What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Last Month

This week marks my 36th week of pregnancy. With both previous pregnancies, I have given birth at 37 weeks. While I try not to think of it that way so as not to get my hopes up, I feel I ought to be at least a bit prepared. Especially when the hours of darkness pass with hours of contractions, as the night did last night. They were the irregular braxton-hicks sort of contractions, mind you. But even those Braxton-hicks...PRETEND labor contractions... are doing something~ stretching, massaging and preparing the uterus for it's big day...and so, I know the time is drawing near.

Every day draws me a little bit closer to finally meeting this mystery child that has surrounded my heart these many months. I will be able to grasp the little fingers that have tickled and stretched skin my own skin as his/her skin too continues to stretch and grow, to kiss the little feet that have bumped and jarred me awake and caused eruptions of laughter from an astonished boy and girl child...and to see the face that has been blinking, smiling, sucking, hiccuping, and listening in silence, tucked snug and cozy in his/her very own warm and private womb-home.

This pregnancy has been very difficult for me~ much moreso than the two I enjoyed every minute of 5 ands 2 1/2 years ago. My belly is very rarely without pain and soreness. To flip from one side to another in bed is not just tedious, but painful. My feet ache each morning and my back often hunches over in an effort to overcompensate for my pained belly. I am a hunching, hobbling little hobbit and I don't know WHY!

The time when I feel best of all is when I am laying in bed curled and pressed against Papa's back-my arm tucked snug around him and my belly pressed firmly into his back. Mother and Father with Baby snug in between. A Bunkin sandwich.
I feel most comfortable (comforted) at those times and imagine that Bunkin can sense the closeness and can realize the sensation of being surrounded with love. It helps to imagine that.

Last night, for the first time ever I got to feel a baby hiccup inside me. I never felt that sensation with Corynn or Andrew and my goodness! It was magical! I laughed merrily in the wee morning hours and woke up Matt-much to his displeasure-just so he might feel it too. I stayed awake, concentrating and anticipating each perfectly redundant pop and I could nearly visualize Bunkin's head jarring with each blow. A real baby.

A real BABY. Why, after two children and three pregnancies, am I *still* flabbergasted at the miracle of life? Shouldn't this be old-hat by now? But the newness, the TRUE-ness of a created being, is miraculous still. And overwhelmingly good.

Despite the bits of discomfort I feel now (swollen with child) and the discomforts that come later (because yes, children ARE difficult to raise at times), yet this life is precious and this opportunity is amazing. I try fervently to remember how blessed this life is, this life God has planned for me, and I try not to take for granted that this beautiful opportunity might continue to be mine. There are women who are crying out to God that they be blessed with just such an opportunity and yet, they still stand arms empty and eyes wet. There are women who have one, or two, or three but yearn for many more and are struggling to find contentment with those even while wishing it were not the end. There are women who, with every fiber of their being, are trying to make sense of the child they once had and loved and why that sweet child was taken away.

I pray that I be ever content with God's plan for my life, whether more new-life stories fill this blog (and moreso, these walls and my heart) or if my womb is to be closed off and I must find joy in these three alone. I beg that my eyes and heart might be open, seeing, and compassionate toward those who would struggle to find their purpose in life, or wait on God's timing to experience this joy. I pray that I be wise and good enough to offer compassion and wisdom to these women...something I lack sorely. I pray that I trust God in all things, and THANK Him abundantly for these gifts that I so often take for granted.

I pray I might never forget how lovely it is to be a part of such a beautiful story, the story of life.

Did you know?

That it is incredibly hard to make a photo of your own pregnant belly?

Well..... it is.

TRUST me on this one, please.

I thought it high time I get some recent Bunkin Belly-shots, and finally the sun began to shine, so the timing was perfect (or so I thought...) Little did I know, I couldn't find my little bitty piece of camera magic called "the remote". So I had to use the 10 second timer and run-then ACT natural. Ha. I can't act natural NATURALLY!

