Morning Fawshee with Betsie

Our middle (or “medium”, according to her) child crawled into bed with us this morning at that perfect (NOT perfect) time where my eyes snap open, my brain switches on, and I immediately know that I won’t be returning back to sleep.

Sometimes this happens at 6:30 a.m.

Sometimes it happens at 4:30 a.m.

Today it happened at 5:45 a.m.

On the button.

But it was strange…

Usually this manner of being awakened leaves me a little grouchy and feeling robbed. Today, however, my heart seemed to know ahead of time that I was being given a gift, even though I was still too groggy to fully claim it.

I stumbled into the office, perused Facebook, shuffled around the house a bit, laid on the couch and tried to sleep, but the entire time, the front porch was just calling my name.

“I can’t come outside, Front Porch!” I said. “It will wake up the children and Mr. Gore.”

“Oh, come on…” said Front Porch. “It’s actually chilly out here. In JULY. When has that ever happened before?…”

“I know that, dummy. I want to come out there, but if I open the door, the alarm will beep and this entire house will clamor to life, asking for breakfast and handing me wet diapers. I’d rather sit quietly in the dark than risk it.” I hissed in reply.

“You’ll regret it…” Front Porch taunted me.

“Gaw-LEE, you’re pushy!” I said, rising from the couch. “But yeah. Let’s do this!”

With determination and excitement in my tread, I tiptoed to the master bedroom, retrieved my contacts, the phone and my trusty cardigan, and verrrrrrry quietly shut the door, leaving my husband and eldest children to their slumber.

Now was the tricky part.

Betsie.

It was already growing light outside. If she woke up now, she wouldn’t even think of falling back asleep, even though it was much too early for Betsies to be awake.

I looked at the long stairway separating me from my baby girl and the open nursery door that could foil my rendezvouz with Front Porch and my Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (original blend). If I could hear the upstairs sound machine from where I was standing, Betsie would certainly hear me making my coffee and going outside.

“Please, God…” I breathed, and crouching down on all fours, me and my bulbous womb baby prowled up the stairs like a sneaky jungle cat. (Little known fact: Small Elephants are known to transform into lithe and nimble felines when it comes to caffeinated morning rituals. True story).

And by jing, we did it! The nursery door slid into place with the tiniest ‘click!’ and down the stairs I floated to do some percolating.

“Quick, Percolator!” I said, antsy. “We have to hurry before they wake up!!”

Percolator obeyed, and in a snap, I was doctoring up my first cup of coffee, retrieving a bakery cinnamon roll from the pantry, turning off the security alarm, and opening the front door.

“Welcome…” Front Porch enticingly whispered. “You did well, Padawan.”

An incredibly unseasonable chill atmosphere smacked me in the face. “You’ve got to be kidding me, July!” I squeaked. It felt like one of those early Spring days that is rife with deliciousness and will inspire you to write a sonnet rather than the typical misery that is an Oklahoma summer. I couldn’t believe it.

And I can’t believe I almost missed it, opting to stay in the dark and shut-up living room sans coffee. I’m glad my Front Porch persisted.

There in my Cracker Barrel rocking chair, I slowly enjoyed my breakfast, surrounded by birdsong, dew and the early morning activities of my small community. And eventually, my heart led me to my Maker.

“So beautiful, God…” I prayed.

I began to muse over my life and how I wanted to spend my day. “Please help me today,” I asked. “Show me how to live for my family.”

For sadly, I am getting to that very weary stage of this pregnancy, where I start getting annoyed by my own breathing and grow increasingly frustrated by the extended dry spell of my usually happy and optimistic soul; my patience has been threadbare, and it takes more self control than I sometimes have to savor those little moments that are usually like life and breath to me.

“I don’t want to cast the kids aside today…” I prayed. “I want to enjoy them…show them how much they mean to me…love them with the selfless love of Christ.”

My prayers became quiet meditations and wordless pleas, and as my first cup of coffee slowly dwindled to a close, I tiptoed quietly inside for a refill.

And that’s when I heard her.

7:00 a.m.

That’s still a little early for Betsie to be awake.

And with two shut doors between them, no one else would hear her crying…

“Maybe she’ll fall back asleep if I let her alone…” I thought.

I rinsed the leftover grounds out of my cup.

And then I felt an unmistakable nudge as I heard her cry “Mamaaaa!”

