parents take the Santa myth too far. (From what my husband and others have said, they always knew Santa wasn’t real, but they still loved playing the game with their parents.) I think at the first sign of my children getting too old for the game, or when they simply come and ask if Santa is real, I’ll explain to them that it is just a fun game we play at Christmas time, so try to keep it a secret for your younger brothers and sisters so they can keep playing till they get older.

In the mean time, while they are little, we’re going to put out cookies and milk, tuck them into bed, and listen for Rudolph on the roof. But maybe you’ve come up with a better tradition than Santa, what are your Christmas rituals?

(I have to admit, I just have one reservation about the whole thing: I think I might be getting gypped if Santa gets to take the credit for Freyja’s new bike.)

Thump-a-Thumpa


And to top it all off, I got a flat tire, as in totally unmistakably squashed flat tire.  But I digress.

You gotta stick with this story because THIS IS MY LIFE!!

Andrew called the washing machine repairman.  I guess it’s a fairly common practice to charge a customer an arm and a leg to show up in your laundry room just to make a pronouncement: thumbs up and they will deduct the “show up” charge from the “fix it” charge, thumbs down and you pay the “show up” charge and ditch the honkin’ monster.  I kinda had a fit about paying someone to maybe fix my problem and told Andrew to give me time to think about it.  Throwing good money after bad bugs me.

In the meantime, bless our  cat who peed on my down coat.

I threw the coat into the washer and during the spin cycle, the squealing gave way to thump-a-thumpa then THUMPA-A-THUMPA. My coat knocked the washer off kilter and that jolting knocked something loose.  The washer has been working like a champ ever since!  Ta Da! I fixed it!!  Pay me!

Remember that down coat I just mentioned?  Remember I mentioned that the cat had peed on it?  Well, Erin came to me this morning to tell me the cat had peed in her suitcase… with all her clothes in it…. clothes that are dry clean only… and totally soaked the lining of the suitcase too.  Sweet.  This was a little too much dejá vu all over again. (Sound familiar, mom!?)   A washing machine to wash all those peed on clothes is a good thing.

And hoorah and hooray .  My  post about my Dacor appliances  prompted the very helpful Jonathan to give me a call to make things right.  I was feverishly Christmas shopping when Mr. Powers called and told me he had checked into things and was going to do right by me… even though my appliances were past their one year warranty period.  ”I know,” I admitted, “it’s just that I thought a nice top of the line appliance might last for, say, five  years.”  You know, like the ancient appliances that never give up the ghost in rental apartments, those avocado green or harvest gold ones.  That is actually how I want my beautiful Dacor appliances to hold up.  The repairman will be here mid morning and I will have over thirty people here later tonight.

So, as I am pulling out of Wal Mart, a woman is motioning me and looking  a bit perturbed.  I immediately think  I am guilty of something, maybe like, almost running her over.  I hesitantly roll down my window and she informs me that I have a flat, FLAT  tire.  ”Oh, thank you so much,” I tell her.  This sweet woman is ready to help me get to the tire factory, find a compressor and pump the dead tire back to life, sit with me until help arrives.  ”Tis the season and she is sweet.

In the end my dear friend bales me out and picks me up.  But wait, there’s more, my son-in-law is due to arrive at the airport in a few hours and I am car-less.  My dear friend  loans her car for us to pick up my son-in-law at the airport.  Then my son-in-law drives my dear friend’s car back to Wal Mart, puts the spare tire on my car and drives it back home.

SO…..  looking for a silver lining in all this I am happy to finally catch up with my dear friend albeit I had to wreck a tire rim to do it.

Oh yah, and Erin’s dry cleaning… it’s still in the flat tire car and still needs dropped off.