Friday, March 26, 2010

Another Cousin ...


This is not a picture of my newest son. It's a picture of his newest cousin, who is now almost 4 weeks old (am I counting right?). I love his expression here because you can clearly see that his facial features fit right in with his two brothers'.


This is also a picture of the first baby sweater I have ever finished knitting.


Welcome, Nathanael. And thank you for being the motivation for me to finish a project!



Wednesday, March 24, 2010

At Play



Yesterday, the children were playing House. (I knew they were playing House because they were being nice to each other: “Sister, do you want to help me make my bed?” “Why, yes, Sister, I do. Let me finish folding your pajamas, and then I’ll fluff your pillow.”)


Miriam (4) was holding Gideon (7 wks.), Lily (6) had Salem (7 wks.), and Eden (3) had her dolly. Miriam instructed, “And this is my child, and you’re holding my other child, and Eden is watching my other child, and Jonathan can be one of my children.”


“But where are the other children? This isn’t enough.”


“Oooh, I know! They can be at school and they will be home soon.”


I absent-mindedly (because it’s gone for good) listened to their play when it struck me: Their dream? What they want to be when they grow up? What they pretend to be more often than anything else?


Is ME. Only it’s a more perfect, calmer, fun-loving version. But the basic elements are there: the children, and more children, and cooking, and cleaning, and more children.


This is PLAY to them.


And then I remembered: That was play to me, too. I wanted nothing more than to be able to Windex the mirrors and bounce a baby on my hip while stirring something yummy in a bowl. I played three games: House, School, and Church.


When did I stop “playing”?




Saturday, March 20, 2010

Today, while the littles napped ...










Mentos and Diet Coke. Forgettable on their own but ... errrr ...  rememberable together. As Benjamin said, "Mom, this is something you can put on the Internet."


Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Reality is the leading cause of stress for those in touch with it.
~Jane Wagner*

Let's just say today finds me enjoying the gorgeous weather outside (67 degrees today! sunshine!) with my children, the house nicely cleaned and ready for the next showing, and supper in the oven.  Let's just say that, because it's nowhere near true. And if the above quote is correct, the antidote to stress is a good imagination.


My head has been throbbing lately -- throbbing from lack of sleep and from the thoughts of all the things I can be justifiably stressed about:
  • our house has to be ready to be shown at a minute's notice
  • the children need to be schooled so that they are not total idiots when they grow up (they're not behind the ball yet, but only because I subscribe to Bill Cosby's theory that "all children have brain damage" and so they still fit right in)
  • how to do the taxes this year when everything was completely different last year (and the thousand-page Clergy's Guide to Taxes is only minimally reassuring)
  • we are packing to move -again- in another month
  • we have to find a place to move in another month
  • who gives a housing loan to people who can't even afford a minimum down payment?
  • who rents to people with eight kids (and a dog!) (oh, and two cats, but they're negotiable)?
And once I start getting worked up about all the *big* things, I easily get worked up about all the *little* things:
  • what's for breakfast?
  • who left these toys OUT IN THE OPEN?
  • why is the stroller out of the back of the van?
  • why is the back door open on the van?
  • is somebody IN the van?
  • I KNEW someone would get sick tonight. No, it has nothing to do with the friends they played with or the dinner we ate tonight (clementines perfectly complement the milkshake that followed). It has everything to do with the fact that I changed and washed her bed this morning.
I am no stranger to pressure. Most of it has been self-inflicted, but I have always thought that I work best under pressure. I've always waited until the last minute to do something because I have always been convinced that my performance excels when the heat is on.

Except now. I CAN'T do it all now. I can't keep the house clean, school the children, do the accounting, fix the meals, love on eight children, find a new house, and smile warmly to my husband at the same time. Or even at separate times. I. Just. Can't.

As I was musing (OK, fuming) about this this morning as I bustled through the bedroom, straightening shelves and grabbing diapers and clothing for the screaming newborns (shortly after I said to my husband, "If I die early, I want you to know it's from stress" to which he sleepily mumbled from his place on the pillow, "Me, too"), it occurred to me that we handle stress very differently. My way is loud and headachy and thundering.

