Saturday, June 27, 2009

She's coming home!

Thanks be to God! Kathryn will be released this afternoon, finally, after an eternity of two weeks in the hospital. I know it might not seem like much, especially for some families I know whose special needs children often spend much longer amounts of time in the PICU...but for this family, it has been forever.

My dear friend Mama Midwife and I will be leaving shortly to go pick up Rachel and Kathryn. We'll both take our babies with us, and my Frog will come along as well. Please offer a prayer for safe travel, and certainly a prayer of thanksgiving for the life and health of this most precious baby, for the reunion of her family, and for the strength of her dear Mama.

Read about Mama Midwife's thoughts here...with the promise of more to come. I'll post later about the homecoming.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Freezer Friday

Sounds catchy, doesn't it?

I'd love to have some kind of regular feature on this cyber-home of mine, but it's not too likely. I write as my mind goes, which is however the wind blows, for Pete's sake.

Freezer Friday. It's HOT. Steamy. Sauna. Humidwest. (Get it?) So I figure it's a great time to make cold stuff.

Mama Midwife and I received our strawberries, so it's time to make freezer jam. My Aunt M. has always made delicious freezer jam, so I e-mailed her to ask for her secret recipe. She said, "I just use the one on the SureJel package!" Easy enough! That will be tomorrow's task. I'm waiting for the heat to take a break before I fire up the stove.

So yesterday, needing something cold and sweet and different, I threw together a Lemonade Pie. I saw the recipe somewhere online. Upon searching for "lemonade pie," google gave me plenty of options, and they were all just about the same. I have no idea where it originated, but man is it good!!

Here's the dealio:

2 cans frozen concentrated lemonade, completely thawed (which took absolutely no time at all in my sauna on my kitchen table)
2 - 14 oz. cans sweetened condensed milk
1 - 16 oz, tub frozen non-dairy whipped topping (like Cool Whip), thawed in the fridge
3 - 9 inch graham cracker pie crusts

Now, all the recipes I saw said to fold the ingredients together. Baloney. I used my hand mixer on low. Folding is what you do with laundry. So. Mix ingredients together and pour as-equal-as-you-can amounts into each pie crust. Cover and freeze until set--about 4-5 hours.

I came to the amounts by accident. I like full pies, and the one-can-of-this and half-a-tub-of-that didn't quite yield two pies. So I doubled the cans and emptied the tub and I ended up with three nicely filled pies. Also, we took two of them with us to a meeting after they'd only been in the freezer for a couple of hours, and they were about the consistency of thick pudding. It was still really yummy, but probably would have been easier to serve if it had been a little more firm.

Anyway, this delicious treat is absolutely just the thing on a smotheringly hot day. It takes no baking, very little effort, and is a great combination of sweet and sour...not to mention, it's frozen!

What's your favorite cold treat on sticky days??

Thursday, June 25, 2009

By golly, it's just been too darn hot.

Too hot to do much but sit, breathe, and take the occasional sip of my favorite beverage--water with lemon wedges. I'm particular about my water. I like it cold, but not with ice. I like three lemon wedges, squeezed into the glass, thunked into the bottom, and then the water on top. Filtered. From the fridge door. And then, upon refilling, I like one lemon wedge added to what's already there, squeezed, thunked, filled. Repeat. Repeat.

Then, when there are too many lemon wedges to leave room for much water, I dump the peels into the garbage disposal and run it with super hot water. Freshens up the disposal, makes the kitchen smell yummy, and makes room in my glass for more lemon water.


When it's this bloody hot, there's just not much energy. We have three window air conditioners, one of which is on its last leg. Many fans are blowing in all different directions, doing their best to distribute what cool, dry air we can muster with our artifact, museum-worthy window units, which isn't much.

Delicious on a day like this? Watermelon. Hot dogs. Especially hot dogs with tomato wedges, diced vidalia onion, ketchup and celery salt. Oh, trust me. Try it--you'll like it.

Also delicious? The three pounds of fresh strawberries, picked by the Yoder family and sent via my dear friend Mama Midwife.

Kathryn remains in the hospital. It's probably ok, because in this heat, surely one so pure would just plain melt.

Keep praying.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My day among the Amish

My friend Mama Midwife caught a baby.

Two weeks ago, she called me, breathless with excitement, and told me the story of Kathryn, a little Amish baby. She is the eleventh child in the family. Though the Amish women do not talk about their pregnancies around their children, I had the sense that Kathryn was eagerly anticipated and greatly loved by her siblings.

Her birth was "routine"--if any birth could ever be described this way. There were no complications, nothing out of the ordinary. About an hour after Kathryn was born, though, the primary midwife (my midwife, too--Chris) said quietly, "Kathryn has Down's Syndrome."

