Thursday, July 14, 2016

Ninth Baby

Rather fittingly, it was Mother’s Day morning that I woke early, took a pregnancy test, and, with a strangely quiet and still feeling, viewed the positive results. I suppose I wanted some jolt of spiritual confirmation to pop into my mind as clearly as those two lines did, but there was just the stillness; subdued and quiet.

I showered – pondering on my hushed emotions; then carried the test over to our bed and placed it next to sleeping Mike. He woke. Glanced at what I’d set next to him. Then woke much more fully. I smiled a slightly faltering half-smile, then tears sprung into my eyes, and I slipped myself snuggly under the covers and into his arms. For some time we lay like that, wrapped up tight and saying very little.

I listened to the rain coming down steadily outside our window and watched as an early, gray light slowly filled our room. The babies and kids all still slept (including Jesse, who’d had a bad dream in the night and was now snoring softly on the love-seat near our bed).

For a moment, in the midst of my somewhat muted emotions, I felt I was standing outside of myself – viewing, not just this scene, but my life, and Mike’s. It felt like, if I could just tune my thoughts to the right frequency, a picture would leap out – bright and certain and shockingly clear; but, as it was, my view of our plan and path flickered in and out between waves of static. Still, if there wasn’t yet complete peace, there was, at least, a gentle but secure shield that felt something like light and seemed to circle itself around us -- holding back, for the moment, a tremendous tide of worries and uncertainties.

I wish I knew how to announce this baby in a way that left no room for raised eyebrows or hasty judgements; a way that clearly laid out every experience and thought that lead to this choice. Perhaps, if we all lived in a fantasy novel, I could, simply by concentrating deeply, reach inside of myself and pull out a brilliant, golden ball of light – shimmering and softly buzzing with some near-spiritual frequency. I’d hold it reverently out to each of you; and you’d only need gaze into it to instantly comprehend the whole of this: everything that influenced this decision to have not one, but now two children beyond what we’d planned (in an overwhelmingly short amount of time and at an age when most people are sending their “babies” off to Kindergarten [or middle school], not . . . birthing them).

There would be no need for faulty words or stumbling explanations. No need for awkward attempts to defend, apologize, or justify. There’d be no pretense of superior confidence. You’d see clearly that this was, in truth, a decision made on the outskirts of logic; one that would complicate life and add undeniable difficulty that might, reasonably, have not been added. You would see the uncertainty and fear, the misgivings and self-doubt, the questioning and tears. But, you would see the rest as well. The powerful veil-piercing glimpses; the unexpected answers; the dreams, thoughts and nudges that came all bundled in little packages of light -- offering an opportunity to trust and trumping common sense. You’d catch your breath upon seeing the smallest flash of the light and intelligence and realness of this soul. You’d gasp at the complex eternity’s-worth of experiences he’s already had, the relationships he will temporarily be pausing and the ones he’s about to resume. You’d marvel over the detail and beauty of the plan he’s been prepared for, the lives he will influence and the lives that will influence him.

It wouldn’t even matter to you if, after taking this all in, your decision would have been the same. You would still grasp – with utter completeness and understanding -- why mine . . . was this.

Unfortunately, I have no magic ball of light to hold out; no ability to transfer complex and multifaceted chunks of life with simple telepathic purity. I can’t even gather all of this into a perfectly understandable picture for myself. Most of this journey, I see now, has occurred much like the scene I described earlier: bits of focus and clarity, a few clear images, and . . . an incredible amount of static.

I suppose the best I can really offer is little more than the announcement itself – the tiniest glimpse of a story in the middle (with a beginning I can’t fully recall and an ending I can’t yet see). It is simply this: Ninth Baby Coming.

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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Lots of Cell Phone Pics, A Duck (Plus Two), A Little of Summer and Mette, and Some Thoughtful Stuff

Yesterday Jesse and Anders came rushing in from our fenced in/suburban neighborhood backyard and announced, “There’s a baby duck outside!”

“We don’t have ducks,” I told them. “Just chickens.”

But they insisted, so I followed them out and, sure enough, there was a very tiny, too-young-to-fly duckling. It stood there, looking at us, then chirped and dashed for the bushes with the little boys and Summer hot on its trail. For a moment I couldn’t quite make sense of the situation. My mind got a little fuzzy, and I was thinking, “Can chickens have . . . baby ducks? . . . We have no males for fertilizing, did the duck just spontaneously generate? Is this an example of reproduction by ‘budding’? Did a duckling bud off one of our hens?”

It was a speedy little thing and it took a lot of dashing and “over here!”s and “no, wait! It’s over there!”s before Abe managed to catch it for us. We put it in a big cardboard box where it began leaping with all its might trying to get free, and Abe gathered grass and some chicken scratch and cut up grapes and water. We put it under a light (since Mike is always telling me how all those little wounded birds everyone is always trying to save die because they aren’t kept warm enough) and waited for Mike to come home. When he did, he promptly went out and bought two more ducklings. If the fates bless you with one . . . surely you should make it three? I guess?

But really, how? There are no ponds or streams for blocks. I can’t imagine a duckling that small could have made it blocks and blocks to our backyard. There’s a little duck pond by our local grocery store. I started thinking of stories of ships coming to the Americas bringing rats and other small stowaways here, and I decided that the duckling had clung to our bumper the last time we bought groceries. Haha.

However it actually came to be, I blame Mike. I’ve written before about the goat we once found tied to our mailbox. Farm creatures are attracted to Mike like magnets.

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Summer loves shoes. Do all toddlers? Here. A departure from this post of cell pics for some Summer/shoe pics.

