Wednesday, October 31, 2007

You can comment now

No matter who you are. But if you prove yourself to be a troll migrating from a certain someone's blog, I am going to find out how to block you! But I took off the "no anonymous comments" stipulation.

This is for Christy

And I think some of the rest of you will be able to relate...

Even the best of changes can be confusing.

After Tom and I got married I moved with him from Pennsylvania to Georgia. Three days after the wedding I was in a new church for the first time meeting all sorts of new people. I don't know how many people came up to me that morning, introducing themselves, and eager to meet "Tom's new wife." I had to constantly remember that I was Cathy Newton now, not Cathy Smith.

At one point, someone introduced herself and my mind went completely blank. I looked up at Tom and asked, "What's my name?"

In the weeks to follow, I sure did learn my name, and no forgetting it. The paperwork seemed endless as I stood in line to change my name on all sorts of documents including driver's license and social security card. Later, though, I was thankful I did not own a house, a car, or any other major possession. The paper work involved in changing all those documents (mortgages, licenses, insurance, utilities, etc.) is the reason given for why the province of Quebec made it illegal for a woman to take her husband's name upon marriage.

Monday, October 29, 2007

hockey sticks

I really wish they'd make it easier for the uninformed to buy hockey sticks for their children. Tom and I needed four sticks: one lefty, three for right-handers. We bought one stick that said "L", two sticks that said "R", and one stick that was neither. We brought them home. The children looked them over and told us that the one marked "L" was for right-handers, and the two marked "R" were for lefties.


Now we have to take one back and exchange it. Oh, well. I'll have to try to remember next time that "L" stands for "Right" no matter what they taught me years ago in phonics.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Changes and additions

"My Favourite Blogs" in my sidebar has been changed. It is now titled "Important People in My Life." These people are important to me, not because they post regularly (a few seem to have given up blogging). They are not important because I have met them (a couple of them I have never met, and two of them I haven't seen in years). They are important because they are part of my greater family--the family of God--and I have grown to love them either through real life or through their blogs. Because they are important people, I have listed their names rather than their blog names. Go visit them to find the blog names you might be accustomed to seeing.

Here are the additions:

Christy: I had her linked before, but she, for some inexplicable reason, deleted that blog. Now she has started a new blog, in which we learn that she is looking forward to one of life's greatest events: her own wedding!!! Congratulations, Christy, and I really hope you keep this blog!

Melissa: I met Melissa through an internet forum she started, about homesteading. About four years ago, we got to meet her and her family in person at their home in southeast Ohio. She is a dear friend, and we hit it off right away. Melissa is the most frugal person I have ever enjoyed knowing. She manages to make her home and family look like they should grace the covers of those really nice country homes magazines while living on a shoestring budget. They have a gorgeous house on a gorgeous piece of property. It is so beautiful that they were once offered enough money to retire on if they sold it. (I sincerely doubt they will ever sell.) I believe they were offered close to ten times what they had put into it up to that point.

If I stopped talking about Melissa at that point, I would fail to tell you this important fact: People, not things, are what Melissa is all about. When you go to her house, you feel like you are home. You notice the clean, clutter-free house, but you aren't afraid to sit down in it. They want you there, and they take time to make you feel special. Melissa loves her children's friends, and likes having them over, even to the point of having 25 girls for a sleepover. And all those kids love her, because they know they matter to her.

I want to be hospitable like that, but I sadly fail too often.

(Melissa is a down-to-earth, old-fashioned sort of person, and I was not really surprised to learn that she cooks on a wood stove because she wants to.)

Sarah: My dear, zany daughter has started blogging. I love her more than she knows, and need to show her that more. She has a heart for God, and, though I look forward to seeing what God does with her future, I am really enjoying what God is doing in and through her now. If we were teens at the same time, I would really have admired her, but she would have be extremely annoyed at me. She is not the "daughter just like me" that my mother wished on me. (I hope I never get one of those!)

