Monday, September 21, 2015

Good Morning, Sunshine

Monday. Again.

I don't know about you, but Mondays are fightin' days for me. I fight to get out of bed, after inevitably staying up too late Sunday night engrossed in PBS or halfheartedly snatching glances at football (you know, when you do that trying-to-look-authentic-eyes-glazed-over-lifting-and-lowering-eyebrows-with-a-slow-nod thing when your husband calls your attention to some play or unbelievable call) or seeing how many tabs I can open on my online rabbit trails. (I don't know if it is this way for every pastor's wife, but Sunday nights are a mini-celebration for me: Yeah! We got through another Sunday! None of our kids were accidentally left at church [this week], and I have my husband back!)

And there is the fight to reclaim the house after a weekend of doing things other than the ordinary. So, there's the ordinary, only it's morphed into the extra-ordinary and heinous. Specifically, we're talking laundry, bathroom scrubbing, and the ever-present, "But what'll we do about dinner?"

And, in a stroke of lunacy, three years ago I scheduled my children's piano lessons for Mondays. My only consolation in this is that we do *not* have lessons at our house, so were I not to complete the Herculean task of righting this house, it would not matter. (You know, were that not to happen...)

Take 1
And there's school. School is a harsh taskmaster this year. The children are doing it, and it does get done, but it is a major undertaking. School days feel like a rush from the time I rise until the time I... unrise. I can say for sure that this year/this combination of children doing school/this many kids/this much work to get meals on as a certain 6-ft. 13-year old eats a truly unbelievable amount of food and has his siblings in training...well. I'm not sure if I've ever been busier. See that? I can say for sure that I'm not sure. This is what I have been reduced to. GASP. And ending my sentences with prepositions! GASP. And starting my sentences with "And"!!!

Take 2
It's a good busy, though. I mean, really I'm in a state of shock/marvel more than oppression. Ethan was remarking Sat. night as we purchased last-minute groceries (because that's the only kind of groceries we ever purchase), "Can you imagine what we're going to be able to EAT when the kids are gone? I mean, if we spend this kind of money on just the two of us..." That's right. King crab every night, baby.

These are my Monday morning musings. Life is busy. I'd expound on that, but I just don't have the time.

Instead, I'll leave you with the song I've been playing over and over to my children today. They're so grateful.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Today I feel like this


You know. It's Monday and all!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Just forget I asked...

When the 7-year old comes skating across the kitchen floor in his socks to announce, "I have a song stuck in my head,"

it is probably best to just say, "Oh, sorry."

Because if you say, "What song?"

the answer is very likely to be something like this:

I am better than 
A noisy coward walking on the floor.
"STOMP! STOMP! STOMP!" goes the coward.
Papa loves me,
Papa loves me,
Papa looooooooves me!

Which, of course, will force you to point out that, "That is not a song. You cannot have that stuck in your head because there is no such song. That is not a thing! That is NOT a song, and that is NOT stuck in your head!"

Whereas your husband will cut to the chase: "Let me wrestle you a second, and then brush your teeth and get your pajamas on."

Of course, the entire journey from the kitchen to the upstairs bathroom will take said 7-year old just long enough to sing approximately 1 1/2 rounds of said NOT-song at the top of his lungs.

And now, two hours later, I must admit that there is a certain "stickiness" that this musical non-number does have.

"STOMP! STOMP! STOMP!" goes the coward.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A week in...

Salem (5) and Eve (1 week)

Well, we are a little over a week into having eleven children; and I must say, we find that this eleventh child is exactly what we needed.

She is so delicious. Her only dietary complaints thus far have been feijao (Brazilian black beans) and Arby's huge sized unsweetened iced tea (well, duh...that was just asking for trouble). The feijao is staying on the menu because it is a family favorite, but I will be having salad those nights. And decaf coffee is my new evening drink of choice, with a splash of heavy cream.

Papas make the best burpers.
She sleeps when she is supposed to (if I avoid the two aforementioned culprits), she eats when she is supposed to (whatever that means...she eats when she is awake, and I guess that's the same thing), and she earned the title of Best! Baby! Ever!, bestowed by her father, when her umbilical cord stub fell off at a week old.

We could just eat her up. Zebby (23 mos.) and Eve.
Ethan returned back to work this week, and the children and I have been taking turns cuddling and enjoying this newest member.

She just fits right in, and of course! She is ours. She is meant to be here, and we're glad to have her.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Latest Addition

Eve Ellen Allison
June 9, 2015 at 4:33 PM
9 lbs., 8 oz.
22" long

(The "Ellen" is after my maternal great-grandmother.)

