Friday, February 10, 2017

Gentled

Hans finds bath time to be rather terrifying, so, when bathing him we are just . . . so gentle. Usually one of the girls will help me. We keep a warm wet towel covering every part of him but whatever small section we are washing. We hold his hands snug against him so his arms don’t get free and startle him. We keep slowly pouring warm cups of water over him (as it seems to soothe him). And, when he has to go through the utterly terrifying moment of being lifted from the warm water of the tub, we bundle him into a towel quick as a wink and hug him to us. We just really gentle him through the whole ordeal in order to still his fears and keep things peaceful.

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As we finished bathing him the other night, I kept thinking of the process – of how lovingly it’s all done, and suddenly I thought, “Yes. Just like how angels gentled us through his birth.” And I knew that was true! We – he and I both – were just so utterly gentled through the process. More than was necessary even (just like with all our extra buckets of water and warm towels at Hans’s bath time). The path through his labor and delivery just felt like . . . being surrounded by the most warm and gentle and careful hands – eagerly and calmly soothing us through the ordeal. We were completely gentled. Funny when a word so clearly leaps out as the encompassing expression for a situation. Gentle. That’s what it was. Gentled. That’s what we were.

And, more than that, it’s what we continue to be as we step cautiously through this new phase of adjustment and refiguring. Hans will be one month old tomorrow. It’s been overwhelming and demanding, but I’ve also felt unmistakably sheltered and lifted and calmed.

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Also, Jesse was baptized last weekend, and Hans was given his naming blessing. In both blessings Mike blessed each of them with kindness – specifically that they would treat their future spouses with kindness. It occurred to me afterwards that Mike blessing them with that trait was evidence of how much he values it. Kindness. Kindness to his spouse. What happiness that has meant for me.

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And . . . the rest of the pictures from the phone.

Photo Feb 03, 8 02 15 AMPhoto Feb 03, 8 21 40 AMPhoto Feb 09, 1 51 02 AMPhoto Feb 09, 1 51 52 AMPhoto Feb 09, 1 52 02 AMPhoto Jan 28, 2 39 33 AMPhoto Jan 28, 2 40 07 AMPhoto Jan 28, 2 40 11 AMPhoto Jan 29, 2 22 24 AMPhoto Jan 29, 3 05 54 PM

Like Listening to a K-Track

Sometimes Abe turns on classical music when doing his homework. I love it when he does -- not only because it seems an a-typical sort of thing for a teenage boy to do, but because it inevitably makes me think of my dad. As an author and an English professor, he was very often in his upstairs “office” (next to the attic in my parents’ home) grading papers or writing; and always always there was classical music playing on the radio next to him. I like a little piece of my growing up happiness transferring its way unexpectedly into these grown up years of raising children.

Speaking of Abe, the other day he was boasting away about the number of planks and sit-ups he’d recently done. Unfortunately, nobody was paying much attention. Upon realizing how little response his accomplishments were eliciting, he added, “And then! I bench-pressed my bed 500 times!” His claims continued to go unnoticed by all but me. Still, if not properly appreciating his earlier feats, I did, at least, laugh appropriately at his falsely claimed one.

Also, for no reason that I can think of (except maybe that he has been quietly contemplating turning us to a life of crime?), Mike recently told our kids he was going to start occasionally yelling, “Hide! The po-po are coming!”

We all had a good laugh over both Mike using that term and his suggesting that we might need to practice hiding from the police.

“Well,” Mike said, “some families probably do have to practice that.”

“Yah,” Abe agreed. “Like the family that used to live in our house.”

And then we all really had a good laugh because the prior owners of our home were in fact involved in illegal activity. As they say: “It’s funny ‘cause it’s true.”

In other news:

-- Mette has had an unfortunate resurgence in toilet interest – swishing her hands in the bowl or filling it with an entire unwound roll of toilet paper any chance she gets. Also, she will give almost no attention to any toy or show and mostly prefers to cling to my leg and sob at the most inopportune times (like while I’m nursing Hans and making dinner all at once); but, her vocabulary is exploding. Every day she says new things that none of us knew she could say, and, there is something so rewarding and fun about that, that it makes up for an abundance of bathroom mess and leg-clinging whining. Or nearly anyway. (One problem we have however is that she has learned that adding “please” to any request greatly increases her chance of getting whatever she is after. Alas, she often just repeatedly begs “Please! PLEEEEASE!” without any of us having the slightest clue what she is begging for despite our best attempts to unravel the mysterious [and polite] requests.)

