...with a husband and 5 sons, I am truly outnumbered....stories and thoughts on life from a mom in a houseful of little men!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Stackin' 'Em Deep

"...another year over, a new one just begun."

With this year's Christmas over, and a new year about to begin, I've gotten into my annual planning, cleaning, goal-setting, and de-cluttering mode.  On my mind today--the fact that we are with thanksgiving, "expecting" once again--this time via paperwork and several airplanes.  This got me thinking, and smiling, about how different it is to be expecting at this stage of parenthood.

With our first baby, the whole, new, blessed World of Baby had opened up.  In addition to learning about pregnancy, we read all about new baby care and baby gear.  What things would we need?  We eagerly questioned seasoned parents, made lists, and went on shopping trips.  Cribs, highchairs, strollers, car seats, Boppy pillows, pumps, bibs, baby clothes--we needed it all, and obtaining the gear was definitely a focus in preparing for baby.

While expecting babies #2 and #3, the focus of preparation was quite different.  We had our stash of baby basics, and the name of the game was replacing what was worn-out, and finding a few, fun, new things.  With #2, we acquired a second crib, which also came in handy when #3 was coming along.  In each of these cases, we also needed to do some switching around of bedrooms, sending the newly-usurped, baby-now-toddler into a downstairs bedroom to open up the upstairs nursery for the newborn.  This, of course, was a fairly big deal...or at least it seemed like it back then.  As mama, I felt a little sadness over the toddler's deportation.  This was quickly abated by the satisfaction given to my nesting instinct, however! 

Those of you who have known us for awhile, probably know we thought we were "done" at that point.  (HA!  That is such a funny thought now!)  Three sons filled the three extra bedrooms in our home.  As baby #3 grew into a pre-schooler, I tearily cleaned out the nursery.  We sold the cribs; in fact, we gave away or sold nearly everything "baby."  We sent our preschooler downstairs to share bunk beds in a room with a brother, and enjoyed the novelty of a bedroom-turned-school room for some time.  Soon we packed all three of the boys into the same bedroom so that, wonder of wonders, we could have TWO extra rooms.  Right around that time, we received the gift of an unexpected blessing--son #4 growing inside, biding his time until joining in on the fun that is Boyland! 

With #4 on the way, we needed to re-acquire the baby stuff.  This time, however, we were pretty choosey about what we wanted to bring into the house.  It had to be necessary.  It had to be SMALL.  We did not want fifteen musical toys, nor did we want most of the baby bells & whistles.  There just wasn't room.  It became apparent that the three growing boys who shared a bedroom were packed in there fairly tight with all their stuff.  Also, bedtime was becoming...interesting....with all the goofiness and banging and clanging.  What was going on?  Were we lenient parents with undisciplined children?  No.  I've actually been coined a "tough mom" and just recently found out that the exuberant children are intentionally placed in my Vacation Bible School class.  The banging and clanging and never-going-to-sleeping was simply due to the Rule of Multiple Boys, which is--the more boys you have in a row, the louder and crazier and more competitive things become.  Quite simply, they always think someone else is going to be blamed for the deed.  BUT let us return to the case in point, which is baby preparation.  With baby #4 preparation was about basic baby needs, and rearranging for maximum space!

We serve an awesome God.  He gives gifts how and when He chooses, and I'm so glad He does.  Suddenly we found ourselves beginning our adoption process AND becoming pregnant with son #5!  Preparation for #5 became all about logistics.  How will we fit the boys in our van?  How will we fit all these rapidly growing boys in bedrooms?  We bought the smallest, most streamlined car seats we could find and stuffed them in every seat in the van.  We built another set of bunk beds.  We ditched the toddler bed and put a rail up on a bunk for the toddler.  We bought the smallest high chair we could find, because we're maxed-out for table places.  It's snug.  It's cozy.  It's home, and we love it.

Meanwhile...these boys keep growing.  They take up more space, their clothes and other belongings take up more space.  We keep a thrift/yard sale box handy for constant de-cluttering.  Our rule is, "It must be functional or fabulous!"  We've built shelving wherever there's room to house shelving.  We've even begun to hang things (literally hang things) from the ceiling, in some cases!  And I've got to tell you--that I LOVE the fact that there are so many people taking up so much space in here!  I love this life-filled house, where something interesting is always happening. 

But it's time for planning and preparation once again, and as we make preparations for baby #6, and possibly #7, it's all about making room!  We find ourselves with a toddler who is ready for a booster seat, but there's no room for another chair, and very little room for another place setting.  Definitely no room at the table for the next baby (or two!) on the way.  There's no room for a larger table, unless part of it hangs in the living room, which has its own space issues.  Transportation-wise, we're maxed out for van space, so we're stashing money for a replacement vehicle that will accomodate another one or two precious souls.

