Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wild Neighbors

Our neighborhood has recently had a new family move in...a family of foxes. A mother fox and five kits have taken up residence in the culvert across the street.

She is just beautiful, and the kits are so cute scampering around. We have really enjoyed watching them. Whenever one of us notices them, we call "the foxes are out," and it seems like whatever else we were doing goes by the wayside while we watch them. It can be a little distracting while we are trying to do school, but how often do you get to see these shy and beautiful creatures so close?

This picture shows how close to the street the den is. The entrance is just behind where the mother fox is standing. She doesn't always even hide when cars go by.

So cute!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Another bibliophile in our family

This is another post from my old blog, which I wrote almost two years ago to the day. I can't believe how much my baby has grown up!

April 27, 2006

My baby, Eleanor, is developing a passion for books. She gets them out of her basket and brings them to me to read all the time. It's so cute, but can be tough when I'm trying to read a book for school to her siblings and she insists that we read Old Macdonald's Farm instead!

Still, it thrills my heart to see her loving books. Sharing my love of reading with my children has been one of my greatest joys as a parent. Our trips to the library are some of our most precious experiences.

Here are some pictures of my littlest bibliophile...

It doesn't seem to matter to her if the books are upside down!

I love this picture of big sis and little sis sharing the best reading spot in the house.

Not-So-Top Ten Things About Living in a Funeral Home

Now here's the rest of the story...

1. People think my house will be creepy. Please. My husband is a funeral director, but we are not the Adams Family.

2. Trying to keep four kids quiet for two to four hours during visitations and funerals.

3. Trying to keep my 11 year old daughter's slumber party quiet while my husband is downstairs making funeral arrangements with a family. Yes, this has really happened.

4. All of the laundry has to be carried from the basement to the second story. The lift only goes to the ground floor and the laundry room is in the basement. Clearly a man designed that.

5. I live with constant dread that the cat will escape downstairs and either sleep in or scratch up a casket worth several thousand dollars. No, this has not happened...yet. (Fortunately, we don't have the cat anymore. Hermit crabs are a much more funeral home-friendly pet!)

6. We have almost no yard. A little landscaping on the front and one side, but other than that, it's all parking lot.

7. Since we live in a business, people stop by a lot. Can't stay in my jammies and ponytail til noon (not that I ever did that before...)

8. The phone rings all day, and I can't just let it ring because it's a business line.

9. Lots of phone calls between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

10. There's always the chance that my sleepy four year old son might wander downstairs in his Power Ranger jammies on a Saturday morning looking for Mommy--in the middle of a funeral. Yes, this actually happened, too.

Top 10 Things About Living in a Funeral Home

Here is a post from my old blog, just for fun...

As a side note, fifteen years ago when my then boyfriend/now husband told me he wanted to go to mortuary school, I told him "that's fine, but just so you know, I will never live above a funeral home." Ha! Never say never!

1. We have an elevator. Well, a freight lift actually, but it's still cool. It makes carrying groceries upstairs a whole lot easier.

2. I have 24 hour access to a copy machine. There's one in my husband's office downstairs. Color copies and everything.

3. The funeral parlor downstairs is big enough to host both my family and my husband's family for dinner. We had 50+ people here at Thanksgiving and all were able to eat in the same room. It's like renting hall.

4. It's big!! We went from about 1000 sq. feet to 4000! to breath.

5. Large concrete parking lot. Perfect for scooters, skates, bikes, basketball, etc.

6. Two Christmas trees. I got to put up two trees this year. We put a real tree upstairs in our home with all the handmade family ornaments like always, but we also bought a beautiful artificial tree to put downstairs. It had all white lights with gold and blue decorations to match the decor downstairs. It looked so elegant. Like having the best of both worlds.

7. I have the perfect excuse not to have a tupperware/candle/basket party. Never know when we might have a visitation or funeral.

8. My husband's commute to the office...about ten seconds. Many days were are able to eat breakfast, lunch and supper together as a family.

9. Lots of teachable moments. No, I'm not talking about anatomy, biology or chemistry. This line of work has given us many opportunities to talk to our kids about life and death, what is eternal and what is temporal. Already our oldest has noticed the difference in how believers mourn and those who have no hope. It's a powerful witness.

10. It's a ministry. We sincerely want to minister to the families we serve, by showing hospitality, encouraging stewardship and offering resources and referrals to help them through their loss. It is humbling to think that we can be the hands and feet of Christ to those who mourn.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Update on Michael

Jamie let us know that she got a message from Michael on her MySpace page saying that he's in Iraq and not to worry if we don't hear from him for a few days.

I'm in Iraq...don't worry. Do these phrases really belong in the same sentence?

News from Kuwait

We heard from Michael the other day. He is in Kuwait, and expects to leave for Iraq soon. We didn't talk on the phone, we instant messaged (thank you again, Jamie, for setting that up on our computer!) Technology is amazing.

Here is a picture he sent. I confess I was a little disturbed initially by the size of that gun, but I'm glad he has it if he needs it, I guess. He said it was in the low 100's that day. Nice.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

It was spring last weekend...

As I am sitting in my cold house this morning listening to the heat kick on and grumbling in my heart about the forecast I just read for snow showers tomorrow (yes, that 's what it said), I am going to choose to remember last weekend, when at least for a brief moment in time, it was spring.

After Katie's recital, Mom and Dad came back to the house with us. The kids put on play clothes, I opened up the windows, and we enjoyed a perfect spring day.

Dan even got the grill out and cleaned it up to make burgers. They were delicious as always, honey. You are the Grill Master!

Our huge parking lot makes a great "canvas" for chalk art.

Elijah's rocket ship

He also drew an alligator and a house, and helpfully wrote his name so I would know which pictures were his.