Read and enjoy, and comment if you like.

Camping in the Adirondacks

This is Timothy in one of his favourite spots at our campsite. We had neglected to bring lawn chairs, so when I saw four log sections this size in the woods, I asked the boys to roll them up to our site. We used one as a chopping block for cutting firewood and the other three we used as chairs. This one, however, had started to rot. One of the boys knocked out the center, and before long, Timothy had claimed it as his spot.

I learned some lessons while camping.

Lesson #1: Never go canoeing on a windy day when you have a light-weight child sitting in the front. This is especially important for people like me who are inexperienced with canoeing. Abby and I called the Lord's remembrance to the storm on the sea of Galilee and thanked Him sincerely when He brought us safely to shore, even though it was the opposite shore and we had quite a hike through the woods to get back to our campsite.

Lesson #2: A broken stroller with the wheels cut off does NOT make a good baby carrier when you want to back pack a toddler up a mountain. It is better to remember to bring the carrier designed for this purpose which we accidentally left at home. The experience that taught us this lesson is indescribable. Suffice it to say that one of the most important things you need for something like this is a shoulder strap for the toddler, something most strollers lack. It is also best to back pack a toddler in an area where you do NOT have to climb practically straight up a rocky slope where the only way to know where the trail is, is to search diligently for the trail markers fastened to the trees--little plastic yellow disks in this case.

Lesson #3: This lesson is very much related to Lesson #2, and was learned at the same time. NEVER trust the trail guides when they describe a certain trail as "easy."

Lesson #4: Learned by our four older, hardier children: ALWAYS trust the trail guides when they describe a certain trail as "difficult."

Lesson #5: Ducks, mice, squirrels and chipmunks which live at campsites are not just tame. They are pushy, and will not cease to demand their fair share of your food.

Lesson #6: Tent camping in northern mountains in late September/early October might not be the best idea, especially if some people forget their long sleeved shirts and/or jackets. In fact, coats would be even better. Also thick pajamas, long underwear and extra blankets. Three weeks later, we still have not fully recovered from colds caught during vacation.

Lesson #7: This is by far the most important lesson of all, and will bring a smile to any Christian who has learned to trust God for the teeniest of details in their lives. The lesson is, DELIGHT to trust God for the teeniest details of even the most insignificant events of your life, including your vacation.

We left our driveway at 3:00 p.m. on the Monday we started our vacation. This was about 4 hours later than we had intended, considering which campsite we had chosen. By leaving so late we guaranteed that it would be pitch black dark before we got to the Adirondacks, and our chosen campsite was another 2 hours farther south. Because it was dark, and because we were on a winding twisting mountain road, and because the campsite signs were not lighted, we chose the first site still open this late in the season. It providenced to be Eighth Lake Campground, six miles from the little touristy town of Inlet.

We pulled into the gate, looked at a campsite map, and chose our site. We drove almost half a mile before we got there, only to find that it providenced to be already occupied. So we chose the site just across the road and settled in.

Next morning after breakfast, we did what we always do every morning. We had family devotions. After that, we spent the day exploring and deciding what food we needed for the next few days. Tom did the shopping while the rest of us walked around, played in the woods, gathered dead wood for the fire, and otherwise entertained ourselves in the great outdoors.

The day after that, Elijah came back from fishing to tell of a family he had met. It seems that the occupants of our first choice in campsites had been watching us. They were friends of the family Elijah met and had this to say of us: "They have devotions every morning, and the children are quiet by 8:15 every night. I bet they're Christian home schoolers." The family Elijah met were also Christian home schoolers. I was rather sobered by this reminder that the world is watching, and wants to know if we Christians, home schoolers or not, really are different.

