Youth and High Spirits

June 1st, 2016

First, let’s get the ho-hum out of the way and then–on to the fun stuff!

“How is the addition project coming along?”

That’s one of the most common questions we are asked nowadays.

Joe has been able to make respectable headway with many of the smaller interior projects and has only three of those left–shelving and hanging rods in Josie and Laura’s closet, shelving in the clothing room upstairs, and the counter top in the laundry room.

Outdoors?  It still pretty much looks like a train wreck out there!  Since there were so many delays over the winter, three final major jobs were put off until spring, which is one of the busiest times of the year for Joe and Daniel and everyone else involved.  So…the exterior projects are still in waiting mode.

We’re waiting for the septic guy to have time to finish the septic job.  I guess you can’t really see it from this photo, but there are pipes and other lovelies lying about the place.





We’re waiting for the masonry guys to have time to build the retaining wall behind the addition.  Some very heavy rains took the tarps and a lot of mud off that hill, as you can see from this photo.  We’re still hoping to be able to save the oak tree you can see in the middle of the photo.


IMG_7609 - Copy


The exterior is still waiting for siding.  After the first plans fell through, we’re now searching for a couple of Saturdays for Joe and Daniel (and hopefully some friends) to get that job done!


IMG_7832 - Copy


Then, of course, there’s the final grade to be finished.

After that, we can landscape, clear off the back porch, and set up a patio table and chairs in order to use that space.  May not happen this summer?

But you know, if the Lord tarries, it will all get done, and if He doesn’t, we won’t care about the addition anymore!

We’re fully functional as a household now, thanks to the part of the addition that is finished plus the reorganizing work I have been able to accomplish.

And the truth is, we don’t need anything to be different in order to be happier than we are right now. 

In spite of the challenges of this past winter, we finished up our educational year at the end of April as usual.  Last July, it looked likely that we might have interruptions throughout the school year, so we started very early, even for us.  And of course, homeschoolers don’t have to take snow days.

Laundry logistics: SOLVED!

Mindy and the two older guys do their own laundry, of course.  Laura does her own and Josie’s, Jane does her own and Verity’s.  That leaves the laundry of nine people plus household linens.

After Daniel and Joshua moved the four laundry machines up here from the basement, the four Musser monkeys were taught how to do laundry.  They work in pairs and each pair takes three laundry days.  They keep the machines running; I do the stain treating, folding, and all the putting away except for the four boys’ own laundry.  It’s working like a dream!




Typical scene~

IMAG0849 - Copy


I keep a Johnny-Jump-Up and a set of building toys in the laundry room so little ones can join me there.  We often sing and dance to favorite music while I fold laundry.  Sometimes Verity helps me.  She can fold washcloths, dishcloths, dish towels and bibs.








We looked forward to May as a time to make further headway on some house projects, since Josie and Katie are in school until June 10th.


Josie posing for a goodbye photo just before bus time with the home health aide she had from the beginning of the year until last week.  I forgot to ask permission to post the HHA’s photo online, so I cropped her out of this photo.




We made our plans for May, but God had different plans for us than we had for ourselves!

The first few weeks of May were spent successfully weathering the family crisis I alluded to recently and coming out stronger for it; at the same time handling medical and educational details like appointments and home school evaluations.

Josie and Katie both had some fun experiences with their school classes during the month.

Josie’s class went out for bowling, pizza, and birthday cupcakes…










Katie loved Ophelia Day, our school district’s annual field day for their students with special needs!


















Josie in duPont for some testing, all of which came back clear, thank the Lord!




Josie telling the story from Nathaniel’s perspective–“The nurses said I was adorable and they said I was precious and very cute.  And Josie did not like the IV.  The IV’s were horrible.  Daddy came to see us.  And then Daddy left.  And then Josie cried and I comforted her.  And then I cried and Josie comforted me.  And then I was happy and we were both happy.”





While we were still emerging from crisis mode, Joe went away for half a week to attend the Samaritan board meetings.  It was Jane and James’ turn to accompany him this time.








Since then, I’ve been making half-hearted stabs at catching up on emails and other neglected tasks, but mostly wifing and mommying and keeping the family logistics humming.

The structure underneath our family life can be compared to a skeleton.  Functionality is not an end in and of itself.  Far from it!  We were created to be more than skeletons walking around.  But as a sixteen-member household, we need that underlying complex structure to be as strong, healthy, and highly functional as possible to enable the rest of life to happen, and all for a transcendent purpose–to be more effective in the higher calling God has given us.




