Mete and Measure

Taken the first week of Advent.

During this time of Advent, of soon coming, remember what it was to be Israel groaning for a Redeemer King, open your eyes in the dark so that you can celebrate Light, and long for your Ransom to arrive. Ready yourself for Him and, in this, remember most His purpose in coming. In whole and seamless love, not in judgment, He came. Knowing our darkness, our careless forgetting, and our willful ways-- aware of the cost, the piercing agony of Gethsemane and Golgotha-- He came because of love.

A wrinkled Baby drew in earth's air and broke the night with a squawl. In that instant, He also began to break our bonds. Godhood bound in newborn form, wrapped in rough cloth, new skin, and for the first time, utter fragility. The scrunched eyes of Light Itself squinting in a fire's gleam. Shepherds came, too, still shaky and awed. Some silent with the blaze of heaven in their eyes and its promise fiery in their hearts; some with words tumbling over in shock and wonder. Did they turn toward that Baby, awkward hands dirty and callous-rough, and long to scoop him in their arms like Simeon did? Did they wonder at the humble sight of their mighty King? Fresh from a glory-swollen sky, perhaps they knew best that the coarseness of His birth held something that would split the seams of palaces.

For a moment the baffling grandeur of it all rushes through, and then it's gone. Today, that flash came, and I was equally struck by the impossibility of this love for us and by its reality.
Take heart! He comes!

Gun Shy

The eldest takes after her Papa and usually hates having her picture taken.

The last picture of her with one missing tooth.

The first picture of her with two missing teeth.

Even though she looks like a horse up for auction, I think she's great.

A Charming Post: Children Playing in Snow

At least that was my intention, but the girls were like this for much of the time I was outside, and then I came in because Piper needed a mother.

So, instead, you get a Charming Picture of Abby Grinning (Why is she grinning? Because she shaved her head that morning and nobody knows yet.)

And as a pathetic bonus, here are Charming Pictures of an Ice-Encrusted Clothesline.

I know. I abandon you again for over a month, and this is what you get?! Pathetic.

The Propriety of Paper

Mildred sets the scene and dresses the bride, telling me that this baby is one that the bride adopted just today. (Sez she, "Of course it's her adopted baby because she's just now getting married!")

Annika lingers over the many wardrobe choices before choosing the most appropriate. She only asks me for advice once, wondering, "Should I dress him in the bathing suit for the wedding or the shorts?"

In the end, she prudently dressed him in the woman's bathing suit first before layering on the summer shorts outfit and, lasty, the dress overalls and two hats. "That way," she said, "he can come to the wedding and then take off his overalls and play on the lawn and then take off the shorts and swim in the ocean." When asked by a thick-skulled mother, she replied, "The tutu is for dancing." (I have the world's brightest children.)

The dog and cat must be the ushers.

Books, Ice, Thrones

After church this past Sunday, we had to drop some books off at the Ithaca Library, and we walked down to the Commons. We read some books in this bookstore before leaving to look for ice.

The commons was full of ice sculptures. The girls hunted them down, and Susannah hugged them, one and all.

She loved this bird. ("Bahrd, I loooove you.")

But she didn't want to get on the throne. Her sisters had no such qualms.

They even smiled at the old lady who shuffled up and asked permission to take pictures of them.

Maybe it was the old lady who convinced Susannah that the throne was safe. Whatever the reason, she wanted in on the fun.

And look at that face-- FUN!!!!

The best part of the whole experience was when we finally returned our books to the library and serendipitously ran into Heidi and Squirrel. FUN!!!!!!!!! but, alas, I have no pictures.

And even though you might not read this, Heidi, I just now looked you up on Wikipedia and found out that "Ayla is described as tall, with blonde hair, gray-blue eyes, a well-toned body, and a strangely accented voice (actually a speech mannerism.) She has been raised with Clan customs, sign language instead of speech, not to laugh or smile, and not to cry. Almost every male character in the series finds Ayla exceptionally beautiful, though Ayla describes herself as "big and ugly." Another word frequently used to describe her is 'exotic', indicating that she seems a bit foreign to everyone who meets her, and that her own people live somewhere else."

