Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Books read in 2005
What with Mike's retirement from the Air Force and moving and everything, my reading-for-pleasure was pretty limited this year, and I never kept up with my sidebar. I wish I'd kept a list somewhere, but since I didn't I'll just list all the books I read that I can remember.

*Denotes book read for the first time.

- all the Harry Potter books*
- all of Jane Austen's completed novels (for the dozenth time or something)
- P.G. Wodehouse: Leave it to Psmith, Fish Preferred*, The Cat-Nappers
- C.S. Lewis: Chronicles of Narnia (except for The Last Battle), Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra, and The Dark Tower and Other Stories
- Neil Postman: Amusing Ourselves to Death*
- Peter Leithart: Miniatures and Morals, Against Christianity*, A House for My Name*
- G.K. Chesterton: Orthodoxy
- Susan Hunt: Your Home: A Place of Grace*
- Shirley Seifert: The Proud Way* (biographical fiction about Mrs. Jefferson Davis - gift from Valerie)
- George MacDonald: The Light Princess and Other Fantasy Stories
- John Buchan: The Thirty-Nine Steps*
- Sally Fallon: Nourishing Traditions*
- John Lee, MD, and Jesse Hanley, MD: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about Premenopause*

Seems like I read more than that - oh well, maybe they'll come to me later.


Last year I posted some thoughts on Advent (here, here, and here) but since we're still growing in our understanding and practice, I thought it would be worthwhile to add what we've learned since last year (and I cannot believe it's already been a whole year!).

We've celebrated Advent since our oldest was a baby, and really, our Advent season was a fairly bright, Christmassy feeling time - lots of Christmas music playing all the time, tree going up right after Thanksgiving, house being decorated shortly thereafter, and then suddenly, everything came to an end on Christmas day. I'd had the decorations up so long and the once-fresh tree was now dropping needles so profusely, that I usually undecorated the house before New Years Day, though we usually left the house lights on at night until New Years Eve because I didn't like the sudden anti-climax.

Two years ago, we decided to tone down Advent, which we had learned was the more tradition way of keeping it anyway. No Christmas music, no decorations until just a day or two before Christmas, and the tree went up and was decorated on Christmas Eve after the little ones were in bed. Instead of the month-long Christmas ending at Christmas Day, we decided to have twelve days of Christmas, ending with Epiphany. Now this is probably not as lavish a celebration as it might sound like - our kids get lots of books for Christmas from us, and some clothes and a few toys from grandparents, so we spread out the opening of presents over the twelve days, and to make the gifts last the whole time, several days their present is chocolate.

Last year around the middle of Advent I asked our oldest daughter what she thought of the new way we were celebrating and she said that it just didn't feel much like Christmas. I told her that it's not really supposed to feel like Christmas until Christmas actually comes, but I've been thinking about her comment since then, and I've decided that what was lacking was a keen sense of anticipation that borders on, and sometimes crosses over to, excitement. So we're trying to work on that - to add it back in. Although I think Advent should feel different than the rest of the year, and different from Christmas, I really don't want the season leading up to Christmas to be dull and dreary.

One of the things I think I should do is to let the various kids help me with picking out presents for their siblings and wrapping and hiding them. That's going to be a real no-brainer for most of you, I'm sure, but I... I have a confession to make: I hate shopping. Normally I do all of my Christmas shopping online, but I really think I should take the kids out, one or two at a time, and either let them help me pick out presents for one another and for Daddy and grandparents, or just give them each a little money to spend on someone else. Mike already does this a little bit, but obviously his time is far more limited than mine is.

I have another confession to make: I'm not very crafty - shocking, I know, coming from a Pseudo-Prairie Muffin, but it gets worse. I don't like cooking or doing art projects with children.

However, my children love all this and I think I really should just do it with them, and smile and have a good time if nothing else, enjoying their pleasure. I know I can do this because it's what I do whenever I have a social engagement I must attend - smile and pretend I'm enjoying myself - and if I can do it for outsiders, surely I can do it for my kids, right?

Anyway, Valerie taught me and the girls to crochet when she was here this summer, and I've been working on an afghan for Mike's grandmother, which I should have done by the end of this week. I need to figure out some other projects like this that the kids and I can do together. We need to bake cookies and give them away.

Jeepers, this post has turned into some kind of confessional. I did NOT mean for that to happen, but oh well. I think I'll leave it. Y'all pray for me, okay?

And a blessed Advent season to you all, as you seek to glorify God and enjoy him with your families!
Interesting little game
from Gideon Strauss

1. Take a book from your shelves with more than 200 pages.
2. Find some real person's name there.
3. Find out his or her date of birth.
4. Find someone else born on the same day.
5. State a connection between this person and yourself.