Mackenzie's cross

Katie's picture with some help from Eleanor in the upper right corner.

It was a lovely afternoon and evening. As I look out my window at the grey, windy, gloomy day outside, I long for the sunshine again. The kids want to go outside and play. I want them to go outside and play. I want to go outside and play. Alas, not today, but soon enough.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Michael called yesterday from Germany, and probably arrived in Kuwait sometime today. After two or three weeks there, he will be on his way to Baghdad. Please remember him in your prayers. I'll share an address as soon as I have one.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Katie's piano recital

Katie has been teaching piano for about a year, and held her first recital on Sunday. She has three students: Elijah and two other first grade boys . She has been working hard with them and each one did very well.

Elijah played "Ode to Joy," "He's a Pirate" (from Pirates of the Carribean) and "Firefly."

With her favorite student

Mackenzie was our hostess at the refreshment table after the recital. Katie made music note shaped cookies and chocolate cupcakes decorated with music notes and symbols. Very cute.

They tasted as good as they look.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Toilet Snares

I heard something on the radio the other day about how sometimes little kids misunderstand the words to songs or poems and how cute the results can be. I was reminded of our own children and a couple of the cute things they've said.

Mackenzie, about three and a half or four years old is singing to herself in her room while I eavesdrop... "O victory in Jesus, my Saviour forever, He socked me and bopped me with His redeeming blood, He loved me ere I knew Him and all my love is due Him, He punched me to victory, beneath the cleansing flood." I hurt myself laughing so hard and trying desperately to be quiet.

(In her defense, when our pastor lead this hymn, he would always punch the air on the word "victory.")

About a year later, we were listening to "Oh Veggie, Where Art Thou?" in the van, and suddenly Mackenzie (again) pipes up and asks, "Mom, what are toilet snares?"

"Excuse me? What are you talking about?"

"In the song. It said through this world of toilet snares."

(Just a Closer Walk with Thee..through this world of toils and snares)

I laughed so hard I almost wrecked the van.

It smelled like spring today

I get fussy about the weather here in central Illinois sometimes. Hot humid summers, cold winters without enough snow to have fun in, and rainy springs and autumns with too few beautiful mild days.

Today was so nice. The temperature was in the 60s and I got the rare opportunity to take a walk almost alone. Eleanor was in her stroller, but she doesn't say much, so I had some quiet time to think and pray and enjoy the afternoon.

The air smell positively green today. Do you know what I mean? That moist, earthy scent in the air when the world is waking up...I love that smell.

There were signs of spring everywhere. I saw tulips and jonquils popping up through the ground and heard a choir of birds in the trees. I caught my breath when I noticed a huge maple with branches loaded with buds so big I thought leaves might burst out at any moment. Just like the dwarf told the witch, "This is no thaw, this is Spring!"

As I delighted in the sights and smells and my solitude, I considered that living here is really a blessing. There is something soothing in the rythym of the seasons. Creation provides such beautiful metaphors for our lives and our faith. After the cold and death of winter comes new life, spring, the hope of eternal life. I am grateful to live where I can experience the patterns of the seasons. I am grateful to God who shows us His mercies in every detail of His creation.

"As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seeds for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord's' renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed."

Isaiah 55:11-13.

April foolishness

Very early on Tuesday morning, a couple of pranksters in our home decided to make some mischief in the spirit of April Fool's day.

The notes say:
"Talk about a bad hair day"
"Are you really going to wear that?"

Note to pranksters: If you're going to play tricks and take pictures, you should make sure you can't be seen in the picture! :)

This is what they did to their little brother's room....

He was not especially happy to wake up to the mess, but brightened at the news that he would not have to clean it up.

Methinks some girls have too much time on their hands...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Elijah's 7th Birthday

It's official. I've been begging and bribing for weeks now for him not to turn seven but he did it. He's seven years old.

Here's a picture of the birthday boy:

We celebrated with a gathering of friends and family on Sunday afternoon. His birthday theme choice this year was dinosaurs.

Here is my attempt at dinosaur cake. I am sure my sister in law, who makes incredible cakes, will be amused at my cheesy plastic dinosaurs and the fact that the cake is still in the pan, but Elijah loved it and it tasted good.

He got lots of nice gifts. More books for his "library" is always a great thing. A person really can't know enough about sharks.

This is a Webkinz. I didn't know much about them, and neither did Elijah, but they are "virtual" pets that you care for on the internet. Elijah named this frog "Spot" and he LOVES him!

Since our residence above the funeral home is pretty small, we usually have our parties downstairs in the chapel. Some people find this odd, but it's just what we're used to. His sisters decided to make use of the register stand where service information usually is.

Each birthday my children celebrate has a hint of bittersweetness to it. Time passes so quickly and their childhoods seem to be rushing by in a blur.

With my older daughters, each birthday has seemed to be an end and a beginning. As they mark off another year, they leave behind more and more of their "little girl" lives, but they do not depend on me any less. My training of them is still just beginning as I try to help them transition from girls to young women. Even when they are wives and mothers themselves, I will have opportunities to mentor and advise them.

However, I am not sure that will be the case with my little man-cub. He will obviously still need me for some things, like academics, meals and laundry. But I see my role in his life changing. If he is to grow up to be the kind of man I hope he will be, he will have to break away from my influence more and more and look to his daddy for guidance. I can teach him many things, but I cannot teach him how to be a man.

So as he blew out those seven candles, I felt a little lump in my throat. He's growing up. The day will come when he will not need me anymore. He may certainly love me, respect me, honor me even, but he won't need me. And he shouldn't. I want him to grow up be a strong, independent, godly man, who leads and disciples his own family. But it hurts just a little. These moments just go by so quickly.