One day we decided to go hiking. We chose our trails, Tom and I taking the younger ones on an "easy" hike, and Josiah taking the older ones on a difficult hike. We had to drive to the trail heads, so we loaded up the van and the car and started out. I was waiting for Sarah to get in the front seat of the van when I noticed the drawer under her seat open. A metal hanger providenced to be sticking out of the drawer. Not wanting to be bothered putting the hanger away in a suitcase, I shoved the drawer shut, hanger and all.

We drove out, with me in the lead (since I had the map). Suddenly I providenced to think of Ben's feet. Ben spends as much of the summer as possible either barefoot or in rubber boots. Most of the time I don't care, but this time I didn't think either choice would be appropriate for mountain climbing. Ben was not in the van, so I stopped and radioed Tom, asking what Ben had on his feet. He glanced around, saw that Ben was not with him, and said, "I don't know, why don't you ask him?" Thus we discovered that Ben was not with either of us. He was back in the woods chopping firewood, and we almost left him behind.

With Ben in the van (with footwear appropriate for hiking), we started out again. We were halfway there when I noticed that Tom was no longer behind us. I pulled over to wait for him, but after five minutes I decided to turn around. We found him ready to pull over with car trouble. We both pulled into a parking area nearby, and the first thing Tom wanted to know was, did I have a metal hanger! He needed one to temporarily wire up the muffler that was coming down.

The week went on, and we began to discuss where we might attend church on Sunday. Eighth Lake was too far north for us to attend the church we had originally planned to attend, where a friend of ours is pastor. Tom said the only churches he saw in Inlet were a Catholic church and a Presbyterian church. (Later we found out that the Presbyterian church had a lesbian pastor.) We considered driving the distance to our friend's church, but really didn't like that idea.

On Friday morning we gathered around the fire as usual for family devotions. While discussing the parable of the sower, one of the camp workers drove up. He got out and walked up to us. Seeing what we were doing (and having noticed that we did so every morning), he asked us if we were Christians. Then he invited us to his church Sunday! There really was a Baptist church in Inlet, we just hadn't noticed because it was on a side street.

Still, the name Baptist does not necessarily mean it's a Bible-believing church preaching sound doctrine. We continued to think this over. Finally, though, we decided to take the man up on his offer and went.

In between Sunday school and the morning service, the pastor's wife came to greet me. In conversation with her I discovered that they were new to New York state, having recently moved from Texas! My mind went back eight years to the time we moved from Texas to try to start a church in New York state. We both had similar experiences of culture shock coming from warm, friendly Texas to cold, not so friendly New York state.

She told me that every Sunday she always has someone over for dinner, but for some reason she hadn't gotten around to inviting anyone the Sunday we were there. She said that all week she wanted to invite someone, but somehow just never did. So she asked us. This was God's providence to both our families. It encouraged us to know that there is one more pastor in New York preaching sound doctrine, and I hope we were an encouragement to them. They are interested in the prayer meetings Tom has with other pastors in New York, and in the Bible conferences we either have or attend. I really look forward to seeing more of them.

That night after the evening service, the pastor's wife said to me, "You can be glad you didn't go to Nick's Lake Campground." She went on to describe a very violent domestic dispute that had occurred there that week, involving police and ambulance. A friend of theirs was on the ambulance team, and had told them about it.

Nick's Lake is the campground we would have gone to, if we hadn't left home so late.

Do you delight in the providence of God working out all the little details of your life, not just the ones you think are major and important? If you haven't learned to look for this kind of providence in your life, I encourage you to start. You will laugh with delight and joy, and learn to really rest in His care.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My daughter has a warped sense of humor

Actually, it's more likely that she's just never been a mother.

We were sitting in prayer meeting. I was in the back row with John on one side and Timothy on the other. Tom was in his customary place behind the podium expounding on Acts 15:36-41. You know, the passage about the dissension between Paul and Barnabas over John Mark. Tom asked, "What kind of person are you? Are you a quitter?" I have to admit to feeling more like a quitter tonight.

