All The Things

I spoke to my daughter about her latest blog posts sounding sad, almost depressed. I hoped that she didn’t feel that way, at least not on a regular basis. Then I got to thinking about my posts- seems I only post when I have some crisis or am worried about some crisis. I will try to be more well rounded here, I commit to that today.

I’m at Caleb’s Upward basketball practice. He is getting into the sport as his brother, Sam, has done. Noah will watch basketball on TV, but only played a couple of seasons before he was played out. We’ll see about the other three boys, what they take to. They are still pretty little.

So when we decided two were going to play basketball in two different counties, we had to decide who was going to drive them. I get the one close to home, so I don’t have to bring Chloe out in the cold, or leave her for long. But being alone for a couple hours is fun! I went to Hobby Lobby, and spent the rest of my Christmas money. Trying to get back into art, I’ve joined a sketching group that meets monthly. Our leader likes to use water pens, and gave me a quick demonstration on how they work. Then, lo and behold, I got some pens for Christmas from my friend Angela. (Funny aside here: Sarah asked me once, “Why do you refer to her as ‘my friend Angela’? She’s the only Angela you and we know!” And I just did it again here, in a place where she is likely my only reader by that name.) Just now I got some watercolor pencils, to use the pens in another way.

Sarah is my trooper right now. She got her braces off in December, and we immediately noticed one of her front teeth (#9, I now know) was discolored. We suspected an injury, but how? Neither she nor we could remember anything happening to her. She had been sent home with bleaching, so maybe it was some kind of metal residue? The bleaching didn’t do much, the off color moved through the tooth, so back we went to the orthodontist. He said it was bleeding internally, we should see the dentist to be safe, but that we should be conservative about treatment of this kind of thing. I had no idea what this kind of thing was; my worst fears were that the tooth would fall out of her head, and I was a nervous wreck. But as I prayed about it even before revisiting the orthodontist, I thought God was giving me Psalm 55:22. He will sustain Sarah, He will sustain me, whatever lay ahead.

Our dentist was not much more help. Yes, it was a damaged tooth, but there were many ways to proceed, anywhere from a root canal to leaving it alone for a while (“Just so you get it done before you leave for college,” he says.) He recommended an endodontist, a profession I had never heard of. This doctor would know what needs to be done.

We saw the endodontist yesterday morning, and after a cold temperature test and a few minutes’ exam, the doctor declared the tooth would have to have a root canal, as soon as possible. Did you catch the difference in sense of urgency in each Doctor we saw? It does depend on their area of expertise, and the way we were able to journey to the heart of Sarah’s problem. But I got a glimpse of what it might be like for someone being sent to a cancer specialist, being told they are stage 4, and they want to operate immediately. This endodontist doesn’t consider that I had no idea his job existed (or the severity of Sarah’s problem) before yesterday, so his dental chair-side manner feels a bit flippant. And since he does root canals all day every day, he doesn’t see this for the life changing experience it could be for Sarah, having a cosmetic, facial concern for the rest of her life. And the braces were supposed to have a good ending.

I was very low yesterday. Hormones and teeth combined to literally exhaust me last night. But I’m better today, and trying to look at the bright side, wherever I see it. She will have excellent care. Imagine living in a time or place where her hurt teeth really would fall out! And, I know we are just talking about teeth. It’s not cancer, it’s not loss of life, or even limb. And we can afford this care. All good things. And I have God’s word that He will sustain us. This is more than enough.

If It’s Not Yours…

I found a little figurine of a lion the other day, in our dryer. It looked vaguely familiar, though I was certain it didn’t belong to us. A few weeks ago, we attended a nativity tour at a church, where the pastor had on display nativity scenes from around the world. There really were all kinds- humans of all colors, shapes, and sizes, but also animals and popular characters, like bears, and the Peanuts gang. I seemed to recall a Minecraft-type creche as well, and that might have been where this lion came from. I approached some of the younger kids, trying to think of creative questions that would get one of them to confess to stealing it. They all seemed clueless. Later I was going town, and thought I would drop by the church with the lion. But it was gone. My four year old ran back to his bedroom then, as if he knew where it was. Once back there, he couldn’t find it, and started weeping! I couldn’t figure out if he was feeling guilty about taking it the first time, or the second time. It is rare to see him so upset, and I thought, at the very least, he has taken our #1 rule to heart- If It’s Not Yours, Don’t Touch It. No solutions to this mystery in sight, but it has been an interesting turn of events.

