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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


My sister and I carpooled today, for a very important cause.

To go visit Oma and Opa.

We left early, came back late, spent much time in the van, and much less time visiting.

She and I both felt a draw toward their home, and a pull toward visiting with them, if only to tell them that we love them and are thinking of them, and truly concerned for them.

It was a good visit and I am very thankful for the opportunity to have had it~ especially now, as I learn that tomorrow Oma is going in for surgery to discover if a large lump in her esophogus is cancerous or not. I worry less about the cancer, however, than I do the surgery . She is a frail creature who has lived over 80 years a fighter and at some point will not be able to fight as hard.

It was good to tell her I loved her.

It was also good to give my children another opportunity not just to say it, but to realize it.

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The Storyteller

My Opa, the storyteller.

In his rich, Dutch accent stories would flow from his lips like raindrops from a thundercloud. His lips spun webs of words, ensnaring us children and wrapping us in intrigue. A complex imagination, made moreso by the complexities of real life.

He was a Resistance worker in the German-occupied Netherlands during World War II.

He found solace and safety amongst the pipes of the church organ as he was sought after. For years.

He was a husband and provider in a little house in the middle of the forest.

He was a reveler in church history.

He was a towering husband to a petal of a girl, a girl who stood over his cradle as a toddler and kissed his chubby baby smile as parents smiled and "awwed".

He was his own personal librarian.

He was a scientist and contributor to the Hubble Telescope.

He was one of the true Great Debators, and found such joy in a good "discussion".

He was a grandfather who delighted the mind and heart of a lanky blonde girl who took very much after him in looks twenty-some years ago.
These things, and many more, shaped his life and the life of his stories. Stories: some true, some not. Some penned so as to be read over and over again; some spoken, gifts never again to be opened. Some published for the world, some to be enjoyed only by those near him.

This man, whose very life was made up of, encompassed by, and devoted to the written and spoken word has been victimized by the stealthily odious thief by the name of Alzheimers. But he is a good actor, even more eloquent in speech and body language, intriguing the young listener with picture thoughts and questions. But the young listener I once was, is no longer the girl I am today. Today, grown woman observing her own knobby-kneed blondies enraptured in the words of Opa, saw a man who was making stories from pictures. A man who, in his own resilience, tries not to let on that the letters that once beaded themselves into words, that strung themselves in sentences, that wove story upon story, that he spent a lifetime reading, writing, and creating no longer make any sense.

I don't believe my Opa can read any longer.

That thought stings my heart with a bitter blow.

And yet: even handicapped by his own confusion, he is able to capture the hearts and minds of little ones-just as he did with his own children, and as he did with me, one of the nearly two dozen grandchildren. Even now, his great grandchildren sit upon his knee, or lean warmly upon his side and watch. and wait. Knowing that the flow of magic will come streaming from his lips.

Maybe he doesn't know it, maybe he never did. Maybe he did know but cannot retain the memory of it any longer, but here it is.

My Opa was gifted with words.

God gave him that gift to touch the lives of people, and even as I cry for the man that I realize is being lost even more each day, I praise God that even while he may not know it himself, Opa is still pouring out that gift on his great grandchildren. His legacy.

His great grandchildren will not forget. Nor will this granddaughter.

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The one my sister took for me...

and the one I took for my sister...

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Heart songs

Most things that make my heart sing are unseen, intangible: a twinkling eye, a soft word, devotion and respect. If I had to choose one thing, however, that was TANGIBLE, luxurious and utterly unnecessary- it would be stained glass. It is a weakness I have, I tell you!!

I can ACTUALLY get lost in the labyrinth of glass cutwork-and enjoy every moment of it. My fingers are drawn toward the outlines of lead and I love to feel the smoothness of the melded pieces. The milky streams in the colored glass enthrall me, the textures tickle my senses. The colors, the patterns...the fact that pieces of randomness can be soldered together to create intricate detail of a much larger whole in such a masterful way.

To own a *very* few of these glass masterpieces is one of the greatest luxuries of mine, made more luxurious because these gifts are very few and far between. To spell it out for you: we are poor and our money is better used elsewhere! :-) Because of this, call me materialistic, but seeing bits of glowing glass in my very own home gives me shivers of glee at every glance.

Two Christmases ago, I was gifted with this beauty of a lamp. I remember the shock of ripping open the paper and the tearful response to thoughtfulness, and then, the disappointment of having to pack it away in its' box.

Why? Because two years ago we were smack dab in the middle of one of the most tumultuous years of our married life. It had just been realized that the move we thought was to be permenant would not, COULD not be so, and that we would likely have to find a new place to live-and a new career to live by. It was a tough situation. Very tough.

