Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Oh, before I go...
I finally uploaded some pics from the snow we had a couple of weeks ago.
**Note: the Amazing Valerie told me how to shrink these pics to keep from messing up my sidebar. To view the full-size picture, just click it.**

Snowy morning - taken from our back porch.

View from the front porch.

The Amazing Snowman - he was nearly seven feet tall!

Our kitty, Ghost. Of course, when seen against the snow it seems his name should be Dirt, but when he first came to us he would only come at night, and his blonde fur made him look ghosty, hence the name.

Christmas break
It's not like this'll make a big difference since my blogging has been so sparse the last month...

We finally got our shipment of household goods two days before we went out of town for Thanksgiving, so I'm moving into our house again, moving furniture and stuff around. Trying to figure how to fit a family of nine into a house that was not built for such a large family with our always-at-home lifestyle is quite a challenge. In our last house we had one room that doubled as a dining room/library and I was able to put most of our books in that room. I don't have that here so I'm brainstorming for ideas - any help would be greatly appreciated!

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Here's a bit of fun:
How common is your surname in America?
Mine is ranked at 18558, and my maiden name is 2059.
(From the Deputy Head Mistress at The Common Room)

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This week I'm thankful for:
Margaret, who visited me last week
Valerie who visited me this week
and my parents who will be visiting me next week!

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Merry Christmas to all my blog buddies - may the Lord bless you all and your families this joyous season.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Thankful Thursday
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (I Thessalonians 5:18)

I'm thankful for my dear little potty-training two year old even though she stopped up my toilet.
I'm thankful for our furnace even though it broke early this week and the repairman won't be here until some time today.
I'm thankful that our good God commands us to give thanks even when we don't feel like it.

I'm thankful for my fifteen year old son, who's outside in the snow chopping wood for us right now.
I'm thankful for my four little ones who are standing in the window watching their brother and cheering him on.
I'm thankful for my thirteen year old daughter who was up before I was this morning, working on her Latin.

I'm thankful for my hard-working husband who took yesterday off work to fix the furnace and the toilet but was seemingly thwarted at every turn - his provision for us is wonderful even when circumstances make it difficult.
I'm thankful for my loving husband who enjoys surprising us with chocolate treats.
I'm thankful for my God-fearing husband who leads us in prayers, morning and evening, most days of the week.

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Thankful Thursday
I will love thee, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. (Psalm 18:1-2)

Remembering the Lord's goodness, and thanking him...
For Psalm 18, which we read in Morning Prayers this morning
For a bright, sunshiny, wintry morning
For a warm, cozy house

Monday, December 5, 2005

This is amazing - I haven't seen snow before Christmas in ages.

I think I'll go make some hot chocolate to celebrate, which I usually do on the first Really Cold day of winter since we don't usually live in a place where we can expect snow every winter.

Do you have a tradition for the first snow?

Friday, December 2, 2005

I was two years and eleven days old when my brother was born. I still remember going to the hospital to bring him and Mommy home – hospitals kept new mothers for a week back then and they didn’t let siblings in for visits, so my first view of my baby brother was from the back seat of our car. My mom was holding him in the front seat and I still remember leaning over to see him and jumping up and down in the seat, singing, “We have a baby! We have a baby!”

I remember “reading” books to him – my favorite was Miss Suzy and we have a picture of us on the couch together, the newborn Johnny propped against me while I read the story to him and showed him all the pictures.

When we were little it seems like we did everything together – our two favorite play-places were Mommy’s linen closet and the woods behind our house. Daddy built a fort for us just within the tree line and we played there or explored the woods, or played in the creek. One whole summer was occupied with panning for gold in that creek, and another with digging out the little puddle under the tiny waterfall to make a swimming hole. It never got more than a foot deep or so, but it was glorious.

We climbed the oak tree in the back yard and named the different branches – one was the living room, another the kitchen, and we each had our own special branch for a bedroom. The ancient mimosa tree in the front yard was especially interesting. Its trunk split in two fairly low to the ground and the upper part of the tree had a definite left side and right side. The left side was mine because it was sturdier and easier to climb. Johnny was fearless so he owned the right side and climbed so high that the limbs swayed up and down with him.