Then, I had to hoist my elephant belly up off the ground and push the button again. And then hightail it. Again. and Again. and Again.

As if this were not enough, the only black shoes I have happen to be knee-high dress boots, WITH a heel-mind you. Not exactly perfect footwear for a nine-month pregnant lady to be sprinting through brambles and weeds (and twisting ankles and tripping on the junk hiding in said brambles and weeds.)

I very nearly died.

Here are the few that even turned out halfway decent, though not a single one I am terribly fond of...

**This one in particular was nearing the end of my "excursion" and I was exhausted. I like it because, if you look closely, you can see that Bunkin favors the left side and often hangs out over there. I can imagine a little bitty back curled up right by that shadow. And that makes me happy. (Even if it turns out I am totally wrong! hehe)

Ah yes-and then there was Dutchess. The children were resting inside but then...the dog. Oh, the dog. She got excited with every sprint and inevitably launched herself at me just as the shutter clicked. That was a high-point too. Not.

So what if my head is cut off? I am quite fond of headless portraits of me.

Posted by Picasa

I post these three

for no other reason than, for some unknown and highly odd reason: my double chin temporarily disappeared!

THAT reason alone makes them worth posting.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Doll's Party

While I *SHOULD* be preparing for a little party of my own that I am hosting tomorrow, I spent the morning praising the efforts of my children to prepare the "Gray" home for a costume party. They feathered their dollhouse nest with all sorts of attractive fall decorations and then hosted a costume party.

and okay. I enjoyed making some fallish clay treats too.

We each made pumpkins a week or so ago (and only now did I get to drying them! eek!) Panda even made a pumpkin "puppy" and one with quite an elegant hat (both at the bottom of the fireplace.)

Corynn spent nearly two hours total stringing beads into garlands, and ended up with BEAUTIFUL ones, if I do say so myself.

For such an occasion, a tasty treat was in order...

Why is it that I make decadent dark chocolate cake and Corynn decides to make...

a salad?

WHAT is wrong with this picture?!? I am a bad BAD person, methinks. I was very impressed with her salad though. Which from start to finish (idea included) was all her own. Love the carrots and tomatos.

Although-she did get into making caramel apples with me...so maybe not ALL is lost.

All in all, the Gray party was a smashing success~ so much so there will likely be many more in their plasticy future. Now...if only it were true about tomorrow. Those of you ladies coming tomorrow...well, now you know the truth of why hotspots still remain in this house we moved into months ago. Playdough is too alluring...

Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 27, 2008

Disguised Discovery

Friday night was Spooky Science at the Discovery Center. I love free events for kids. I love them even more when I can rationalize going to them because they are supposedly educational. I love them the BEST when you can enjoy them as you are---or as you'd like to be.

Tis the season for disguises. Halloween time is FULL of costuming and parading about as something other than you are...but for the Newman kids, this is one of their favorite activities THROUGHOUT the year. Certainly not limited to October.

Hence, the extremely large and protuding bin of costumes we have.
Hence, the children often found running around with dresses, masks, hats, high heels, and all manner of crazy garb in mid-January. Or July.
Hence, the availability of pretend clothes.

It was easy to come up with some spur-of-the-moment costumes in order to attend the event in style. It required only a trip to the daily-used costume bin.

(PS. A great way to stock costume bins for dress-up play, dramatizations, etc. is to go shopping AFTER Halloween. I usually buy several new ones each year when the costumes go 90% off. Jo Ann Fabrics is often where I find the "nice" ones!)

A lion and a princess. A "REGAL" princess, since that is a new vocab word for Little Miss.

Apparently, Andrew is not just ANY lion-but the great Aslan. Or so I've been told.

And another costume---I couldn't pass this one up. VERY "Ithaca", if you ask me!

Love it.

