Thursday, December 30, 2010

Books Read in 2010

Books Read in 2010

  • Adams, Dogbert's Book of Management
  • Barna, The Seven Faith Tribes
  • Beavan, No Impact Man
  • Boteach, Shalom in the Home
  • Card, Ender's Game
  • Cleve, Little Bee
  • Collins, Catching Fire
  • Collins, Mockingjay
  • Collins, The Hunger Games
  • Cosby, Cosbyology
  • Dekker, Green
  • Dreher, Crunchy Con
  • Easterbroo, Sonic Boom: Globalization at Mach Speed
  • Ephron, I Feel Bad About My Neck & Other Thoughts
  • Esquith, Lighting Their Fires
  • Esquith, Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire
  • Esquith, There Are No Shortcuts
  • Everett, The Wrong Side of the Door: Why Ideas Matter
  • Ferriss, The Four Hour Work Week
  • Frost, The New Global Student
  • Gabrielle, Because They Hate
  • Gansky, Zero G
  • Gladwell, Blink
  • Gladwell, Outliers
  • Gladwell, Tipping Point
  • Goldberg, 100 People who are Screwing Up America
  • Goldman, Living a Year of Kaddish
  • Gregory, The Last Christian
  • Gresham, Jack's Life: The Story of C.S.Lewis
  • Hannegraff & Brouwer, The Last Disciple
  • Kelly, The Dream Maker
  • Kennedy, Being Catholic Now
  • L'Engle, Certain Women
  • Lawhead, Tuck
  • Lewis, Prince Caspian
  • Lewis, The Horse & His Boy
  • Lewis, The Last Battle
  • Lewis, The Lion, The Witch & the Wardrobe
  • Lewis, The Magician's Nephew
  • Lewis, The Silver Chair
  • Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  • Moses, Genesis
  • Newhart, I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This
  • Niequist, Bittersweet
  • Nye, Habibi
  • Patillo, Jane Austen Ruined My Life
  • Riordan, The Lightening Thief
  • Salwen & Salwen: The Power of Half
  • Seelig, What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20
  • Spinelli, Stargirl
  • Tenney, Hadassah
  • Thor, The Apostle
  • Viola & Barna, Pagan Christianity
  • Webster, Daddy-Long-Legs
  • Winget, Your Kids Are Your Own Fault
  • Zakaria, The Post American World

52 Books in a Year Wrap-Up

Did you reach the goal of 52 books? YES! Made it to 58, despite the fact that I've only read 1 book since Dad died mid November. I did count The Entire Narnia series, which we read-aloud as well as a couple of YA.

What was the last book you read? The Apostle by Thor - not the best book on my list, but not bad either. A fast, easy read.

Did you read from a list and fly by the seat of your pants choosing a different book each week? Yes and Yes.  I started with a long list and then flew by the seat as I went, adding, deleting, browsing through the library, getting a couple free along the way.

Did you learn something new about yourself, an author, an topic? But of course!

Loved Lawhead's Tuck (really the whole King Raven Trilogy rocked, don't miss Hood and Scarlett) because it gave me such a great perspective on O.T. warfare. 
Really like Boteach's Shalom in the Home- he write a lot of what I believe and our principals of child-rearing but it was a challenging and good reminder to practice what we preach.
I actually took copious notes reading Esquith's  3 books, Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire, Lighting Their Fire and There Are No Shortcuts- he is an education maven if ever there was one!
Learned a lot about politics from Zakaria in The Post American World.
Jack's Life was a great bio on my man C.S. Lewis. Filled in a bunch of blanks about his life.
Why They Hate was a compelling look into the Lebanese war, along with Habibi and the movie Amrika. I gained a greater appreciation for the struggles of the middle east.
The Last Christian gave a fictional account of how transhumanity might really be enacted and the role Christianity has in a world that embraces singularity.
How many classics did you read? Not one single one unless you count Narnia.

Did you discover a new author or genre? Did you love them or hate them? New genre- no. New author - Several, listed below.

