Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I think I'm going to go insane and never blog again. Does anyone know why I am having such trouble getting my posts to publish correctly? No matter what I do or how I fix them they publish all crazy -- giant line breaks where I never put them, some paragraphs smashed onto each other rather than separate, gaps between pictures that were placed right next to each other. I don't know why or how to fix it. I use the old editor, but don't know if that is the issue, but it really takes the fun out of posting for me when I then have to spend a fruitless hour trying over and over again to make line breaks be where I put them! Anyone???

A Whole Lot of Miscellany


The weather here has been rather dreary -- snow continuing to sift mindlessly down upon us through all of March; nevertheless, we took advantage of one Sunday evening to head out on a little walk with Mike's sister Lisa and her family of five boys (well, six boys if you count her husband). I thought I'd get some fun pictures of them all out there, but there was little chance that the older kids were going to walk at the bumbling little pace that Jesse set, so I only saw them from the occasional distance as I yelled for them to "slow down" and "wait up." Still, here they were at one point before getting too far ahead, and, I did get a few pictures of Penny and Jesse -- and even several of Goldie's boots.

Here's the little fella who has my heart in the palm of his tiny trouble making little hand.

Goldie finding one of the many interesting things there are to find on a walk (the very things that adults neglect noticing).

This is basically what Penny does anytime anyone tries to speak to her -- looks down and hopes that if she stays very quiet they will forget she's there. Here it was because I told her to scoot closer to her cousin Alex.


They were playing quite happily today when something went horribly awry -- or so I assume -- because next thing I know, Daisy is sob/yelling, "I thought you were my best friend, but you're NOT my best friend! You're just a MEAN girl!" I don't know if it was directed at Penny or Goldie . . . I just tried to hide.h


Then later, at dinner, the following incidents occurred:
Incident ONE:

Daisy: Penny! Stop punching me! Mom! Penny's punching me!

Penny (angrily and with chicken spewing out of her own mouth): Well, she was talking with her mouth full!
Incident TWO:

Daisy: Ouch! Mom! Penny's poking me with her fork!

Me: Penny! You have not been very nice to Daisy tonight, you may not poke her with your fork.

Penny: But it's fun!

Sigh. One day, before too long, all these girls will be teenagers . . . at the same time! I have a feeling there might be some interesting times ahead . . .

Sometimes, I want to punch the pinewood derby in the face. I know, nice sentiments, but it takes a lot of time and work to make those darn cars, and inevitably, it falls on a busy work week for Mike, so he and Abe are up 'til midnight the night before, trying to finish it. And I wonder things like, "What on earth do they expect single moms to do? This truly can't be done by the scout alone, and it requires the use of loads of tools!" It just feels stressful. Plus, this year Jesse took the tube of graphite that was somehow connected to this whole process and dumped it EVERYWHERE in our kitchen. Picture pencil lead, if you will, in a fine powdery form -- and the more you wipe it, the more it spreads nice sheets of pencil across every surface. Bleh.

But, little pinewood derby scrooge (me) must admit, that when we were at said derby, and I realized it was Abe's last year to participate, it made me a little sad. It's fun to see how excited they are racing -- particularly when they do well, and Abe was quite pleased with his 3rd place trophy. Nice work Abe (and Mike).

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Snow White and Rose Red

Yes, that is who we are. Two fairytale sisters -- one light and one dark. Apparently my dad and my aunt Penny had recently mentioned that my sister Amy and I could easily be Snow White and Rose Red (this particular Snow White was no relation to the other Snow White -- the one with the seven little dwarf friends). My dad then got it into his head that Amy and I needed to become just that so he could send a little picture of us -- as them -- to my Aunt Penny for her birthday.

So, Amy and I met at my parents' house where we dug about in the attic for fake flowers and bits of material, etc. With the help of a few pins and Amy's camera, we became Snow White and Rose Red (or at least, close enough . . . though Amy kept insisting we were Snow White and Old Red). When Abe saw the pictures, he asked, "Which one is the bad one?" I realized that I actually didn't know anything about the story of the two sisters (though I had heard of it). Still, I assured him that if indeed one of the sisters were bad, it would have to have been the dark haired Rose Red. No way is the fair one going to be evil in a fairytale that also contains someone with dark hair (wearing RED no less). Kind of like how no step mother is ever going to be good in a fairytale. I emailed my mom just to make sure though, and here was her response: l

