Tuesday, August 26, 2014

{Birthday} Song for the 5th Child

An older lady friend of mine who has birthed and raised 9 children of her own has often shared lines with me from A Song for the 5th Child. This little poem has brought solace to my heart this past year as I mothered my 5th child.

I am not a poet and this is not intended to be a poem. It's simply an open letter that I am writing to Cassie on her first birthday which we celebrated on August 3.

My Dear and Darling Cassie Jo-

I never knew that 365 days could pass by so quickly.  While I'm still adjusting to the idea of adding a perfectly delicate little lady to our family tree I realize that it's time to celebrate your first birthday.

I never knew that I could survive 365+  nights in a row of interrupted sleep.

I didn't realize that  precious infants could demand an arm and a leg plus several toes from their parents. You were the most delightful little teacher.

I never knew how much I would actually love waking up with you in my arms after  falling asleep  during your many night time feeds.

I never thought I would wipe your nose on your pretty blanket and then keep right on using it. Thanks for being ok with it.

I never thought my house would be this messy or this disorganized.

I never planned to let the spiders take over the basement.

I never knew how much I loved rocking you until the day I laid you in your crib for the first time and softly patted your back until your eyelids drooped shut.

The next day I rocked you again.

I never thought your first birthday would come so quickly.

I didn't anticipate that we would be  hosting your grandparents for the week and that I would be so tired of preparing food that I wouldn't even want to think about a birthday cake.

I never thought you would be sick and miserable for a week before and after your birthday.

I never thought that I wouldn't have birthday party planned or no guests invited or no cake  at least planned in my head the morning of your birthday.

I never thought that I would allow your siblings to wrap your garage sale present in newspaper.

I didn't know how happy it would make me feel to see your older siblings so excited about doting all over you for the day.

I never knew that I would just want to lie in bed with you on the morning of your birthday and remember....just remember all the little details of your birth day. Remember the joy. All the delight.
All the happiness. All the hard. The tough. The days that I thought you and I might just both lose our minds.

And I never thought that the lying there and remembering would be my personal highlight of your first birthday.

You've taught me far more in these last 365 days than what I could possibly hope to mention at present.

You've rearranged my priorities.

You've broken me. 

You've humbled me.

You've made me fiercely proud.

You've softened my heart.

I love you!!!

So special to celebrate with Grandma

Thursday, July 31, 2014

That moment...

...when your baby toddles away from you for the first time.

And you know. You just know. This is just the first little peepy step in letting her go....allowing her to become the lovely lady that Jesus has created her to be....allowing her to follow him to perhaps the furthest {and maybe most dangerous} parts of the earth. Trusting her into the hands of her heavenly Father.

My children are young and I am called to watch over them with diligence today. But slowly I know that I need to be releasing them into what feels like a cruel and dangerous world. I feel like I know nothing about this process and frankly-- it scares me to death.

I'm scared of the kind of mom I might be to my teenagers.....

will I be fearful and controlling???


Will I be able to trust the One who has created and called each one of them by name?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

just half a day in the life of a mom


Josh and Christopher pumped up balloons with a small air pump and sent them flying around the house. {UFO followed by a jet stream of spit}

Before breakfast the boys moved all the furniture around in the living room in order to create an indoor volley ball court.

The almost one year old dumped a bowl of cooked oatmeal on her head. {outfit #3 coming right up for the day}

The neighbor girl keeps bopping in to ask if it is play time yet. "NOOOOOOOOO……. For Pete's sake….it's not even 12:30!!!!!"

Christopher got stung in the ear…..of all places. He's walking around looking like a lopsided Dumbo.
Angeline and Christopher were both victimized by a spherical hurled by my second born.

A  fight broke out at noon over…..get this….a bag of chips!!!!!!!!!

Someone was biting into the raw potatoes that I just dug to use for dinner that I am preparing for a friend.

There are 7 kids….wait….I mean…. 8 kids running around this yard that need some supervision. Actually, there are 9 counting myself.

There are smashed chips, bikes, strollers, balls, tennis rackets strewn all over the driveway.

I couldn't even carry a conversation with a good friend when I phoned her a few minutes ago.

And now my kids are biking all over the neighborhood without my permission.  Oh… and there are about 5 disputes going on around me about who is riding which bike.

I wonder when I'll get my ironing done? And what about that dress I started sewing yesterday?

 It's 12:45 pm.

Dear Lord……

I am so tired.

Please strengthen me for this hour.

Mr. Lopsided Dumbo
Miss Oatmeal Head (now I know how to make glue)
Ultimate Stress Reliever: look at your naughty child through a tennis racket and think prison bars. It works. You'll be laughing before you know what hit you. Especially if your kid happens to play along with the game like this guy!!!

Peace out, folks.....from the mom with the glazed gaze...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

a beautiful non-traditional flowerbed

I am passionate about urban living even though I do not consider my current living accommodations to be exactly urban.

I love cities.

I especially love when I see the creativity of urban dwellers to bring color and vegetation into their mostly greyish cement world. I am inspired as I observe how city folks utilize and maximize their small spaces.

I recently noticed a glorious burst of color on an early morning walk in my neighborhood.

 I thought this was such a clever way to use that thin strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street.

