Saturday, December 3, 2016

And how it really went...

There is a reason I don't do to-do lists. And the reason is that they never get to-done. That leaves one feeling slightly deflated. For instance, if I look at this--

Today's List:
--well, all I see is what didn't happen today.


a Done List is much more satisfying.

  • Clean Eve's room (storage room)
  • Pinecones lightly dipped in white paint for garlands for the windows.
  • Cinnamon rolls for Sunday
  • Gingerbread
  • Chocolate Panforte
  • Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
  • Walked for 2 miles with 11yo daughter
  • Found 11yo son's long-lost Trail Life handbook
  • Listened to 13yo daughter teach 15yo son how to sew stockings, and admired five fresh-off-the-sewing-machine stockings made from dress shirts their father no longer wanted
  • Washed kitchen blinds
Because the reality is, even on these festive preparation days, people still have to eat their regular meals and wash their regular clothes. The baby still needs to nurse, and the next baby up still needs attention and ticklings and naptime.

So my house is only marginally cleaner than it was this morning; and while it certainly smells better, that smell reminds me of the tidying the kitchen still needs. There are crafting bits and pieces here and there and everywhere, and there's dog hair and random books and random pieces of clothing.

But now the children are in bed, and they were all fed today (three cheers for frozen food!!!), they were all bathed today (three cheers for Saturday night!!!), and they are all present and accounted for.

And Papa is home, the dog is snoring on the couch, and the kitty on the front porch has her little heated house plugged in.

So all is right with my world!


Papa is away today, gone to the semi-annual presbytery meeting. He left before anyone was out of bed, so we decided to get busy while he's away. The December meeting is our yearly chance to ready the house for the holidays and the coming crafting (already begun) and neaten things a bit for Mama's sanity. I've read my usual motivational posts, and we're geared up and ready!

Today's List:
  • Clean boys' room
  • Clean girls' room
  • Clean Eve's room (storage room)
  • Clean master bedroom
  • Clean bathrooms
  • Straighten downstairs
  • Straighten outside
There. I do believe that covers the whole house.

There's also the decorating...simple and homemade. Pinecones lightly (LIGHTLY, CHILDREN!) dipped in white paint for garlands for the windows. Mixed nuts in bowls. Snowflakes and Swedish stars here and there.

And there's the kitchen work... readying the dough for

BUT! To keep us focused and the house smelling less like lemon cleaner and more like Christmas, we will be employing the oven timer as our taskmaster. When the timer rings, we move on to the next room.

AND...when the timer rings, we take one of the following out of the oven:
At least, that's the plan. I will be busy nursing and delegating and choosing the Christmas music. I've got a great team, and we can do it!

Brothers who lost teeth late the same night. Hmmm. Gideon (6) and Jon-Jon (8).

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

It's a girl!

River Jordan Allison
October 29, 2016 @ 1:40 AM
9 lbs., 20.5" long

Her name came about because we have this "thing" where our kids all have Old Testament names that (sort of) rhyme with our last name (Allison). And if it doesn't rhyme, we gave them at least one middle name that does.

So we had

Lily Ann
Eden Quinn
Ada Gwen
Eve Ellen


and we were STUCK. Ethan had mentioned "Jordan" for a couple of children now, but I just wasn't crazy about that name...UNTIL we were at a Mexican restaurant for a lunch date, and he said, "What about Jordan River Allison?"

And I said, "That is stupid, and I'm not doing that."

He said, "Then what about River Jordan?"

I laughed and said, "You would never name your daughter 'River'."

Ethan challenged me: "I would, but I know YOU wouldn't."

And we didn't say any more about names.

Until she was born, and the nurse asked her name; and Ethan looked at me and said, "Yes, what is her name?"

And I said, "River Jordan Allison."

And we both kind of amazed ourselves that her name came about because we were both calling each other's bluff.

But now I can't imagine her being anything other than River (well, or "Raisin," which is what my brain wants to call her but that really is stupid...).

Of course, if you ask the 3-yr. old (Zebby), her name is "Shiver."

She was technically a late-term preemie, being born at 36 weeks and some days. This was hard to believe, since she was almost the size of most of our others at birth and looked like a full-term newborn. 

