Friday, March 13, 2015

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Library Mercy and Grace

The day began as usual with needs to be met, catching up here and cleaning up after there. During the past few weeks, we have had a little bit of illness and a little bit of just plain grayness clouding over our home. When I was reminded again that we have overdue library books by a child who is still waiting for a book he put on hold, I checked our account.

Five overdue books. I quickly renewed them. 

Four lost books.

$98 in fines, due. 

Normally, we would be doing school at home on this morning but I decided we had to find those items. Putting it off any longer would just make that enormous fee enormouser.

I wrote down the titles and sent some of my workers around the house to find them. Mercy was able to locate several and we were down to just one missing book. The hunt dragged, compounded by the fact that the whole house has already been turned upside down in search of a missing Latin text book.

As I joined in the search myself, I began to get testy as small people followed me trying to help and the bigger people avoided me, with hopes that they didn't have to help. We have too much stuff! I thought to myself. The kids can't keep track of it. I can't keep track of it. And now, it is costing $100! I grabbed a garbage sack and filled it with unpopular and falling apart books as I rummaged through the shelves downstairs. It's not like this is the first time this has happened, either! I filled an entire garbage sack.

When the final book had been located, I collected as much change as I could to begin to make a dent in what we owe and required that the kids each contribute as they could.

Finally, the van full of kids in various stages of sibling rivalrous arguments, we pulled out of the driveway to head to library. Someone took someone's seat and someone made fun of someone and someone denied being involved and someone whined and someone cried because of the rain. What do I even say? Should I talk about loving each other because God loved us so very much first? Tears began squeezing out of my eyes. There's just too much sin here, in the car, mine and theirs, and too much sad in the world. 

I just drove and didn't say anything. The disputes went unsettled. The rain kept raining.

The librarian started checking our books in and acknowledged that there were some things amiss with our account. Daniel wandered in and out of the library looking for his library card that he lost on the way in. Mercy interjected comments into every part of the conversation I had with the librarian. Michael wandered off. Eden grabbed for my bag of change. James and Reuben stared, watching while the librarian reviewed our fines. Josiah had an idea about where every missing library book actually was, right now.

"Well, fifty-seven dollars is still kind of a lot," she spoke slowly as she scrolled through the long list of late fees and lost item fees. Returning the lost books had reduced the fee incredibly.

"I'd like to start paying for as much of it as we can..." I began to retrieve the ziploc of quarters and nickels from Eden's slippery fingers. "I'm just... kind of asking for any mercy you can give us."

I held my breath a little.

My new hero began deleting fine after fine, ten cents, twenty cents, until the only fee item due was for the Curious George book we threw away in November, an innocent bystander in a stomach bug disaster.

"So, that brings us to a total of $7.85," she smiled. We counted out the change and I stood there admiring the zeros on the computer screen, the receipt that showed that we now owed nothing.

Mercy, for the severalth time, asked if we could check out library books today.

I thought for a minute. I wavered between the bitter no and the possibilities of yes. We need to learn how to keep track of our stuff. We need to be sorry for all these fines this nice lady just erased for us. We need to feel the burden of the burden that we don't have any more. And I knew that was all wrong.

We can just be thankful. And enjoy the library which is now available to us again.

So I said yes.

And the little kids ran through the rows of daytime library users at their computers to the kids' area and Michael read Garfield comics and Josiah and Mercy found Ninjago graphic novels and American Girl mysteries and Daniel loaded up on Star Wars. It was as if the months of tiny late fee build up and the anxious thoughts over lost books and what we would owe when I finally got around to paying them had never happened. Daniel and Michael and I smiled at each other over the fines we would now not have to save for, lose our allowance over or pay for at all. And I was so thankful that I could say, "Yes, go! Enjoy this gift!"

It will be said on that day,
    “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
    This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
    let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
Isaiah 25:9

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Puerto Vallarta

What an incredible gift to be able to spend time away! And to return to all of those who missed us dearly was sweet as well. I am so thankful.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Wintertime 2015

James, at age 5, has taken naps in the afternoon since forever. He is finally starting to grow out of falling into a deep sleep in the middle of his play on my floor. We built this fun little tower together one afternoon. Rafoo the Giraffe keeps him company.

Eden is quite the cherub at bathtime.

 Except for when she's not.

To her great delight, Mercy's ninth birthday came in January. We had fun decorating with butterflies and pink together and preparing for her little family party.

 Reuben's need for his "bweathing medicine" returned as it seems to each winter. I am thankful that he only really needs it when he has a bad cold.  Also in this shot you can see evidence of Reuben's ability to lick his own face constantly- chapped skin is definitely a winter time thing in our house.

Where we live, we often wish for snowy winters and celebrate the rare single snow day, if and when it comes. Rather than consistent snow, we enjoy moderately cool temperatures and lots of rain. Other winter pleasures for me include cooking in my kitchen without becoming unbearably hot, being able to wear pants and layers (I love layers and shorts look dumb.) and sleeping comfortably at night without the buzzing sound of fans. So, I love winter and fall and any spring day that does not resemble summer in any way.

That said, when my parents' surprised Bob and I with a mid January trip to Mexico, without our offspring, to a place that is indeed warm and sunny on purpose, we went and had a lovely time. Turns out that warm weather can be quite pleasant if you spend your time reading, smiling and pretending you speak spanish really well and if you don't have to cook in it. Who knew?

Coming soon: pictures from our trip. :)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Eden had a birthday

Our tiny girl turned one this December.

Eden has started walking all over, leaving behind her gimpy, one-leg-dragging crawl.

The combination of the firsts and lasts of this age is bittersweet to me and I was happy to see that she was still a baby, the morning after she turned one.

Eden says "Daden" when she wants Daddy or Daniel. She has just recently begin signing "milk" when she wants to nurse or when I ask her if it's time for milk (when she wakes in the morning, before her nap and at bedtime). She says "dah!" when I get her up because we go to the window in her room and say hello to the day and to the trees and the cars outside her window. I think she says "Aaaadah" and signs "all done".

This girl dislikes laying down to be changed or dressed more than any child I have tidied up on our changing table. Sleeping is not a huge problem so long as Kitty is present but Eden would prefer to take only one nap during the day and she would prefer it to begin at 10:30 or 11am. We are working on changing that to a post lunch noon start time.

At meal time, she enjoys almost any kind of soft finger food she can pick up: bananas, black beans and chili, rice, french toast, the non liquid parts of any soup we're having, steamed apple pieces, peas, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, cut up bits of dried apricot... We have also been availing ourselves of the more recent convenience foods for babies. I love being able give her a little pouch of something mushy that I didn't have to prepare but I don't love that many of the food pouches on the market are primarily apple and banana rather than the superfoods they claim to contain. Eden has begun to drink water from her cup. To date, she has never had a bottle which has made evenings away a bit tricky but now she is eating so many big girl foods now that it's not a necessary hill to climb any longer.

We celebrated her first year with the usual ingredients: cake and family and presents. Eden loved it all.

Happy Birthday, Eden!!

Monday, November 10, 2014