Monday, October 29, 2012

We're All Fine Here, Now, Thank You. How Are You?

(Image from Google's Sandy crisis map)

I waited too long to write my blog post; Jen@ConversionDiary closes up shop about noon, Eastern time. Mostly, I was doing storm preparation and trying not to worry, or watching baseball.

At present, we are fine, if a little grumpy, while it is windy and rainy outside. We're just waiting to see what happen next, which isn't fun.

I haven't been stitching much because Alex has been so unhappy while we continue to adjust his anti-anxiety meds and when he's unhappy, everyone else seems to be, too. But here's my progress:

Also, we got Miranda's costume squared away on Friday, supposing Halloween isn't cancelled (or drowned):

This is just the "try it on to see if it all fits" picture. She's still cute.

Marshall is still in the process of jury-rigging an Angry Birds Space Red Bird costume for the boy, also supposing Halloween isn't cancelled.

My apologies to all of my West Coast friends who've been posting messages to find out how we're doing. I realized I hadn't done the blog post and that's why you might be worrying. So far, it's wet and windy. Hopefully, that's all it will ever be. We are as prepared as we can be. If God spares us an extended power-outage, I'll call it good. But, at the moment, I'm planning to make spaghetti and meatballs for dinner and watch The Avengers with my honey.

Any prayers are welcome. Everyone is on edge, mostly because we just have to wait. Marshall let me sleep in because he got up to go to work before he found out the office was closed (they made the decision at midnight last night) so I feel decently rested. Alex just can't find the old iPhone that was his game phone last year and neither can I. It's somewhere in the house. I put mail out a couple of hours ago but no sign of a mailman yet. I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't show.

You who sit down in the High God’s presence,
    spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,
Say this: “God, you’re my refuge.
    I trust in you and I’m safe!”
That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
    shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
    under them you’re perfectly safe;
    his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
    not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
    not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around,
    drop like flies right and left,
    no harm will even graze you.
You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
    watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God’s your refuge,
    the High God your very own home,
Evil can’t get close to you,
    harm can’t get through the door.
He ordered his angels
    to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they’ll catch you;
    their job is to keep you from falling.
You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes,
    and kick young lions and serpents from the path.
 “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
    “I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
    if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
    I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life,
    give you a long drink of salvation!”

Psalm 91 (MSG)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Another Roller Coaster Week

1. Last Saturday was spent on retreat at Christ Episcopal Church in Pottstown, PA, and what a lovely day it was (except getting stuck on the Schuylkill Expressway--when we were looking for the Pennsylvania Turnpike--on the way home because of bad signage). I was out of the house from 7 am to 7 pm and my kids were safe at home with Daddy. It was a one day conference called "Celebrating Christ the Healer" with Russ Parker from Acorn Christian Healing Foundation as our main speaker. I think I took 9 pages of notes. Lots of good stuff to listen to and be encouraged by, as well as prayed for. I was introduced to the concept of Christian Listening and I wish I had the leisure to tumble off to Texas to take actual courses from the Institute for Christian Healing. Someday, hopefully. Still, I was able to absorb enough to certainly keep me thinking and praying and behaving a little differently in the mean time. And listening. :)

2. As many of you know, Alex has been struggling since about Memorial Day. His anxiety has been difficult to manage, for him and for us (medicinally and emotionally), so we've been trying a couple of new things, with mixed results. We went back to see the doctor on Wednesday afternoon with some observations from home and school and our doctor decided we needed to try something new. We are going to start the new medication tomorrow but in the mean time we've had to start easing him down to a lower dose of the current anti-anxiety medicine, which is always difficult. I remember how hard it was for my body to change drugs and how miserable it made me. Please pray with us that God will ease the transition for our darling boy. He was up late last night with terrible insomnia and fought with us when we tried to wrestle him back into bed, crying himself to sleep while I prayed and prayed.

