Monday, March 27, 2006

Official Driver

The McIntosh household is pleased to announce another official driver! Brady acquired his driver's license last Friday. Just think of the errands I can get out of running now. What should I do with all the time I'll have? Read a book, go for a walk, plant a garden? Oooh...guess I won't have as many excuses for a messy house. This is a picture of him driving through a snow-covered pass in Washington. He's a good driver. He says playing his racecar video game helped him. I'd say paying attention to the road ever since he was big enough to look out the window helped too. Now if we could just get Erin to do both of those things...

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Book/Movie Tag

Okay Cristina, I'll try. It's interesting that my answers are books/movies I've recently seen/read or some of the first ones that I remember laughing or crying in. Just thought you'd like to see how a middle-aged mind works : )

Book I've cried the hardest in:
My Bible has the most tear stains in it.
Novel: Where the Red Fern Grows

Movie I've cried the hardest in:
The Other Side of the Mountain - This is based on the true story of Jill Kinmont an Olympic skier who basically skies off a mountain and becomes paralyzed from the neck down. I watched this 30 years ago in the movie theatre and cried buckets.

Worst movie I've ever watched:
The Little Red Pony (Can you believe it, a horse movie of all things?!) Based on John Steinbeck's book.

Most ridiculous movie I've watched:
Napoleon Dynamite (See Crazings)

Most disappointing book I've read:
Ex Libris by Ross King This book seemed to have it "all" for me: Set in England in the 1600s; a mystery that had to do with old rare books and history. The conclusion of the story was not only anti-climatic, but was the worst possible ending for any book lover.

Funniest Movie I've watched:
I remember "way back when" thinking Airport('80) was pretty funny. It was a spoof on the then popular disaster movies. I had fun laughing with my family with the movie, The Man Who Knew Too Little. (There are a couple of scenes that we fast-forwarded over.)

Silliest Book I've read:
I know there's probably been many, but I can't think of any right now.

Couple of Books I'm dying to read:
The one Erin's currently working on
Leave it to Psmith, by P. G. Wodehouse
Jewell, by Bret Lott

Couple of Movies I'm dying to watch:
Brady's next animated short
Dreamer - Is it in the video store yet?!! This is a HORSE movie based on a true story starring Kurt Russell and Dakota Fanning
March of the Penguins

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

My good lookin' kids

I pushed the kids outside today so I could take this. (Click on the picture to enlarge.)

Spring Under the Apple Tree

A photo I shot (around the corner from the crocuses) as we were waiting for "the man" to go away. (By the way, the crocus pic in yesterday's post was not taken by moi, it was a freebie off the web.)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Happy Spring!

Yesterday Erin and I went on a crocus hunt. We succeeded in finding pretty purples and yellows all open and smiling at us. The last few springtimes we've caught ourselves saying, "We meant to plant some last fall and we forgot." Oh well, a crocus hunt is a lot of fun, especially if you have a camera with you and you want to take a picture. The crocuses are usually in someone's front garden and a picture requires you to walk on a neighbor's yard or up a driveway. We were shy about doing this because a man was raking leaves right across the street at his home and we didn't want to look conspicuous. Do you think walking by three times looked less conspicuous? *grin*

We're happy to report that we are not feeling nearly as miserable now that we're back on some of our important supplements. I've actually had a couple of "spurts" when I had some decent energy, so much so that I excitedly made a list in my head of all the things I wanted to do that morning and started digging in to conquer them. Alas, the energy spurt didn't last very long but it was quite exciting while it lasted. Hopefully, there will be more of those for longer lengths of time in the future.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Why do we wear green today?

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

When Brent came home for lunch today we asked if everyone (that he works with) was wearing green. The answer was "yes" much to our amazement. "Do they know why they are doing that?" I asked. Probably not, was his reply. Here's an excerpt of a write-up of St. Patrick's life from for those who want to know:

St. Patrick

Legends about Patrick abound; but truth is best served by our seeing two solid qualities in him: He was humble and he was courageous. The determination to accept suffering and success with equal indifference guided the life of God’s instrument for winning most of Ireland for Christ.

"The determination to accept suffering and success with equal indifference..."
That is a wonderful testimony to Patrick and a great reminder to me. I have to say that recently my acceptance of suffering has pretty much been with the hope of it paying off for my future health. To think about accepting suffering in the same way I would accept success is to totally let go of what I deem worthwhile in this life that I'm living and to have complete faith that both suffering and success are equally worthy qualities of livelihood.