For actual Halloween, we won't be going to quite the lengths of last year's Handmade Raggedy Anne and Andy but some sortof-handmade costumes are still in order. Costume of choice-and matching-per childrens' request: Owls

Never been trick or treating before--usually we just parade around town for fun. Still don't know what is in store for that night, nor do I know when I will squeeze the mask making into this week. Regardless, I can't wait to see my Owlets fluttering about! :-)
Posted by Picasa

The children got up close and personal with leeches, a tarantula, a snapping turtle, a scorpion,

snakes, cockroaches, and all manner of beastly creatures.

The highpoint by far, though, was after about twenty minutes the man explaining and introducing creatures reached into his back pockets and pulled out two large RaTs!!! They had been in there, squirming around for the entire presentation, along with a pocketful of Asian cockroaches. Um. That nearly made me lose my lunch. It was at this point that the swarm of children sitting around in a circle bopped up and started buzzing in closer and closer, excitement just oozing.

There was lots of other stuff too. Fun stuff. Good stuff. Educational stuff. And we experienced it all hastily, happily, and in disguise. Not to mention: we left with flashing red lights gifted from the center--which, as anyone who has ever experienced children before knows--free gifts and flashing lights make the evening all the more magical.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 24, 2008

Warm Thanks

The gnarled, bony fingerlimbs of old October grasp and play with the silver specks of the moon orb, becoming more and more exposed as the thieving Autumn winds snatch her ruby and gold adornments. Lady October never notices, you see, because Autumn winds are cunning.

So cunning, that I too have been tricked. Michevious Autumn stole from the day its warming breeze and mild nights, without even an upward glance from me.

Two nights ago, in the wee dark hours of morning, Matt stirred and awoke abruptly-and trudged downstairs. I groaned, rolling self and swollen baby belly to squint unbelievingly at the alarm clock. I hadn't HEARD the alarm. Could it be time to rise so soon? But bright red numbers stung my eyes as I read 3:00. Still a *few* hours, but where had Matt gone?

Later I found out: the furnace had begun to run but wasn't producing heat. The oil tank gave an offensive ting-echo when tapped, telling the truth that had alluded us up until this point, that it has been dangerously low when we moved in-and now, sat empty. Try though it did, no warmth was it giving.

Our hope had been to buy/install a wood furnace this year but for several reasons, we have resigned ourselves to wait. Wait until next fall, for the lovely crackle of burning wood and the satisfaction of warmth even while on the other side of glass panes, blustery winds bit at its victims.

So oil must be our friend for another year, dependent are we upon its kindnesses.

But the oil man can not fill the handicapped tank until Monday afternoon...nearly a week after we discovered our problem.

So days have been spent watching the thermostat drop lower and lower, each morning a bit more offensively, until this morning it had dropped to 49.


Three and a half more days to go....

Like dragons, steam billows from our mouths as we chew, speak, breathe.

Noses and cheeks gleam pink and red, even while staying inside.

Socks and slippers are worn, robes donned in morningtime, and sweaters the rest of the day.

Shivers attack us at the most inopportune times, and we laugh at their spontenaity.

Even still, there is much to be thankful for, and setting our hearts on these things will help to warm from within.

WHAT could I possibly be thankful for as my (and my childrens') patooties freeze each day?

~ For the splendid warmth of hot cocoa running down our throats, with whipped cream. Because we deserve it.

~ For flannel sheets, that sheild us from sheet-shock as we climb into bed.

~ For footed, flannel PJ's for the children to snuggle into each night.

~For Corynn's down comforter and Andrew's military poncho, for afghans and quilts. Sleeping is cozy and sweet, made more sweet for me, finding comfort that our little ones are comfortable.

~ That this sudden heatstrike has happened BEFORE Bunkin is born, and that it will be resolved before Bunkin's arrival home.

~ For the tangled legs of Mama and Papa, entwined together the whole night long, finding comfort in the smooth or roughness of the other.

~ For bodies melding, arms tucked snug around the bodies of the other, cuddles that last the whole night through, in hopes to create and share warmth.