I've gone back to all my comfort music this week, lots of Iona and John Michael Talbot. Lot's of The Lord's Supper, which I memorized as a child. The last song, "Lamb of God," has been my theme for this week. And, since the song is so old, there are no helpful YouTube videos, but here are the lyrics:

Lamb of God
Who takes away the sins of the World
Lamb of God
Who takes away the sins of the World
Have mercy on us
Lamb of God
Who takes away the sins of the World
Grant us Peace

Lord, we are not worthy
Lord, we are not worthy
Lord, we are not worthy
To receive you
Only say the word, and we shall be healed
Only say the word, and we shall be healed
Only say the word, and we shall be healed

I have been singing this every day, all day, breathing this ancient prayer over all the pain of my life. 

Last month, I made reference to the Samaritan woman in Matthew 15:21-8. Here's the passage again, from The Message translation:

From there Jesus took a trip to Tyre and Sidon. They had hardly arrived when a Canaanite woman came down from the hills and pleaded, “Mercy, Master, Son of David! My daughter is cruelly afflicted by an evil spirit.”
Jesus ignored her. The disciples came and complained, “Now she’s bothering us. Would you please take care of her? She’s driving us crazy.”
Jesus refused, telling them, “I’ve got my hands full dealing with the lost sheep of Israel.”
Then the woman came back to Jesus, went to her knees, and begged. “Master, help me.”
He said, “It’s not right to take bread out of children’s mouths and throw it to dogs.”
She was quick: “You’re right, Master, but beggar dogs do get scraps from the master’s table.”
Jesus gave in. “Oh, woman, your faith is something else. What you want is what you get!” Right then her daughter became well.

This woman was persistent and Christ healed her child. Sometimes, as the parent of special needs children, I feel like a beggar dog settling for scraps, but today her persistence gives me hope. And I can trust that Christ will ease Alex's pain.

3. Persistence in prayer has paid off in other ways in our lives this week. On October 6th, Marshall mislaid his wallet, he thought, while he was cleaning the garage. So he kept cleaning and I cleaned in the house, hoping to find it in one of the many, many piles of stuff that lie everywhere (but we are making headway, thanks be to God!) and we prayed. And we prayed. And my parents prayed. And then Wednesday afternoon, 10 days after the wallet went missing, I got a call from our library saying someone had found it there and turned it in to the front desk. I was reminded of Luke 15: 8-9, and we rejoiced greatly.

Also, one of my dear friends has been Alex's Sunday school teacher for several years and last Sunday morning, she had a major breakthrough with him and with the rest of his classmates. He finally seems to be grasping more of who Christ is and his classmates are starting to understand what autism means and why he has difficulties sometimes listening and participating in class. My son has such a concrete mind that the ineffable nature of God is often hard for him to understand. But all these years of listening to the lessons, of participating in the classes where Christ is honored and discussed and listened to are finally making an impact. This is also an answer to prayer. 

4. Baseball season is almost over and since both the Nationals and the Orioles lost last week, I haven't been doing much more than checking the scoreboards, but I watched the Tigers sweep away the Yankees last night, which was a good thing. Even the 800 lb gorilla deserves to stumble, now and again.

What I have been watching is the new seasons of New Tricks and Flashpoint. And this is a good change because it means I can now cope with some additional drama in my life, even if it is only televised. My DVR has been recording hours and hours of programming for me that I just haven't felt emotionally capable of facing. 

I also deleted Rookie Blue and NCIS: Los Angeles off of my favorites. The former is just too much about who is sleeping with whom and the latter is too violent without having a good reason to pile up the corpses quite so high, even though I really like the actors. It needs better, less manipulative writers.

5. Not much stitching this week; too tired from all the running around. Still, I made a little progress last night:

6. Miranda has lost two teeth in the last two weeks and I haven't even one picture of her holy smile. I meant to take one, really. Sigh. I haven't transitioned to taking pictures with my phone yet, not really.

7. The ladies who clean my house are just finishing up as I type this so even though is grey and rainy outside, the house will be clean to start off our weekend.

We really have to decide on Halloween costumes. Alex has settled on the red bird from Angry Birds Space, who looks like this:

But, because he is so similar to the regular Red Bird, there is no official costume available. We have to jury-rig something. Well, Marshall may have to jury-rig something. The extent of my costuming abilities consists of going online and ordering a costume.

