The fantastic Finn

He turned three this week.  If I thought I had been exposed already to “all things boy” with two other boys already, I was wrong.  Phineas continues to keep me on my toes and I continue to marvel at the person he is…

Dear Finn,

Nearly every single day you do something that astounds, surprises, shocks or terrifies us.  Just when we think we’ve figured out how you manage to get out of your room in the middle of the night to take a Costco-sized bag of hoagie rolls into your bed with you, we are found wrong, again.  You’ve mastered the “child proof lock” over and over.  It apparently is no match for your ingenious young self.  You have a tree in the front yard that is sort of your own…you climb to the top with ease, have done so since you were 2 1/2 years old and peek out the top calling my name.

You potty trained yourself for three months last summer but then decided that was overrated and haven’t done so again since.  When I hold up a green crayon and ask you what color it is, you reply “John Deere”.  And I don’t correct you.  Truth is, I’ll be sad the day you are grown up enough to call it green.  You know the rest of your colors just fine.  Your vocabulary and ability to communicate is beyond any of your siblings at this age.  When you open your mouth in the company of someone who doesn’t know you, they are quite always surprised to hear you chatter on in long sentences….you’ve done so for at least 6 months already.

You live, breath, love all things John Deere.  You can’t stand wearing jeans but love wearing either pajama pants or your Carhartt “farm suit” as you call it.  This morning while I was doing dishes I looked out my window to see you outside, in 38 degree February weather, walking around the yard with your new “chainsaw” trying to fell every tree you came across.  After a few unsuccessful attempts, you were content to sit on the playset and hold your saw and grin at me:


I came downstairs two weeks ago to find you very diligently doing the dishes…


Obviously they needed doing.  This is you in a nutshell.  You see everything around you.  You find ways to obtain or accomplish just about anything you set your mind to.  You are tenacious and determined and possess such strength that sometimes I can only shake my head and hope that your dad and I can harness and direct your energy in the right direction.  I can’t wait to see who you will become, who you were created to be.

We are so thankful for all that you bring to our family!



All in the family

One of the challenges that I’d never really thought much about that we would face as our family grew was that we would have choices to be made about what sorts of things we would say yes to outside the things we do at home.  Not that we spend our days here in a bubble not engaging with the outside world.  Not at all so.  We love having a steady stream of people here for one thing or another.

Some of our friends are highly involved and committed to year around sports.  While for certain families this works great, it also has the potential to fragment the family quite a bit.  Dinners together are the exception instead of the rule.  The costs for kids who move beyond recreation-level sports are into the many hundreds of dollars per season.  However, even for just 6 weeks of YMCA level, “for fun” soccer for our kids it would have cost us almost $500.

When one child excels in a sport, it’s easy to get excited and put others on the sidelines (literally and figuratively).  We’ve watched this play out just this past year in fact.  It is harder than I’d have guessed to find things that a family with several children can be involved in together.

Two years ago this fall we happened upon a county wide 4-H meeting near us.  We stopped and talked with each club leader for any animals we were interested in.  The commitment levels varied a great deal.  The personality and “feel” of the groups did as well.  We still lived in our tiny rambler with our five children, mostly quite happily.  We had chickens and a dog and a cat.  We were far from anything that resembled any sort of country, agricultural life.  But we signed up anyway.  Figuring we could just learn about animals, make some friends and have some fun.

We had no idea what we were in for.  We spent that first year learning all sorts of interesting things about dairy goats.  But better than that we made some great friends.  Grown up ones as well as kid ones.  Each of our children were challenged to give presentations to the group.  Learning to stand up in front of your peers and share about something is such a helpful lifelong skill.

When we had the opportunity to move part way through that year we found ourselves living at the end of an unmaintained county road with a small pasture already in place.  And it happened to be just about kidding season.  Three baby goats quickly found their way to our little family farm and into our hearts.

Of course fair season is the culmination of the 4-H year.  We didn’t really “get” that the first year.  Last year we showed up at one small community fair and had a ball.  This year we did the same fair (pictures below!) but had anticipated all year long that we would do the Big One.  The full Monty of the fair world around these parts.  But it requires its own post which I promise to work on this week.  For now, here are some snapshots of us enjoying our time at Silvana together.  Even just a one-day, all day event for seven people isn’t a small affair….but it was insanely fun for all of us.  Finn included!

Finn getting ready to take on the show ring with the Tiny Tots
Audrey getting Little Su ready
Finn and Kodiak
Audrey and Little Su in the ring
Finn showing Kodiak
Finn with the (lovely) judge
Kyler with Posey
Caleb with Wyatt
Rylee with Blanchette
the lineup!
lovin' us some cousins who came to watch!
our little goat show-girl
the fantastic Finn
sweetest Kyler face ever
going for a sno-cone run
taking a snooze wearing his show ribbon - hard work wrangling goats when you're two!