Do It Once

Today is one of those perfect storm kinds of days-

The two year old doesn’t want to play in her room during school

The four year old wants to be really loud during school

The seven month old doesn’t want to nap during school

After school, no one can find shoes/coats/pants to wear to the library because no one wants to clean their room

…and so on. On the way to the library, I was thinking about my BSF notes talking about our responses to pressure showing what we value most. I wanted something to kill the bickering in the backseat other than me trying to yell over it. So we started singing some Christmas carols, and silly songs like 12 Days of Christmas and Jingle Bells. It worked! Yes, loud, yes chaotic, but it put us all in a new direction.

I wonder what kinds of things my kids will remember of Christmases long long ago. I get a little pressed to create good traditions they will enjoy and remember. However, as I think back on my childhood, some of the most memorable experiences I had that seemed like I did them a lot, I may have only done once or twice. So there is value in doing a thing once. We may not sing silly in the van Christmas Vacation style again for a while, but this one time counted.

“The most binding and powerful…is tradition. Tradition has special strength because it is associated with emotional attachments to family, religion, race, language, and folk history. Tradition appears to be spontaneous and timeless…’That’s just the way things are,’ and ‘It’s always been done this way,’ are the essential ingredients of tradition.” -Volume Library (Government and Law)

Be Safe

The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge! Ruth 2:12

A common theme in our family prayers is that of safety. The teen driving home, the kids at the track meet, and on and on. I’m not sure God cares as much about our safety as we do; maybe He thinks more of, say, our holiness, our growth in godliness. But that is a ‘nother post for a ‘nother time.

It begins in the womb, I think. Prayers for a healthy baby, safe delivery. Then we get to where we are praying for whomever is away from the home to make it back home safe, whether they are across town or across continents. Safe is something that happens to us, or doesn’t happen to us, as the case may be.

As I was driving home from the store this morning, I passed Aliyah on the road. She was heading to school. The thought came to me, I hope she’ll be safe. But it takes on new meaning when they are growing up and away from home more than they are in it. ‘Be safe’ means to make the choices and do the things that contribute to a safe, happy life. Good that this simple prayer still rings true.

The Great Adventure

I cannot tell you the thrill I felt as the coldest wind blew past just now. It was like all the good feels of the holidays and home comforts that cold weather brings rushed by me with those dry leaves. Bring it.

Tonight at dinner I was absolutely shocked by the behavior of some children. And when I went to apply discipline, it backfired. So I’m left with keeping us home from the library tonight, and watching the movie without the offenders. They were in bed by 7. I feel a little responsible for setting the scene by being too lenient up to this point. But no more. This has been one instance where I can get a taste of how God feels about sin. It is abhorrent.

The library miss is punishing me more than anyone. I had three books I was reading, then decided none of them were worth finishing. So my fingers are all jittery, looking for a page to turn. I pulled out an Above Rubies magazine this evening; it looks promising.

In better news, I was able to get out some dry erase marker that was on our new couch. The theory online was that if you mark over the marks with fresh marker (follow that?), wiping it right away will take up both. It worked!

First World Problems

I picked up the book Pachinko because it was recommended on Goodreads. Not sure if I’ll do that again: the book, like many humans, lumps all religions together, rendering Christianity ineffective. Why keep reading a book that doesn’t line up with my worldview? I guess I want to see how it ends, if in any kind of redeeming way. That would make the references to Christianity shine out a little bit. But things don’t look promising. Most of the main characters are dead, with no great legacy. One thing I have learned from reading this book is the confusion and oppression that results from war-torn countries. Humans displaced who just want to be humans, not treated badly just because of their national heritage. I got to thinking about how great it is to live in America, and to be from here, too. There is little room for any of the problems those impoverished people around the world face. We can get to complaining, but most everything here boils down to being ‘first world problems’. Here are some of mine.

Our kitchen sink went out this past week, and the part needed to fix it won’t come for another week. When you use the faucet then turn it off, you hear a sound like Dory speaking whale, and water goes everywhere. So we keep the water valve turned off most of the time, to curb the flow. I was using ice cream buckets I filled in the tub to rinse dishes for the dishwasher, which still works. But the dishes come out still smelly, or it could be my imagination. So today I have Caleb, our resident plumber while Luke is gone, turn the sink on while I do a lightening fast round of dishes. This will be our new normal indefinitely. Don’t buy Pfister.

