". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

They Grow Up So Fast. Or Not.

My 8-year-old, Evan, has long needed a light on in his room to go to sleep. Not merely a night light, but an actual light. We haven't made an issue of it but have allowed him to keep a small lamp turned on when he goes to bed. If someone happens to still be up when Evan falls asleep that person turns his light off at that time, but Evan is such a night owl that he is often the last person to fall asleep, so often his lamp stays on all night. I figure if it helps him to feel safe and doesn't impede his sleeping, what's the harm?

This morning Evan announced with pride that he had gone to sleep without any light last night. I was impressed. This was utterly at his discretion with no suggestion from us. I congratulated him on his achievement and he responded, "Yeah, I'm getting to be a bigger boy" and I, of course, agreed. A little while later when he was getting his clothes on I noticed something odd about his hair. One portion of his bangs looked a little shorter than the rest but I attributed it to his haircut this past week--I usually cut his hair myself but in the interest of time got his cut when my daughter and I went to the stylist for ours. I figured the barber must have made a small cutting error that I hadn't previously noticed.

Um, no. As I was fingering his hair, Evan proudly informed me, "That part was bothering me so I cut it." After impressing upon him the pitfalls of cutting his own hair and my desire that he never do that again, it occurred to me to wonder where that hair ended up. In the sink drain, perhaps? I asked.

"In the vent." That would be, in case you're wondering, the heating/cooling floor vent in his room. Of course. That's where we always put things we want to get rid of, right?

Check your vents, everyone. And remember, "responsibility" and "maturity" are entirely relative terms.

(P.S. If you know Evan in real life, let's just keep this post between the two of us, okay?)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

"A Most Thankful Collage"

"Today is Thanksgiving Day. A lot of people have said a lot of things about today and what it means, and honestly, I don't have much to add. The problem with talking about the meaning of things is that you can get tangled up in your own words. I may be a writer, but words still have a way of tripping me up and turning me around. The thing is, words are flawed, just like everything else.

"I think life is summed up best, not in big words, but small moments. . . . "

So begins my daughter. You are invited to read the rest here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Life Abundant

That's what my husband calls it when life is so full you can hardly think straight. He's got the right attitude. Life has been full this week, but so very good. Just a short catch-up post for those with inquiring minds who aren't in my other "loops."

Trevor is coming home tomorrow! We were informed of a bus service, Megabus, that runs a route from Omaha to Chicago. A Lincoln area friend of ours will get Trevor to the bus tonight and he will sleep (we hope) while he travels. We'll pick him up in downtown Chicago at 6:50 in the morning. This homefront is beside itself with anticipation. The only bad part is that he will have to go back on Sunday for about three more weeks. Four days at home is not enough time when we have not had him here since August.

We installed our new pastor! If you have been out of the country and are unaware, he is Rev. Jonathan Fisk. The installation service can be viewed here. The first piece of music you hear for preservice (a piano arrangement of the tune HYFRYDOL) is played by my talented daughter. That's my husband directing the choir and playing organ for most of the service. The organ prelude and first hymn were played by Pastor Fisk's father Dale, a fellow church musican. We are overjoyed to have the Fisks in our midst and are enjoying the flowering of new friendships and the promise of reaching more people with the Gospel in our little part of Chicagoland.

Caitlin and I finished painting the dining room and it looks wonderful (see previous post). Had hoped to get the kitchen done before Thanksgiving, but alas--right now I will do well to handle the cleaning and cooking for Thanksgiving. The rest will have to wait.

Phillip has finished his year of traveling. Since January of this year he has been to Minnesota (twice), St. Louis (four times), Nebraska (three times), Alabama, Montreal, Ontario, Congo, Florida, Texas, Colorado, and Springfield (twice). Sometimes I didn't know whether he was coming or going. Next year promises to be much quieter on the traveling front. We are looking forward to having Dad around the house a little more.

Evan sang with the children's choir at church for the first time Sunday. We still have to work a little bit on the attention span, but it was a triumph for him. The first time we mentioned his singing with the children's choir he panicked. I think I previously shared here that he had much anxiety about it, which surprised us considering the family he is in. But then we thought maybe the anxiety was because of the family he is in! The happy ending is that he conquered those fears and told us yesterday morning, "I'm starting to like choir." Yay!