Oh, Nancy, they were both terribly brave, beautiful and compassionate girls who dared face a wild bear and a furious, evil little dwarf just out of the kindness of their hearts. The bear scratched on their door one bitterly cold, howling wintry night, and they dared let him come right into their cottage and sleep by the fire. On another occasion out in the woods they saved the life of a mean little dwarf whose long beard had been caught in a tree he had tried to split for firewood. He was utterly ungracious when they cut off the bottom part of his beard to free him. . .you can get the whole Grimm fairy tale at:

or a short, outline of the story at:

Love, Mom

(I sort of think this stuffed bear is somewhat lacking in presence -- you know, compared to the great terrifying bear they allowed into their cottage -- the one who later became a prince).

(It's a little tricky knowing how to make the correct "fairytale" face . . . apparently.)

You must admit, my parents got quite a lot of variety out of the offspring they produced. Well, at least out of their hair color. Maybe our faces all look the same. I don't know. But when I look at the variety of coloring Mike and I have created (or lack thereof), my parents' feat seems quite impressive.

Friday, March 18, 2011

An Escaped Chicken and a Prayer

The other day after trying (for ten minutes -- in dumping rain -- with cars honking at me) to chase a flapping and frenzied chicken back into the safety of our fenced yard, I called my ten year old out to help.

Within about two minutes he had it in his hands: held safely and firmly with wings pinned down -- just like you must to keep them from flapping their way insanely free again.

"Wow! Abe! Great job!" I cheered. "I can not believe you caught it!" I continued; as we made our way, dripping wet, towards the gate in our fence. "That was amazing!"

"Mom," Abe said, in a slightly embarrassed tone, as if he didn't quite deserve the praise I was heaping upon him. "It wasn't just me." Pause. "I said a prayer." Oh . . . I was also thinking of doing that . . . I mean probably I was going to think of it . . . maybe in a few more minutes.

Geez, who are these kids? And who on earth has been raising them!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know or Thought to Ask, or Even Didn't Want to Know or Think to Ask, About This Pregnancy

Have you been sick?
I always tell people, "I don't get sick." And that is mostly true. Enough of my close family and friends have such extremely difficult pregnancies, that I do feel like what I experience is, comparatively, "not sick." But, in truth, I have had waves of nausea. Sometimes they really are just waves that are gone with in a few minutes. And, on some days I have just felt "blech" all day. But, I have never so much as thrown up once during any pregnancy. I do get exhausted in the first trimester, which is tricky with a house full of kids needing minded; and I do get dizzy quite often.

Have you been craving anything particular?
That is a hard one to know for certain. I do crave crazy things all the time, but I think I kind of always crave crazy things -- even when not pregnant. However, when I am pregnant, anything I think of I think, "Oh, I must be wanting orange juice and Cracklin' Oat Bran so much because I'm pregnant," or, "Weird how I want Heath bars and Krispie Kreme donuts so much with this pregnancy." But in truth, I may have craved those things anyway. The only difference is, somehow craving something when I am pregnant makes me think I am fully justified in eating it -- lots of it. I will add though that I have wanted chocolate milk regularly and chocolate milk has never been something I've even particularly liked -- so I'll chalk that one up to a definite pregnancy craving.

Are you showing yet?
Yes. I always think it would be fun to wait until half way through a pregnancy to tell or something crazy like that. Unfortunately, with these last two, I have really looked different by about eight weeks. That is funny to think when I look at my twenty week picture with my first -- still not a sign of anything expanding. It is especially sad when you read that your uterus doesn't even rise up past your pelvis bones until about the 12th week. Honestly, and embarrassingly, I think I just get very bloated in early pregnancy. In the morning I will look normal, but by evening I look five months pregnant.

How are your emotions handling this pregnancy?
I always think of myself as fairly stable -- not prone to large emotional sways. But, the first few weeks of this pregnancy I feel like I was one snippy and grumpy woman. It seemed that every morning found me apologizing to Mike for some unreasonableness of the night before. I don't know if that was hormones or just a bout of meanness; either way, I've been back to my own pleasantly lovely self the last few weeks.