She holds the unique distinction of being our easiest actual delivery. After a day of laboring at home, two days post-due date, walking around the yard with Ethan while children interrupted to ask if we were sure there were no more popsicles and what could they have because they were surely starving (but no, not for fruit or more of lunch, but for something else), of timing contractions only to be left wondering if they even were contractions ("I don't know!" I told Ethan. "I mean, it's just pain!") and then confessing that if I had to go through any more of this (I had already been dealing with contractions for two days) I would most certainly applaud women who got epidurals and even sympathize with those who willingly choose Caesareans, he said, "Why don't you call your midwife, and let's go."

So I did. They told me to come into the office and be assessed there. We left the house, with me semi-crouched in the back seat because there was no conceivable way I could sit in the front. I remember asking that the radio be turned louder and thinking that every curve of the road was torturous.

We arrived at the clinic. We walked in, me clutching Ethan, and waited in line while an older lady scooted around to the second window to ask, "Do you know how long Chrissy is going to take? She's been back there forever. Can you find out?" and waiting, and waiting, and waiting, with the ice pack pushed against my back and tears coursing down my cheeks, until Ethan pushed his way to the window and said, "Excuse me, my wife is in labor, can she be seen?"

They took me to the back, the midwife came in to check me, and then she said, "We need to get you to the hospital right now, and I'm riding in the car with you."

As I tried to crawl back into the back seat for the second time that day, she asked, "Can you do this or should we just go back into the office?"

I wasn't sure what would happen there, so I said, "No, I can do this!" and then she hopped in the front and asked Ethan how fast he could drive. (Even if you are a slow driver, the hospital is about 1 minute from the clinic.)

We got to the hospital, a valet whisked the car away, a nurse whisked me up to the labor and delivery room with the midwife running alongside, and the nurse said, "Now. Whenever you're ready. We don't have time for a gown or an IV."

I was a little stunned. "You mean I'm ready? The head is engaged?" I stood by Ethan, holding on to him through the contractions.

"Absolutely," said my midwife. She then told the nurse she rode with us because she wasn't sure if she would have to deliver the baby in the car.

I stood for a few more minutes and then got into the bed, leaning on the back of it in a hands-and-knees position. And fifteen minutes from our arriving at the hospital, Eve was born.

I was in shock.

"You mean that's it? We're done? How can we be done?"

The midwife summed it up well: "Wasn't that so surreal?"

It was! It was wonderful. I instantly felt better than I've felt in months, I was able to shower almost immediately, and Ethan fulfilled his almost every-other-year promise of an Outback steak (tricky when eaten with plastic forks, but delicious nonetheless).

The nurses and staff were very pleasant and accommodating, leaving me alone to rest and recover (all excepting one stickler of a hospitalist -- that's the hospital's pediatrician -- who felt it was incredibly negligent to desire a discharge at 24 hours and who also proceeded to tell me how negligent the hospital was in putting things like swaddling blankets and caps in the baby's bassinet..."Babies should always be placed on their backs on a firm mattress with no blankets or swaddling or any other object in the bed." But we won out, and this negligent mother was able to introduce her newest child to her other ten children shortly thereafter).

And shortly after that, Eve was sleeping nicely on her sheepskin. Because I am a mother and not a hospitalist.

She's just a ridiculous, wonderful, pudgy, silly little thing; and we all love her madly.

And as always happens, with each new Allison here, I gained an even deeper appreciation and love and gratitude and sense of wonder at this man with whom I get to share these children.

I am so, so blessed. I can't imagine anyone else with whom to share life, or with whom to wonder between contractions about the earth groaning in childbirth, or what new shades of meaning we could get from being reborn, or with whom to groan/laugh over the day's devotions being about the woman being cursed with pain in childbirth. 

Anyhow. That's what has been going on here.

And you?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

He Is Risen! Alleluia! He Is Risen Indeed!

This Resurrection Day passed as many of the others have, with resurrection hymns and copious amounts of candy from who-knows-where, and a nap and sunshine.

I do believe Salem felt the sunshine was just a bit much. No matter how she tried, her eyes did NOT want to stay open out there.

And a sweet, unexpected gift: my friend Deidra emailed with a "Can I make your girls some Easter dresses?" to which the only answer is, of course, a hearty, "YES!"

It made me smile to think of her sweetness as I looked at my girls and all of their gussied-up rambunctiousness and precociousness. (And now I'm wondering: Did my 3yo have her shoes on the wrong feet all day? "No," she would argue. "Those are my feet.")

He is risen! Alleluia!
He is risen indeed!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Time for Tea

©Mary Engelbreit

Mary is our friend. Mary is three.

On Thursday, Mary held her had-to-be-twice-postponed tea party. Ada was her guest.

Ada is two, or as she puts it "Almost three -- in March!"

Miriam (9) was her chaperone and fellow party-goer. Her main job was to make sure Ada could find the bathroom in someone else's house. And also to make sure that a certain little Teapot, short and stout, did not get all steamed up and begin to shout. 