At the time, it seemed pointless to hang such a lovely wall fixture up into a home we would likely be leaving shortly and really, something about the sourness of the situation barred us from "tainting" it's perfectness with the dust of a home that would never be ours.

Even with these things in mind, I had such a hard time packing it up that I opted to just set it out to glance at every now and again.

It didn't take long though, with a three year old and a one year old for tragedy to strike.
I don't remember how it happened, just that it did. I saw it starting to fall and caught it-but not before it hit the brick wall and cracked several perfectly meshed pieces of eggshell-marbled glass. I was sick. Like punch-in-the-gut sick.

I cried. Then I got mad. Then I cried again. Then, I did what ought to have been done from the beginning had I not been such a sentimental, materialistic gal: I put the now corrupted beauty back in its dark, dreary box- not to be opened until it could actually be HUNG, protected from clumsy, fat fingers, toes and anything that is hurled from said fingers and toes.

I actually forgot what it looked like. In truth, I forgot I even HAD it tucked away for our "someday house" until that fateful day I stumbled upon the box as I began the process of packing to move. The moment it was uncovered though, was the moment that the thing began pervading my thoughts. The itch had begun, the anticipation of getting to see it once again-and hang it in our HOME.

Yesterday Matt put it up in the only spot available~ what is becoming our office/library (once we get enough bookcases. Funny~ it hangs down to about my nose (and there are high ceilings throughout)! That doesn't matter to me though, just allows me a closer look! I plan to put our desk directly under it, to avoid "crash collision syndrome"- a fairly dangerous condition I seem to have.
Right now, though, directly under it is cardboard. But what a view from the stairwell!

Tonight, its welcoming glow stirs in me a thankfulness for my husband. For his love those many years ago, made manifest in a luxury that we really couldn't afford just because he knew it would thrill me and for his love just a few hours ago, when he gave the last fruits of time and energy to hang it for me. Just as the golden glow finds me and lingers on my skin, I'll wrap myself up in that love tonight, content to let it linger in me and it will be the warmth that sustains me on this cool, dark and lonely night.

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Friday, September 26, 2008


Eight months...

Every now and again I am totally and utterly surprised by the vastness of the world that has been opened up to me through this blog, and I am often touched by the fingertips of friendship as I read encouraging thoughts and realize that no, I am not alone. At times, I am particularly touched when friendship extends the bounds of a screen, and tickles the moments of real life, as it did yesterday.

Morgan, a blog visitor and friend, extended of her heart by putting aside moments for me and my children for one purpose alone: to be gracious and kind. For no other reason.

Life moments, finger work, happy thoughts and cheer filled a brown box and greeted us at our door yesterday. Presents wrapped in tissue- for ALL, even the unborn! Receiving mail for me is gift alone-but tucked in paper was a beautifully sewn reversible apron with little blue butterflies sipping away the nectar of flowers, and pink gingham. (Though not colored accurately, that is me in it in the above photo...) It is spacious enough to comfortably fit even my now incredibly bulging belly (which says quite alot, really!) and most especially of all: it doesn't tie about the neck (which for some odd reason gives me headaches!) How DID you know, Morgan? The moments of cutting and sewing, creating on my behalf, and thinking of me all the while make even the loveliness of the apron pale in comparison. What a special gift!

The gifts for the children were incredibly special and it would be the understatement of the century to say "it made their day." Even little Bunnykin awaits our Bunkin, protecting his/her bed until the moment when our wee one arrives.

Thank you so much for your kindness.

I have been mourning lately the fact that I have not had time to complete all the wonderful projects and preparations I had planned in anticipation of Bunkin's arrival. Only a few more weeks to go-and it seems it will take those weeks to get the house 'just so' before s/he arrives so I don't anticipate even getting them completed in time (and in some cases, even started!).

Even worse, though, it seems that my head and heart have been so full and busy with the simple day-to-day tasks, that even opportunity to enjoy and focus on my bellybaby has been nonexistent. I find myself lying in bed at the end of the day, laughing at the squirms and kicks of my little one, and realizing this is the first time this day that I have really spent cherishing him/her.

What a shame it is, that I have devoted so little time to this wee one! I want to eagerly anticipate Bunkin's arrival in more than just a thoughtful way-but in a REAL way! Bring on the baby clothes! Take a gander at the receiving blankets! I want to look at BABY things, smell the clothes my "once babies" wore! I want to be utterly astonished at how small the diapers need to be in order to fit! I want to imagine how small these little fingers and toes are going to be-and how they will feel as my fingertips feel their warmth! I want to think about the loveliness of the shallow breaths of a newlyborn resting on my chest.