Nye- writes like the poet that she is.
Gladwell- very fun to read his thoughts and observations.
Esquith - Educational Maven Man, ideas galore. I read all of his books this year, taking tons of notes.
Niequist- a terrific writer. I expected depth of faith from her and was disappointed, but she can wordsmith despite the shallow waters she wades in.
Zakaria- Deep. Took me a couple of weeks to get through his book. Very much worth it. Wish reactive right and left wingers would take in to account what he has to say.
Florida- perused a couple of his books and didn't finish any. Fascinating concepts.

Name your to ten favorite reads:
A priori fav read: Narnia by C.S. Lewis- the entire series. And then,

1. King Raven series by Lawhead
2. Shalom in the Home by Boteach
3. Hunger Games Trilogy by Collins
4. Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire by Esquith, as well as his 2 others ; )
5.Outliers by Gladwell, as well as his 2 others.
6. The Last Christian by Gregory
7. The Post American World by Zakaria
8. Bittersweet by Niequist
9. Habibi by Nye
10. Jake's Life by Gresham
Name your bottom ten least favorite reads: I liked all of what I read. If I didn't like it I quit reading, with the exception of Little Bee- disturbing scenes and haunting violence. The international company politics were intriguing so I kept at it.

Name a book you simply could not finish The Life of Pi

Name a book you expected to like but didn't: Again, The Life of Pi. It came so highly recommended but I just couldn't get past the first couple of pages.
Name a book you expected to not like but did: The Hunger Games by Collins. It was described as "Creepy" but I thought it was very well written dystopian lit. Engaging characters and a plot that wasn't so far fetched it was fantasy.

Best books I didn't or haven't finished yet:
Closing of the American Mind by Bloom. Read excerpts. Absolutely terrific. A brave new world might just be here.
What's Your City by Richard Florida. Fascinating graphs and concepts. Good stuff.
The God Who Is There by Francis Schaeffer. The man is brilliant and succinct, making difficult philosophical concepts understandable.

Stop by  52 books in 52 Weeks for lots more 2010 WRAP- UPS.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fancy Feet

Henna is the latest fad here.

For more Wordless Wednesday Fun stop by the Wordless Wednesday Hub, 5 Minutes for Mom,  Parenting By Dummies, and starting again in January the 7 Clown Circus.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Perfect Time is Now

"You must learn to love what you have, and be thankful… no matter where you may be from, no matter what your life or circumstances are like now. If you dream of better things… great. Keep working towards those dreams. But live today in the world and the life you are in. Don’t wait to live when things are perfect. Things are more perfect now than you know. They may be two different worlds, but make it one beautiful life. Live and love today, while you have breath to do so."

(From Aloha Howdy - a beautiful blog about one families journey through breast cancer. The pictures are gorgeous; the love the family shares, inspiring).

My Dad used to say, "This day holds everything in it that you need."
Wise and true words.

I've been thinking about this a lot as I do my yearly annual eval and think about what I hope to accomplish for next. We are a family of evaluators and analyzers and often in the evaluation and analysis, the fine critique, the joy and beauty in our midst can be lost. As I grow older, (though my Gram continues to call me  "Pup" -that's 94 year old perspective) I realize more and more that the things I used to stress over, the perfectionism that was controlling, was such a waste of time, a joy robber and a time thief. 
God continues to tell us, in various and obvious ways, that today is all that we need. That what we have in our hands is more than enough. That He will supply, in His good time, the next things. That goodness abounds.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Birthday, Girlfriend!

Happy Birthday to my oldest Baby

Miss. Sanguine on Steroids
Intellectual and random and global, a deep thinker with a killer sense of humor. (read here to see what I mean)
All Girl, skirts and curls and Bling, Baby, yet Tom-Boy enough to scale rock walls, travel for days in the same clothes, hop on a horse to ride like mad,  hike high mountains, or canoe long rivers.
A Linguist (seriously, she paused, "How to Train Your Dragon in order to translate the Ruins, which she taught herself to read during our 8th grade study on Vikings). She diagrams sentences for fun.
Creative.  "Let's manipulate this (be it words, thoughts, food, clay, etc) and modify, improve, make something NEW"
Adventuresome. How far can we Go, Go, Go,Go, Go?
a Story Teller and a Dramatist and a Singer and a Sing Languager. This girl is a walking Chautaqua, like Grandma Faith before her.
Faithful & True. Got Jesus?
Beautiful (see picture above)

Love You, Dear Heart!
It is a JOY to know you.