Did you announce your pregnancy a cute way to anyone?
Well . . . what about that whole cute post about "Nothing. What's snew with you?" Ha. How sad. That gives you a good idea of how clever I am with these announcements. Remember last pregnancy? My announcement on here came at the end of a long post about potato salad (mmm. I ought to get some of that)! I do always want to tell Mike some clever way, however, I usually can't wait and call him immediately. We did do a little treasure hunt for our kids though. They found little clues and had to figure what they all meant. That was fun for them (and us).

Are you out of your mind having a sixth kid?
I don't know. Maybe? People don't really have that many kids anymore, do they. Honestly, up until now I have never struggled with the idea of having kids. I always knew Mike and I wanted a big family, and up through Jesse, it just seemed a given that I wasn't done. However, since Jesse, I have entered a strange new phase where so so many of my friends and family members are done. They are loving this new stage of no diapers; of family vacations where everybody will sleep at night, nobody will be grumpy for want of a nap, and no strollers or pak-n-plays will need packing. And, it has started to feel to me like that would be a very nice place to be. I adore adore my babies and can hardly breathe for being overcome by how much I love their precious tiny selves when I have them; however, I've never craved a baby and usually, when someone has a newborn I kind of think how happy I am that I don't. I know that sounds terrible, but those first months of no sleep and no schedule and never knowing if you can be gone for more than a tiny fraction of time with out your baby needing you are very stressful. SO, with that said, ever since Jesse, I have had a hard time coming to terms -- not with my idea of a big family, but with the idea of more babies. However, I also have a very hard time with the idea of leaving any spirit out of my home that is possibly meant to be here. Maybe that comes from being the tenth child born to my parents. I shudder to think of having been left out. I feel certain I was supposed to be in my family. That I belong to them and was always meant to belong to them -- eternally. I hate to think how easy it would have been for them to have said, "Clearly, this is enough!" and not let me come. Sometimes this is hard on me because it seems so easy for everyone else. I know that is probably not really true -- you know how when something is hard for you it just seems easy for everyone else. But sometimes I feel like, "Why do I have to keep struggling and praying to know exactly when I should be done and how many children I should have when everyone else I know seems to just be able to say, 'This seems fine for us. We're done.' with little more thought?" I'm sure that it really isn't that simple for most people, but sometimes I wish I felt less concerned about it -- less worried that I might let some little soul down, let my Heavenly Father down, or even let myself down when, in the next life, I realize that many of my reasons for not wanting children were truly completely selfish, and what if -- due to those reasons, I failed to include someone I loved? Someone I maybe even knew and prayed could be bound to me forever? Maybe someone I even committed to not forget and to try to bring to my family? Whew. Be happy if you don't think about it in the depth and with the worry that I do! Anyway, I have prayed like crazy about this, and have been quite certain that this little spirit is truly waiting to be in our family. And, when I do think about it from that standpoint -- from the point of an eternal little soul, finally coming to earth, and, of all the places in the world, being sent to me -- well, it seems like a very happy and wonderful thing. Even if it does mean more diapers and more sleepless nights and more struggling to make all the activities I want to do with my older kids work out.

So, when are you going to be done already!?
Who asks that kind of question! (Actually, I have found out many do). Well, after reading that lengthy last paragraph, you can probably guess that I really don't know. I'd really like if Heavenly Father liked to give me more cut and dry answers to my questions. However, He usually likes to answer my prayers with the old tiny step-by-step-illuminations process. So, He did let me know I wasn't done after Jesse, but He did not let me know specifically HOW not done!

Do you think it is a boy or girl?
Actually, I keep thinking it is a girl. But, I have to constantly remind myself that twice I have been almost spiritually and positively certain that I knew the gender of a child of mine, only to be found quite wrong. I think I guessed right with Daisy and that was about it.

How far along are you?
12 weeks. And yes, that does mean baby is over two inches long with a brain that produces hormones, fingers that can flex, and kidneys that are beginning to function!

When does that make you due?
September 29th. We have two spring babies, a summer baby and two winter babies, so a fall baby sounds about right. September particularly sounds nice. Wouldn't it be fun if this baby actually came in September? Knowing my history though, I have a feeling I will still be grumpily typing about my overdue baby on Oct. 1st . . . and 2nd . . . and 3rd.

But would you consider getting started this time around?
Funny. I so much never wanted to be started before. However, having things start with such a scare as we rushed to the hospital in labor with Jesse -- unsure of why I was bleeding so ridiculously, has maybe made me change my tune a little bit. It now seems like it would be pretty nice to be right there in the hospital -- everything monitored from the get go. Plus, with five kids -- school, music lessons, etc. to think about, knowing when I will need that all covered would be rather nice. With that said, I still do enjoy the excitement of being at home and going into labor -- packing last minute things and knowing your little one is about to come. So, I think I'm fairly open to either way this time around.

