"Is that ice?"
"No, it's soap."
"When did you make green soap?"
"I didn't make it. I bought it, a long time ago."
"You can BUY soap?! WHERE?!"
"Wal-Mart. Lots of stores sell soap."
She was amazed. What a strange life we lead. She doesn't remember anything other than homemade soap. What other misconceptions am I unknowingly teaching my children?!
Pierce was in the shower with me the other day, and I was sitting in the water spray, rinsing his hair when he apparently decided the water was too hot. He marched over to the faucet and flipped it to cold. Ice cold. There I am, big pregnant body trying to scramble up while taking a now cold shower. If I could have seen it instead of experienced it... It would have been hysterical. I share this story so you all may laugh instead. I'm still trying to recover.
And... back to my misery. I can't remember the last cold I had that kicked my behind quite this bad.
I got a recliner. After many pregnancies wishing for one, and many newborns without a rocking chair, I’m thrilled with my craigslist find – it matches the couch. Problem:
The kids really like my new recliner too. (Sorry about the photo. It was impossible to get a good shot. The coat hooks are on the wall directly behind the chair. Ugh. Six kids times two coats each plus fleeces and purses for four girls equals one mass of outer wear and going-out accessories. Summer can come, anytime.)
Today is pajama day at co-op. Ruby is sporting her feeted zipper pj’s and slippers. She thinks it’s fabulous. Sterling is equally decked out in flannel pj pants and shirt and fuzzy slippers. As a “when you’re awake, you’re dressed” household, they are tickled pink at the thought of leaving the house in their pj’s. Eden’s participating as well. Liberty… she’s wearing jeans. I get that. Me? I’m staying home to deplete the Kleenex box at a ridiculously rapid rate. It might just be pajama day here too.
I am not enough.
There’s not enough of me to go around. I’m tired and sore and wishing the next weeks away, longing for the day I’ll feel normal again. For the day I feel normal again.
I can’t ever take the kids to the park enough times to suit me. The zoo pass sits lonely and unused far more often than I’d like. I haven’t played with my kids outside since the first time it snowed. That was at least a month ago. But lately, it’s not just “not enough”. It’s “not at all”.
The subject of “mommy guilt” has always confused me. Guilt about what? Lately, it’s all come crashing in on me. Guilt about everything. There’s something about pregnancy hormones that will do that to you.
And yet, as I lay in my bed last night, unable to sleep, I couldn’t help but wonder at the thought process. My children aren’t complaining. They rub my belly and look forward to the day they can hold their newest sibling. They take joy in serving me… most of the time… even if, in Pierce’s mind, it’s bringing me a Coke four times a day. (Since I bought the Coke to marinate deer meat, it’s an interesting gesture. Basically, it has him moving Coke from the box in the basement to the fridge in the kitchen because I don’t have the heart to tell him I don’t want it. So I procrastinate and send him to put it in the fridge for me. We’re getting a huge stash up here, only to be taken back down… he must think that box will never, ever empty itself.) Liberty offers to make supper every single night. Eden loves to look through cookbooks to find me recipes to make with the ingredients we have. Sterling is the expert “stand on a stool and stir this” supper helper and Ruby loves to get things out of the garage for me. She usually comes back giggling with a tale of “I had to climb into the chest freezer to find the broccoli.” Such hardships, I’m sure.
I wonder. Is pregnancy a way to make me slow down? Is this an opportunity to teach my children service, empathy, and the value of offering to help instead of spend their time doing less fruitful activities? In my guilt over what I’m not doing with them these days, have I missed the bigger picture?
Our home is still functioning. The floors are swept… most often by an eight year old these days. Laundry is as caught up as it ever is. (You decide what that means!) My older two have learned how to sort, start laundry, switch loads, fold, and put away. The younger four are fabulous at taking laundry to the laundry room. School has happened every day, just like we always do. Grocery shopping is enough to make me need a nap – but my children pitch in and put groceries away and while I have yet to find the onion soup mix we bought last week… that’s minor. I’ve had more chances than normal to sit and read books to the kids, to snuggle up next to my little ones, to convince Pierce to take a nap – with me.
Maybe, just maybe, I need to look at this as a season to live differently, a chance to teach my kids things they’ve not learned yet about service, compassion, and empathy. Maybe, instead of seeing this as what they aren’t getting, I can see it as a chance to get something entirely different.
It’s hard. I’m thankful it’s not anticipated to be long term. But instead of looking at it for what it isn’t, I’m going to look at it for what it is. Guilt free.
To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the sun… (Ecc. 3:1)
I took Blaine's van to Bible study the other night. It gets better has mileage than my big van, so whenever I head out alone, I take that instead. Shortly after getting in, I smelled perfume. Strange.