We're stackin' 'em deep, and bursting at the seams--and I'm SO thankful.  I hope that shines through and that my thoughts on our space issues don't sound complaintive.  I'm so incredibly thankful for the fullness of this home, and I'm thankful for every square inch (even on the ceiling, as it's proving to be somewhat useful!) we've got.  It's a heck of a lot more than most people on this planet have.  But I'll be honest...I'm also feeling.....squished.

There is a nagging insecurity of mine that I will dare to share.  I've found that throughout this adoption process I feel like there's a bit of a spotlight on every financial decision we make.  We've made no secret out of the fact that we feel called to do this adoption debt-free.  All $25,000 needs to come above our basic, family operational expenses.   We believe God can and will do this.  We've seen Him do it in the $10,000 we've laid-out so far.  He does it in a number of ways.  So far, we've seen Him provide through our fundraising efforts of yard sales and shirt sales.  We keep a strict budget and of course, part of that is allocated to our adoption expenses.  He has provided funds from friends we've known for years, new acquaintances, and perfect strangers.  We're thankful for every penny, as every penny is needed.  The insecurity I speak of comes from this--that we DO appreciate, beyond-words, all support we have and will receive.  With that, comes a sense of responsibility that suddenly the decisions we make may be perceived in a variety of ways.  So, as we've raised the possibility of building on to our home in order to provide some breathing room and a bit of space to stretch-out in, I find myself asking if this is wrong.  Where does this doubt come from?  And is it right to feel that way?  Is it wrong to feel that way? If we weren't in the adoption process, these questioning thoughts would never enter my mind.  We'd make whatever decision with as much wisdom as we could, and move on confidently.

I've talked a bit with a couple other adoptive families about this.  They have said they felt the same way about decision-making during the adoption process, right, wrong, or indifferent.  One person stated, "I even wondered if it was ok for us to have any fun."  I know that feeling--that feeling of wondering if someone will judge whether you are sacrificing enough or not.  The feeling of wondering if someone will judge you for taking your family for a dinner, or for buying a Kaladis.  Something tells me that it's not necessary to feel that way, yet it's not so simple to just not feel that way when you're in a constant state of fundraising. 

As with many of my posts, I get to this point, and wonder, why am I bothering to articulate this?  Perhaps you are wondering, too!  Well, like I said, it's an insecurity of mine, and maybe the real reason is just to work it out in my own mind using the written word.  Maybe, in this case, it's also to share with the general reader that there are so many, emotional facets to this adoption train. Admittedly, it may also be in some way to ease the conscience of this burden of doubt until I can be truly freed from it.

Bottom line is that we all must make our own decisions and our own sacrifices.  The extent of sacrifice is only truly known by the one who sacrifices, and by the One who sees.  I'm thankful for everything we have; it is all a gift from Him.  I'm thankful for being the recipient of others' sacrificial giving; we cannot do this alone.  I look for wisdom and guidance in all preparing, decision-making, planning, goal-setting, housecleaning, heartcleaning, decluttering, and expanding...and I also ask God to grant me peace in it all.

Peace be with you and yours in 2013!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What's Going On?? Adoption Update...

Many of you have asked, and probably even more have wondered, what's going on with the Dassow's and their adoption?  The quick 'n' dirty version is on the sidebar.  Continue on for the more detailed account!

The latest, biggest news is that we're near the end of putting together our dossier!  WHAT is a "dossier"?  Complements of Wiktionary:

Pronunciation

  • DOSS-EE-AY ; 'do' as in dot, 'ss' as in hiss, 'ee' as in wee, 'ay' as in day: DOt,hiSS-wEE-dAY; DOSS-EE-AY

Etymology

From French, see below

Noun

dossier (plural dossiers)
  1. A collection of papers and/or other sources, containing detailed information about a particular person or subject, together with a synopsis of their content. 

This stack of papers has taken months of effort, quite a bit of the green stuff, and more than a little patience.  I am one of those strange people that like paperwork, and yet this was a stretch for me.  The biggest challenge was all the waiting to secure documents.  There was nothing we could do to speed things along...we just...had...to wait.   I must admit, however, that when I express-mailed that puppy off to our agency this morning, I admired how official it all looked, complete with rivets and beautiful seals from three states.  And just for the record, the Wisconsin State-Certification seals are rockin'.

Tomorrow, assuming they give momentary grace on the $698 we are currently short on our dossier fee, our agency will do their second review of our documents, bundle them together into a single document, and express-mail it on to Washington D.C.  It will be sent to a courier there, whom we pay to walk it down into the Department of State to be authenticated.  After that step is properly accomplished, it will be walked down to the Ethiopian Embassy for a second authentication.  This process could take about three weeks.

When the above process is finished, our dossier will be returned to our agency, processed in their office, and then sent on to their in-country coordinator.  We will wait...and wait...and wait upon God's perfect timing...to be matched to our child(ren.)

In the meantime, what are we doing?  We're living a full, wonderful, blessed life.