Things were going well for the first few days. Kathryn ate well, and seemed to be doing fine. The midwives checked on her often--perhaps more often than they normally would. On Saturday, they took her to the children's hospital. Mama Midwife drove them.

Kathryn was very fussy, wouldn't eat, had horrible diarrhea, and was becoming limp and lethargic.

She had surgery yesterday morning, and she'll need another surgery in about six weeks.

This is the first time the parents have been away from their children for so long. They were worried about them, wanted to see them, wanted them to come see Kathryn. They were worried about what it would cost to hire a driver. It's about 80 miles from their house to the hospital.

Sometimes when the Lord speaks, it's plain. He spoke plainly yesterday.

We left here at about 4:30, meaning to arrive at the Yoders' farm at about 5:20. Leaving town is always calming for me. I love the transition into the hills of farmland, where the neatly laid-out fields sprawl and the shadows of clouds make large undefined shapes on the rows of corn and alfalfa and wheat. I love looking across the landscape, seeing the glow of the rays of sunshine beaming down through the dust of the earth to touch the distant treetops. The farther we go from town, the more narrow lanes can be seen peeking out through the trees. Sometimes you can see wheel tracks from the buggies turning in and quietly leaving our world and entering theirs.

We slowed and turned along the network of country roads, finally coming to the farm. The large house with its narrow black trim and clean, shining windows stood at the head of the drive. Two tall posts bearing purple martin houses cheerfully welcomed us. The hitch chains at their posts swung in the soft breeze. The sign over the mailbox saying "Brown Eggs for Sale" had been neatly covered with a plastic bag. The eleven cows, having been milked by the children's hands, were already put to pasture for the afternoon, and the horses had been fed and watered. The dog barked a greeting to us, the English drivers who had come to take the children to their sister's bedside.

We knocked on the screen door and walked into a spacious kitchen. A long table with equally long benches stretched before us. A large wood stove sat on a metal plate. The only light in the room was from the big windows on three sides, leaving no want for a lamp. There was no sign of meals having been eaten; everything had already been cleaned up. It smelled good. To the left, an even bigger room, mostly barren, but not lonesomely so. It was comfortably quiet, with the sound of hurried steps to get braids tucked into nets, under black scarves, and into black bonnets. The eldest girl checked her reflection in a small mirror above a sink in the kitchen. She has the straightest, whitest teeth in the most dazzling smile I have ever seen. She radiates joy and youthful exuberance.

One, two, three red heads with hundreds of freckles. A few blond heads with soft, green eyes. A couple of dark heads, with hair conformed to the shape of a hat. Bright blues, greens, gentle browns and greys. The black stockings and shoes usually reserved for Sundays.

Two-year-old Wilma scurried about from one room to another, peeking shyly around the corner, catching my eye and then tucking out of sight. She did not understand my English, but she understood my smile. She grinned back at me and stole my heart, possibly forever.

"We're almost ready," said the eldest daughter. "The boys are lagging upstairs. I think they're looking for their socks."

The girls each carried something--several plastic ice cream buckets with lids, a paper sack, one with a plastic bag. One of the buckets is decorated with dark red velvet hearts and flowers. The top says "Lydia Mae." They talked quietly amongst themselves in their low German, deciding who would ride in which van. They saw that there was a baby in each, and a 13-year-old English girl in mine. The choices were made, then, and they climbed into the vans.

Some had been on the long ride to the city before, but not all of them. I could hear whispers, but could understand very little. Every now and then, a few words were spoken in English.

I have a Mama Mirror on my dashboard--I can angle it to keep an eye on my kids. Yesterday, I saw the black bonnets and hats and big eyes of the children riding in my van. As the country roads gave way to the county road, then the state highway, and eventually the interstate, their eyes grew larger and brighter. Their heads turned in unison as we whizzed past other cars, buses, semis. One truck was carrying mushrooms, and said so. I heard the word, "Mushrooms!" exclaimed, along with the German I couldn't understand. I wondered at their thoughts. Imagine never having seen an entire truck full of just one kind of food--enough of that kind of food to feed your entire community several times over, and then go bad for lack of wanting more!

They stared at all the stores. The gigantic, over-filled buildings of stuff. Such an excess that there is a store amidst the stores where people take the things they do not need and no longer want, so that others can buy them. For children who have only the things they need, how can I explain this concept to them?

We exited from the Interstate onto the freeway which bypasses the city, with roads intersecting like the veins from the stem of a great leaf. For a time, we drove near a truck with a sound system blasting so loud it hurt my ears. They couldn't not stare. When the truck mercifully exited, there were sighs of relief from the back. "Imagine how loud it must be in his truck!" I said. The bigger ones laughed and told the joke to the little ones. I hoped they were distracted from the billboard advertising "Whole Body Hair Removal!" I was glad the Frog had brought along a book and didn't see it, either.

