January 19, 2016

Winter Skies

The sky was alive last night as I left Wal-Mart pushing my cart to the car. From something as mundane as grocery shopping, I looked up and saw something ethereal and lovely. The last evening light played hide and seek in the clouds while patches of blue sky peered shyly at the Earth below. The symphony they created together was breath-taking.

I was reminded that even here, in the perpetual gray of the PNW, winter is not without beauty.

May 4, 2014

May the Fourth Be With You Always

Happy May the Fourth, friends!

In true celebratory fashion, hubby and I watched Star Wars IV this afternoon. I ranted and raved when Han shot first (I grew up on the originals, these "new" ones just aren't the same). I chided Luke for flirting with his sister and Leah for kissing her brother ("Would you quit that already?!") I cheered when the Death Star blew up. My feet danced to the triumphant music that plays when Han and Luke get their medals. It was a good day. It is a great story.

And I may or may not have popped onto Etsy when it was all over to purchase green light saber earrings. I'll never tell (though you may catch me wearing them in 5-7 business days).

Been thinking a lot about stories lately. Hubs and I started officially writing a novel together a few months ago and dinner time conversations often revolve around the hypothetical political climate of a hypothetical country and whether the main character knows how to use a broad sword. We are story-tellers, the two of us. We love telling them, reading them, watching them. And at the end of a long day, when the world has beat upon us and offered nothing but toil and pain and stress, nothing breathes life back into us like stories.

Story-telling came up at church today. Our small group just started a study on making God real to your children. This morning, we talked about moments in our personal walks when we knew that God loved us. Dialogue flew back and forth between us as we shared our experiences. Somewhere in the discussion, someone brought up sharing them with our children. Our personal experience of God can help shape their perceptions and their young faith, too. Let them know they are not alone. Let them know that God is real. But we have to tell them. Stories aren't stories until they're shared.

As small group so often does, it sparked a lengthly conversation between Jay and I on the way home. We believe in the "deep magic" of the universe, as C. S. Lewis puts it: that truth, real Truth, will always be revealed, no matter one's race, religion, or occupation. God is so fundamental to our existence, that pieces of Him bleed through all aspects of creation. Including art. Jay talked about a moment of pure Truth he discovered in an episode of House, concerning faith and belief. I recently read through the Divergent books, where the author (quite accurately) portrays forgiveness as a messy, painful business.

Stories aren't just for entertaining. They teach us about ourselves. They give us hope. They grant us courage. G. K. Chesterton said it best. "Fairy tales are more than true," he says. "Not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."

That's why fairy tales, Luke Skywalker, and Frodo are so important. They teach us that the world isn't a safe, fair, happy place. But they also teach us that beauty and good exist, that trying is better than doing nothing, and that evil can be defeated.

We need these affirmations. We need these reminders. Because in this world, where we live and do battle every day, it's easy to become jaded.

"Gallifrey burns no more, Doctor." -- Dr. Who

"Even the smallest person can change the course of the future." -- Galadriel

"Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth." -- Madeleine L'Engle

Happy Star Wars Day!!!

April 2, 2014

A Boy And His Dollars

He's fascinated by money, this seven year old boy of mine. In school, he is learning about dimes and pennies and half dollars. He's started his own collection of coins, too. He asks at least once a day for quarters and nickels out of my purse. I bought a money chart off of Amazon that shows how many of each different coin makes a dollar, how many cents each coin is worth, etc. He's practically memorized it and asks questions constantly.

I love this un-schooling that happens at home. How he learns without text books, without work sheets, just by being curious and interested in the world around him.

About a month ago, we introduced our young man to The Allowance. Along with The Allowance, we introduced The Chore Chart. You can't have one without the other, right? Mommy's pretty tired of picking up Legos . . .

So now, every Saturday morning, he stumbles down the stairs. Sleepy-eyed, dragging a blanket behind him. He bursts into my bedroom and whether I'm awake or not, he announces:

"Mommy! It's payday!"

And I think to myself, groggily on these Saturday mornings when I wish my bedroom door had a padlock, that picking up Legos wasn't so bad. . .

But what, you may ask, has our seven year old been spending his hard-earned dollars on?

Not a thing.

He's saving his money. What for?

A trip to London.


How does this kid even know about London?

(Oh yeah, his mom and dad watch Sherlock. And Dr. Who. And BBC period pieces. And . . . )

Yesterday, after school, we took a little field trip to the bank. There's one other thing Caleb has been saving his dollars for.