We're learning much about our future child's birth culture.



We're giving thanks for God's provision, while working on saving and stashing more green stuff.  We've still got a long way to go where this is concerned.  Good thing my Papa owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Always looking for creative ways to continue fundraising.  I'm currently in the painting-cool shirts-business!  These make great gifts, and are yours for a minimum donation of $15 (shameless plug.)


 And, last but certainly not least, we're continuing to pray for and to dream about this little person across the world. Because, even though we've not yet met him or her or them, we miss them.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Grab Yours!

 We're launching a new fundraising effort.  Adoption takes money, and lots of it.  All proceeds from these t-shirts will be added to our fund to bring Baby Dassow home.

The shirts are hand-painted by yours truly, and so each are unique....not unlike the uniqueness of each of the estimated 5 MILLION orphans who live in the country we're adopting from.

These shirts would make excellent gifts!  Wouldn't it be awesome, to tell your recipients that the beautiful, hand-painted shirt they're receiving is helping to give a child a loving family?
 



The minimum donation per shirt is $15.00.  At present, I have adult medium and large available. I am happy to take orders for specific sizes and quantities of shirts.  I will also happily mail shirts out for a small postage fee.

Please comment below, message me on e-mail, or message me on facebook if you'd like to donate to our fund by purchasing shirts.  Thanks!



Friday, November 02, 2012

She Has a Limit...Even if Involuntary

Boyland is on the heels of the stomach flu, which has been on the heels of a two-week illness for this mama.  Exhausted from waking several times to empty puke buckets, and still experiencing the last (hopefully) nagging symptoms from my own latest illness, I am feeling nearly the best I've felt in...months! 

This past year has been difficult for me physically...and mentally.  Nothing major, and yet majorly life-impacting.  So many wonderful moments have been had in this precious family of mine, though there had been a heavy cloud hanging over me, making it difficult to truly enjoy.  I have enjoyed life....it's just the simplest things had been a struggle.  The simple tasks of our daily rhythm had left me completely taxed, feeling as though I were running a deficit that could never be reduced.

Numerous times I've tried to ascertain what was going on with me.  I thought it was just "a new normal" of sorts, having completed a pregnancy in my *ahem* older child-bearing years, and having completed the nursing year with my little guy.  As he weaned and I began sleeping through nights, and I still felt cruddy, I realized that wasn't it.  Then I thought we just had too much going on.  I began striking things off the calendar like a mad woman, until there was nothing left to strike off.  I still could barely pull myself out of bed in the morning, and the tears still welled up several times every day.  There were so many things I wanted to do...simple things with my boys, things around our home, things to help out neighbors and friends.  I felt powerless.

Since May, I've struggled with repeated illness.  Not just a few days of a cold here and there, but infections that knocked me flat-out for a couple weeks at a time.  They would hit me every three to five weeks.  I did everything I could think of to strengthen my constitution--eating extremely healthily, disciplining myself with an earlier bedtime, taking various supplements, praying for health and wisdom.  It seemed I was doing everything, and it wasn't good enough. 

Finally, I felt the nudge to be proactive and see my doctor during one of my non-ill windows.  I'm SO glad I did.  After two doctor's opinions and a ton of lab testing, we got the information that helped get me on-track.  Turns out I had been fighting Strep chronically, despite several antibiotic treatments.  I also was fighting re-activated Mono infection (I had Mono in high school and the virus never leaves the body, just lies dormant unless you become extremely worn-down.)  To top it off, I was hypothyroid, which wreaks all sorts of havoc on the body, including depressing the immune system.

When my doctor called me with my test results, I cried.  I cried because I finally saw there was a reason for feeling so bad, and I cried because I saw hope for feeling better.

Within a few days of being on an antibiotic to kick out the remainder of the Strep, and being on a thyroid med, I was in tears again....because I felt like a completely different person.  Jessica was back.  It wasn't until I began to feel good, that I realized the extent to which I'd felt so terrible, and that it had been that way for a long, long, long time.

Any of you who know me, know that I'm not a medicine-taker.  I took a little Ibuprofen after my last couple births, and that was a big deal to me.  Whenever I've been on antibiotics, which unfortunately has been a lot over the last year, it's been because I've been direly ill.  I'm more what you'd call...an "herbs 'n' spices-type o' gal.  I can see, however, the blessing modern medicine is when it is truly needed.  I am SO thankful for antibiotics when they are needed, and I am SO thankful for this thyroid medicine.  I hope I won't need to take it forever, but I'm so thankful it's available for me to help strengthen my body at this time.