And watch out for the cave lion!!! It will chase you into a narrow crack in a rock wall and rip open your leg, leaving four deep, parallel wounds on your thigh. (You can thank me later.)

All Present

and accounted for. Piper spends her days rolling about on the rug or curled and cozy in the sling...or crying on the floor...OR looking irresistible, like here.

Dress Codes Strictly Enforced

I knew it was going to be another stellar day of home education when I called the girls downstairs to begin school for the day, and Annie looked like this.

Scarf Lady warming herself by the heater didn't make me any more confident about the day's potential, either.

The next day found me hopeful, but with little reason. They walked down like this.

Mildred has almost finished half a year's worth of Saxon 2 in the last three weeks because, so far, it's simple review of Saxon 1 with only a few additions. It's great, because we can skip five problems for every one completed. It will be good to move on to the second half, which introduces new concepts, but I might miss these signs of Mildred's boredom.

Thanksgiving week, she turned the minute and hour hands on this problem into a turkey. (The beak is the hour hand.)

The first week of Advent, they evolved into a Christmas tree.

Filthy Wich Wabbits

A couple of years ago, John bought a used movie projector, and we were in business. (Intermission is reserved for fetching more popcorn and doing the bunny hop.)

A Tradition of Dirt

The week after Thanksgiving last year, the weather warmed enough for us to prepare the garden for spring. We removed tomato cages and left bulges of squashed squash and sad mounds of forgotten cherry tomatoes behind to feed the dirt that fed them. This year was the same, so I think I'll just plan on procrastinating every year in hopes that the weather will cooperate.

Millie helped haul rocks.

She also raced around with Annie.

...who requested I take her picture here. (We took the training wheels off this past summer, and it's funny to see her tearing around on this little bike.)

Susannah hunted hibernating bugs at the base of the shed.

And she made this darling face on the swings when she saw the camera out.

Thanksgiving Day

Eighteen children; thirteen adults; eight pies; two turkeys; one picture.

Debbie and Piper.

We celebrated with my parents, brothers and sisters, and nieces and nephews. It was a wonderful day that filled Andy's house with lots of good food and equal amounts of good noise. I love my family, those bound by blood and those bound in marriage both. In a life already spilling over with blessings, they give me cause enough for thanks.

The Day After: Still Thankful

Thankful for a visit from Pete, Sarah, and the boys.

I title this snapshot, "Dear Grandparents, We Need No Toys for Christmas."

Sarah smiles beautifully while Millie deliberately shakes her head. (She knows it creates blur and is always keen to foil my plans.)

Joel reads Amos and Boris to the girls.

After they played the above game for who knows how many hours, John brought out this one as a nightcap. It was probably about midnight, and I probably enjoyed watching it more than I should have.

Tier auf Tier. Ages 4 and up.

Brothers Luke and Joel daring the monkey.

This one's my favorite, because in between fits of laughter, Pete employed such deadly seriousness. I think this must be the exact expression on his face as he operates on ankles, too. He's stacking a hedgehog! On a hedgehog!

Yet More

I love these two. John made this shirt of Buster before she was born, and watching her move against her own backdrop image filled me with new thanks.

It shouldn't have taken a tangible reminder to draw forth gratitude, but it washed over me as I watched.

Wonderfulness is

having a six-year old daughter who loves to hold the dumpling.

Low Quality Snapshots

of high quality daughters.

Annika, in the middle of prancing about, "Mama, what do you think I look like?"

Me: Straining for the slender line that separates honesty from flattery, "A babushka butterfly?"

Her: Delighted and flattered, "Oh, yes!"

...............many more minutes of prancing about............................

Her: "Mama, what's a 'babushka?'"

Me: "Um. A Russian grandmother."

Her delight left, and she now profilactively announces whenever she wears a scarf, "I am NOT a babushka."

Millie is a (babushka) owl.

Magic Carpet

No reason for this, except that it's what I saw coming down the stairs one day.