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.

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.