How long did you wait to tell people?
Well, we pretty much told everyone right after seeing that all looked fine with baby at my 11 week appointment. For some reason having that end-of-first-trimester miscarriage after Penny has scared me off from telling too early. That is kind of silly because, as my sister Shannon and I discussed at the first of her current pregnancy, why wouldn't you want the support and love of friends and family during a miscarriage? Why would you want it to be a secret? And, that is true, but it still is awkward if everyone knows you are pregnant to then have to go about spreading the opposite news, "Attention! I am no longer pregnant!" People feel so embarrassed if they ask about your due date and you have to say, "Oh, I had a miscarriage." And well, I just kind of prefer avoiding all of that. I might have even waited longer to tell if it wasn't that, as I mentioned, I start looking pregnant so darn fast these days that I knew people were speculating anyway.

Do you have a name picked out?
Well, this is very exciting. If it is a girl, we actually do!! I am not going to tell you what it is though unless it does indeed turn out to be a girl. (We'll know in a few weeks). The reason that is so exciting is that, other than Abe, we have not once been able to firmly settle on a name before any of our other baby's births. We are always sitting in the hospital going, "Ohhh, we really need to decide!! We need a name for this little baby!" I think Goldie was even home for about three days before we settled on her name. So, the prospect of having the name all set is a fun one. However, if this is a boy . . . well . . . we are back to the drawing board. I really haven't the slightest idea of a name we'd like to use. And, naming our first two boys after family members has made us feel like we kind of need to stick with that trend, and I am not finding any I am sure I'd love to use along our family lines yet.

Have you gained any weight?
Sigh. Yes. I'm actually rather nervous about it. I know you will all say, "Oh you look great. That's silly!" because that's what I'd say to someone who told me that. But, I am worried about how my body will keep withstanding these pregnancies. I already weighed more than I would have liked at the start of this one, and not being sick in the first trimester is lovely except that I am hungry hungry and constantly eating instead of throwing up. So, I've already gained a fair amount.

Is there anything you are missing being pregnant right now?
I really don't mind being pregnant. There are the occasional discomforts and inconveniences for me. I get sad about gaining weight, and I get sad when I am sick and can't take any medicine, but other than that, I think pregnancy is kind of a cool thing. And I actually feel ten times cuter pregnant than I do after being pregnant. Still, I do miss running quite a bit. Not completely because I am able to keep running through out my pregnancies usually, but you know, not in any type of serious training mode. Ever since my last marathon I have really truly been itching to do something hard and serious with my running -- and I haven't been able to due to my foot problems which have lasted a good year or so. They have finally been improving, and, for the first time in ages, I have someone great to run with at any time (she lives mere blocks away). I really wanted to train for some things with her over this spring and summer, and I really wanted to run some half marathons and maybe another full this fall. I know that sounds silly to many of you, but knowing that I can't do that and that when I can again I will be starting out sluggish and overweight and slow makes me feel very sad. I find myself feeling frustrated when I hear of friends who are training hard and getting fast times. Maybe I can pray that my willingness to have another child will cause a blessing of injury free body parts and extra endurance and speed to be rained down on me after this one's birth? That sounds like a reasonable request. Right? :)

Where will this little one sleep?
Well, in our room at the beginning. And then . . . well, the bedroom situation is a little crazy at our house right now. One has been torn out and made into a kind of open office, and another is in the works . . . only by "in the works" I mean -- theoretically. Hopefully it will be done by the time of new baby's arrival. If this is a girl, we'll have rooms with two in each. If it is a boy, I'm not sure how we'll divide everyone up.

Are you worried to have a newborn right as the winter sickness months will be setting in?
I wasn't. I am always surprised when people actually manage to just stay indoors with their newborns during the winter months -- avoiding church, shopping, family gatherings and the like. Unfortunately that would make me go crazy, so it won't happen, but also, with three older siblings in school, I'm not sure how much good staying home would do baby. His/her siblings will likely be bringing all kinds of germs home anyway. I just figured we'd wash hands and be fine. I have had two winter babies before after all. BUT, then my niece's little new baby just spent a week in the hospital with RSV. Now I am realizing that it is a bit scary how illness can trounce these tiny newborns!