I don’t know if you know this, but it is an abominable sin to obey your Front Porch and then immediately ignore the Holy Spirit. I set my cup down, and up the stairs I went, this time on twos instead of fours.

She was still crying, sitting up with her little skinny legs and arms hanging through the rails of her crib, reaching for her pacifier that lay very far down on the ground.

I picked it up and handed it to her. “Do you want to lay back down and go night-night?” I asked.

“No.” she resolutely answered.

“You want to go outside with Mama?” I asked.

“Uh-huh!” she said.

“Do you want some fawshee?” I asked, leaning in to whisper conspiratorily to her.

“Uh-HUH!!!!” she exclaimed.

Anyone who knows Baby Betsie knows that she has a major thing for coffee. She calls it “fawshee” and she is seriously looney over the stuff.

She likes fawshee with milk and sugar, she likes it black, she likes it hot, she likes it cold. She likes to drink it at her little table on her little tray all by herself, and she loves to drink it with her Grandmother. And if the coffee is all gone, she asks to “smell it”. Taking a big whiff of our empty cups, she says “Mmmmm!!!”

So early in this day, while the rest of our household slept on, God answered my front porch prayer over morning fawshee with Betsie…

"Morning Fawshee with Betsie"...a short story on finding life and life abundant in the simplest of pleasures.

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I loved her. I enjoyed her. I talked to her about God. I rocked her and sang to her. I lived for her, and in doing so, I once again touched base with my very favorite thing in the world: life and life abundant.

Life is Nuts. Snow is Pretty.

Two weeks ago, I was terrified in the walk-in clinic waiting room.

One week ago, I thought I was dying from first trimester misery.

Three days ago, I felt like a new woman when I joined once more with my church family.

Yesterday, I had my second unexpected wave of internet “fame” this year after one of my favorite authors, Jen Hatmaker, shared my social media etiquette post and my site stats immediately exploded.

Last night, I didn’t need to wear a coat it was so nice.

And this morning, I woke up to…

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That’s a picture of my backyard from my bedroom window.

All that to say, life is absolutely nuts, and you just never know what a day is going to bring.

But as we have observed together over the past two years on this blog, no matter what a day brings, and no matter what you’re going through, there is a level of beauty and abundance when life is lived according to the Word of God and when you are covered by the blood and grace of Jesus Christ.

Especially on snow days.

Miss Sunday and I woke up slowly this morning after one of the craziest nights of sleep our family has ever endured experienced. After hearing her bare feet patter out of my room (Miss Sunday does not pitter) and into the completely windowed laundry room, I heard her gasp.

“Mom!” she reverently breathed. “It’s snowing!!”

I let this knowledge sink into my very fuzzy and sleepy brain. They had forecasted snow. But I never believed it would actually happen…

We had been waiting for this moment for two long years, as forecast after forecast has left my kids disappointed, none greater than the Christmas Day powdering we were almost certainly supposed to receive. (We didn’t).

Miss Sunday had been a wee little tyke the last time she had really played in the snow, and I had looked forward to this moment all winter.

Although I will admit, my excitment was immediately tempered by the thought that I would be spending the next two hours or so dressing and undressing three children and mopping up melted snow from my entryway. But this is motherhood. I should have gotten over these things long ago.

After I peeled the cobwebs out of my brain and eyeballs, Gid, Sunday and I bounded up the stairs to retrieve Baby Betsie from her crib. I don’t know who was more atwitter about introducing her to the white world that awaited her, but I’m pretty sure it was the big, pregnant lady with the frizzy hair (who has a  heart of gold, by the way). Standing in front of the large double window in their nursery, all four of us ooohed and aaahed, and Gideon noted that “God must have decided to do something nice for us since we pray to Him all the time.”

“He must have!” I agreed. “We should thank Him.”

“Thank you, God!” Gideon yelled out the window.

“Thank you, God!” his sister copied, before adding, “I LOVE you!”

One cup of coffee and a “Peppa Pig” episode later we were scrambling around like crazy people, flinging hats and mittens and scarves and long johns all over the place in our haste to be ready to play by the time Papa made it up the hill to watch us. I had one driving motivation: we had to make it out there before the fat flakes tapered off or I would be a miserable failure of a mother who cares more about coffee than children.

And by jove…we succeeded!

Once ready, I surveyed my handiwork.

Be still my heart.

Do you remember days like this? Getting all bundled up with your siblings? Being so excited that God sent you a gift from the sky? Having nothing else on your entire horizon except enjoying what was right in front of your face?