"Um, can I have a twenty dollar bill please?" he asked the bank teller. He handed her an envelope full of ones and fives. He's been waiting for this moment all month. The nice lady helped him count his money and then handed him the bill.

"Wow," he whispered. He's never seen one before. "Look Mommy! A twenty dollar bill!"

I'm surprised and amazed to see how excited he gets by what I consider small things. But then, $20 is a lot of money when you're seven. And he obviously felt on top of the world with that bill in his hand.

He's not so little anymore, this growing boy of mine. As his world changes, so does mine. I love it, every minute. But at the same time, I'm sad to see the innocence, the ignorance, leaving him. He's changing. And we're changing along with him.

March 23, 2014

On Being Brave

I sit quietly in my chair, tears rolling down my cheeks. I can hardly believe what I'm reading. Jason, deep in his own book across the room doesn't notice and that's fine with me. I don't really want to share this moment with anyone. Not yet. I sniff and look at the clock. I'm supposed to leave for a coffee date with a friend in a few minutes. I need to pull myself together.

After all, it's only a story, right?

I can't do it. I can't shake the sadness. Oh, I cheer up at coffee. My friend provides the perfect distraction. But even sipping my tea, I can still feel the weight of something-not-right. Heroines are not supposed to die. After giving so much, after surviving so much, they are supposed to live. To restore and heal and live.

So much of this story deals with healing and forgiveness. Potent messages that are not preached or pounded, but simply discovered. The characters are as surprised as we are to find that past wrongs, even grievous ones, can be overcome.

Why then, did the author choose to let the heroine die? I don't know. Her choice is unsettling, unhappy, but I respect it. And I respect how she handled the last chapters of the book afterward. Nothing rose-colored or happily-ever-after here. But there is courage. There is hope.

"There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you ever loved, for the sake of something greater.
But sometimes it doesn't.
Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life.
That is the sort of bravery I must have now." 
-- Four (from Allegiant by Veronica Roth) 

March 17, 2014

In Which I Try to Talk Sense to my Heart

We probably looked a little strange, the three of us huddled around one video game. Jason and Caleb manned the guns on the deck of our virtual pirate ship, while I stood at the helm with ship's wheel in my hand.
"Here comes the kraken! Get it, Caleb!"
"We gotta avoid the shipwrecks, spin the wheel!"

I know people were looking at us. I saw one young man smiling our way. He came over later during a lull in our pirate adventures and handed us a wad of tickets he had just won at ski ball. A random act of kindness that did not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

Our hands got tired of pulling triggers after a while. We tried to interest Caleb in other games. Maybe the race cars or the whack-a-duck? Nope. He would not leave the pirate ship until we had beat every map, completed every quest. So we did. The three of us working together.

I've never beat a video game before. Feels pretty good. :)

I want to hold on to days like today. We've had a lot of good ones recently. And while I am grateful for each and every one, I find myself grabbing and clutching at them like a miser. Life is good right now. My hands and my time are full. I don't want anything to change.

My brain understands that's not a realistic expectation. Change is one of the few constants in the universe. Life sends challenges, God allows circumstances to mold and shape us. But my heart does not understand. It continues in a ridiculous hope that life can remain constant, always joyful, always ordered, always controlled. And even as I enjoy these lovely, full, busy days, my heart is afraid. Afraid I'll wake up tomorrow and these days will be over. Something will happen to throw my life into chaos again and I will be plunged into exhaustion and uncertainty and disarray.

So I grab and I clutch and I horde. And I wonder if I'll ever be courageous enough to open my hands and allow God to give or take away.

When did I become so invested in the status quo? Where did the adventurous girl who existed a year ago disappear to?

I have no idea. Questions for another day, I think.

Has it really been nine months since my last post? My jaw about dropped open when I realized that the last time I blogged, I had three kids in my house. Seems like ages ago. The Inkwell is still here, though. Like an old, faithful friend. It feels good to see it again, to feel the keys under my finger tips. It's been a long hiatus.

I guess we'll see where this keyboard takes me. :)

June 26, 2013

Then Three Became Five

Finally. A quiet moment. A rare thing these days.

Three kids in the house. One calls me Mommy. The other two call me Miss Cole. Our life has gone from a walk to a gallop literally overnight.