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Also, if anyone wrongs her in any way: Mette gets to close to her toys, Daisy doesn’t give her a cookie, Jesse didn’t hear her ask him to turn on a show, etc. She comes to report to me that her sibling is “a meanie”. “Jesse a meanie, mom!” Everyone is perhaps too fond of it. Being called a meanie by little, angry Summer typically fills the offender with delight.

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Mette has pretty much never eaten baby food. She has just always utterly despised any attempts to spoon feed her anything. It’s a great relief that she is finally old enough to feed herself with her little fingers – though she can still only eat the smallest and most easily swallowed things (and she still turns her nose up at many foods including bananas, cooked carrots, and peas). Goldie also seemed to skip the being spoon fed stage. Funny girls. Luckily . . . Mette hasn’t completely wasted away. Though certainly almost. . . .

Photo May 21, 11 59 27 AMPhoto May 22, 1 01 21 PMPhoto May 21, 11 59 41 AMPhoto May 14, 11 58 30 AM{"total_effects_actions":0,"total_draw_time":0,"layers_used":0,"effects_tried":0,"total_draw_actions":0,"total_editor_actions":{"border":0,"frame":0,"mask":0,"lensflare":0,"clipart":0,"text":0,"square_fit":0,"shape_mask":0,"callout":0},"effects_applied":0,"uid":"D1EA1C0F-0DA5-4B92-83AD-457D199C2667_1463251137372","width":1589,"photos_added":0,"total_effects_time":0,"tools_used":{"tilt_shift":0,"resize":0,"adjust":0,"curves":0,"motion":0,"perspective":0,"clone":3,"crop":0,"enhance":0,"selection":0,"free_crop":0,"flip_rotate":0,"shape_crop":0,"stretch":0},"origin":"gallery","height":1589,"total_editor_time":86769,"brushes_used":0}Photo May 15, 12 17 06 PM

I’ve been thinking about my mom lately – about all she’s done and all those she’s helped in her life. I feel so . . . proud of her and so anxious to do as well.

When I was young, I often recall her telling me about the drive she felt to have our large family. She felt, even without maybe fully realizing it, that it was part of her specific mission and life plan here. She’d come from a very small family and hadn’t had much experience with loads of babies and wild houses full of children, but she always had this vision in her mind of being in a lifeboat in the midst of tossing waves and a stormy sea. She felt compelled to pull as many of us out of the waves and into her little boat as possible.

Now, looking back over her life, I can see far greater symbolism in that image of my mom in the lifeboat – of her purpose being one of rescue. Not only the eleven children she brought into mortality to a home where they were loved and taught eternal truths, but the many friends who came to our home – some to live, and others just to be there – for rescuing and healing of some sort. Also, the large refugee families that she took in to live, some for years, in her already crowded and full house. Her many grandkids who have lived (and still live) – finding love and security -- in her home. And the countless ancestors and relatives whose names she has found and temple work she has had done.

Her entire life she has pulled one valuable soul after another from the relentless, and terrifying ocean waves – never hesitating because her lifeboat was small and likely a bit low on air and threatening to sink from the extra weight of each new addition.

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But what strikes me the most about all of this is: never was it done or accomplished from a place of peace, quiet and ease, or even utterly clear sense of purpose. Most of the time she felt overwhelmed and wholly inadequate and unworthy and even failing. She had financial stresses, crying children, never-ending mess, heavy and time consuming church callings. Life was hectic – there were constant, necessary, and ordinary demands. I feel like this is the miracle of it, and why it is actually so beautiful. Her miracles and mission, her life lessons and gifts to others were accomplished while living messy, muddled, day-to-day life!

I have been pondering on this more and more frequently since Mette’s birth. Our living and learning and fulfilling our missions; our connecting and serving and helping and growing . . . they don’t get to happen very often in a quiet, sacred “time out” from mundane and stressful demands. They are simply happening. Right now. Always. With dirty dishes and crying babies, with allergies and illnesses. It’s so . . . hopeful to me. My mom didn’t see all the miraculousness of her life – all that she was truly doing – very often from day to day, but looking back? It’s astounding! It’s so beautiful. She has done what she came here on earth to do. The spirit has lead her and helped her and taught her – and helped so many through her – even while she was changing diapers and worrying about the family station wagon breaking down and trying to keep track of a bunch of wild girls at girls’ camp. I love that this is where our miracles happen and missions are accomplished – in the drudgery and work or everyday living.

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Friday, June 10, 2016

Memorial Day at the Farm

We spent Memorial Day with Mike’s family up at the farm. IMG_9286_edited-2IMG_9315_edited-1IMG_9316_edited-2

It’s always . . . cousins and sunblock, 4-wheelers and kid kayaks, 22s and canoes, the rope swing and drinking water from the well, pizza, chips and fruit. Lots of laughing and visiting.

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Aunt Sarah is always the hit of any event she attends. If she doesn’t come with a cotton-candy maker in tow then it will be a snow-cone maker, or tons of play-doh, or . . . thousands of balloons, a pump, and books on how to make your own balloon animals. The kids were in heaven, and we came home with a van full of balloony creations.

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I love this series of trying to get Anders to show me his balloon. “No, closer to your face so I can see it in the picture. . . . No, not covering your face, I want to see you too. . . . OK, there we go.”

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I had loads of pictures of cousins too, but too many to try and share here.

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As we drove home this time, it occurred to me that “Grandpa’s Farm” will be one of my kids’ strong childhood memories. It made me happy to recognize that, without even realizing it, we’d been a part of creating a tradition and experience they will all share. I like that this is a part of them and I’m always intrigued at the thought of what things might stand out most to them or be their most fond memories from their childhoods.

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And, as any fun worth its salt must, it ended with kids utterly exhausted (and parents a wee bit exhausted too).

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