Saturday, July 20, 2013

Moving On

It's time.
Time to move.
We're running out of bunk bed space.  Perhaps someone will buy our cute little house, someone with fewer children.
So we're doing what anyone logically would.  We waited till I'm 8 months pregnant, and put the house on the market.

Take a bigger bite of life whydoncha?!?

So in between cleaning house so complete strangers can judge my homemaking skills, and Braxton Hicks contractions, and prepping for the homeschool year which will be starting in a couple weeks for us, I've decided to start a new blog.
Why not?  I was getting bored.

It's a process.  But it's also a great excuse to sit down (and learn computer codes, yay).  While I figure it out and put my feet up, feel free to drop by the new site.  It's a work in progress.  But it should be more of the same brilliance that oozes out of this one :)  Please bear with my mommy brain and come visit it.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Partridge in the Pear Tree, baby edition

This version could be more aptly named
The Stork in the Family Tree...

In the first month of pregnancy, my true love said to me,
Let's have a baby; how hard can it be??

In the second month of pregnancy, my true love said to me,
I'll watch the kids and give you two free hours to sleep in.

In the third month of pregnancy, my true love said to me,
You threw up three times in front of your mother in law?!?

In the fourth month of pregnancy, my true love said to me,
I've gone through four baskets of dirty laundry and I still have no pants...?

In the fifth month of pregnancy, my true love said to me,
The ultrasound says it's our FIFTH GOLDEN-HAIRED BOY!
... Four baskets of laundry
... Three hurlings
... Two free hours of sleep
... Let's have a baby; how hard can it be?

In the sixth month of pregnancy, my true love said to me,
You started a garden, cleaned my car, and painted the bathroom; I wish this would last!

In the seventh month of pregnancy, my true love said to me,
We need a bigger house, new car, more bunk beds, and a lot more money!

In the eighth month of pregnancy, my true love said to me,
Do you know how Jonah's whale felt now?

In the ninth month of pregnancy, my true love said to me,
What were we thinking?!?

... Eight ton pregnant whale
... Seven panicked minutes
... Six month pregnancy glow
... Four baskets of laundry
... Three hurlings
... Two free hours of sleep
... Let's have a baby, how hard can it be??

The directions don't say how to fit two sets of bunk beds and a crib in this room...

Monday, July 8, 2013


A car seat advertisement on the baby website claimed, "Nothing is more important that your child's safety."
That's a good selling point.
What kind of mother could disagree with that statement?

... Timid hand raised.

Wait.  Don't call DHHS on me just yet.  Please.  It's not that we overlook safety.  On the contrary; I've spent enough money on car seats in the past seven years to fund a new car.  (Which is why I drive a rusty clunker that needs new tires and air conditioning.)  The two year old has had a video monitor trained over his crib since his first day home; we can watch him breathe in his sleep.  The boys know not to accept anything from a stranger.  There are permanent imprints of baby gates throughout the house; outlet covers, a set temperature on the water heater; even the Oreos are safely out of reach so the kids don't suffer a sugar crash.
They are covered by insurance and fancy band aids.  Their finger nails are clipped, their meat is well cooked, most wasp nests have been eradicated from the property, they don't eat yellow snow.

But, really, if safety was paramount, my kids would live in a bubble.  They wouldn't need car seats, because it certainly isn't safe to take them for a ride in a car.  Their atmosphere would never be too hot or cold, their air would always be pure, their home would be always be clean and free of paint, germs, and spiders.  They wouldn't eat vegetables grown in, gasp, dirt.  Or eggs that come from the bottom side of a chicken.  Or play with germy other kids.  Ever.
Their milk would be ultra pasteurized, their toothbrushes super sterilized; they wouldn't have snotty little brothers.

"Mom," a shrill voice calls from the living room where the three that are too old to nap are supposed to be all cuddled up together watching the Backyardigans while I blog, "Mom, he's breathing on me!"
"What would you rather he do?"  I holler back absently.
"Make him stop!"
"I don't think I can do that, Honey."
"But I'll get germs!"
I snicker.  "He's a little boy, Son.  They're called cooties."
Whomp.  A pillow hits its target.  An even shriller voice screeches.  Big brother took matters into his own hands, apparently.  I hear the muffled voice of little brother under the pillow.  Big brother gets kicked in the ribs.  Other brother jumps on top of the pile, because he can.  They scuffle.  I ignore them until somebody gets mad, then appear in all my big mommy authority and turn off their show.  They whine.  They get sent outside to play in the dirt.
Crisis averted.