Why am I taking the time to articulate all this?  I don't know.  Maybe for my own remembrance-sake.  Maybe so I'll remember God's faithfulness, and that He chooses to let us walk through difficulty for certain seasons.  As I've been going through this trial, I've been remembering that nothing can touch me that has not passed His approval.  That's a hard one to swallow at times, but it is truth.  Because I know God's character, I am assured that He is good, and He is good, ALL the time.  If He's allowing me to have a hard time, there's a very good reason for it.  I don't need to know the reason why (although I would really like to know sometimes.)  His plans for me are good, and His plans for me are to prosper me and give me hope and a future.

One thing that I've learned, and I'm trying to really grasp and not let go of, is that I do have a limit.  I tend to think I can "do it all," and I even enjoy the thrill of "pulling it all off."  However, my life should not be defined by what I do, it should be defined by who I am.  When I'm so busy doing, I'm most likely missing out on just being.  I am after all, a human "being," not a human "doing."  (Not sure where I heard that, but I like it.)  Who I am, miraculously, is an imperfect-yet-spotless-in-His-eyes daughter of the King and Creator of the Universe.  I can rest in that.  There are tasks appointed to me, by Him, for each day He chooses to give me breath.  That is not dependent upon how I'm feeling on any particular day.  Whatever a day has in store for me, if I am just "being" His daughter, I can count on Him directing my tasks.

Nearly all the days this past year that I've been sick, and there have been many, the biggest goal of mine was to get through the day as self-preserving as possible, so I could get to bed as early as possible, with the hope that in the morning I'd feel a little bit better so I could get on with doing life.  What a waste.  How selfish.  This last month or so, I've been trying to focus on the fact that even if I'm flat-out in bed sick, there are tasks for me to fulfill in those days that only I can fulfill.  Could it be that the things I thought were so important to get done were not my appointed tasks for those days?  Maybe all these sick days have been allowed so that I would remember my greatest task is to, like Mary, sit at the feet of Jesus.

As a mommy, there are five little sets of Jesus' feet for me to be sitting at.  If I take time to focus in on one of these little ones--to sit on the floor and put a puzzle together with them even though there are scads of housework and paperwork to do, for example--I am sitting at the very feet of my LORD.

How
Amazing
Is
That?


It is good and right for us to give thanks in everything, even in sick days.  Not so easy, but good and right.  There are lessons to be learned and goodness to be had in the trials, or they wouldn't be allowed to be a part of our story. 

Thursday, November 01, 2012

At Risk of Turning Into a Food Blog (!)

Several people have asked me how to make homemade yogurt, and several times I've said, "I'll post about it."  Time to make good on that good intention!

I learned this crock pot recipe a little over a year ago, and have been making our yogurt every week since.  It's so delicious and economical, and it's SO easy to make.

I make a gallon at a time.  We're big yogurt-eaters, and go through that amount in about a week.  Before I began making yogurt, we would buy a "large," $6 container of organic yogurt every two weeks or so, for a treat.  We used up the large container in one sitting, and everyone was still asking if they could have more.  I used to buy vanilla-flavored.  Of course, any flavored yogurt contains sugar.

When I learned this recipe, I told my boys I was going to be making our yogurt, and that if they'd learn to adjust their taste buds to PLAIN yogurt, they would be able to eat it whenever they wanted.  Any non-restricted snack is a big deal for my hearty-eaters, and so they were eager to give it a try.  The first time they tried it, they definitely noticed the difference in taste from flavored to plain.  Motivated by the prospect of unlimited yogurt, they continued to try it.  It didn't take long at all for all of our taste buds to adjust.  We love it, and enjoy it often.  It does my mama-heart good to see my boys eating healthful, cultured food nearly every day. 

  • Pour desired amount of milk into crock pot.  Use good-quality, WHOLE milk.  I like locally-produced Havermeister milk.
  • Cover and cook on low heat for 3 hours.
  • Shut heat off and let sit covered for 3 hours.
  • Take a cup of the heated milk and mix with 1/2 cup or so of your starter.  (Begin with a whole, organic, plain variety.  After that, you'll be able to use the end of your last batch for starter.)  
  • Pour the mixture back into the crock pot, and mix in thoroughly.
  • Cover crock pot and place a couple of thick towels over it to hold the heat in.
  • Let sit 12 hours 

DONE!  Seriously, that's it.  Refrigerate and enjoy often.  As I mentioned, I make a gallon at a time.  A gallon of delicious, fresh yogurt costs us less than $6. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

This Time of Year

I'm so thankful God made seasons--times and seasons of the year and times and seasons of life.  This time leading into Thanksgiving is one of the best times of the year for me.  I love the crisp, fragrant, blustery (or even tempestuous, as it is at the moment!) days and how cozy it feels to be inside.  I can't help but smile as I see the all the lovely shades of brown in the form of mature, "pregnant" grasses dancing roadside and across fields.  I love the awe-inspiring sunsets and flickering candlelight.  And you know...just being honest....I really, really love the food!

Apples & Cider
Caramel
Pumpkins
Nuts & Seeds
and finally....POMEGRANATES!