John and Timothy are 3 years and 19 months, respectively. They are in training, learning to sit still. I have been working with them on folding their hands and being quiet. Do you know how much mischief a little boy can get into and still keep his hands folded? Timothy managed to pull on the collar of Elizabeth's dress and unsnap the legs of his pants and untie his shoes. John kept taking off his socks and poking Sarah in the back (Sarah was sitting in front of him). I kept turning back and forth between the two of them, trying to instruct them in a better way.

Just when I felt I couldn't handle this anymore I turned back to deal with John one more time. As I turned his way, my nose told me, and my eyes confirmed it. After a whole week of being dry, John was now wet. On the padded seat of a church chair. Timothy and I escorted John to the nursery where we found a spare pair of pants in the diaper bag.

I stayed in the nursery with the boys, seating them on chairs so they could continue learning to sit still while I continued to hear about quitters and how to deal with them over the speaker. At that point, I was beginning to feel like Paul, and thought how nice it would be if a Barnabas would come along and take over with my two little boys. Not seriously, but I am tired.

When we divided according to gender for prayer time, Tom came to take John with him. Since I was one of only two adult females there tonight, and since there were five non-adult females including two or three youngsters in need of parental supervision, Tom urged me to go join them. Sarah came to second that urging just as I was getting up to come.

I confess I really wasn't much inclined to pray tonight, but I knew prayer was exactly what I needed. Since Timothy had just about had it with this sitting still business, I took my turn as soon as I could. I briefly considered asking Sarah to take Timothy out, but then I decided to take him out myself. As I was leaving the auditorium, I turned and motioned to Elizabeth to follow me. My reasoning was that she doesn't always behave for Sarah.

So there we are in the nursery. No more sitting still for Timothy. But Elizabeth, looking rather pale and tired, sat down in a chair facing me. Suddenly she choked, swallowed, and got a panicked look on her face. I accurately predicted the near future and told her to get in the bathroom and lean over the toilet.

She stood there, in the doorway between the nursery and the bathroom. Crying, she tried to describe what she felt like doing. I frantically told her to get over the toilet, which was close enough to her that she could touch it. Instead she exploded all over the nursery carpet. Trying not to raise my voice because the men were praying in the next room, I told her to get over the toilet, NOW. She moved into the bathroom and stood by the toilet and exploded all over the wall, the floor, the outside of the toilet.

Meanwhile, Timothy, terrified at the sight of all this *stuff* exploding out of Elizabeth, was screaming.

I will not go into detail about the clean-up. And when prayer time was over I still had John's wet seat to clean.

There was no change of clothes for Elizabeth. She had to go home wearing her sweater and the shorts she had on under her dress. Poor girl! It turned chilly tonight, too.

Later, as I started the van, I checked the mileage. We have to do that now, to decide when to get gas, because the gas gauge doesn't work. I called Tom over and asked if he thought I needed to get gas. We decided I could make it home. He followed in the car in case I did run out. (Normally we go two different ways trying to beat each other home.)

We were almost to our exit when Sarah says, "Wouldn't it be funny if the van stalled right now?"

Just the thought of that possibility nearly pushed me over the edge into hysterical laughter.

Josiah's word of consolation: "But it should encourage you to know that you can't quit. It's impossible. You don't even have to think about it."


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

11:02 PM

To every thing there is a season. . . .a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which was planted. --Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

I just pulled the last jar out of the canner for this garden season. I made a batch of hot pepper relish with the last of the peppers. Tomorrow, if it doesn't rain, what's left of the garden will go under the ground to await next year's planting. I am so glad to be finally done with canning!

This year I'm going to try something old-fashioned with the pumpkins. Instead of processing them all at once and trying to find room in the freezer for all that pulp, I'm going to store them in a cool, dry place to use as I need them. The corn I'm drying on the cob, still on the stalks. When the stalks are completely brown, we'll shuck and shell the corn and try grinding our own cornmeal.