But she proved it by having to lie under the oxygen hood for her first day of life

and being discharged with strict orders to see our pediatrician the next day, where they sent us home with a horrific contraption called a bilibed.

Every day for the entire first week after we came home from the hospital, we had to go back to the hospital to have her bilirubin checked with a nasty heel prick; and then we trekked to the pediatrician's office an hour later, to have the results given to us with instructions on how to proceed further.

It was a long first week with little sleep.

 But...hurray!!!....all of that is over now. Now we can concentrate on other things, like making sure we are nursing nonstop and being held nonstop.

This child does not like to be alone.

Which, in this family, is probably a good thing, after all.

We're very much in love with her and cannot stop kissing those cheeks. She belongs here.

Thursday, July 28, 2016


Last month, Grandma-Grandma came to visit.

She's my husband's father's mother. And in true Allison tradition, everyone calls her "Grandma-Grandma," because isn't that what everyone calls their great-grandmother?

The children with Grandma-Grandma, and also Grandma

Everyone here does.

She's a spunky, cute little thing. She has this infectious love of history and family connections and can make you laugh in spite of yourself when she says the most unexpected things.

Grandma-Grandma and Ethan, in Grandma's house

She's also an incurable flirt. When Grandma (Marlys) and I went with Grandma-Grandma to the Depot Grille, she flirted nonstop with our in-his-20's waiter, telling him she was going to pack him up in her carry-on and take him back to Oregon. Marlys and I played with our food and smiled apologetically.

The waiter brought Grandma-Grandma a complimentary huge dessert and three forks and told her, "I like you. I really like you!"

Grandma-Grandma and Ben, at Grandma's house

But of course! 

I don't know anybody who doesn't.

We all love you, Grandma-Grandma. Come back soon, and bring your stories.

And happiest of birthdays to you! We're so glad you were born.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Rhythm

Planning is not for the faint of heart. And usually, it's not for me, either. But as we contemplated the coming school year with eleven children needing to be fed and laundered, a twelfth child joining them, a teen entering the high school years, and various and sundry chores and sicknesses and outside duties making their siren calls...

it became abundantly clear that some sort of schedule/routine/rhythm/PLAN is in order.

That sounds so neat, so structured.

I'm not sure whether I had truly grasped the work and disorder and chaos involved in creating a routine for this tribe of kids. It's a mess! First there is the school planning -- who will do what. Then there is the logistics planning -- what will be done where and when. And then there are the 3yo and the 1yo and the coming newborn, who are the living, breathing, crying wrenches in the works.

It's enough to throw one into a panic, or at least an extended nap.

But then I re-read this:
When planning routines, priority must be given to the most important things. The person matters (be it child, husband/wife, or friend). We’ll need time to talk, read, relax, and work together. Our relationship with God matters. Where is the time to be found for that? I am a part of this creation. Where will I find time to get out and enjoy nature? There is too much work to be done, and I am finite. I need to accept that reality, and plan the time and priorities carefully.
~ Susan Schaeffer Macauley, For the Children's Sake

and also this:
We ought to do so much for our children, and are able to do so much for them, that we begin to think everything rests with us and that we should never intermit for a moment our conscious action on the young minds and hearts about us. Our endeavours become fussy and restless. We are too much with our children, ‘late and soon.’ We try to dominate them too much, even when we fail to govern, and we are unable to perceive that wise and purposeful letting alone is the best part of education.

~ Charlotte Mason, School Education

and then, also, this:

If mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when these are overdone, we should have happier households. Let the mother go out to play! If she would only have courage to let everything go when life becomes too tense, and just take a day, or half a day, out in the fields, or with a favourite book, or in a picture gallery looking long and well at just two or three pictures, or in bed, without the children, life would go on far more happily for both children and parents. The mother would be able to hold herself in 'wise passiveness,' and would not fret her children by continual interference, even of hand or eye––she would let them be.

 ~ Charlotte Mason, School Education

and my morning readings, which this week have been in Ecclesiastes, where Solomon again and again urges that the hand of God gives pleasure in your toil.

And that got me to thinking.