~ For yesterday, a day of sunshine and warmth that, when windows were opened, graciously visited our walls within and raised the thermostat up a bit.

~for it's happening in FALL, not mid-winter.

~ For a working stove and oven, so food can fill our bodies and the warmth of its cooking can spill into the kitchen and home.

~ For the cuteness of children wearing hats indoors and made thick with layers.

~ For the glimmer of eyes, despite red nose and lips silent of complaint.

~ For more motivation to work harder and snuggle longer.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Threads of joy

Moments of necessity have written themselves across the pages of my day; and left me exhausted by story's end. In doing so, my story is left with ripped and tattered pages-left naked where the soothing balm of creativity was once scrolled. I once was a creator, a glimmer and shadowed image of Creator God. I once pleasured in the creation of design, the melding of color, the marriage of simple that gave birth to the complex.

I remember that love, fondly, and have returned to that place in my mind these few months past, pining for the time when once again I might be free to pursue this love of mine without the sacrifice of other, more important tasks.

Creativity is a balm to my soul, the making of something from simple objects sooths the burdens of the day and makes things beautiful again. Is it true for you, as well? Do ALL people have a passion to create in some form? In the baking of a dish? The telling of a story? The paintor and palette? or even, the folding of laundry?

Oh, how I've longed to stitch and twirl, to draw and paint, to be surrounded by the OPPORTUNITY. To have the supplies at my disposal.


Clothes are more important than skeins, teaching more important than stitching, dinner moreso than beautifying.

Besides, I had no place. No place to call my own. No space to unload the many boxes marked hastily with "CRAFT".

The old house had three rooms. Besides the master bedroom, it had a medium room and a very very *small* room (too small even for a bed, I suspect) which gave me a free conscience to snatch it as my own, a creative space to pursue my hobbies, free from guilt and without the need to clean up a project from the table before every meal. This house has two rooms beside the master bedroom: thoughtfully painted with us in mind, one pink and one blue. Our kind landlord thought we would love that, given we have ourselves a boy and a girl. But the pink room is the only one with a closet, and so the dilemna began.

I like my children sharing rooms. Lord willing, there will be many more bodies to fill beds-even beds to the ceiling.

Our children ENJOY sharing rooms. They like to be together, they are fast friends. I suspect that rooming together has only deepened their bond.

I like the selflessness they learn through sharing their things and space, the lesson of esteeming others better than yourselves.

And so- either Panda had to reside in the pink room, or Corynn in the blue (without a closet for either), or they would have to live in a lonely, echoingly sparse room without a friend nearby. Of course, much mention was made by visitors about how perfect a situation it was, a room for each. Only that I didn't WANT them to be separate (nor did they)! But I was informed that, this is how it is done.

Many weeks I tormented over the situation- WHY do people need to care, anyway?!? Isn't it OUR home? Why should I care what people think, anyway?!? And yet: I do. Utterly and regretfully...too much.

Eventually it was decided, that the Pink room should suffice for both children, and will help to keep them warm and our heating costs down by having them share a room and closing off heat to the other. Panda, the boy child is too young to notice the color anyway. Many children could fit into the pink room-but we'd happily separate the genders once it was necessary. But still, I would not, COULD NOT use the blue room for a craft room.

It is too large! People would think I was selfish, and forced a boy to sleep in a PINK room (gasp!) because I wanted a huge crafting space all to myself, which couldn't be further from the truth. So-even as the blue room sat void of a purpose, I put it out of my mind.

Boxes marked "CRAFT" continued to sit, stacked and piled in a lofty tower of mockery, that my long-ago love was to be put off even longer, until an adequate space was found. Adequate being, of course, socially acceptable.

How foolish it is, though, to worry about the color of paint on a wall? To concern myself with the views of others? Haven't I better things to dwell on? A room sits empty and boxes remain stagnant, while I despair with an unfinished home. Something is wrong here!

My disposition is not of a depressive sort, but I have never seen such low days as the days I trudged around feeling myself and my home, undone and unlovely.

