Friday, December 16, 2011
Every month marker is shocking to me, so I'm not sure nine months feels any more shocking than eight or seven or four or two months felt... each month comes with such dizzying speed I just can't quite catch my breath.
But nine months does sound big for my newborn baby girl. ;o) Sure she has a couple of teeth, can crawl and pull up to stand, and is starting to say "Mama." But she's just a very advanced newborn.
How can time go by so crazy fast? How can my baby be nine months, three-quarters of a year old?
How can I be the mother of six children - my oldest rounding towards the decade mark?
But there it is. She is nine months old. He is turning ten. The days do keep whizzing by.
And I just want to savor every second of it and treasure it up in my heart. Because I know that in the blink of an eye it will all be behind me, and nine months will be a lifetime ago and my babies will have their own babies, and I won't be the Mommy any more.
So I am cherishing. I am basking. I am enjoying each day. And it's a good thing... because there is so very much to enjoy each day.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
On purpose. ;o)
I know most people hear the word "rat" and cringe - but really, they do make really great first pets. They are smart, social, playful and affectionate. They are big enough to be fairly sturdy when curious hands get a little too rough, but small enough to not take up too much space or need too much care. They are smart enough to be litter trained and can learn to come to their names and even to do a few little tricks.
So for a few months now Punky has been saving up money to buy a rat plus half the cost of the gear for it. Along the way we discovered that there are rat breeders - and if you really want a good pet you go through a breeder, not a pet store. So we tracked down breeders and got on waiting lists and waited and waited for babies. Then we learned that you should always get at LEAST two rats, because they are so very social that they are not happy to be the only rat. So we began waiting for TWO rat babies. We bought a cage. We tracked down the healthiest foods and the cleanest bedding and litter. We made a rat hammock and got training and care books. We approached the whole rat acquisition like, you know, a homeschooling family. ;o)
The kids picked out the names for the future rat brothers - Lewis and Clark. (A good pair name after studying US History last year) All we needed was an official pair of rats to stick the names to. But all the leads kept falling through. Waiting lists full. Litters having fewer born than expected. That kind of thing. Poor Punky was getting a little anxious...
Until Friday. We sent in an email on a pair of 5 week old baby rats that he got all excited about - only to find out they were spoken for. But the breeder had two "teenage" boys that had been returned to her after their 10 year old boy owner's mom had developed allergies. These boys were sweet, snuggly, and super well cared for, according to the breeder - but no one wanted them because everyone was looking for babies. Punky was bummed to miss out on the babies he had set his heart on and didn't really want to settle for these older rats - though he did feel bad for them that no one wanted them. We had sadness, we had tears. So I sent him off to pray over the situation (God cares about the big things as well as the small things - and though pet rats may be a small thing to us, it feels big to a 9 year old, so it's a big deal to God, too.) and see where God led him. I told Punky that God knew who and where his pets were, and if he prayed over it, he'd be given direction.
Sure enough, he came down feeling real direction and confidence that these were the ones. He actually liked knowing that they had already been socialized and trained, he liked that they were bigger and sturdier for the little ones' curious hands, and that they were owned by a boy his age, too. And he liked that they were ready NOW. ;o)
So we made all the necessary arrangements and this breeder, bless her heart, was willing to drive all the way up here from Oregon. OREGON! She really wanted these guys to have a good home, so she drove 3 1/2 hours so get them to us for only the cost of the rats and gas money. What a blessing! So our whole family got to pick them up and meet them for the first time. We met in a parking lot off the main freeway to save her the winding drive off the I-5 corridor to where we live. The rats were curious and friendly from the word go, and Punky was in love at first sight. And of course the rest of the crew is fascinated and excited, too.
The little guys are tucked snuggly in their new cage tonight, and my biggest boy is dreaming sweet, ratty dreams, no doubt. ;o)
Now of course Finny is pining away for his very own rat, one he can snuggle in his lap for a good read any time he wants without having to share him with all the other eager siblings... Oh goodness. What have we begun?
