Friday, December 21, 2012

No 'easy' button

Parenting is something you chip away at, gradually, bit by bit.  You say the same thing a thousand times, not knowing if you are making any impact. 

Obey and be kind.  Obey and be kind.  These are the rules, especially for the little ones, obey and be kind.  Hold up two fat sticky fingers and say it, obey and be kind.

Say the verse, Ephesians 4:32, and be ye kind, one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you.


Breaking up skirmishes, emotional, hormonal, physical.  (Yesterday I commented under my breath that we have enough hormones here to power a space rocket.  Oldest son, near enough to hear, responded, "I don't think it works that way, Mom."). Over a toy, over a comment or a facial expression or a tone of voice.

Unforgiveness lays a foundation for an explosion, should anyone grieviously make a repeat error, let alone an oft repeated error.

And yet.

I'm chipping away.  Obey and be kind.  Kindness!  Ephesians 4:32.

Yesterday I took all 13 children to the oldest 3's Christmas party for their 'school' (not really a school, supplimental thing). There was food to be eaten, socializing to do, and there were games to be played, games for high school homeschoolers.  Big kids.  And my smaller people were feeling left out.  (not the babies, they were doing acrobatics in the middle of the floor)

And without a negative breath or look, the older sibs pulled the smalls in.  They were kind.  So kind. 

My battles have not been for naught.  My daily instruction bore some fruit.  After all the at home training, we passed the test.

Kindness.  There's no easy button.  But sometimes ...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

99 presents for kids 'neath the tree

99 presents for kids
Take one down and pass it around
99 presents for kids 'neath the tree

Well, actually there are 92, but who's counting?

I am. This is another one of those things that is hard for people to imagine, how do you do Christmas with 13 kids. It has not always been this way, and will probably continue to evolve, but for the last couple years, here is how we do it.

We have a budget. We spend a little more on the bigs and a little less on the smalls and basically nothing on the baby.

And we make a list and put it in a spreadsheet, everything we buy, price, shipping info, who it's for, etc. After making sure everybody will open pretty much the same number of things and with pretty much the same amount of happiness, we then sort them by gift, alphabetically.

Then we tweak it. We send everyone's "main present" to the end and make sure the small people don't go too long without something to unwrap.

Finally, we number them.

Each child had another child to help choose a gift for, and they got to wrap their person's presents, to what ever degree they were capable of doing so. (I'm pretty sure Fifth Daughter already told Third Daughter what she got her.) Once wrapped, each gift gets only a number. No names.

That keeps everyone guessing the whole time. And it's fun.

So that's how we do it. It's a little ocd, I admit, but it's a great game.

That's how we do the present thing. I think we will do stockings, then breakfast, then Christmas story and gifts after breakfast. Breakfast is home made egg mcmuffins this year - good enough to eat even with a sock full of candy in front of you.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Where is God?

Our nation is grieving.  26 lives lost.  Most of them young children.  I, like many, looked tonight at the sons and daughters I have in that age group and thought about the moms and dads who don't have their child that age because a crazy guy with a gun shot them at school today. 

I was reading the 1st article that popped up in response to my google search and throughout the 5 or so pages of it, there were several highlighted links that I could click that led to other related stories.  One of them was something like, 'the nation wonders where God is'.

As I was praying tonight and telling Him of my sorrow, I was thinking of the verse in Jeremiah (31:15 I think) about Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because they were no more.  That's how my heart feels.  There is no comfort, no hope.  There are Christmas presents bought for children who won't wake up Christmas morning.  Empty arms, hearts in a rage, where is God?

He is grieving.  Like He does every day when innocent blood is shed.  We are killing them off by the millions.  The difference between these 26 and the children we abort daily is that these children were wanted by their parents.  But the children we abort were wanted and designed and planned for by God.  He loves them, loves the 26, loves the Israelis and Palestinians, civilians and soldiers, who are dying.  Those in Syria and North Korea being tortured and murdered by their own government, and those doing the murdering, He loves them.

People usually don't care for the idea of a God who would send people to hell.  But on a day like today, we want Him to be just and punish the wicked.  Problem is, that's all of us.  There is none righteous.  No, not one.

God hates the shedding of innocent blood.  And yet He caused His Son's innocent blood to be spilt as a ransom for many.

Jesus wept at Lazarus' tomb, though He knew He was about to heal him.  I believe He weeps today.  But I think we need the perspective that He also grieves the lives we take with our own hands through abortion and call it freedom and women's rights and reproductive health.  We would be absolutely horrified if a so-called doctor did to one of our children, or 26 of our children, or thousands of our children what is done systematically, daily, for lots of money to these pre-born but unique and special and wonderfully knit by their Creator God children.

That's where God is.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Blogger on the run

I have just uploaded the mobile version of blogger, which means, good news for you, I can now blog while sitting on the john, or nursing, or riding in the van (none of which I am doing right now).  In fact I am sitting in front of my husband's cushy desktop computer, the one I'm barely allowed to look at, and it is turned off, so I can try out this new thing. 

The real beauty is that I think it will be easy to put up pictures, poorly taken by me with my phone also (I honestly thought the whole camera-on-the-cell-phone concept was superlatively stupid in the beginning, like trying to sell bottled water) so that will be fun too.

Anyway, happy Friday.  Although I was pretty sure yesterday was Friday.  Yesterday I started off on a Jesus high, stayed there for most of the day until son #3 broke my heart by asking me if A) he will be required to do school and chores on his birthday, at the end of March and, when I said yes, but that he can work ahead so it's a free day - not new information - he asked B) what would happen if he didn't get it done. 

Now that might not sound heartbreaking to you, but what I heard was this:  I am planning to have a bad attitude and be rebellious and disobedient 2.5 months in advance and I would rather think about how awful you are as a mom than about how I can get my stuff done early and take my birthday off, this from a boy who is usually done before lunch and frustrated that everyone else still has work to do. 

It's the sullenness and the repetition that gets me.  Anyway, hours later, my good mood blown, several other issues later, husband not home from work, feeling unsupported and quite sorry for myself, same kid asks how I'm doing, I tell him.  He gives me a phenomenal hug and says, Mom, maybe you should pray.  And I do.  And it doesn't all go away, but there was Jesus and grace to finish the day.

P.S.  experiencing technical difficulties with the photo thing, but I'll figure it out.  And yes, my right thumb is numb from text typing a whole blog post.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Looking forward

Maybe everybody's like this. I don't know. I'm just me. So I can only speak with certainty about me. And me, I, am like this: I like to look ahead.

I have lived my memorable life this way. Getting through *whatever* for the sake of the carrot. I even set myself up for this artificially. I can have a steamer in the evening (cup of hot milk with artificially sweetened creamer in it) if I eat and drink appropriately the rest of the day. I am going to eat healthy until such-and-such a day then party till I puke, or wish I could.

It's not just an eating thing. Vacations, date nights, parties, Christmas!!! We (it is we, right, not just me?) live for what's ahead.

So here we are in the whir of the holiday season. We call it the holiday season because there is a cluster of big ones all together. We celebrate Thanksgiving, which is mostly about family and eating and football. Then before we get ourselves really back in order, or even unpacked, in my case, we start celebrating Christmas, which is about Jesus and/or the fat man and shopping and eating and friends and family and presents and movies and music and candy and decorations and trees and maybe snow or maybe not. And immediately, before we have a chance to return the stomach pump we rented and the ugly sweaters we'll say just didn't fit, it's time to celebrate the new year, which is about getting a new calendar and staying up abnormally late and watching horrible tv and drinking and kissing and a big red ball or apple or something dropping in New York and Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest and resolutions and fresh starts and Barry Manilow and Auld Lang Syne, whatever that means. Most of us don't even try to be productive between those two holidays.

Looking ahead is certainly part of our culture, if not the human experience. And I'm bad about it. I NEED something to look forward to. It's one of the reasons I enjoy being pregnant. I look forward to my appointments (yes I really do, maybe because I get to leave the house, mostly alone, and listen to anything I want on the radio), and I love counting down the days till I get to meet my new human.

Part of post-partum depression is that our whole lives are focused on this build up of anticipation and then it happens, either the way we thought it would, or not, and we are left with sleep deprivation, a needy human, some overwhelmedness at the flowing of bodily fluids everywhere, and Absolutely Nothing To Look Forward To, because we're never leaving the house again.

So I'm a pretty happy camper right now, with so much to look forward to. I have special dates on the calendar, special treats to make and eat, and special treasures I have specially selected for the most special people in my world. I can't wait to see their faces. Isn't that special?

And this morning when I got up to pray, I was thinking about how good it was to have coffee with my friend last night, and mentally reviewing the calendar, scanning forward to the next thing.

And I felt the Lord say, very clearly, 'I want to be what you look forward to'.


So I went to pray. And I was singing. Frankly, a lot of my praying is singing. Jesus likes that about me. And the song in my heart was by my friend Alyssa Berwick, who reminds me of me 20 years ago except that she is eversomuch better at all of it. Here are the words, but you'd really have to hear it.

