We're All of Us the Same.

Today I went to a funeral home for the first time since November, and, suddenly, there were no months in between.

I glanced at photo albums brimful of a handsome young man, walked by the broken body he no longer needs, and hugged his grieving family.

Nearly six months have passed since November tenth, and some days it seems so long ago.  Once in a while, life seems normal, even, regular.  Other days I walk around with a hole in my chest.

This earth is a beautiful place.  It can't help but be, with the imprint of the Creator in every particle. Even the dust mote glows in slanting window-light.  This earth is also rife with sorrow.  It can't help but be, with the yoke of sin.  Sometimes, I hear the earth groan, and I answer back.  Sometimes I see that big, hollow hole gape in someone else's chest, and I know that we're all the same, the whole world over.

I am so sorry for your loss.  I am so sorry for your loss.

"It's Like Magic!" She Said

It's been four and 1/2 weeks, but now we have hot water running from our faucets!  

What better way to celebrate than with baths* all around.

I even gave a good scrubbing to the baby who's only happy once he's OUT of the tub.

*Don't worry.  We went down to my mom's a couple of times for baths during the last month.  We're not total Elizabethans.

The Cisco Kid

I told Cisco Kid to face off against the dishes, and she struck this pose.

(She happily obliged when I laughed and brought out the camera a minute later.)

Then, with a gleaming counter as backdrop, she requested I take another, titled "Cisco Kid Vanquishes the Dishes."


Itty Bitty Bear Doodle

For her birthday, we gave Susannah a little black book with unlined pages, per her request, and I told her I'd paint something to decorate the front.

She asked for a brown bear wearing blue beads.

Just last night she starting filling it with a story entitled "Alien Invasion!!" 

I can't wait to read the finished work.  With a mind like this girl's got, it's sure to be a whiz-bang read.

I'll Eat You Up, I Love You So!

Zeke is a whirling ball of willful mischief and currently holds both the crown for Family's Naughtiest Child and the record for most "reproof" before his third birthday.  He is also darling and dear and cuddly and goofy and SO MUCH FUN.  We love him to pieces!  
Happy Birthday, Party Van*!

*a.k.a. Ezekiel Walker O.

Since February sixth, the first birthday of the year, this boy's been waiting.  When the first birthday rolled around, he was upset that he couldn't blow out the candles on the birthday girl's cake.  By the fourth birthday, he sat patiently, knowing that his turn was coming.  Progress!

Even though someone told us boys should not be coddled, we may have indulged in coddling the whole day long.  He bore under the weight of it all with courage and calm longsuffering.

The biggest star of breakfast was a yogurt shake that tasted better from the opposite end of a fork.

Muffins even tasted better dipped into the stuff.

Over the last two months, Zeke's been asked well over a hundred times what kind of birthday cake he'd like.  He consistently waffled (if one can do such a thing) between a car, a big digger, and a tractor. The morning of his birthday, he said "tractor," so I went with it.  

Millie thought he should have a car AND a big digger, too (see aforementioned coddling), but I told her to pick one.  She split the batter into two pans and made two little cakes to satisfy the birthday boy's deep-seated longing for large machinery, and we each frosted one.

He didn't know he was getting two cakes until he woke up from his nap, and we plopped him down in front of them.  He was shocked by our kindness, as you can see.

Mopsy was here for the birthday supper, of course, and she brought a bagful of loot along (coddling, again),

plus a gigantic bag of candy bigger than Zeke's own impressive head.

Then cake...

And candles.  Millie thought each cake should have three (coddling) candles.

Poof (coddling), poof!

The next morning, he came downstairs like this. He's been sleeping with his new earth mover (coddling Grandma O.) and new garbage truck (coddling Grandma J.), but his favorite present was probably these bubbles, which were used nonstop until a violent thrust of the sword-shaped wand shattered the blade.   Boys.

A Special Shirt For Him and Me

I chopped off the bottom of a onesie that Zeke couldn't use (why does anyone make onesies in size 3T, anyway?) and turned it into a regular shirt before sewing a tractor on top.  It was his only birthday gift from us (ahem...coddling grandmas), and he loves it.

I told him it's only to be used for hanging on the wall,

but he insists that it's better used for stick-hauling.

To Zeke, Grandpa Johnson equals tractor rides.

So for those tractor buffs among you-- yes, that's a John Deere 2940 on my son's old onesie.

With Thanks to Baroness Maria Von Trapp for the Curtains, Or, Why Is This Silly Post So Long and Blabby?

