Middle Love

Both of my middle children got to do something fun with a friend this week. Abbie was invited to a girl’s house for her birthday on Wednesday, and today we are hosting Caleb’s buddy.

Abbie was originally invited to a sleepover a few weeks ago, but the distance and inconvenience of it was off-putting. Plus, we really don’t do sleepovers unless they are at our house, and we don’t even do that anymore. Unless you count every night. Kids everywhere. So I was really wanting this afternoon with her friends to work out. I ended up driving her to Marion, giving me some good alone time. I was going to shop thrift stores over there for maternity clothes, but it started to rain and I would rather be home laying down or eating (see previous posts). Abbie’s friend’s mom shared some toddler hand-me-downs for Julia, so I came away feeling quite blessed.

Today we picked up Caleb’s friend, and planned on going to the Y since it is raining again today. He seems so uncomfortable in our home when he visits, but came out of his shell once we were in the van headed to the Y. Right when we got here, someone discovered puke in the pool and they cleared it and cleaned it for the next half hour. I felt bad for Caleb and friend, but we just waited it out. They finally got to swim and slide, and appear to be having a blast. I opted not to swim today, and am glad I did. I couldn’t stomach getting in right after an episode like that. The kids are happy, though.

 

Hello Thomas

The two littles are watching Thomas the Tank Engine. We have cleaned house and really don’t want to get any toys out, so cartoons it is. A relative of ours is visiting that we rarely see, so in one sense we want to make an okay impression. On the other hand, he only comes around once every five years. What’s he going to do, ridicule us on Facebook? Big deal. But he’s a good guy. Lots of stories and talk. He likes to talk.

We haven’t been to a Sunday church service in a coon’s age. It seems more reasonable to get together as a family in our home, than keep visiting churches we are fairly certain are not going to be a good fit. I have been thinking about what I miss about going to church on Sundays, and it is surprisingly little. I do like to share in some kind of Christmas musical or pageant from time to time, and it would be nice to find a concert or two this holiday season. Maybe the local paper will have a list, or I can ask around.

On Thomas, Duncan was passed up for a ride in a hot air balloon for the twins’ birthday. What kind of children’s programming is this? Don’t worry, he set the balloon loose. Maybe he can give the twins a ride now.

 

Something To Celebrate

I have to remember to pull the chicken out of the oven when I am done here. It is not baking, just sitting in the only free space I could find in our cluttered kitchen. But I am not complaining about my full larder- this means I can cook and bake things that make me cry with happiness.

On October 1, I took a pregnancy test, and the positive result was not a surprise. But it did give some legitimacy to the emotional rollercoaster I had been on for a few weeks. At one point, I was experiencing a panic attack similar to those in my postpartum days, and I wondered if it could be menopause. No, just a really intense pregnancy. I’m not feeling well physically, and that gives way to feeling down and depressed a lot of the time. As I go through my days, two thoughts are always at the forefront:

If I could just lay down…

and

When is the next time I can eat?

Because, anytime I am eating I feel good, much better than when I am not eating.

This has birthed (ha, ha) a new appreciation for good food, and I actually get pretty excited about certain meals these days. The other night, I was not up to cooking dinner, so Luke asked Sarah if she could make something. The plan was to have chicken pot pie, and I had all the ingredients for that, but it sounded gross to me. She decided to transform the ingredients into a chicken noodle soup, that further transformed into chicken and noodles when it turned out too thick. I put some in my mouth and immediately wanted to cry, it was so good. It tasted like Bob Evan’s, but better! And now I knew how to make this dish again, and feel good again, for much less money than Bob’s. It is for dinner tonight, too!

Making Mexican rice last night, and smelling it come out of the oven, aroused a similar teary reaction in myself, and I got to thinking. Man, there are some foods which are so, so good, and what a sweet mercy of the Lord to have this pregnancy be one where I can celebrate those foods and not have to avoid them. Here is a list of the ones I’m loving right now:

Chicken and noodles

Mexican rice

Guacamole

Chicken salad with grapes and walnuts

Tomato basil soup (the smell of basil sends me over the moon!)

Tuna salad (seriously, the saltiness is great)

Fried eggs on toast

Blue cheese dressing

Kettle chips

Peanut m&Ms

Anything with Sriracha mustard on it

This is only what I have discovered so far. I still have six months to eat to my heart’s content.

Disclaimer: This is not intended to promote overeating, during pregnancy or otherwise. I only gained five pounds in my first trimester, to my surprise, so I must be doing something right.

Please note: The real celebration, the real joy, comes from knowing our little 13th (16th) wonder is on the way. Though I feel crappy, it isn’t anything like other women experience during pregnancy. I’m just trying to put a fun spin on things while I’m feeling so low. Thank the Lord for good food; I might be much lower without it.