You are worthy, You are worthy
You are worthy to be praised
Oh Jesus, You are worthy

Jesus Your blood ran red
Jesus Your blood ran down
Jesus Your blood was shed for the sins of the whole world

Now we've got joy never-ending because we've been forgiven
We've got life everlasting and all of our healing
We've got peace like a river flowing from heaven
You've made us free

And it's a great song. I already loved that song, now it's my anthem. But I have to say, it wasn't the song so much as it was the God-Man Jesus. He flooded my space. I could have jumped, I could have laughed, I could have danced all night. He is simply more wonderful and awesome and able and worthy than I can fathom.

And I just have to say, I am looking forward to every second I get to be with Him today. I am excited about this Jesus and everything He is saying and everything He is doing and going to do and has done. In Him was life and the life was the light of the world, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father. (from John 1)

Now, what are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Grown-up Christmas List

If you have some extra cash in your budget, here's what to get me.

Actually, if you really have extra cash, I know some missionaries who could use a little extra to get to Indonesia, go to, and I know of several little cuties that could use some help coming home to their new families, go to or or

Now, back to joking.

I would like, first and foremost, for my children to be kind to each other for the whole day. Every day. For the rest of their lives.

I would love for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to be free of technology. Smart phones, iPads, laptops, e-mails, facebook and are all things that will make my Christmas less merry.

A Jaguar. Dark green.

Christmas dishes to serve my whole family. I have 8 plates that are white (ivory-ish) with blue snowflakes and service for 4 (cups, bowls, saucers, plates) of another blue and white snowflake pattern. That makes 12. I have 15 people living in my house, so I would love at least another 3. It would be great to have lots more, some of them plastic. You don't have to buy these for me. Just tell me if you see them somewhere.

And in the name of family dining, I would also enjoy the following: a dining room table that seats 20 or so, new silverware that matches and serves 40 or so, a kitchen/dining room floor that doesn't double as a puzzle on a rainy day, and a nice set of non-Christmas dishes, plates, bowls, saucers and cups, that feed 40 or so, are beautiful, not breakable, microwavable, dishwashable, and come equipped with a homing beacon so that they are never lost under furniture, in the yard, at other peoples' houses, or in the van. Oh, and drawers. I would like the drawers in my kitchen to work. That's all.

An adequate storage system for all of my daughters' crap. Like maybe a warehouse, underground, with an elevator, similar to the one in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And speaking of that factory . . .

Chocolate! Without sugar or carbs that is free and doesn't give me a bellyache or diarrhea.

I would like to have an operational recording studio set up in my house. Just a decent microphone, boom stand, appropriate wiring for my keyboard and the necessary technology on a computer that can keep up. Operational is the key here.

My laundry room could use an overhaul, including several additional square feet. We now have 10 relatively capable laundry helpers, each with a laundry bin of stuff to put away daily, but not really space to set the bins all out while sorting. Maybe some kind of rack to put them all on would be sufficient. Ideas. I need ideas.

A coat that keeps me warm, isn't bulky, and doesn't make me look like something big and round.

Speaking of round-ness, I would like to somehow have the ability to lap swim every other day or so. This means I either need one of those lap swimming mini-pools, or better, a full sized indoor swimming pool, 25 meters preferably - which would probably require moving, or a membership to the Y and time to go. The trick with this is, of course, the nursing baby. My husband is sort of quirky about me leaving a nursing baby at home, in that, if baby gets hungry, Daddy will feed him. Weird. And, over the long haul, that will likely lead to early weaning, which is not on my Christmas or birthday list.

More babies. Twins, a boy and a girl. Or a handful to adopt. Or both.

For all my humans to really know Jesus.

A truckload of discipline and self control, in 3 hour portions preferably, able to be stored at room temperature in childproof packages. Better yet, another truckload of child sized portions of the same, except in patch form.

A big bottle of Bailey's Irish Creme with no calories or sugar or alcohol.

The recipes for several different kinds of meals that are all easy to make, healthy for all bodies, delicious to eat and wonderfully inexpensive.

For my dog to stop pooping when he is left alone in the house.

Time. Time to read all the books I've been stock piling. Time to write a book (and the wisdom to know what to say). Time to spend with each of my treasures before they slip through my fingers, hopefully safely in the Lord's faithful hands. Time to go all the places I need to go and do all the things I need to do without stressing my husband and older children out or neglecting my younger children. Time to write the songs still in my heart and half recorded on my phone.

Several comfortable and supportive upper undergarments, both nursing and otherwise.

Is that so much to ask?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Annual Annoying Christmas Song Rant

I am what is called Technologically Inept. Means I am either unable to use certain technology, or too pathetic/distracted/old to learn.

So here is my disclaimer: I know that using Pandora or a good mix on an MP3 player would solve all the problems I am about to whine about, and that by listening to the radio, I voluntarily subject myself and others to whatever songs they choose to play. I get it.

We flip back and forth between the local Christian radio station, which has it's own annoying idiosyncrasies, and the local secular easy listening station, which, between Thanksgiving and January 1st dubs itself "The Christmas Station". The Christian station plays progressively more Christmas music during the season, but plays only purely Christmas music on Christmas day.

So, without further ado, here is what bugs me.

Last Christmas, I Gave You My Heart
George Michael/Wham or Taylor Swift
My daughter and I agree that this song is way less annoying when being sung by Taylor, because it is much more appropriate for a teenager to be this goofy than it is a grown man. The song is a whine about a failed romance which the singer admits he would readily renew, while at the same time, vowing that this year he's going to give his heart to "someone special". Not only is it contradictory and misdirected, it's not about Christmas.

The Little Saint Nick
Beach Boys
I guess it fits the Beach Boys, who sang about cars, girls in bikinis and surf boards, not necessarily in that order. But is superlatively dopey. Just dumb.

Sleigh Ride
sung by everybody
No kidding, there are so many renditions of this song, none of them unique. The worst has got to be Air Supply. If those boys felt the need to immortalize their style with a Christmas tune, this was not the song to own. The image of the guy with Euro-fro singing, "giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up let's go" is double wrong. I cannot imagine the humiliation it would take an artist to pull this one off.

Do You Hear What I Hear?
All the divas and some old guys
My problem is not with the interpretation of this song, but the song itself. I'm okay with the night wind talking, and the lamb talking, and the shepherd boy who claims he hears lambs quoting the wind having easy access to the king. But to say that the King said Jesus would bring goodness and light, when what he really did was massacre all the baby boys under the age of 2 in the region, is such a gross misrepresentation that it is simply unbearable. And for women with such marvelous voices as Whitney Houston (who does it best) and Jordin Sparks (a very close second) to sing it with such passion is such a waste. Our version of the song, when we sing along with the radio, says, "Said the king to the people everywhere, listen to what I say, all the baby boys in this region must die because I am afraid of losing my weak hold on my puppet kingship."

All the snow songs
Yes, we are having a mild winter, again, and there isn't much snow to be had here in the Midwest. And yes, having some white stuff around does help one to feel more Christmas-ish. But the reality is that there just isn't snow everywhere at the same time, and in some places there is never snow. Are they allowed to celebrate Christmas in Hawaii? Let's get over it, people. Sometimes we will have a white Christmas, sometimes we won't, and it really will be great either way. And the phrase "there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas" is so very ridiculous, as if the lack of snow somehow quantifies the poverty there.

O Holy Night
Lotsa folks
This is actually one of my favorite Christmas songs, and it is done well by many. What gets it on this list is the way most everybody feels the need to mess with the lyrics of the second verse. They edit or leave out important parts in order to dumb down or make a song less Christian or less offensive or whatever. This is especially perturbing when it is done by a Christian. I also heard a rendition of O Come All Ye Faithful (on the Christian station, no less), in which the phrase "Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing" had been replaced by "SON of the Father". "The Word become flesh and dwelt among us," John chapter 1, is one of the most marvelous passages in the Bible. Why edit it out? Are people so Biblically illiterate that we have to edit the Bible out of Christmas carols? Or perhaps the singer himself, a Christian, couldn't handle the Biblical text. Sad.

The song we call, "Six Pack at the Grocery Store," because we don't know its name
Dan Fogelberg
Another song whose only connection to Christmas is the chronology of it. It happens to take place at Christmas. The singer runs into his old lover, she still looks good, she's not happy in her marriage, they drink beer and it stops snowing and starts raining. The single redeeming moment in the song happens when the sax solos on Auld Lang Syne, a song that is supposed to be a New Year's song, but I don't know why. I know they sing it at the end of It's a Wonderful Life. But that doesn't make Dan's song a Christmas song.

Santa Baby
The cringe factor, as I'm raising daughters to not defraud the character of men by flirting, is unbelievable and I'm just so glad we can't see the singer and what's she's wearing. It is a slippery, slimy, seductive piece of gimme, gimme. A woman drips out her Christmas requests and remarks, "Think of all the fellas that I haven't kissed," why? Because she's been so faithful to Santa? She definitely sounds like someone who should be on the naughty list.