Oh, and how could I forget--I got Issues, Etc. Blog of the Week this past Friday. It was for the "Maternal Overreach" post. Thanks for the raw material, Evan sweetie!

And with that, I must get back to cleaning and cooking. A blessed and happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Maternal Overreach

It seems to be a week for sharing Evan stories.

A few nights ago we were driving home after eating dinner out together, just the two of us (everyone else was out of town), and he piped up from the back seat:

"Mom, when I grow up, I want to help people."

Ah, be still, my proud mommy heart. "Why, Evan, what a nice thought. Helping people is a great goal. What would you like to do to help people?" I'm thinking maybe doctor, fireman, Roto-Rooter man . . . .

"I'd like to help people who are lost."

Even better! I go in for the kill.

"That's really cool, Evan! You know, the people who are most lost are the ones who don't know about Jesus. Maybe when you grow up you could help people find Jesus, like Pastor does."

Silence. Then, "Mom, I don't understand you. I meant like if they get lost in the forest, I would help them find their way out."


Can't blame a Lutheran mom for trying!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Raisin' 'em Right

"Mom, if Calvin lived next door to us I would have a few choice words for him about girls."

"Really, Evan? What would you tell him?"

"I would tell him that girls are not slimy and they're good and I would not be in his club. And if he didn't believe me I would wrestle him to the ground and punch him."

"What do you think about girls, Evan?"

"I think they're not slimy and I think they're beautiful and I love them. Do you know what Calvin thinks girls are good for?"

"What, Evan?"

"He thinks they're good for nothing and for throwing water balloons at."

"And what do you think girls are good for, Evan?"

"For smooching and loving and hugging. And for having babies and taking care of them."

(Ahem. Dad, I think this one may need "the talk" a little earlier than the others.)

"Evan, who is your favorite girl to smooch and love and hug?"


I love this kid.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Beyond His Years

Last night we had my youngest child's 8th birthday party. His birthday was actually last week, but we couldn't work it out to get together with friends until this weekend. We invited two families to join us at a nearby bowling alley for arcade fun, bowling, pizza and cake. My kid is the one with the goofy smile.

Last night on the way home in the car--it was just me and Evan because Dad and sister were in another car--Evan's joy was palpable. I am reminded of that old song, "My Cup Runneth Over." Evan's cup was definitely pouring out all over the back seat. He kept telling me how much he loved me and what a great day he had had and at one point said, "I'm happy I'm alive." I told him that he had many blessings and a thankful heart and he agreed.

Last night when it was time to go to bed we "snuggled" together for a long time. Suddenly Evan turned serious and mused aloud, "I guess I'll be too big for the children's museum soon." I told him of course he wouldn't--that there are adults going to the children's museum all the time. Then he stated, "I miss my younger days." I told him I did, too, a little. He responded: "But we can't reverse the days."

No, Evan, we can't.

"We can't time travel."

No, Evan, we can't time travel.

I asked him what he missed and he said he missed some of his old toys and sitting on my lap and his preschool class (even though we homeschool our children Evan went to the half day preschool at our church for a couple of years). I told him he could still sit on my lap and he said, "Yeah, but pretty soon I'll be too big to fit." Then he started to cry: "I miss Mrs. Bolt [his preschool teacher, who died several years ago from breast cancer]. And I miss Grandmother and Granddad. And I miss Trevor [his brother, who is away at college right now]." The sobs became loud and furious.

I hugged and comforted him, of course, and once he calmed down we talked. I told him I understood his sadness because the passing of time is a hard thing to accept, but we have no choice but to do so. God made him to grow and to some day grow up, and that is what he is going to do. I told him that parents are sad sometimes to see their babies grow up but that at the same time they are overjoyed to see all the wonderful things that come with those babies growing up and that I was so excited to see where life would be taking him. He took all this in and then said, "Some people don't have children."

"No, Evan, some people don't."

"That's sad."

"Yes, that's sad. But some people have a different calling. Not everyone gets married."