The Hidden Treasure of Glaston, by Eleanore M. Jewett. I wanted to do Thomas Becket, but couldn't find his exact birthdate. King Henry II was born on the Fifth of March in the year of our Lord 1133. Born on that date in the year 1853 was author and illustrator Howard Pyle. My maiden name was Pyle.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

“Sleepers, wake!” the watch cry pealeth,
While slumber deep each eyelid sealeth:
Awake, Jerusalem, awake!
Midnight’s solemn hour is tolling,
And seraph-notes are onward rolling;
They call on us our part to take.
Come forth, ye virgins wise:
The Bridegroom comes, arise!
Alleluia! Each lamp be bright with ready light
To grace the marriage feast tonight.

Zion hears the voice that singeth
With sudden joy her glad heart springeth,
At once she wakes, she stands arrayed:
Her Light is come, her Star ascending,
Lo, girt with truth, with mercy blending,
Her Bridegroom there, so long delayed.
All hail! God’s glorious Son,
All hail! our joy and crown,
Alleluia! The joyful call we answer all,
And follow to the bridal hall.

Praise to Him Who goes before us!
Let men and angels join in chorus,
Let harp and cymbal add their sound.
Twelve the gates, a pearl each portal:
We haste to join the choir immortal
Within the Holy City’s bound.
Ear ne’er heard aught like this,
Nor heart conceived such bliss.
Alleluia! We raise the song, we swell the throng,
To praise Thee ages all along.

Words: Phil­ipp Ni­co­lai, 1599; tr. by Fran­ces E. Cox, 1864
Music: “Wach­et Auf,” Phil­ipp Ni­co­lai, 1599; har­mo­ny by Jo­hann S. Bach, 1731

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Yesterday's weather report
The movers brought the rest of our household goods Monday - it took three trips in a 15-foot truck since the semi wouldn't fit in our tree-lined driveway.

Friday, November 11, 2005

"There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are."
W. Somerset Maugham

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Thankful Thursday
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life... (Psalm 23)

Fall leaves
Fall colors
Fall smells

Fall fall fall!

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Thankful Thursday
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

Our house in Texas finally sold, daylight saving time has come to an end, and cool weather has arrived in earnest.

What are y'all thankful for?

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

I'm pretty sure it wasn't done by my 10 year old after all. I just found my two year exiting the laundry room and heard the dryer running and clunking. Now I had put this load in myself and knew it shouldn't be clunking, so I checked it and found a used coffee filter, the contents of the used coffee filter, some macaroni, pebbles, and an empty pineapple can! Thankfully, the clothes were already dry, so they don't have to be rewashed. I took all the stuff out, cleaned out the dryer, then shook out the clothes and put them back in to run on no heat for a little while to be sure all the coffee grounds are removed.
This week we've had an... I hate to call an "infestation" because that sounds like it's really gross, but it's not... an amazing amount of ladybugs hanging about our house. There were probably hundreds all around the porch and some came into the house, too. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it. It had been quite cool for several days and then on Monday it was back in the 60s, so maybe that had something to do with it.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

I'm teaching my girls how to walk like a lady. We have a nice long gravel driveway, so we go out there and walk together for a few minutes and then I watch them and offer critique: "Point your toes straight ahead," or "Don't move your rear end so much," or "Keep your shoulders back and relax your arms." We have to work on posture, too. Up until now I've only done this two or three times, just whenever I've noticed a problem, but I think we really need to be doing this every day so it can become habit with them.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Yesterday I encouraged Elai to join National Novel Writing Month. She has tons of ideas for stories and writes well, but she never finishes anything, so I thought the challenge to complete something would be good for her. I have no doubt she'll succeed. Unfortunately, while I was at it, I also joined up and began writing, and true to form, as soon as I set pen to paper- er rather, fingers to keyboard, the story in the back of my mind evaporated. In the spirit of writing what you know I was intending to write my own Cheaper By the Dozen, only with fictional names so I could add, subtract, rearrange, and otherwise modify things without feeling like I was lying about our family.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

The rest of our household goods haven't been delivered yet, but we should find out this week when it will come. I may have to make a new Advent wreath if it doesn't come soon enough.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

What I'm listening to: my three little ones pretending to be animals
What's cooking: chicken and veggies in the crockpot
What's on the agenda: get to piano lessons on time
What I'm buying: winter clothes for my husband
What I'm wearing: green cotton sweater, denim skirt (no shoes until time to go out!)

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Today I took a load of laundry out of the dryer. I found an aluminum pie pan, some pebbles, a zip-lock bag, what appears to have been a fig in a previous life, and the lid to a tin can. Oh, and some clothes. Boys clothes, obviously. My ten year old son is learning to do the laundry.