What worries you most about babies arrival?
For all my saying that babies are stressful, I feel like I handle them quite well once they are here. Still, Daisy's failure to sleep EVER during her first year of life has left me somewhat permanently scarred and, despite the fact that my others have all figured out sleeping without too much trouble, I really always get scared of helping them figure out how to go to sleep on their own and how to stay asleep at night. Also, with Goldie and Penny I did get a fairly uncomfortable dose of depression and anxiety during the first little while of their lives. Luckily it usually only lasted a few weeks, but I do not not like that feeling of panic and fear and hope it doesn't come this time around. I seemed to escape it with Jesse, so we'll see.

Are you excited to have another baby?
Yes! I feel like I've been so "honest" in this post about my decision to have more kids, the stress of a newborn, etc. that I have maybe sounded too negative about the impending arrival of this little one -- like it is somehow all duty and obligation, but that is not true. In my heart it doesn't feel true and I find myself whispering little apologies to my unborn baby for occasionally dwelling on grumpy selfish thoughts more than the amazingness of her/him getting to come to me. I do have those feelings of worry and stress, but also, another truer part of me can never help but be excited about the idea of a new person coming to forever be a part of our family. To make her (or his) little place in our home -- to become as a part of it and as utterly necessary as my other kids -- who life would be unimaginable with out. I do get anxious to meet this soul; to learn who they are and what their strengths and talents are. And, even the baby part, when I am living it, does have wonderful moments. Even though I say they worry me at that stage, they worry me more when I am just thinking about it than when I am actually living it. I love snuggling and holding them and often find myself wishing they wouldn't grow one minute older. When I was at the hospital visiting my niece after she had her recent little baby, I was walking down the hall of the maternity ward and could hear the clear sound of a little baby heartbeat -- you know, the sound you hear through the little monitor while the mother is in labor -- just about to bring that little one into existence. I had to pause for a minute, right there by the elevator, and listen. I almost started to cry. That sound was so familiar. All sorts of strong and familiar emotions washed over me as I listened to it. I know that this little one is bigger than any of the petty or small things I worry about. Even the big things I worry about all seem totally insignificant compared to the life that is about to start -- a life that some small, but likely very strong, spirit has waited for millenia to begin. How amazing that I will get to see this life unfold -- that I will get to be an integral part of it and even shape the life this one will lead. Yes, I am very excited.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

¡¡NEWS!! (For Reals This Time)




Thursday, March 10, 2011


What I actually almost called this post was, "Nothing. What's snew with you?" Then, I realized that it wouldn't make a bit of sense to anyone that way.

When we were young, we had a joke book around the house that contained the following joke:

Person number one: "Whew, there sure is a lot of snew outside!"
Person number two would then likely respond: "Snew? What's snew?"
Person number one again (with the punchline): "Nothing. What's snew with you?"

Of course, the joke never worked. Usually, when you said it, there actually wasn't any snow outside. And, even when there was, people just looked at you like, "Why did you say 'snew' instead of 'snow'?" It was kind of like the good old "What ya' eatin' under there?" joke. Did you all try (and fail) at this joke as often as we did growing up?

The idea was that the person who was asked the question would say, "Under where?" -- Thus giving you the chance to laugh hysterically and say, "You're eating underwear? HAHHAahaHAHa."

However, while we continued our tireless and hopeful efforts with the joke, usually it would go more like this:

"What ya' eatin' under there?"
"What are you talking about it?"

Or, occasionally like this:

"What ya' eatin' under there?"
"I'm not eating anything."

Or, sometimes:

"What ya' eatin' under there?"
"I'm eating a sandwich. Duh."

And, again:

"What ya' eatin' under there?"
"What are you talking about?!! Stop saying that!"

Still, the joke book with the "Nothing. What's snew with you" joke kept us laughing despite the lack of a properly working joke because it would occasionally give jokes with multiple choice answers (testing how you were coming with your joking skills). And, very often, "Nothing. What's snew with you?" was thrown in as a possible answer. Naturally, that caused us to start saying, "Nothing. What's snew with you?" at random points during the day to any question that might be asked of us. And because I told my kids about it, they have also started doing this. Abe will ask what kind of car a lamb likes to drive. Then, instead of answering, "A Lamborghini" he will say, "Nothing. What's snew with you." And laugh and laugh. And sometimes I rather regret having told them.