We exited the freeway, and began our trek into the center of the city. We passed apartment buildings, houses, shops, restaurants. We passed people riding bikes, people walking, people jogging, people walking dogs, people waiting at the bus stop, people going home from work, people carrying groceries. The children craned their necks to see the variety of the English.

You and I live in a world where everyone tries so hard to be different. My hair is longer than yours. Your shirt is a groovy cut. Man, those pants are cute. Hey, look at that pretty dress. Where on earth did you get your shoes? We describe one another by what we last saw each other wearing. "Mary is the one in the cute pink top and the short black skirt with the bow in her hair."

The Amish live in a world which draws attention because they do not draw attention. Their clothes are the same. The girls begin wearing the long dress with the long apron and the white bonnet the very first time they are dressed. The boys wear the button-up shirt, pants and suspenders the very first time they are dressed. Their eyes, their smiles, their voices--these are things which distinguish one from the other. "Mary is the one with the green eyes and the lower voice."

Here I was with a van full of children who have never seen the city, and their eyes surely had a feast. A woman jogging wearing shorts, a sports bra, an iPod on her arm, movie star sunglasses, and her hair in a swinging pony tail. A man sauntering along carrying a backpack, his dread locks coming nearly to his waist. Two women talking animatedly, one with a sack of groceries, one with a big dog on a leash. Everyone seems to be in a hurry, but no one seems to be doing anything.

We pulled up to the hospital, only to find that my gigantic van would not fit into the ramp--I got to park in front. We went in and got our visitor bracelets, which made us look like a group wearing way too much clothing at a water park. The younger children looked tentative at allowing an English woman with a whole lot of makeup put a weird thing around their wrist. The older children went first, showing their bracelets to their little brothers and sisters, telling them it was alright.

Our children's hospital is new. There is a lot to see, even for someone who isn't Amish. We all crowded into one elevator, Mama Midwife and I joking that we were hopefully under the 3500 pound weight limit. When we got to the fourth floor, where Kathryn was, we disembarked next to some large windows. The children made a bee-line for the windows, marveling at how high up we were. "Look at the trees! Look at the little houses! Look how far you can see!"

We moved from the windows to the security door which led to Kathryn's PICU room. A nurse on her way out of the ward asked us, "Are you guys all here to see the same person?" We told her we were. "Okay, the family waiting room is there to the left. Only two at the bedside."

We ignored her.

As we wound around the nurses station, about fifty pairs of eyes fell on our little parade. They all knew who we would be coming to see. There was only one Amish patient on the floor. No one else told us where the family waiting room was. We walked slowly toward Kathryn's room.

Mama Midwife and I told the children to go ahead of us into the room. The girls placed their ice cream buckets on top of a cart in the room, and began shedding their black bonnets and scarves, immediately taking their white bonnets from the buckets and popping them over their hair, loosely tying them under their chins, the older ones helping the younger ones. The boys took off their hats.

When the flurry of activity settled, Rachel and Ervin went to each child in turn, taking the faces of their children in their hands. Their greeting to each was quiet German. It was affectionate, but not overtly.

Wilma clung to her mother's skirt and her father's trousers.

In a room designed to hold two hospital beds, there was only one. Besides that, there were two couches, a wagon, two chairs, Kathryn's bed, her IV pump, two medical carts, and a laundry bin. Still, there was so much excess floor space, that we could all comfortably mill about without bumping into one another. The children all spend a good amount of time just looking at little Kathryn. She is so tiny, so plainly beautiful, and has a mop of hair that is almost unimaginable on such a small baby. It covers her ears.

Ervin and his eldest son, who is 20, sat next to one another and spoke at length in German. Their faces were peaceful, but serious. I imagined their conversation. "Things are fine at home. The cows have been milked and fed, and the horses. The fields look good. There's talk of rain this week. The cow that calved last night is doing well. Her calf is healthy and taking a good amount of milk. We put a bag over the sign advertising our eggs so we don't have strangers coming to the door." I could be completely off, but if I were a father who had left my son home to be the man of the house and watch over the farm, those are the things I'd want to know.

Rachel and Ervin sat on the couch nearest Kathryn's bed, and though there was so much empty space in the room, their ten children sat so near one another that they only took up about 20 square feet. The room was so peacefully quiet, with whispers and low voices here and there. Each time a nurse came into the room, one or two would stand near and watch what they were doing with Kathryn. Mama Midwife asked lots of questions and translated the answers for Rachel and Ervin. The three youngest girls took turns looking out the window of the room door, watching the high-tech, hurried world of the English. They smiled, but did not wave, at the people who rushed past.

At one point, Rachel wanted to show the hospital to her children. "It's something new. Most of them have never seen a hospital." The eldest daughter had seen one, once.

They went up into the elevator to see the fifth floor, marveling again at the view.

I am afraid of heights. I stayed on the fourth floor, well away from the window.