I felt like sitting down right there on the sidewalk to bask in the beautiful colors. Instead I snapped a few pictures.
It is just not true that you have to give up all love of gardening to live in the city. You only need to think outside of that 5 acre garden you have out in your back yard.
I'm still listening and learning and reading and full of lots of  crazy ideas when it comes to urban gardening.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Summer Snack

This summer with all the kids being home all day long and with all their hyper active activities it seems that I am CONSTANTLY either shopping for or preparing or serving food.

The latest big hit around here has been "chocolate-drizzled-frozen-banana-chips". I just made up that name, but I think it's a good name because it perfectly describes all that there is to describe about this particular snack.

This snack is very simple to prepare and  also promises to satisfy a growling stomach for at least 20 minutes.

This is how we prepare our "Chocolate-drizzled-frozen-banana-chips"

-slice bananas
-arrange on flat serving dish
-drizzle with chocolate (we use store bought chocolate syrup)
-pop into the freezer for about 1 hr.
-pop out of the freezer

*if you allow the bananas to completely thaw they will become a mush pile. They are at their best about 5 minutes after you take them from the freezer.

"YES!!!!!!! Snack time!!!!!!!!"

Chocolate Drizzled Frozen Banana Chips = happy smiles

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer Routines

Summer is here and speeding right along.

We're all fairly well adjusted to being together, all 6 of us, for every waking moment of every day.

We're enjoying the quieter mornings without the school rush.

Ittsy girl loves having the big siblings here to tote her around and push her on the swing.

It rewarding to see my older kids taking on more responsibilities around the house.

Our days and our routines are really going more smoothly than I expected. {thank you Jesus!}

Speaking of routines....

Am I the only one who begins each season with high hopes and cool charts and boatloads of fun ideas only to slowly lose steam with each passing day?

We're slacking on the chore chart a bit these days.

And the exercise routine has ramped itself down a little.

Actually, I'm not upset about where we are with our routines yet.

I think we've settled into a healthy and realistic version of my idealized routines. I am actually writing this post to prevent me (and the kids) from slumping into total laziness in the next 2 months. This really is a pep talk to myself.

Here's a peak into some of our daily routines:

Angeline (9), Nicholas (8) and Joshua (6) are taking turns with preparing and serving lunch.  This actually requires some fairly serious oversight from me most days. They are enjoying the process of choosing and preparing the menu. Our menus are very simple. Some of our mainstays are hot dogs, mini pizzas, mac and cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, apples, fresh veggies and pretzels. The kids love working with refrigerator biscuits and we've found many creative ways to use them.

Angeline (9) folds the laundry

Angeline, Nicholas and Josh each take turns babysitting Cassie for 20 min. at a time. They also take turns entertaining Christopher (3).

Angeline, Nicholas, Joshua are on a rotating schedule for kitchen duty. This basically includes setting the dinner table and helping with clean up afterwards.

Every afternoon I enforce a 1 hour quiet time. Acceptable quiet time activities include reading, drawing, listening to audio books and of course, sleeping.

Besides our quiet time, the rest of the afternoon is often spent playing with the neighbor kids  or general free time. Activities include anything from 10 kids splashing in a small wading pool to high intensity backyard baseball games. Life is never dull around here.

Here are some of our weekly routines:

Nicholas is in charge of lawn care. He does 95% of the mowing.

On Thursday we clean the upstairs. The children are responsible for cleaning their own bedrooms.

Angeline and Nicholas wash up the kitchen and dining room floors.

Nicholas empties the trash twice a week.

They all take turns vacuuming the carpet.

The boys clean up the garage and basement.

Angeline is responsible for cleaning out the van.
The boys weed and water the garden. (It is very small, but I still help them with it....mostly because I enjoy gardening)

We all exercise for a half hour (2x/ week) We have several local bike trails that we frequent often. Sometimes we simply traipse down to the vacant parking lot right near our house where we can bike, walk, board, blade etc.

We all look forward to library time once a week. Library time is much more enjoyable for me as mom since we decided to opt out of our local library's summer reading program this year. It's a great program, but it got to be a bit over the edge stressful for me to walk 4 different kids through the loops and stamps and prizes. I replaced the library's program with my own program this year. It's been a good and appropriate change for our family.

This all sounds nice and tidy as I read over our summer routines.

And I chuckle to myself.

Truth is...

The boys run away and hide when it comes time to clean the basement. Angeline tries to hurry through the laundry and sometimes I can't tell if it has been folded or not. My boys fight with the neighbor boys. I can't seem to get Cassie's nap time coordinated with the older kid's quiet time for the life in me. Sometimes dirty cereal bowls from breakfast are still on the table at lunch time. Sometimes the librarian has to help the 3 yr. old check out his books (Our librarians are the best!!) because I'm chasing after that fast moving 10 month old. Sometimes we get to the store and realize that the 8 (!!!!) year old forgot to wear shoes.  Sometimes there is NO peace and NO quiet and I feel like I'm going to go crazy.

Truth is, I love to break out of our routines and have fun on a fairly regular basis. Maybe I should add  unexpected fun into our list of daily routines.

These routines, practiced with flexibility, are what keep us sane in this household.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

CONSECRATED {Not a mite would I with hold}

Take my life and let it be
consecrated Lord to Thee
Take my moments and my days
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
at the impulse of Thy love
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee
Take my voice and let me sing
Always only for my King
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee
Take my silver and my gold
Not a mite would I with hold
Take my intellect and use every power
as Thou shalt choose.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour
at Thy feet its treasures store
Take myself and I will be
ever ONLY ALL for THEE.
-frances r. havergal