What beautiful food!  I never tried a pomegranate until last year.  These fruits are surely a little taste of Heaven.  Perhaps I just don't get out much, but pomegranates cure a bit of the wanderlust I tend to experience this time of year.  There's something about them that seems so ancient, so exotic.  

I did a little research, and apparently there's a reason they seem that way.  Pomegranates were one of the first cultivated fruits, and have greatly impacted many civilizations for thousands of years.  Historically, they've been extremely symbolic in Middle and Near East, the Mediterranean, Asia, Europe, and North America.  Ancient Egypt revered pomegranates as symbols of afterlife, and there are numerous depictions of them on tomb walls.  They were required food in the pharaohs' residence, and had many other purposes as well.  Ancient Greece included pomegranates quite prominently in their myths.  The fruit came to signify a change of seasons.  



My favorite history of the pomegranate is the Biblical significance and Jewish tradition.  They are referenced in Exodus 28, Song of Solomon 7, and 1 Kings 7, among other places.  Tradition teaches that they symbolize righteousness, as they are said to contain 613 seeds, corresponding to 613 mitzvot (commandments) of the Torah.  It is said that pomegranates symbolize fruitfulness, knowledge, learning, and wisdom, and they are often enjoyed in celebrating Rosh Hashanah. 

In addition to being exotic, lovely and delicious, they're very healthful.  They're jam-packed with antioxidants, giving all those free-radicals a run for their money.  But the question remains, how do you eat them, and how do you do it without squirting yourself, your cat, your children, and your entire kitchen?

Let me share this wonderful trick with you (that was my original purpose of this post anyway, before I digressed...)  

  • Wash the pomegranate and chop off the end, enough that you see the outer seeds inside.
  • Cut through the outer peel only, beginning at the chopped end, all the way down the the other end.  I do this four times, quartering the fruit as I would do to peel an orange.  
  • Place the pomegranate cut-end down in a bowl of very cold water for ten minutes or so.  
  • Keeping the fruit submerged, break the fruit apart into quarters.  The seeds, called arils, will break easily out with your fingers under water and sink to the bottom of the bowl.  The white stuff will float to the top, and you can skim it off.  
  • When you've loosened all the arils out of the peel, dump out the water and you've got yourself a lovely bowl full of pomegranate!  You can give them a final rinse in a colander, if you want, but I find that's not really necessary.  


Eat them plain, add them to salads, swirl a few into water or other drinks for flavor and color.  Enjoy, and give thanks to God for the creativity He used in designing our food!




Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Decade of Our Eaglet


Ten.  10.  T-E-N.  1-0.  
It's been one decade since Eaglet and I made that laborious birth journey together. 



He came in with adventure, and he still seeks it.  This guy is full of dreams and ideas.  This year, he planned to hike Gold Cord Lake Trail on his birthday, with lunch at the lake, "no matter how much snow there is!"  

So, on that 20-degree, sunshine-filled day, that's what we did.


The lake was frozen, of course.  Wish we'd have had skates along!



 What an amazing day!  In the mountains, I always find myself overwhelmed with the magnificence, and yet the simplicity.  Somehow priorities seem so much clearer when you are held in the very cavern of creation.
 Things I will remember about ten-year-old Eaglet:
  • his energy--up at the break of dawn and ready to tackle anything
  • love of outdoors--he needs fresh air and wide-open spaces
  • flannel shirts and camo
  • one-of-a-kind tree forts
  • his heart for others--especially those younger and weaker 
  • dreams of becoming a farmer
  • truck artist
  • lists for everything with creative spelling
  • a giver--we routinely find artwork under our pillows as love offerings

 We topped off the day with gift-opening, moose burgers, and apple-raspberry pie. 

Before he was born, God gave me these words for our Eaglet: 

" I lift up my eyes to the hills-- where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip-- he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you-- the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.  The LORD will keep you from all harm-- he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."  Psalm 121: 1-8


 
May he always know Who his help comes from.




Saturday, August 25, 2012

So Big and Yet So Little


The two eldest head out with Daddy and Grandpa to Denali for caribou hunting tomorrow.  It's positively electric around here with all the exciting expectations for the upcoming week....but only for some.

Three-year-old Keiki Honu is quite glum that he won't be going.  Nearly the first thing he did this morning was pack up his little backpack with his hunting supplies:


  • around 15 pairs of underwear
  • toothbrush
  • blankie
  • stuffed rabbit toy
  • water bottle

It broke my heart to tell him, "Not this year, Buddy."  He kept trying to ignore me, and so we just played around about it for the remainder of the day.  He pointed out his t-shirt and said it was his "huntin' chirt."  Then he pointed out his shorts he was wearing, because those were his "huntin' chorts."  He kept talking about how he was "allllll packed up for huntin' with Daddy and Grampa" as we packed up the other three who really ARE leaving.  We had all the gear lined up in the living room as we sorted, and then put the finalized bags on the couch.  At that point, Keiki silently came in and added his little pack to the other bags.  