Another mom recently began a question to me with, “Do you keep a strict…” and then was interrupted by one of her children.  I laughed and laughed, and replied that I didn’t need to hear the rest of her question in order to answer it!  We don’t keep to a strict anything–strict diet, strict schedule, strict anything!

In spite of everything and in the midst of everything, lots of fun Musser family life keeps on happening, because…let me say it again…we don’t need anything to be different in order to be happier than we are right now.


Making the cornmeal crust for Mexican pizza, yum!








We’ve begun having company over again, for the first time in years!  Hurray!  It’s one of our very favorite things to do!  We can’t wait for Laura’s birthday, when we have our whole church over for the first time since the summer of 2012!

We enjoyed meeting old and new friends last Saturday at the tenth annual Big Families and Friends picnic!

We’ve celebrated with a few young friends at their high school graduations!

It’s been gorgeous outdoors, after a long, chilly, wet spring.  Hurrah for short sleeves and bare feet!





I’m walking again!  So far, I’m scheduling walks with friends so as to keep me from folding laundry instead, haha!  Once the walking bug has me in its grip, I’ll begin looking for every chance I can find to get out there and walk.  I used to walk about ten to twelve miles a week, and have so missed walking in the past several years!

I finally got around to giving Verity the haircut I’ve been putting off.  I cut about six to eight inches, yikes!  But we like it, and it’s so much easier to comb through, to style, and to keep tidy and clean.








And now it’s June, glorious June!

We’re gearing up to turn thirty quarts of strawberries into jam this week, and Laura and I have a few fun small projects in the works that we may or may not accomplish before the girls finish school next Friday.

I’m not taking many photos, but I am taking mental snapshots of happy moments, and there are many.

After supper one evening last week, Joe was visiting with a friend; I was nursing Nathaniel on the front porch swing while watching Katie, Verity, and Ben jump and swim in the ball pit; Daniel, Joshua, Jane, John Michael, and James were throwing a frisbee around in the front yard; Laura, Josie, Peter, and Stephen were in our new basement playroom (Mindy is still living in our former playroom) with great hilarity officiating over the wedding of Jake Bear and Georgia Bear, complete with wedding attire and the cranked-up music of “Let’s Get Married.

Speaking of the baby, he continues to be a contented, jolly little guy with a low, throaty voice and a ready grin for all who come within his range, very much a “people person.”  Often, when I go to check on him in his crib, I find him keeping himself cheerfully occupied, greeting me with an elated smile.  Not the greatest sleeper we’ve ever had, but he’s getting there.

He’s at that perfectly delightful stage of practicing all sorts of gurgles, squeals and coos and grabbing everything he thinks he can stuff into his mouth, including his own chubbity feet.  He likes to snatch my arm with both hands and hold on while I change his diaper.  He’s turned out to be a thumb-sucker, which I find irresistible in a baby, especially when he hums and talks through it.

Discovering grass~




It’s so bright out here!  Where are my sunglasses??




And recently, the 2016 edition of our family paper, The Vine and Fig Newskeeper, edited by Laura Musser and published by Jester Press, was revealed to our great enjoyment!  I was commenting to a friend recently that a large portion of our family life never really makes it onto the blog, and that’s our sense of humor.

For your amusement, a few excerpts from that paper, among the News, Upcoming Events, and Other Important Things~



Laura Musser: Writer, Artist, Storyteller, Mapmaker, Songwriter, Riddleweaver, Linguist, Violinist; I will perform free services in these areas for any requester.  Contact me at [her email address] or call [her cell phone number].  Free trials are also available.  Only exception:  Nasty or perfect people.

Laura Musser:  Photographer, Babysitter, Artist; $5 per photo, piece of art or hour of babysitting.  Contact me at [her email address] or call [her cell phone number].

James Musser:  Mapmaker; free service; Contact:  I just go to people and give them maps even if they don’t want me to.

Josie Musser:  Storywriter, Artist, Lego builder; People don’t have to pay at all.  No electric bills, no anything.  I do it for free.  Contact me [fake phone number].

Stephen Musser:  Housebuilder and covered wagon-maker; paid service:  I’ll tell you the price after I do the job.  Wedding, party, and special occasion organizer for stuffed animals in the new basement, Paper creations; free services.  Contact Stephen Musser at [fake phone number].


Section of Small Oddities:

Ben’s request:  I want you to write a tree.  Trees are so much bigger.  I like to hang up trees with squirrels in them.

John Michael:  I ride trees instead of horses.

Peter:  I am two fluffy little chicks.  My name is Paul McCustard.


Interview With Josie Musser:

Laura:  I heard you know monkey language.  Can you demonstrate?

