Just Heard Thursday

After an unusually long stretch of not one kid-free moment for me, I could feel my internal reserves running on fumes.  Usually I do a fair job of getting out, taking care of myself which I’ve come to find a non-luxury but an honest necessity in this stage of life I’m in with little kids, homeschooling, not working outside the home…

So last night around 9 I headed over to a friends’ home (her husband is out of town for the week) for a movie, popcorn and good wine.  It was just what I needed only I was left in charge of movie selection and I’m embarrassed to say that my choice was not the best.  We watched The Blind Truth-a smutty, low quality romantic comedy chock full of sexual innuendo.

At dinner tonight, I intimated to Chris that the movie had been fairly sub par.  He asked what it was about, to which I replied “It was about the ‘truth’ of what men really want.” He cracked a smile and instantly caught my drift.

But Rylee immediately responded exceedingly confident that she knew the answer:

COKE!

We were undone.  I’m still laughing typing it.  I hope she thinks that all men want is coke for MANY years to come 🙂

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Kyler (bursting in the door from the yard):  “Mom, I saw Mason’s peanut.  It’s huge.  And it’s a hairy peanut.”

Two things are important here:

  1. Mason is the dog who lives behind us
  2. Peanut is Kyler’s term for boy private parts

I hid behind the counter laughing.  Mainly because my mother was there and I wanted to act grown up enough not to bust a gut laughing at bathroom humor.  But really, I’m not grown up enough.  Yet.

Downhill in a hurry

Usually on Monday’s I have some sense of a fresh new beginning and if I’m lucky a well stocked fridge from weekend kid-free grocery trips along with a good bit of rest under my belt.

Today was no such Monday.  It was an absurdly crazy weekend for us.  One thing after another, a massive impromptu home renovation project, naps and meals all mixed up, dinners, play dates, two soccer games, a baptism and a church meeting.  I had worked double time trying to keep up with dishes and food and people.

Well rested, menu-planned, organized and brimming with optimism and perspective I was not.

The kids were oddly calm this morning (despite the fact we had their cousin over for the day) so we actually plugged away at a good many school lessons and then the younger 3 took naps.  Oldest 2 and I played tag (they quickly deemed me too slow), hide and seek (they announced our yard didn’t have any big enough spaces for me to hide) and then button-button-who’s-got-the-button (which turned out to be the crowd favorite!).

We planted 144 seed starts in our little greenhouse trays on a table in the backyard before the babies woke up.  We learned that tomato seeds are really tiny and we aren’t sure if any at all made it into the soil.  Time will tell.  We got dirty fingernails.  It was lovely.

Somewhere in the day Daddy called to say that he’d be home around 7 or 7:30 (he left at 4:45 am!).  I don’t remember what I said but I don’t think it was very nice.

I realized this meant soccer practice back to back for Rylee and Caleb while entertaining the rest of the troops on the sidelines.  This sounded potentially disastrous and I thought about opting out and staying home.  I’d already been through over half a pot of coffee and I was fading.  When it’s time for our read alouds and I’m slurring my words together, I know bedtime can’t come soon enough.

But we (I) decided to persevere, hoping for the best.

A kid or two was able to be in the child care at the YMCA during the two practices (did I mention they were straight through dinner time, till 7 PM?).  So it went relatively well.

Until we needed to leave.  I had given no thought to dinner.  In desperation, I planned that we’d head to McDonald’s to eat on the way home.

As Kyler walked out the child care area door, he laid down on the floor and started sobbing, screaming, shreiking, writhing around like a crazy person.  Audrey would not let me put her down, she was pooped.  The nice employees quickly came out and gently moved him out of the doorway so they didn’t have to hear his fits.  People are everywhere.  I ask him to go to a bench, the problem-I deduce-is needing help with shoes.  I will gladly help when he goes out of the traffic path to a bench.  I cannot even hear myself think he is so stinking out of control.  And it happened in the blink of an eye, honestly.

Everyone stares, my face is turning red, I’m feeling immense regret for whatever burst of confidence (or insanity) moved me to try and do this all by myself.

I sit the boy on the bench and put his shoes on.

The trouble now though is that he can’t calm down.  No matter how calm I am, no matter what mommy tactic I try, he will not be consoled.  He will walk, but fervently bawling for all to see.  I ask what is the matter more than once, the answer is the same:  “I don’t know Mama” and then sobbing resumes while the other 4 of us lead the long and windy way out of the YMCA.

We grab McDonald’s drive thru on the way home, Christopher meets us in the driveway, we throw some wrapped up food on the table and Kyler eats 11 chicken nuggets (his own, Audrey’s and Caleb’s). So I guess maybe he was hungry?