Luke took the van to pick up kids from Lakeside today. I had planned to go to the store, but pouted when I realized with both him and me gone, I’d have to take littles, and he’d have the van til late tonight. Oh, well, guess that meant the trip to Aldi would wait til tomorrow, and I would get creative about dinner with the plethora of foods I have on my shelf already. We’ll dine on a tater tot casserole, baked beans, and applesauce.

While cleaning out my cupboards, I found three bags of beans, so I’m thinking I should try to work more of those in our diet. I found a neat website that offers pinto beans five ways, and am off to get my beans cooking. That will cure me of complaining, one way or another.


For Gifts I Didn’t Expect

I’m currently reading a book called The Good and Beautiful God, and in it the author challenges us to keep a gratefulness journal of God’s many blessings. My first entry was “gifts I didn’t expect”. Here are an assortment that come to mind.

-an art book that the kids all signed for Mother’s Day last year. I knew Luke took them to Ollie’s, but I didn’t know they were shopping for me.

-my baby shower for Julia. Chloe is continuing to benefit from that.

-a personalized baby quilt for Chloe. A young friend made it, and it is too pretty to use!

-a stuffed animal homemade by this girl’s little brother. I don’t know if it is a pig, or a bear with a pacifier, but how sweet of him.

-my parents just shared some money with us that will help us greatly in finishing our house. Now that we are only a year away, I feel like I can plan. I know how fast a year can go by.

-we’ve had both expected and unexpected bills lately, and a way to cover them all. Though I do confess to a sour stomach when I opened the dentist bill. So much money, and charges all due to fillings and sealants, not routine care. I feel guilty for not making the kids brush enough. I feel bad for putting Luke’s hard earned money to something like this. It was a heavy weight on me til I paid it this afternoon. I’m not sure all of the guilt is justified, the kids may just have bad teeth and that bill was for three, not just one. But it hurt me all the same. We’re brushing tonight, mark my words.

-so many children to fill our arms and home. The older four, as we call them, are at camp this week, the middle two last week. Anytime one or more is missing, you can tell. Aliyah flits about a lot these days, to photo shoots and coffee with friends, so I’m getting a little used to her not being here. But it is hard. I like to have them all around. A book idea I had was all about families, a counting book, where the last page said, “What is a family? A family is room for one more.” We have found this unexpectedly true.

We’ve Got A Lot Going On

A week and a half ago, my mother in law broke her leg. Since then, for related and unrelated reasons, it has been crazy busy around here.

The broken leg will keep C in recovery for 12 weeks. This changes some things for all of us. She’ll start out on a nursing facility which is right by our house, so we’ve started going in shifts to be with her. Sam and Noah each rode their bikes down to see her yesterday.

Yesterday was the end of the summer reading program, and there was a festival downtown with free carousel rides. We finally made it to the carousel! There were long lines, but fortunately rides can accommodate a bunch of people at once. I kept hoping to get a phone call from the library saying one of us, okay me, won the prize drawing. I put all of my tickets in the drawing for Renaissance Theater tickets and restaurant gift cards. That would make some great dates this fall!

I had some spare time yesterday, and realized I didn’t have a book in the house that I hadn’t read. Like an alcoholic with no drink in sight, I began to shake at the thought of filling the time, filling the hours of nursing, filling the next week while Luke is gone. As I perused my bookshelves for a title I might feel like reading again, it occurred to me that I should use this time working on my memory verses. A phrase in my morning reading in Hebrews stuck with me:

“strengthen yourselves in grace”

What does that mean? What does that look like in my life? Maybe a good start is taking some time to memorize words that are eternal. So I did. It was very cleansing.

Luke is headed to Mammoth Cave for four days. I honestly don’t mind his trips with the Trail Life Troop, because I don’t enjoy that kind of travel right now, and because while he is gone I can read and relax. That sounds bad, like when he’s here I don’t do that, but for some reason there is more open space and free time to do what I like now, so I’ll take it. We may do a day trip to a petting farm and dairy on Tuesday, if we aren’t too crazy busy. This is more my style.

