Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Twenty Week Thoughts

I hit the 20 week mark of this pregnancy last Friday.

20 weeks is always such a BIG, surprising point for me to reach. Not only have little kicks added a whole new dimension to the reality of what’s going on, but there is a fair amount of shock to the realization that something big and huge – like a new life entering your existence – is REALLY going to happen. It’s not just a wild and marvelous idea like it seemed upon first seeing those two pink lines on a pregnancy test. The amount of time that had to pass for something that seemed too far away to think of as solid reality . . . has, quite suddenly it seems, half played itself out! And, with that, there is a sudden startling recognition that the other half of that time span will also pass.

And it isn’t just that! Every week I google what’s going on with this baby and his/her development and growth. (And most weeks my other kids ask “How big is our baby now?”) Forever . . . baby was just the tiniest speck of an existing being. First just lentil-sized. Then a blueberry. Why even at eight weeks, baby was still only the length of a kidney bean, and at 10 weeks little one was only just hitting the one inch mark. It was only three measly weeks ago that baby finally reached five inches – still an eternity away from being a full-sized newborn ready to come to this world. But then, around twenty weeks, they quit measuring “crown to rump” and begin talking in terms of full length. And quiet unexpectedly I jump from imagining a a pea-pod to a ten-plus-inch human! Ten inches! Suddenly, with a rather awed jolt, I can actually imagine a little baby ready to be placed in my arms!

I am, of course, eager to actually see this little person – to know what they look like, to nuzzle their soft cheeks, unbundle their scrawny legs, and to see if I’m even carrying a girl or a boy; but right now is kind of a lovely place for me. I have this sacred space of time to ponder on the meaning and miracle of this spirit coming to me – to think about it from its spiritual vantage point without having to yet factor in the exhausting realities and emotions that accompany adjusting to the demands of a newborn. There is maybe nothing as purely magical and powerful as a newborn. I already want to weep at how fast that phase will pass. But I am enjoying where I am right at this moment in this journey. I’m far enough removed from the fear and overwhelming responsibility I felt upon first having the impression that God wanted me to accept another child into our home that it no longer holds me tightly. I can feel fully the excitement and miracle of another soul being connected to me for all of eternity – when it might not have been. And I’m far enough from the work and readjusting of life that actually having a new baby entails for me that I don’t yet feel any anxiety about the impending strain. (And lest I sound ungrateful suggesting that having this baby will be stressful . . . let’s consider the truth that, as much as I will love having my baby here, I will not only be caring for ten kids and juggling the associated demands . . . but four of those “kids” will be under the age of five! [Four kids four and under! How on earth has this happened?? Haha.])

Anywho, that is all. Just a bit of my thoughts and feelings at this space in time. But, because I like a post to have at least something by way of photos, here are a few I recently took of some of the children in our primary for a Nativity slideshow one of our bishopric members is putting together. (This isn’t all of our primary of course! Just the first gathering of little shepherds and angels, etc.)

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Also, while I was busily arranging kids, and telling them to stand right where I put them and not move, and hollering at them to look at me or quit poking their neighbor with their shepherd’s crooks, or to move a sheep from covering their face; another mom who was there texted me this little picture of Summer – who went and found a crown to add to her angel halo. I keep looking at it. I love her dear, little face.

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Thursday, November 1, 2018

October’s End

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October certainly just comes to a sudden halt, doesn’t it! One day it’s fall and pumpkins and Halloween. The next day . . . it’s Christmas.

Haha. No. Not really. It’s certainly not Christmas here yet. (Though I did listen to this song today . . . a few times. It’s Cristmassy, but not . . . a traditional Christmas song . . . so it felt OK. And it’s so pretty. But don’t tell Goldie! She is not one to allow nonsense like sneaking in early Christmas music.)

But the change from fall and Halloween to . . . not fall and Halloween did feel rather abrupt this year! Last weekend our trees were still mostly covered in fall leaves. And the weather was fairly warm. And half of my kids still had no idea what costume they’d wear. But today I woke up to used costumes – all piled up and ready to be returned to the basement, cold rain, and only a few clinging leaves!

October finished. Just like that! (The calendar even changed to November!)