When it was time to go, the bustle began again, with the girls trading their white home bonnets for the black scarves and bonnets usually reserved for Sundays. The boys put their hats back on. We were to leave one of the older girls with Rachel and bring Ervin home with us.

We again loaded into the vans. As we headed down the hill toward the main road, I said, "We're going to stop for something to eat. Do you like cheeseburgers?" Ervin said, "We'll never turn that down!"

I ordered double cheeseburgers for everyone, and a large orange soda for them to share. I asked if they wanted fries. Ervin was almost too shy, and said the cheeseburgers would be a great plenty.

As darkness pressed on, Ervin softly played his harmonica to soothe Wilma. I recognized "Mary had a little lamb."

We passed through town and stopped at home to drop off the Frog and the Bug. Ervin saw our project. He said, "You remodeling your house?" I told him no, that we were adding on. "Adding on?" he asked. "Why didn't you just build it the size you wanted in the first place?" he joked. We had a good laugh about it. I told him we were nearly three years into our addition, and that My Darling is doing it all pretty much by himself. He seemed to appreciate that fact, though I wondered if he thought it strange. The Amish come together to help one another get things done when they need to get done. We live so much closer to our neighbors than they, and yet we exist so much farther apart....

It was late when we got home. The stars were bright and low, and their light was enough to see the steps to the house.

Ervin asked us what we wanted in return for bringing their family together for the evening. Mama Midwife and I had already discussed it and quickly came to the conclusion that we would take no payment. We didn't want to insult Ervin, though, and said, "Maybe some eggs or a pie." He grew quiet. He said, haltingly, "You don't know what this has meant to us."

I said, "What kindness is there in the world, if no one ever goes to trouble for someone else?"

He said, "Well, that's the truth then."

Mama Midwife spoke with Rachel this afternoon. Kathryn has been moved from the PICU to the regular peds floor. She's doing well. Hopefully she'll be home very soon, to be held and loved on by her family. They miss her terribly.

We're to be paid in strawberries.

Reflections on Corpus Christi

It's already Tuesday, and I had intended to sit down to this on Sunday afternoon. Sometimes, though, we make plans--and God laughs.

Sunday was the Solemn Feast of Corpus Christi.

Mass on Sunday was extraordinary. It always is, really, but this Sunday was particularly stirring. Perhaps it was the beautiful introit sung by the choir. Maybe it was the Sequence chanted in Latin. It could have been the opportunity to hear an amazing homily, offered by someone other than those we hear regularly.

Because we are part of the parish of our diocesan Cathedral, our family routinely hears preaching from our dear Bishop, and also from the Monsignor who serves as Rector of the Cathedral. They are both fine homilists, to be sure, always teaching us the Truth in love. Neither pulls any punches with doctrine, and both take plenty of flack for it from the local media. Those who are members, though, those whose hearts are open to the Holy Spirit, who are grateful for the richness of our faith, are appreciative and humbled by the sacrifices our good priests make for us. Every time they are disparaged in the media--which is often--we increase our prayers for them.

There were several things which struck me greatly on Sunday. First was the bit in Monsignor's homily about the Vietnamese priest who, being held in prison, would offer Mass when supplied with "a morsel of bread and just a couple of drops of wine." My Lord brought to my heart the 23rd Psalm which we all know so well: "Thou has prepared a table for me in the presence of mine cup overflows." This humble priest, through offering the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass, made a banquet from a morsel, and his cup overflowed with mere drops. How richly blessed are we, who see our priests leave the Communion line, retrieve the Ciborium from the Tabernacle, and continue to distribute the Body of our Lord to His faithful! How richly blessed are we, whose priests have two or three or four chalices to purify at the Altar, after we have each taken our sip from the Cup of Precious Blood!

Second was something which happened just after Consecration, at the final elevation of the Body and Blood of our Lord. As Monsignor held the Host above the Chalice, there shone a golden light on the Host. I'm sure it was a reflection from the Crucifix at the center of the Altar, but the effect was far more than a mere reflection. The light was in the shape of a flame, directly centered on the Host, and made it appear to burn. It was as though He was saying, "See my Sacred Heart, burning with my love for you!" I was so entranced by it I almost forgot to sing the Amen.....

The Mass continued with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and then a solemn Eucharistic procession--with candles, incense, and Jesus in the Eucharist being carried under the canopy. The people followed the ministers and servers, and they sang hymns the whole way. Upon returning to the Church, more hymns were sung, and the Benediction concluded the Mass. The joyful spirit of the faithful was abundant. The smiles on the sweaty faces of the children were contagious, and their parents were no less joyful.


After Mass, I spent some time talking with a wonderful woman who is well known in our parish and community for her work in advocating for the independence of disabled people. She just turned 80 years old, and this was her first time at Mass in quite a while, as she fell and broke her ankle a couple of months ago. She has cerebral palsy. She said to me, "Do you know that the most influential thing in a child's life is it's parents? And that when a child is born with a disability, the care they receive from their parents, above all, is what affects how they can cope as an adult?"