Here Comes Santa Claus
Some old guy whose name escapes me
Really, I don't get too bent out of shape about Santa. I tell my kids, he is real, he lived a long time ago, he is dead and in heaven with Jesus, he worshiped Jesus by giving to people who were in need. I tell them that a lot of people like to pretend he is still alive, that he has flying reindeer, and that Christmas is about him, but that if he was here, he would tell us it is all about Jesus. My problem with this song is a verse that is only in an old version, that says, "Santa Claus knows we're all God's children, that makes everything right." That bothers me. The idea that Christmas means peace on earth, good will to men, somehow, without Jesus, bugs me. The peace on earth comes, can only come, from the Prince of Peace. The good will to men is that a Savior is born, God become man. The good will cannot be separated from the One Who Is Good.

And probably worst of all:
Baby It's Cold Outside
Rod & Dolly, among others
I will admit, this song in the movie Elf, done in innocence, is cute. But most versions, and the lyrics of the song itself, are not innocent. And none is worse than the rendition by one of the sleaziest pervs around, Rod Stewart, and the gal with the biggest boobs on earth, Dolly Parton. The song is a proposal, and I don't mean marriage. It's about a guy trying to get a girl to sleep with him, with layers of manipulation. She's saying no. He's pushing. It's just this side of date rape. Filthy.

Now you all probably need to go read the Bible and listen to worship music for a while, since I've slimed your consciences with all this negativity.

What I love are Christmas carols, with Jesus and redemption and even tradition. I love Mommy Kissing Santa Claus and Silver Bells. I don't mind pause and reflect on the last year songs. My favorites are Hark the Herald Angels Sing, I heard the Bells on Christmas Day and others that can be found in hymnals. I like the Little Drummer Boy and even Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire. I'm sure some of my songs bug other people. And songs that offend others aren't a big thing to me (you may have noticed I didn't mention Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer).

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Addictive Substances

I have heard that some people are more inclined to addictions than others. I don't know if this is true or if some people just exercise less self control. I know that there is such a thing called cross-addicting, where a person weans himself from one addiction onto another. For example, someone quits drinking but in the process increases his cigarette use, or in quitting smoking starts eating more.

If there is such a thing as an addictive personality, I have one. At the least, I struggle with self control. So I have gone a year with pretty much no sugar and very little caffeine. But the god of my appetite is alive and well. My faves are buttered sprouted wheat bread, plain peanut butter, hot milk with vanilla, and anything curry. And I could easily gain back many pounds without sugar or caffeine.

Artificial sweeteners are worse. I used to hate them. Now I crave them. Wicked stuff.

And when it all comes down to it, there is still me: addicted, serving my appetite, having two masters, resolving to do right at the beginning of the day, repenting at the end of it.

What if I went cold turkey? No carbs at all, no artificial sweeteners, no butter. Does that eliminate all the addictive weight gainers in my diet? Maybe.

The holidays are tough for weight-losers. My family ate fresh baked peanut butter blossoms today. You know, the cookies with a Hershey's kiss in the middle. Mmmm. I had a couple pieces Russell Stover sugar free chocolate. Okay, for the record, Russell Stover, and everybody else, with sugar or not, should step off any attempt to re-create Reese's peanut butter cup. Do not mess with perfection. Reese got it right. But Russell has a pretty good imitation of a Skor/Heath bar type of thing.

My problem is that I justify having something for me when they have something. And with Christmas coming and the goose getting fat and the old man having a bunch of pennies and hay-pennies in his hat and all, I have a little list of goodies I'm looking forward to making, banana almond blueberry bread and apple raising walnut cookies. I ordered some sugar free chocolate chips and xylitol to make chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

And my brain is just ready to party. To try to go cold turkey right now, even for a couple weeks, well, I can't get motivated to do it. I'm trying. It isn't working.

It reminds me of the months before we got married. Just trying to save as much intimacy until the wedding as we could. Now, it isn't hard for me to not open Christmas presents ahead of time. I have an old friend whose dad couldn't resist that temptation. They always opened the presents early. So Christmas was kind of nothing for them. And I was talking to a friend recently who said she and her husband had opened their, um, wedding night presents early. For them, the wedding night was just another night.

In a similar way, this eating and celebrating thing is hard for me. For one thing, I'm not just planning on celebrating on Christmas Day itself. The partying begins with a girls' night out, then a lunch with a dear friend who has been away for a while, a Christmas party at the kids' school, the in-laws visit, then the real Christmas, then another Christmas with my fam and finally a New Year's Bash with some of the greatest.

Why bother being good for what amounts to a week? Why alternately crucify and indulge my flesh over and over for the next 3 weeks? Who am I kidding?

I'm not drinking coffee. I'm not eating sugar. And I'm not impressing anyone; least of all me.

What if I could hold it together, just on the days when there isn't any partying to be done? What if those days were just healthy eating days? And maybe (getting desperate here) I get $5 for each day that I meet my goals? And January 1st, I go shopping with whatever money I get for Christmas, plus that?

I'll have to ask the boss, the man, the giver of all good gift$.

Sorry for this post. I can't imagine it being of value to anyone. But maybe it is. Blessings.

My Grandfather's Jacket

Today is the kind of day that is too chilly for just a shirt (need pants too, ha!) and too warm for a coat. It's jacket weather. And I wanted a kind of nicer jacket, heading out the door for church, so I grabbed my grandfather's jacket.

When my grandpa, my dad's dad, died several years ago I asked for one of his sweaters. It reminded me of him. He always wore these Mr. Rogers style button down sweaters, and I often borrowed them, so when he died, I wanted one to remember. It still smelled like him, in a way that probably would have creeped someone else out, but I liked it. Even the bad smell of a person can sometimes be sentimental, you know.

So when my granddad, my mom's dad, passed away a few years ago, I asked for his jacket. My grandpa wore Mr. Rogers sweaters. My granddad wore jackets. Like a tweed suit-coat, I guess. My grandpa was short and funny, and had a full head of white hair that he combed straight back. My granddad was tall, mostly bald, and more serious. I don't think he was really serious by nature, but my grandma, his first wife, had multiple sclerosis for my entire life, so for many years I saw him just caring for her. And that was a serious job.

I do remember once he accidentally put antifreeze on his rose bushes. I always teased him thereafter about putting antifreeze on the roses and fertilizer in the car. And he laughed. He had a great laugh, and a phenomenal smile.

So today I wore his jacket. The lining of the left sleeve was held in place by some hand stitching and 3 tiny safety pins. And in the pocket was a piece of paper. It was a photocopy of some handwritten notes belonging to my oldest cousin. I vaguely remember him wearing the jacket on the day of the funeral. Either that, or my mom tucked the paper in the pocket for me. A gentle giant, it said. He remembered Granddad before Grandma got sick, remembered him wrestling, laughing, talking with him as a child on a road trip.

I remember the gentleness too. And the fixer-upper thing. He was a mechanical engineer. And he was always improving things. That pair of shoes is okay, but it would be better if it had some ventilation, so he cut slits in the sides. My grandma's wheelchair was a marvel, a collection of different improvements, so much that the guys spent half a day trying to get it back to the way it was supposed to be after she went in the nursing home.

Eventually I also remembered, wearing his jacket today, with my ears itching and nose running, that they had a cat. But I wore it a little longer, anyway. The memories were worth a little discomfort.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like . . .


I am getting excited.

The tree is up, lit, and covered with wads of cotton and 20+ years of accumulated ornaments, both bought and home made, fragile ones near the top, the rest in toddler arm's reach are being removed and rearranged during all waking hours. There are a couple other decorations around, including a stained glass tree minus its star (I broke that off myself) and a frosted glass nativity I bought in college, are placed with fear and trembling around the house, awaiting their imminent demolition.

I have a loaded up cart, waiting for me to pull the final trigger. The UPS guy left a pile of stuff on my porch yesterday. I am a couple short trips away from being the cause of extreme happiness for most of my children.

The goal, of course, is for all 13 of them to be equally happy, for each of them to feel like they are mom's favorite and like they got the best deal for Christmas. But they don't all need/want the same things in the same proportions and at the same cost as each other. It is easier and cheaper to make a small person happy than a large one, but they don't stay happy as long. We are seriously considering wrapping some toys we already have for the little openers, because all they really want is to open things.

I am trying to consider what we want Christmas morning to be like at our house.

Part of me would like to have a nice, real, sit down breakfast. But I would have to make it, and nobody would eat much of it, since they will be eating candy from their stockings. Instead, we will probably put "nutritional" things in their socks, like poptarts or granola bars, in hopes that they will inhale some flour and oats with their sugar consumption.

I guess it could be a brunchy thing, make a big breakfast after, but the other problems are still true, me cooking, nobody eating.

What I want is intimacy. Relationships. Family. I purchase things to give to the person my child is, to celebrate his and her likes and tastes and dreams and challenges. I want to be with them and enjoy their joy.

Last year we went to church on Christmas morning (because it was Sunday) and came home and opened presents. I was a wreck, because my main present to my husband was a positive pregnancy test. I had kept the secret for a couple weeks and was exhausted and about to explode.

Today I'm holding the human that was represented by that "b.f.p." And he is fabulous. But I have no such surprises prepared for this year.

I have, in other years, been very focused on the spiritual end of things, giving to the least of these, Jesus' birthday, getting Bibles and such for the kids. But this year I'm not, honestly. I am just enjoying my children. Giving good gifts to my children, loving them for this moment, knowing it will pass. It may not sound very lofty, very super. I am just excited, like every mom and dad, to see the happy faces in three weeks and have my children realize again that their mom and dad love them, in part because we bless them with special treasures, gifts that show we know them and know what they like.

