Room 101

Ok, this is not fair. If anyone at all reads this blog they ought to tell me their "Room 101". I am always talking about mine since they really do bother me too much. You know, hair clots (gag), metal (jewelry and coinage in particular), fingerprints on cheese (or just touching cheese will really get the gag reflex going), worms (very similar to shrimp, so that is why I don't like shrimp), and spiders (just thinking about poor Miss Muffet and how her cruel father would make her eat them mashed up to cure a cold is beyond me---I would seek my vengeance keenly). There are probably more things but I really don't feel like digging deep.

So, what is your Room 101 (I am referring to Orwell's 1984, when I say this, of course)?

Now if you will please excuse me, I have to recover my bearings.


Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

I read this yesterday and thought it really great. Of course I am getting annoying with the Lewis stuff, I am sure:

"Besides being complicated, reality, in my experience, is usually odd. It is not neat, not obvious, not what you expect. For instance, when you have grasped that the earth and the other planets all go round the sun, you would naturally expect that all the planets were made to match---all at equal distances from each other, say, or distances that regularly increased, or all the same size, or else getting bigger or smaller as you go further from the sun. In fact, you find no rhyme or reason (that we can see) about either the sizes or the distances; and some of them have one moon, one has four, one has two and some have none, and one has a ring.

Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe in Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected, I should feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. It has just that queer twist about it that real things have." ----C.S. Lewis

For some reason this made me think of how silly Scientology is. It seems made up but it also is something you would not have guessed! Look at this malarkey:

"The story of Xenu, the galactic tyrant who first kidnapped certain individuals who were deemed "excess population" and loaded these individuals into space planes for transport to the site of extermination, the planet of Teegeeack (Earth). These space planes were said to have been copies of Douglas DC-8s, with the addition of rocket engines. He then stacked hundreds of billions of these frozen victims around Earth's volcanoes 75 million years ago before blowing them up with hydrogen bombs and brainwashing them with a "three-D, super colossal motion picture" for 36 days, telling them lies of what they are and what the universe should be like and telling them that they are 3 different things: 'Jesus, God, and The Devil.' The traumatized thetans subsequently clustered around human bodies because they watched the motion picture together, making them think they are all the same thing, in effect acting as invisible spiritual parasites known as "body thetans" that can only be removed using advanced Scientology techniques. Xenu is allegedly imprisoned in a mountain by a force field powered by an eternal battery. He is said to be still alive today." ----Wikipedia on Scientology


Horrid Hair

I almost threw up. I swear, I really almost did.

I ordered my daughter upstairs to take a bath and I remembered the drain is so slow in the kids bathroom. I have known I can fix the problem with Drano, but I forgot that I could unscrew the drain fixture and just get the garbage out myself. I wouldn't say it was a mistake for me to do this because I got the job done, but I am literally grossed out. Undeniably, sickened.

I remember a number of years ago when I used to work for Merry Maids. I was huddled down over an unscrewed drain cleaning a shower and I noticed that the people must have left the drain unscrewed so I would clean it out. I attempted to pull the drain fixture up and the goop of matted hair and soap scum caused a jolt in the inner most depths of my stomach. I said, "Not in my job description!" and left it there.

As I was cleaning this drain, however, I kept thinking, "Not in my job description!" but knew that if this thing was going to be cleared out I had to do it. I could not imagine Mr. Wilhelm bending down over this drain and using a skewer to ambly get the disgusting sopping hair and whatnot through the grate. I keep imagining horrible things, like, it is in my throat, or about to lurch out of my stomach. I know, what an imagination I have. Fear Factor comes to mind. I am sure they would make me eat it. I am drinking coffee and I am scared to death it is in there. It's like when someone says they have lice you are suddenly scratching your head incessantly because---Ew, gross!

I will say with all confidence (and what really makes this worse) is that it was not the hair of anyone in my family.

And, if you have any shred of decency in you and you would rather that I not get so thin you wonder why I wear a size 1, you would not mention this to me. I am trying to forget it. Writing is supposed to be therapeutic, right?