She and I talked about her experience in the nursing home. She is grateful for the care she receives there and for the fact that there is such a place available, but she really dislikes having to be somewhere other than home.

There is also a woman well known in our parish for her delight in visiting with those unable to attend Mass. She sits and prays with them, and spends time just visiting. And so it happened that the Lord brought the two women together, and one said to the other, "I've been looking for a new place." The other said, "They won't let me go home if I'm going to be alone at night." By happy providence, then, they will be together, one providing shelter, the other providing care.

I love how He works, providing for each of our needs in His way, meeting our circumstances with ample provision, generously watching out for our concerns. As I say to My Darling at times, "Sparrows and lilies."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Spiritual Spinach

My dear friend T. and I were talking today about the way God allows us to grow through circumstance. There are times, it seems, when what's put before us is a bit unpleasant to swallow....much like spinach.

Like Popeye's muscles popped when he ate his cans of spinach, the strength of our faith is increased when we down our Spiritual Spinach.

I found myself calling T. this afternoon and asking her to pray for me. I am feeling a great lack of charity where I have no right to--and yet, there it is. Here's the rub: I know that I am called to charity, especially toward this person in particular....and I am having to convict my heart in it.

Spiritual Spinach.


It's done. The Second Dresser, which if you recall, was a staggering seven dollars. I finished it the other day, and added the new hardware. My Darling was kind enough to place the vanity top on it, and I perched the faucet in place.

The results:


I am so pleased!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Meet me at 3:00.

This is what My Darling said to me on the phone this afternoon. "Meet me at 3:00." What??

Last night, I really hoped to make a trip into town together. I really Just Needed Time With My Husband. It seems the last few weeks, that's been more and more difficult to come by. If I leave the house, it's with at least one or two of the kids in tow, and sometimes My Darling. I figured that was as good a reason as any, and besides, we're beginning to install the network of wires which will warm the tiles beneath our feet in the new master bathroom. We needed to get a few supplies to finish installation so I can get to work laying the floor tiles.

I needed a date.

It didn't happen.

I was mad. I positively stewed about it, because from my perspective, he completely missed the point. Ha, taunted the devil, he doesn't want time with you. He'd rather work on piddly details. He wants you to suffer. Rats. In my human weakness, I listened.

Practically everyone who doesn't live under a rock has heard the adage, "Never let the sun set on your anger." For Pete's sake, that's so much more easily said than done. For one thing, my anger didn't even begin until dusk. So the sun setting on it was pretty much a given. For another thing, I happen to be happily married to a man whose sole prerequisite for sleep is to start out awake. In order to resolve conflicts within the course of the day--day ending with my eyes closing for the night--I generally have to repeatedly nudge My Darling back to consciousness.

My Darling made the decision that we weren't going to town; he would pick up the things we needed the following day. There's a pretty good chance I grumbled under my breath, and an even better chance I was incredibly uncharitable in my heart. I said to My Darling, "You leave the house every day. You have time to yourself while you drive, while you sit in your office, while you go from job to job. I don't even get to use the loo by myself, for Pete's sake."

He said, simply, "I don't want to drive in. Want to go for a walk with me?"

Meh. I wasn't up for a walk. I should have been, but I just wasn't. Instead, I stewed in my anger. My churlish attitude suited me just fine, thank you, and I wasn't about to let him cheat me out of it by taking me on a walk.

Fast forward back to the nudging. I nudged, I grumbled, we talked, we settled.

Now, for some reason, I've just not been sleeping. Last night was particularly rough, with my Bug very uncharacteristically waking up five or six times to snuggle and nurse. I think the full moon might have something to do with it, coupled with the fact that we've had lots of fronts rolling through. Anyway, the last time I looked at the clock it was 5:30 this morning, which, on Tuesday, is time for My Darling to get up. He goes to Adoration at 7:00 on Tuesday mornings, and with the half-hour drive it takes to get there, he needs time to walk the dogs, have some coffee, and ruin the crossword puzzle.

My Darling was still asleep when I rolled over to put the Buggie back in her little bed, so I nudged him awake. I'm pretty sure he came up to kiss me before he left, because he always does, but I must have been sleeping pretty deeply. I don't remember a thing.

Lots to get done around the house. Many goals this week, including curtains to be made from a beautiful bed sheet I found at a garage sale. Diapers to fold. Soooooooooooo much to be done. Two cups of coffee, and some of a third. Three cups of Lady Grey tea. Soooooooooooo tired, was I, as the day headed toward afternoon. Quiet time, thanks be to God. The Monkey went up to take his snooze. Pickle went to play at a friend's house. Reepicheep camped out on her bed with a book. The Frog was cozied up in the rocking chair with her book. The Bug had a warmly full tummy, was snuggled in, sleeping, and ready to be put down.