Josie:  Oo-oo-oo-oo-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah!  [Giggles]

Laura:  What does that mean?

Josie:  It means, this is how I demonstrate monkey speaking!

Verity:  Ruff, ruff!

Laura:  You’re not a dog, you’re a monkey!

Ben:  Yes, she is!

Josie:  She’s slash monkey, slash dog, slash elephant.

Laura: Elephant?!

Josie:  I mean frog.

Laura:  Why a frog?

Josie:  Because she hops around sometimes.

Laura:  Oh.  I guess we’re all part frog.  I mean, we all croak, eventually.



Want Ads:

Jane:  I want window boxes.

Peter:  I want boxed windows.

John Michael:  I want a bulldozer.

Laura:  I want to find out what planet I actually came from.

James:  I want to be a quirky gentleman.  I want Dad to have time to teach me Greek.


Quotes from Josie Musser:

“The gate will remain.  Say the password, and it will open, and there is a note inside.”

[While taking cough medicine]  “What do they teach in those schools?  1996 medicine?  This tastes horrible!”


New Movie Coming Out Soon, 2016/17  “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego,” Directed by Daniel Musser and Laura Musser.  Videography by Daniel Musser and Jane Musser.  Screenwriting by The Most High God.  Sets by Laura Musser and Mom.  Props by Laura Musser.  Actors: Joshua Musser starring as the golden statue.


Excerpted from Interviews about Superpowers

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Laura:  Personally, I’d like to be able to fly.

James:  That would be sort of fun, but then you’d have to have wings, and wings would look terrible.

Laura:  There’s always a downside.


Josie:  I want to have the power of singing.  I would sing horrible songs to the bad guys.


Mom:  Any superpower?

Laura:  Yes.

Mom:  I would be able to live without eating, drinking, or sleeping.  I would be able to enjoy them when I had the time, but I wouldn’t need them.


Jane:  Umm, let me think.

Laura:  A superpower where we could actually think!  Good idea.


More is Coming.
A Poem by Laura Musser, 16

A sad thing would be
If I died right now
And no one but me
Would really know how
The verses that I’ve
Made should go,
So I’d best stay alive
‘Til they’re all in a row.
The paper calls
For feel of pen.
The sheet enthralls
The ink, and then
The words appear
And forth they pour
From right in here
And out the door
Of mind to hand
And ink in pen
To white rectang-
ular and then
It’s copied, read
And scrutinized
And edited
And publicized!
But it is past
Eleven now,
And I won’t last
If I don’t bow
My head to rest
Upon my bed.
So I had best
Get up instead
Of sitting here
And writing this
‘Cause morn is near
And sleep is bliss.
It’s time to brake;
Farewell, laptop
And words and wake.
And now I stop.


Excerpts from Truth vs. Lies:  A story by Josie Musser, as dictated to Laura Musser

Once upon a time there was a king who wanted to rule over a kingdom.  He was very cruel, and he had a magic wand that turned everyone into stones and slaves and made everyone work for him all day long without resting, no drinking, no eating.  The people were starting to die of thirst and hunger.

He had a spell on him a long time ago.  He used to be a good king, but a wizard tricked him and told him that he could do whatever he liked and rule over the land and make everyone slaves, which is a lie.  And the king believed it.

The only way to break the spell was to find a good wizard to use his magic wand to fight the bad wizard so the king could be good again.  But if the bad wizard came back, he would be banished to a dark, scary hole and stay there ’til he suffered and died.  And if the spell was not broken, the king had to stay bad forever and would have to be banished because he was doing bad things and making the people slaves.  But if the spell was broken, he would be back to normal, setting all the people free.  And then the people would have water, food, and rest.

And then the good wizard fought the bad wizard with his wand, and the bad wizard fought back and said, “I am a bad wizard.  I told lies to the good king, so that he might believe me.  I make spells on all the kings who rule over the land, and I trick them by using my magic wand and by telling them they can do whatever they like.  I am evil.  I don’t like the truth.  I can make them dizzy and make them drunk and do whatever they don’t want to do.  I do not speak of the truth.  I speak of lies.”

And the good wizard said, “”You do not like the truth because you are a demon.  You can be banished.  You like lies because you like to trick the kings.  You don’t like the truth, you don’t like healing, you don’t like the good spirit that’s in the king.  And you make them do bad things they don’t want.  But I speak of the truth and you don’t like it, so you need punishment.  You fight it, and I fight back with the truth.”