Weird But True

I just had to get away this afternoon; packing and preparing for our trip to Virginia had me a bit rattled. When I am alone in the van, it is so quiet and I am aware of all the sounds the carriage and doors make. There was a strange scratching sound today, which reminded me of the mice. A few weeks ago, Luke was leaving to take the kids to cross country practice. As he backed out of the driveway, ahead of the van in the rocks was a mouse with a baby in its mouth. It sat there a second, as if in shock, then ran with its cargo into the weeds. I was convinced that it must have fallen out of the van when Luke left. This was confirmed a few days later when I was sitting at a light in town, and all of the sudden there is a mouse on my windshield! I turned on the wipers and made it jump off and escape behind a streetlight. We have had mice chew through wires in previous vehicles, so seeing these creatures nest in our van concerns me. But Luke doesn’t seem worried. Just wait until one comes to meet him while he’s driving, this time on the inside of the windshield.

Last week we got a strange package in the mail. It was an ordinary brown box, and weighed next to nothing. Curiosity was killing me, waiting for Luke to come home and open it. He wasn’t expecting anything, and frowned when he pulled out 200 pairs of earplugs, the kind you’d use in factories or around heavy machines. What? He called the company, which wasn’t all that helpful. “I guess it’s your lucky day!” The operator responded. What were we to do with all these earplugs? Aliyah was headed to a Tenth Avenue North concert that weekend, so Luke planned on trying to sell some there. When they got there, they saw that the event was giving earplugs away for free. Oh, well. We are set for life as far as healthy hearing goes.

 

Where We Are

I’ve been well so long that I forget what it’s like to be sick. Last night a (rare, now) headache started, and I’m slowly recovering from it this morning. Sitting and walking slowly around the house, I see it all in a new light. Do we really live in such a mess? I read once where the author assured that we have to decide what level of tidiness we can manage, and try to keep things there. Well, I must have dropped the bar; this place needs work! With the older kids gone Saturdays at meets, and me not even able to boss the littles effectively today, I see how much I do and how not much I delegate. Not good, says Jethro to Moses. True, true.

Life itself seems to be in a state of disorder and confusion for us right now. We have not found a church that we feel ‘fits’, though I know this takes time, and goes both ways. You get when you give. But  ‘a girl without a church home’ has never described me. I mean, I was in church before I was born. The closest thing to a wilderness I’ve experienced before this was our brief try at a church plant, but even then I had my married family to surround me, if not many church family members. (Luke’s dad was the pastor and his brother in law the associate pastor/elder. We rarely had more than twenty at a service, as I only had four children then.😃) But God is my portion.

My mom was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. While it was not a surprise, it still signals the closing of a door on some things in life, and ushering in a new season of uncertainty. We would like my dad and mom to move closer to us so that we can help with her care, but that means even more changes for my dad, who is feeling a bit overwhelmed already. All in God’s time.

So, that’s where we are. Lots of tangled messes waiting for God’s deft fingers to work them out.

 

Be Anxious For Nothing

I was praying this morning that I could avoid being anxious about something, only to hear news about something else later today that caused more worry than that thing before. (I’ve been mentioning prayer often, but that shouldn’t give anyone the impression I’m very far along on this spiritual journey.)

Maybe the bigger thing WAS my answer, as if to say, you think that was a stressor? Try this. And remember that some people deal with even worse, every day.

The kids are at cross country practice. I’ve got the younger six with me at home. It is so pleasant outside right now, with a cool breeze and approaching clouds to take away the sun’s brightness and heat. The bugs are so loud you can make out little else. I love the sounds, and the smells, of fall. Anticipating a new season never disappoints.

Today is Aliyah’s birthday. She’s 17! I remember much about her birth, and bits from her childhood, but not as much as I would expect. We just live life with each other, day by day, and those early days get farther away. She’s a great young lady, in spite of my many sins raising her. This, of all things, should encourage me not to worry about tomorrow. For seventeen years now, and more, it has been out of my hands.

 

Next Big Break

My prayer this morning was, please help us to be gentle. Anna gets a tooth knocked last week, then this week begins with Julia and her sore arm. The kids were playing outside last night, and she came in crying and not using her arm. She has done this before, both falling and favoring her arm, but it is usually better by morning. This morning she was still in a lot of pain, so I took her to Urgent Care, knowing from Adon’s visit there that they would do an x ray. The doctor there simply manipulated her arm a bit- twisting, bending, moving, which Julia hated, of course. But then I noticed she wasn’t crying a whole lot about the x ray, and when she returned to the exam room she started reaching for books and Sarah’s water bottle! I think the doctor popped something into place. Maybe it was a waste of money to go there just for her to touch her arm, but I didn’t feel like I should ignore symptoms of a sprain or break, and I know I may not have had the confidence to move her arm like that.