Of course, "NEWS" should have nothing to do with any of that, but it felt like it should because news sounds so similar to snew.

So, this post was going to say, "Nothing. What's snew with you?" and then go on to tell you what was new with us; the news with us. However, now that I think about it, I have drawn this explanation out so long that it will completely overshadow anything that might finally get typed clear down here at the bottom of this post, so I will just put our news in a new post. All on its own. . . . Later, of course.

More Kids Harder?

One of my friends recently posted on facebook something about how she wondered how on earth those with three or even more kids managed -- saying it was taking all her patience and ability to handle two.

Reading that took me back in time. I recalled going over to roast marshmallows with a couple from the first ward we attended as a married couple. We had only Abe at the time. As I recall, they had two and were expecting a third. I remember thinking, almost claustrophobically, "How on earth will she ever do anything at all when her third comes? How can anyone have three small children? Life feels totally all consuming with one!"

And yes, when my second came along, I found that two was more difficult. But, to be honest, I don't know that I could say there has ever been a "hardest" number of kids. To me, each new baby meant -- hard; harder -- for a time. I mean it was a baby for crying out loud! (Which they often were). But, each time I just seemed to adjust to a new norm. And, each time, the dynamics changed in our family to the point that while I could see some things had definitely become more difficult (for instance, simply having another set of feet needing shoes on before going anywhere, another little body needing bathing at night, another seat belt needing buckled, and another potential waker in the night) other things actually did get easier -- or, if nothing else, readjusted to a new similarly easy (or similarly difficult) normal.

For example, with three, true, Mike and I were finally outnumbered, but I loved that when I was feeding Goldie and bathing her, I knew that Abe and Daisy were playing and entertaining each other. With two, I sometimes felt I had to neglect one to take care of the other. Of course, I won't deny that it was with babies three and four that I first discovered that, sometimes, a baby just had to cry for a minute. With Abe and Daisy I always rushed to immediately fill their every need. With later ones, sometimes I really couldn't feed them or hold them the second they began to whimper -- sometimes I was in the middle of getting an older child out of a bath or cleaning up a cup of milk spilled on the floor, and all I could say to my crying baby was, "I'm sorry! I'll be there when I can!!"

But, on the "easier" side of things, Penny and Jesse are far more likely to want to follow around the older three siblings if they are doing something fun than cry for my attention. With my first two I felt that I spent so much time trying to entertain them, but with my later ones, while I am still their primary resource for comfort, I am definitely not their first go to when it comes to being entertained. So, in some ways, I feel like I get more done around the house with five kids than I ever did with two or three . . . of course, one might point out that there is a lot more to be done around the house -- which is certainly true. Even just bringing the kids home from school means that, even if the house were totally spotless when we went out the door (which of course it wasn't), there will suddenly be ten little shoes, five coats, three crumb filled lunch boxes, and the needing-sorted contents of three backpacks (plus the three backpacks themselves) strewn about the house. When I think of that, coming in the door with only one or two little pairs of shoes and coats to put away seems like a dream.

Anyway, as I thought about my friend's question, I thought, "Well, two IS hard! You are entitled to feel overwhelmed. But, don't worry that that necessarily translates into meaning that three (or four, or five) will then be impossible." I don't know that, looking back, two felt any easier to me then than five does now. And, the trade offs make it slightly difficult to discern exactly what was more difficult. Part of the problem with your first few little ones is just that -- they are all little ones! By the time you have number five (heaven forbid), even if you have them dreadfully close together, your oldest ones won't be needing the same types of care and attention those needy littler beings need. They will put their own clothes on (that will hopefully even match), they will -- with a little training -- be able to take their own shower and even get their own breakfast. What's more, they will entertain those other later little babies a very great deal. And yet, I can think of days where I feel like I've been pulled a million different ways -- days where all five kids seem to be fighting, or breaking things, or getting hurt, or needing help with different things, or throwing up. And, on those days, I'll think, "How could I have ever thought one was hard! How dreamy to know that I would only be dealing with one bout of flu -- as opposed to FIVE over three weeks time! How easy to have met their needs!" But, in truth, there are other times when the older ones have come up with some fun plan or activity and the younger ones are all thrilled to be a part of it and they are all content and happy and together and entertained with out my having so much as lifted a finger, and I find myself not envying at all those who are in those first stages of one or two small ones, but finding my current life so much easier.