My healthy efforts and painfully slow process of losing some baby weight (when your baby is 2, can you still call it baby weight?)  take a giant hit.  I’m so hungry at this point I eat my fried, fatty food as well as kid leftovers.  Then feel like throwing up after it’s all gone.  Lesson learned (I hope).

Maybe Tuesday can be my Monday?

Kenya and Compassion

My mom asked me why I hadn’t blogged lately (she and my dad are out of town)…I told her I didn’t have anything to say.  Then I corrected myself and said I didn’t have anything perky to say.  I felt like by now I should have cheery spring sentiments to be sharing.  But I really don’t.  Figuring out how life works without someone special is hard.  And there is no timeline.  But I did think about sharing this…

Living in suburbia, with all of our needs met on a daily basis, raising children with a global perspective and awareness of how different our life looks from much of the world – is a big challenge.  It’s an easy one not to think about or to pass over because it’s a ‘downer’ or just because it’s not staring us in the face every day.

For Christopher and I both, traveling to third world countries for missions trips gave us an unforgettable glimpse into poverty.  It impacted each of us differently.  But both of us would agree we were better for having stepped into uncomfortable, very different places.  We worked hard and our hearts grew as we served people who had been born into poverty and war.

It’s a bit hard at this point in life with 4 little ones to think of packing up and heading to Africa for a month.  But I ache for them to have a love for all kinds of people in all places.  So we’ve pondered ways we can broaden what can (without intending ) be our very narrow focus of our little life here in Bothell.

We have watched with the kids a good many videos on You Tube of different countries, about standards of living (poverty), about children around the world who live with nearly nothing, about organizations that bring food, water and help to nations who need it.  We asked the kids if they would think about doing a couple of chores per week to help earn money to sponsor a child (that they could choose themselves) from Compassion International.

They were eager to do so (our oldest two) and they made their list, got online with me and each chose who they would sponsor.  They can write to these children and pray for them and in earning part of the money, help provide for them.  We could have signed up and paid for two sponsorships but it is incredibly more meaningful to have the kids feel like they are partly responsible for this gift.  It is very sweet.

Caleb asked – when our sponsorship packet came in the mail and he got his picture of Mavin – “Mom, do you think he can sleep in my bunk bed with me?”

Melted my heart and I watched his face fall when I explained, again, that sponsorship wasn’t the same as adoption.

And Rylee upon perusing her packet, said “Do you know what I’m thinking about Mom?”  I shook my head.

She answered “I’m thinking about Fatuma’s mom and how excited she must have been to click on and see that Fatuma had a sponsor.  I can picture her face and she was smiling.”

I see we have a little more learning to do and I gently explained to Rylee that in this little village in Kenya, Fatuma’s mother probably didn’t have a computer to click on to find things out like that.  But that I agreed, she would have been very happy.

The other thing we’ve been doing the past couple month is taking the kids downtown to serve meals at a homeless teen shelter.  They were baffled and a little shy at first of bodies covered with tatoos and piercings.  But they warm up every time and have sweet stories to tell each time they come home.

Little steps I know but just wanted to share what we’re trying around here.

An amazing photo opportunity

Last July we had the pleasure of working with Alicia Jerome of NW Photoworks for an outdoor photo session with our children.  We wanted something different, something unique, something amazing.  We were not disappointed.  Two large canvas prints now hang in our living room and they are the coolest ‘art’ we’ve ever had.

If you check out Alicia’s website, you’ll see that she resides in NW Arkansas, not our Pacific Northwest.  But her family is here and she makes several trips a year to visit.  When she does, she offers photography sessions to families in the Seattle area.  This year she will be here in April, June and probably October.

She is running a fantastic special in April (discounted session fee and the opportunity to purchase your photos on CD and print them as you like).  It took us a long time to finally come around to spending more than ‘mall photo’ money but we are still so glad we did.  It was such a good investment.  All the pictures on our sidebar and above on our blog are ones that Alicia took last summer, we love them too much to take them down!

This one was my favorite…it was the one that I hoped for but didn’t figure we’d get since Audrey was such a stinker that day!
We have a 20 x 30 canvas of it over our fireplace.

So thankful for something that captures the essence of life as a family, life with many siblings…
walking on the journey together.

Just Heard Thursday

Rylee (while riding in the car):  “Mama, look!  That house has the windows all covered…they must be havin’ a home birth probably so they don’t want people to see in!  How fun!”

(I am a tad on the constant emotional side lately, too much deep thinking, so of course this makes me cry…such a tender little girl who easily figures that the coolest thing anyone could be doing with their blinds closed is delivering a baby in their living room.  Love that girl.)