The day that Solomon was crowned king of Israel, his aging father David gave him a command.
Be strong, and prove yourself a man.
I just read that the Knox version of 1 Kings 2 renders it, "Play the man, Son."
He was probably a teenager, as young as 12, no older than 20.  He hadn't known that morning when he rolled, tousled and sleepy, out of bed, that he would be sitting on his father's throne by afternoon.  But a rebellious older brother had gone out and tried to nab the monarchy for himself.  If David hadn't acted quickly, Solomon would have been conveniently killed by evening.  Instead, the crown was placed above the cowlick on his head.
Israel was at its zenith, peaceful, strong, and prosperous.  Suddenly, it was on his bony shoulders to keep it that way.
David's strongest mighty men of war would fight and die at his command.
Priests and prophets would come to him first with the words of God.
Faraway kings would tremble when they heard of his laws.
Beautiful women would swoon in his presence.
Anything he desired, he could have.
Everything he saw was his to protect.
It was a big day.  First, a death sentence, then the monarchy.  He would have wished he had shaved that morning, if he'd had anything of substance to take a razor to.  The eyes of the nation peered up at him, cheering for him, placing their hope in him.  His mother watched him from a corner of the throne room.
A tear trickled down her still-smooth cheek.  No longer could she protect him from either hate or adoration from the world.  Just yesterday, after an hour studying history from the books of Moses, she'd watched him run out to kick a ball in the courtyard with the other boys.  Ruddy, carefree, a dark scab on his elbow where he'd bashed it in the dirt a week before, he'd blushed when a few servant girls wandered by the game, giggling and whispering.  Females would be his undoing, if he wasn't careful.  She thought ruefully of her own marriage with the old king.  It was a lonely existence to be one of the conquests of a great ruler, no matter how much his eyes lit up when he saw you.  She hoped she'd gotten through to her son the beauty of what a loving marriage could be.
She clenched her fists.  There was so much he still needed to know!  He was so young!  So much evil he would encounter!  Such big decisions would rest in his hands!
With a great sigh, the queen mother relaxed her hands.  This child - her child - was a man today.  He must be.  He would enjoy great happiness.  He would suffer much pain.  She still had some influence on him, true.  She hoped he wouldn't suddenly be too grown up to let her kiss his cheek.  Even if she had to stand on tip toe to reach.
But she must let go.  There were bigger things than his safety now.  Today, she could not play the mother hen.  She would stand back.  She would watch him be stung.  She would watch him reel under the responsibility.  She would watch him do wrong.  But she would see him also make hard decisions and be right.  She would be proud of him.
She already was.      
"Play the man, son" she whisperingly echoed his father as she looked at his thin form sitting tall on the great throne.                
"Play the man."
She she stepped back into the shadows of the great throne room.
And God took over.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Margins of Blessing

Sometimes, this bearing and raising of boys is tiring.  Sometimes.  Sometimes the four year old drops a dozen eggs on the floor the day we get them from a friend's backyard chickens.  Sometimes the five year old digs holes in the lawn and fills them with gravel from the driveway - in the pouring rain.  Sometimes I have to fight to convince well-meaning folks that this whole bearing and raising of boys is a blessing, even when I'm tired of doing it myself.
Because sometimes I am tired.
But always, always, I know I am blessed.  Always.

The baby in my stretching tummy is around 32 weeks old now.  He kicks and wiggles and hiccups.  His brothers can feel him moving; they delight in the fact he'll push back when they lay a hand against my shirt.
This pregnancy has been boring compared to the last one, 2 and a half years ago now.  That baby didn't kick so much.  We didn't know what his life would be like after he emerged into daylight for the first time.  No one could say if his body would function or if his brain would work.  The second half of his pregnancy was full of ultrasounds and meetings with specialists.  The first weeks of his life were busy with back and brain surgeries, MRIs and testing, and lots of interaction with doctors with strings of letters after their names.

Comparatively, this pregnancy has been dull.  The only issue has been the placenta growing low on the uterus.  Usually, it plugs in higher up, safely out of the way.  This placenta isn't blocking the exit, but it's right at the door at the bottom.  They say I have marginal placenta previa.

I've been hoping to avoid a c-section.  I've been through natural labor and birth three times and had a surgically-removed baby once.  Having major abdominal surgery means a long recovery time.  After a c-section, I won't be doing much cooking or cleaning or driving.  And I won't be able to pick up my little two and a half year old - the one who can't stand, or walk, or climb.  (At least not yet.)

(Disclaimer: this picture is actually from my pregnancy with Ben.  There are none yet of me currently with child... But you get the idea.)

Sometimes I think the doctors believe I'm crazy for wanting another baby after having one with disabilities (and after having 3 kids before that.)  Sometimes I'm convinced they just want the easiest option for them, forgetting (or not knowing) the blessing of these children.  They subtly recommend abortion if the fetus appears to have complications.  They mention often the option of tying my tubes so as to avoid any risk in the future.  They push to plan a c-section since I had one the last time.  Sometimes, I disagree with these intelligent and capable people who've studied birth and babies for many more years than I even attended school in total.  Sometimes.

They said this week that they want to schedule an early c-section (when the baby's around 37 weeks' big.)  They want to do an amniocentesis before it, to check the baby's lung development.  And I know there's a risk, if I go into labor, that the placenta could separate from the wall it's attached to.  If the bleeding from it was significant, it could be deadly.  But that risk is slight, considering the position of the placenta.  The hospital is minutes from my house.  I've gotten a bit more used to doctors giving me worst case scenario in the past couple years, no matter how slight the risk.
But sometimes, I don't know what to do.