Still, that's simply the taking care of them -- physically and emotionally. And that is where I really can't say for certain that more has been (at least consistently) harder than less. I do worry about more in other ways -- ways that have become apparent only as they got older. There are simply more people whose lives matter VERY much that you are trying to balance. More people to help with homework, more people to teach alphabet letters to, more people to be reminded to practice instruments, more people to try and spend quality time connecting with each day, more people to have health problems and every other kind of problem. And that does worry me. I admit I do feel envious of those who can make sure that their two kids easily stay on top of everything for school, can focus on the needs of only a very few. However, part of me is willing to concede that maybe even there some trade offs exist -- maybe there are more problems for me to worry about -- but with more siblings, maybe there will be more support and help for each individual, etc.

Anyway, I don't really know. Somehow her comment just made me think about and evaluate child numbers and "easy verses hard" -- and it surprised me somewhat to discover that I couldn't clearly say that I found two to be any easier than my current five.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Spilt Milk

Today, after I had finally managed to get showered; get the load of laundry that needed drying switched over (and a new load started); when I had finally managed to feed lunch (shabby though it was) to my two little ones; and even get one tucked in bed for a nap; when I was just close enough to start thinking about how nice it was going to be -- in just a few more minutes now -- to sigh the contented sigh of things accomplished, sit totally still for a moment looking out at the chickens goofing around in my backyard, and eat some sort of little lunch myself; it was at that moment that Jesse said, "Please clean it, floor, Mommy," and I discovered that he had taken the two cups of milk that had been sitting on the counter and not just spilled or dumped, but hurled them across the kitchen.

The counter was covered, the stools were covered, the cups had rolled under the table -- leaving milky little trails in their wake, the sliding glass windows, the chair legs and the lower cupboards were all rather viciously splattered in milk.

I sighed. Not the sigh of content and a moment off my feet. No, not that sigh -- not the one I'd been looking forward to. Rather, a very different sigh as I sadly reminded Jesse (for the, perhaps, one billionth time) that we don't throw milk, that that makes mommy very sad and is a naughty thing to do. k

He said happily, "Sorry Mom." I wondered.

Anyway, I changed Jesse's diaper, retrieved monkey from the kitchen (luckily he had managed to escape most of the milk -- perhaps he knows Jesse well enough by now to know when to duck and when to hide), and put Jesse and old sock monkey up to bed.

Then, thinking longingly of the left over sweet and sour chicken in the fridge, and frowning slightly at the nice clean pants I had just put on, I got down on my hands and knees and began sopping up milk.

As I cleaned, however, it occurred to me that this wasn't so bad. It certainly wouldn't matter in a few weeks. Why, it wouldn't even matter in a few hours -- these moments lost to a task that shouldn't have needed doing.

As I rung the milk out of one towel and began getting another wet and soapy, as I crawled under the table to mop up splatters and reach the wayward cups, as I twisted stools this way and that to see if I'd missed any milk droplets; I remembered that there wasn't anything else that I really should be doing. Certainly many things seemed more vital -- more like they should be done, or even, had this not happened, could be done. Still, somehow I knew that cleaning up milk from all over the floor -- just like sweeping up shattered glass when I am just about to head us all out the door to church, or picking up the stepped on pieces of an entire box of cereal just dumped onto my freshly vacuumed carpet -- were part of what I signed up for when I took this road, when I decided to be a mother. I might not have realized it at the time -- I might have thought I was signing on more for snuggling, and cute little freshly bathed baby smell, and darling little mispronounced toddler words. I might have even recognized that I was signing on for teaching alphabet letters, and counting by tens; for explaining the gospel, and reading books. But, whether I realized it or not, I was also signing up for millions of throw-you-off-track side obstacles. Millions of things that seem to stop you from doing more important things. And somehow, for some reason, today I felt like that was OK. I felt like mopping up milk from all over my kitchen floor was part of my calling as a mother. That doesn't seem like much of a calling does it? But when I thought of it as part of the package, as part of the necessary business of raising these children, it seemed like -- well, exactly what I should be doing at that moment. It seemed like it wasn't wasted time. It seemed like a very small part of a very important and big thing.

The Family That Walks Together . . . Stays Together?

