Best of…

Again, I could make this a worst of post and it might be entertaining but it might just bring me down, so I’m opting for another ‘best of’ instead

best Nana snuggle:

can I hope to age so well???

best baby cousin love:

best reading – 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp – lifting my heart right up when it needed some lifting for sure…

best kid moment – two hours of all 4 oldest playing ‘circus’ with all their stuffed animals, happily…no fighting (the real gift was that!)

best chore idea (from Kristin at Hope with Feathers) – little jars, one for each kid, with colorful popsicle sticks each listing a chore – this allows me to mix up kids chores which they really enjoy and they love the tangible “finish the chore, give the stick to Mama”

best big sister:

best baby gift in the mail this week – Papa Murphy’s gift card!

best/craziest friend moment – dining out for lunch near naptime with our 8 children

best place to view baby Phineas:

best amazing free gift – a gorgeous wood sleigh bed from a friend of my mom’s who no longer wanted it

best motivation to clean under your bed…getting a new bed that’s lower and nothing fits underneath anymore!

best Easter outfit, my niece Ruby:

best/hardest/teariest part of cleaning out my bedroom – looking at my wedding dress, tiny waist and all knowing I’ll never fit it again but that I’d choose these precious babes any day over that little waist….finding a hand-sewn silk robe my Grandma made me when I got married, held it for the longest time missing her soft, wrinkly, beautiful, old lady hands….finding an old photo of us with Chris’ dad fishing in Alaska, missing his wonderful smile

best 9 week old baby boy face:


He is almost 7.  His life has taught me more than I could have dreamed.  He has literally and figuratively brought me to my knees in the most beautiful way.

Last night he was assigned by Daddy to be my Costco helper.  The list was long.  His little chest puffed with pride as he lifted every item into my cart and beamed as 3 different people told him what a great help he was.

When we drove home and I told him, again, how much I appreciated his hard work, he responded:  “I already know mama, three times tonight I’ve already heard that!”.  I grinned to myself.

Then, almost home, talking about how strong he is.  He let me know that only Daddy is stronger than him in our family.  He then listed everyone and their level of strength.  When he got to baby Phineas he said:

“Well, he is stronger than the next baby!  You know…the one that comes next?”

I’m smiling thinking, holy moly I’m only 8 weeks post-partum!

“How old will I be when the next baby comes? Maybe 11?”

I answered that I wasn’t sure but that often babies came every couple years.  That God knows and His plans are good.

Time to go snuggle that baby who is rocking on his sisters’ shoulder at the moment!  Eight weeks old yesterday….how do these days pass so fast?!?

Boys and homeschool

There are a lot of reasons why I love the opportunity to homeschool our boys.  I could write at length about it.  But it is summed up nicely in this photo, so for now I’ll share just this instead…

and just in case you can’t quite see it well…

fresh words being practiced

brand new pencil

dirt-filled fingernails

this is the happy way and life of our learning boy

Just what I need

I’d like to think that I know what I need.  I have always had grand ideas about what is best for me, what I want, what I should do or where I want to go in life.  Ten years ago these were some of my ideals:

  • 2 kids, maybe 3
  • a meaningful part time job
  • a lovely, well appointed home
  • the discipline to maintain my high school figure
  • a perfectly scheduled daily quiet time
  • a perfectly romantic, blissful marriage

Strangely, I have none of these things.  The things, the life, the ideals I thought I had figured out were more fluid than I realized then.  I have been blessed with 5 children instead of 2.  I gave up my very meaningful part time job because I could not keep it and maintain my other priorities.  I do not, probably never will, have a knack for home decorating.  I don’t even have a knack for home cleaning!  I am a long ways from my high school figure, I’m pretty sure it’s gone for good.  My times with the Lord come at 3 AM as I rock a crying baby or at 3 PM as I lock the door on the bathroom for 5 minutes to have a moment to myself.  Romantic wouldn’t be my first word choice for my marriage, I’ve come to appreciate other things about it that in fact mean a great deal more.  It is a beautiful picture of faithfulness, commitment, hard work and redemption.

When we had Audrey three years ago, we were just coming out of a very broken season.  A lot of hard things had piled up in life.  Her perfectly happy demeanor and girly sweetness was truly just what we needed at that time.  She brought pure delight on a daily basis when we were still wondering just how we’d make it through.  But we did make it.  And then we encountered last years’ heart wrenching losses that forced us to hold on tighter to each other and to the God we loved.