5 good reasons to save your kisses

(written from the perspective of one who didn't)

DISCLAIMER FOR MY YOUNGER READERS - please have Mom read it first and make sure she wants you to read this. Okay?




The thing

The thing

The thing

Space for going to talk to mom without reading the blog first . . .






1. kisses are the beginning of sex.
They are the opening up of one's self. They are the mixing of one person's spit with another person's spit. Sorry, but that's the disgusting truth. I'm not talking about the kind of kisses you give your grandma before you leave her house or to say thanks for the new sweater. But try to keep a kiss shared with someone you are attracted to on the grandma level (actually, I advocate that you DON'T try) and you'll find that line is very easy to cross and very difficult to return from (see #3). Sexual purity means not just keeping from having s.e.x. It means not doing things that resemble or inspire sex. This includes being mindful of how you dance, how you dress, how you treat the opposite gender, how you walk, and yes, how you kiss.

2. if you kiss someone who isn't your husband/wife, they very likely are someone else's husband or wife.
I have been married for nearly 20 years. It would be grotesquely inappropriate for my husband to kiss another woman. Those kisses are mine. I would not want him to practice on someone else, getting technique lessons from another teacher. Those are just ours. If it isn't appropriate to do after you're married with someone else's spouse, you shouldn't do it before marriage. Until you're married, you're not.

3. the law of diminishing returns.
I think I was raised in a culture (not necessarily what my parents did or did not teach me, just the culture of the w.a.s.p.y environment I was a part of) of just making it across the finish line with your actual virginity in tact. To get married without having had actual sex. If that is your goal, I still recommend saving kisses for this reason. In my experience, which I, again, do not recommend, the amount of physical intimacy you experience with a person you like makes you want more. It's like Jim Gaffigan says about bacon - eating bacon only makes you thirsty . . . for more bacon! Being physically intimate with someone makes you want to be more physically intimate. God designed it that way. He wants us to be intimate with our spouse. It's a great idea. But once begun, it is extremely difficult and frustrating to stop that process. Especially if you are trying to maintain purity over a long period of time. Starting a movie and pushing the pause button right when you're getting to the good part for a couple years is not a great idea. It doesn't work for our emotions, for our bodies, or for the dvd player. We are made to want to finish what we start. Don't start until it is appropriate to finish.

4. don't extend your hand farther than you can safely pull it back.
In other words, kissing someone communicates a belonging and a commitment and a promise. Even if you don't mean it to say that, it does. That is why it would feel really crappy to kiss someone and then see them kissing someone else (and why the game 'spin the bottle' is such an incredibly stupid idea). But it also does something kind of marital in your heart. And if that person winds up not being yours, that unspoken promise gets broken, and with it, your heart.

5. kissing messes up your ability to think, and hear, clearly.
When you are a young adult, trying to find God's plan for your life, listening to His voice, and the voices of wise counsel, you need to be able to think. Wise choices in relationships are not made well under the influence of hormonal attachment. Wisdom is not to be found in that giddy feeling that happens when you realize he/she REALLY likes you. I just watched most of a movie called "The King's Speech". (I'm afraid I did watch the R version, but I believe there is a non-cussing version that I would recommend.) In it [SPOILER], the crown prince is so desperately in love with a woman he cannot live without (read: extremely physically entangled) that he actually abdicates the throne of England. This is not good decision making. It is generally glorified by Hollywood as 'following your heart', but is not actually wise in real life. You are deciding who to marry, one of the most important and long lasting decisions you will every make. You want a clear head. This is a hard decision to undo. And if you are a God-fearing Christian, once you say I do, you're pretty well stuck. You need all your wits about you to know if this is a guy/girl you really want to share the next 70 or so years with. You really need to get this right. A life time is a long time to walk out an impulse.

So there you have it folks, my top five reasons to save your kisses till the altar. I know that sounds ridiculous, but that's what I'm recommending.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I know, I know

I haven't posted in a week or something. I have plenty on my mind, but nothing interesting to say.

Yesterday morning began with all the fire alarms in our house screaming at 6:46 a.m. Actually it wasn't all of them. We live in an old house in a "transitional" neighborhood. That means we needed to buy an alarm system. So we have a number (means I don't know what the number is) of smoke detectors in our house that are hard wired to the alarm system. If those are activated, they will call the fire department automatically. Those were not going off.

We also have several (I think 13 or so) that are just your basic, ordinary, run-of-the-mill smoke alarms, except that they are linked somehow. If any of the thirteen smells smoke (or breaks or malfunctions or has a dead battery or a piece of fuzz in it), they will all go off. This is a great idea, in a house as big as ours, if there were actually a fire.

There wasn't. But these are the ones going off. Lots of them. Screaming. Did I mention it was 6:46 A. M. in the morning? It was not time for the entire clan to be awake. And yet.

There. We. Were.

All. Of. Us.

It really wasn't a bad day, considering how it started.

The hard thing about this week is that it really isn't anything special. We returned from our Thanksgiving journey to the Grandmas' houses. We are trying to get through the laundry disaster that we inflicted on ourselves. But that's not our real problem.

Our real problem is that we are in The Holiday Mood. We feel like celebrating. We have eaten several turkeys and pies worth of food. We shirked responsibility for a full week, really. And it felt great. Now we know Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat. There are presents being purchased, secrets being kept. We haven't decorated yet (and I'm not sure we should, considering the toddlers - today we've cleaned up 2 dog food messes, a pile of rice, and several decks of scattered cards), but others have, and we can see the lights and garland everywhere we go.

The last thing we feel like doing (and I mean me, mostly) is buckling down, putting on our big girl panties, and getting crap done. Today is Wednesday, and we've almost made it to another weekend, which will further disrupt our already fragile ecosystem of labor and reward.

I don't know if I, personally, have the will power to pull us out of the holiday tail spin. And Thanksgiving was early this year. IT'S NOT EVEN DECEMBER YET!

So. Here's hoping I pull my head out of my butt and get my proverbial act together sometime soon, or we will definitely be doing school all the way to August.

Um, Merry Christmas, everybody.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Before I say anything else, I have to just directly link you to THE place that anyone wanting any help or information about the hair of humans who probably have ancestors from somewhere in Africa, which is: It is a blog by a white mom of a gorgeous black daughter. She is to trans-racial adoptive hair care what Michelle Duggar is to big family motherhood. She has her act together. So there is the blog about that.

Here, however, is a humbler source of thoughts and information. Really, it's a confession of sorts, with the potential of some testimonies of lessons learned along the way. And the way, by the way, is a pretty short way, at this point. She has been my daughter for over two years now, but hair-wise, has only needed something special for more like a year or less.

That's not to say her hair didn't need more than what I was giving it, but the truth is that baby hair is pretty forgiving. Older hair, curly, especially of the African Ancestry variety, needs more specific T.L.C. than I really was prepared to give.

So, Sopie, which is what we call her sometimes, short for sopapilla, has now and for a while now has had hair that needs some important love.

And here is what it needs.

1. Not shampoo. Shampoo takes all the oil and flex and life out of it, makes it crunchy and hard impossible to detangle. It doesn't matter what kind of shampoo. Even shampoo that looks for all the world like something that ought be used on her hair with pictures of people who look like her and words like olive oil and moisture should still not be used.

2. To be in a protective but not painful style, braids or whatever will stay in and keep her hair from needing detangled every day.

3. To be detangled. Which requires . . .

4. Lots of some kind of really good for it conditioner, without alcohol, like Kiss My Face conditioner or the stuff they sell at Trader Joe's.

5. Oil, reapplied almost daily.

6. To be cleaned sometimes (like once a month or after every meal) with super watered down apple cider vinegar. The easiest, quickest, most obnoxious and frightening way to do this is to fill a bathroom sink with warm water and add 1/4th cup or so of the vinegar and give the child an upside down head dip/aka, a swirlie.

7. I think there is another something I am not doing right, but did I mention I am just learning?

The tricky thing about all this is that not everyone does it the same. From my admittedly limited European ancestry perspective, some people of apparent African ancestry seem to not love their hair, and treat it with less love but apparently more care, if that makes sense. I want Sopie's hair to be styled so it is protected (healthy) and requires less daily maintenance. The less daily maintenance, in addition to the fact that I don't have time to do it, is mostly because I don't want her to hate her hair or her ancestry. I want her to love the hair God gave her. So, at 2 years of age, I don't want her to a) have her hair roughly styled by lovely, well meaning strangers who are trying to make it look awesome b) have to sit any longer than necessary, left out of all the sibling action.

So, we are doing 6 - 10 divisions with less than perfect parts and not super tight, braided and just twisted around my finger at the end, no rubber bands anywhere. It is unbelievable to me that it stays that way without holders. I remember being envious of little girls with that kind of hair when I was in grade school.