Is that how the saying goes? It sure seemed like how it should go when we headed off into the foothills above our house the other day. The melted snow fooled us into thinking that meant things would be dry. They weren't, and everyone was very muddy in the end. Muddy, but happy.

Mike and I think we found the rock that we sat on the night he proposed to me. It's tricky to tell what with houses now built up all around it, but we think it's the spot.

These two were off climbing up high rocks, down crumbly slopes and over discovered streams like busy little mountain goats the entire time.

Penny pausing to watch our local high school track team, who happened to be out practicing.

These cowboy boots were faithfully worn by our first three kids, but Penny had no interest at all in them until earlier this week -- when her cousins Reed and Layla showed up to play wearing similar boots. Now she is quite fond of them.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Late Night Thoughts

It is midnight, and I should certainly be asleep. Mike isn't home from work yet, however, and I find myself fiddling around -- reading this and that, looking up this and that. My mind feels splayed out in a thousand directions as if there are a million different thoughts my mind would like to focus on, but can't with so many clamoring for attention. I feel like I need to hold up my hand, call for silence and say, "Now. Start over. And one at a time please."

I seem to be on the verge of putting down some significant thought about kids and the feeling of contentedness I have when they are all tucked safely in bed and quiet for the night. Partly the feeling is maybe a selfish sigh of relief because I know I finally have a few hours to myself; nobody needing anything; but also it is just a feeling of good closure -- another day accomplished, my little ones all safe and sound and peaceful. I don't really know what else.

At the same time, my brain is pulling me in a totally different direction. I keep remembering a time in college when, right in the middle of a class, I became horribly and violently ill. I managed to stumble my way to the parking lot, somehow, and begin the drive home, but I felt rather like I might die. I recall thinking that I needed to just stop the car and lie on the side of the road, then realizing, in terror, that I would still feel no relief. I don't know what was wrong with me. Food poisoning? It came on so quickly and was so horrific. Somehow I made it home and to the bathroom, but then, before getting to the toilet, I began throwing up ridiculously. My younger sister Megan happened to be home at the time and came running to see what was going on. I stumbled about, clutching my stomach in terror and saying something about how I didn't know how to make it stop. Then, rather quickly again, the pain started to ebb and I was soon lying on my stomach on my parents' bed drained and shaking. Poor Megan. She must have been about 18 or 19, but she cleaned up all the throw up with out saying a word and then came and sat by me on the bed -- rubbing my back and shivering arms and saying something about reverse peristalsis and that of course my body was all out of whack and shaking after that amount of throwing up (it all seemed a perfectly understandable and soothing thing to comfort me with at the time as I was studying human biology and she was in the nursing program).

Why am I remembering that tonight? It is almost like my brain is firing off those impulses that somehow provide dreams, but I am not sleeping and letting it go about its dreaming business, so it is just shooting odd thoughts at me.

Well, as I finished typing that last paragraph, Jesse began to cry. I went up and gave him a little soothing pat, whispered shhhh, placed his blanket on again, and snuggled monkey closer to his face and he seems to be back to sleep. Still, getting up has shaken me from this delving into various pockets of thought, and has made me realize how sleepy I really am. So, I'm off to bed -- though not with out typing one small thing that tucking Jesse back in just reminded me of:

The other night Jesse was in bed, but was loudly and happily yelling/singing, "Letter BJ! Letter BJ!" over and over again. Neither Mike, nor I had the slightest clue what inspired this, but Abe was groaning about the its loudness, so Mike went up. I love to hear Mike talking to our kids in their rooms at night for some reason. First I heard, "Have you discovered a new letter? The letter BJ?" Jesse paused, then, dropping BJ in a flash and seizing upon the opportunity shouted, "Daddy!! I need a toy!" This then became his new yelling/chanting song, "I need a toy! I need a toy!" I didn't hear the rest, but it made me happy all the same. It also made me laugh when I got him from his crib this afternoon. There is a fire alarm dangling rather loosely from the ceiling in his room. I pulled it down a month ago when I was trying to stop its incessant beeping. Every time Jesse wakes, he looks up at it and tells me, "Dad can fix it." Dad, however, must be taking too long because this afternoon he looked at it and, with determination said, "Cubby can fix it." Cute little boy.

Anyway, goodnight all. I'm sure I'll read this in the morning and wonder just what I was playing at here with all this nonsense. At this hour however, it all seems perfectly sane.
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