Our Austin house is empty.  Our stuff has been driven cross-country and arrived safe in our new home in Seattle.  After packing up and watching the truck drive away, the four of us headed to Houston to visit one of my very best friends and her husband.  They have a one-year-old foster baby plus newborn twins!  It was so fun to get to hold those munchkins and get some face time with that sister.  I pray that one day we’ll end up in the same city again!

Today is day 13 in Dallas staying with my folks.  B spent last week in Seattle unloading our stuff and getting the house ready for us.  Kudos to B’s parents for scrambling to close on a house for us right after we got up there.  It was a long frustrating search, but it’s done.  We’re so blessed that God has provided us with a beautiful house while we’re “roughing it” in grad school.

My sister’s wedding is Saturday.  My dad’s quite accurate description of them is “dumb in love”, and we’re thrilled for them.  As my great-grandfather used to say, “Nothing better than a good marriage, and nothing worse than a bad one.”  We’re confident that this will be in the first category.  It’s fun to watch.  Monkey and Chicken are going to be flower girls, and a frequent topic of conversation is “what do you think the girls will do?”  Who knows, but it will be adorable, regardless.  

Leaving Austin and Texas has been different than we expected.  Our church is going through a major transition, and we left just as the change began.  Our house isn’t sold, or even occupied.  There’s been an unexpected sequence of goodbyes in reverse chronological order.  We said goodbye to our friends from Hope Chapel.  I said goodbye to my college girlfriends, particularly a group of 8 whom I lived with in the infamous “Pecos House”.  I saw a couple of other college friends and a high school buddy who live in the Dallas area.  I’m saying goodbye to people who have watched me grow up in the church my Dad pastors here in Dallas.  And last week, my great aunt died – “Granny Auntie” (pronounced Ain’t-eee) we called her.  Last Sunday, we made the trek back to Malakoff, Texas where my paternal grandmother “Granny Tyler” grew up to say goodbye to Granny Auntie.  

Since Granny Tyler now lives in Dallas with my parents, Granny Auntie really is the last main connection we have with East Texas.  We used to go to Granny Auntie and Uncle Vic’s house every year for the day after Christmas.  My dad is an only child, but there we would see all of our second and third and who-knows-what-you-call-’em cousins.  I forgot how country they are.  I never was very close to any of them, but they’re family, and it’s a part of our family’s history.  My grandmother and Granny Auntie used to teach in the old brick school across from her house.  Probably my favorite part was walking alongside my grandmother as she walked out of the service behind her walker.  She couldn’t take more than one step without a 70ish year old someone stopping her to say, “Do you remember me?”  

“No.”

“I’m so-and-so, and you taught me in the third grade.”

or

“I’m so-and-so, and you were the only teacher to whip me, and my wife says it wasn’t hard enough.”

or

“I’m so-and-so, you were my teacher, and you haven’t changed a bit.”

My grandmother would respond, “well, you have!” with that twinkle in her eye. 

It was good.  It’s as if God has arranged a “Katy, this is your life” for me as I prepare to leave.  I don’t know why, but I’m pretty sure His hand is in it.

Tomorrow morning, my mom and sister and I go to get the requisite manicure and pedicure, or “nose and tails” as we like to call it.  In the evening is the “panty party”.  We have a bridesmaids’ brunch on Friday at the Dallas Arboretum, and then rehearsal and dinner that night.  The wedding will be brief and to-the-point, “shoes optional”, with a jazz piano and bass accompanied cake and ice cream reception at the church.  They’ll drive off on the groom’s Harley.  

Next Tuesday morning at 8am, we fly to Seattle.  The minivan will meet us there.  We’ll paint and set up house.  We’ll look into gymnastics classes for Monkey and get going on music classes.  We’ll begin the great church hunt.  We’ll try the farmer’s market.  We’ll meet the neighbors and get to know the ‘hood.  I’ll hit the sale at the Hanna Andersson outlet (we’re dangerously close!).  Some sweet friends are throwing a welcome party for us with all of B’s old church buddies.  I’ll get to join in on K & K’s mom’s night out.  We’ll be in the thick of a large, close-knit Chinese family.  We’ll soon find out just how inappropriate our Texas wardrobes are for the Seattle climate.  Brian will start classes.  And life will be very different.  It’s an adventure.  Our good Father has gone ahead of us, and we can trust Him.