Pics to come, I'm sure. Tonight was just a little too busy with picking them up and getting them settled and teaching Lellybug not to climb up the cage and all that jazz.
So welcome home, Lewis and Clark. We're glad you're here.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
I sit here not even knowing what to write. My blog has been completely neglected for months (my last post was from our first day of school – we are now halfway through week 12 in our My Father’s World curriculum) but it’s not for lack of good content. On the contrary, actually. There have been so many wonderful happenings in life that it’s a little overwhelming to just pick one to write about.
But I guess that’s kind of the point… Life is good. Life is blessed. Life is beautiful. But life is FULL.
My days start before 6am, and I’m rarely asleep before 11 at night. And Sweet Pea, who will be eight months old tomorrow, is still waking up every two hours through the night. My oldest two sons are in 4th and 2nd grade and we’re doing My Father’s World’s first year of their five-year cycle – Exploring Countries and Cultures - in addition to their math, spelling, language arts (which I admit I pretty much don’t do), etc. Goose (5) and Girly Pie (3) are both what I consider preschoolers and I’m making every effort to actually do SOME preschooly stuff with them every day – some Cubbies verses for our Awana club, reading lessons for 5 year old Goose, some Rod and Staff workbooks, fun sticker books, puzzles, games and lots and lots of play dough. Bug is rounding the corner to two and I just can’t seem to squeeze all our school into his nap time anymore so he is more of an entity this year as well. He is NOT content to just sit happily at the table with a fun activity in front of him. No, he seems to think that school time is the one time of day when he wants, NEEDS Mommy’s full, undivided, direct attention. And he has no problem LOUDLY making this fact known. Of course as soon as I’m not trying to work with anyone else he’s happy to putter about quietly, contently, and independently. Did I mention he’s almost two? ;o) And darling little Sweet Pea naps through some of our morning routine but not all of it. She’s at the age where she is happy to crawl and play sometimes, hungry lots of other times, and wanting to be held and played with the rest of the time. Of course I love doing all these things with all of them - but they often overlap and I have to run triage a bit, so to speak.
And there is laundry and cooking and cleaning and and disciplining and friends to keep up with and appointments to schedule and diapers to change and sewing projects to sneak in and Christmas presents to plan and make and buy… and after all that is mostly done in a day there is of course my husband who still hopes to have a cheerful wife to come home to and enjoy each evening. And sleep is good. I like sleep. I do get some – that’s a good thing.
And the thing is - I LOVE everything I do. I am really enjoying the school stuff with my big boys this year and feel like I’ve really hit my stride for the first time as a homeschooler. I really enjoy the preschool time with my Middles. I really love having a toddler and watching him grow and learn and talk and discover. And having a baby to cuddle and love on is of course a daily joy and blessing. I love having a large family and seeing their relationships blossom and grow. I love my wonderful husband and enjoy the time I get to spend with him. Heck, I even enjoy doing laundry at this point. Crazy, but true.
And did you know I’m a Christian? Did I mention I know God? No? I didn’t mention that, did I?
You see, I do know God. I do know He is there and has handed me every single blessing and good thing in my life. And I love Him. And I am so, so, so thankful. Truly. I do give thanks in all circumstances. I see nothing in my life that I feel anything but thankful for.
But this full life of blessings is still… full. And I find less and less time to actually read the Bible. I pray constantly – all day long really. A constant connection to Him, reaching out all day long. But those long “real” prayers where you write stuff down and seek Him out and lift others up in prayer that I hear tell of – nope. Don’t do that. The kids and I read the Bible together daily for school time – but personal reading time, alone time “with God”? Nope. Don’t do that much at all. Honestly, I even get a little bummed when I hear people speak of a “close personal relationship” with Jesus. I think I know what that is, but I can’t say I have experienced it. I mean, maybe I have. I have felt close to Him. I know I love Him. I know He loves me. I can’t wait to meet Him in heaven and I hope I make Him proud. But close and personal doesn’t quite describe it. Respectful. Loving. Thankful. Honoring… but maybe even just a little bit distant. There – but not quite right HERE. Does that make sense?
