Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Black Gold; Red and White

We managed to sneak in a little family time again tonight.  I can't express how comforting that is to me.  This ritual.  The time with all my kiddos gathered round, simply being together.  It was not long tonight, but at least we did it.

It was getting late.  The littles were wild; engaging in mighty sword fights with the foam swords Grandma and Grandpa brought them at Christmas. 

Inge had her princess dresses on over her blanket sleeper.  This is an every night thing.  She lives in the dresses all day, trading from one to another, or layering them in different orders as the day goes on.  But after jammy time every night, one or another, or several, go on over her jammies.

The bigger kids were having a bit of commotion over getting dishes done.  Everyone did manage to be in the living room before the motivational timer beeped, however.  But by then the littles had their swords out (again), and had to put them away (again), which (again) took several minutes. 

Finally we were ready.  We try to do an 8:00 bedtime, but when I asked for the time as we were getting started, the reply came that it was already 7:52.  Sigh.  I really, really wanted to have read aloud. 

"Matt, grab Black Gold and see how many pages are in the coming chapter."  Some of the chapters have been pretty short and even the ones that are more than a couple of pages seem to go quickly.  So I thought I'd still consider reading awhile in spite of the late hour.

"Seven," Matt replied.

"Hmmm, well, let's just read for a few minutes and we'll see how far we get."

I picked up my crochet.  Joe had his guitar in hand, which he strummed quietly.  Inge and Donna drew pictures in a notebook.  Elsie worked a puzzle of some sort in her new puzzle book.  I think Clara, Sophie, John and Stella were simply listening.  Which is perfect, since they are the ideal age to which Marguerite Henry seems to write. 

Oh, wait, Sophie was rubbing lotion into her skin.  She battles chronic eczema during the winter months and is currently engaged in all-out warfare with a raging flare up.  I had helped her with the cortisone while the older kids did supper chores; and she was doing the Eucerine layer herself during read aloud.

It seemed only moments before Matt finished reading the chapter.

Clara then read us Psalm 123, and the Magnificat from Luke 1; and Elsie finished up our devotion readings with Hannah's song, from I Samuel 2.  We had family prayers. And scooted everyone off to bed.  Not by 8:00, but before 8:30, which is well worth the few minutes' lateness.  After our quiet time, everyone was calm and probably more likely to sleep than had they gone straight to devotion and bed.

Well, not quite everyone went to bed directly.  Elsie and Clara asked whether they could play a quick game of checkers, and I said yes.  Then after Clara went to bed, Elsie asked if I'd play her.  I was not inclined to have to think that much at this time of night, so she asked Joe.  They played three games.  It was all together fulfilling to see them playing quietly together.  A definite happy pill.

It reminded me of On the Shores of Silver Lake.
     One stormy day Pa brought a wide, square board in by the stove, and with his pencil he marked it off in small squares inside a plain border.
     "Whatever are you making, Pa?" Laura asked, and he answered, "Wait and see."
     He heated the tip of the poker red-hot in the stove, and carefully he burned black every alternate little square.
     "Curiosity killed a cat, Pa," Laura said.
     "You look pretty healthy," said Pa.  Tantalizing, he sat there whittling until he had made twenty-four small squares of wood.  Half of them he laid on the hot stove, turning them until they were burned black all over.
     Then he ranged all these pieces in the squares on the board, and set the board on his knees.
     "Now, Laura!" he said.
     "Now what?" asked Laura.
     "These are checkers, and this is a checker board.  Pull up your chair, and I'll show you how to play checkers."
     She learned so well that before that storm ended she had beaten Pa in one game.  But after that, they did not play so immoderately.  Ma did not care to play, nor Carrie, so after one game, Pa always put the board away.
     "Checkers is a selfish game," he said, "for only two can play it.  Bring me the fiddle, Flutterbudget."

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