Friday, December 24, 2010

How to Have a Blast

1) Find a 35' wall and Rock-Out.
Rock-Wall Barbie (a.k.a. KB) blasting to the top.

 Cub making his way to the top.

Feche Bouldering.

Booyah, Baby.

 Miss. R, overcoming her trepidation of heights.

 Flower wasn't really thrilled about all of this but she kept at it, adding 2-4 feet every turn, finally getting close enough to the top to ring the bell. At the end of the evening she said, "Thanks for pouring courage into me, Daddy."

 Cub is impressed with how his muscles responded to the sport. "I am big and strong."

2) Drink hot chocolate, listen to the Luke Reports and Christmas music as you drive through a winter wonderland, a.k.a. 4- 6" of falling snow on your way to the City Park to view the incredible light display.

3) Run through the park, throwing snall balls and each other in the snow.

4) Go home and sleep so that you can wake up in the morning to Celebrate some more cause Miss. R turns 24!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Death and morbidity is trivialized by movies, T.V., books; horror of every sort is commonplace. Death is no longer relevant when Vampires, those lingering between life and death, awake and sleep, real and ethereal, are considered a reality. Fiction replacing non-negotiables, as if fantastical thinking could change Truth. People show up at the funeral, pay their respects and go home. Life goes on- as it should, but maybe too quickly. Maybe with too little discomfort.

Isaac mourns Rebekah by Marc Chagall
My oldest daughters friend list includes a whole lot of folks from around the world. Whether they are from Indian or Romania, they have been very supportive of her, and of our family, as she and we have dealt with the tragedies of the last 13 months. DeDe (a my-age Indian woman) when she heard about my Dad's death, knowing the events of last year exclaimed, "Oh, your poor Mother. How she must suffer!" Miss. R was IM'ing with a whole group of Romania friends last week and when they heard about Dad passing away they commented, "Oh, We wish you and your Mom were here! She could dress in black and mourn and we would mourn with her!"

Last year, after Sue died, I felt so inconsolable; lost, hurt, wounded. I'm sure it was a combo of feelings from the fire, my husband being so continually ill and then her death. And we did have a LOT of support. Wonderful, kind, loving people helping out in so many ways, on so many levels. But there just wasn't a place, or time designated to grieve, partly because we were consumed with getting the house in order before another Long Winter set in.
And so I blogged : ).
And we've had great support this year too. Beautiful cards and kindness from people everywhere we go. There has been recognition of something important lost that cannot be retrieved.  But I still struggle when people ask how I am.  I'm fine. Yes. Fine. Which is a word like "nice." It really means a whole lot of nothing ( an IEW banned word!).  I'm not lost in depression or anger or grief but I'm not reveling in joy either. I feel fundamentally changed and like my head is so full of noise I'm not sure I'll ever hear quiet again and disorganized and cluttered. Is that grief or just a random global thinker shorting out?
Last year I sought out and connected with Living A Year of Kaddish, which outlines the Jewish liturgy of prayer for the dead, said in a quorum, affirmed by a communal "Amen", an affirmation of the God who gives and takes away. The author speaks of the complications of his relationship with his Dad, unresolved issues and difficulties included. He speaks of longing that will never be fulfilled, hope gone cold. He speaks of the honor that the year long ritual of saying a Mourner's Kaddish gave to the role of the deceased, despite personal flaws and lack of fulfillment. He spoke of people doing seemingly insignificant, but profoundly touching ritual prayer; like the man who prayers a Mourner's Kaddish each and every day of his life for the souls lost in the Holocaust and how this touched him and affirmed the tragedy and normals of his own loss and feelings.

Stacy Innert, Post/Gazette
I am hungry for ritual that makes sense of death for those left behind. Like dressing in black, or  an arm-band,  a door wreath dressed in black,  praying daily, hiring wailers. I appreciate the words of an Indian sister that says, "How you suffer." Thank-you. I do.I suffer because what was is gone. For the hole left.  The framework of my life is being re-worked and those relationships that I've built upon, while still providing what was, can no longer be counted on for what is or what's to come. It's odd how mourning affects a person- like a winter that falls, cold and dreary, something that just needs waited out and endured.