Sweet, precious childhood. My favorite of all created things.

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It was the most perfect snow I’ve ever seen, the kind that makes building snowmen and creating snowballs as easy as pie. And the giant, fluffly flakes that fell down as my kids played were like something out of Narnia.

If only we had a lamppost and a Faun.

Oh, well. Maybe next year.

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Miss Sunday approved of her new winter playground.

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And Baby Betsie reached up in wonder to touch the flakes that were landing gently onto our porch…

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before swiftly deciding that, just like she doesn’t care for swimming pools and sprinklers, she doesn’t care for snow.

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In fact, she hates it.

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But she loves her Papa.

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As unique and particular are the difficulties of life in the ministry, so are the perks, one of which being that Papa can come play in the snow with us while the time is right.

He may have to work on Saturday now, but…how could we have missed this morning with him by our side?

(Please excuse the dirty, grouchy snowman who is still staring at me through our office window. I think he wants to kill me…).

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I will share more funny things about our playtime tomorrow, but for now, I’ll conclude with this: by the time they had shucked all their wet clothes and only long john bottoms remained, my eldest children were wound up. Drinking hot chocolate and eating grilled cheese sandwiches right in front of the fireplace topped off what must have been to them the perfect morning…

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And If they don’t fully realize it now, they will. The only reason we have days like this is because God is good and His mercy endures forever.

We know who butters our bread…

and who sends us our snow.

Thank you, God, for all of it.

~

And I’d like to give a hearty “welcome!” to everyone who joined up with Mrs. Gore’s Diary yesterday! Your kind words and comments just absolutely made my day, and I am so very glad to have you along.

~

Want to read about more of our snow adventures? Here is one of my first (and favorite) posts: How to Survive When Snowbound

How Awful Are Thy Branches

~ this post is a revision of one published last Christmas ~

My Dad could easily be misunderstood as a guy who doesn’t love holidays.

But the truth of the matter is, what he really hates…nay, abhors…is going “to town”. A true country boy, he hates the traffic. The noise. The crowds. The dark restaurants. The loud restaurants. The crowded restaurants. The exorbitant costs. The works.

So it’s not so much that he dislikes looking at Christmas lights. He just dislikes going “to town” to look at Christmas lights, waiting in a long line of traffic to do so and then bumping into the five thousand other people who are there looking at Christmas lights, all before paying $50 to buy hot chocolate for his entire family (2 of his 4 children are “in the ministry” – if he doesn’t buy our hot chocolate….nobody gets hot chocolate).

Likewise, he doesn’t hate going to pick out a Christmas tree. He hates having to go “to town” to pick out a Christmas tree.

So a couple of years ago, after hearing my brother, Pete, recount his single favorite Christmas as the one where our family went “out back” to chop down our Christmas tree, my Daddy had a really fun idea: to cut down a tree from the new 9-acre property he purchased in town (our small hometown, not busy Tulsa “town”), that joins up with the acre Mr. Gore and I were building our home on. He drives by the place every morning on the way to work and had spied a whole line-up of potential Christmas trees. The grandkids would love it, he enthused, and the best part? He wouldn’t have to go “to town”.

We’re stupid, so we easily caught his excitement and chose a day for our Christmas tree excursion, and what happened next went down in family history.

~

Now, I’ve got to preface this story by pointing out that my Dad is the MAN. He can do anything. He can measure things with his bare eyes. He can weld upside-down in a fiery hole. He has drained our lake and built islands in it. He knows how to properly secure a Christmas tree in the stand. And he can usually tell with a single glance whether or not a tree will fit inside of a house. That’s what makes this tree story so bizarre and unbelievable…

So here’s my Dad as he gases up his chainsaw. What is not pictured is the line of expectant family members, all bundled up for our outing. It was a frigid day, one I’ll never forget.

This picture of my niece, Anna Ruth, will give you an idea of exactly how cold it was. The children had on two or three layers of clothing, but nothing could shield us from that biting Oklahoma wind.

But freezing or not, here we go! Let’s do this thingy.

The further away we got from the house, the colder it got.

And right about here is when I started to realize that this might not have been the best idea. I’m carrying a 40-pound toddler against the coldest wind, I feel like we’ve walked about 3 miles already…and we’re only halfway there. But there is no turning back. We are committed to this adventure.

Sadly though, once we arrived, the trees didn’t look nearly as good as they did from the road. We just kind of wandered around in circles, surveying this ragtag group of cedars, some more like bushes, others more like…taller than my house.

