Monday, April 29, 2013

The Grand Vizier: Part III

In case you missed the last few entries in the Grand Vizier series, catch up on Part I and Part II here!

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The Grand Vizier rolled up the scroll on his ebony desk and sealed it with a black sealing candle, stamping it with the brass skull that was his signet. Someone was going to be poisoned.  Or at least they were supposed to be poisoned.  It never worked. Inevitably, an animal sidekick would knock over the glass, or a hapless goon would drink it, or some wholly random and unforeseen circumstance would prevent the intended from attending the right party and somehow they would discover that far away in his black tower someone wanted them dead.

It worked the same way with knifing and sniping and trapping and ambushing and even lacy silk pillow smothering.  Somehow the hired murderers, no matter their grim credentials, always managed to fail in some manner.  A dozen times they’d killed the wrong person.  Another dozen times, they’d missed entirely and managed to get captured, inevitably managing to implicate the Black Spire in some manner.   They managed to implicate him even if they died before falling in love with the target and using their now fully functional skills against him.  No wonder Evil Emperor had been bald.

He had occasionally considered changing assassination firms, but The Dark Brotherhood had a long standing contract and going elsewhere was not to be heard of.  It appeared that the standard ineptitude clause did not apply to bad guys.

Not that the Vizier really wanted to see masses of inconsequential citizenry murdered.  Far from it.  The Vizier prided himself in practical efficiency.  If you were an evil grand vizier and your job was prodding heroes into heroism, husbanding dungeon ecosystems, and machinating evil, you put on the black, rallied your ghouls, and did your work like so many burning villages.  It was only right. Somebody had to do it.

Sitting back the Vizier handed the roll of parchment to Carlisle who toddled across the room and dropped it into the horse hair mailbag. It was black.  The Vizier planted his chin in one hand and drummed his fingers.   If only it didn't seem all a little pointless. There were some games you couldn't win for losing.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Big House: A Walk Down Memory Lane

This weekend my parents are away at the Christian Heritage Conference. It falls to Ben and I to check in and make sure everything is running smoothly at the old homestead. 

I love coming here. There are memories everywhere, and I can take a bit of personal pride in the property. When my family moved here in 2007 this beautiful 2.5 acre plot was buried under heaps of garbage, old vehicles, RVs and various sheds built out of scraps to hide more scraps. Instead of this lovely home, we lived in a single wide trailer. I don't have any photos of that, because it was recently smashed with glee by Dad's backhoe while the whole family cheered.

Today when we drove up to the house, we were greeted by two German Shepherds and a lawn full of grass. The beautiful home is missing only a coat of paint, and the landscaping is well on it's way to completion. Raised garden beds hold teeny green sprouts and a swooping gravel driveway is ready and waiting for the black iron gate we all talked about for so long. Everything has come a long way.

The corner of this old and dangerous A-frame sat where the fancy breakfast nook is now. This thing was absolutely packed full of horribly useless stuff. Emptying it by the wheelbarrow load was a grim business, punctuated by dubious exclamations of, "Why would you save this?!" and a lot of head shaking.

I believe there were 7 completely broken down cars sunk into various corners of the property. Getting rid of those was Dad's job, but Mom and us kids got to clear away the old carpet and roofing that was buried with them. Which is miserable. Just take my word for it. 

Once, when mom and I took a break to despair over how deep one of the piles of disintegrated rubble went, we heard a buzzing coming from an old carpet we had tossed onto the hood of this red truck. Mom has serious reactions to stings, so I suited up head to toe, and stood ready with a bottle of the most poisonous looking concoction I could find in the hazardous substances pile. She yanked the carpet aside and dove for cover while I shrieked and viciously attacked the one poor bee that flew lazily away. I'm seriously glad the hive we were sure we'd find wasn't there. 

That's me! We had a tiny dirtbike track which has expanded by now. You can see a pile of tires...there were millions of them. No. Joke. I remember sweaty afternoons spent digging up layers of rimless tires and rolling them down the big hill to our tire stash. We all grew very strong. When the last dump load was hauled away, we had a party. A big one. For weeks after you could hear little ones playing with their toys and mentioning conversationally to their friends that we had finally finished 'The Tire Job'. Since not to many 6 year olds can brag that they'd spent three years doing physical, adult sized labor, we got lot of blank stares.

Dad built our house with his very own hands. Since it was basically going up in our front yard, and we were involved from the point of breaking ground, the 'Big House' became an ever evolving playground. The foundation was a dungeon, the roof a stronghold and secret spy lair. We hung ropes and swings from the rafters of the enormous attic and camped out with our flashlights and BB guns (just in case). Once the roof was on, there was no kind of weather that could have prevented mom from sending us outside to play.

Consequently, I love the outdoors year round.

Little miss Erin is having a difficult time adjusting to nature, however. 

She is okay being held while we are outside, but touch her feet to the ground and that child has some lighting quick reflexes. All of which indicate no. She will not sit in that grass. Those rocks will not dirty her pretty white shoes. And above all, her hands shall not touch the dirt. 

We are working on this. :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thoughts on Child Training

I recently read, watched and listened to a number of child training resources that I should probably read, watch and listen to again. Sometimes it takes awhile for this stuff to sink in. A few points however, stood out in  blaze of red and yellow caution lights. I thought I was familiar with most of these concepts. One year of hands on baby raising has shown me that head knowledge will  not suffice.

  • God instructs us to train up our children, not 'discipline up'.There is such a subtle difference here! I'm finding that if you rely solely on consistent, strict adherence to The Rules to create a good little child who will not embarrass you in public something is missing. Rebellion will breed, bad attitudes will form. It will happen before you even know it's possible.
  • To train up a child is to show them how. This is so important, and when I'd read the phrase often enough for it to finally penetrate my thick brain I was beyond excited. It felt like the pressure to succeed was suddenly gone and in it's place sat a rolling, hungry desire to live life with my daughter. 
  • If you fail in every other area of child training you must do one thing right: create an atmosphere of joy. Just do it. :) Be happy with your life, your spouse. Become a fountain of thankfulness and good cheer. I've read that children only understand outward signs of joy, and it's true! I tried making it a habit to reach out to my daughter and make her smile at least once every thirty minutes and found that with this attitude it's happening more and more and more. 
We are turning over a new leaf. Here is documented proof that my home is happier, my daughter is thriving and this Mama is still growing upwards. (Also some birthday pictures!)

Erin eating a PBJ for the first time. The bread part quickly became rather insignificant.

 Fun with scarves! Erin learned to say 'pretty' that day, and ran around modeling for us. :)

 Mom was cooking, so Erin was too. This is dried oatmeal, which she stirred with a tiny wire whisk. I think a potato was involved at some point as well.

We are starting a garden at my mom's house. Erin tags along and sometimes helps me water the seedlings. 

This one is a bit fuzzy. Erin decided, while playing in the Tupperware cupboard, that Daddy would look great in a plastic hat. She plopped it on his head and declared it 'pretty'.

We had a super low key birthday for Erin for now. First thing after her afternoon nap she got to open the first batch of presents! My sister's were very generous to bestow some of their most precious toys on the occasion of Erin turning one. :)

Her favorite by far was Aunt Amber-Rae's old Baby Sweetcheeks doll. She has this adorable way of saying 'baby' that melts my heart every single time. 

 We practiced putting Baby Sweetcheeks to sleep in her blanket.

 And Erin gave so many kisses and hugs.

Daddy is so much fun! 

 Almost all her birthday gifts from her aunts. The rest couldn't be pried from her fingers at the time.