Paul exhorts us to rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. In a post-modern world it's a difficult thing to do,especially as we redefine death and finality, resurrection and religion, ritual, belief and meaning. Heck, it's difficult to let yourself do even when you have some definitions cleared up.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Scenes of the Season

 Our Christmas Cactus, blooming right on time.

 Chocolate, candy covered pretzels, gift bagged and given with a smile and heartfelt "Thanks" to our class-day Teachers.

Stuffed mushrooms. Christmas dinner baking and cooking starts today.

The Elves of all ages have been wrapping and whispering and hiding gifts and secrets.

The house is full of friends, laughter (girls), war-whoops (boys), good smells and Frank Sinatra crooning in the back-ground.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Moons & Stars

Andrew Cairns, in West Lothian, Scotland, captured the redness of the moon during totality.(check out BBC for more incredible pictures of the eclipse).
The Star of Bethlehem is a thought provoking DVD that explains the science surrounding Jesus' birth. Lots of food for thought and discussion included, especially for the scientifically and scholarly minded.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Go Forth Boldly

Hop on over to my friend Ana's blog to check out 10 Reasons to Hope. It ends with this verse,

Therefore, since we have such hope we go forth boldly.  2 Corinthians 3:12.

We were given an unexpected and huge gift of grace this week-end by someone we don't even know but have worked with for years.  Their grace gave us hope and courage on so many levels. It encourages us to go forth with more boldness. We were empowered. Their gift made way for other things. Grace birthed boldness in our life, as it often does.

I pray that it is the same with you. That God gifts you this season with Grace beyond measure and that you are encouraged to go forth boldly in His name.
When He does, be sure and let me know about it = )

A blessed Sabbath!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Wrapping Up & Looking Forward

Are you amazed as you watch your kids learn? They all come with their own strengths and weaknesses, eager for some things, avoiding others at all costs. I joke that mine are idiot savants, but it's all truth.  Flower keeps cruising through Math and actually asked for a Math book for a Christmas present. Cub looked at her aghast and exclaimed, "WHY would you ask for a math book for Christmas?!" This would be seen as worse than coal in his stocking.

Broke out The Word of Promise this week. The notsolittles are loving it. The older kids, performers one and all, are having fun ramping up the dialog they'd like to see done with more verve.

Snow, snow, snow. In addition to the Saturday blizzard, we had more snow on Tuesday, with more scheduled this coming week. The kids had a great time bundling up in snow pants, hats, boots, gloves, scarves and trudging around, making forts and creating snow blocks. We found a pheasant trapped in the chicken coop, clucking and hopping around until it finally decided to fly over. Cub and Flower were within feet of it.

Wrapping presents and baking have been daily activities, though most cookies baked have been consumed during wrapping. The kids all buy presents for each other and us and they range from the hysterically funny to the deadly serious (Miss R. brought back Hungarian daggers one year). Wrapping is not a trifling matter either and ranges from being a present in itself to a mangled, duct taped box full of bricks (my dh started this with his little bro  back in the day and eagerly spread the joy of his immature practical joking side wisdom to his progeny.

Jenny (my blogger buddy who writes Home is Where You Start From)  wrote a great comment in response to my post, Knocked, Crushed, Joy about an answer to prayer that left her grieving the old place she'd left behind. Like the Israelites I find myself longing for Egypt way to often, even when the new and fresh and unknown is right in front of me.
Writing that post was very cathartic for me and an end to the deep weariness I'd felt since getting the call about Dad. I was looking for a picture of grapes and it "came to me" that God is doing a new work. And it's not because the old was rejected; it takes the old to make the new but often we are confused by the process of creation because it's not a simple addition process like I, at least, presume. It's a chemical process that changes things fundamentally.