"But some people get married and still don't have children."

"That's right. For reasons we don't understand, God does not send children to all married people. It might be that He has other plans for them--other things that He wants them to do." I gave him the example of a faithful Lutheran couple in his life that do not have biological children but that have many, many people that they serve and care for in other ways, including spiritually. And then I told him that there are seasons of life--that there is a time for having babies and a time for not having babies. He looked up at me questioningly:

"We're not going to have another baby."

"No, we're not going to have another baby. Right now Dad's and my job is to take care of the babies we already have."

At that point the conversation took a different turn--I think it may have been to tell me about the Sponge Bob episode he watched earlier--and I instructed my newly minted 8-year-old to get his pajamas on and brush his teeth. We met in his room a little while later for bedtime story and prayers and I pulled out a family favorite: Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. I couldn't remember if I had ever read it to Evan. If I had, it had been a long time ago and he didn't remember either.

We started to read the book and already on the very first singing of the "Love You Forever" poem on the first page I started to choke up. But we forged ahead. I told Evan to keep his eye out for the kitty in the story, which is on every page until the boy in the story grows up and moves away from home, at which point that first kitty is nowhere to be found but a brand new baby kitten can be seen at the now grown up man's new house. Evan had fun looking for the kitty but I could tell he was taking the book very seriously. As we neared the end--the page where the man visits his old, sick mother and holds her on his lap--I wondered to myself, "Oh dear, what have I done? What was I thinking in pulling out this book?" I offered to put the book away and told Evan we could finish it another time. Amidst his tears, he said no. He wanted to read to the end.

I think that to the extent that an 8-year-old is able, he understood the book. He understood that some day that old lady with gray hair and glasses will be me and he will be the grown-up man who holds his elderly mother on his lap and sings her the "Love You Forever" song before going home to sing it again to his newborn baby girl. After we finished reading, tears streaming down both our faces, I told Evan that this book is about the passing of time and how we grieve the things we leave behind but how we pass those things on to our children, and our children pass them on to their children, and how it goes on forever and ever until the end of time. The book does not come from a Christian viewpoint, but I reminded Evan that the love that gets passed down through generations started with Jesus and will end with Jesus when we join Him in heaven.

With watery eyes, Evan looked at me. "That's a sad book, Mom."

"Yes, Evan, but it's a happy book, too."

"Yes, it's sad and happy. It's almost got too much sadness and happiness to take."

Welcome to the rest of your life, Evan.

He went to the shelf to get another book.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I recently received an email from a friend inviting me to join Google Plus and be in one of her "circles." (For those who may not be aware, Google Plus, or Google+, is Google's version of Facebook.)

I love the lady who sent me the invite and if anyone could get me to join Google+ she could. But although I have been hearing about Google+ for a while I have so far resisted joining and have no plans to change my mind. I have a feeling if I were to join Google+ I would find myself just getting more of what I already get on Facebook:

1) More time spent in cyberspace instead of real life

2) More interacting with the same people I already interact with on Facebook (most of whom are lovely, but hey, there's a limit to how much loveliness I can fit in between all the normal stuff of daily life)

3) More opportunities to witness passive-aggressive, bullying, mean and clique-ish behavior by people who seem to time-warp back to junior high whenever they log into their account. No, wait, I take that back. My teenagers never behaved the way I see some people behaving on Facebook.

4) More opportunities to read someone's "vaguebooking" and scratch my head and say "Huh?"

5) More off-color jokes, weird and scary pictures, profanity, vulgarity, and pointless quizzes and games.

6) More opportunities to experience personal rejection in the form of getting unfriended and blocked by people I really shouldn't even care about.

7) More opportunities to grapple with the dilemma of who my "friends" are and to what extent I can keep up with their lives

Don't get me wrong--there are some very good things about social media. I wouldn't be on Facebook otherwise. But there is a lot of ickiness, too, and more ickiness is one thing I do not need in my life. So I'll see you here and I'll see you on Facebook and I'll maybe even see you in real life. But unless all of my close friends completely disappear from Facebook, Google+ will continue to be a minus in my social accounting book.