Save me.


Sleeping and Prayer

Last night I couldn't sleep. I got maybe four hours of sleep last night. Some nights it just does not come. It gets to the point where I am saying in my brain, "I am not asleep. I will never fall asleep. Come on! Just sleep...think about sheep. Yeah...sheep. I am not asleep. I am awake, awake, awake.." Praying is usually the remedy. I know, that is sad, but for some reason praying makes me fall asleep. It takes so much thought to pray. Really, so much presence of mind. Lewis said that (and I am paraphrasing greatly) it is preposterous for Christians to pray before they go to sleep. He could not think of a worse time to pray. The mind is exhausted---it is impossible (I think for men---and this is Rachel speaking) to have normal thoughts at the moment before one sleeps.

So, while I was trying to sleep and trying to pray at the same time I am praying for myself. Then I remember the sermon the pastor from Rwanda preached on Sunday. He was telling us Americans how we all pray for ourselves all the time. It is so true and so convicting. So, naturally, I tried to pray for others. I was sleepy but not asleep so I was mixing people around in my head, having incomplete thoughts. Lewis says one of the best kinds of prayers are prayers without words---just images of what/who needs to be prayed for. It takes intense concentration to do this and of course, I was not.

Being a mother and finding time to pray is difficult. I feel like I don't know how. I read about it, but I never feel like I am fully doing this to my capacity. I don't feel guilty, just not very well-versed. I remember reading that Martin Luther's wife would put her apron over her head when she felt that she needed to pray and the kids would let her alone at that time. I thought, "what a very disciplined woman!" and then as I think of this, I remember that she was a nun and praying is so natural to her that she probably needed to take a break from praying and care for her kids! I am just saying that indeed I can be too hard on myself. I am a firm believer in the song Keith Green sang called "Make My Life a Prayer to You." ---Because it is "so hard to see when my eyes are on me."

And it is so hard to sleep with this brain in my head. Make it stop.



Apparently last night when Mr. Wilhelm went through the drive thru at Mc Donald's my younger boy was upset because he wanted a "Happy Meal" instead of just a hamburger. It was late, we don't want to deal with happy meals, we just want to order a few things and be on our way. Sometimes Sunday nights are like this for us because we have church at night and the kids get so hungry and we want to go home and put them to bed soon! So the younger boy says, "I wanted a happy meal!!!"

My daughter says to him, "You can't have a happy meal, but you can have a SAD meal!"

I thought that was outrageously funny.

My youngest boy informed me today that he was going to try very hard "not to sin all week". He has failed miserably already. He also told me that he was not going to "let the devil take a hold on" him. He has already hit his sister twice and yelled at her. I reminded him of what he was going to "try" to do. He said he forgot!


Interruptions and Waiting

I was dusting a shelf once this past year at someone's house and I noticed a framed quote. It was very good, I thought. I felt really bad after I read it. Here is my paraphrased version:

"I thought that I would get more work done if I did not have children constantly interrupting me. Then, I realized that the interruptions were my job."

I am doing a bad job paraphrasing, but you get the gist. It seared me. I am a very one track minded person. If I am mopping the floor, I am mopping. Not talking, not eating something, not barking orders, I am mopping. If I am playing guitar, I am playing guitar. If I am making soap, I am making soap. If I am making dinner, I am making dinner. I try to do other things, but my memory is bad and I often forget the other things I was trying to do at the same time. Lunchtime is the most horrible time for me. I make lunch for the kids (they are all picky and I give top ramen to one, pbj to the others, etc.). I literally forget drinks every time. It is so normal for me to forget drinks that I just sit down for pretty much every meal and then once we pray I have to get up again because I realize that no one has a drink. Or, my husband says, "drinks!" or he just gets up and does it because he is used to my forgetting constantly. My oldest son always hints. He is eating a sandwich or something and he says, "Boy, I sure am thirsty!"