And: I want to prepare a place for this dearling in our lives. Not next month. Not next week. NOW!

I found all the cradle pieces and washed away the dust of its idleness. With each stroke I painted of warm water, I remembered the hours that I sat in the garage, nearly six years ago, watching Mattie working, sanding, creating, and celebrating life. He wanted to create me an heirloom, something that all of our children could be rocked in (and even grandchildren!), something that made evidence his joy in their creation and his thankfulness in the gift of them.

I tucked in the mattress I made out of foam and plastic tablecloth, chuckling at the memory of Matt's old boss' wife ( a retired nurse) coming and inspecting the thing to be sure it was 'safe' after I told her I made it. Her raised eyebrows upon hearing of a "homemade" mattress make me laugh even today, and her shock and surprise at how "professional looking" it was still makes my day.

I found the cradle veil, with cracked holder and tousled tulle. Even in it's sorry state, it is beautiful. I notice a small hole in the tulle and it makes me smile. That small hole! The veil was an afterthought; an impulse, when we returned from the hospital with our delicious little girl. We had a party planned for just a week or so afterward and I was determined to have it finished by then. How vain I was! My vanity led to many tears and hurried stitching-even until the night before the party when I swore it would be FINISHED. Eventually, the darkness of night forced me to bed with a few stitches to go. But the next morning, when I awoke, I realized my haste had stitched the tulle in a spot that ought not have been stitched-and my pulling on it created a rip. That rip and the frustration of it all caused me so many tears! Yet now, three children later, I laugh and smile as I fondly recall how silly I really was.

I unpacked random pieces of the bedding that I worked on tirelessly so long ago, right up until the days Corynn was born. The pieces didn't get packed away together, so I am pleasantly surprised to find a piece of bumperpad covering, or a quiltlet as I unpack other, unrelated boxes. A few pieces are still missing in action-but the discovered ones are folded nicely in the cradle, awaiting the day they can be freshly washed and put on to wrap our baby in his/her Mama's love.

It is good to recall these days-good for my soul. It is also good to remember that when Bunkin comes, even now, our baby will be wrapped in the love of his/her Mama and Papa. Each stitch was stitched with love. Each piece of wood, shaped with admiration. Each moment of it's creation was filled with Thanksgiving for the greatness of God to bestow His gifts upon us, however many they are. Each one is a blessing. Each one is a vision, and each one holds a piece of us.

It is very good to think on these things.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


A few things:

* Most importantly: an update on Oma. She is at home, and while she did have a few minor complications during the blood transfusion, she was not admitted to the hospital. It is clear that there are some imminent health issues that need to be dealt with, but I am thankful that she is now stabilized as much as possible, preparing her for what is to come. I thank you for all your prayers and loving concern.

* I posted those bread recipes and a crockpot recipe for Split Pea Soup, bringing my virtual kitchen out of hibernation and back into the land of the living. Go ahead and head on over to Kitchen Riches, if you have a hunkering for bread. Or peas. ;-)

* I received in the mail the other day four coupons to give to anyone who might be interested in trying out Netflix, good for one free month. Matt and I have a TV which we can watch if we want to see snow for hours at a time. We do not get any channels (not even the news) but still enjoy us some movies. I opted for Netflix for these reasons:

~ it has a huge database with any and every movie imaginable. I have YET to discover a movie I am not able to get- both oldies and brand new releases.

~it saves us mondo money versus going to rental stores. In our old home, the video store had $.99 cent rentals, and for new released $1.99. Now that is a bargain for a movie rental. I was appauled when I headed to a local movie store when we first moved here-because it cost $5.99 to rent a SINGLE movie! I nearly swallowed my tongue!

Finally, and most importantly: I got sick of going INTO movie stores. Why? It is a pain to haul the kids in and out of the car to search for movie, true, but that is not the primary reason I despise movie stores so much. Long time ago- I went in to the local video store and was searching the sci-fi for some movie Matt had requested. Thankfully, it happened that the children were not with me at the time. I went over and saw a boy about 8 yrs old. crouched down looking at a video in the sci-fi section. When I went over and started scouring the titles he looked at me sheepishly and high-tailed it out of there. I thought "uh oh-wonder what's got him so up in arms." So-I looked. WHY did I look?!?! What posessed me to be so nosy?!? What I saw was a video cover that had two naked women very nearly doing something that no two women should ever do- totally clothingless. It was porn, plain and simple and it was in plain sight-at good eye levels for children. How is that RIGHT? I asked myself. It was then that I realized not only did I want my children to be exposed to that, but I didn't want to be exposed to that. Hence~ Netflix.