I must say that I have caught myself during this prolonged illness with times of discontentment. I've had times when I've thought, "I want my life back." But God's Word has made it clear to me that THIS IS LIFE. I'm living exactly as God has ordained. My life isn't on hold. Our suffering through illness is just as much living as our success we experienced as we homeschooled. May Christ be glorified in it all.

Christ shield me this day:
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me

Saint Patrick, from his breastplate

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Testing 1, 2, 3

Actually we have 4 lab tests that we brought home from the doctor's office and have to complete. We've sent in one. The next one we are working on requires us to be off all the supplements that were helping to keep our symptoms down a little bit. We'll be off them for a week. This feels like it is going to kill us. Please pray for us. I wouldn't be surprised if we needed to go to the hospital before the week is over, except that we won't go there because they will want to put us on meds that we can't be on for our test. We've gotta trust that all of this suffering will be worth it in the long run.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

life is so good

by George Dawson and Richard Glaubman

This is a wonderful autobiography of man who lived through all of the 20th century plus! He learned to read when he was 98 and kept right on learning until he died at 102. When you get done reading this book you'll have an appreciation for what segregation felt like; what hard work looks like; what America was like in the 20th century with its wars, inventions, and presidents; how having faith in God produces a respect for parents and those in authority over you, a desire to do right and a discernment to know what that looks like, and an attitude about life that is free of bitterness and disappointment. I'm going to have Brady and Erin read this when we are studying this era in American history. Richard Glaubman, an elementary schoolteacher from Seattle, helps George Dawson to record his story so that we can all learn that "life is so good."

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Three Day Trip to Doctor in Numbers

Maybe my trip report will be less boring if I tell you about it in numbers. (I borrowed this post idea from an author, Shannon Hale's blog.)

Hours spent on the road getting there and back: between 11 and 12

Hours spent at the doctor's office: same

Total hours of sleep I got the two nights away: less than that

Blood draws: 3! (The doctor wasn't trying to be mean, but the the more he talked to us and thought, the more things he came up with for testing.)

Total number of tests I will have taken by our next visit (in one month): 10

Number of test results received so far: 1 for each of us. This result gave us a big clue as to why the kids aren't getting better, but I'm a bit like Dorothy in the "Wizard of Oz" who at first didn't get anything from the wizard that could help her out.

Worse number of the whole visit: The doctor ordered 1 Vit B injection for the kids, 1 time a week. And since Brent could tell that I was feeling left out, he talked the doctor into ordering the 1 injection per week for me too. (Why'd we bring him along, again?!)

Worse number for Brent of the whole visit: The bill.

Best number of the whole visit: 3 hugs from someone other than my immediate family: 2 from my sister and 1 from the doctor after he saw the nurse showing me the BIG box of take home tests he had ordered for us. He exclaimed: "You poor family" and held out his arms wide to give me a hug. (Two things about this: The doctor is alot older than his picture on his web-site indicates and Brent took the "poor" part of his statement literally.)

Number of meals we ate out: 2 out of 7

Number of hours spent sightseeing: about 8 - (The daylight hours of our drive there and back.) Saw from the moving car: a female bighorn sheep standing under a rugged cliff, the base and top of which were covered with spring green; beautiful mountains and pine forests brightened with fresh snow; cheery apple blossoms on the apple trees in Seattle, and a cool metal sculpture of wild running horses along a long cliff ridge in the middle of nowhere, Washington.

Number of books I bought: 1 (You know I can't go anywhere without coming home with a book or two.) Brent treated us at "Barnes and Noble", after our first long day at the doctor's office. I chose a small hardback copy of Robert Frost's poems.

Number of minutes it took me to fall asleep in my own bed on Friday night: Less than 5. I had another "Dorothy" moment: "There's no place like home."

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Pilgrimage to a New Doctor Begins Tomorrow

It's almost scary how much weight we are putting on this doctor helping us. The yeast has flared up as badly as ever. We're back to hardly being able to move again. Why don't doctors make housecalls anymore? It seems weird that sick people have to be the ones that go out and about.

Tomorrow our journey of new hope starts. We've traveled down similar roads this past year and a half (yes, it's almost been that long.) We're wise enough in our heads to know that there are no guarantees...yet we are again counting on a new doctor to get us on the path of healing.

We put one foot in front of the other. We try what we can. We keep trusting God. We thank Him for whatever the outcome. He makes it all okay. He really does.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Last 24 Hours: Singing in French, a Hunting Trip, and a Special Visit

"Recois les chants qu'il offre a ta gloire immortelle
Et de tes dons qu'il retourne comble!"

"Receive our songs, offered up to Your immortal glory,
and may they return laden with gifts bestowed by You!"