I’m just being totally honest here. I’m sure it’ll get all kinds of offensive for someone, or will draw pity or contempt from others. I don’t know. But it’s the truth.
And the thing is – I’m OK with a little distant right now. Is that OK? I feel like I’m supposed to WANT close and personal, and that maybe I’m wrong for not. I wonder if I sound un-Christian to the right sort of people and when I read certain blogs or books that speak of all those things I start to get this sinking feeling that I’m doing it all wrong. That maybe the God I know and love, who loves me through thick and thin and understands when I’m busy living the life He gave me and loves me anyway is not the God that they are talking about. Maybe God is more judgmental and has a higher standard than I thought He did. I start to shrink down into my little cave and feel like I’ve not only failed all the other people out there whom I would consider my peers, but that I’ve failed Him somehow, too. Then I try to do more, shine more, look better, fill in a better Christian “resume,” you know?
And every once in a while He snaps me back to attention and turns my face back up to His and reminds me that I really, truly do not need to earn His love or His Grace. They are both free. Freely given, and His hope is that they will be freely received.
But sometimes when I spend too much time looking around at others I get it all muddled up in my brain and heart. I see the good in them and somehow turn that into an expectation upon myself to do better. Be better. Earn more of His free gifts of love and Grace.
So maybe that’s the distance piece? Maybe I take too much from the Christian culture around me and tell myself I’m distant. He’s distant.
Maybe it’s really OK that my days feel full – in a good way. Maybe it’s OK that I can’t check off the box of Bible reading and quiet prayer time every day (or week, or month, if I’m going to be perfectly honest…). Maybe I can teach and love and make a home for my family without a moment to spare every day – and feel stretched and full but happy and blessed. Maybe He knows that’s where I am today, in this season. Maybe he knows that six children nine and under, with babies 13 months apart means my arms are never empty – no matter what else might need doing.
I’ve heard people describe this stage in life as “running on autopilot.”
But maybe running on autopilot really isn’t the best way to describe it. I actually don’t quite feel like I’m on autopilot. I do feel like I’m so busy living each and every moment that I just can’t stop and ponder each and every moment the way I once could.
Maybe it’s kind of like the old “stop and smell the roses” saying. I am smelling the roses. All day long I smell roses. And daffodils. And lilies. And lilacs. I have a whole beautiful English garden full of lovely flowers to smell. And I love them all. But all I can do in this beautiful garden is walk around and smell the garden as a whole. I can’t really just smell the roses – because the lilacs are so fragrant right next to them. The perfume of the whole garden is beautiful and fills up all my senses. I can see the colors, textures and shapes, the light shining through the leaves and brightening up the colors around me even more. I can smell the fragrance. I can hear the birds chirping and the frogs croaking and the children playing. I can feel the warm sun shining on my face. All of it. Deliciously, all at once. Isn’t that what a garden is all about, after all?
But when I hear someone mention a rose I missed, or a tulip that slipped by unnoticed by me – I start to doubt if I’m doing right by enjoying the garden as a whole. As though I’m doing it wrong somehow.
But then my Gardener reminds me, when I take the time to listen to Him and block out the other garden guests around me, that He planted this garden, and He put me in this particular garden – as full as it is. And really, if He just wanted me to smell the roses, He would most likely have just planted roses for me.