I know only one thing that always works.
Would you pray with me?

Pray that as the uterus grows larger that the placenta would be pulled up and further out of the way so that bleeding won't be a concern.
Pray that I would be wise to decide if a c-section is necessary.  There is pressure to agree to it, but if it's not necessary, it doesn't seem advantageous to me in the long run.  

It's a little thing, in some ways.  Good doctors have perfected ways to get a baby out safely.  I am so thankful.  I also know that much of the time, babies have popped out au natural and healthy, and have for thousands of years.  I want to do what is best.  

But I could always use a little prayer.  Help!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Death and Taxes

It was breezy, hazy under the new summer sun.
The water sparkled, gulls called shares greedily when they spied a fisherman, the rumble of small motors echoed over the expanse of the bay.  I inhaled the fishy smell of the dock and peered up at my husband over the two year old's warm blonde head.
A sharp intake of breath beside me made my spine straighten.
"I got one!"  The seven year old gasped unbelievingly.  He jerked on the line; the pole bent against sudden tension.  He started to reel in quickly, prancing in a rather ungentlemanly excited jig.  "I got my first fish!"
Daddy laid a big hand on the small quivering shoulder.  "Ok, ok.  Slow down.  Steady."  
Gavin focused.  He cranked the handle methodically.  We watched for the flash of scales beneath the dark ocean.  
Suddenly the water parted in perfect shimmering circles.  A very unwilling fish broke the surface.  It hung, suspended, dripping, from the monofilament line.  A seagull wheeled overhead, nasally voicing approval.  Father bent over son and held the squirming fish so young fingers could extract the hook.  And there it was.  Flopping, ungainly, silver scales foreign against the worn paint of the dock.  Gasping silently.  Fish don't cry.

The two year old pulled back against me, uncertain.  Everyone was so excited.  But he watched wide-eyed.  Witness to something new - the first death.  Is this right Mom?

They took the catch to the beach.  Gutted, cleaned.  Then to the kitchen.  Fried in butter, salt.  Consumed proudly.  Full of fresh protein, boys raced off to the sand to dig holes for the tide to find.  Ben pulled himself over to the window to watch a moth trapped on the wrong side of the clear pane.  He reached for it.  "Butta-fwy!"  The crumpled insect left a dusty trail against the glass.  Little conqueror had vanquished his conquest.  He poked at the lifeless wings, then looked up at me innocently.  "Mom, hewp it."
"Ok."  I quietly scooped up the remainder of the bug and flipped it quickly out the door into a bush.  "Ok, bug's outside."
Satisfied, he pulled himself under the table to get a kiss from grandma's little dog; the moth's sudden demise was dismissed.

Reeling 'em in.

In the New Living Translation, Psalm 29 calls us "heavenly beings."  We are "sons of God."  The "real" part of us isn't from around here.  It hails from heaven.  It is eternal.  Forever young.  Death to a soul is a foreign concept.  Souls don't end.

And yet we're in these bodies that degrade with time.  My two year old doesn't know that yet; he's still discovering how much this limited body can do.  It's all exciting.
It can feel kitten fur.
It can move fast.
It can taste ice cream.
It can feel the exhilaration of a mud puddle, the warmth of a deep bath.
It can interact with other bodies, and tickle and laugh and snuggle.
He doesn't know how much it can't do yet.  And I don't mean just because he has a wheelchair or can't feel his toes.

Perhaps he just chalks up pain and physical failures to immaturity or the fact that mom wasn't there to be an extension of his limbs.  He doesn't know his body's not invincible.  It's not like his soul.  I don't think he understands mortality.  He's so busy living that death doesn't have any weight yet.

I hope I am never too comfortable with death.
Video games perpetuate it.
Movies glorify it.
Even newspapers dull my senses to its commonness.
But it doesn't mean I should ever just accept it.  Death, sin, taxes, degradation and dirt are part of earthly existence, but our actual existence is so much deeper, longer, more purposeful...  I hope I always question, humbly, like my toddler, "Is this right?"  

Oh, I'll still kill ants with abandon if (ok, when) they dare cross the threshold of my kitchen.  And spiders...  But they don't have souls.  They were made for this world, and to the dust of it they return (or at least to the depths of my trash can.)  And if I can get my manly little sons to do the deed, believe you me, I will.  Death is a natural part of reality.  For now.  But we won't always live in the "now".  We'll live in eternity, where there will be no blood, no pain, no fear.  No death.  

A wise man once realized he had desires that nothing in this world could satisfy.  He concluded that he must have been ultimately made for a different world.  He was C.S. Lewis, a staunch atheist, who lived through World War II.  Eventually though, he turned to Jesus, the Heavenly Man, to fill that hole.  Nothing else would.

We're not from around here.
I've gotta remember that.

But I'll certainly enjoy the fresh meat while I am here.  This physical body should eat well as long as I have sons around.  There are certainly worse things about being mortal.

Proud little mortals.