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I really do love the month of October. Everything fall and harvesty just feels wholesome and makes me happy. (Well, minus the creepy costumes and gore. But those don’t actually factor in to our October around here.) Leaves, cooler weather, school routines having become . . . well, routine, pumpkins and cornstalks, our fall-scented candle occasionally burning, eager kids digging through our costume boxes, the anticipation of the whole holiday season ahead.

In the midst of it I often almost begin to think I could choose it as my favorite month. (After all Christmas has all that pesky shopping for one million kids to take care of. . . .)

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But then I remember Christmas music! And the whole focus on Christ’s birth, and childhood memories of my grandma’s on Christmas Eve and of sleeping in my older sister Amy’s room in the new Christmas nightgowns my mom had sewn – listening to Amy tell stories about Santa sightings, and the magic my mom somehow wove into snow and Christmas books, and twinkly lights everywhere, and my kids so excited, . . . and Christmas music! (Ha! I know. I said that. But Christmas music is so tied up with everything I mentioned; with every nostalgic and good thing in my life and every good thing that Christ has given me that . . . I can pretty much sum up all the magic of December with: “Christmas music”. A million memories and emotions and smells and sights tied with so many songs!).

But this is and was a happy month. I’m noticing more and more the things that have become tradition for my kids. There are a million things that I don’t do . . . that others do so expertly that occasionally I fret for a moment I am robbing my kids. But I really have begun to see the things that they expect and look forward to each year – the things that have become ours. (Even small things like Abe lighting all the pumpkins on the porch and all the candles in the house for me on Halloween, or the older girls taking the little ones trick-or-treating around our cul-de-sac before going off to their own parties, or eating stew on Halloween.) I keep seeing these things – the ones that have become repeated and significant to my kids – and they make me feel like I am managing to create a magical childhood in my own way for them – just like my parents did for me.

All the traditions are tied, at this stage, with a lot of work and a fair amount of stress for me. I long to perfectly create these holidays for my kids with no one demanding to be held and with mess never the end result. (I can’t even tell you how long it took to clean up everything from pumpkin carving . . . and how hard that felt to me with it landing when five little people desperately needed help getting to bed and Mike was away). But mixed in with the challenge of pulling it off, the perfect moments all do exist. I recognize them. And I love them!

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(And one last October-ending note: Abe’s mountain-biking team just had their team pics taken. They made a big to-do over the outgoing seniors – presenting them with a cool poster with all their pictures on it, etc. We will miss it!)

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Monday, October 29, 2018

Pieces

11-year-old Penny shares a room with 4-year-old Summer. I will sometimes peek in to see if Summer is sleeping (often long before Penny has come to bed) and notice that she only has one little blanket on her. But later, when Penny has headed to bed, and I check on them again, Summer will always be bundled snuggly in all her covers. I love picturing Penny going in and, before climbing in her own bed, motherly making sure her sleeping-younger sister is tucked in warm enough for the night. It’s so dear it makes me want to cry.

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The other day I went to tuck Jesse and Anders in in their bunkbeds. Anders was already sound asleep, but Jesse was awake. As I walked towards their bed, my foot kicked a gigantic copy of War and Peace.

“Why is War and Peace on the floor in here?” I asked Jesse.

“Oh,” he shrugged. “Anders was reading it.”

Anders is six.

I have a feeling it wasn’t quite what he was after as he gathered some bedtime reading. Hahaha.

(Note – added later: Anders is seven. Several days after writing this post, he mentioned that he was seven. And neither Daisy nor myself believed him for several minutes. But, we did in fact celebrate his seventh birthday earlier this month. I didn’t forget the birthday – or the presents, or the celebration. But . . . I did forget that he actually turned SEVEN! [Maybe he’s perfectly ready for War and Peace after all!])

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Summer and Mette. Doing a little painting.

