A New Play

In a tribute to his kindergarten teacher, Feffer has been playing school all the time right now. He cuts and staples and tapes and gives us quizzes (“put the wrong answer, Kris!”) and then adorns our papers with happy or sad faces, depending on our performance.

So, as we start this three-day weekend (curse you, Casimir Pulaski!), we outfitted the toy cupboard with some supplies for a new play…

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They’re happily at it right now. Happy Saturday!

Goodbye, February

Boy, am I ready to flip the calendar page! Although it’s only been 27 days long so far, February has been l—o—n—g in the Rensner house. Yes, it’s cold. Yes, we’ve had a few run-ins with illness. Yes, I’ve had some mid-winter blahs. But the real problem is that the youngest children in this house are still. the. exact. same. way. Between 3:45 (when Fiffer and Feffer get off the bus) and 7:30 (bedtime), our house is a cross between The Exorcist and Supernanny. February has been a no-progress month for us.

Dillon is still completely and utterly ridiculous. The things that come out of that child’s mouth…mind-boggling. Although we’ve tried to broaden his horizons, he always seems to push himself back into solitary confinement. Remember when he was pestering me to let him live in the shed? I’m starting to reconsider…

Fiffer is still swearing and stirring up trouble…and…maybe…stealing from her classmates? The jury is still out, but she sure seems to be “given” a lot of little trinkets. Every night, she asks  if I can not set the alarms on her door. Every night I laugh.

Feffer is still throwing fits and swearing too. His latest shenanigan has been writing profanities on his closet walls. And, although his spelling is still a little off, everything was written very phonetically…so at least there’s that:)

Feff is still pooping his pants…several times a day. In a world where everything else is out of his control, he’s holding on to this with everything he’s got. Miralax is helping us keep his pipes clean, but the rest of it…he’s definitely winning:(

But…March is coming. Spring is coming. Easter is coming. Summer is…wait…never mind…ain’t nobody ready to think about summer vacation yet.

Book Reports

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to read more books for personal enjoyment. I do a decent amount of reading for our homeschool, but just to kick back and read something for my own pleasure…I hadn’t been making much time for that. Since there are still large blocks of my life that resemble a cross between The Exorcist and Supernanny, and since this reality puts my sanity at almost daily risk, committing to doing something for myself seemed like a good thing.

So…here’s the report. Since January 1, aside from books for the kids’ school, I’ve read…

Pursue the Intentional Life by Jean Fleming. This was such a winner that I actually bought a copy. At the age of fifty, Jean Fleming started pondering what kind of old woman she wanted to be and how she wanted to spend the rest of her earthly life. She started collecting articles, quotes, and her own journaling into an “Old Lady File.” Twenty years later, she decided to publish it. And, turns out, her information is for women of all ages. After all, no one’s too young to start living more intentionally.

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. Wikipedia sums up the plot this way: “This is the story of Harry Crewe, the Homelander orphan girl who became Harimad- sol, King’s Rider, and heir to the Blue Sword, Gonturan, that no woman had wielded since the Lady Aerin herself bore it into battle.” Technically, this is a young adult novel, but it’s a good one. Hayden and I liked it so much that we chose McKinley’s “Outlaws of Sherwood” for our next family read-aloud.

No Biking in the House Without a Helmet by Melissa Fay Greene. Greene sums the book up beautifully herself: “We so loved raising our four children by birth, we didn’t want to stop. When the clock started to run down on the home team, we brought in ringers.” They went on to adopt five children (one from Bulgaria and four from Ethiopia). Their story is funny and heart-breaking and very, very real. The only downfall to this book was that it got Hayden started pestering us to adopt a baby from Africa. Oy.

Free Range Learning (How Homeschooling Changes Everything) by Laura Grace Weldon. This book was part of my annual (usually in February) angst about our homeschooling. For a couple of weeks, I let my imagination run wild with visions of self-directed children who are learning just for the pure joy of it. Then I look at my very real children, and my daydreams collapse in on themselves. My self-directed children are doing just fine with what we’re doing, thank you very much. My not-so-self-directed children would barely be able to write their own names if left to their own devices. I love the idea of unschooling, and I know families that do it beautifully and successfully, but it’s not for us. The book is good, though, and (taken with a grain of salt), it’s inspirational.

The Mockingbird Next Door by Marja Mills. I love To Kill a Mockingbird. Absolutely love it. I have read it countless times myself and have read it aloud to the children several times (in that way, it’s right up there with the Chronicles of Narnia and Across Five Aprils). However, after reading this book, I’m not sure I like Harper Lee that much. Although I think I grasp (as much as I can with something so outside my own experience) her desire to flee from fame, over the course of her life, I think she drew more attention to herself than she would have if she had just filled the role society wanted to give her.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. This novel ties together two stories: one of a teenage foster child who is trying to find her way, and one of an elderly woman who was sent West on an orphan train as a child. Obviously, this book grabbed me from the start, since fostering and adopting are two of my favorite topics in the whole wide world. The book ended a little predictably, but nicely…a good read.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. This book blew me away. I do enough reading that many books are…well…a little predictable. Not so with this one. The kids asked me a couple times what it was about, and even that was hard to answer. It’s a mystery and a story about a young man finding his passion, but the characters are young and hip and on the cutting-edge. Several times, I found myself wondering if the descriptions were about things that are real or about things that are futuristic. The theme ties together new technology and old books…awesome. Josiah read this book in a day, loved it, and spent some time googling things from the book to see whether they are real or not. Read it. I dare you.