She’s awesome. Must be in Musikgarten classes somewhere. Thanks to mom for the link.

p.s. B got me a mini video camera for my birthday, so expect to see Monkey in similar form soon.

Spring Chicken. Or, Chicken for short. On the plane ride back from Seattle, one of the flight attendants called the-baby-formerly-known-as-Suga Booga a “spring chicken” because of her hairdo. It fit. It’s stuck. Suga Booga just doesn’t work in print. Chicken is a better pair with Monkey. “I will also give her a white stone with a new name written on it”, and she shall be “Chicken”. Amen and Amen.

I’m a bit of an obsessive personality. I get it honest. A couple of my dad’s longstanding obsessions are pens and English bulldogs. You don’t want to find yourself wandering around my parents’ house at night. The bulldog figurines, lamps, stuffed animals, and small statues are around every corner. There currently isn’t a live one in their house, unless they’re dog-sitting my sister’s miniature bulldog named Maggie Pie.

My mom goes through phases. For awhile it was her garden. You could catch her standing on the front porch with her hands on her hips, staring for hours at her garden. One permanent obsession of hers is Jane Austen: the books, the biographies, the films. She was even given a Jane Austen action figure.

My sister is a music and film snob. Surprisingly, the guy she’s dating has music tastes that deserve her stamp of approval. This one must be really special (or just as obsessive as the rest of us).

My obsessions have also evolved over the years. It was playing the viola. Then, martial arts. Once I earned my black belt, it was swing dancing for awhile and then ultimate frisbee. I’m embarrassed to say that for a few years it was dating. But then I met my husband, and our first daughter was born one month after our first anniversary. And my obsessions changed focus:

Cloth diapers. Almost anyone who has joined the sub-culture of modern cloth diapering can attest to the pull towards obsession. Although I’m over that one, I still enjoy it when I get a little fluffy mail.

Babywearing. I’ve tried pouches, ring slings, pouch/ring sling hybrids, wraps, asian baby carriers and structured carriers. I finally gave up that one and narrowed it down to a couple of pouches, a mei tai, and an ergo baby carrier. Each have their specific function.

Clothes and shoes. Baby girls are *so* fun to dress.

Baby signs. Making your own baby food. Natural birth. Breastfeeding advocacy. Vaccines.  Sleep. Discipline. Toys. I’ve read the books, the websites, the user reviews. I’ve made informed choices.

I’ve done so much research and tried so many products, that I’ve become a bit of an expert in my circles of mommy friends. I literally have a cloth diaper survey I send to people now before I give them advice on what to buy. If I had been charging consultant fees, I would have a pretty lucrative business. Recently, a single friend commented how neat it is that I’ve become the expert on mommyness. If it’s going to be my job, might as well become the best one you can be. Yeah! What she said!

But, the most recent obsession will probably stick around a bit longer, and that is my children’s education. There was a British educator in the 19th century named Charlotte Mason. She was a Christian, and developed a philosophy of education rooted in her Biblical worldview. She’s earned quite a following recently, and many would say her ideas were inspired by the Spirit of God. I think some go too far to try and give their children a pure “Charlotte Mason education”, but the more I have learned, the more committed I’ve become to her philosopy.

My creative juices are running out for this post, so I won’t attempt a summary of a Charlotte Mason (CM) education. If you’re interested, a good start would be the FAQ’s on Ambleside Online. (AO is a free online homeschool curriculum that attempts to be as close as possible to a modern day CM education.)

B has applied to Master’s in Landscape Architecture programs at multiple universities, and the last for us to hear from (that we really cared about) was UW. We happen to be visiting Seattle right now to see B’s family, but still no word from UW. So, we decided to head over to campus to visit the LA office and see if they could tell us anything.

And… he’s in! I was so excited and nervous, I had to excuse myself to the bathroom while the secretary was going through some information with him. I had been praying all morning that he would get in here… it just seemed like the right place. And now that we’ve talked to some people there, it sounds like this program really fits his interests. I think we’ve found a great place to live too.

We’ve been thinking about making this change for a few years, and then the application process, getting acceptances one by one, plus the process of beginning to let go of our current home and community… it’s been quite a journey already! And now we actually have to sell our house, pack it all up, say our goodbyes, and move our family of four across the country… in about 5 months. Yikes!

B’s parents are paying for us to get family portraits when we visit them in Seattle in a couple of weeks.  So, I got sweet white dresses for the girls, and B and I will wear white shirts and blue jeans.  Here are the girls modeling their new dresses…

ps Monkey will get a haircut before the pictures. 

pps Suga Booga will not get a haircut.  We’re going to enjoy her ‘do as long as it lasts.