I think what I am saying is that interruptions are especially hard for me. I could be literally doing something and then once I get interrupted forget it because hey, I literally forget it. I have moved on. I am very frustrated with this because I like completing tasks. I suppose I do like completing a task, say, of mopping the floor rather than wiping my daughter's rear end, or maybe instead of being so mindful that I actually notice my youngest son heartily picking his nose. I just have this rule or mindset that life is all about waiting. We are always waiting for something. I have obviously taught my children this. They are always waiting for me. I will be like Lewis and say that the waiting is sometimes the best part. I think it IS the best part. Anticipation. Once you do or get whatever it is you are waiting for, it sort of wanes quite a bit. One of the great glories of being a Christian is waiting. We will be made complete, our joy will be made full.


Air and Space II

The kids and I went to Air and Space in Chantilly (the better one) the other day (MLK day----"Sleep, sleep tonight, and may your dreams be realized..."). I am so unspontaneous. My friend Catherine called me in the morning and asked if I wanted to make a field trip with her and her brother's family (our pastor) to this museum. I was sitting in my pj's looking at the ceiling, making my oldest son take a spelling test. Actually, he wanted to take it, but that is a different subject altogether. I kept rolling the prospect around in my head while I was talking to her. I thought for a bit she was talking about the Air and Space in DC. I did not want to do that again. I mean, it reminded me of the nasty public school multi-purpose room where you had to sit on the old, thin floor because they refused to pull out chairs. All I remember is it smelled like sweat and bad breath. Air and Space was worse. It smelled like all this plus people were everywhere. Looking at engines and old space suits. Some of it was a 70's nightmare. I hate looking at old clunky data areas (I can't think of what they are called) and the buttons are all big and colorful---reminds me of the buttons on Darth Vader. Tin foil satellites and middle aged men who smell like b.o. with a beard so long they have to practically wrap it over their shoulder so it won't get in the way of their gesturing hands as they explain to some stander-by how "fascinating it all is". ---Not without loads of technical terms. You know the kind of guy I mean too. They have over-sized tinted sunglasses, a dirty ball cap, and a flannel. I know I am being mean, but kick me. So, I was thinking this kind of stuff when I was on the phone in the morning donning my pj's. Once Catherine cleared up that they were NOT going to the Air and Space in DC, I lit up and said, "Well, I have never been to the one over here before..." Catherine is so patient with me as you will soon see. She said, "Do you want me to make the decision for you?" I love her. She knows me too well. I laughed so hard and said, "Yes, I think I will go but I will ask the kids first!" They were of course, on board and I got ready and off we went.

I will say that on first impression it was great. I mean, I hate all that stuff, but the place was made of metal (I believe it was a hanger) and it was clean, sleek, and smelled fine. I think I could have licked the floor of the place, it was so clean. When we were on top of the observation tower it smelled like alcohol. I think it was because some trusty worker went in there before onlookers and disinfected the railings! Bless them! It was overall a good time except when my four year old daughter cried for fifteen minutes because she was "bored" and "hated engines"! I felt the same way, believe me and maybe would have cried if it were acceptable for adults to do, but I had to keep up appearances and act like everything was so fascinating to the boys, who were surprisingly bored too until the Claire's came. Once the Claire's came it was like the world changed from dreary to amazingly beautiful because Catherine (whom my daughter had heard all about but never played with) was there. She and the Claire's daughter played with Catherine and held her hands and all was well. Planes suddenly turned into an adventure and joy filled the earth again. My oldest whined about his feet hurting and my youngest boy whined about how he did not like the planes. I tried my best to muster up some sort of fun thing about them. Eventually we ate and then they didn't complain anymore. Oh brother.

I know it sounds like I hated it there. I didn't hate it. I would not say that. It is just like when my husband asks me to watch football with him. I never watch it. I don't really know how. I sit there and look at the opposite wall or out the window. It is not that I hate football, I just have no idea how to find enjoyment in it unless someone comes alongside and tells me some fun things about it. It was good my pastor was there because he told me some snippets of things about the various planes and such that helped me to enjoy the experience more. When we went to A&P in DC it was nice because my husband knew about everything and he could tell me all sorts of stuff. Men are great for this. Maybe even the ones that smell like b.o. and wear dirty ball caps. I can't believe I said that.