Here's Jen. And if you missed her hilarious ruminations about being an introvert from earlier in the week, read about it here. I had been thinking all this time that I was an introvert, but maybe not.

Friday, October 12, 2012

News From Flannel Sheets Land

1. The overwhelming thought in my mind for the last 2.5 hours that I've been awake is, "Must go back to bed!" I have plenty to do today (we're almost out of peanut butter, which is practically catastrophic in this house) but once the children are off on their buses and the husband safely off to work, there's no one left to scream at me and I can usually put my To Do list on Mute. So, while I'm enjoying my morning tea after finishing my breakfast, I read Jen's Quick Takes on my wonderful smart phone and realize, "She's giving away free money this week! Must go blog immediately!" Which, of course, I can do from the warmth and comfort of my flannel sheeted bed. It's not that I didn't go to bed on time last night, because I did, not waiting to find out who won the last two baseball games (Oakland lost, boo, but Baltimore won, YEAH!). But somehow, I can never have enough sleep. Must be a mommy thing; someone is always there to wake you up before you want to.

2. Not a whole lot of stitching this week because I was too tired from (lesser amounts of) antihistamines and doing other things, but on Wednesday, when I sat down to stitch, I looked at the clean up work that needed to be done to finish the rest of the current section and I rebelled. And started working on a new section entirely. Sometimes, a person is just sick and tired of sparkly bits and needs the comfort of straight lines:

I either new to order a new Q-snap or something, because the fabric wouldn't stay stretched and made it difficult to work. Or maybe the fabric is just too old and I just need to hurry up and finish so I can frame this one and move on to the next project! For the record, my Q-snap is probably 10 years old and has teething marks on it from when Miranda found it when she was a toddler. So I'm probably due for another.

He is a very pretty dragon, even if he does have green feet. And, I'm told by the designer, that the Chinese Characters in the corners translate, clockwise starting in the top left, to Happiness, Longevity, Wisdom and Virtue. Here's your finished shot, again, if you need to remember, like I do, what he'll look like when finished. Maybe I'll just stay home and stitch all day. But, wait, peanut butter! Sigh.

3. Tomorrow, my parents and I are leaving early for Pottstown, PA, to attend "Celebrating Christ the Healer." Jim and Judy Shelly, who are good friends of my folks, are helping to organize the conference. I'm looking forward to spending the day in prayer and community and away from all the problems at home. Please pray that the children are good to my husband while I am gone.

4. Our new (used) dryer was fixed on Monday evening, which has meant I've spent a lot of time since then doing laundry, which means I am a much happier girl. And it reminds me of some of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies:

Bianca: There's a difference between like and love. Because, I like my Skechers, but I love my Prada backpack. 
Chastity: But I love my Skechers. 
Bianca: That's because you don't have a Prada backpack. 

I could live without a dishwasher, but not without a clothes washer or dryer. 

I need to watch that movie again; it's been too long. But it's harder, now, that Heath is gone. Sigh.

5. Movies? What are movies? I forget. It's the post-season; I'm watching baseball and hoping for a World Series between Baltimore and D.C. I always root for the underdogs. Besides, the Cardinals won last year. And the Yankees have won too many times before. A franchise that can buy their way into the post season by buying up all the best players doesn't deserve to win. 

BTW, I would like to know how many of the Yankees players actually live in the state of New York. I mean, don't they live in the North Jersey suburbs like everyone else who works in NYC? 

6. Life on the homework scene is better and worse. Wednesday Alex took 2 hours to write 5 sentences (with his spelling words), absolutely refused to write the other required 5 sentences, and was sent to bed at 7 pm with all privileges revoked. But then yesterday he was perfectly happy to work through his spelling and math homework and then happily toddled off to beat the new levels of Angry Birds. But Miranda was a complete pill. 

It makes me wonder if the children conspire against me behind my back, deciding whose turn it is to make me miserable. Wednesday was Alex's turn and yesterday was Miranda's. And her homework that required the hour long fit? Writing her name, first and last, 2 times. Now, I will say that I should have fed her first. Low blood sugar almost always set her off. But I did try. She kept seeing something shiny walk by and forgot about her hunger until she sat down at the table with her pencil and paper. Convenient, that.