They made tea and pizza and little crowns. She did not make a scene.

Which, really, is the Only Rule as far as Tea Parties for Three-Year Olds (and those who are almost): No Fits.

Good girl!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wherein I Sympathize with the Pressure Cooker

Last week, it was the washing machine that smelled like vomit. We took it apart and scraped out the mold and bleached the parts and put it back together.

A snowy jaunt through the school lot near us

Yesterday, it was the pressure cooker exploding black beans all over my kitchen ceiling.

So tonight, when Ethan was away at the prayer meeting and our upstairs obstinate, finicky toilet overflowed all over the bathroom floor with two inches of water, causing four boys to come racing downstairs with a huge explanation of exactly who was in the bathroom and exactly what did NOT happen, causing me to holler, "Just tell me what DID happen!!! What are you even TALKING about???" and then racing upstairs to decode their explanation and then plunging the toilet and then racing downstairs to get on my shoes and then racing outside to unlock the shed and then racing back in for the chicken-closing-up flashlight which was misplaced and then racing around for ANY flashlight and meanwhile hollering EVERYONE JUST STAY IN YOUR ROOMS AND MAKE THEM PERFECT!!! and then racing back out to the shed and then clumsily climbing over tools and beach accessories to reach the shop vac and then racing back in (slower, this time, with the shop vac) and then racing upstairs (slower still) and then vacuuming up the water and throwing sopping towels in the tub and then switching the laundry over so as to make room in the washing machine for said sopping towels...

Well. The shreds of paper left over from snowflake-making that I did not initiate, and the random crayons, markers, and drawing books strewn ALL OVER may have just been my undoing. I threatened to lock up anything that...moved.

But just then...

My four oldest girls came downstairs with a sheet of colored paper, folded neatly and tied daintily with some baker's twine.

"This is for you," they said.

Dear Mama,
We are
Sorry for all The wrong Things we did today.
Heres a little something from all of us listed below.
We hope you like them!
Lily - $1
Mimi - ¢30
Edee - ¢2 and stickers
Salem - makeing herself look good
Lily Miriam Eden and Salem Love you
And fffffffffffffttttttttttt, just like that, all the pressure was released. We called the boys downstairs and opened the carton of chocolate chip cookie ice cream.

It was (sort of) fun learning how to take apart the washing machine. I needed a new pressure cooker anyway, if only because the gasket on mine smelt of burnt beans from over a month ago and because none of the recipes dealt with *my* kind of thrifted cooker. And the bathroom floor is now considerably cleaner than it has been in a very long time.

So I suppose all clouds do have a silver lining. Or at least a dingy gray.

Friday, February 20, 2015

"The Drop Box"

This is a movie I don't want to miss. It will only be in theaters March 3-5.

This article gives a little background.

I will cry all the way through it. But sometimes, tears are good.

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

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

There and Back Again

Well, I suppose that when you get many months behind on something, and then you go to remedy that fact, the mere thought that you are many months behind on something may just be the impetus you need to stop and get a coffee and change your direction to something infinitely more pressing, say, that book you never finished reading, and then you find that you are even more months behind next you think of it; and also, A.A. Milne has you thinking like Owl talks.

Quick catch-up: People had birthdays.

So probably the best thing to do is to forget the "catching up" that just won't be done, and start where you are.


Where we are is in the midst of a stomach bug/pink eye/ear infection/sore throat session that seems to have hit every one of the children. Not all of the children have gone through all of the stages, but many have. I vacillate between being grateful that not all of the children had to go through all of the stages and being fearful that not all of the children have had to go through all of the stages ... yet.

Gideon (5), pink eye victim #1

Everyone's tired of tea, and tired of elderberry syrup, and tired of fire water, and tired of pain medicine and salt socks and tissues and bowls and eye ... gunk.

Zebulun (19 mos.) sporting a different kind of eyewear

Yesterday's snow was actually a welcome change. At least there was something different to see outside, and eight of them managed to bundle themselves up and get out in it.

(I know. But please...when it may be the only day they have to play in the snow as a 5-year old, or a 9-year old, or whatever, what's a few more days of being sick? So they said, and they may be right.)

Oh, wait. They did have another day of snow play, and here's proof.
Zebby, really wanting to be on the other side of this window.
If it's any indication how very tired they are of being sick, I had two children fighting tears over my having to cancel their dentist appointments this morning. So...when you'd rather go to the dentist...

It's just very tiring.

But there's tapioca soaking for some Boba Tea (which, yes, we shall most definitely call Frog Spawn Tea), and someday...someday...someday...well, this, too, shall pass.

Ada (2), doing her interpretive fitness-ball-chair dance. It's a sight.

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