Double Take

Luke left for Columbus with…wait for it…Sarah at the wheel! This time of driver training is nerve wracking, but the benefits of one more driver under our roof will be worth it. I am not a good one to have in the passenger seat, even when it is Luke driving, so he has taken the bulk of educating Aliyah, and now Sarah. I so appreciate him for doing that.

Last Monday we had our family photos done. Aliyah took most of them, all the ones she wasn’t in, and brought her friend to do the ones we all needed to be in. It went pretty well, when all we have to compare is the year Micah was a baby and we were trying to do things ourselves with a timer at Ohio State Mansfield. Luke lost it pretty early on then, so I knew we needed to make this session snappy. Aliyah was on it, having some experience with family portraits, and with our family in particular. We were able to get some great shots of all of us, and groups and individuals. What a treasure, as many commented on Facebook, both the photos and our children.

Speaking of family, we had two of Luke’s siblings visit with their families over the fourth of July. One family stayed with us, a good kick in the pants to get work done on the basement rooms, so that-

-the girls could move downstairs, so that-

-the little boys could move from the living room into their room, so that-

-we could get new furniture for the living room. The prices we were seeing for new couches were discouraging, until Luke thought of Ikea. There we could get two couches without breaking the bank, and even though they likely won’t last very long, we aren’t out a whole lot.

We had a fun and busy time with the visiting folks, going to the zoo and blueberry picking and a pool party. I had planned some large meals, but we only ended up eating one of them. So once the relatives left, I had a lot in the fridge and pantry. That, and every time I thought I would head to the store, I got rerouted or just didn’t feel like going. So here it is Wednesday, and my meal/shopping week renews on Friday. I might as well keep on limping along until then. Only problem is, Luke feels like we have not been eating all that great, as we limp, and is tired of the pasta dishes. So I looked at a cookbook for some fresh ideas. I’m thinking of getting a Crock-Pot, but am not sure I want a big one. I have a lot of problems with them, one being breaking the inserts in my sink. You did read insertS. It came to me while looking at my cookbook- Crock-Pots are inexpensive enough to get two regular sized ones. I could follow the recipe, just doing it twice over. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of that before. Next week we may try Crock-Pot meatloaf or stew. Wish me luck!

Our Trip To The Dentist

Elijah: Mama thought about it, and I can go to the dentist, too.

Kenan: Elijah, you probably aren’t going to get any cavities today…

So began our eventful trip. Adon and Kenan had fillings to get, Elijah didn’t want to be left behind, and Chloe couldn’t be left behind. It was a roomful of most of my youngest at the office, changing the usual quiet atmosphere there.

Not five minutes in, Elijah had his shoes off. I explained that he had to wear shoes; he could have stayed home and stayed barefoot, but he begged to come, remember? He complied fairly quickly.

Neither patient was taken back right away, which foretold how long a stay this was going to be. I would have fed Chloe twice before we were done. We settled in to read some High Five magazines, play a treasure hunt game (who can find me something red?), and messed with the window blinds before the first was called back. Elijah’s shoes came off again a couple more times, and I gave up. If I would have known how much trouble he was going to be…

Later we took a walk outside around the building (“Mama! We can’t leave Kenan here!”) for a short while. I saw a neat plant with long spiky grasses, and asparagus-like stalks up the middle with white blooms. Kinda like a hosta, but with some more class. Our dentist’s office is an old church building nested in the side of a hill, so he’s put in some stone retaining walls in back. Adon and Elijah wanted to climb them and walk across the top, but I could just see someone falling and needing more dental work, so we headed back inside.

A couple of ladies came in then, and the one asked me about Chloe and if these were all my children. I get to answer this in a myriad of ways, right? I told her C was #13, yada yada, and we had a nice talk about large families and homeschooling. I gave her my card (Did you know I have a card? Aliyah made them for me. They are handy for giving someone my digits), told her to contact me sometime. You know what? No one I have ever given my card to has ever pursued a relationship with me. The who might have had promise moved away. I’m starting to think it’s me. There is a new Ocean’s movie out in theaters, and before I see it I want to watch the other three again. While viewing the other day, I noticed Danny Ocean’s card- it just had his name on the front, with an embossed border. When I run out of these unfruitful bits, I’ll ask Aliyah to make me some like Danny’s. Maybe a con-man’s card can do better at making friends.