7. We still haven't settled on Halloween costumes and I now have 2 weeks left. Dang. Need to nail that down soon!

Here's Jen. Don't miss her post, especially numbers 2 & 5. Very funny.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Pickled Brains

1. I have been faithfully taking my antibiotics and antihistamines and am slowly recovering. I think. 8 days straight of Clarinex and Benadryl has left me with a rather wifty personality. If you received any kind of correspondence from me this week that seemed stranger than usual, I apologize.

2. That replacement dryer that I mentioned in last week's post? Well, it never worked. So I have now washed 11 loads of laundry here at my house and then hauled it 2 miles down the road to my parents' new house to dry it. The installer claimed it was an electric problem with our house but on Thursday my father loaned me the electricians doing work at his house and they proved it was the dryer at fault. So the dryer repair guy is supposed to come today. He was supposed to come yesterday. I am a bit peeved.

If you know me, you know I love to do laundry. It makes me so happy to make dirty things clean. One of my favorite books, thanks to Kimberlee Conway Ireton, is The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work by Kathleen Norris. 2 weeks of no laundry has compounded my I'm-grumpy-because-I'm-sick attitude. And all I see as I look around my house is sheets and towels and piles of clothes that desperately need washing. Shower curtain. Rugs. Pillows that need fluffing in the dryer. It's pathetic, really.

Maybe it will get fixed before dinner. I can hope.

3. Thursday was Alex's birthday. We had a small celebration with my folks at supper where he got 3 pairs of Angry Birds pajama bottoms from us (even though they are just the next size up from his last ones, the waist is too wide and has no drawstring, so we'll need to cinch them a bit; he is a skinny boy), the newest National Geographic Angry Birds Book (50 True Stories of the Fed Up, Feathered, and Furious), and from my parents, an Angry Birds Space shirt with long sleeves. We'll have a larger family party, celebrating Miranda's birthday as well, on the first Saturday in November.

Here is my happy, 9 year old boy, with my parents:

Of course, he's holding the other National Geographic Angry Birds book that we gave him in August for the plane ride to California. Still, he's a happy boy. And now 9 years old. Wasn't it just yesterday when he was a toddler? Yikes.

4. My dragon proceeds apace, although I was too tired (or brain too pickled) to stitch much this week:

I've reached the clean-up stage for the current section (5 stitches in this color, 6 in that one, ugh!) and then I will move to the bottom corner section. I realized that if I finished the dragon body and left the golden-chain designs for last, I might never finish. They are a pain!

Previously, I loved the dragon's head best, in terms of design, but now I love the tail. It's just so gorgeous! And I had the same thought I've had before, when I was stitching his foot earlier in the week. Why are his feet green? I mean, he's teal and gold and iridescent, but why does he have dark green feet? No idea.

This week: more baseball, more stitching. Bring on the post-season.

5. Thursday was also my work day with my mother-in-law and we took Miranda's room apart, sorted through lots of old toys and clothes, the closet, the toy bins, and cleaned out everything she'd thrown behind her bed (seriously, ewww). Should have taken some "before" pictures, but I have a few "after" to show off:

We found the new bookshelf on the street 2 weeks ago that I can use to store everything that was on the old bookshelf and a bunch of toys that were in a big bin on the floor in smaller bins I had bought for Alex's room but will work fine for here for now. Now if we can just get Miranda to put her things away?! I know, she's 5, what do I really expect?

Big thanks to MaryLee who kept me moving and motivated to finish the job. Hopefully, we'll get to Alex's room in the next few weeks as well. But no room in the house has quite the piles that my bedroom has, but that's a shared problem with Marshall and myself. Too much life, not enough time to sort and clean and do anything beyond what has to be done RIGHT NOW. Like I said last week, we are living Crisis to Crisis.

6. Here's my darling girl from this morning with her too-small princess dress from 2 years ago on over her pajamas this morning, with her belt doubling as a tiara:

In recent weeks, she has been eating as much as I usually do, so I expect to be replacing most of her clothes by December.

7. The children have yet to settle on Halloween costume choices. They usually pick something over the summer and do not change their minds, even as October starts. I am a little concerned.

And here's Jen.