Oh Welcome, Sleep

I love Eleysium's challenge to sleep more. Now only if I can actually fall asleep when I want to! I envy those men (much like my own husband) who can just hit the pillow and sleep by the snap of a finger. Is that why the Proverbs woman's lamp never goes out? I have always wondered that. She is constantly working, her mind is constantly going, and she keeps her lamp on because she can never sleep! Ah! I wish that were my excuse!



I get tired of hearing this and that is "so hard on me" and "so stressful". I mean, there are things that are stressful and things that are not. I have always thought you know, it is all relative, cut the person some slack, etc, etc. I could relate this to children. My child could say to me, "doing my chores is so hard on me." Give me a break. This is children's talk, right? No. Adults do this too. I do this. I see it in a far more serious manner though sometimes in others. "My car broke down, I can't take it." Let's throw a fit. "This stresses me out, that stresses me out." I'm done, I am walking away.
I realize that I am obviously being harsh, but there is a point when someone has to say, "grow up!" We are all in different places, yes, I understand that. Our goal here on this earth though, is to see beyond ourselves, not envelop ourselves IN ourselves. Maybe I am wrong. So hack at me.



I find it interesting that Lewis believed in purgatory. As you know, I have been reading a lot of his stuff lately. I think this belief is evident in The Great Divorce and even when you look at his high view of George Mac Donald. I say this only because there was a little bit of a purgatory-like thought (at least I thought, but I am not some literature expert) in his book, Lilith.

I think that thinking about this subject is almost giving too much thought to what will happen when we die because frankly, we do not know what it will look like, what it will feel like, etc. I think sometimes that things are better left mysteries because our simple minds can not possibly contain the sort of high knowledge God has. I am not saying I agree or disagree!


Bath Reluctance

My youngest son just put himself down for a nap in the middle of school. What the heck? I know he has been whinny and crabby lately...

My oldest son grabbed the books in a great hurry right after breakfast and started directly to work with out my saying any thing. I know, all on the same morning. Something in the air? He is the classic Dennis the Menace type. Hates showers, hates smelling good, wants to be a dirty boy, I guess. I mean, maybe he really doesn't notice himself, but he is getting ripe now when he misses a day of showering. I keep telling Mr. Wilhelm it is his age. Nine---almost 10. I remember distinctly when my younger brother went through this stage. He rarely took a bath or shower; my mom had to practically drag him in there. I remember almost spitting out my food one time when he approached saying that he felt compelled to help the environment (there's public school for you) and it made him sick that someone left water running. I think he was saying also that he does not do enough himself to help the environment. I laughed in his face and told him surely he does his share by the amount of showers he takes in a week. I think that was the one and only time my older brother laughed at anything I said. Perhaps that is why I remember it. So, there is the age nine/ten bath reluctance stage proven.


Ego Boost of the Day

While my daughter was attacking me with hugs, she said, "I love you! I just can't resist! You are so pretty!" (Giggle, giggle, giggle)

You know, sometimes when you are with the kids all day you think that no one would even care what the heck you look like---I have changed that lately by putting on nicer clothes rather than sweats and a t-shirt for lounging around the house and schooling the kids. Wilhelm and I were listening to some Orthodox lady lecturing on how adults never grow up. She had a point when she mentioned that the normal day gear for anyone is a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. That sounds somewhat like me. I am wearing jeans right now, but only because all my other pants are suddenly too big and I have to buy some new clothes! Ugh! The funny thing is that I could relate to this lecture. I never feel like I am an adult; I always feel like I am just cruising along and going with the flow. I fell in love, got married, had children, and now I am schooling them and caring for them. It is not like I really thought it all out or anything.

I say that adulthood is accepting responsibility. I still wince from that in other areas of my life. What do you all think adulthood is? I would love to hear from you people. I know you lurk around, but don't post. C'mon!