Phineas is the perfect addition to our family for such a time as this.  He will shape our life, our parenting and our family just the way each of our sweet children have.  We learn this lesson a little more with each child we welcome.  They have so much to show us about life and love.  It overwhelms me when I think about it.  God doesn’t mess up on timing or anything else, He knew we needed a little bit of a challenge.  More than that, He knew we needed a reminder that we can’t ‘do it all’.  He wants us to need Him…and we sure do.

I’m learning to trust that His plans, His ideals are a whole lot more amazing than my own.  Even if they can’t boil down to a nice, predictable, convenient list.  While I feel a pretty significant challenge with life as it is at the moment, as my dear friend Kim wrote a few days ago:

It is always dangerous to assume that your life today is the new normal.

As I struggled to click the “purchase” button yesterday while buying my hubby’s plane ticket to Philadelphia in November and got all teary just thinking about him being gone for 4 days (even though its not for SEVEN months AND the trip was MY idea!) – those words of Kim’s rang in my head.  How I feel today isn’t how I’ll feel in November, my normal then will be totally different than it is now.

God sees the bigger picture of my day, my week, my year.  His plans are good and they are for my good – no matter what.  My part is just to hold to that truth in the midst of these days.

I’m not supermom?

Shoot, what a bummer.

There was a moment several months ago before Finn was born and I remember it very clearly.  I told the kids and my husband how they were getting a bit spoiled with how I was keeping up with all of them and their food/laundry/schooling/etc needs.  I told them that once the baby came, I’d need them to pitch in more (kids, not hubby!).  I don’t think I was especially prideful about it but I did feel confident in how I was managing life and our household…for the first time in, maybe, years?

I don’t think its bad to feel good about being on top of things and it can be really encouraging to be in that place every now and then.  I hadn’t been there for about 7 years since our second child was born and shook my world so much that I plummeted into a lengthy bout of post-partum depression.  So I’d like to say it was only fair that I get my turn, except I don’t believe in fairness or the idea that life is actually fair – it isn’t.

Fast forward.  Enter Phineas.

Darling and hearty baby boy.  Named after a very bold man of the Bible who took the initiative to stand for God’s honor.  Did I think our boy could bear this big name?  Absolutely, we were certain it was meant for him.  It actually means ‘oracle’ which means:

  • a person who delivers authoritative, wise, or highly regarded and influential pronouncements
  • a divine communication or revelation
So it really shouldn’t surprise me that he doesn’t have a ‘quiet cry’ and that he is anything but passive and mellow. Most of the time I go through about 4 things to get him calmed down when he’s worked up but they aren’t the same 4 things every time and not in the same order either.  Talk about keeping me on my toes!
Still, it has been an adjustment to say the least.  Adjustments aren’t easy, even when you know they’re coming and you know they are wonderful (and he is wonderful, for the record!).  So while we fine tune life and laundry piles up and we watch too many shows on Netflix and we eat pizza too many times, all I can do is remember that this too will pass.   And lest I forget, I can (and have!) always text my sister or a friend and ask them to remind me.

Best of…

The way this week has gone I’m more than tempted to do a ‘worst of’ post…if you’ll notice I didn’t even manage to post my continuing gratitude list this past Monday!  But in the interest of positive thinking, here’s the best of the week so far:

best chocolate cocoa mustache

best bedhead

best voracious reader (logged 3 hours yesterday!)

best 5-year old boy prayer:

Dear Jesus, I pray that mama would have better s’s than me.  That I could write them someday.  I pray for daddy to be safe when he gets up and goes to work.  I pray for all the animals, creatures, the birds, the dinosaurs…are there any still alive?  I pray that all the animals would live and not die.  I pray for mama’s garden, the family garden in the back yard, that it would grow lots of flowers.  When it grows the flowers that we can pick them all for mama.  Amen.

best morning moment – stolen while kids watched a quick movie and for once, the baby slept somewhere else besides in my arms.  loving the starbucks VIA that allows me my one cup of coffee in no time at all and the frozen muffins in my freezer that mean I get breakfast every day.

best craigslist find – a giant box of fantastic, classic books for a great price….with how finicky this sweet babe is, they need all the books they can get their hands on to keep them occupied while I rock, wrap, wear, nurse, soothe, bounce, walk, change and calm the little man 🙂

best bathroom cleaner – Rylee (all on her own) spent a half hour cleaning the bathroom even organized the toothbrushes, just to be a blessing!

best sleepover buddies – Rylee and Audrey had a camp-out in sleeping bags on their bedroom floor last night just for fun, I loved peeking in on them throughout the night all snugged up next to each other

best big brother prayer – after I prayed for Caleb last night, he prayed this once single sentence that melted my heart:

I pray that Phineas would grow up to be a great man.  Amen.

best shower – the one last night, after 4 days of not washing my hair, after being in pj’s all day and after an explosive burp/spit up episode left me covered with goo…clean never felt so good!