It's hard for him to understand why he can't go, when we're always telling him what a big boy he is.  Someday I'll be helping him pack up for such adventures, too.  But for now, I'm happy to keep him home with me....after all, they're only little for a little while.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Roller Coaster

I certainly don't blog much, considering how much I love to write.  Life has had us on a roller coaster this summer, and there hasn't been much time to think things through, much less put them to words.



 "You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.  Up, down, up, down.  Oh, what a ride!  I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it."


(Brownie points for anyone who can name that offensive-in-some-scenes, yet-has-some-strong-points-to-it movie.)

Indeed, I will take the roller coaster over the merry-go-round any day, but that doesn't take away the fact that this life path we've chosen has me quite whipped and jolted at times.  Life is quite simply--FULL--and although I'm so thankful for that, I'm also tired.

We have had some brief, "quiet" (it's all relative, you know) reprieves.


But mostly there's a constancy.  There's a blessed constancy of meeting physical needs and mental needs and spiritual needs and also little-boy-talk and preteen talk and education planning and  meal planning and meal prep and meal clean-up and snuggling and "doctoring" and paperwork and more paperwork and  Mt. Laundry and I won't go on because I've lost most of you anyway (!) Life throws in the death of a parent, some very emotional reunions, two gonna-kill-me Strep infections, a trip to the ER, the adoption process, no time to process any of it, and you've got yourself a roller coaster. 

I'm also learning that as your little ones grow into bigger ones, it causes you to be even more aware how short the days really are.  So much that needs to happen, so many things that we want to do, yet not enough time for any of it.  You routinely feel like your day just began and yet it's time for the nightly bedtime routine.  You're ready to start out the week but suddenly it's Friday.  You still feel like a new mommy, but you wake up with a 12-year-old.  Our pastor just spoke about this very thing.  He said basically, that it doesn't seem there's enough time in the day for everything...because there isn't enough time in the day for everything!  Even still, everything has its proper time.  The Word says so, and I believe it.  

How imperative it is, then, that we live the fullness of our current season--whatever that is.  We can't afford to be wishing ahead or pining for before.  This is the moment God has given us to live--right now.  There are things that can only be accomplished now in this season, that we may miss, if we give into the distractions of before or later.  We aren't guaranteed anything else...

ahhh....besides the after of this life...which will never end...and there WILL be time for

every.

thing.

It's ok then, and even preferable, to ride the roller coaster here, even if you get a little whipped and jolted.  Even if it seems everyone around you is moving forward and you feel like you're treading water.  Even if you feel you can't get to all the things you want to do.  What's important is that you get to all the things you should do--those things that can only be done in this season.  Those things that God put you here to fulfill.  The proper season for the other things will come, even if not in this lifetime.  I want so much for my life to be poured out completely...to live fully in each season I'm given.  I want it more than comfort.  I want it more than predictability. 

Thank You, Lord, for my roller coaster.  Give me the grace and wisdom to fulfill those things which can only be fulfilled during this season.





Saturday, April 28, 2012

Thinking of you

Tony and I are winding down in the quiet stillness of evening.  Our five are snuggled safely and soundly in their beds, bodies blissfully resting after warm hours of play in the spring air and sunshine.  But...one...or two of us are missing.

I'm thinking of you tonight, as I often do...as I often have over the past nearly two years.  Are you cold?  Are you hungry?  Are you lonely and missing the arms of your mother and father and brothers?  Are you even born yet?  Are you even conceived yet?  Whatever the answers to these questions, you remain in our hearts and in our dreams and in our prayers.  Most importantly, you remain in our Father's care.  We pray He'll bring you home to us soon, because even though we've not yet seen you or held you,

we miss you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

He is Risen...and our boy says "yes!"

This past Easter was the best ever. It really was the most amazing Easter weekend of my life. I don't even know how to put it all into words, so I'm going to settle for at least getting it down in some form so that it will spur my memories later on.

Good Friday. I had been looking forward to attending our church's beautiful, reflective, Christ-at-Center Good Friday service. That service is a highlight of my Easter celebration every year. The week prior, however, had been standardized-testing week. We were all quite on-the-edge, and quite frankly, exhausted by Friday. Though I wanted to go to the service Friday night, I was pretty sure it would REALLY be pushing it.

"Baby's 1st Easter"

I remember last year, that I had wished I'd have begun a tradition of making Hot Crossed Buns on Good Friday. So, this year, I went ahead and went for it. They take a few hours to make, so I got them started and then put the babies down for their naps--the first afternoon naps they'd gotten to take in their own beds all week because of testing. While the babies napped and the bun dough was raising, I pulled out The Jesus Film, and watched it with the three older boys. It was the first time they'd ever seen it, and I know they will always remember. It was really, really special to have that experience with them. After it was finished, we were all pretty somber. The boys asked to paint. We pulled out watercolor pans and large sheets of white paper. They painted in response to what they'd just watched. The results were heartfelt and beautiful.