I didn't think about it too much at first, but I kept smelling it. Littered with jumper cables, car seats, random photography paraphernalia, cereal bar wrappers, and the like, smelling foreign perfume is odd. The thought of my husband going out to lunch and given a co-worker a ride crossed my mind, but he always packs a lunch. I kept smelling it, all the while wondering why it was bothering me so much. I've never had a moment's worry regarding the man I married. He drives a fifteen year old small minivan we outgrew two kids ago that leaks oil like it thinks it's doing the lawn a favor, dripping fast enough to leave a puddle everywhere it sits.
This man of mine goes to work faithfully, teaches our children as he works, slowing him down but certainly worthwhile. Father of nearly seven. Faithful. So why on earth is the perfume smell sending my mind in all sorts of circles?
I decided I was being absolutely ridiculous.
I proved myself correct when I took my hair down when I got home, late in the evening in a sleeping house. The scent of my new conditioner hit my nostrils and I nearly choked on my stupidity. Somebody, please. Save me from myself. I. Need. More. Sleep.
Life has become mere endurance. At 32 weeks pregnant, I’m miserable beyond words. I. Hurt. Everywhere. But, baby kicks and rolls and from all appearances is doing fabulously. I was warned by my midwife to expect this one to be bigger than all my others, since he/she is already larger than most. My heaviest was 9 lbs. 2 oz. so I’m rather expecting to birth a three month old at this point. The constant question is whether I’m positive I’m not carrying twins, how sure I am of my due date, and if I’m done. Oh, and one particularly fun comment about being like one of those prize pumpkins that never stops growing. I hold onto the knowledge that I won’t be pregnant forever.
I bought new fabric for pillows. We might, by the end of tomorrow (because I need another pillow form, so that’s been added to today’s grocery list) have matching pillows on our not completely mismatched couches for the first time in history. I’m rather excited about this. No, it’s not nesting. I purchased the fabric the day after Christmas. Christmas sewing and dread for getting on the floor to cut out fabric had me putting off the sewing until now. But if my living room could be more intentional, that would be fun. Of course, the Lincoln Logs, the train set, the car basket, the Legos… it’s a toss up on whether I can win this battle.
Pierce got a handful of Tonka toys for his birthday last year. Sterling has had a dump truck since he was about two, so when I found a bunch of them on Craigslist, Pierce got them for his birthday. He loves them. They had, however, been used in the sandbox and lived outside or in the shed. Sterling begged to bring them in for Pierce when it got cold, willingly put them in the tub and scrubbed them until no sandbox remnant remained, and made his brother one very happy boy. My living room/school room now looks like this on a continual basis:
I’ve decided Sterling is just trying to balance out the boy toy/girl toy ratio. Or kill me, tripping on large wheeled toys in the night. Take your pick.
I told the kids to get ready for the day. The day consists of school and grocery shopping. Sterling feels like he’s headed into battle, apparently. This is what he came up with.
Last night I made barbecued pork ribs and baked potatoes and our own canned green beans for supper. I got all the kids’ plates dished up, and Ruby went to the garage fridge for more milk. She plopped the brand new gallon of milk down… on the edge of Sterling’s plate. Just like that, potato, beans, and pork rib went flying, catapulted toward nearby Pierce and the floor. Some of it landed on the table, some landed on the floor, but that rib simply disappeared. Brady (the dog) was not so very far away, and the fear that she’d snatched the meat was voiced. Even if she had, a pig rib vs. an eight pound dog seemed like an unlikely match. Surely something would be left. She can’t eat a bone that big that fast. And so the search continued. Everyone’s plates were checked for the extra portion, but no one found it.
It struck me as awfully funny. Eight people, searching floor, plates, counters, and curtains for one catapulted rib.
Finally, I spotted a bit of the sauce on the back of Pierce’s chair, and his chair became the focal point of the search. The rib was behind Pierce, on his chair. Supper was saved, Brady was innocent, and the idea of catapults was discussed.
Pretty sure I’m not going to forget the food flying through the air, plate and all, anytime soon though. Supper around here is never dull… but that was a new one, even for around here.
One of my children posed the question. Pausing, I tried to come up with a suitable answer. In the world of my children, they don't know anything like it. Momma stays home with them.
Explaining it's a place that cares for children, rather like a babysitter, while parents work, my children looked even more confused.
"Oh, like if the dad dies."
Didn't see that coming. Yes, I suppose that could be one scenario. I added that perhaps both parents work. I got trampled in the trains that were my children's imaginations.
"Or if the mom dies."
Yes, I suppose that's another possibility.
Then Ruby dropped the bomb.
"Or if the mom goes on a trip, like to Florida."