And the bad wizard couldn’t stand the truth, so the bad wizard’s spell was broken, and his magic wand was broken, and his evil magic was broken, so his power was broken, too.  And he slid down a large black hole that he could never climb out, and he tried to climb out, but the hole kept closing into him.  And the people inside said, “There’s no escape.  This place is going to last forever and ever.  You should have repented when you had the chance.  But you didn’t.  So you ended up in here, in the black hole, and this is the end of the line for you.”

The other bad wizard said, “You have a heart that’s not in the right place.  It’s evil.  You haven’t repented.  The good wizard told you the truth, but you never listened.  You kept doing bad things, so you’ll stay forever.  And this is what happened to you.  This is your everlasting punishment.”

And the bad wizard just cried.  The end.

There’s another page where the good wizard breaks the evil spell and said to the king, “You’ve been tricked by a bad wizard, which you didn’t know because you thought it was a good wizard.  You thought it was a good wizard who could give you good powers, but you thought wrong.”


Reviews of The Newskeeper:

Stephen:  I think it’s pretty good.

Ben:  Four stars.  Because I like four.

Jane:  Very funny.

Peter:  It’s cool and fun.

Josie:  Ten stars.  It’s great!  It’s cool!  It’s awesome!  It’s beautiful!  It’s delightful!  And fun!  It’s super!  Ten means more!  Ten means awesome!

John Michael:  Eight stars because there are eight chickens.


Lassie Nae Mair,
A Poem by Laura Musser

Och, aye, ye lassie,
Bonnie lassie,
Honey lassie ‘at ye waur,
Comin’ haem noo,
Naught th’ sam noo,
Yoo’re a dam noo, lassie nae mair.













Share it!

13 Responses to “Youth and High Spirits”

  1. Esther Paris says:

    You get out on the 10th?? I cry foul!

  2. Susanna says:

    Why, when’s your last day, Esther??

  3. Esther Paris says:

    The 20th. Only 13 more days of pay check. Then a break. Then ESY. Thank goodness I have work for ESY. And thank goodness no one minds too much if I arrive to work sweaty as I’m biking and it gets HOT! So while I wouldn’t mind ending on the 10th, I guess I am glad I work to the 20th. My kids get out before I do.

  4. Susanna says:

    Whoa! Is that due to many more snow days in RI, or do you start much later, or both, or ???

  5. Dana Sorrell says:

    Thanks for sharing all that. I laughed out loud several times at the humor. :-)

    Laura’s poem is totally awesome, really good, should be published.

  6. Jacy says:

    Only one newspaper per year?!! I agree with Josie’s assessment of it- I love it! You’re family’s sense of humor is great- I especially like the quotes from various family members. I’d love to hear more! But you have more important things to do than collecting what everyone says and posting it, so I’ll have to be content.

    BTW, thank you for blogging. I’ve learned a lot from you, about mothering, special needs, and just life in general. Looking forward to meeting you someday, even if we have to wait till heaven!

  7. Kat says:

    I may not comment a lot, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE catching up with your family!

  8. Blessed says:

    What a fun post! I wish I could walk with you–so I’ll just think of you next time I walk! : ) And the description of the family newspaper so perfectly echoed what I was just reading last night in E. Nesbit’s “The Treasure Seekers”–which your family now has to read if they have not already!

  9. Ann Onymous says:

    That newspaper is hilarious!! :)
    In my family, every year we mail a “Christmas letter” to our extended family and friends. (Usually we get it out by around New Years’, though one year we didn’t finish it ’til Easter.) First is several pages summarizing what we all did that year. Then comes the best part: many pages of Christmas Quotes!!! The Christmas Quotes are all of the funny things our family members (including Mom and Dad occasionally!) have said throughout the year. Whenever one is uttered, we try to write it down as soon as we can. Then my mom writes them all chronologically in a special notebook, until the year’s crop of quotes is transcribed in the newsletter and distributed for the amusement of all. Occasionally we read old Quotes and have a fun time laughing. Sometimes the Quotes also become inside jokes. :)
    The things kids say can be highly amusing. :)

  10. Susanna says:

    Blessed, “The Treasure Seekers” is a favorite of mine from childhood. :)

  11. Susanna says:

    Jacy, Laura is the single force behind the family paper; I just borrowed it from her and posted excerpts. She may be the artistic type with her head in other worlds most of the time, but she is also one of the most productive individuals I know, always with many creative projects going at once. It simply pours forth from her.

  12. Susanna says:

    Dana, with so many kids in the family, you can see why there’s also a lot of laughter here! We generate our own comic energy! My dad and mom had nine, and they used to say, “Who needs television when you have kids?”

  13. Susanna says:

    Ann, what a fun idea and worth doing!

RSS feed for comments on this post. And trackBack URL.

Leave a Reply