  1. I need to schedule Rest/Outside Time. I really, really need to view the REST and the OUTDOORS as necessary components of our day. Seriously. Our health and well-being demand it.
  2. I need to be so careful about our margins. If I do not give myself margins throughout the day, I will drive myself and everyone else crazy. Margins, I think, are what will make a schedule/routine doable for me. Block scheduling is one thing that will greatly help *me* with this, as the time it takes to get stuff out/set up/etc. is minimized due to having to do it only 2-3x a week (or so) instead of every day.
  3. If I cannot figure out workable margins, then I have too much going on. I will have to scale back. Too much of a good thing is still too much and ruins the good thing. So if meals are taking me too long, I will have to figure out how to simplify them even further. If history is taking too long, I will have to figure out the priorities (for me, the living book portion) and cut out the rest.
  4. Especially for my youngers, there is no real need to get history done in one year or all the literature done in one year, etc. I may try doing a timed lesson with them instead of trying to get through such-and-such material, especially as I have varying ages and can never predict what questions will arise/what explaining will need to happen.
  5. The goal of this year for me is to help my children grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and to help them glorify God and enjoy Him forever. If my attitude is a harried, frustrated one; if I cannot speak with kindness and wisdom on my tongue; if I have no time to seek the Lord first in my day...then I am in error and must adjust the routine accordingly.

And then, just like that...I can breathe again. The daily rhythms are still being made, the simplified menus are being configured, the checklists and reminders are finding their places. But included in them is a sense of peace, not of urgency and fretfulness.

There is a place for Rest.

And that is sweet.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Rock-a-Bye Baby

(There is a video embedded in this post. Email subscribers may need to click over.)

Monday, July 25, 2016

I-Just-Want-to-Nap-All-Day Week

Today marked the official start to I-Just-Want-to-Nap-All-Day Week. As in, I said to Ethan, "I just want to nap all day."

And he said, "Well, yes. This is I-Just-Want-to-Nap-All-Day Week."

Some people call it the week of Vacation Bible School.

We call it like it is.

It's not even like I'm doing anything for VBS. I'm not. I was going to, and then along about April (hello, first trimester) I thought, "What in the world am I thinking? I can't handle basic life, let alone devoting an entire week of mornings to being out of the house and chipper among children. I will be miserable, and everyone around me will be miserable."

So I backed out of helping. I would feel bad about that, except I just can't muster the energy. Besides, Ben (14) offered to teach the preschoolers, and everyone knows a 6'4"(?) 14-year old boy way beats his 5'9" 30-mumble-year old mother. Especially when said 30+ person is mother to two of said preschoolers.

Zebby (3) and Ben (14)
So, see? I'm not even doing anything. My job is to make sure the laundry gets done and meals are plentiful (by the way, thanks for dinner tonight, Sweetie).

The mornings start early, with nervous older children who double- and triple-check to make sure they have everything they need and excited younger children who "cannot WAIT for GPS/UPS/BBS/Whatever-it's-called!" Karen picks up the oldest four at 8:15AM so they can do whatever they need to do as teacher/aides, we make sure the next six down are there by 9:00AM as participants, and then the 13mo gets to spend the morning with Mama. (Doesn't that sound cozy? "The baby gets to spend the morning with her mother." Perhaps I should remind you that this child is used to having at least TEN people to bossily fuss at and demand attention and applause from, and now this child must be content with just her mother. These are trying times.)

At noon, the six partipants get picked up, Karen drops the oldest four off a little after that; and we eat and hear about the day's adventures and misadventures and nap and pretty much lie around the rest of the day.

It's just exhausting.

Miriam and Abraham (11). She's doing Nursery Work this week and plays a hawk in the skit; he is the Recreation Assistant and plays Terry the Turtle.
Eve (13 mos.) with Lily (12). Lily is helping with one of the classes and plays Brittany Butterfly in the skit; Eve is an absolute pudge who must be squeezed all of the time and is a terror if you are far away from her sheepskin-lined bed.
We're only one day in, and when we picked up Ben and Abe from their Trail Life meeting at 8:20 tonight, Ben said, "I'm ready for bed."

Me, too. I'm getting tireder just thinking about all I am not doing this week. Maybe tomorrow I can catch at least a couple of naps.

These are chickens. I don't know their names. Chickens are dumb; and no, they can't come in, even if it's raining. Go away, chickens.
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