This hair style isn't going to win me any awards for most stylish kid. But that is consistent with the way I parent all my kids. I am not trying to make my kids the best dressed/best looking kids on the block. I just want them to look like they have parents. To be modest. To be warm enough or cold enough, preferably. To be, um, un-hole-ey. We mostly don't wear hand-me-downs shirts of activities we haven't actually participated in, schools we have not attended, sports we don't play, places we haven't gone, or vacations we haven't been on.

I try to have my kids look just good enough for people to not look at them and say, "well, you can sure tell they're from a big family." That's another blog, don't remember what it was called. But my adopted daughter is my daughter. She will not be dressed or styled to the nines with the rest of my gang looking healthy, loved, and a little scruffy. They're all mine. God didn't give her to me so I could keep her looking perfect. I'm s'posed to love her. And I do.

And part of my loving her is helping her love herself. And her hair. When she is old enough to say, mom I'd really like to sacrifice my entire Saturday and do 'this' to my hair, I'll do it, or have an older daughter do it. But for now, healthy and strong and at peace (relative peace) is my highest objective.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I have written a song. Goes like this:

Lower me down through the roof, forgive me of my sin
Stir the waters up again, I need someone to help me in
Spit in the dirt, put some clay in my eyes
Wash me in the muddy river seven times
I believe, help me believe
You are my Healer

If I can just touch Your face, I know I can be whole
I'm not dead, I'm asleep, come awaken my soul
Just touch me Lord, say the word, it is done
Just call me forth from the grave and I'll come
I believe, help me believe
You are my Healer

Lord I believe that
Your Word is true and
You are the same so
I trust in You

That I will live and will not die, I will live and will not die . . .
You are my Healer

There is nothing I am facing You don't have dominion over
There's no weapon formed against me, and no enemy can prosper
Jesus, Name above all names, from forever to forever
I am trusting in Your Word, words that You have spoken over me

Healing is a tricky, hard, divisive thing. Because, on the one hand, we really believe that God can and does heal. It is in the Bible. I believe the Bible. Not sure what the point is in being a Christian if you don't believe the Bible.

But the Bible says all sorts of things about healing, lots of them having to do with faith. And faith is a hard thing to quantify and understand, and sometimes the stuff I've heard people teach about faith makes me feel like I'm playing some sort of mental posturing game. On the one hand, I absolutely believe that He can . . . anything. On the other hand, I don't necessarily believe that He will because He doesn't always. Sometimes He does. Sometimes He doesn't.

So then there's kind of a question of what happened when He didn't. Was it not in the plan? Did He have something else in mind? Or did we not pray or fast or believe enough? Did we flunk?

There are mostly examples in the Bible of when He did. There are no stories of a guy coming up and saying, hey, if you feel like it, could you maybe heal me? And Jesus saying, sorry, man, you don't have enough faith.

There is the thing about how He couldn't or didn't do many miracles in his hometown. And Paul had that thorn thing. And Jacob's thigh got messed up when he wrestled with God and was never right again. But most of the stories are success stories.

And in many of them, He says something like, your faith has healed you. So faith/healing preachers quote that and tell lots of stories about people who were healed in order to build up the faith in the room before they pray for healing. The Centurian who said, you don't have to come, just say the word. The hemorrhaging chick who touches his cloak in the crowd. The Gentile mother who let Him call her a dog, and said, fine, just give us the crumbs that fell off the table. The blind man screaming out, "Son of David, have mercy."

But there are lots of stories where the person didn't have all that much faith. They guy whose friends lowered him through the roof, I guess his friends had the faith that time. The man who couldn't get to the water in time (and did anyone else notice that Jesus didn't seem to heal everybody that was hanging out there, just him) who wasn't even sure he wanted to be healed. The dude whose body they threw on Elisha's grave and he came back to life. The funeral procession Jesus stopped for the widow's only child.

He had compassion, it says.

And all those questions and uncertainties are just unresolved stuff, until someone you love or someone you know or know of that you really want to live is really sick, and needs to be healed or they're going to die. And then it's personal. God, now would be a really good time for You to heal.

And I'm praying and saying, You healed people who hardly knew Who You were, people Who didn't even believe in You. How much more, for those who seek Your face night and day, who love You with their whole lives? How much more then, God?

And as you pray and fast and worship and pray and believe and pray, there is this nagging question in the back of your mind that you don't acknowledge because that would be not-faith, and you don't want to jinx the thing, but it's there, that says, what if He doesn't? What if we are at a funeral and you've written this song and it doesn't happen? Is He still good then? What if He can help but doesn't? What do you think about a God Who lets bad stuff happen to people He loves? He is all powerful. He can stop bad stuff from happening. You know He can and sometimes He does, so what do you do with Him if He doesn't?

Some people just decide that He mostly doesn't do that anymore. They frame whole theologies about it. We call them Cessationists. (not sure about that spelling) God is done talking, done working miracles, done healing. All that stuff ended with the apostles.

Some people believe He still can and does, but since it is so risky, whether He will or not, they just don't ask. If I don't ask Him for it, I won't be disappointed if He doesn't do it.

But He is the same God. He still has compassion. The rules have not changed. He has not changed. He still has sent us to preach, baptize, cast out demons and heal the sick. It's one of the last things He said. The apostles were people just like us. Heck, they walked and talked with Him and ate fish He'd cooked. We're doing the whole thing on faith.

I am certain He does and can and will. But what if He doesn't?

Remember Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael? You may better know them as Shadrach, Mishach and Abednego. Rack, Shack, and Benny. They said something to Nebby K that is one of my favorite bits in the Bible. They said, "Our God is able to save us, but even if He doesn't, we're not going to bow."

Our God can, but even if He doesn't.

The other morning I was praying with friends, fellow comrades at arms, really. And I was wrestling with that thing, and had Rack, Shack and Benny in mind, and I had a revelation. Not just a head revelation. A whole body, mind and spirit revelation. He is Good and He is God no matter what. And it seemed to me, in a way I was honestly a little embarrassed of, that whether He healed or not didn't matter. His goodness was so huge and pervasive and I felt so very certain that whatever He did was just right and I was the opposite of afraid.

I am pressing in. I am believing. I am fasting and singing the song, my friend will live and will not die, she will live and will not die, she will live and will not die, she will live and will not die. And I am confident in the superlative that He is good in a way that is above and beyond all that I can ask or think.

Praise Jesus.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Supermom Fitness Update

Some of you probably want to know this, and I would imagine many couldn't care less. Sorry to the latter group.

I am doing well. I weigh 192.5 lbs. That is the least I've weighed in almost 16 years, and maybe more than that. When I began my 2nd pregnancy I either weighed 189 or 198, and I can't remember. Either way, I'm closing in on the record.

I think we didn't have a scale when we first got married. Bad idea. I know what I weighed when we got married. And that's the last I know.

So here is what I'm doing right now:

I'm exercising every day. The least I do is go up and down my stairs for 10 minutes. But mostly it's treadmill. I have up-ended my daily schedule - group school is after lunch and, if there are at least 2 babies still asleep when that is over, I get on the treadmill. Otherwise I do it after kids go to bed. (also, I'm alternating group school, a double lesson for one group one day, the other group the other day, and the fun book (last book on Sonlight read-aloud) we are reading at bedtime to make up lost ground)

I am eating only meats, veggies, low carb stuff with these exceptions: a steamer (milk and sugar free flavored creamer), Trader Joe's sprouted wheat and simply lite chocolate, for which I have to earn a cup or slice or 2 squares by drinking 2 quarts of water, and peanut butter which I have to earn with one quart per tbsp.

That's about it. Learning self control.

I'm doing that till Thanksgiving. For the holiday I'll have more healthy carbs, sweet potato pie with pecan crust, no sugar, stuff like that. Then will go back to the plan till Christmas, party again, and re-assess.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Laundry Pure update

It has been nearly 3 months that I have been using the laundry pure thing, and I just wanted to report on it. I am still skeptical. I am still in disbelief. I still don't understand how my clothes are getting clean. I keep smelling things after washing them with no soap or hot water or bleach, keep checking, and they still are getting clean. It is an amazing thing, and honestly, it seems too good to be true. I am afraid to trust it. But it is true. My clothes and other stuff are getting clean, load after load, without soap or hot water. I'm not making this up.

If you are thinking about doing it, if you are an earth day, every day kind of person, if you want to save money in the long run, if you have people in your world who have the kind of sensitive skin that makes soaps a problem, if you want your stuff, especially cloth diapers, to last a whole lot longer - I recommend this thing.

I have only used it for 3ish months, but I probably do more laundry in 3 months than many families do in a year. And I am saying on record here that all my stuff is getting as clean or cleaner as it ever has with Tide with bleach. Bumgenius diapers, Fuzzibunz Mama Care products, stinky pits and stinky washclothes and towels - all of it.

I don't know why or how, but I have not bought or used any soap in 3 months and all our stuff just really is clean. No hot water. Sometimes if we put too much in (and we do that because our main laundry guys are 8 and 9 - one fills it too full and one not full enough, go figure) we have to run it an extra time. Last week the too full guy ran a whole load of already clean and folded shirts. The washer was so full that some of the shirts were still folded. Didn't run that again because they were already clean, but you get the picture.

And over the weekend, I did laundry at a friend's house and twice almost forgot to put soap in!