True confessions

I bribed a crying 4 year old with a bag of M&M’s at the dentist (whispering secretly into his ear so the hygienist didn’t hear me) to convince him he should stay in his chair and let the dentist clean his teeth.

I bribed the rest of the children before we even GOT to the dentist.  With the promise of ice cream cones on the way home from the dentist.

I sent a text to my husband on his way home from work today that said something like “The dog pooped on the carpet in the family room again.  I’m not cleaning it up this time.  I am shut inside my room.  See you soon.”

Upon his coming home, I got dinner on the table and left for a ‘mental health break’ knowing he was leaving shortly for ‘guys night’ and it was going to be a long haul.

My idea of mental health break is wandering around the tacky thrift store near our house for an hour, spending a few dollars and getting a bag brimming with fun random things.

On the way home I stopped at the grocery store for a couple things.  When I asked the deli lady for one chicken strip she suggested the baked rotisserie chicken instead.  Really?  Can’t a mama just get a piece of fried goodness and not feel guilty about it?

Three times this week I pulled over the van to nurse the baby so everyone could have a break from the crying.

Noticing two giant bottles of gripe water on the counter, my husband inquired “Why two bottles when you don’t even know if it will help?”.  Fair question, it did come in a two pack but anything with the brand name “Mommy’s Bliss” written boldly on the package sounded good enough to me that I wanted two bottles anyway.

A few doses later, I informed him that the result was not in fact Mommy Bliss as indicated.  Perhaps I should try taking it myself for the bliss?

My pride was slightly, but only slightly, injured when my 6 year old son asked me why I didn’t look like the girl in the Pilates DVD workout I was doing.  Sigh.

My goal for the week was only sweets on 3 days.  FAIL.  Sweets every day.  And a quarter pound of peanut butter M&M’s in one day from a friend who I forgot to tell about said goal.  Obviously.

I opted for doing school work with kids at every opportunity this week instead of cleaning at every opportunity.  I have no clue how to do both just yet.  So my kitchen counter is invisible as a result.  But we burned through a lot of history and math 🙂

I laughed at the dinner table when a four year old boy said “Poop-lee-us” through giggles.  I know potty talk is for the potty.  But sometimes, it’s still funny and I’m not always mature enough to act like a grown up.



Sleepy but still thankful

#417 – 430

bouncing on the exercise ball calming a baby with a binky snuggled up in the Bjorn (how I spend HOURS each day currently!)

boys who love books and wait patiently for my help

girls who play in their room and make a disastrous mess but have a hoot together

all the people who keep telling me “don’t worry about being behind on school, it will all work out. Your all learning life lessons that are just as valuable.  Give yourself some more grace….”

how the almost 5 year old still can’t say motorcycle….only “murdercycle”

grinning mischief smiles whilst saying “BUTler, what’s a BUTler again, I forgot?!”

the will to cross ‘cheerios’ off the Costco list and though bleary-eyed, making protein packed muffins instead for breakfasts this week – knowing it ultimately will make for better mornings and happier bellies


a little girl who won’t let us forget to read the Bible every night, even when we’re tempted to skip out for sleep

lots of dark hours awake in the night to pray and catch up on my memorization

how deeply a grown-up daughter heart (feeling more than a bit ‘less than’ at the moment) can be blessed by words on raising children from her dad

What you do is so profound and critical to the heart of God.  There is almost nothing more sacred…

God’s overflowing grace that covers all the less-than-godly moments that take place here

wondering who this little darling, fussy baby boy will grow up to be

A visit from Gpa

He flew across the country for just 3 days to visit all of our family and meet his newest (eighth!) great-grand, baby Phineas.  It’s strange to have him here and not Grandma.  Hard how life goes on but wonderful, beautiful that it does.