I thought, "I'll call him." I always call My Darling on Tuesdays sometime after his scheduled time for Adoration and ask him, "How is My Lord today?" and he always answers, "Beautiful."

So I called. I was just going to ask him, and then I was going up to snuggle with the Monkey for a while and close my eyes. I figured I could get at least 45 minutes.

And he said: "Meet me at 3:00."

I said, "I don't want to drive in and then have to follow you home. Can't you just come home and then we can drive in together?"

He said, "Meet me at 3:00."

It was 1:50. I said, "Who am I supposed to bring with me?" He said, "I already talked to the Frog. Don't bring anyone with you."

Huh. That's incredibly rare. And My Darling is not one to spring romantic surprises, so...........

I hopped in the shower (by myself!). I took the time to choose my outfit carefully, taking out a blouse I know he likes. I brushed through my hair and pulled it back the way he prefers. I even got to put on a little make-up. The whole time, I marveled at the butterflies flitting about in my gut. I was anticipating this time with My Love, eager for whatever he had planned.

As I drove in to meet him, my heart flopped around like a half-filled water balloon. I could not, for the life of me, figure out what he was up to. As I neared our meeting place, my heart was pounding, and I could feel the blush creeping up my cheeks and forehead, into my hairline. What a blessing! To have a husband I love so much that twelve years of marriage later, I am still thrilled at the prospect of spending a few stolen hours with him! I felt, too, the pangs of regret for my behavior last night.

I found his parking spot easily. He was waiting for me with the window down and the seat laid back a bit, as though he'd been there for hours and was just waking up from a restful nap. "Get in," he said.

He leaned over and kissed me tenderly, and held my hand as we drove off, leaving my van for later. As we headed downtown, it suddenly dawned on me where we were going.

As we drove, the butterflies emerged once again. My heart pounded. The familiar blush began it's ascent. I was anticipating time with My Lord!

My Darling was taking me to Adoration. He said, "I want you to know I heard you. I've seen your stress and felt your anxiety, and I'm taking you to Him." Oh, it did so not escape my mind that 3:00 is the Hour of Mercy.

Well that did it. The Queen of the Weepy People was now holding court. I fumbled around in the glove box for napkins or tissues--I had, after all, put make-up on my face, and knew that it would be smeared unless I dabbed at my eyes. Gents, if you long to make your true love cry (in a good way!), tell her you're taking her to Adoration.

We signed in and opened the door into the Eucharistic Chapel. As I sank to my knees before the Lord, beautifully held in the gorgeous Monstrance, I began pouring my heart out to Him. I prayed for My Darling, my Frog, my Pickle, my Reepicheep, my Monkey and my Bug. I asked Him to help me love them each well, and thanked Him for the beauty of the heart of a man who would seek to help his wife in the only way he knew: bring her before the Lord.

We did eventually make it back to my van, and we even browsed the second-hand store for a bit (nothing good in the furniture department, though I did find some lovely antique cut work napkins...). I am so refreshed, in a way which would not have been possible by taking a nap. A 45 minute nap could never compare to 20 minutes with My Lord.

The next time he tells me to meet him at 3:00, no matter how tired I am, I'll not tarry......

Friday, June 5, 2009

First Friday

Today marked the last observance of First Friday for the year celebrated by our home school group. It's nearly the end of the school year--we'll have a Mass and party/picnic later in the month to formally end our year together.

I've posted about First Friday before, and about the wonderful times we have gathering with friends. It's generally something planned mid-week or so, with a few families coming together to share a meal. This time we decided to invite our dear priest, Fr. B. to join our family at our home. We called our dear friend Mama Midwife, and our dear friend N. as well, and their families came along, and so we were blessed to have all four of our Godchildren with us.

What a joyful time we had! The kids milled about the yard, climbed trees, hung out on the swings, messed around in dirt, and generally goofed off. We dined on grilled chicken and potatoes, fresh cantaloupe, cherries and baby carrots, and--because it was here and it is so very delicious--some beef stroganoff! Mama Midwife brought some tea, so we also had some freshly brewed iced tea, in which we floated juicy slices of lemon. It's probably OK that I didn't have a dessert prepared...we were all so stuffed, for Pete's sake, it might just have gone to waste.

It's always a wonderful time bringing our priests into our home. I love that our children are so very comfortable with them, telling them their stories and wanting them to sit in on their games. And as an added bonus, I heard tell that Fr. B. climbed up onto the scaffolding! I wasn't out there, so I'm not sure what happened, but the kids were chattering about it. I told Fr. B. the only way that could possibly be cooler would have been if he had done it in his cassock. :)


For any readers interested in All Things Catholic--and you know who you are!--consider hopping over to Fr. B's Blog. Leave him an encouraging comment or two, and we may see him posting more often!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Current Project

This is the dresser we found at the yard sale--the one for seven dollars. It was in pretty rough condition--the top drawers were pretty loose; one of them was literally falling apart. My Darling has already cut the top to fit the sink we've chosen, which is this, paired with this faucet.