I will let you know if I change my mind about this thing. But at this point I am quite mystified, but completely convinced.

Some of you asked, and there is an additional attachment that makes it work for hard water, I didn't find out about the other electrical attachments, and there are no more refurbs at this time.

What's the big deal about gay marriage?

Well, it is official. Our country is actually going to hell in a handbasket. We chose to elect a man who is not just pro-choice. He is just really pro-abortion. We chose, in more than one state, to legalize the use of marijuana. We elected the first openly gay senator. And we chose, in at least 2 states, to legally recognize gay marriages.

A good friend said, last night at dinner, we shouldn't be surprised, when we've been teaching this stuff in the schools for the last 30 years. And it is true. In fact, having been educated all 17 years in the public school system (Voddie Bauchem calls it the Government Indoctrination Center) I have a lot of mixed up worldview things I'm continuing to work through myself.

Like, what is the big deal about gay marriage? I mean, it is certainly not what I believe, but what harm is there in it? Those people are close to each other, what's the harm in them having the rights that married couples have, legal authority in medical situations, for example?

After all, homosexuality is a sin, but there are lots of sins. And yes, it is a sin against the body, but so are fornication and adultery. Why single them out? What is the big deal about gay marriage?

Here is the deal, and I'm afraid it is big. I have sin issues in my life, sins I struggle with regularly. So do you, I suspect. Except You, Jesus. (He reads my blog, you know. He's not an official follower, but He keeps up.)

And I probably have sin issues that I don't fully realize are sins. It's called deception. I've certainly been there before if I'm not now. Like forgiveness, I can be walking in unforgiveness for quite some time before the Holy Spirit brings it to my attention.

The difference I see with homosexuality is that many (not all) who are either in a same sex relationship or wish they were, adamantly insist that it is not a sin. Like I said, that's deception. Jesus loves them enough to let them know, and they will either repent, or rebel against Him. That is between them and Him. My job is not to condemn them. The Bible and their consciences do that. My job is to love them and bless them and pray for them.

But for our government (or some of our churches or denominations, for that matter) to officially recognize homosexual union, is for them to say it is not a sin. We are officially pardoning them, agreeing with them that it is normal and right and fine. We are officially, as a nation, or at least as states in the nation, making our law against God's law.

I am not sure that marijuana is any worse for you than alcohol or cigarettes. None of them are all that beneficial, I think. But I guess, within reason, none of them are sinful in and of themselves. An addiction to them is, but I would argue that Jesus doesn't want us to be addicted to anything but Him, and many are addicted to video games or soap operas or chocolate. We don't, wouldn't legislate against something that some people are addicted to.

But we are making legal and officially recognizing as normal and right and good, we are institutionalizing and sponsoring, something that God calls an abomination. And that is a really big deal. Not the biggest deal to me. Calling the deliberate execution of an unborn human a legal right is probably a bigger deal. Telling Israel to shove off and wait for the bomb to hit is a pretty big deal. Digging ourselves to China in deficit spending is a pretty big deal too. Even if you like what we're spending the money on, and I don't mostly, you can't spend money you don't have, and we're doing more of that right now than ever.

So, if you are reading this, and you are a person who identifies yourself as a homosexual or leans that way - I'm not condemning you. The Bible does, but it condemns me too - you're in good company. It condemns all of us. But at the same time, it offers a way out. And not like, "stop sinning and then Jesus will save you". More like, "come as you are, no sin is too big or too hard, you are forgiven, and whatever else you bring Me, I can help you with it."

I need mercy from Jesus, and I'm glad to extend it to you. And I am sorry that so many of us Christians have failed to communicate the love and mercy and compassion of Jesus to you. We are wrong to do that. I hope you can forgive us and receive Jesus forgiveness. When we did that to you, that wasn't Him.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


My husband and I just voted.

We stood in line for a half an hour.

We were the only white people we saw.

I was intrigued to learn recently that some people, people I respect and think highly of, actually have convictions about not voting. They have reasons they believe are Biblical to not vote. Fascinating.

I am also aware that there are many who would rather vote for a 3rd party candidate than for someone who has a real potential to win that they don't completely agree with.

This election is difficult for a couple reasons.

Romney is a Mormon. That is different from being a Christian with slightly different theology. I think he's a moral guy who is deceived. Not my favorite.

Romney is recently a governor of a pretty liberal state. So it is hard to know exactly where he stands on some things.

On the other hand, I think I have a pretty good handle on where Obama stands, which is different from where I stand on a few significant (to me) points.

Our friendship with Israel has weakened during Obama's presidency.

Abortion rights (not just the continuation of Roe vs Wade) legislation and funding are a big deal, and he is extremely on the side of making abortion easy and accessible to anybody, including minors and especially minorities, no parental consent necessary, no waiting period, no real concern for women's health, no research and care about women's bodies and spirits post-abortion, at any time during a pregnancy. Even if we can't overturn Roevwade, and I'm not sure we can't, there is much that could be done to decrease the number of abortions that happen, and Obama is not interested in that.

And, in general, Obama has been a big grow-the-government, government as the answer to the problems, kind of guy. Bigger government, bigger debt.

Is Romney a guarantee on these issues? Not necessarily. But I think he can win, and I think he will be a lot better. I know that's pragmatic. I like the idea of having a man with African ancestry in the white house. But not at this cost.

I think that's the best I can do with the vote I have, and what I feel responsible about before God.

Friday, November 02, 2012

How you do it, travel

I haven't done one of these for a while. People frequently say something like this to me: I don't know how you do it. My answer is usually, I don't do it very well. But I thought it might be fun (or not) to give specific examples of how I don't do it very well to make everyone else feel better when they realize they're doing it way better than me. Or I can relieve your guilt. Or maybe it is even possible you could learn from and improve on what I do.

So, travel.

I am writing this from lovely Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, where I and a friend brought my 13 and her 2 children (2 vans) and my dog to visit another friend and her 5 kids (and sheep and goats and chickens and the new hamster they purchased for my 3rd daughter's birthday - hey, at least it's not mice ). That's 3 moms and 20 children. Hollar back.

We packed the bare minimum. Clothes to wear and clothes to wash, jammies if you like. Most of the kids have a back pack with their stuff, a couple boys shared a bag, and I have a bag for the 4 smallest and diapers and wipes.

We made 2 stops on the way here, one at (gasp!) McDonald's for fries and sandwiches. They frankly couldn't pay me to take and distribute soda ('pop' for you Indiana people) throughout my van, what a nightmare. We also brought a case of bottled water, pretzel rods, apples and granola bars (the kind without chocolate). The bottled waters are distributed in a very stingy fashion, not because I'm penny pinching on the agua, but because I don't want them to have to pee. The other stop for for gas and potty and some decaf coffee, because there is enough caffeine in decaf to keep me awake while driving.

I nursed the baby at both stops, but had eldest daughter drive between the two stops so I could care for the small people.

Here at my friend's house, the large children are camped out in her basement, the middle children are sleeping in her middle children's room, and the babies are with me. That way, when they wake up early in the morning or the middle of the night, I am there for them, and can, hopefully, keep them from waking the entire household.

I'm totally burning the candle at both ends, because we three moms are waiting for the moment when all 20 of them are chilled out and we can have a good heart to heart, staying up till 1 a.m., but my babies were up a little after 6. And of course, anytime the littlest squawked, I grabbed him and nursed him, so he wouldn't wake up the other ones.

Being at my friend's is a little crazy, because I think I can help with meal prep and clean up and serving and all, but really all I can do is herd the cats (small children) and nurse, and I can barely do that. And everything we do or don't do is about scale. So my friend with 5 wants to go for a walk, friend with 2 agrees, I say, "I'll see you when you get back."

But I want to be the kind of active, healthy mom that goes for walks, so I work up a small amount of tornadic activity, barking orders to any helpless big kids that happen to come near enough to my tractor beam to get sucked in, trying to get coats and shoes (or at least socks for the kid whose shoes are probably back on the counter in my kitchen) on all the humans. We fill a double stroller, a wagon and a ergo, which I really just use as a cover up because I'm nursing while walking, and walking the dog while nursing and walking.

I run a load of laundry at night so that the kid who pooped in her pants and the kids who got honey all over the front of their coats (who serves tea outside?) and the kid whose diaper didn't get changed in time all have something to wear the next time they mess up their stuff. I did not bring cloth diapers, and I'm glad.

I try to contribute, but feel like something of a leech and a burden, so I'll give some money to my host, because I know what it costs to feed a small army. I am also feeling bad about all the games we have ruined forever by losing pieces, but books the babies tore the covers off of, and the new carpet and furniture they might be looking for after allowing us to visit.

But this is a house that loves children and a family that loves us, and a friend that loves me. I am blessed to have friends that are such a blessing, and a safe place for my children to chase chickens and play games and be themselves. Sometimes we do venture out to places like the beach, or other cool Wisconsinish things to do, but only after counting the cost, not only of getting in, but also feeding people while there, and the vast amount of resources consumed just in the getting there and getting home involved.

The truth of the matter is, we don't do as much as we did when there were less of us. We try to say yes when we can, and we are trying to be the family that our kids want to be in, but we also say no a lot because we can't do everything.