Will I remember this?

In this season with many littles, I ask myself these questions a lot:

Will I remember this in a year?  Will my kids remember this in a year?

When it’s Bible study night and we haven’t met for a month and I’m looking so forward to 90 minutes of fellowship – and Phineas sobs when I try to leave him with sweet Ava.   When I give up trying to go and scoop him right up and head to Bartell’s down the street to get a binky because we forgot one and he’s sleepy and that’s partly why his face is so crumbled. I tell Ava, “I know this might seem silly, driving to go buy a binky and all….but someday, it really won’t seem so crazy!”.

When I resort to going up and down the elevator with him while I wait for the other kids and he won’t take off the enormous sound proof headphones because he associates them with the tractor and his daddy and he spent an hour sitting on it just saying “daddy, tracker?” over and over with the ridiculous ear muffs on.  We quit pushing buttons and I am thankful for this little 5×8 foot space so we just stay there.  I tell myself not to be embarrassed when someone pushes the button and finds me inside the elevator, sitting on the carpet with a box of bunny grahams and a happy toddler with headphones that say he’s an air traffic controller.

When I hurt a boys feelings for telling him he’s silly and he yells so long because I hurt his heart.  I have to apologize and his eyes are so sad it breaks my heart.  I hope he forgets how unkind I was to him.

When we let everyone go outside till 10 PM to make snowmen in the dark and they are frozen but delighted to the core.  Even Finn keeps up with the snowball making and cries when we have to go inside.

When little girl asks me, because she really needs to know, “When is Finn going to change the world Mama?” and I realize she heard me say that to a friend about her vivacious baby brother.  I tell her with a smile, “Oh he’s not the only one….you all get to change your world, whatever place God takes you – you get to change it for good if you choose!”.  And I mean that with my whole heart.

When I finally figure out that for the one who loves people more than anything, doing math alone was the end of the world.  Math with siblings is “the most fun ever, Mom!”.  How am I so lucky to get to teach math to these eager little people?

When I sit rocking a teething toddler after bedtime and he lets me cradle his 30 pound self like a baby and the instant he sees my face at his door his flowing tears stop and he breathes out “mama” as if I were his very life.  and he says the same thing over and over until I understand:

Song?  Do you want a song?

Yeah.  Fong.  Unshine. Away.

I sing the same song about sunshine over and over until he’s trying, in sleepy, baby, binky-in-mouth fashion to sing it with me.  It’s the sweetest thing I’ve heard in forever.  He lets me hold him for what feels like an eternity.  He points to my eyes, ears, nose, “mouf” and names them all in the dark.  My legs hurt.  I recall the work I still have to do and the sleep that is beckoning me.  But I stay.  I sing again and my voice catches because this, this is a moment I want to remember.

I want to be all here.  Though these days require more than what I feel like I can give, I won’t ever get the chance to do them over and I want so bad to remember all the little gifts along the journey.

The view from here

He pulls me along and we poke our toes in the sand.  His blond fuzzball head covered obediently with a hat and his ever so pudgy fingers squeeze my hand tightly as waves lap at our feet.  I spent his first year trying to find ways to soothe his colicky, high-need baby self.  I’ve spent this first part of his second just trying to keep up with him.  He will change his world someday, whatever that world is that ends up being his circle.  He refuses to be a spectator and will not let life or adventure pass him by.

I say a silent thank you while I walk with this youngest one on the beach, a thank you for a husband willing to do hard and sometimes unpleasant work for our sake.  Driving day in and day out, every month a new sales quota to meet.  Missing our mornings, our days, sometimes our dinners and our lazy summer beach days.  What a burden we are to his man-shoulders.  One I know he gladly, willingly bears but I am foolish to forget that we are heavy on him.  Just as easily as I let the days ahead loom over me and tempt me to be overwhelmed, he too just might feel like there is no end in sight, no respite from hard work.

This moment walking on the beach with my toe-headed little boy is perfect.  I don’t want to forget.  I let him walk me as long and as far as we can go.  I push every thought out of my mind and delight in the way he holds onto my pinkie finger.  Someday he will be taller than his not-so-tall mama.  I’ll look up to him.  I’ll tell him he has what it takes and he will let go of my hand.  And I might choke up thinking about holding him night after night while he cried and fussed about who knows what.

But for today, I’m loving my view from here.