Here you see the frame, empty and sanded, with the top removed, and the two top drawer faces nailed into place.

Doesn't look like much, does it? Hang on a bit. Remember all that goes into refinishing a piece!

Here's a glimpse at what's to come--the top drawer face has been brushed with one coat of polyurethane, and the bottom is the raw wood:


And now we see both drawers, side by side, sporting their first coats:


I did have to find new hardware for this dresser, as the original parts were pretty beaten up. Let's leave that as a bit of a surprise, though, and the pictures will be posted just as soon as I'm finished with it. I'm going out in just a bit to sand and apply the second coat of finish.....give me a few days, for Pete's sake, and the results will be astonishing!

The Old...and the New

I had to use My Darling's camera from work, but I was finally able to capture images of the Original Dresser Project--nearly finished. "Nearly," because the fixture I have placed atop the basin is, in fact, the bathtub spout, because as of last night (when I took these), the faucet for the sink had not yet arrived. It has now, and it is this. I now have it sitting here, waiting to be put in place.......

.......but I digress.

Here are the results of all my work:

The basin set atop the dresser.

The beautiful embellishment on the middle drawer, and the original hardware returned to the drawer faces.


The gorgeous molding along the side corners and the bottom apron, and the beautiful sculpted feet. These were a challenge to get just right, for Pete's sake!

A lovely shot which shows the play of the light on the grain. I love this! Notice that on the edge of the top surface, just above the top drawer, about two-thirds of the way along the drawer face, the molding is worn down quite a way. Since the original piece once held a mirror, I have imagined a gentleman--having dressed, including a belt around his waist--leaning over to peer into the mirror, perhaps washing his face from a basin, or combing his hair. Years of this repeated action would certainly create a pattern of wear like this. I decided while stripping the original finish that I liked this bit of character history, and decided to just treat it like every other part of the dresser.

And here is the entire piece, set into the place it will remain (though it will need to be moved while I tile the floor, and sadly, we will have to drywall behind it.....more on that in a bit...):


The wood seen behind the piece is the original wooden planking which, once upon a time, sided our home. When My Darling removed the aluminum siding, and then the wooden siding, this lovely old wood was beatifully preserved. Apparently the builder used newspaper--either as insulation, as was popular at one time, or as his mark of time. The date on the newspaper is December 7, 1892. It includes advertisements for the Chicago World's Fair, and woolen boys' stockings and suits of clothing--an entire suit, including overcoat, for about $7. We plan to frame it safely and hang it here in the bathroom--perhaps even above the vanity, next to the mirror.

Sadly, because of the way things fit together, we're going to have to apply drywall to the wall behind the dresser. I wish it weren't so, but alas....if wishes were horses......

My next entry--a glimpse at the current project!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Just for a laugh!

I thought perhaps we could all do with a laugh...some lighter fare, so to speak. So in addition to my previous post leading one to stand upon one's head, I offer this: I hereby submit this as my entry into Jenni's You Tickle Me contest!

These questions were posed by Jenni, and I cannot refuse. The questions are posed in black; I shall answer in red.

1. Who can make you laugh the hardest (someone you personally know)? That's a toss-up. I have many friends with highly comedic senses of humor. At any given moment, with any given friend, I may be prone to fits of laughter raucous enough to send me running for the loo whilst grasping for my trusty hanky. I've also been known to expel root beer from my nose. And yes, it is as painful as it sounds.

2. Who has the most contagious laugh (of those you know personally)? This would be my Pickle Boy. Though he claims to be (and I can back it up with paper-proof) an eleven-year-old-boy, the man-child can giggle at least as well as an entire room full of third grade little girls. When he laughs, everyone laughs. It cannot be helped. Put that boy before Bugs Bunny (won't let me embed...), and you're a goner. (And now that I go over and re-read Jenni's answers, I see our minds--and apparently our boys!--are eerily similar...)

3. What is the funniest movie you’ve ever seen? Well, I will admit to pausing Napoleon Dynamite for a full ten minutes.........But I'll also agree with Jenni's video answer to the next question. Hilarious moment in the history of comedy flicks.

4. Who is your favorite comedian? See, I don't really have a technical favorite. I memorized Bill Cosby routines from my Mom's records when I was a kid. I guess I'd have to pick Bill Engvall. Real-life funny stuff I can totally relate to. Does that mean I'm a redneck? Or just blue-collar? Man, I hope it doesn't mean I'm a dork-fish....