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Caleb:  “Mama, WHOA, you’d better put your lessest weight on that chair.  It looks like you are about to bust it right out.  Be careful, put less weight down…can you do that?”

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Kyler:  “Is it Monday or Sunday?”

Mama: “Actually it’s Thursday.”

Kyler: “Oh.  That too bad.  When’s it gonna be Tuesday?”

Climbing the mountain

I never thought I’d be the one encouraging my husband, the father of our four, to climb Mt. Rainier – again.  I’ve agonized while waiting for his safe return more than once the past couple of years as he’s climbed various peaks in the Pacific Northwest.  But the euphoria he brings home with him is a high he rides for weeks and months.  The conquering of something great appeals to the essence of who he is as a man.  So I’ve eased up on my initial fear and the past month have gently put in plugs for him to get out and conquer yet again.

I wrote in the days after Christopher father died so suddenly, so tragically about the mountain of sadness that we were under.  It seemed totally insurmountable.

It still does and if you’ve lost someone very close, you know the feeling that we are feeling.  The feeling that everyone else has moved on, life does not slow down to allow you to breathe, so much around you is ‘back to normal’.

But life feels so not normal.

Someone was missing at Rylee’s birthday dinner.

Someone won’t be here for the slew of spring birthday’s that our family celebrates.

Someone isn’t here to tease my children about the ‘monkey in the bathroom mirror’ that always makes them giggle.

As with most things, as husband and wife we process things very differently.  In the differences, flawless communication is sometimes hard to come by.  And as we find our way…there are four sets of eyes and ears watching, listening, taking in the way we choose to proceed.

It would be so easy to cave to the hopelessness that seems to taunt me.  To be completely absorbed by the sadness and regret that washes over me.  To pull the covers over my head and refuse to welcome the new day.  To argue that it is all too much.

Too much to bear.

And it is.  The mountain looms and the road is slow and long.

How will we make it?

What has taken place is beyond our control, much of life is completely out of our control.

But we choose how we respond.  That much is up to us.

Of all the kind words that have been shared with us these past 7 weeks, the ones that are ringing in my ears daily are these:

[In life there are] these little moments to look back and say, “we have come through, God has brought us through.”  When you look back at Rylee’s devastating health problems, your money & relationship issues, marriage instabilities, etc… you are able to be amazed some days that you have come through.  Mountains that were insurmountable are now just hills on the horizon behind you.  It doesn’t make your current mountains any more surmountable, but does it help just a smidgen to see those other ones you have somehow crossed over?

I will be praying for you to just make it to bedtime.  Sometimes, that’s all there is.  But there will still be manna in the morning.

Hills on the horizon behind me.  Really?

Seems unimaginable at this point and there are so many things I question and doubt right now.

But I have seen God weave miracles in my life and others and do things that I was even brazen enough to tell Him were not possible.  And in the deep places of my heart, I trust in God’s ability to bring me through.  To bring anyone through what they feel is beyond surviving.  Even by the minute.  Even in failure and doubt.  Even in the midst of such sadness.

Made with love

If you can’t be honest on a blog where can you be?  So here it is – I (Christopher) can’t cook.

Well, there are a few things that I could put together, but nothing fancy and not much beyond breakfast, BBQ, and mac n’ cheese.  So, this morning, Karissa left to spend the better portion of the day with some of her friends.  It was 7:30am and everyone was hungry, so what did we do?  Everyone (except Audrey) got to make something.  Rylee went to work on preparing the coffee, Kyler started cooking up the sausage patties, Caleb put the toaster to work on the eggo-like things I found in the freezer, and I scrambled up some eggs.  I love having a big family where everyone gets to pitch in and make stuff for each other.  Especially when the reality is that they could probably do as good or better than me at putting this stuff together.

We laughed, and we danced around to Rylee’s fav song right now – TobyMacy “Made to Love” as we all made our breakfast with love. We took some time to talk about what the words of the song means to us and got ready for the day.  It is going to be a adventurous day with dad involving the park, the fire pit, bb guns, and hopefully some nutrition along the way.

Quote of the night

Rylee:  “Can I have a red bowl please?”  (I dolled out bowls for everyone in case they are sick in the night!)

Caleb:  “My tummy hurts, can I sleep in the sick bed?”

Rylee:  “Mine hurts too, so bad, I want to sleep in the sick bed?”

(the sick bed is simply a mattress set up at the foot of our bed to keep the sick person away from other kids since they all share rooms)

Mama (pausing):  “Whoever throws up first tonight gets the sick bed, sound like a plan?!”

Quietness ensued and everyone went to bed.  At 7:30.  Unheard of around here.  But my it is peaceful!