On rainy days we would take all the pillows in the house and make a border around my full-size bed, then bring all of the stuffed animals into the ark with us to ride out the storm. I don't think we ever made it, though. It seems our boat always sank as sitting and waiting for the rain to end did not appeal to the little ball of energy that was my brother - he'd rather play the part of a whirlwind than of Noah.

Every once in a while Daddy would bring home a refrigerator-sized cardboard box for us to play in. I always wanted to play house in it, and Daddy would cut a flap for a door and openings for windows and then I would draw curtains around the windows and Johnny would get all the dolls and stuffed animals to populate the house with. But after a couple of hours of quiet domestic play, my energetic brother would decide that something was going dreadfully wrong and this meant that Superman would come crashing through the wall of my lovely little cottage to rescue some doll or other. Those boxes never lasted more than two days or so.

When we were older we played kick-ball and kill-the-man with the neighborhood boys, who always came to our yard to play. We rode our bikes all over our neighborhood, but the best part was the hill in front of our house. Johnny built a ramp near the base of it and we would fly down that hill and hit the ramp, pretending to be Evel Knievel.

At night, after we went to bed, Mommy would take requests and play the piano for us. I always wanted Chopin's waltzes and my favorite was the one that starts with a long trill. Johnny preferred the Carpenters and this difference grew with us. In our teen years I still preferred classical music and Sandi Patti and Johnny preferred AD/DC.

Of course, we also fought like cats and dogs, especially as we got older. Two and a half months before my 13th birthday and Johnny’s 11th our baby sister was born. We’d always hoped to have more brothers and sisters and when this little one was announced we had many arguments over whether it would be a boy or a girl. Naturally I wanted a girl and Johnny wanted a boy, and when Anne Marie was born I felt like she was especially mine and I didn’t want Johnny to play with her. So we fought over her.

When I was about nineteen or twenty we made up and quit fighting, but I really regret those early adolescent years when it seemed we’d forgotten how much we loved each other. We never had much time together after that. I went off to college when I was twenty and married when I was twenty-two, moving to Biloxi with my Air Force husband the day after our wedding. I only saw Johnny four times after my marriage – in the spring of 1988 when he and Mom and Anne Marie came to Biloxi to visit us for a few days, again on Father’s Day weekend when I drove home to be with Daddy and the family, on Christmas of that year when Mike and I spent several days there, and when our first baby was three months old when he and Mom and sister came for a visit. On my birthday of that year, he called to tell me happy birthday and we talked a bit, and I told him I’d call him on his birthday. We said “I love you,” and hung up. Seven days later, on the second of December, Daddy called to tell me that Johnny had died.

I still miss him terribly. I miss saying, "Remember when we used to...?" All my childhood memories are me-and-Johnny memories. But I rejoice to know that he fought the good fight, and in God’s sovereign timing, he finished the course, having kept the faith. I look forward to the Resurrection with hope.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Thankful Thursday
Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD. (Psalm 150)

I am thankful for my daughter's piano teacher. Mrs. R. is our church's organist and choirmaster and regularly puts on cantatas and huge musical productions. She's gifted musically, and she has such a sweet spirit - she is always cheerful and pleasant to be around and she's such an encourager. My daughter only started taking piano this fall and I'm sure much of the reason she's progressed so quickly is Mrs. R.'s encouragement.

I'm thankful for my own piano teacher, Mrs. McG., who taught me when I was in high school, for many of the reasons listed above - she was an encourager, which is what I needed most then. Though I would never take the trouble of practicing she's the reason I'm able to play hymns for my family to sing along with.

I'm so thankful for my mom, another gifted church musician. When I was a little girl, my mom would play the piano for us after we went to bed, and her influence is why I love music so much. She has been the organist at her church for the past several years, playing at two services each Sunday. Oh, and when I say "gifted" I'm not just being polite. I mentioned in relation to Mike's retirement ceremony that we were unable to hire the musicians we'd hoped to, so I told Mike, "Don't worry about it, I'll ask my mom to play." Well, silly me, I forgot to ask her. On the day of his retirement, about two hours before we left, I suddenly remembered. "Oh! Mom, we need to play 'Off We Go Into the Wild, Blue Yonder,' and 'The Star Spangled Banner.'" "Sure thing," she replied, or words to that effect, and pulled it off marvelously, without music or practicing or anything.