5. What’s the funniest cartoon you’ve ever seen? Chip'n'Dale. "It's a duck! With a big fanny!" Saw it at a slumber party in like second grade. Laughed so hard I had to borrow pajamas. Still remember it, many years later....

6. What’s your favorite comic strip? Mutts! But since my local paper doesn't carry it anymore, I have become hooked on Cul de Sac.

7. What’s your favorite joke? Knock knock. Who's there? Rude, interruptive cow. Rude, interrup--MOO!

8. Here’s a link to something that will make you laugh: The Gallery of Regrettable Foods. Peruse with a lot of time...and after you've used the loo.....

9. What was the last thing you laughed at so hard you cried? My friend, Mama Midwife, was telling me about her Little Flower. Little Flower is my Goddaughter, and dearly precious to me. She is a shy little thing, and quite succinct when she speaks. At times, she says the goofiest things, and can really throw her listeners for a loop. So the other day, my dear Goddaughter her pants. As her Mama prepared to remove the diaper, she said, "Little Flower, did you poop?" And the Little Flower replied, as Little Flowers are wont to do, "Holy crap!"

Cried, and peed.

10. Got a funny photo? Show me! We call this one "Bucket'O'Monkey"....

There you have it.

What makes you laugh? got to check this out.

I can hear Mantilla the Hun's sassy accent as I read this hilarious post....

Fr. Longenecker is so clever, and I love that he adopts alter-egos to address important issues. Quite frankly, were he to just come out and blast things like this "as himself," there are those who perhaps would call him "mean-spirited." I say call a spade a spade, for Pete's sake. If something's wrong, say it's wrong. After all: Bishop Sheen said, "Right is right, even if no one's doing it. Wrong is wrong, even if everyone's doing it."

Here I leave you with the image of some of our servers, with my own Dear Pickle in the mix...can you guess which one is my boy?


You may notice....not a sneaker--wheeled or lighted--in the bunch.....

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Celebratory Hundredth

...entry, that is.

I love that when I began this endeavor a little over a year ago, I had no idea that it would be so therapeutic, such a wonderful place for me to come to iron out my thoughts and find order in the things swirling about in my heart. Thanks for sticking with me.


OK! Alright! Pictures it is! BUT FIRST!

Consider this: We found a vanity for the smaller bathroom, which will be "the kids' bathroom," but also the laundry room. Yes, the washer and dryer will be upstairs--where they belong, if you ask me--and I will be much happier for it! So vanity shopping went on, and I absolutely, positively settled. I settled because I liked the finish...I didn't particularly care much for the piece itself, but I figured I would just work around that. Hey, some things take time to grow on a person, and I thought perhaps this could be the case.

So, My Darling lugged the thing onto a cart and out to the van. I tried not to sigh too loudly. I probably failed miserably.

When we arrived at home, My Darling opened the package to inspect the parts, and lo! Behold! A crack in the top! Oh, woe is us--we'll have to take the blasted thing back! Uh, that is, rats. We'll have to take it back. What a shame. (Come on, I'm trying really hard to sound upset. Work with me.)

"Darling," says I, "I'd really like to go back to the second hand store and see if we can find another dresser. Something a bit smaller, perhaps less ornate. Similar style, I think."

"We can look," says he, "though that really was a lucky find."

I do not believe in luck. I believe in Providence.

As we headed into town, we discussed our options. I promised My Darling that if I didn't find something worthy at the second hand store, I would find something I liked at the home improvement store. As we turned from the county hiway onto the state road, I noticed that the farm on the corner was having a yard sale.

Now, I love a good yard sale. I absolutely long for garage sale season all winter long. It's truly pitiful, and no help for it. As we rounded the corner, I saw it.

"ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? It's a dresser! Baby! STOP THE VAN, for Pete's sake!!"

It was smaller. Not quite as fancy. Similar style. Perfect. It was marked seven dollars. Seven dollars!

We loaded it up, giddy with our find, and took it home. It currently resides in the bedroom (the new yet-to-be-finished one, where I work on these things), and I've already applied the goop to remove the finish twice. This one has a long way to go.


By popular demand filling up my inbox, here are some before pictures of the Original Dresser:

The whole thing:

Close-up of the old fashioned stencil on the middle drawer:

Top drawer hardware:

Bottom drawers' hardware and corner detail/leg:

Inside the bottom drawer:

And inside the top drawer--with a spiffy little built-in pocket cup!

Finally, here I am applying the first coat of goop. The Frog is somewhat visible, as well:
As soon as I can manage, I shall post the "after" pictures--as well as pictures of the new dresser. (We seem to have misplaced the camera...) The work here took place beginning in the Family Closet, which is quite spacious, but also holds things like the tile for the bathrooms, the doors for the bedroom, lots of insulation, and all of the light and plumbing fixtures. We soon moved The Dresser into the much larger bedroom, where there is ample room to maneuver and plenty of light to work.

More to come........................................