But He didn’t plant just roses. And I like all the color and beauty of the wild, busy garden I’m in. I suspect He knew just what kind of garden was right for me. Those neat and tidy gardens that other people like never did appeal to me. Straight rows of bushes, everything in order, one pretty flowering plant amidst the many evergreen bushes and shrubs, and always so green and always neatly trimmed – but so… predictable. I have always been drawn to the gardens that are so full of color and life and variety that you can’t really pick out just one flower and love it best. You have no choice but to just stand there, in the middle of it, and take in the beauty of the garden as a whole. Sure, there are weeds down in there… but there are so many beautiful flowers to admire that you can’t even see the weeds hiding under them. And some things are overgrown and a bit messy even – but somehow that just adds to the beauty of it all. That has always been my kind of garden. And He knows it – which, again, is why He likely put me in this one rather than those pretty, neat and predictable gardens all around me.
To be perfectly honest there are times that I do get a little overloaded - when I'm so busy in my garden that I miss the smells and sights and sounds for a bit. I won't deny that sometimes I really do wish I could just smell roses every once in a while. After all, once upon a time my garden was small and I did smell only roses - but my roses grew and many more flowers have been planted since then. But I wouldn't give any of the beauty of it up. And I never long for the plain gardens. And I know that if I did just stop and smell the roses only, that I'd very quickly miss the colors and smells of the garden as a whole.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Day One of trying out a very, VERY light schedule (less than half of what I have planned when we really hit our full schedule) for the coming school year.
It was fun, it was full, it was good all around.
The things I've already learned:
- 8:30 is a completely unrealistic start time for us. Too many chores, too many mouths to feed, too many babies to hold and snuggle, too many children to talk to and actually parent and love on. No way we'll be pulling out books or Bibles or anything *official* before 9am.
- We have a lot to do in any given day. Two babies, two preschoolers, two elementary aged children - plus laundry, meals, housecleaning, the list goes on... No wonder my free summer days have already felt full. Not quite sure how all the school year stuff is giong to fit in.
- Now I remember why my house is messy through the school year. I have more spare minutes to tidy and organize through the summer. Once we get up and moving I suspect I won't really be cleaning until next summer. ;o)
- Incentives work beautifully. I started offering up fun prizes (two pieces of gum, an ice cream cone, stuff like that) and letting the big boys bid for extra chores. Today I got an entire bathroom cleaned and my van cleaned out, vacuumed and washed, all for the cost of 6 pieces of gum. They're already eyeballing little odd jobs around the house and wondering if they can do them for more. Yay!
- This year is going to fly by at break-neck speed and before I know it my baby girl will be walking and my oldest son will be ten and I'll not even have had time to blink!
So it was a good day. A full morning. Lots of smiles, lots of productivity, lots of life a' happenin'. And I hope to start up week one of our 34 week curriculum next Monday, but I am all about dropping the stuff that doesn't work for us and loving the stuff that does. This year I am leaving the guilt behind and just hanging on to faith instead! God put this family together, He is calling us to homeshcool, and if He thinks we can homeschool AND raise (and feed and clothe...) six small children, then we can. It may not look the way I plan it out, but it will be good.
And so it begins... bring on fall. I'm ready!
Monday, July 18, 2011
But as my Sweet Pea is hitting the four month mark (I know. It still shocks me to even say it out loud. Four months. Wow.) I find my little fog clearing just a bit and I can see that "good enough" isn't really good enough.
Much of this awareness has fallen on my house which is in a bit of a shambles. I've tried to soak up every moment of Sweet Pea's first weeks and months, and I know I won't regret that time one little bit! The clutter piled, the organization fell by the way side, and I'm so thankful school was out when it was or I don't know what I would have done! And all that's OK in my book. Messes will still be there to clean, books will still be there to read, but my baby won't be a baby for long, so I want to take as much time as possible to enjoy her as I can.
But - as I come out of my New Baby Fog - I am starting to see that my enjoyment of Sweet Pea has left me cutting corners in areas where I shouldn't be, and where I don't want to.
I guess over the past few days (maybe weeks) I've started to realize that my goals with my children have been much more behaviorally focused. Correcting bad behavior, reinforcing good behavior, the usual. And I do believe it is good to correct bad behavior and to encourage good behavior.
But the problem is that behavior has become the main focus.