What are your fun activities for the break? Our lists includes viewing Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Tron and Tangled, (and the older kids and I plan on viewing Inception New Years Eve) go rock-wall climbing and hopefully cross country skiing at our Outdoor Campus, celebrate the end of the semester with a houseful of kids and homemade pizza, celebrate some more cause we have 3 December and January birthdays and checking out Xmas lights around the city. We are also doing a fun Advent activity thanks to our friends the Borah's, who not only gave us a boatload of curriculum after the fire last year but blessed us with Advent  in the midst of a dirty, smoky, ugly mess. They sent us a wrapped gift for each day of Advent. We decided to add it to our list of holiday traditions. The gifts are simple and inexpensive- small items from the dollar store, but the kids love it and it's a fun thing to do after we read the Advent lesson each night; this year we are using a study from Chuck Swindoll. What are you doing for Advent?

I've been kicking around starting a weekly blog meme. I've had a hard time keeping vision and mission at the fore this past year and am mulling over ideas about how to do so with a weekly meme. My friend Robyn has inspired me so much this year with the 52 Books in a Week Challenge (with an even more exciting challenge for 2011!) that I've been considering how to make that happen for other areas of my life. Accountability is a gift, no? Would you be interested in joining me if I put something like that together? 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Captivating Color

My husband commented, "Didn't anyone ever tell you not to play with your food?"

As good as it looks.

Knocked, Crushed, Joy

The emotional demands of the past 13 months have knocked me senseless in many ways and my ability to triage has been minimal (my dh says in response, "just do everything I say and it will all turn out great!" Gotta love a man with self confidence). Partly because a lot of what I have to do isn't really stuff I want to do. School has been driven by externals this year. I appreciate that. If it hadn't been, it might not have gotten done at all. But with that, my personal investment, enthusiasm if you will, for what we are doing is minimal beyond just filling in the blanks. I console myself with this being a seasonal situation. It is after all mid-year, cold, dark very early and tedious.  House re-build work for the past several weeks has been focused on winterizing and realizing that some of the new things, some of which cost beaucoup bucks, haven't provided solutions in ways we'd hoped. I've burned out yet another expensive sander and my allergies are screaming "Desist" to the little sanding I've done. I'm waiting on Viking Man for much of the rest of the re-build work- he brings knowledge and upper body strength that I just don't have. The doldrums. Feels like I've been here before.  

"Trials of every sort come to us, but we are not discouraged. We are left without answer, but do not despair; persecuted but not abandoned, knocked down but not crushed. For we, the living, are given up continually to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may appear in our mortal existence." - 2nd Corinthians 4:8-9, 11

It's between the persecuted but not abandoned and crushed but not despairing that I run into problems. I get the crushed. and the despair (Sounds melodramatic, I know. I realize that there are people the world over in far more desperate circumstances on a daily basis than I've ever encountered in my whole life). I mean it in a "living lives of quiet desperation," middle aged, circumstances have struck hard and stunk kinda of way.  I also get the not abandoned, the not despairing. I'm a middle class, educated, white woman, privileged on so many levels and reaping the benefits of that.
It's the mundane that I struggle to find joy in. The Why Bothers.

How does one endure the persecution of life's events, the crushing of circumstances, with joy and purpose. I see God's hand in our lives on so many levels but I also have a whole lot of unanswered questions and feelings, and honestly, discouragement about situations that I've invested heavily in. The demands of the day continue despite how one feels and while the needs that need managed are getting done I'll confess that joy has not been abounding. 

And with all of that I realize that God is crushing the old in order to create something new. Like grapes, picked at the height of ripeness, crushed beyond recognition in order to create wine. Medicinal, celebratory, an all things new kind of chemical, spiritual alchemy. I am trusting that that's the plan. It's the getting from here to there. Living faith. Joy unspeakable. Living responsively, purposefully and joyfully to life and people despite the crushing. Trusting that the new will be better than we can even ask or imagine.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tis the Season

We cracked up during Advent last night. Flower kept messing with Feche and giggling. She has a deep belly giggle that is infectious so, of course, her private joke became a family affair with everyone laughing at her laugh. We sang a couple songs that ended with less than stellar musicality.

True Confessions: I've spent way too much time lately on TWTM boards "discussing" The Race to Nowhere, Low-expectations and A Short Talk with a Chinese Student.

