Thursday, April 28, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real}: Apr. 28

This is what I walked into Tuesday afternoon.

Not that it matters that it was Tuesday afternoon. It could have been any afternoon.

Or every afternoon.

Regardless (or irregardless - are you regarding less or not regarding less?), here it is. Warning: it's not pretty.

(Jonathan: "Lot of mess.")

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

From last weekend

Library visit

Abraham (5), taken by Benjamin (9)
Last week I took the kids to the library.

This was the first time, to my recollection, that I have taken all eight kids to the library by myself. That doesn't *conclusively* mean that I have not done it before. It does mean I have blocked out any such memory.

Sometimes I do that.

It keeps me from killing my kids.

So anyway, we had the requisite "be quiet and stay by Mama" talk before we entered the building. The younger twins (14 mos.) were in the double stroller, and Jonathan (2) was holding onto the stroller with me. The other five were walking in a relatively orderly line.

We rushed in, and Ben (9) and Lily (7) headed to their sections to peruse books. I headed with the others to the little play area, which is bordered by picture books. The Older Littles started gathering books, and the Littler Littles played. (I really need other terms for them. How about "Nose Blowers" and "Nose Pickers"? Nah...too many crossovers. I'll have to think on this one.)

Confused yet? Why, yes, yes, I am. Thank you for asking.

Ben came over to me asking for help finding a book on making money. I pointed to the librarian (College Guy) and we headed over to ask.

"Excuse me," I said. "My son is looking for a book on how to make money."

"You mean like entrepreneurial opportunities?" he asked.

Ben quickly interjected. "No...more like ways I can make some money."

"Oh," the librarian said. "Like origami? Things you can make out of money?"

"Not quite," Ben said. "I need ... something to broaden my money limits."

Let me just interject here. There. I've interjected.

The end of this story is a disgruntled 9-yr. old in the "how to draw comic strips" aisle, scratching his head and muttering, "How am I supposed to make money with THIS?" The stroller babies were restless, so I hastily thrust my arm at the other end of the aisle and said, "THERE! There are baking books over there. You like baking! Grab some of those!"

So he did, and we checked out (all 99 books, and who on earth grabbed the Clifford and Dora and Spongebob and Barbie the Mermaid and Safety Council Guide to Strange Animals and the Queen of Christmas?).

We survived. The next day we feasted on Ben's Shortbread Cookies, which he very ably adapted from one of his baking books (COOKBOOKS! That's what they're called! Oh, for the life of me, that word has just been so evasive this morning!).

And I'm only a little worse for the wear.

Maybe I need a little something to broaden my mommy limits.

Gideon (14 mos.), taken by Benjamin (9)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real}: Apr. 21

[photo credits: Miriam, age 5]

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Couch Potatoes

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I hate dyeing eggs.

I really, truly do.

I only mention this lest you think that trying to coordinate 6 kids' egg-decorating while 2 others are napping is not all it's cracked up to be.

You're right.

Although there was a lot of cracked, come to think of it.

It's messy. It's whiny. It's time-consuming.

And there are never enough eggs. And always too many.

The only upside to having dyed eggs today? It's a whole year before we have to do it again ((big sigh of relief)).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real}: Apr. 14

Spring Dance

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011


So today there is no sun in the forecast.

This suits my kids just fine. They've been begging for hot chocolate, anyway.

Whatever will I do when the babies join the throng of cocoa drinkers? My windowsill isn't long enough!

Plans for today:
  • Gather library books and deliver on the way to pick up friends from school
  • Put away winter coats that were washed yesterday
  • Check on chicks (moved to outside "brooder": think chicken [bunny] tractor converted to a chick playground with heat lamp by ever-inventive Ethan and then covered with tarps to protect from the forecasted weather of the next ten days)
  • Work on Colossians memorization (this week is review: all of chapter 1). It is possible!! I reviewed it last night, fell asleep trying to pin down the part after "mystery hidden for ages and generations" and woke this morning remembering it. Amazing.
  • Start lettuce seeds and Lily's flower seeds.
Of course, there is the usual laundryschooldisheswhat'sforsupperdiapersPickUpYourRoomRightNow! but that is so 1) duh and 2) overwhelming

that I think it doesn't really bear mentioning.

If I get ONE of these done (library books?), I will feel like today has been profitable. I really do hope it's the library books. I keep getting urgent library reminders in my in-box. Although dead chicks would also be irksome, so I'd best make sure they get bumped (gently) to the top of the list.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Things I Love (cont.)

Kids at play.

Kids on bikes
       on hills.

Grubby-handed gifters.

Reluctant models.


And more babies.

Also yellow, flowered shoes, and baby boy knees {{SQUEEZE!}}.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Yesterday was a sunny day here.

We hadn't seen the sun in a while, and it made us very happy.

Baby Boy was happy. So was Bunny.

Baby Girl was happy.

The older six were happy. (But they wouldn't stop biking/scootering long enough for me to take their picture.)