We harvested about 30 pounds of the hottest onions I ever hope to cry over cutting. Today I found I could avoid all the tears by taking the cutting board out onto the porch. When the weather gets too cold for that, I'm not sure what we'll do. Abby tried wearing safety goggles, but she says that doesn't work well.

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. --Genesis 8:22

And now it is time for bed. I am still coughing, but I think I should be able to sleep tonight. I haven't had a decent night's sleep since getting this cold.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

When Josiah was bored...

Since I am staying home with my own cold and two sons with their colds, I thought I'd share something from Josiah's stay in the hospital last week.

He lay there on the bed, bored, staring at the ceiling, the walls and whatever he could see out the door. Then his gaze lit on the monitor screen, which faithfully recorded all his vitals. There were four or five wavy lines making their way across the screen, with numbers along the side, one number for each line. He figured out what each was for, except one. He studied it for a while before realizing that the slightly rounded vee shapes traveling across the screen corresponded to his own rhythmic breathing.

With this realization, a new form of entertainment presented itself. For this was the one line on the screen he could actively control!

First he tried to breathe in such a way as to make the waves perfectly rounded, even, and all the same size, like sine waves. This was hard. Then he tried making the line go straight up, over, down, over, up, over, etc., like the top of a castle wall or a cross-section of a waffle. Then he decided to see what would happen if he held his breath. The straight line had almost crossed the whole screen when the corresponding number began to flash 0 over and over. Realizing he really didn't want to cause a commotion with his nurses, he decided to end his breathing experiments.

Later, and at his request, Tom brought him a couple of Canadian history books to study. This kept him interested, yet he was never more glad than when the doctor told him he could come home.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

What's been happening around here lately...

  • We got this year's school books in July and started almost the next day.
  • We interrupted school frequently to start harvesting the garden.
  • We continued harvesting the garden and trying to do school, in spite of the fact that the neighbourhood children kept knocking on the door wanting to play and the tomatoes were rapidly ripening.
  • Abby got some sort of infection on her face after swimming in the St. Lawrence River, on the US side. She was the only one to get it, and the only one to have touched a dead *thing* that had floated in to shore. The doctor said there was no connection, but I'm not so sure. She still has some scars under her eyes, making her look slightly sunburned.
  • We continued processing the never-ending tomatoes, which really will taste nice this winter after I get over being sick of them.
  • I had my first midwife appointment for Baby Number Ten, who is expected to show his/her face sometime in early April.
  • Family vacation!!! The first in six years that did NOT include visiting relatives. We went tent camping in the Adirondacks, an unforgettable experience that deserves (and will get) a separate post.
  • Josiah spent four days in the hospital, with pneumonia. He has not fully recovered yet. They said we got him in just in time--we might have lost him, but God is merciful. We are praying that there is no relapse. The rest of us are taking turns battling colds. I am taking my turn now.
  • Sarah started her own blog.
  • I determined to tackle my tote of unfinished quilts. I finished one yesterday that I started a year ago. It was for a friend who had bronchitis then. She was happy to get it, though, of course, she is quite healthy now. (Sorry, Mom. I forgot to take a picture.) Today I got a good second wind going on the next one.
  • We got the first freeze for which there was evidence left after the sun came up. Hopefully it will not rain Monday, and we can finish the garden off once and for all.
I have all the while been working on my French, which is not improving as quickly as I would like. I still can't pronounce it well, especially words which contain the letter r. And I still don't hear it well. Les chiens courent sounds almost the same as Le chien court. There is just a subtle difference between Le and Les, which is hard for me to pick up when French is spoken at normal speed. And can someone who knows French please explain how Des filles sont assis sur la table translates into English if there are only two girls sitting on the table? As near as I can tell, des means some or more than one, but in English we would not normally say some girls when there are only two. I guess you can't always translate everything exactly.

The house is quiet now. All the children have had their baths/showers, and are tucked into bed. I will have to check on a couple of bookworms and remind them to turn off their lights. Then it will be time for me to turn in.

Good night!