And that is a big problem. Because we are all people - fallen, sinful people - young and old alike. And I don't want MY attention on behavior to be what my kids think it's all about. After all, isn't that why Jesus died? Because God knew our behavior would never be good enough? We could never earn our way to heaven. So that's why He chose the plan that He did - to show us just how much we need His grace.
So as of today, my goal will be my children's hearts. To see them. To know them. To win them. To keep them.
This has been a goal of mine before, but it's harder to stick to it than one might think. Getting stuff done often feels more important in any given moment. Changing their behavior rather than their inward heart is a lot easier, to be honest.
But as I write all this, and as I ponder these thoughts I believe God has revealed to me, it occurs to me that when I focus on their hearts as God does - focusing on the heart of a man rather than on his outward appearance the way men do (see 1 Samuel 16:7) then their behavior will likely improve anyway. I'm going about it all wrong by making that the focus. I'm too tired to bring to mind any vivid analogies, but there are many (even in the Bible there are many!) out there to make the point that painting over the surface does nothing if the inside is missed.
So I am praying for God's help to see my children's hearts, to know them and to keep them. I want to be close to them, not just in charge of them. And I know this will challenge me. And I know it'll make other goals (like getting the house in order, for one, or finding any down time for myself in the day) much harder to meet. But I really do feel that God is calling me to do this right now.
So there it is. My new goal as a mother. It's not really even new at all. I'm just seeing my same goals in a different light, and seeing how my actions have not been in line with my heart's desire for our family. And how in my efforts to help my children behave better, and encourage them in Christian ways, I might be driving them away from a relationship with Christ rather than towards one by putting too much focus on behavior and outward appearance. I just pray that it's not too late and that God in His wisdom and grace will help me to do better, and that my children will love me enough to forgive my mistakes. And that I can be the mom God wants me to be. And the mom my children want and need me to be, too. I haven't much idea how to get there myself. I keep doing it all backwards. So this one will most definitely take divine intervention!
I'm very thankful that God is still in the business of answering prayers. ;o)
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Goose - just weeks shy of his fifth birthday and blowing our minds daily with his wit and intellect. This one is probably responsible for more laughs (and more brows furrowed in thought over insanely deep questions and observations) in a day than all the others combined!
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
But I wanted to quickly announce the arrival of our sweet new Blessing.
On Wednesday March 16, 2011 (9 days before I was due to deliver) at 5:52pm we welcomed our newest daughter to our family.
She weighs 7 pounds and measures 20 inches long.
She has a full head of gorgeous black hair and the prettiest features of any baby ever (though I'm sure I've made that statement at least five times before...) . Her eyes seem to be getting darker rather than lighter, so I think we'll have a brown eyed girl here, too. The last brown eyed baby I've held in my arms was my first born son - so we're all enjoying this novel "new" look - especially since her big sister is about as fair as they come.
She's beautiful. She's perfect. We are all completely in love with her. My husband is doing an amzing job of caring for us all as I rest these first days so that when I am back up and running I'll be better prepared to do all that God calls me to do for this beautiful family I am so blessed to be able to mother. The children are all pitching in a ton of help. God is so amazing and I cannot believe just how richly He has blessed us.
A loving, supportive, amazing husband. Four wonderful sons. Two beautiful daughters. The means to stay home to care for them all and even homeschool them. Words cannot describe how I feel to be so blessed. The only word that comes to mind these days is Beautiful.
I'll post pictures eventually - when I can take my eyes off of my baby girl long enough to get some on the computer. ;o)
Well off I go. Time to honor the request of my sweet Girly Pie as she went up to bed last night, "Remember to take good care of my new baby sister, Mommy!" So take good care of her I will. ;o)
Thursday, March 3, 2011
I cannot believe that I have already been pregnant with this baby for 37 weeks. That sounds like such a long time, doesn't it?
But it feels like the blink of an eye.
My baby is due three weeks from now - and though I am so excited to hold him or her in my arms soon, I am definitely not done holding him or her in my womb yet.