I finished the Hot Cross Buns, Tony got home from work, and we all sat down to a nourishing family meal with yummy buns for dessert. What a relief and joy after a hard week--time for just home and family. A couple of the boys and I decided to walk some plates of buns down to a neighbor family and neighbor widow. The family wasn't at home, so we left their plate on their porch as a surprise for them. Our sweet, sweet neighbor widow, insisted we come into her home so she could give us a tour, visit, and show us some things. She showed us paintings her grandmother had done and told us the stories behind them. She showed us pictures of her late husband and told us stories about him. She showed us a picture of them together--young and beautiful. It was one of those visits that bridges the generations, and you get the sense of time and life and purpose. We walked home in the dark--two delighted little boys and their pensive but happy mommy.

Holy Saturday. We woke up to SNOW. Not flurries, but bona-fide snow showers and four inches of accumulation added to our two feet still in the yard. It snowed the entire day. The temptation was to be sour and glum over the ever-elusive spring break-up. However, after praying and thinking and reading some wonderful words of encouragement, I realized how fitting it was for it to be gray and snowing. I chose to....and began to see the beauty. I saw this transformed, white world as a metaphor for what my Jesus has done for me. He has made me white as snow, though my sins were as scarlet. The gray skies reminded me of the sadness over my King's death. The falling snow reminded me of the tears Father God surely shed as He watched His Son, bleeding and suffering the consequences of my sin, as He hung nailed to a piece of wood.

We spent the day together at home, and I cooked up a storm a day in advance for Easter dinner. The boys and I dyed 3 dozen eggs...and as a note to myself: we must make more next year.

Easter Sunday! We woke to glorious...GLORIOUS sunshine! It was one of the most beautiful sunrises I've ever seen, particularly striking after the prior days "gloom". With all the beauty nature can afford, the message was clear: HE IS RISEN! Four positively electric little boys raced upstairs to find their Easter baskets. I was just sure the baskets were hidden well, as I had duct-taped them to the underside of the kitchen table and put a table cloth on. Eaglet had already found them by the time the other boys woke, however, as he had sat up to the table to draw in the early hours and his knees bumped into them! And I thought I was so clever.

We headed to 2nd service at church, bringing along a few extra items needed for the BAPTISM service happening afterward. Yep--our boy Spunky decided last January that he wanted to follow Jesus, and he told us he wanted to be "babbletized" (baptized) to show it. He'd been looking forward to it for nearly three months, and today was the day.

There is absolutely no greater joy than to see your son declare their heart for Jesus. There is simply nothing more important in life than this. I am so thankful for God's working in our sons' hearts....and in Tony's and my hearts. I'm so thankful God is good, and He is love, and He loves perfectly--all the time. Our boy testifies to this:

video


"Secure in his Jesus"

We had a sweet, sweet time with friends after the service...just milling around joyously...and taking fun pictures!

Back home, my parents joined us for dinner. We had a fun day, filled with good food, time with one another, and our traditional egg hunt and treasure hunt.



We even had an unexpected guest:

We thought she may be a permanent guest (we're suckers like that) until we realized two days later (with some relief, because although she was sweet, she was also soooo big...) that she belongs to a neighbor!

It was a memorable weekend, to be sure. I love Easter time--a time to remember and realize new beginnings--all because of the love of God.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Super Bowl Makes Me Think...About...



Have you ever heard this song and truly, TRULY let the words of the entire song seep into your soul? The events of this day make me think of this song. I'm not diggin' on anyone who loves to watch a good ol' American football game. It's the surrounding events and the pomp and commercialism that screamed this to me today.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Lovin' the Cloth!

I finally took the plunge into the Land O' Cloth Diapers when Keiki (#4) was around 18 months (? I think?) I was pretty much "sold" immediately, and wish I would've gone that route with all the boys. I remember having considered it with Spunky (#3.) However, thinking he was the last baby (HA!!) decided against it. I thought of it again when I was pregnant with Keiki, but again, thinking he was the last one (HA!!) talked myself out of investing in the endeavor. Finally, after listening to several friends sing the praises of cloth-diapering, I decided to give it a whirl, even though potty-training would be in the next year or so.

I went with Kawaii pocket diapers, as they seemed well-made for a relatively small investment. I l-o-v-e-d seeing our then-tot trotting around in those colorful, puffy pants!

It took a little research, talking with friends, and trial-and-error, but overall, the transition was smooth. It felt fantastic knowing it was healthier and so much more cost-effective than paper diapers. Keiki was a fairly early potty-trainer. So, when he was finished with his Kawaiis, I gave them a good stripping, and packed them away for Little Bro, who was soon to be born!