It is a wonderful thing, let me tell you! After that long schpeal: If anyone is interested in getting the coupon code for a free month, just leave me a comment with your email address. I'll email the first four people interested.

There. That's done! ;-)
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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Field Trip

(this turtle followed Corynn around the tank so many times I was wondering if she had some sort of magnetic field. Not so with the Panda...)

A few weeks ago, I took the children to a local Science and Discovery center to celebrate my little sister's birthda, and if I bought a membership, the cost to get in THAT day would be deducted from the annual cost of membership. I think it ended up being only $20.00 or something like that, and we have free access to the Center (and many affiliated museums) for a year. By golly, I forked over the cash knowing full well I would make good use of it.

I don't regret it. Not one iota.

(did you know that cockroaches have 18 knees?!?)

This particular center has four large and very generalized divisions: an outdoor center, a 'living' center, a creative and youngers center, and basically- science everywhere else. It is a huge place and often children are so overwhelmed that they fly from one thing to another, leaving parents feeling as though they did something educational when in fact, not a stitch was accomplished more than excited squeals and running about. And even then, you don't see everything.

Having this year long membership has really helped to curb the whole "MUST SEE EVERYTHING if only for a moment" syndrome-and encourages ACTUAL learning and discovery. I forewarned the children we would only go on the one side today: the 'living' center.

(an albino frog!)

We got to explore and experience in ways we wouldn't have otherwise. We were introduced to strange creatures. And get this: brace yourselves now: we actually READ the signs and learned something!

(With all the sludge on the glass of this aquarium you ought to be mighty impressed that frogs are actually seen here...)
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The kids even got to watch TV! (Seriously though- this was the last thing we did and let me tell you: sitting in the dark movie cave and listening to the song of the humpback whale nearly made me fall asleep!)

It was a pretty amazing time. I loved it. The kids loved it. I was enthralled with the creatures-and so were they.

That is, until Andrew spotted the simple machines station.

And then-well, you know the rest.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Just a few hours after posting about my excitement of today's journey northward to visit with Oma and Opa, I received a dreaded call.

Saying: stay home.

Oma apparently fell and was taken to the hospital where they discovered her blood levels so low they thought it best to start blood transfusions.

She is not well- rapidly losing what's left of her weight, struggling with *another* bout of cancer, and dealing with other health and age issues all the while being sole caretaker of my Opa, whose Alzheimer's is making life increasingly difficult.

Which is why I was so excited to have the opportunity to see her and Opa because we have to squeeze these trips in as oft as possible, while they are still attainable.

Mom is headed out there today and from what I gather, will stay for a few days to help care for Opa. Thankfully, Oma and Opa have other children close by who will also be there to help.

I do very much covet any prayers you can offer up on behalf of my grandparents. For the health and safety of my Oma- and to ease the confusion of my Opa, who has learned to lean on her so heavily.

Edited to Add: When I was called last night, the phone was thick with noisy distractions, which blurred the story a bit. Turns out- Oma didn't fall but nearly passed out. Reason number One to be thankful: her frail body wasn't injured. Also-I was under the impression that she would be in the hospital for a few days but after just talking to my mom, I was informed that a straight-forward blood transfusion can take just 4 hours or so-which means, barring any complications, Oma won't even be 'admitted' to the hospital. Amazing how one little phone call can make things look so much brighter!
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Monday, September 22, 2008


Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all. ~Stanley Horowitz

The deep, rich colors of fall are beginning to catch my eyes-and it is a beautiful sight.

Here are a few, along with a very lacking in eloquence update on our home:

This weekend, we huffed and puffed and fetched all our things from storage, where it now not-so-gracefully resides in every nook and cranny, and within every walkway. Living with nothing for so long was very nice-and SPACIOUS!!! I had sort of grown accustomed to it, and had foolishly led myself to believe we were nearly done unpacking and settled in. I chose not to think about the actual boxes that crowded the storage building, and so, when the boxes came and all our earthly belongings were in our presence again- I was overwhelmed. To say the least.

Now, several days later-and yet not a stitch more unpacked-I am feeling better about it. Much of what we own is in the way of clothing for the "possible" Newman babies of our future. And graciously, this is the first home we have lived in with an attic. Soon, many bins will be out of sight, out of mind. At least for a little while.

Though the house looks worse than it ever has (minus the construction dirt and tools, that is), I feel like it is doable. We are in the home stretch. It's been a LONG labor, but now comes the delivery of something beautiful. Just have to get through the last few pushes.