I haven’t posted in forever, and I haven’t even finished reading that Tolkien essay, but here are a couple of interesting links that concern us as parents:

Government concedes Vaccine-Autism case in court

The importance of play

And, I’ve figured out how to post links… Hooray!!!

There’s an idea that I have been thinking about in a vague way for quite awhile. It’s the idea that seems to justify, in my mind at least, fantasy stories like Harry Potter (all of which I read and loved) even to the Christian who would reject the practice of magic. It’s the idea that makes allowing your children to believe in Santa Claus (in an appropriate way) ok. It has to do with how children understand story and reality. It has to do with the way stories affect us and why. It’s to do with what makes a good story and what makes (what Charlotte Mason would call) “twaddle”.

Our friends “The other Emily” and “Miss Robin” recently brought Monkey to the library. Together they read a story about Curious George. Afterward, they went to Central Market. There were balloons for kiddos there, and Robin offered to get one from Monkey. Monkey’s eyes grew wide as she vigourously shook her head no. Perplexed, Miss Robin told her she would get one for herself, then. When Emily and Robin brought Monkey home, they left the baloon here. Later, Monkey told me that Miss Robin had left her balloon here. I asked her if she wanted to play with the balloon. Again, the answer was a definitive “no”. A little later, I discovered why. She told me they had read a book about Curious George and a balloon that caused him to fly up into the sky, and how the Man in the Yellow Hat tried to catch him, but couldn’t, and… you get the picture. Monkey took the story quite literally and anticipated the same thing happening if she were to take hold of the balloon string.

I’ve heard that Tolkien and Lewis had a certain idea of “myth” that even led them to call the Gospel the Ultimate or True Myth (something like that). So, I’m looking into what they wrote about it, and how it might cast light on the idea that I have been pondering. I’m in the middle of Tolkien’s essay on Fairy Stories. There’s some good stuff so far, but I want to finish it before I write about it. In order to do so, I’ve got to lay aside the other ten books I’ve been reading. So, hopefully this introduction will be the motivation.

To be continued…

Colossians 1:11 “May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might…”

to run the race with endurance? to make disciples of all nations? to cast out demons? heal the sick? raise the dead?

For what did the Colossians need power?

“…for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints of light.”

Being patient until we receive the promised inheritance. Enduring through the shadowlands – the in-between. Giving thanks for the fulfillment of promises that have not yet been fulfilled. Certainly, in His power, we may do great things. But between those moments of greatness will be many many more moments of the ordinary. Paul seems to think we’ll need to be strengthened with all power to…. wait.

I need that power. Because my days are filled with laundry and dishes and diaper-changes and feeding kids and cleaning up kids and putting kids to bed and kissing boo boos and resisting temper tantrums. I don’t get results for another 18 years or so.

And although “I will see (and have seen) the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”, I yearn for His kingdom to come in all fullness. A friend has fallen back into an addiction that threatens to destroy him and his family. A friend of a friend was gruesomely murdered by her husband this week. Another friend’s father’s health is failing, which forces her to consider how her family will handle his considerable debt when he dies. Another friend has provided a foster home to twin babies since they were born, and now will likely have to sue CPS to be able to keep them. Another friend struggles with recurring health problems and infertility. A friend’s 10 year old daughter is deteriorating quickly after a year long, and briefly victorious, fight against a brain tumor.  It was not meant to be this way.

Thank You, Father, that You have “delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of Your Beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!

If you’ve ever been to Costco, you know that it is a magnet for for Asians. B is Asian American and his family typically Asian in many ways. Their love for good deals, and in particular, Costco is no exception. So, this paragraph out of the January issue of Real Simple magazine was particularly poignant to me:

“…the downside to buying massive quantities became painfully clear. That gigantic container of garlic salt was too good a deal to pass up, until three quarters of it solidified into a salt lick. And that bag of prewashed spinach as big as a small child required eating spinach three times a day for a week, opening a roadside spinach stand, or trying to sell spinach on eBay. “I saw an 80-year-old couple walking into Costco” said my friend comedian Elayne Boosler. “I said to them, ‘Get out! Go home! There’s nothing here that you can possibly finish!'” (from “Love for Sale” by Merrill Markoe)

I laughed until I cried.