The middle of the night wiggles. The kids feeling the kicks and squirms when I read to them. That sweet little foot parked permanently on my right side, just under my ribs. The full belly. The being of "We" rather than just "Me." It's all just so precious a gift, so beautiful a miracle.
I am so blessed to have been a part of this aspect of God's creation six times now. I wouldn't trade a moment of any of my pregnancies.
And I know I wouldn't trade a moment of any of my times with my newborns and babies and toddlers and children either... all of it has been such a glorious gift.
But 37 weeks - only 3 (plus or minus) left - this particular gift has a time limit. And this one is almost up.
So I am soaking in each wiggle, each foot jab, each head turn, each achy little contraction that is just slightly reminiscent of the labor to come, the beautiful moment of meeting this child for the first time - just on the horizon.
Everything is perfect. The lack of posting is only due to lack of time allotted to this machine - not due to lack of wonderful moments to write about. The children are all well. My sweet Little Bug just celebrated his first birthday last month, and Finny and Punky turned 7 and 9. Loose ends are getting tied up, to-do items are getting checked off as I prepare for the newest arrival. School is still being taught (and learned - though admittedly with less passion on both sides than was felt in the fall!). The freezer will be stocked in the days to come. The homebirth kit is ready and waiting. The boy and girl quilts I so badly wanted to make are sewn and done and sitting beautifully in the bassinet - and soon enough a baby will be in one of them.
And so begins this 38th week - and as I sign off, my sweet babe is hiccuping away. Oh how I'll miss those hiccups. But oh how cute they'll be in person, no doubt...
Monday, January 17, 2011
Most days I know it's all a good, beautiful thing. Most days (almost all days, really) I delight in watching them grow, learn and love together. I know that though they give up a few things, they gain so much that it's all the right thing. And besides all that, it's all been God's plan and not mine, so I know it can't be wrong. But when wading knee deep through the culture around us (no matter how hard I try to avoid it altogether) I do still see all of the smaller families and hear about all the one-on-one activities they do, and the opportunities available to children with only one or two siblings - and I have my moments of guilt. Not doubt so much, just guilt that our children will someday feel they missed out on something due to the big family.
But today I was delighted by a glaring reminder that for all they may be missing out on, our children really are gaining so much by being raised in and among so many other blessings.
This afternoon was Finny's 7 year well child check. And since I had so many questions regarding his allergy and sensory issues, and since my sweet Hubby was working from home and was available, I was able to take him alone to his appointment.
The appointment itself was mostly uneventful. Finny's still 50% on weight and 75% on height - same as always practically since birth. He's still got some issues with skin and behavior, but no real answers. Food stuff might help out a bit, but no magic cures there. His last remaining ear tube is concerning so I should call his ear, nose and throat specialist to see about surgery to have it removed. Nothing huge or shocking - all things I expected to hear.
But as part of the appointment with older children the doctors like to ask them a few thoughtful questions, I suppose to gauge their development intellectually and socially. The first two were fun to listen to Finny's answers - about what he was good at and what he was not so good at. But I was surprised by the third question, and delighted by Finny's answer.
Doc: "Finny, if you could have one wish, and you could ask for anything in the world - what would you wish for?"
(I sat there a little surprised myself and quite curious as to what his response would be - a new bike? A pool? A puppy? To end his allergy diet and eat anything he wanted? I waited with baited breath to hear, but I didn't have to wait long, as he answered without hesitation)
Finny: "A baby sister. 'Cuz I only have one sister."
Seriously. Of all the things in the whole wide world he could ask for - he asks for a baby sister. How sweet is that!?
So apparently at least one of my elder children is not too terribly put-out by the addition of a new sibling every year or two. I guess God knew just what He was doing after all when He planned our family out. Which I already knew, of course. ;o)
(and I'm pretty sure Finny will be delighted if it's a new brother on the way, too... though maybe that wish will become a fervent prayer at that point. Who knows?)