So, I’m happy. Julia’s running around, back to being busy. Hopefully we can have a more normal day here soon. These injuries are exhausting.

I’m Back

A few months ago, my blog was hacked. Luke fixed it for me rather quickly (my hero), but it was a long time before I felt safe logging into my blog. I mean, wouldn’t that be throwing open the gates once again to the hackers? But I have concluded that I must not go on cow-towing to such fears. I have my three readers to consider, and some free time in my day that should be used productively.

The Bellville Street Fair starts today, that fanciful event we have in our closest village. The kids drew pictures for the art show (the day of:), Sarah entered her crochet finery, Abbie baked brownies, and Aliyah submitted some beautiful photos. I will try to post some pictures of all the entries in the next post.

The Hope of Temporary

Don’t be jealous that I now have a tiny bedroom in the northern, moldy corner of our house. Actually, I was so excited to be making the change- much of our set up in our home was meant to be temporary, and any time we move forward in our house projects, I feel like I can breathe a little more deeply. But that first night in our new room, I couldn’t get to sleep. Maybe it was the hot cocoa, maybe the thoughts of all that there still is to do to get Carol settled into her room and us into ours. It didn’t end up being as wonderful as I thought it would be.

We visited a church on Sunday for the second time, one we are seriously thinking about attending long term. Realistically, we can’t visit many churches this summer: Luke and I are seasoned enough to reject most denominations in our area as not being for us, and even visiting the church we did was exhausting. People are friendly, but we are answering the same questions over and over (where we live, do we homeschool, are we related to —- Burton, etc). I thought it would be great if we just could go up to the pulpit and introduce ourselves, get it all out at once. It seems like a lot of work if we are only going to be there temporarily.

The pastor’s sermon was timely, though. The Sadducees were trying to trap Jesus with a question about a woman marrying all seven brothers of a family, and Jesus gives us insight into the nature of Heaven and eternity. This, all this, is temporary, except the Word of God, and people. I want to spend more of my day focused on these two things.

Our church problems center on these two things, in many ways. We want to be part of a church body where the Word of God is studied, where people are discipled, and where good relationships can develop that spur us each on to love and good works. Sometimes it seems like there is no place for us, if we are to be sticklers on these details. Are we too hard-nosed? I think it comes back to what is temporary, and what is eternal. We have to major on these things that last forever. There has to be a way to cultivate this in our family.

 

When To Call It

The most often asked question this week is, “Are you done with school yet?” And the answer is easy or difficult. Easy because we can be done anytime I say we are, difficult because I have felt especially bad about this year- ‘homeschool fails’. The boys made some videos during track meets and called them ‘Football Fails’, films that were particularly funny to their age group or younger. This year, similarly, felt to me like me acting out the wrong way to do everything, from getting up in the morning (late) to going to bed at night (late). But, there is light on the horizon- I’ve been reading a couple of books that I think will prove helpful to this summer and next school year: Teaching From Rest, and The Literacy Cookbook. Both have some wonderful insights, talk to me without making me feel guilty, and make me want to do better next year. With no baby on the way, I already feel some space to do that I didn’t have this year. Whatever circumstance I am in, however, is an opportunity to follow Jesus, so I can’t really make excuses.

Aliyah is doing a college-credit program in the fall, and Luke was drawing up a record of ‘courses’ she has done for high school so far. This is actually a good thing, because we can think ahead for Sarah, Sam, and Noah and have a plan for where we want them to be when their turn comes to apply for this program. I’ll appreciate having a checklist of sorts, and the challenge to have them work more and more independently.

I went over to a friend’s house last night to pick up some eggs. She invited me to stay and rest on the porch, and I took her up on the offer. It was a lovely evening, and just the right amount of adventure and offroading for me. I hadn’t ever been to her house, but it wasn’t that far out of the nearest town and I couldn’t have gotten lost, something I do many times in that area. She also has elaborate landscaping, added-to each year, and I found it very inspiring as we are planning to do something around our porch (finally!)

We have decided to take a break from our church for the summer. Some disturbing things have happened in recent years, and we’re just not sure if this is the place to be right now in our family’s life, with many children and the philosophies we have about serving them and serving in the church. It was hard to say what we were doing out loud, when I had to find subs for nursery and such. But not too many people have said anything to me about it, and my friend last night didn’t say a word. Maybe that is a good thing- there isn’t really anything to say right now- my hope is to be quiet and listen these next few months.  The Lord will show us what to do.