Breakfast consisted of Gingerbread cookies, cereal, bagels and coffee with eggnog.

It's not supposed to be Christmas break yet as we have 2 weeks of our academic class day to go. The season, however, keeps intruding. Must. get.back.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Cost of Doing the Right Thing

George Grant wrote a beautiful tribute to Rosa Parks on Dec.1, the 55th anniversary of her infamous bus ride. You can read it in it's entirety here. But the part that really catches my attention is this:

"Of course, the protest proved to be costly for Parks. She lost her job and was unable to find other work in Montgomery. Parks and her husband finally were forced to relocate to Detroit, Michigan in 1957, where they continued to struggle financially for years. Even so, she remained unwavering in her conviction that she had done what was right. And so was the freedom of millions of Americans secured by her solitary courage."

Doing the right thing costs. The paradox of the Gospel and living a life of faith. Paul writes, "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God, in Christ Jesus, for you. " (I Thessalonians 5:8)

A Blessed Sabbath.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Little Blizzard Blowing...

Our back yard. Can't see the adjacent farm 1 mile away.

We live an hour away from where Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote, "The Long Winter." She had originally named the story, "Starvation Winter" but her publishers thought the title would scare children. And certainly, it would do nothing to promote the Territories.

Looking out from the font porch.
 Blizzard warning in effect. Blowing snow. All activities cancelled.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dragons to Start With

NASA and paypal co-founder Elon Musk co-launched a rocket that could one day shuttle astronauts to the space station. It's named the Dragon. A bit of interesting fodder for speculation among the eschatology crowd. My dh is singing (have I mentioned yet that he serenades me with 70's songs on a regular basis? The fact that he remembers them all, verbatim, is both disturbing and a testimony to his auditory memory) the old Eye in the Sky song by Alan Parsons due to Virgin Galactica's logo. Nice, huh?

Kibbutz Ketura (if you remember Ketura is Abraham's second wife, from the book of Genesis) is on the cutting edge in more ways than one. Israel is going green as well as cultivating lost Biblical species.

Read The Apostle by Thor this week (Seriously, Thor is his last name, which is very cool. I thought about changing mine but Lisa Marie Thor just falls a little flat). Sue Thomas meets Kabul Beaty School. My big take-away was that the Al Queda and Taliban are totally different groups.

This is the course Chemistry takes at our house when the boys (including the man of the house) are left, home alone.

When I Am Weak, I Am Weak, writes Jen at Conversion Diaries. Um, yeah. Been feeling, not so much entangled and embroiled by the events of my life this past year, but more like a bomb hit and I live at ground zero. Been feeling weak. Very weak. And tired. And notsurewhat'snext but I really hope it includes a warm beach somewhere and lots of free time. hahahaha.

School. An out of pocket week for me and flu and head colds for the girls. Think EmerganC and videos. Besides watching things blow,  Feche is having an difficult time with Latin. Just can't get past test 5 so he is going back to the beginning....sounds like our year on so many levels. Is he frustrated. Yes, he is. And he just can't get the hang of a thesis sentence. And the One Act Play is out of the picture for the year (the first time we won't have done it in 6 years). We are both bummed. Isn't that an odd word? But we are. Bummed and bumming.

 Best flick of the season: Mostly Martha. In German, with subtitles. All about the redemption of family and love. Creating something out of seemingly nothing.  Sergio Castellitto (Miraz on  Prince Caspian) shows up as a romantic sous chef. Foodies and those who like happy endings to life's complications will love it.

As always, Jen hosts Quick Takes.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Jack Frost Nipping at their Toes

Amazing how a few little vines can produce gallons of grapes.

It's official. Single temps with hard frost. Horizontally blowing snow. Winter's hit the Territories.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holding Hands

Flower decided she needed a nap today as we were being escorted around town in the back of the van. She had tucked her hand into my coat pocket but I took it out and held hands with her as she dozed off, rewarded with on of her dimpled and darling smiles. We've done this for years. Held hands as she's napped, as we've walked, watched videos and read stories. A simple gesture of love and friendship. Little to big. Heart to heart.