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My little Hansie. I can’t tell you how dear that boy is to me! I just adore him so so much. I love how his hair stands straight up (and how Mike won’t cut it because the thought makes him too sad). I love how he says, “fuffalo” instead of buffalo (which comes up more often than you’d think -- as we often drive past a house with a giant statue of a buffalo [all painted in flowers] standing in their front yard.) I love how when he says “Penny”, it sounds like “Bunny”. I love how he often despairs, “Mean!” when anyone has not allowed anything to go his way. (The girls brought in their pumpkins off of the front porch today and didn’t immediately fork them over to him. “Mean. Pumpkin.” he explained sorrowfully to me. Yesterday he wanted me to let him hold an entire frosting-covered piece of cake rather than feed it to him as I insisted. “Mean. Mom.” he bemoaned to Daisy.) But most of all right now, I think I love that when I take him up to bed at night, no matter how wiggly he is, the minute I start to pray over him, he snuggles quietly into me with his head on my shoulder. It makes me never want to stop praying because I just love hugging that little fuzz-head so much.

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Daisy loves to make banana bread. (And, of course, I love her loving to make it.) But this love, complicated by a house filled with hungry siblings, has caused Daisy to, very often in the past, hide bananas away when we buy them so they don’t end up eaten before she finds a chance to bake. Alas, she often forgets she’s hidden them . . . until, inevitably, weeks later, I cry out something like, “Why are there a bunch of completely black, old bananas hiding above the cupboards?”

So when Mike brought home a bunch of bananas the other day and Daisy requested, “Can I hide some of those?”, she quickly added, “In plain sight?” And so she did. They currently sit on the counter above the sink with a note stuck to them reading, “Do not eat!”

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Here are the three people left behind when everyone else goes to school.

Also, . . . them pictured in the cart at IFA buying chicken feed. Again.

ALSO also . . . them with the daughter of one of my childhood friends – who happened to be dressed as Elsa from Frozen when they stopped by recently. The girls were in complete, magical, awe.

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Mette has taken to referring to me primarily as “mother”. Not “mom”. Only “mother”. I don’t know where this comes from. I can only imagine, perhaps, it stemmed from the fact that, when I put her to bed at night, she often requests we sing, “Mother tell me the Story”. (A sweet, little song with a child verse and a mother verse. She sings the child verse all on her own and then waits for me to sing my part.) Alternately, it could be because the kids recently watched Tangled. And any of you who have watched it can immediately begin singing . . . “Mother knows best.” (Though I’d prefer she think of me as the mom singing in the primary children’s hymn rather than as Mother Gothel!)

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For years our maples were too short to see over the top of our house. But this year . . . there they are! Every time I turn onto our street I feel so happy looking at those red leaves poking up behind our house! Sadly the last few leaves are barely clinging to the trees now. But I keep thinking how if we ever move and build a house, I will have to plan trees based on fall leaf color. My parents’ backyard was mostly full of yellows. Ours is mostly full of reds and oranges. One should certainly consider having every fall color in the trees they plant!

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Penny loves writing. Her nightstand is completely filled with notebooks and folders and rogue papers. Mostly there are only beginnings. Sometimes only titles. But they are everywhere. And for all ages. She even makes comic books. She makes me laugh often with her ideas. She recently started a comic book titled, Star Wars: Jedi Elementary. Book 1. Does the Force Really Awaken?

And the other day, after asking Abe what it means to “throw shade” (dis, trash, or put down – as in, “Awe man, why you gotta be throwin’ shade!”), she titled a new book, Bobby Jordan Throws Some Shade. I laughed out loud so hard when I read the title. Clever, funny girl.

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Abe looking handsome. He needed a headshot for something the other day so we quickly took these in the backyard.

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One of my favorite things is to go on a little family walk on Sunday evenings. Always in whatever is being worn by that point – pajamas, church dresses, etc. Sadly, what with the colder weather coming, the shortened hours of daylight, and the clock change accompanying fall about to hit, I fear those walks are likely nearly at an end for the year. But we managed a little one last night. (Though it was completely dark by the end. The shots of the leaf fight that erupted when we came into a small clearing blanketed with thick leaves, and the shot of all the kids at the park, were nearly impossible to get! And I lightened them a good deal afterwards in order to post them at all.) (Also, in the playground pic, all nine kids plus Mike are there. It took me a minute to find them. It’s Goldie who is tricky. A dark little shadow of a person behind Mette and Penny. [All five girls are in the same section – with Goldie at the very back.] Abe is a little tricky too – demonstrating some sort of hanging trick behind Anders.)

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