Sidenote: I love this little boy and would do anything for him. Even carry him to a cedar wasteland in Antarctica.

“Hey, this one doesn’t look so bad!” my Daddy called out. Whether we truly agreed or were just eager to get this show on the road, it was unanimous – it was perfect!

Funny though, standing in the midst of a small forest, no one seemed to notice that this tree, in particular, was…oh, 16 feet tall?!

But yes! This is it! This is the one! Merry Christmas, one and all! Deck the halls with boughs of holly! God bless us, everyone!

And then came my Daddy’s big moment, the one that Granddaddies probably dream of…

As his grandchildren (and his wife) watched with wonder…

he revved up his chainsaw…

and cut that (and I quote) sucker down!

Timberrrrr!!!

And there she is.

Our prize.

(Huh. Is that the same tree? Now would be a good time to start noticing that this tree looks kind of totally different in every picture).

Back uphill we tromped, our brand new Christmas tree leading the way…

for about ten seconds. Then Gideon decided he wasn’t taking another step. So guess who got to carry him? His Aunt Amy. (I’m still thanking her for that).

Almost there (thank God!)…

Once back to the work truck, a quick measure showed that this tree might be just the right size for my parent’s house. Keyword: might.

They load ‘er up and drive ‘er to her new home in the country…

Exhausted Gideon slept all the way there.  (Noteworthy: Was he really that little?? And did we actually think this tree adventure would mean anything to him at this age?!)

So anyhow, we got the tree home and set it up in the front yard and…it seems to have expanded a little during its 10-mile trip down the highway. My Daddy stands in the yard and stares at it.

Mr. Gore drags it inside, nonetheless…

and it self-inflates to twice its normal size. This can’t be the same tree that was just standing in the yard. Impossible.

Scratch that…it has tripled in size! And doubled in plain old ugliness.

My Mom just fled the room, laughing until she cried.

Our ridiculous tree not only dwarfed the living room with its majestic girth, but its cedar scent infiltrated every corner of the house, not fresh and invigorating like a Colorado pine, but dank and dirty like it was from…well, a random pasture in Oklahoma. It gagged us one and all.

I initially tried trimming at the branches with some kitchen shears, but they were no match for this “tree” and I had to fetch some weed whackers.

Two whacks in, however, I gave up, afraid to make it worse. (Not to mention the rash that began creeping up my arms the minute they made contact with the tree).

That’s right…I said rash. I couldn’t go near this tree. Thus, Mr. Gore had to decorate it while I looked on from across the room. (I hate to be repetitive, but again…is this really the same tree? Does it not look like it has now cloned itself or given birth to triplets?)

The next day, Daddy tried to revive our Christmas spirit by heroically decorating the rest of the tree, and I so wish I had the pictures to show what happened next: this giant tree, full of breakable ornaments, fell over, smashing into the living room floor with all the gusto of its initial fall in the wilderness. Screaming in shock and terror, I scooped up both children and ran from the room, never once thinking to take just one picture of the aftermath.

I don’t know what was more disturbing…the heirloom ornaments that were shattered that day or the manic and wild nature of this tree that would cause it to just leap from its stand like that. I think it was sending us a message: You should’ve gone “to town”, suckers.

Christmas morning came, and our Giant Christmas Shrub of 2009 was there to greet us.

I will admit, the tree had its moments. At times, I would walk into the room and laugh, but at others, I would marvel at its beauty and admire its pioneer spirit and smell…

but by Christmas morning, it had begun to settle, and was 100% irrefutably…ugly. And kind of crooked.

You know, though, it’s funny…

We’ve had a lot of really beautiful Christmas trees over the years, and this tree is the only one I distinctly remember.

I could pick it out of a line-up.

p.s. That’s not a compliment.

The First Annual Cousin Show – Part 2

Before looking at these pictures, you really must read the preface! That’s an order! Click here to obey me.

~

So like I said yesterday, the night of our little homeschool play was one of the best of my entire life. I don’t know what it was, really…but the timing, the ambiance, the nostalgia, the simplicity…it all came together to create a beautiful night for our family. It took place just last weekend, but a sweet warmth already washes over my soul when I think about our show in the shed…

Take a look.

6:30 sharp. Gideon and Abigail brave the May shower to walk across the yard to our secret dress rehearsal in the shed.

No mud boots on the stage!