Let me tell you a little about our new additions. We weren't expecting to take in two kids, but you know how God has other plans sometimes... this brother and sister are very close and we didn't feel right splitting them up. So we now have a 7 year old girl and a 3 year old boy staying with us, at least through the next month.

B, the girl, is the little artist. My fridge is covered with her drawings. We made her an art wall in her room last week, so she could have a larger space to display her stuff. She is strong-willed and stubborn as the day is long, but underneath that is a very sweet spirit that looks out for others and wants to take care of everyone. She loves animals (including bugs). She caught a snake in our backyard yesterday and then found herself a pet worm. She begged and begged me to let her keep it in the house, but there are some lines I won't cross. No bugs (or snakes) in the house!

J, the boy, is adorable. That is the word for him. Even his pout and "angry face" are cute. It's hard not to laugh when we put him on time-out. He tries so hard to keep up with the big kids, but his little legs make tag and water fights kinda hard. He loves anything Cars. He also loves airplanes. He gets so excited when the navy planes fly overhead. He jumps up and down and shakes his little fist at the sky, shouting "Good work, airplane!"

Caleb is handling siblings better than we thought he would. He gets overwhelmed at times, but we make sure he gets alone time every day so he can process. Since we've talked to him over the last year about the possibility of a little brother, he now calls B and J his little brother and sister. Oops. We tried telling him that these are friends, that they probably aren't staying forever, but the nicknames have stuck and B and J don't seem to mind. B corrects him, though, because she is actually older. But Caleb is taller. So I guess the literal meaning of "little" sister works!

At least once a day, Caleb asks me when the kids are going home. But ten minutes later, he's happily playing tag with them, and alls well. I suppose everyone feels that way about siblings sometimes? Wishing they would just go away? I'm out of my element here, being an only child. This whole multiple dynamic is new ground for me. But we are finding our way.

After a week, I think my ears are finally adjusting to the new volume level in the house. And my throat has stopped hurting from all the extra talking I do! Three littles asking questions, needing re-direction, needing discipline, needing reassurance.

I have come to deeply respect the sanctity of Bedtime.

I also do dishes and laundry twice as often as I used to.

Details about these kiddos are confidential, but I don't imagine they will stay with us permanently. Long term, maybe, but my hope is that they will be reunited with their family. I am seeing firsthand what it looks like when a family gets ripped apart. It hurts my heart. It hurts these precious children even more. My prayer is that God will do what is best for these kids. Whatever that may be.

My quiet moment is nearly over. I have an overtired three year old who won't nap and a Caleb who is antagonizing him. Oy. :)

I'll keep ya'll posted on our adventures! Keep us in your prayers!

June 3, 2013

When Zombies Come to Visit

You know it's a good day when Lego zombies arrive in the mail all the way from England. Thank you, Ebay! We spent a pretty penny on this couple to bring them across the pond.

The Lego set they belong to was recently retired. Much to our dismay. Caleb has been collecting these Monster Fighters sets since last year, but we hadn't added the zombie one to our library yet. Now it's gone. Unless you want to spend $200 for it on Ebay.

No thank you, Ebay.

While you can no longer buy it from Lego directly, the Lego website does still have instructions for building it. Which may be downloaded for free. Last week I took a closer look at said instructions. And realized we already owned most of the pieces to this set. Borrowing from other sets, we made our own Zombie Graveyard.
(With Caleb-embellishments, of course. Note the giant hammer to the right. And the catapult with missile attachements on the roof). We bought a few special pieces off Ebay that we couldn't fudge ourselves, like the zombie moonstone and the mini figures. But for the most part, we built it using what we already had. And I'm mighty proud of that.
This is my favorite part of the set. It's a coffin.
And inside? The Zombie Groom! Ready to rise and meet his Bride under the shadow of the graveyard crypt. They must defend their moonstone, after all. The Monster Fighters are after it.
See? This poor fellow wandered too close. Betcha he won't make that mistake again!

May 30, 2013

Tied Fabric Garlands

This was my rainy afternoon project:

Strips of cloth, twisted cord, and some handy knot-tying skills (ha, not really).
Oooo, the picture on Pinterest wasn't lying. This is looking pretty good!

Ta-dah! A tied fabric strip garland! Made four of these, start to finish, in about two hours. Gonna use them as decorations for a Jane Austen murder mystery party in July. Thank you, Pinterest!
Here's the actual pin, in case you want to see. There are some other great garland ideas on this site!