Then, the office desk-and the closet were done and how WONDERFUL it felt to have accomplished so much! To be orderly, and tidy, and that much less enslaved to my present circumstances! It was then that I decided, regardless of how I am perceived, it would be utterly FOOLISH not to utilize a space that is available just to keep tongues from wagging. My sanity is more important-and my sanity was waning a bit more each time my eyes focused on another box of brown-another reminder of not being settled, just another bullet on my never-diminishing to-do list. The greatest happiness I could even perceive right now, would be not to see another cardboard box for the rest of my life. For everything to be in its' rightful place. To be simplified, uncluttered, and have a home filled with the beauty of HAPPINESS and not despair.

So yesterday I began the last, most dreaded task of all. The Blue Room. The last undone room of the house. The home to the last, looming bits of cardboard.

I am in the midst of it as I write. My Bunkin, womb baby extraordinare, has asked me with feet and fist to sit and rest for a few moments~which I will not ignore as I did yesterday. The memory of the nausea and contractions, the fright of yesterday bend me into submission this day, and I vow I will not overdo.

But may I just say, how wonderful it is, to twist about my finger the covered bridge red and montana sky blue of homespun yarn? To fold neatly and stack the many swatches of fabric, bought and received? To jingle the bobbinfuls of thread in rainbow colors? To rediscover the many works-in-progresses that I carefully tucked into boxes so long ago, never realizing how long it would be until I found them again?

I am taking my time with this project, not working as hastily as I have the others, because I feel myself drawn to linger over the colors and textures of my long-ago companions. I must soak up and breathe in the contentment that rises, just being NEAR my old friends.

And suddenly, I have been reintroduced to to a piece of me I feared I had lost.

A thread of joy now wraps itself around me, and hope for creativity has been rekindled once again.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Finally, I'm off my duff

I'm going to do it...

I am going to taint this blog with ugly "work in progress" photos again.

I have really tried to avoid this because those "before" pictures are just so darn nasty and just ruin this "happy place" of mine with its disgustingness.

But, I am pretty proud of myself so...it is worth it.

For the last few weeks I have been...um...well, overwhelmed to say the least. After the initial rush of cleaning and unpacking essentials, I was so exhausted, that I decided to "put off" doing the UNESSENTIAL things. Nothing wrong with that, per se, except I put it off indefinitely. What's worse, I have spent the last few weeks angry, disgruntled, and overwhelmly frustrated that the house (weeks later) STILL isn't orderly and FINISHED. Why would I expect it to be so, if I am not working toward that, you ask? Well. Because I am foolish.

I would look around at the boxes (that have been tucked and shoved where they will be less noticed) and see all the work still left to do, but it would get me so TIRED that I never would begin to tackle them. I'd look the other way. Busy myself with something, ANYTHING and then...go to bed mentally exhausted from living in a house that isn't how I want it to be.

I could see the hard work. I could feel the pain of exhaustion, the heaviness of book boxes. I could smell the sweat, the dust in my nostrils. And it just wasn't pleasant. But eventually...(yesterday) I pulled myself up by the bootstraps and slapped myself across the face and said "SELF. Stop being a lazy idiot and just get it all done ALREADY!"

And then I set to work.

Operation Closet (turns out we DO have one in the upstairs!) was a-go.

Here is what it looked like, though not as bad as what it originally was...you may not have survived a glimpse of it back then...

Matt hauled most of the heavy stuff to the barns and we filled it with those pesky boxes I didn't want to see any more.

So, first things first. I hauled out all the boxes (and they were heavy buggars!)

Then, I vacuumed the thick layer of dust and cobwebs.

After that, I washed the ceiling, walls, and shelves. Then, swept and mopped the floor.

This is the result of that work. I know, it would have been AWESOME to respackle and paint this BEFORE unloading our stuff into it, but there comes a point when some things just have to be put on hold. The walls are prime example of one of those times.