One year ago today…

…I was getting pulled over on 405 by a police officer with all 4 kids in the car.  Seconds before I saw his lights I’d hung up the phone with my midwife.  I had barely gotten on the freeway and could not figure out why he was pulling me over.  He walked up to my window and I was unmistakably, enormously pregnant.  He asked me if I knew my tabs were expired.  Five months expired.  As soon as I opened my mouth I’m sure he regretted it – it went something like this, with no breaths for air:

Oh my goodness no!  In October, what?  I thought they mailed you that little postcard that told you to get new tabs.  That’s right, I remember someone telling me that they don’t mail it anymore, have to save money somewhere.  But I never looked at my plates so I didn’t notice.  Oh my.  The midwife just called me and I just hung up with her when you were pulling me over.  She’s going to come to my house in two hours, TWO HOURS, and I’m going to have a baby.  TODAY!  So I’m, you know, a little frazzled and excited and I wasn’t expecting it to be today and I’ve got to get home and is there any way I can renew my tabs after the baby comes?

I’m pretty sure that wasn’t all but you get the idea.  I was a mile-a-minute to the moon bursting with excitement and nervousness and could not care less about my tabs just had to go home to get my home birth box all set up and my kitchen clean and have a baby and all.  As soon as I let him talk he said, “Oh wow, yeah you have a lot going on.  You get yourself home safely and have yourself a baby.  Just renew those tabs as soon as you can.”  I smiled and said I would and headed home.

I made the calls and picked up the house.  My sister started a dinner that would feed the midwife and whoever else was at our house.  The whole story was that the weather was cold and it was supposed to snow.  I have a history of fast labors, barely made it to the birth center last time.  And I was very progressed and ready but not in active labor.  So she gave me the option of them breaking my water so that we would know for sure that the midwife would be present for the delivery.  My husband had read the pamphlet entitled “What to do if baby arrives before midwife” and he said he really didn’t want to utilize the info.  Who could blame him.

The midwife and her student went to get coffee after my water broke and pretty soon I called them back to say that things were moving right along.  About three hours later a plump and purple-ish baby boy was born in our bedroom – with Rylee behind me rubbing my back and my mom and sister standing next to me with Kyler and Audrey. His daddy helped catch him and told us all “It’s a boy!”.  He got some oxygen and perked up and all I could think was “there are rolls EVERYWHERE”.  He was so plump and round.  After snuggling and getting rubbed off, he weighed in and everyone gasped.  10 pounds 11 ounces.  I was instantly thankful that he’d been born that day and not one day later!

We all sat on my bed together and soaked it all in.  It was the experience I had dreamed of but it still seemed very surreal.  It was bedtime so my mom and dad helped get kids in bed and we settled in for the night. We marveled together as we watched him sleep and counted ourselves tremendously blessed.

One year later and we’re not sleeping much but we wouldn’t trade the sleep for anything.  Phineas is a perfectly wonderful addition to our family.  We joke that he’s like a movie star in his own home.  Every time he wakes up from a nap there is fanfare and greetings galore for his sleepy, smiley face.  His brothers love to crash trucks to make him laugh.  His sisters love to snuggle and play baby with him.  His daddy loves to hold him in just the right spot on his shoulder.  His mama kisses his face and head all over.  Every single day.

Yes, it’s loud.  Yes, there is chaos.  Yes, we’ve got hard days just like everyone does.

But oh my, the love…there is

first time for everything – he didn’t make a fuss, just fell asleep in his high chair
first time climbing into a drawer
finding the apple box
he's got a penchant for emptying the recycle bin!

A miracle, every time

#380 – #404 on my gratitude list this week from a heart overflowing with thankfulness…

an intense 3 hour labor 5 days before my due date

blood pressure stabilized enough to deliver at home as hoped for

laboring at the kitchen counter with precious little distractions hovering around me

two amazing midwives and the unique care they bring

a sweet 8 year old daughter rubbing my back between pushes whispering “Good job mama, you’re doing good”

a husband brave enough to help catch the baby

the miracle moment that is just as amazing every single time it happens….when a new baby is placed into your arms

hearing “its a BOY!”

seeing rolls of skin all over said boy

hearing “10 pounds 11 ounces” and gasping in shock

snuggling in bed minutes after he is born with curious siblings all over

tucking excited, tired kids into cozy beds on a cold, snowy evening

the quiet after midwives and family are gone and we are left with a new son in our arms

realizing how much such a big baby needs to eat

holding hands under the sheets and snuggling closer relishing what just took place



the smell of a newborn

instantly and forever glad we said yes to one more

quiet prayers of gratitude whispered in the dark

pondering names and knowing the ones

Phineas (first name) – a man of the Old Testament, who stood for righteousness and was “zealous for the honor of his God”

Jon (middle name) – a man of today, my father, who also stands for God’s righteousness and honor

family and friends that greatly lift the load, watch children, run errands and fill in the holes while we adjust to ‘new normal’

treasuring each moment, ever so aware that this season is short lived and I won’t get it back