So…I’m looking for material. What have you read lately?


I didn’t get the Bible questions up yesterday. Enjoy!

Readings for March 1, 2015
Genesis 17: 1-7 (8-14) 15-16

God was making a covenant, or contract, between Himself and Abraham. Unlike most contracts, however, it didn’t involve an even trade. What was Abraham’s part of the contract…what was he supposed to do? And what was God’s part…what was God going to do?

Psalm 22: (1-22) 23-31

Jesus spoke the words of Psalm 22:1 while hanging on the cross. While David wrote this psalm because he was in great distress, what other details in this psalm speak of Jesus’ suffering? What actions are God’s people supposed to take, according to verses 22-23? Reread verses 30-31. Future generations are depending on us to tell people about the Lord. How does remembering that responsibility impact your proclamation today?

Romans 5:1-11

In your own words, what does it mean to be “justified through faith” (verse 1)? What words in this passage describe what we once were in God’s eyes? How did Christ’s death change that? Looking at the progression from suffering to hope (described in verses 3-4), have you witnessed this in your life or in the life of someone you know?

Mark 8:27-38

What four things does Jesus prophesy about Himself? Why does Jesus react so strongly to Peter? What do verses 34-38 look like in your life…how are you denying yourself and losing your life in order to follow Jesus Christ?

Back to the Basics

Overheard during our first practice for the Sunday School Easter program. Pretty sure it was in jest.

Teen #1: Hey, you’re Mary this year!

Teen #2 (with a look of horror): Oh, no! Who’s Joseph?

Teen #1: Dude, it’s Easter. They were divorced by then.


Mother. Of. The. Year.

Josiah has a birthday coming up (18!)…and then his high school graduation. So the current topic here at home and among the extended family has been “Gift Ideas for Josiah.” The other day, I was discussing it with my sister (shopper extraordinaire) and she wondered aloud about buying him a coat. After all, this is a good time of year to be buying coats, she told me. Plus, she wondered if he would need a new one before he heads off to college in nippy Nebraska. I thought it was a good idea, but I was also pretty sure his current coat was in pretty good condition. I told her I would look into it as a possible idea for me, but that she should probably get him something else (we had several ideas) since the coat idea seemed like a long shot to me.

So. I filed the idea in the back of my mind (a scary and lonely place to be) and went on about my life. It surfaced again yesterday, and I scanned our always-overflowing, where-did-all-these-coats-come-from coat rack. Not seeing it, I reasoned that he had probably worn it to work. I went on about my life again. This morning, when I watched him walk out the door on his way to work, I mentally noted that he was wearing his leather(ish) jacket and vowed to check out his coat later. When later rolled around, though, I couldn’t find the silly thing. I asked Hayden if she knew where it was. She said that she didn’t think he had a coat. What?! I texted him at work.

He. Doesn’t. Have. A. Coat. It’s February 21, and my son doesn’t have a coat. He has his leather(ish) jacket, which he wears over a sweatshirt when it’s cold. It’s February 21, and I haven’t noticed all winter long that my son doesn’t have a coat.

How did that happen?! I asked him if he had outgrown it and handed it down. No. In my defense, he took it to summer camp last summer for a Frozen-themed dance, and the coat never made it back home. He told me about it at the time but hated to mention it again this winter. Oy.

So. Josiah has a pre-birthday, pre-graduation gift waiting for him when he gets home from work tonight: a new coat. Four weeks left of winter, but better late than never. Right?


Art Lessons, Anyone?

I really shouldn’t tell this story. I shouldn’t…but I’m going to. Because it’s just too funny to keep to myself. Locals, if you see my son, please don’t share with him that I shared with you.

Two things you need to know about Dillon before we begin…

1. He has absolutely no sense of time. Bible stories, history readings, and current events all enter that brain of his and immediately enter the spin cycle. Did his dad and I ever see President Lincoln? Did anyone ever take a picture of Jesus? Did the Pilgrims come over here just so they could blow up the Twin Towers? These questions are fictional, because I can’t come up with any actual examples this morning, but trust me…this is how the boy thinks.

2. He’s very black and white about matters of faith. Either you’re a Christian or a Satanist. People who yell at their kids aren’t true Christians…just as a random example. However, if you try to turn this logic back on him, you’re just being judgmental.

So…Tuesday was Dillon’s first art lesson. It went over even bigger than I dreamed it would. The kid is enthusiastic and drawing up a storm right now.

However, he is troubled by his art teacher’s lack of faith…which is good, right, and salutary…if we can just direct it a bit. Here’s the conversation between the boy and his father:

D: So…he doesn’t believe in Jesus?

J: No, that’s what he told your mom.

D: So…he’s an atheist?

J: Well…he claims to be an agnostic…but…yeah…basically.

D (eyes widening as “understanding” dawns): So…he’s from ISIS?

J: Yes, Dillon. Your mother has hired a terrorist to come teach you to draw.

Bless his heart…his ignorant little heart.