These days, I only go to about two rummage sales a year.  A couple of weeks ago, I serendipitously heard about my favorite sale while I was already downtown and spent several hours there stuffing black garbage bags full of designer clothes (five dollars per garbage bag...really, now).  Many of these I'll resell at the consignment shop to plump up our Treehouse Fund, but I was thrilled to find some things that Millie needs.  The nice woman who's in charge of this particular sale always gives the girls bags to fill with "whatever you want...for FREE!" (groan), and she was as happy as I was to see the huge mountain of jeans I found.  

By the end of this winter, Millie only had one pair of jeans that fit her, and none in larger sizes, so I picked up a slew of like-new jeans that fit her now and more that should fit her in the fall, and because she had only one pair of capris and no shorts, I picked up jeans to alter into capris and shorts for this summer.  When I mentioned how happy I was to have found all those beautiful jeans to turn into shorts and capris, the woman was so surprised, and I was surprised that she was surprised.  I told her I love chopping up clothes and using them for what we need because it gives the satisfaction of making something without investing the time to actually make something from scratch.

I guess these pictures are the proof in the pudding, huh.

Millie had no suitable outfit for Easter, so I planned on making her a fancy skirt (which she was super-excited about).  When I found a gaudy Christmas dress at Kohl's for 90% off, though, I switched gears.  It had a gold-sequined belt and glittery gold skirt, was a tad too short, and featured straps that she didn't like (and made her look like a 20-year old).  Good thing I saved a lace curtain panel to turn into something, huh?

I covered up the gold belt with a lace one, and then made a lacy overskirt, which lets some glitter still show through without making Millie look like circus star.

A couple of weeks later, I finally got around to using more of the curtain to add cap sleeves to the dress, and I forced Millie to stand still in the hall for a picture.


Millie loves (okay, likes) the dress.

And we love (no, we really do) her.

All Things New

I also like to chop up prom dresses and turn them into skirts.  Doesn't everyone?

Piper's favorite color is orange, so when I saw two orange prom dresses at the rummage sale, I knew that fabric was crying out to be worn by a six and eleven year-old instead.

I'm wrong a lot of the time, but this was not one of them.

Piper's skirt deserves commendation for sporting an enormous side bow.  Orange satin skirt, enormous side bow-- who could ask for anything more?!


Achtung! (Grandma, Aunties, Et Al.)

Here's a real-time giggle fix for you, courtesy of Annika the videographer.



All the others, even my favorite tulips, have just begun to poke their leaves above the ground, but today Mount Hunger saluted the first brave bloom.

I've been waiting for this and cheering it on, but with snow in the forecast for the tail end of this week, I'm begging all the other buds and blossoms to keep on hiding.


I've Always Known It's My Best Feature

Real time.

Backdrop: Millie braids my hair while Susannah lounges on the floor.
(That sounds too idyllic.  Actually, they're following my lead by finding creative ways to avoid cleaning the filthy kitchen.)

Susie: "Mama, do you know that you're beautiful?"

[Using my superhuman abilities, I flash her one of the many grotesque faces I carry around in my pocket.]

Susie: Stares, giggles, and then wistfully says, "Mama, I wish I had a double chin.  You can make the BEST faces."

Sorry, dear.  We all have our gifts.  Mine just happens to be the best.


Brightness After Rain

Even though I nearly used up the last nubbins of white chalk for this one, we have no flowers yet.  I guess indoor chalkboards don't influence outdoor tulips.

We've had buckets of rain and are beginning to spy the first spears of green, however, and on a foggy morning two weeks back, 

mine was the gift of standing outside when a huge company of red-winged blackbirds moved into the neighborhood.

It may be silly, but I grinned seeing a cloud of them whirling around and settling in all the treetops we could spare.  Being present to hear the silence broken with their coarse calls bolstered me as firmly as anything can.

Beautiful Things

 Flowers resting on a table while snow falls outside.

 A baby resting in a comfortable place.

Birthday Morning

While Ezekiel grinned in my bed upstairs, 

the baby waited for me downstairs.

Since the boys were the only ones awake with me, I bided (bode?) my time taking a few picture of Aidan wearing this cute hat his cousin made for him.  (Thank you, Candida!)

He tried to immediately foil my plan.

Lucky for us, he looks cute without a hat, too.

And while I was taking pictures of a hatless baby in the library,

his brother waited for me on the steps.  (That gate is the BEST THING EVER.)

I consoled him by reading books about large machinery.

with a baby at my feet. (Look at those chompers, hm?!)

Sweet boy.

Last one of the morning.  The girls woke up, and Millie made me birthday breakfast.  She asked me to take a picture of a muffin tower, but this moustachioed man just couldn't keep away.

(Double chocolate strawberry  muffins, to come someday to buildabelly.)