Like Mother, Like Daughter

I snort when I laugh really hard. I used to think that I sort of did it a little bit on purpose, but time after time I found that I did it no matter what I did to control it. What frightens me more about this is that just sitting here with my daughter I have found that the more I make her laugh by tickling her or by just doing silly things, she will snort as well. It is really odd. I never thought that stuff was genetic! Not only does she snort when she laughs, she is clumsy and bumps into all sorts of stuff too! Mr. Wilhelm says at these times, "Just like her mother!"

The thing that my daughter does that I especially enjoy is when she is really forcing a laugh and she says, "I know, Mom, I'm being so fake!"


Camping Fan

Like I always complain, I constantly have to deal with various excrement when it comes to the kids. When we went to PA my youngest boy puked in the car and I pretty much got it all over me and then had to clean it up (thankfully, most of it was thrown up in a Trader Joe's bag---those things are so useful!) and now I have to deal with some new ridiculousness. My daughter wet her bed the other night because she purposely did not put on a night diaper. I had to disinfect the mattress, clean everything up and let the mattress dry overnight. So, my girl got to sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag. Bad idea. She wanted to sleep that way the next night, so we let her. Bad idea. Last night she put on her own diaper (she is four and a half, she should not even be wearing diapers anyway, but you know, my kids have problems) and lo and behold this morning her mattress and sheets were all wet. Her diaper was inside out! I asked her if she knew this and she nodded her head shamefully. She told me she put it on that way on purpose. I said, "What?! Why?!"
Yep, you guessed it. Her reason was so she could wet her bed and she could sleep on the floor again. I could have pulled her hair. She is definitely not sleeping on the floor.


A Book Finished!

As my heading indicates, I actually finished a book last night. I know, what a miracle since I have not finished one in ages since school started this year. It is really a shame and believe me, I have felt rotten about it. Thinking about it gives me cramps. It will not surprise you what it is because of my C.S. Lewis kick. I love the man. I will quote you one of my favorite paragraphs (he is speaking of heaven) and look especially, dear ones who I have left behind in Idaho and the other two who are in Wisconsin:

"Then the new earth and sky, the same yet not the same as these, will rise in us as we have risen in Christ. And once again, after who knows what aeons of the silence and the dark, the birds will sing and the waters flow, and lights and shadows move across the hills, and the faces of our friends laugh upon us with amazed recognition."

Brings tears to my eyes. I love the fact that I have eternal friends in Christ. That is a miracle.


Must Read

This says what I believe about Pride being behind all other sins. Lewis is awesome.

"Traditional doctrine points to a sin against God, an act of disobedience, not sin against the neighbor. And certainly, if we are to hold the doctrine of the Fall in any real sense, we must look for the great sin on a deeper and more timeless level than that of social morality.

This sin has been described by Saint Augustine as the result of Pride, of the movement whereby a creature (that is, an essentially dependent being whose principle of existence lies not in itself but in another) tries to set up on its own, to exist for itself. Such a sin requires no complex social conditions, no extended experience, no great intellectual development. From the moment a creature becomes aware of God as God and of itself as self, the terrible alternative of choosing God or self for the centre is opened to it. This sin is committed daily by young children and ignorant peasants as well as by sophisticated persons, by solitaries no less than by those who live in society: it is the fall in every individual life, and in each day of each individual life, the basic sin behind all particular sins: at this very moment you and I are either committing it, or about to commit it, or repenting it. " ---C.S. Lewis from The Problem of Pain


Latin, Anyone?

Every Wednesday T, my oldest son, and I learn a new lesson in Latin. Today I was drilling him on his vocabulary.
"Incola," I said.
"Uh...settler," said T.
"Ah, let's see...Amita," I said.
"Uh, wait, umm, Aunt?"
"Yep. You got it."
"Ursa," I said.
"BEAR!" yells my daughter.
"What?!" I said.
She laughs and giggles and says bear over and over.
It scares me to think that she picks up stuff like that so easily.
My oldest son thought it was a riot that she knew that ursa is bear in Latin. He kept telling her that she is cute. My middle son wants to learn now and can even recite some of the chanting. I am amazed at the impressionable mind of the child.