Maverick was happy.

My window boxes were happy.

The first daffodil to bloom in our garden was happy.

And then, later in the day, her friend started opening up to the tulips (but the tulips are still a reserved, closed bunch).

It was a lovely, sunny, happy day. And then it was time for supper, and we had to go in.

But maybe the sun'll come out tomorrow.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Forget Me Not

When Grandpa was dying, he and Grandma moved into our house. I remember she kept the cookie jar full and never let a day go by without reprimanding, "Stop jumping! You're shaking the furniture!" When I was seven and Grandpa died, I had a nightmare related to a National Geographic special about monkeys. It showed mother monkeys carrying their dead babies on their backs, jiggling them to try to get them to move and be alive. I dreamt Grandma was carrying Grandpa on her back, jiggling him to try to waken him. I woke crying and ran to my father, who read me Scripture and prayed with me. I remember telling Grandma about my dream, and she held me and sang me some hymns, her voice quaking with age and emotion.

When I was fourteen, Grandma moved out of our house and into my aunt and uncle's. It was providential, really, as they were both in the medical profession and she ended up having appendicitis and then full-onslaught Alzheimer's.

When I was 16 or 17, I sat in the back seat with my youngest sister while Mom drove to meet my aunt half-way to pick up Grandma and bring her back to our house so my aunt and uncle could have a much-needed respite. My always-old Grandma looked even older, and she sat quiet in the front seat, absorbed in the picture books Rebecca had brought.

Then she broke the silence. "Sometimes I can't remember things," she said. "I can't remember the next word, or what I was saying in the first place." There was a controlled desperation in her announcement. "I just can't remember."

I remember the pause that followed. In that pause, I fluctuated between barely-contained humor and suppressed alarm.

Humor, because -- this is news? After you have been Queen of the Senile for so long? Come on, Grandma, you've been known to stomach drinking Ranch dressing because you thought it was milk and to try to down a denture tablet because you thought it was Alka-Seltzer.

But also Alarm, because -- you know about this? You are aware that things are not as they should be?

Then I heard my mother talking. "You haven't forgotten that the Lord loves you, have you?"

"Oh, no," my grandmother reassured. "I could never forget that."

I was swallowing hard in the backseat. The fact that my mother was being so serious and so pointed without a glib, "Oh, we all forget things" made me take note.

But it is what my mother said next that has stuck with me these last almost twenty years.

"Well," she said quietly. "Even if you do, even if you do forget, He never will."

I have thought of that often, especially lately. Our congregation has been watching one of her beloved elderly members as he has dealt with the daily blows of dementia, which finally led to him being moved a couple of hours away from this, his boyhood home, to family who can care for him. A friend wrote of her battle with cancer and the ensuing difficulties -- is this depression or just a rough spot in life?? -- and the conflict between life as it is and life as it should be. A friend tells me over the phone that she and her husband are considering divorce, and I don't even think to ask what will happen to their children, the children who look to their marriage to see a picture of Christ and His church. A friend blogs that he is leaving the Reformed faith for Catholicism.

Even to me these are hardly related cases. But they are all desperate. They are all difficult. In some cases, sin is the direct cause: we fall in our living. In others, sin is the indirect cause: we live in a fallen world.

I can't solve anyone's problem. There's no pithy proverb that will make the confusion, the hurt, the desperation, or the deception disappear.

My hope lies in this: HE will never forget. For Walter, He will carry him through these confusing times. I pray for peace for Walter and for clarity even in the confusion. For Andrea, He will sustain her through the valleys. I pray for joy for Andrea and for discernment of His gifts even in this trying time. For my college friend considering divorce and my activist friend leaving the faith, I pray urgently for the Lord's pull on their hearts, that He will show them the true way: how to have a God-honoring marriage that doesn't constantly drain, and how to see the Way that is the only Truth leading to Life.

I hope I never forget my mother's reminder. I hope I always remember.

But even if I don't, He will.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Practice Nicely Toothpaste Waiting

I actually said that to my children tonight.

One of them had come downstairs complaining that we needed to buy more toothpaste so that they wouldn't have to share a toothpaste tube.

Ethan heard me and called in from the other room: "OK -- What are you doing that is distracting you?"

What was I doing?

Trying to communicate. Speaking not English my language first.

"Practice nicely toothpaste waiting"??? It frustrates me that THOSE were the words that came out of my mouth when I was fully focused on answering my child's request. What I meant was that this was a chance ... a golden opportunity, if you will (and she didn't) ... to practice patience and longsuffering, to show humility and deference to siblings.

I'm not sure that all of that - or even any of it - was conveyed.

Instead, images of Yoda singing from the Trinity Psalter (I do love it but there are similarities in the wording) came to mind. You could even put it to the tune of "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah": "Practice nicely toothpaste waiting ... la la la la la la la."

I should have stuck with my normal dismissive "Mmm-hmmm" and kept my mind on the dishes.

Distracted mothering has its place.
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