Speaking of delivery: today I had a midwife appointment, the first I have ever gone alone to. My mother-in-law watched the children for me, since I had to have an hour long glucose test done, along with two other appointments. Every moment of running from one floor to another, waiting in the waiting room, and watching the hands of the clock make its full cycle over and over again, I was saying a little prayer of thanksgiving that the children were NOT with me. Five hours later, I am finally home-and exhausted. (I did squeeze in my first CVS trip after a long hiatus-which was well worth it, by the way!)
Bunkin is growing and thriving, and while I love midwives-I sure would love another ultrasound. I miss seeing my sweet Bunkin moving about! :-( On a good note though: they didn't even own a hint of surprise when I told them today that we don't use birth control and won't plan to after the birth. Much different than their doctor counterparts, at least the ones that I myself have encountered.
For the record, since this will never happen again in my life I am sure, I must say: I have gained only 13 pounds this whole pregnancy. The month before I got pregnant, I put my foot down and started working at losing weight-and lost 14 pounds. Which means now, seven and a half months and a sweet little Bunkin brewing later, I am just NOW the same weight I was when I began!
This is BIG people! HUGE! Both prior pregnancies I gained upwards of 50 pounds! Sure, I started out more this time: but hey, I am taking it! Previously, all I had to do was LOOK at a bowl of icecream and the scale weighed down another 13 pounds. So 13 pounds?!? I am loving it. And yes- I keep saying 13 pounds. Over and over. It's like music to my ears. Please, don't make me stop. Because 13 pounds is hardly anything at all considering I am only weeks away from meeting my wee one.
13. 13. 13.
Ahhhhh- I feel better.

Other newsy things:
~ We finally have a working stove, as of Friday night! We've been putting our orders in, let me tell you!
~Tomorrow I am travelling with my Mom to my Oma and Opa's house-a happy invitation. It will be good to visit my grandparents, hopefully snap some photos, and get/give my Mom ('s) nearly undivided attention for a few hours in the car ride up and back. That is, if my children cooperate.
~ I love my Mattie-but since when is that news? I missed him today, even though he just went to work. I can't wait until he gets home!
~Also-I planned to post recipes (bread and the like) to my neglected Kitchen blog on Friday, only to realize that our internet was temperarily unavailable. Who KNOWS! I plan to get to it on Wednesday. If all goes smashingly well.
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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fresh Baked

Still have no working stove, though my hope is by the end of the week. This will be my eighth week without a stove/oven.

I've hated every moment of it.

Just so you know.

Iin case you didn't.


When I opened the box labeled "Bread Machine" I started drooling and went to make bread that very moment, only to discover I had no yeast. So I made an emergency trip to the grocery that night, because you KNOW it was a justifiable emergency I was facing.

That night I dreamed of fresh warm bread. I coveted and yearned for it. I pined away. I didn't care if we had anything else for dinner. All I wanted was warm, fresh bread with gooey melted butter atop.

So yesterday we excitedly added ingredients to our magic box that bakes bread and could hardly contain ourselves when it began whirring.

Last night was SUCH a feast. Belgian Molasses Bread and every bite was divine. I *did* by the way, make some Hearty Split Pea and Sausage soup to go with it, but the bread was my PERSONAL hightlight.

I ate it for breakfast this morning too.

And I have another loaf in the works for today....


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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A bit of yellow and orange

I had great plans for a day at a Discovery Center today, but they were thwarted, much to the Little Miss' great disappointment. The sun shone bright today, the sky was blue, a gentle breeze blew and I KNOW days like these are few. (And lookie there: I am a poet!)

Fact is: I hate winter. Despise it. Loathe it. Detest it. But I thank Fall for the last few precious days gifted for my sanity, and try not to let them pass by without taking full advantage.

An utterly disappointed girl but a sunshiny day just screamed an impromptu trip.

I chose the Pumpkin farm.

We didn't buy any pumpkins, but we sure did enjoy them- along with all the other beautiful sights and smells of the forthcoming season!
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Near every animal space there are 25c feeder dispensers. My children get inventive though and feed them grass and clover. Who would have THUNK!?!? A goat? Love grass and clover? And you didn't have to pay 25c per half-handful?!? WELL....

An amazing view. Trust me, I am a seasoned veteran of this place, and let me tell you-in about two weeks there will be so many people here that you won't be able to see the hay on the floor. Makes me appreciate getting off my duff and getting out here so we could casually stroll, and exclaim over things, and take our time without mass chaos going on around us.

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