Florida? Florida? Who's going to Florida? And why wasn't I invited?! What is Florida anyhow?
She looked at me like I was SO ignorant.
"It's a state, Momma."
Glad we got that cleared up. What I want to know is this: who taught her this stuff?!
Now, it's funny to write that. I knew all of those things... perhaps even embraced them, before I'd given birth to even one of my children. Before I knew the joy of holding my child for the first time. Before I'd taught anyone how to hold a spoon, use a glass, pet a dog, figure out what addition and subtraction meant. Before I'd held my frightened child as they realized it was just a dream, taught them to read, taught them why Jesus had to die.
It was all before.
Then, I had my first child. Loving her more than life itself and forgetting the horrors of pregnancy and labor, I longed for another. Two sent me reeling, and I started to understand why two is plenty for many. But time passed, and again I longed to meet another child, a part of my husband and I, a blessing from God. We had a third, a fourth, a fifth. I started seeing how the world reacts to non-conformity. It's not always pleasant. Surely these children weren't ALL mine. Surely I didn't CHOOSE this. Our sixth quickly followed the fifth, we officially outgrew our normal sized minivan with our normal sized gas bill, and the questions began in earnest. Are you done NOW? Are you happy now that you got two boys in the mix? (Of course, that's why I chose this.) The lovely intrusion, don't you know what causes that? And the most awkward, are you supermom? Or my least favorite tactic... start asking my children any of the above questions.
So now, realizing I'm thoroughly enjoying mothering these children, that I love being there to see them learn new things, that I hate pregnancy but find the babies entirely worth my agony, and we've completely tipped the scales into not normal anyhow, we chose to have a seventh. I'm in the bitter end of another pregnancy, counting the weeks until I get to meet this little person. I don't know if we'll be done after that. I do know I'm so, so thankful I didn't stop at two or three, that I didn't conform to some unwritten rule about what's considered normal, that I didn't see my children as anything but blessings. Sinful children, in need of teaching and training and of a Savior, but such blessings, every one of them.
and I started asking Pierce what THAT tiger was saying.
Pierce didn't miss a beat.
We made snow ice cream yesterday. Ruby decided we should never buy regular ice cream again. I reminded her of the abundance of snow in July. Liberty thinks we ought to fill up the freezer with snow to solve the problem. I’m skeptical. Charlotte loved the ice cream, but asked if I could get her something to warm up her tongue. Pierce shook and shook from the cold and finally gave up. The problem with snow ice cream: snowy weather and ice cream just don’t go together.
Liberty proclaimed she’s going to pour a can of sweetened condensed milk and a bag of chocolate chips together in a bowl and eat it when she’s a grown up. High ambitions.
Sterling walked past me rubbing his mouth, muttering, “My lips still hurt!” I questioned him about it… and laughed. “I zipped up my mouth in my coat zipper.” Well then.
Sterling’s new to Spelling in school this year. He’s doing quite well, and has grown accustomed to his 100% tests. I test on Thursday, and a 100% earns no test on Friday. Any wrong means another test on Friday. Sterling got two wrong on his last test: learn and pearl. Frustrated, he wrote the words a bunch of times. And then rewrote learn because he’d written it wrong all those times. As he numbered his paper for his Friday test that was moved to Monday due to our short school week last week, he muttered “ea… ea… ea” over and over. Then, he came up with a request. “Can you give me learn and pearl first so I can write them down before I forget how to spell them?” Umm… no. How does that prove you’ve learned anything?! He got 100% on the test, in spite of those words coming towards the end of his test.
I’m a big fan of letting my kids make mistakes – and then figure out how to fix them, hopefully learning something in the process. I set one dear daughter to making syrup for our pancakes. “Put two cups of water and four cups of sugar in a pan. Bring them to a boil.” This particular child struggles with following through, so I opted to put the maple flavoring in myself, later, to keep my instructions ultra simple. She came back moments later, wanting me to repeat instructions. I refused, knowing a lesson might actually be learned in this. You know, that lesson about paying attention. A few minutes later, she returned, announcing there were four cups of water and two of sugar in the pan. Um… no. Too much water, not enough sugar. Now we have to compensate, and instead of making a double batch, we’ve got the makings of a quadruple batch. She figured it out, we have three quarts of syrup in the fridge… and yesterday, we ran out of sugar. Something about putting eight cups into the syrup might have something to do with that. I’m not certain any lessons were learned – but we have syrup made up for a month or two.
I made deer stew last night for supper. Charlotte protested, saying she likes deer on her plate but not in her bowl. I’m assuming this means she liked the breaded/fried deer I made this summer… but not so much the stew I’ve been making lately. She fought me on eating it, but in the end, ate enough to satisfy me. When I went to scrape her bowl, I found all veggies and no meat. Turns out, the deer in her bowl isn’t the problem. It’s the broth and vegetables that come with it.