Singing in Latin has become "old hat", but this was the first time I had sung in French. A family from France recently moved across the pond to our small town in the Pacific Northwest. Their 20-something daughter who sings in our choir tutored us in the pronunciation and translated the song for us. At the dress rehearsal, she needed me to share my music with her. "You'll laugh at my English phonics written on top of the French," I warned her, a bit embarrassedly. She smiled. Several measures into the piece I saw her do a double-take of one of my scribbles - we both started giggling instantaneously, finding it difficult to stop and carry on with our singing. Friday night our choir performed "Cantique de Jean Racine, Op. 11" by Gabriel Faure along with the NSA choir. It sounded least to everyone except possibly the French family sitting in the audience.

Saturday at noon, Erin and I went hunting. It was a shorter trip than we usually make, but we were able to bag what we went out for - book treasures - found during the "Buck a Bag" hour of the annual library sale. Erin scored a hardback copy of a P. G. Wodehouse book and a like-new paperback of one of Elizabeth Enright's books. I found a nice hardback copy of Silas Marner. We found several other interesting titles that we did searches for on the Internet after returning home and decided they were definitely "keepers."

After a night of performing and our short hunting spree, I was wiped. Brady and a friend had taken over the living room playing an Internet game on two computers. I went to my bedroom and crawled deep into the covers of my bed. I was not only extremely tired, but I was starting to feel very sick. I rested for a half and hour or so, and then Erin, up from the basement after watching a movie, snuck past the living room and peeked into my room to say "Hi." She came and sat on my bed. Then she started talking. Oh my, I can't remember all she talked about! She had so much to say. Her lively words medicated my weary mind and body. I started feeling a bit better and pretty soon the conversation was a two-way street. We talked for quite a long time until Erin started drooping from all the energy she had exerted. And then we smelled....IT. Brent's first attempt at a cake made from scratch (and Xylitol.) I had begged him to do something about the burnt tortilla smell that had welcomed Erin and me home after the book sale. This was just the ticket-what an aroma! (Yes, and what a guy!) After taking it out of the oven, he left to run an errand, but Erin snuck into the kitchen and dished each of us up a generous slice of warm apple cake. We ate the cake on my bed, feeling like we'd had the most special, yet most "normal" visit we'd had in a long, long time. Conversation followed by cake. Now that's living!

I'm still savoring the deliciousness of the last 24 hours. Mmmmm.......

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Privilege of Books

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
of prancing Poetry.

-Emily Dickinson

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends;
they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors,
and the most patient of teachers. -Charles W. Eliot

The picture above shows the largest chain library that exists in England today. Oxford's was larger, but they de-chained it. We were able to visit this library which is at Hereford Cathedral on the marches of England. An elderly volunteer, whose excitement about what this library represented was easily caught, not only happily answered all of our questions but freely contributed stories of the contents and history of this wonderful treasure. Not just anyone, of course, was allowed access to these books - priests, monks, and noblemen were part of the privileged few, mainly because they were the only ones that could read. The books were chained because of their value. Hardly anyone owned their own books. To read from a book in the library, the proper key would have to be obtained to unlock it. It then would need to be read from at the table right underneath the shelf. No checking it out to read curled up at home in front of the fire. Many of the books on these shelves were handwritten and some were also illuminated. A copy of an illuminated Bible from the 800's was currently opened for display.

Talking about this place doesn't do it justice. Standing there amongst the shelves of these precious books humbled us. We weren't expecting to feel so humbled in this part of the cathedral. But as we looked at these fat tomes we tried to imagine the hours of labor that were involved in copying them so that they could be read in England and not just Italy, Greece, or Constantinople. We were struck by how much we moderns take for granted. To read books when this library was in use meant making the time to read, not just grabbing a book from your nightstand to help you fall asleep at night. We could learn something from that. Today we are surrounded by the printed word everywhere, but how many of us actually read much? So many feelings like this came to the surface as we looked at the chains, the benches, and tables. How many of us would have slogged through wind and rain to sit on these hard benches to read for several hours?

Over the course of our illness, much of the past year has been spent sequestered in our "four walls" here at home. Books have kept us company. Yes, we have movies and the Internet which have helped "take us away" as well, but books have been our dearest companions. We've never been more glad of their availability to us. We've never counted on them quite as much. We've never been as thankful for them as now. With bookstores both on-line and in town, libraries that can get us almost any book we could ever want, and our own library of treasures at home, we've traveled to new places; we've been entertained, taught, rebuked, counseled, and challenged. What a privilege!