His is pretty quiet, and involves lots of playing with children and sleeping. His way is pretty similar to my mother’s way.

This got me to thinking about stress in general. Why do I have to be the one to make everything run smoothly, the one to make sure everything’s under control? Then it hit me: I don’t, and I don’t. I don’t have to be the one, and anyway, I don’t make it all run smoothly and under control.

I really need to get a handle on this. But I can’t. This is so frustrating to me, honestly. My theology is definitely warring with everyday life. I believe God is in control. How do I act like it? I believe His grace is sufficient.

But what does that mean?

And what do I do – or not do – because of it?

I don’t have the answers. Just ask my kids, who had to listen to me bellow this morning and then apologize this afternoon. Actually, don’t ask them. They’ll probably be a little too dramatic in their retelling.

But I think part of it has to do with what is Real. Because this life on Earth is, yes, very real. It looks real and it sounds real and, blast it all, it smells real (especially right here, where there’s a baby on my lap squirming to be changed).

But the standards I keep kicking myself for failing are all self-imposed ones. So what if my children eat cold cereal for a week? Or a month? Or their entire lives?

So what if we have leftovers tonight instead of a fresh meal?

So what if there are no side dishes?

So what if my babies get the occasional bottle of formula? So what if they always got formula? So what if they never did?

And so what if there’s a stray sock (or more) lying on the floor when someone comes in?

We are real. And more importantly, we are Real. There is a Reality that is above and beyond this reality … yet it’s one that doesn’t ignore this life. In fact, that Reality wholeheartedly engaged in this one.

Whenever one of our kids starts fussing, my husband asks (after he admonishes about the whining), “Did you mean to say, ‘Thank you’? Do you mean to be thanking [whoever] for something?”

So I’m thinking maybe the antidote to stress is giving thanks. Because if God is sovereign, and every good gift comes from Him, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand, what else is there to do?

That’s where I am. Thinking on this and trying to thank on this and starting to breathe deeply again.

 (a time I remembered to smile ... photo credit: Lily)


*I’m just using her quote, not endorsing her.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Well, when you put it like that ...



... it kinda does look like a mess of kids.


You three on the end, fingers out. OK, Miriam-Little-Miss-Let's-Be-Precise, fingers and THUMBS out.


And Salem, uncross your eyes, please.


And Gideon, you do. not. have. to. cry. every moment you are awake and not nursing!!! (Do you?)


And let me just say that having my mother-in-law here for the week was wonderful. Except for the part where we all would go out and EVERYONE mistook her for my children's mother. I felt like the dowdy nanny whose sole job it was to keep the 20-month-old entertained by giving him reasons to say, "No. [S]Top that. [S]Top talkin' to me."


Can you believe that woman on the end is their grandmother? I married into a family with great genes.


I will try to be more regular about posting ... let's just chalk this lack of writing up to the fact that our lease runs out April 30 and our house is being shown "anytime between the reasonable hours of 9 to 7, with the kind 'heads up' of MAYBE fifteen minutes." Fifteen minutes? It takes me four times that long to find all the kids' shoes and get the dog in the van!


If THAT doesn't stress you out, well. Good for you.


Oh, and the babies turned five weeks last week. Turns out five weeks doesn't look a whole lot different than four weeks.





Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Four Weeks (or a Month)

You know, usually the whole, "How old is your baby?" thing throws me when the answer is Four Weeks. Because I feel stupid saying "Four weeks," when I could just say, "A month." But the problem is that four weeks does not equal a month, not in the sense of "They were born on the 2nd, and this is the 2nd of the next month." That's usually four weeks and a few days.


Except this time. Because they were born in the 28-day (conveniently, the same as four weeks) month of February, yesterday was the babies' Four Week day and their One Month day.


Aaahhh. One of life's little annoyances avoided.


There are some other annoyances that have not been so neatly thwarted. The sound effects of the last month, for example.








Of course, there have been some more endearing moments. And this is why we decided to keep them.







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