Then, the unpacking and reloading of it.

Turns out, the closet is bigger than I had anticipated.

On the right we have our huge selection of games (yes, we are THOSE kind of people...)
On the left and in the bins, we have some recent food stores (yes, we are squirrels!),
in the middle, a few afghans
and the top, bathroom essentials (yes, I am a CVS'er).

As you can see, there is lots more room for stockage. ;-)

Posted by Picasa

The OTHER project

As if the closet wasn't enough... I got sick of looking at the opened and rummaged through boxes of stationary and desk supplies that have long cluttered the top of this desk. I also got sick of sending out letters on scraps of paper with homemade, taped up envelopes!

So, I set to work. Sorted. Organized. Decluttered. And EVENTUALLY, triumphed.

This desk is actually an old sewing desk that I converted into my writing and bill-paying desk. I bought the desk, full of dust and older-than-dirt spools of thread and sewing notions, at an auction for $3.00. Yes. THREE dollars. Therefore, you have no right to judge the single solitary knob that decorates despite missing its' three other siblings. Someday, perhaps it will no longer be an only child, but for now I just say "what do you expect for THREE dollars?!?!"

Now, I am REALLY putting my self out there for all sorts of scrutiny by posting this next photo.

Essentially, I am revealing myself to be the O.C.D freak of nature that I really am. Colored sorted paperclips?!?

Can you say obsessive? Or maybe....PATHETIC?!?

Matt took one look, chuckled and said... "NESTING!"

But overlooking that: isn't this old spool holder a handy way to organize "junk drawer" stuff? Rubberbands? Clips? Paperclips? Safety Pins? Tape? They all have their own little spots! No shuffling required!

I love that.


Because I am an obsessive-compulsive organizer who has apparently too much time on her hands in her last few weeks of pregnancy...

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bunkin, rediscovered

I was unpacking a box (YES-there are still boxes that torment my soul. Even now. Two months after we moved in. Five weeks (give or take) before Bunkin arrives... Still, I contend with cardboard.)

As I was saying... I was unpacking a box, freeing a box of stationary from its cardboard prison, when out fluttered this. Bunkin! OR atleast, a black and white, grainy, in-womb representation of him/her when he/she didn't have as much life experience as s/he does now. (yikes! Not knowing the gender of this wee one sure can complicate sentence structure!)

This ultrasound photo was taken at 18 1/2 weeks, if memory serves right, the week before we moved.

What a happy warm feeling filled me as I gazed upon sweet Bunkins skull. That sounds weird, I know. But really, truly...isn't s/he cute?!? When I first got the ultrasound I thought "Sheesh. I hope I get a better one next time! This baby looks like some skeleton pracing about on all Hallow's Eve!" But now, NOW, after not seeing or even recollecting the photo for so long...I can honestly say that the sunken eyes and rotund belly are positively endearing and the little hand resting by the chin and the foot curled all the way up to his/her ear just about gets me weepy.

Bunkin is not just some being that tugs and pulls my belly this way and that, but a BABY. With eyes, and belly, and teensy feet.

Bunkin's picture is now posted on my refrigerator, a sorry replacement for laying eyes on the real thing, but a happy diversion in the meantime.

Only a few more weeks!
Posted by Picasa

Some more from the Farmer's Market...

Freshly made bread, and a portable fireoven.

Posted by Picasa

Little Christiana, another niece, poking eyes and roly cheeks from the warmth of Mama's sling.

Mom and the flowers~ she is where I get my love of flowers from.

This man was my favorite. Not only was his work beautiful, but his presence was beautiful. Homey. Comfortable. He had piercing blue eyes and friendly smile wrinkles that framed them. You could tell he was a genuine and kind person upon first glance. He allowed me to snap lots and lots of pictures, and acted as though I wasn't there-which I LOVE. I deplore wanting to take a photo and people acting all awkward and pasting on a fake smile. But because he was who he was, I knew I was welcome to be in his space.

Posted by Picasa