We have a 15 passenger van that we fill when Daddy is with us. If we expand (meaning have even more children, and we hope we do), I think we would just take 2 cars, rather than pay all year for a bigger vehicle that we would really only need for long trips, a few times a year.

That's all that comes to mind. Questions?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

you made your bed . . .

one hand typing, hence, no caps.

it finally happened.

a man, a good man, a friend, said it out loud.

"well," he said, with an embarrassed sort of little chuckle, "you made your bed, you sleep in it."

you remember the old nursery rhyme, there was an old woman who lived in a shoe, she had so many children she didn't know what to do.

i'm her. i am the old woman who lived in a shoe. but i picked the shoe. i wanted the shoe, and i wanted so many children [in fact, truth be told, i'd really like to have or get several more], so, if i don't know what to do, i can't complain. it's my own fault!

that little recording plays in my head from time to time, comes across in the form of a raised eyebrow, or a less-than-enthusiastic response to a pregnancy announcement. but to hear someone actually say it out loud, oi-vey. bummer.

must i always guard my tongue and facebook status updates? never make it look bad. don't complain. people are watching. people are listening. don't give them another reason to believe children are a burden, not a blessing.

this is a valid point. it is true. it is right. i don't want to be the poster child for why people shouldn't have big families. it is better if my kids don't go out in public looking like they don't have parents. better to have hair combed, clothes matching, fitting, and appropriate to the season [5th son went to church Sunday wearing shorts, sandals and his last year's winter coat, what!?], nails trimmed, ear gunk removed (hand out the baby wipes, folks).

at the same time, my very existence is based on the fact that i live for an audience of One. if i truly cared what people think, i would never have had so many humans. having lots of children is not popular, not politically correct, not socially advancing.

of course, somewhere is wisdom. i suppose the thing the Bible says about fasting, not wearing sack cloth and looking like crap, getting dressed and looking good, and your Father who sees in secret, that whole thing applies somewhat. having thousands of children is kind of a fast. i'm fasting "normal".

but there is also an element of being real, that allows other people to be real. if you have 13 children, you don't have to be as perfect as the Duggars. you don't have to look camera ready. you don't have to always speak with a sweet gentle voice and have toddlers trained to stay on their blankets for an hour quietly while you teach school.

we have a joke at my house. i will frequently, after yelling or saying something horribly inappropriate, remark snidely, "and yes, that is exactly what Mrs. Duggar would say."

because i think some of the people watching are encouraged by how i treat my children even though they don't look perfect. and i think some parents are relieved to hear that i have hard days and feel overwhelmed and am behind on laundry. because if i have it all together with 13, where does that put them, sucking with only 2 or 3?

so, okay, i'll try not to whine too much, and i'll try to look presentable and bathe from time to time and i'll honor my husband by combing their hair and keeping the house more or less clean. ish. but i will not obsess with trying to make our family the model of the beauty of a large family. we're not. the Duggars are. that's why they're on TV.

i'm just me. the little ole amazing supermom, trying to have clean spoons, relatively matching socks, and kids that are kind and obey. sometimes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Low Point

I have a tendency to only report when I'm doing well. Today I'm not. I carbed out last night. But I've just not been doing very well as a whole. I have this dilemma when nursing about how many calories I actually need. Is the baby getting enough? He was only 40th percentile at his checkup, and before he was 50th. Is it because I'm trying to lose weight? So I eat too much, for Baby's sake. And now I'm gaining again.

But it's not only that. I'm behind on laundry. It's been colder out, so people are wearing more clothing, so there is more to wash. We have to step it up.

My bedroom is a mess again. My clothes are on the floor by my bed where I drop them before going to sleep.

I feel genuinely overwhelmed by the smaller people in my life. The toilet stirrers. It feels as though I cannot get anything done. If they are with me, they are on me, and I have no arms. If they are not with me, they are doing something bad that I'm going to have to clean up. (This just in: the dog threw up on the carpet. Twice. Joy.)

I feel, perhaps mistakenly, that everyone around me is maxxed out, and that I cannot ask more of them, so I try to take it on myself, more laundry, more dishes, more everything. The big girls have a special talent for walking in the kitchen right after I finish supper prep and asking, "Do you need help?"

I haven't been reading my Bible. I found a nifty thing on my Bible reading program called "Catch Me Up". If I am behind, I just hit the catch me up button, and Boom! I am right on track. So I'm "caught up", except that I don't even remember what I'm supposed to be reading.

On the up side, I just had a conversation with my middle girls that is the kind of conversation that motivates me to home school. It is why we do this.

So, here we go. I'm going downstairs, and I will try to chip away at the immense piece of marble that is my life, beginning with cleaning up dog vomit, and try to make something beautiful from it.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Laundry Pure

Disclaimer #1 As I've said before, this site is not monetized. I don't make money here. It is just for fun. So any product endorsements I write are genuine (not that monetized endorsements aren't). I have no skin in the game. In this case, I am telling you about a product my friend is selling. But that shouldn't weaken what I'm saying. For one thing, I already bought mine, in part because I trusted my friend. For another, she actually already likes me, and won't like me more or less because of what I say here.

Disclaimer #2 I am going to talk about gross stuff here. I'll try not to be too explicit, but read at your own risk. Ok?

Recently my friend bought a Laundry Pure system. And after she bought it and used it for a little while and loved it, I bought one from her. It is a box, about the size of a laptop computer (closed), that hangs on the wall above the washing machine. I won't try to tell you how it works, because, frankly, I don't understand it. It's rocket science. The water, cold, goes into the thing when I turn it on, there is a blue light that glows, it makes a whoosh sound like someone just opened up their lightsaber, and somehow, magically, something to do with ions, the clothes are clean. I don't put soap in, I don't put bleach in, nothing.

How do I know they are clean? Well, they did a study and published it on the news in Florida, you can google it. But really, they were just doing baseball playing dirt. We make real dirt. We make dirt that comes out of humans. We use mostly reusable cloth products here, diapers and feminine unmentionables. We also don't all always remember to use deodorant, or it doesn't always work. We make smells and nasty yuck.

So I was very skeptical. Very. But it works. It took me a while to decide, because I had a cold when we first got it, so I couldn't smell. You get a 30 day trial. And I took all 30 days making sure. The thing I was waiting on was stinky washclothes and towels. Our towels did finally get clean - it took a few washings. The washclothes were at the end of their useful life and needed replacing anyway. I cannot convince my people to rinse and hang up kitchen wash clothes. If I am gone for a couple days, I will find 18 of them in the bottom of the sink, wadded up with food in them and making big stink.

But I am convinced about the diapers and armpits and unmentionables and bath towels. They are honestly clean.

I wash my diapers twice on heavy, like I did before. They say if you would normally pre-treat something, you should still do that. Sometimes I run something through twice (like newborn poop stains - which normal soap doesn't get out either) and they do fade.

And the diapers are actually getting better. Bumgenius is the kind of diapers I use. They are all at least 3 years old and have been used on 4 different butts now. My diapers are pocket diapers, meaning there is an outside shell and inserts to stuff it with. My inserts are fluffing up (they normally get flatter with use) and my pockets are getting slicker on the inside (the water proof layer normally starts to get sticky after a while, making them harder to stuff). I suspect they will last longer because I'm using this.

I'm told that towels fluff up too, but mine haven't yet, and that colors brighten up, mine haven't yet. But what my stuff is doing is getting clean without soap or hot water. It doesn't smell. It doesn't smell like poop or pee or stinky pit or other nastiness. It doesn't smell like anything. In fact, if you are a person that likes your clean stuff to smell like something, you'd probably have to add the smell. I think you can do that, but I don't like perfume, so I don't want to, so I don't know how.

If you are interested, you can write a comment, and I won't publish it, but I'll give you my friend's contact info. Or if you have a question for me, you can ask me.

By the way, it is pretty expensive. If you can get a refurbed one, it is less, but still a bit of a jump, and I don't know how often those are available. But it's a buy once, cry once, and then you aren't heating your water or paying for laundry soap - for us, it'll pay for itself in a year or so.

So there it is, my Laundry Pure review.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Adoption Update

Two years, 2 weeks, and 2 days ago, we brought home a gorgeous little 5 pounder with light brown skin and soft black curls. She was 10 days old. My husband had already driven home, not knowing how long the ICPC paperwork would take, so I got on a plane, a fat, white, visibly pregnant woman (or recently delivered??) with a newborn child who was obviously biracial. I received 2 kinds of responses as I walked through the Memphis airport changing planes - the kind of cold, quick glances people give to people they disapprove of, and the appropriately drooly melty coos that people give to a teeny, tiny, just hatched human, so new she still smells like God.

She is two now. Her skin is darker, her hair is still soft but coarser and her curls are much tighter. She is possibly a little more clingy, maybe a little more fearful than most of my other children, but not outside the range of normal, and maybe just because we have been slightly more likely to coddle her through strange situations than our others. She is, by my understanding, very well attached.

She sleeps well, better than some of my others. She jumps, talks, climbs out of her crib (Oh joy!), eats, fights, screams, laughs, and does precisely what 2 year olds are supposed to do.

