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.

Staycation

I saw Luke and the older four off this morning. They are headed to Lynchburg for the boys to attend basketball camp. For a few weeks I had been dreading the trip, them being away, and me being here. But then I was able to put things into a better perspective, with God’s help, of course. This is just another opportunity to have things be laid back and simplified. When Luke’s gone, there is no one to impress ( not that he ever is anyway, ha ), and the kids and I can fill the time with some activities we rarely get to do.

Tomorrow we’ll head to the library. Summer reading program time again! My bingo card needs three more books read, to get a row. Another great thing to do more of while Luke is gone- read. That evening we have running club. I haven’t been yet because 1)  Chloe is little and 2) traveling an hour to watch my kids on a playground is not my idea of fun. But it will fill some time, and Abbie and Caleb would be bummed to miss it.

Tuesday I want to take the kids to this science playspace in Mt. Vernon. I was able to obtain a free membership there, but since MV is a half hour in the opposite direction of anywhere else I go, I forget about it. There is a lunch buffet at Pizza Hut, so we’ll probably go and redeem our Book It coupons afterwards.

Wednesday Kenan and Adon go to the dentist. That will be enough excitement for that day.

Thursday we may go to the carrousel. I like this place, too, but forget it in the busyness. Luke and the older four should be back by Thursday night.

So, it’s a plan! Hopefully  I can keep things fun and simple on our staycation this summer.

Milk And A Song

Julia is a great toddler, but she has some kinks we’re hoping are worked out by spring. There’s the fact that she’s still in our bedroom, making it difficult to do anything very early or very late without waking her. Then there’s the bedtime routine, which consists of putting her down with blanket, binky, and a sippy cup of milk. Up until last week this last item was a bottle, so we are making progress.

Many times when I cover her up, she will say, ‘gong’, which means she wants me to sing her a song. Not just any song- oh, no, she wants to hear Jesus Loves Me. Again. And again. And again. I’ve had to learn the less common verses to this ditty, to keep my sanity.

Last night when I lay her down, I tried to change the subject every time she asked for a gong. Finally I lay down myself, letting her complain her way to sleep. Am I neglecting her? I asked myself. No, I had to conclude. First, she asks for this song in such a demanding way, that to keep giving her her way is likely worse for her in the long run. And, if we have the ultimate goal of her going to sleep on her own, this part of the routine has to go.

A ministry we support in South America has the opportunity to open a home for at risk girls. So many details had to come together in such a short time for the home to be up and running, that I told our kids we were praying for a miracle. My little girls drafted a prayer calendar, and faithfully prayed for this need for the past month. Today I got word that only one thing remains for the home to be open. This is big. This is God- big. I am so excited that He is answering our prayers and working this miracle on behalf of these girls, so that my girls can see how much He loves us.

I came away from this news so pumped, that a news post on Facebook sent me crashing. A couple were discovered, having chained their children in their rooms, neglected and abused. Oh, God, how much evil can go on under our noses. Here we make some headway against trafficking in South America, only to be reminded that it exists everywhere there are people wanting to hurt other people.

For the rest of the day today, I saw my tasks of caring for my family in a new light. I get to kiss you again. I get to change your diaper to make you more comfortable. I get to make some delicious food for us all, and we get to sit and eat together. Only by God’s grace am I in a position of trying to get this right, and not be stuck in a filthy home, chained to a bed, or worse, the one who bought the chains for my child. Thank You, O merciful One.

Tonight, I get to tuck Julia in and make sure she is warm and comfortable in her bed. I may just sing a gong to her, too. Thank you, Jesus, for showing me how to love.

Christmas Thoughts

As I ate breakfast this morning, I spoke to my unborn child about movement. “It simply won’t do to not feel you today, or any day of the coming Christmas holiday. I can’t go there again.” Mine is a family filled to the brim and overflowing with gifts from the Father of lights, but there remains that choked sob this time of year that sighs, why? What space time continuum would it have altered to have allowed her to live, except ours, in the most wonderful of ways? But I know better than to complain for too long.

Luke is so good at buying the kids gifts. He is a sucker for a good deal, and has a heart that always wants to give. I’ll have to pay close attention to what the kids unwrap on Christmas morning, because I am only aware of some of the things they are getting. He ordered much online this year, or bought it when I wasn’t along.

He has wanted to take the family out to dinner at a restaurant for some time. Last year it didn’t make it to the calendar, but this year, we go out tonight. Some of the younger kids have never been to a sit down restaurant ever, so this is big. This afternoon, I’m working on making sure we all have something decent to wear. Should be a memorable time.

For Micaiah

‘Pet and her baby sister were so exactly alike, and so completely one, that in our thoughts we have never been able to separate them since. It would be of no use to tell us that our dead child was a mere infant. We have changed that child according to the changes in the child spared to us and always with us. As Pet has grown, that child has grown; as Pet has become more sensible and womanly, her sister has become more sensible and womanly by just the same degrees. It would be as hard to convince me that if I was to pass into the other world to-morrow, I should not, through the mercy of God, be received there by a daughter, just like Pet, as to persuade me that Pet herself is not a reality at my side.’

-Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit

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.