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-- Penny (age 9) has officially passed Goldie (age 12) in height. I suppose I knew that my children wouldn’t always stay -- lined up from oldest to youngest – in a downward slope of perfectly corresponding heights, but I can’t quite get it straight in my head and continue to buy larger sizes in clothing for Goldie than for Penny.

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-- Jesse recently made a “rock tumbler” out of an old can and some string and blue tape (always blue tape) and various parts that might smooth a rock. He attached it to his bunk bed and will occasionally be heard shaking it vigorously when he should be sleeping.

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-- Daisy is currently playing (on the piano) all these K-Track songs. (Like this one here.) I don’t know what on earth they are or why they are all called K-Tracks, but when she plays them, I feel, oddly, like I am years beyond the moment I’m in –- looking back fondly and tearfully at the beauty and chaos of what my life has been. I’ve told her she should probably play them any time she notices me getting grumpy or stressed to help me look at loud, messy children, dinner-time clean-up, and bedtime madness as . . . beauty. Also, today she has been sending me various texts fretting over which class she should take for her final credit for . . . HIGH SCHOOL next year. I’m just . . . I’m really raising teenagers now. And I like it. They’re funny and they’re clever and they stay up late with Mike and I – laughing or watching various things, and . . . they play pretty music. (Though they are rather difficult to get in a picture!)

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And, to end, a few recent pictures I managed to upload from my camera during a lucky spell of three babies napping (these first feet being . . . Summer’s, followed by a rogue Hans foot that escaped from its blanket.)

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Journal Entry (Today)

Today is a perfect gift of a day. Last night Mike decided to take all the kids (but Abe – who had various obligations today) to the cabin. I was feeling emotional and teary (as I often am in the evenings since Hansie’s arrival) and wasn’t sure I wanted them to leave, but it has been such a peaceful and quiet little piece of time. Not many days in the past sixteen years have been like it. And I imagine few will be like it again. But today? Just this one day in my life? It’s rushing to it’s end of course, but it has been . . . just right. One of those days that sparkles out from the mix of hours and moments and days and years that make up my life.

Photo Jan 20, 10 54 00 PM

Last night, as Mike left, he instructed Abe (who is now driving) to go off and get us treats at the store. When Abe returned, we both worked happily on various things – he had homework to finish up and I was responding to a few emails. Abe helped me make sure the house was tidy (doing dishes and taking out trash without my even asking). And, because no one else is here, it has stayed tidy (which almost feels miraculously impossible). Then I let him watch Rise of the Planet of the Apes while I snuggled Hans and read and wrote things that I wanted to get down.

This morning Abe had to be up at the school at 7:00 a.m. (He’d volunteered to help run the concessions stand for a volleyball tournament in exchange for having his track shorts paid for by the school. Though who buys concessions at 7:00 a.m. is a question I certainly can’t answer.) He was there ‘til after 11:00. In the mean time I slept in late snuggled next to my little Hans. And when I was tired of sleeping, but not tired of that baby sleeping so soundly next to me, I simply stayed in bed and read my scriptures. Around 10:30 I snuck away from my sleeping baby and actually managed to shower and eat breakfast (and do a little laundry) before he woke.

All the while it snowed and snowed outside – making everything peaceful and white. Abe returned (covered in snow from his short walk between the high school and our house). I changed and fed Hans while we both marvelled at the quiet around here (and at how clean things kept staying). Abe went out to shovel our driveway and Hans fell asleep in his cradle. He hasn’t slept soundly out of my arms since birth so that was a bit miraculous as well! I organized and cleaned a few things – getting kids church clothes out for tomorrow, etc. I even set out outfits for the next week for the younger kids – thinking it might help mornings run more smoothly when Mike is back at work. I made a few beds and mopped the floor. Then I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. (Which is something I have been doing a lot the past few weeks. Mike jokes about my use of chocolate chips by asking why I bother with the small bits of sticky stuff between the chips.) And Hans slept through it all – which I appreciated (though . . . I kept missing him and going repeatedly back in to check if he was indeed asleep, or . . . if he might be needing his mother).

It is now nearly 4:00. Hans is awake and ready to be snuggled and swaddled – which I will do, having nothing at all else even asking my attention. Abe is folding his laundry and working on a lesson for church tomorrow (and occasionally offering me the last Swedish Fish or chocolate covered pretzel from last night’s treats [as any gentleman would]). Part of me wants to cry a little knowing that I may not have another day to so fully and peacefully enjoy my newborn. Kids will need woken for school, hair will need done, diapers changed, . . . lunch prepared, homework helped with, etc. But, I am trying to simply appreciate that this day has existed in all it’s perfect and complete loveliness!

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