Our family watched ToyStory 3 together a couple of nights ago. Towards the end, just when Woody and Buzz and their compatriots think they are doomed, they, one by one, grab hold of each other's  hands. Death is easier to face when connected with friends. Beautifully captured, animated poetry by Pixar.

One of the last recordings transmitted from the Challenger, just before it went down was, "Oh no! Here, take my hand." A touching gesture of humanity in the face of the inevitable.

At Dad's viewing, after I had gone to the bathroom to have a full blown, mascara-burn cry, my nephew Dan, all 6 feet 5 inches of him, came over to where I'd sat in the back of the room,  locked onto my hand with his huge paw and just sat with me. Both of us, hand-locked, not saying much. Connected by loss and the holding of hands.

In life and loss, hands connect.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


It is in the old Christmas carols, hymns, and traditions—those which date from the Middle Ages—that we find not only what makes Christmas poetic and soothing and stately, but first and foremost what makes Christmas exciting. The exciting quality of Christmas rests on an ancient and admitted paradox. It rests upon the paradox that the power and center of the whole universe may be found in some seemingly small matter, that the stars in their courses may move like a moving wheel around the neglected outhouse of an inn.”  G. K. Chesterton

A Blessed Sabbath!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Disarticulation...ness, you know?

Totally like whatever, you know? 
By Taylor Mali 

In case you hadn't noticed, 
it has somehow become uncool 
to sound like you know what you're talking about? 
Or believe strongly in what you're saying? 
Invisible question marks and parenthetical (you know?)'s 
have been attaching themselves to the ends of our sentences? 
Even when those sentences aren't, like, questions? You know?

Declarative sentences - so-called 
because they used to, like, DECLARE things to be true 
as opposed to other things which were, like, not -
have been infected by a totally hip 
and tragically cool interrogative tone? You know? 
Like, don't think I'm uncool just because I've noticed this; 
this is just like the word on the street, you know? 
It's like what I've heard? 
I have nothing personally invested in my own opinions, okay? 
I'm just inviting you to join me in my uncertainty?
What has happened to our conviction? 

Where are the limbs out on which we once walked? 
Have they been, like, chopped down 
with the rest of the rain forest? 
Or do we have, like, nothing to say? 
Has society become so, like, totally . . . 
I mean absolutely . . . You know? 
That we've just gotten to the point where it's just, like . . . 

And so actually our disarticulation . . . ness 
is just a clever sort of . . . thing 
to disguise the fact that we've become 
the most aggressively inarticulate generation 
to come along since . . . 
you know, a long, long time ago!

I entreat you, I implore you, I exhort you, 
I challenge you: To speak with conviction. 
To say what you believe in a manner that bespeaks 
the determination with which you believe it. 
Because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker, 
it is not enough these days to simply QUESTION AUTHORITY. 
You have to speak with it, too.

(Found this over at Deanna's blog).

Friday, December 3, 2010

7 Quick Takes

Despite the obvious sadness about the trip to TN we were blessed along the way as we saw friends and family: The Chinander's in TN- more family than anything; Shari & the Delk's: Kristen and Shari, along with my sisters, were both in my wedding. Soo good to catch up with them in person!; Mom & Dad N., Marsh and Danny, Neil and Laura & Girlies- Flower's new phrase is BCFF, "Best Cousin Friend Forever;" Uncle Dean and Brenda- Dad's only sibling, my sister and bil's and all 6 of the Rummel nieces and nephews, Dan & MaryAnn- Mary Ann went through the Ph.D. program at Fuller with Viking Man and Dan is an M.D. Not only have they written a  book , but they spent a year on a yacht sailing to Fiji; and finally my beautiful, little old Gram in Chicago. 10 days full of family and people we love.

Uncle Dean and Family
Got to see my only 2 cousins, Brad and Holly, for the first time in 30 years! So absolutely wonderful to see them and get to know who they are as adults.  They are fabulous, rock-out, fun and funny people. This seriously made me so very, very happy.

Someone I love dearly went through a treatment program and has been working the program since September. I am so grateful I could burst.

We did school this week. Latin and math and chem and science and writing and thinking skills and ETC and WWE. I will work in time lines and memory work yet this year. I will. Honest.