Now, as many of you know, we don't exactly make the teeniest of babies. However, apparently even our size newborns don't fit real well in regular-size Kawaiis. Rather than invest in the special smallest size, which we wouldn't be able to use for long, I've been waiting it out for Little Bro to grow into the regular size. I tried him in them at around 3 months, then again at 4 or 5 months, but they leaked. FINALLY, at 7 months, he's in 'em!

The only thing I have against my Kawaiis, is their velcro closure. The velcro has held up, in that the diapers still fasten splendidly. However, there are these little microsuede "laundry tabs" that are designed for the velcro to stick to in the wash. This is so that the diapers don't all stick to one another and/or cause damage to the covers during washing. The laundry tabs went ka-put after about 6 months of use SO I was wishing I'd have gone with the snap closures.

Because the velcro thing is sort of annoying, and...it's so fun to buy NEW things for NEW babies, I went ahead and bought a few new snap-closure diapers for Little Bro. LOVE these colors!!


I'm trying out a new brand, Thirsties. They have, of course, snap-closures, and instead of being a pocket diaper (where you stuff the pad into a pocket,) they are all-in-ones. This means there's no stuffing, and the absorbent pad is attached to the cover. It has this little tunnel underneath the pad so that water can get through to launder effectively. They do take a little longer to dry because of this.

In addition to buying these new diapers from Arctic Baby Bottoms (shameless plug,) I also decided to try some cloth wipes!

Isn't the owl print adorable? I decided to try these, because it's sort of annoying when you change a cloth diaper, pop it into the diaper pail, and then are stuck with the dirty wipes. With a paper diaper, you just wrap 'em up in the used diaper. With a cloth diaper, the wipes either sit (yucky) on the changing table until you're done, or they accidentally get thrown in your diaper pail and need to be removed later (yucky.)

I just started using the wipes this weekend. I made up a cleaning solution in a small spray bottle. When it's time for a wipe, I spritz the wipe before cleaning up Little Bro. I find that I need to use only 1 wipe instead of who-knows-how-many of the disposable wipes. I use a wipe, and toss it in the trusty diaper pail to be washed with the diapers. What I especially love, is that the cleaning solution works SO well, and is so gently on bums! Here's what's in it:

1 cup water
1/2 tsp oil (I used pure jojoba oil)
1 tsp baby shampoo (I used Burt's Bees)

Here's what's in our disposable wipes (eeoo!):
water, vitamin E, aloe vera gel, disodium cocoamphodiacetate, polysorbate 20, propylene glycol, disodium phosphate, disodium EDTA, polyhexamethylene biguanide HCL, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, lanolin PEG-75, citric acid

I will still use the disposable wipes when out and about.

What I've learned with laundering, is to run the diapers through on cold/cold with plain water for one cycle. This gets the majority of the nasty off. Then I run them through again with hot water and detergent. This disinfects, and scrubs/deep-cleans. The type of detergent you use is very important. You can check out how yours ranks here. They all go in my dryer for about 45 minutes. This dries the Kawaiis completely. The Thirsties will still be a little damp. I hang them up for a 1/2 hour or so, then turn them inside out (remember they have the tunnel thingy) for a few hours. I think I could dry them longer in the machine, but I want to be kind to them so they last a long while, 'cause let's face it--he won't be potty-training for awhile! (And I'm fine with that.)


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Seeking His Wisdom

Typically, around mid-to-late January, I feel a little off my game--
  • a little crowded (too much time with 4 walls and a roof, however thankful I am for those!!)
  • a little claustrophobic (tons of layers of cold-weather gear, covered from head-to-toe)
  • a little "down" (having gone months with very little sunshine)
  • a little discouraged (wondering am I enough and am I doing enough for these precious people I'm so blessed to live with)

This is how I FEEL, but I have learned through the years that living by how I FEEL is not the best way to live. I can easily become held captive by these feelings, but I will choose not to. I am above self-pity. There's good work to be done, and by God's grace, I will continue in it! I cannot do this by myself, and indeed would not even want to.

Basking once again in this realization, I recently asked Him for a Word over each of our little treasures. I needed Him to give me a word of truth to hold on to, because at that particular moment my mind was just filled with all the problems I could see: "This one doesn't _____. This one needs to learn to _____. I need to do a better job with ____ with this one." You get the ugly picture! I asked Him to replace those thoughts with an affirmation over each of our little ones, along with a Word of Wisdom for me in mothering them. He is ever faithful and good.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously without reproaching, and it will be given to him." James 1:5


Word over Baby: "Contentedness"

Word to Mama: Cheerfulness + Healthy Scheduling



"Lovingkindness"

Cheerfulness + Firmness




"Curiosity"

Cheerfulness + Guidance




"Obedience"

Cheerfulness + Encouragement




"Justice"

Cheerfulness + Encouragement

Interesting how the Word of Wisdom to me, "cheerfulness," was part of my instruction x 5!