Purple Balloon

Yesterday I made my weekly trip to my favorite store. The kids were excited because they got balloons there like they always do (why do kids like balloons so much?). T accidentially popped his white balloon when he got in there, and he quickly ran to go get a replacement. E got a purple balloon and she was in love with it. When we got to the car, they all sat down inside while I piled the groceries in the trunk. When I came back to return the cart, I noticed that E's balloon was hanging outside the door (like she shut the door on it). Of course I open the door and try to catch it but up it goes, never to be seen again. And of course she starts crying. L quickly forsakes his balloon and gives it to her and she doesn't want it. He tells her he feels bad for her and he wants her to have it but she won't take it (let's not forget to say that the balloon is orange). She cries and cries and finally says, "Mom, at least Jesus will get it. He will keep it and give it to me when I get to heaven, right? I guess my purple balloon is in balloon heaven now!"

I thought this was funny because apparently they made up a place called balloon heaven (I am sure every kid makes this up at some point) and T started to say, "Yeah, Mom, we made it up. It's just this place we made up, ok?"



School started yesterday in my house. It went really well, to my shock. I have been doing this for almost five years now so I should be some expert but I am not. I have learned that the best thing that one teaches a child is how to read, and then it sort of takes care of itself from there. My oldest son is the best example of this. It can even go to a bad side though when I am, say, at Barnes and Noble and I find him on the floor reading a book on Astrology. But, it is cool that I can just hand him directions to just about anything and he can read it and instruct me on what to do. He is like a genius sponge.

On Christmas Day he was so excited to get his microscope. I did the cotton swab thing with him and rubbed it in his mouth then rubbed it on a slide. He was absolutely thrilled when he saw bacteria. It was the Price is Right again...he won a car. He had his hands over his head jumping up and down yelling, "I have seen bacteria! Yes! BAC-TER-I-A!" I think he even tried to look through the scope again while jumping up and down.

Last night we were reading about the Roman consul named Manlius and when we got to the part where Manlius orders his soldiers to decapitate his own son T said, "WHAT?!!!" He couldn't believe it. He kept talking about it being the most cruel punishment of all.

Anyway, I better go because I have to get the lazys out of bed. Wish me luck and bravery, because when they get up, it's over. The silence does not happen again until they are all in bed.


The Day After New Years

As much as I love the holidays, I am glad they are over. It never stops for us. I make soap, make tins, send out cards, have my birthday, the list goes on forever all up until Christmas. When I think it is over then I have to remember that on New Year's Day it is my youngest son's birthday. Every year I scramble to get him gifts. Hopefully this year I will be on the ball and I will buy them by Thanksgiving or something.

And, thinking about New Year's Day, I always hear about New Year's Resolutions. I never make them. I really don't see the point. I make resolutions all the time; some I break, some I keep. I never make them on New Year's Day. I think it is that same feeling you get when your birthday hits and you don't feel your age. You still feel like you have always felt.

The sermon last night was about making your resolution to lead a more spiritual life. I think that is a great resolution. For every day.


All Is Weird on New Years Day

I went running and almost immediately I saw a 16 year old boy (about) running with summer clothes on, holding a hubcap. I know, weird.

Further on my run I saw a snazzy looking man blocking an entrance to the local school with his car. He was literally standing outside of his car looking at the traffic. He was wearing a long leather coat and behind his back he was holding a pair of leather gloves. It kind of freaked me out, it looked strange, but I ran by the guy. I thought, "if he is still there when I go by again, I will go across the street."

Then, I went down another street that passes by my house and a U.S. Postal truck was going up the street. Oh yeah, the postal service always delivers mail on New Years Day.

So, when I made my next trip around my route, I again saw the weird man in the leather jacket and so I crossed the street and all that like I thought that I would do.

I went down the same street again that passes my house and lo, here comes the postal truck again! The same one!

At this point I thought I would go home instead of running another two miles; things are just too weird today.