Today was the due date for the baby I lost shortly before conceiving the one I now carry. Strange moments. If that baby had lived, the baby I now feel kicking inside of me wouldn’t have been.
I would never have chosen to endure a loss like that.
So glad that His ways are higher than ours, and it’s not up to us. God’s purpose is far greater than we can see. I mourn one child, rejoice over another, and look forward to meeting the babies I lost someday when we worship at Christ’s feet together.
My new Kindle has Swype. I’ve had fun playing with this “draw the line from one letter to the next for the word you want” technology.
Sometimes, however, technology fails.
I was Swyping away trying to send an email to a friend, and when I Swyped her husband’s name, it automatically corrected it to “Sexy.” Of course, I was busy Swyping and not looking at what was in the email and as my finger hovered over send, the word jumped out to me like it was on fire. Hello, mortification. I jerked my hand back with amazing speed and edited my email… and proofread the rest. And then I laughed. And my kids tried to figure out what was so funny. How do you explain that?!
Proofreading. Proofreading is important.
It snowed again. The high temp for one day next week is hovering just above 0 degrees F. It’s starting to feel like home… but really, I didn’t miss the ridiculously low temps. Wood heat is a wonderful thing. I think we’ll hibernate.
Up for today: Wrapping up our short school week, making some orange cranberry bread, folding and putting away the five loads of laundry I washed and dried but didn’t fold yet, and putting Pierce’s car seat back together after having washed it. It was overdue… but have you tried to take one of those things apart lately?! Awful, I tell you. Putting it back together will likely be worse. I lose skin over these things.
After a hard day of mothering children who were refusing to conform to my will, I got out a few of my favorite parenting books. Skimming the pages, I vowed to do things differently, better, more consistently. My consistency flies out the window to a large extent when I’m pregnant. I’m tired. I’m sore. I don’t feel like it.
Feeling encouraged, I determined it was starting with bedtime. Five of my children march off to bed and go to sleep without issue.
One, not so much.
I bet you can guess which one.
So I give the dear boy a stern talking to, march him off to bed with a warning, and minutes later, hear from him again. After a brief conversation, he’s back in bed. All is quiet.
Wow! I should have done that a long time ago! That was too easy. Half an hour passes – silence.
And then. He got up. And got up. And got up. And got up. And it was 10pm, two hours past the time I’d laid him down, and I was losing my patience. I put him in my bed instead of his, shut the door, and went back to my relaxing. And he got up. And up. And he begged for his own bed. Really? One stern talking to later, I tucked him into his own bed, and didn’t hear from him until… the wee hours of the morning when he apparently bumped his head on something. And so he sleeps… in my bed.
I’m determined. I’ll persist. But after all of that… I’m starting to understand why I’ve often giving up fighting the fight as consistently as I ought. I. Am. Exhausted.
Pierce: 1. Momma: 0. For today.
I. Am. Tired.
We went to a “party” last night. It consisted of three families, getting together. Six adults, twenty one children. Seven adults, I suppose, since one of those children has reached age eighteen, I think. There was hayrides and food and games and we managed to stay up until midnight, and then 1am, and finally left just before 2am. I hadn’t seen 2am in a long, long time. I don’t think any of my children had ever seen it. All six made it, meltdown free except for a moment with Charlotte that had nothing to do with tired, and had a great time. It’s now 11:36am and Eden, Charlotte, and Ruby are awake. The other three still sleep. Pierce is still in the same position as when I put him in his bed after we got home last night: flat on his back, in his jeans and button down. He hasn’t moved. He’s never slept this late in his life. Some strange part of me is hoping he sleeps until noon… just because.
We were serenaded on the way to the party by Charlotte, singing “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego” over and over at the top of her lungs. The girl has learned to yell. Why she chooses to yell the names of these three characters, recently learned about in Sunday School, remains a mystery. There was no other story, no other words. Just major excitement at the names.
The van was strangely quiet on the way home.
Experiencing a new year is odd when you watch it through the eyes of a child. Sterling and Ruby have been answering “What month is it? What year is it? What’s the date?” all year long. They’d mastered 2013. Now, to learn another. The littlest ones don’t know what it all means – but the abundance of sweets and sparkling juice made for a fabulous evening for them.
All this, followed by pumpkin pie for breakfast. Turns out, when you put the Christmas pies in the basement refrigerator they get forgotten. Ruby’s comment: “I didn’t know we could have dessert first, and THEN protein…” Someone has heard my cry for eating protein at mealtimes.
Pierce didn’t make noon. 11:51. Liberty got up just after noon. No one has heard from Sterling yet…