Last day of co-op today. The kids sang, "Soon and very soon". My friend Martha stood behind me and sang in a clear alto along with the rest of the room and it was very touching and felt like a gift she had given me- a reminder, gentle and sure, "They'll be no more crying there." I needed to hear that since I felt like crying most of the day. She lost her dad this same time last year.

The local Christian radio station encourages folks to do something nice for others just because. You can even get a letter from the station so that if you pay for someones drive-through, the cashier can give you the letter explaining that the person did something nice for you because of the love of Jesus. We heard about coming in to town this morning and frankly I was feeling sad and cynical, thinking thoughts in my own head about how simplistic and cheesy it all was. Later this afternoon it was just the older kids and I and we decided to splurge on Starbucks. And guess what? The generous people in the car ahead of us treated us and the cashier gave us the letter explaining that they did so because of the love of Jesus. Did I mention I'd been feeling sad and cynical? It really blessed my socks off. Little things. I tell my kids this all the time. It's really the little things in life. It's the little things that drive you to the edge and the little things that make it all better.

Went to Mass this morning for co-op and the priest queried, "What good thing will God do for you today?" "What good thing do you expect from Him?" Biet Midrash Tuesday and the take-away was that God wants us to ask Him. Ask Him for what we want. Ask. On TWTM forum someone challenged others to "Ask for what you want." This message continually in a season of sorrow that has left me...drained. Worn. Weary. What I want to ask for? For Him to make all things new. In my life. In my family. In my spirit. Remove the weary heartache and give me joy and peace, despite circumstances or feelings or dissatisfaction.

What good thing will God do for you today? What will you ask for?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

O Tannebaum!

Our family always goes and cuts our own Christmas tree the week-end after Thanksgiving. Then we trash the house pulling out all of our Christmas decorations and ornaments and decorate the tree, string twinkle lights on everything not moving, drink hot cider and eggnog and play Christmas music, ranging from the reverent to the absurd, loudly, so that at some point  I someone will hysterically shout mention "Turn it down!" It's what we do.
Even though we missed celebrating Thanksgiving together and we'd arrived home late on Saturday we went to the local tree cutting farm on Sunday, due to KB's pressuring us suggestion to follow at least one family tradition, picked out a tree and sawed it down. I use the word, "we" loosely here, cause my main goal on these excursions is two-fold. 1. to stay warm enough to eventually thaw out and be able to form a coherent sentence again before the day I die, and 2. to not trip and fall over tree stumps hiding in the snow/grass/weeds, further damaging my already compromised and aging skeletal system. Sawing down the tree falls under the auspices of those with upper body strength- my husband and sons as well as any daughters that want to contort on the ground as they heave and ho the saw back and forth under the sharp, needle like branches lovely boughs of the tree. Our usual tree farm is relocating so we went somewhere different this year. They didn't serve the iced Christmas cookies, have a drawing for turkey that we know we won't win or a team of Percheron's giving sleigh rides. Not only that, the owner wasn't a lovely German woman with good stories and a thick accent. We missed those things and even thought of just paying for a tree. Tradition won out, due in part, to KB"s whistling "O, Christmas Tree!" and doe-eyed imploring, even if it wasn't exactly the same.

Our tree is big and green and smells like pine and is full of twinkle lights (though not enough insists my twinkle light obsessed loving husband). It adorns the living room (where we still sleep every night) but it creates a warm and lovely ambiance. Of course, the notsolittles have moved their junk toys in there and there are now bionicle and playmobile set-ups throughout the entire 2nd story (where we do not sleep and have not moved in to) as well as 1/4 of the first floor. Did I mention that we still sleep there? My need for visual order, which is as good a friend to me as Mrs. Bennett's nerves were to her composed and tranquil husband, are distraught.

I console myself with the reminder that at some point in time our kids will be grown and gone (though, thanks to my friend Gladden, I remembered just recently that we'll be old geezers before that happens) and my house will be orderly and tame. Till then, my main job is to protect my advanced in age and compromised skeletal system from being tripped up by vicious bionicle manacles and enjoy the tree!

Is your tree up yet?