Twizzlers for our audience…

and lots of cookies…

Snickerdoodle, anyone?…

And a program listing our recitations, songs and nursery rhymes…

The guest table, safe from the rain, featured chocolate chip, oatmeal and snickerdoodle cookies, along with Twizzlers, paper bags of popcorn, and lemonade. Easy to prepare, and no napkins, forks or plates required.

My Daddy peruses his program. He doesn’t often come “to town”, but he’d do anything for these kids. Even postpone construction on his solar kiln so they could have a show! (If you read the preface to this post, you know what I’m talking about. If you didn’t, I really don’t know what I’m going to do with you. Rebels…).

Here is a photograph of the full program. All of our numbers were based off of the Wee Sing Nursery Rhymes CD that came with our Sonlight P 3/4 Curriculum. It was so easy to invent little skits to go along with the nursery rhymes, and it really  helped the children to understand what the nursery rhymes were about. I highly recommend this CD and accompanying booklet. Click here
to find it at Amazon!

Betsie enjoyed her program, too. Literally. She ate a good portion of the top left corner sometime during the show.

“Curtain” rising…

I seriously thought these kids were going to burst with excitement…

 

First up was Anna Ruth (5 years old), reciting “One Misty Moisty Morning”. Anna, our otherworldly little daydreamer, is especially gifted at theatrics and was a dream to “direct”.

And I loved seeing how proud her big sister, Abigail, was to watch her do well.

Gideon couldn’t contain himself. His recitation of “Peter Piper” was…interesting…

and precious.

And then the amazing Abigail recited “Betty Botter”, a tongue-twister that she memorized in TWO DAYS. Would you like to hear it?

Betty Botter bought some butter, “but,” she said, “the butter’s bitter; If I put it in my batter it will make my batter bitter, but a bit of better butter, that would make my batter better.” So she bought a bit of butter, better than her bitter butter, and she put it in her batter, and the batter was not bitter. So t’was better Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter.

Twisty, yes? And she performed it to perfection.

As we do a quick set change to prepare for our nursery rhymes segment of the show, Gideon sneaks a peek at the audience…

We started with Mary (played by our very talented Miss Sunday who wanted ALL the leading parts), who had a Little Lamb with fleece white (oopsie…or black) as snow…

and everywhere that Mary went the Lamb was sure to go…

it followed her to school one day which was against the rules; it made the children laugh and play to see a lamb at school!

Next, Mother Abigail sang “Lazy Mary will you get up? Will you get up? Will you get up? Lazy Mary will you get up? Will you get up today?”

(When I told Anna she would be playing Mary, she exclaimed in delighted surprise “Oh good! Because I really AM lazy!!”)

“No, no, Mother, I won’t get up, I won’t get up today!” Anna sang in reply, before snuggling back down on her pillow to return to dreamland.

And then it was finally Baby Kate’s turn (At the end of every scene, she would jump up and say “My turn! It’s my turn!”). She practiced so hard all week and received rousing applause after her act. Seriously, how could she not?…

There was a Little Girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead…

When she was good, she was very, very good…

but when she was bad, she was HORRID!

a group singing of “6 Little Ducks” between our nursery rhymes…

followed by Jack and Jill…

then Miss Muffet (watch out for that spider!!)…

then Humpty Dumpty…

then Little Bo Peep and all her hiding sheep…

and finally (my personal favorite) Georgie Porgie, kissing the girls and making them cry!

And the super secret special finale, a performance of The Beatles’ “Love Me Do” for their Grandmother as a fun Mother’s Day surprise.They sang this one with gusto!

“Pleeeeeeeasssse?! Love me do!”

A dance party to end our First Annual Cousin Show!

~

It was so precious to watch the kids relax at their tables and chairs afterwards and enjoy their snacks. Their eyes were alight, their smiles were BIG, and well…my heart was bursting.

Brother (with a mouthful of Twizzlers) and Sister, proud of their accomplishment and happy to FINALLY raid that snack table!

I like to think that Kate and Rebekah were discussing their favorite part of the show, but who knows? They’re best friends, though, that’s for sure! (when they’re not duking it out…)

I am so very proud of my little actor and actresses. They made this Mama/Auntie one happy lady! (and everyone say ‘hi!’ to our friend Joe in the background!

I hope you’ll try putting on a special show in your backyard, whether you homeschool or not. Any way you slice it, this is good (and educational) old-fashioned fun.