She is big and strong, and will be tall, says the pediatrician. Maybe as tall as her dad, that is, her adopted dad, my husband. Of course, right now, he is all she knows about. But there will be a day, someday, that she will want to know about the other dad. And we won't have much to say. Her birthmom didn't say much about him.

A wonderful young woman at my church who has a heart for adoption asked me recently if there was anything she could do to help. She wanted to support people who were adopting. I said, "You know, at this point, it's just parenting." There is nothing, today, that makes being her mom very different than being anyone else's mom. Well, she needs lotion more than the others. And her hair, well, that's a blog of its own. But really, she is just another of my kids.

She needs to be. She needs to be treated like all of my kids. Even regarding her hair, it is more important right now that she be treated pretty much like the other girls, having her hair done in a way that requires as little holding-still-time as possible. I don't want her to feel singled out.

But someday I know, someday she will ask questions that the others won't. She will question our role in her life, what she has lost, what she has gained. She will wonder what might have been. But I hope that she will, bathed in our love and the Lord's, find peace with what is.

For now, she is just another of my incredibly marvelous and beautiful daughters. She is stunning. Her laughter is contagious, her smile is miraculous, her heart is delightful. She is twice a big sister, and is a great big sister, comforting and scolding her little brothers, sharing with, clobbering, or suffocating them as the situation demands. She is great.

I love when she calls me mom, or holds my hand, or snuggles a big kid when they read to her. I love her version of everyone's name, when mispronunciations become new nicknames. I love that she is here, with us, a part of us, as if grown in me like the others. I know there may be tough days ahead, but that's okay. Bring 'em on.

I'm not afraid.

Friday, October 19, 2012

did it

hollar back.

changed the image. now on to all the diapers i've been neglecting all morning.

Technical difficulties

um, yeah, I got the picture up there, but I don't know how to make it smaller. sorry, I'll get somebody to help me.

The End of an Era

It has occurred to me, lately, that the "normal" I've been missing, with my 3 largest humans out and about part of the time, courtesy of the mystery of the driver's license we put so much time and effort into helping the eldest acquire, that normal is never coming back. The normal where we are all here together, or are all somewhere else, together. That normal where I am with them the vast majority of the time, talking to them and listening to them. It's not coming back.

They are all going to grow up. That is the plan. It is even the intention. It means, in some sick fashion, that we are successful, if they all grow up and have lives.

Oh, I could put my foot down. Deny them all opportunities. I could try to keep them here forever. But like a toenail you neglect to trim, there would still be a breaking away, but with a nasty ragged edge. No, better to groom them for it, train them, prepare them. Still, I'm just saying, it's a stupid idea.

Here's why:

#1 I like them. They are among my favorite people.

#2 They are pretty helpful to have around. I can afford to have this many children, in part, because they help each other. Well, the three most helpful people aren't here now! That is not helpful. Which means the smallest humans (the ones playing in the toilet and routinely - as if it were on their chore chart - putting the dog's food into the dog's water and standing on the kitchen table playing king of the mountain with food and dishes) WAY outnumber the mom and the other willing helpful staff.

Now I know what you're going to say here, that I have 10 others, and I just need to train them. But I've spent the last decade training these, and I did a good job and now I have to start all over. Could I have some cheese with this whine please?

#3 If they go away, then the others will get the idea that they too can grow up and pretty soon it'll be an epidemic and even the newborn I'm nursing at this very second will grow up and leave and I'll be left with just me and the SuperDad, who is also a super introvert. I may go crazy.

So we have upped the date nights, in hopes of still liking each other when they abandon us, and to try to help release the deluge of emotion and brain activity caused by the absence of big kid conversation, lest I explode from acute verbal constipation. I should probably blog more, not less, in this season. Don't you agree, Trace?

And now, I am going to attempt to change the picture to include littlest guy. This may create an explosion of a different sort, or may take a few days, but here goes.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Not giving up.

We might be settling into a groove.


Baby is sleeping more. He slept till 5:30 this morning. I can live on that much sleep. Not giving up.

It is Friday, and I have laundry to process and shirts to iron and diapers to wash. But it is Friday. That is a good thing. Not giving up.

When everyone is awake, and the big kids are occupied, and the toddlers are on the loose, and I'm nursing, I sometimes feel very overwhelmed. Go-Go-Gadget arms would come in SOOOO handy. But I don't have those. And the moment passes. And we clean up whatever was dumped, comfort whoever was smacked or bitten, salvage whatever was soaked in whatever was left behind. We recover. Not giving up.

I just printed out a couple recipes on line because I actually feel like cooking. Well, more because I feel like eating, but you get the picture. Not giving up.

I have a Bible reading plan. I'm behind, but not beyond what I could catch up on the weekend. Not without hope. Not giving up.

I haven't lost weight lately, but haven't really gained, either. Within range. Not giving up.

In each moment of failure or weakness, I am convinced and can see that Jesus is at work in me. I am becoming a Bride. I am a Bride. Not giving up.

1 Cor. 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Monday, September 24, 2012


I am timeless. I have no time. This is my official apology for not blogging very much these days. I want to. I need to. I just don't have time.

I have a new baby who wants to nurse a lot, 3 older kids with whom I am making penance for years of neglecting their formal writing skills by working with them ad infinitem on writing stuff for their classes, laundry to help with, diapers to wash and stuff, dishes to load, dinners to fix, my wife to murder and Gilder to frame for it. I'm swamped.

I wanted to write a long heartfelt blog about adopting my youngest daughter. But I couldn't even pull off a decent facebook status update on the subject. My phone and I are not getting along, and all the computers are busy writing article summaries and learning to speak Spanish and do 2 digit long division and type more than 20 words a minute.

I would love to write about seeking the Kingdom of God first in my eating habits, or an attempt in that direction. And fitting into size 18 jeans for the first time in well over a decade. And bingeing on raisins and sprouted whole wheat toast.

I could write about my internal debate regarding how to best love my African-American daughter's hair, and all the different schools of thought about how to keep it healthy. It's about parenting style, about racial identity, about my responsibility (or not) to make her look acceptable to the African Americans we encounter in our world, about adopting and wanting to make sure I'm doing right by the child I was given but didn't give birth to, about what is best for the hair and the head and the child, but also being consistent as a mother - I don't spend hours and hours on any other kid's hair. Does it take less time in the end to put her hair in a style once every few weeks than it would to keep it healthy and tangle free daily? For the next year, until she is old enough to express her desire and make a somewhat informed choice, how do we teach her to love her beautiful curls?

I could write about how hard it is to not interfere on behalf of children who are struggling with hard things and just nudge things in their direction, ease the pain, help them in a way that really doesn't help them at all. They have to struggle and fall and learn and grow and (gasp!) fail and repent and change and get up. I cannot grow their character for them.

I could write about my dream of going on a Mediterranean cruise for our anniversary next year.

Anyway, like I said, I just don't have time. I thought, with a laugh, about all the things I've done while nursing lately: flipping pancakes, stuffing diapers, cutting the little nubs off plastic 1:72 revolutionary war soldiers, mopping.

I've been listening to Alyn Jones talk about boundaries and hula hoops and how I am not responsible for other people's happinesses and having my brain circuits fry as I try to work out the ramifications of that little piece of truth. What does that mean in my relationships with my parents, my inlaws, my husband, my neighbors?

O.ver.whelmed. Not complaining. Living. Breathing. Surviving. Content. But no time to write. Baby is waking up.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


(Take 2)

So I'm finishing my breakfast and starting the second spelling quiz of the morning when someone points out that #12 is without diaper. He is, in fact, completely naked, which is part of the problem. He has reached that marvelous and unavoidable age at which one removes one's diaper at will. He does this whether it is a cloth or disposable, which it was in this case because he was sporting a rather sore bum last night so I decided to lay the vaseline on pretty thick before bedtime.

I proceed to the foyer, which is where all stately manors such as ours keep their changing tables, completely covered with used, unprocessed bum genii, and am dismayed to observe what appears to be a Hansel and Gretel style convention site, with little piles of what I wrongly presume to be bread crumbs as far as the eye can see (and I have a pretty long foyer).

Alas! I was mistaken, and they are not breadcrums but the scattered guts of the previously discarded diaper, courtesy of the dog (why do we have him?).

(This is about where I deleted my first attempt at this blog entry a few minutes ago.)

There is a complete circle of diaper shrapnel from my large stately foyer through my extra large living room, and then on through the dining room and kitchen. This includes some carpeted floor, but as anyone who has ever cleaned up one of those nightmares can attest to, it makes precious little difference when you are cleaning it up - it doesn't sweep up off of hard floor or carpet. It doesn't clean up at all. It doesn't dry out, doesn't wipe up, doesn't evaporate, doesn't absorb. It is there forever.

Yes, my house smells like pee.

In other news, I think all mothers with twins, Irish, adopted or genuine, ought to also receive a temporary set of go-go-gadget arms for the express purpose of breaking up fights over the younger baby's pacifier or a contested bottle of milk or whatever other article they are disputing.

#11 has put toothpaste in her eyes twice this week. One of the 'twins' is on the kitchen table nearly all the time. There is toothpaste virtually all over the house.

Having closely spaced siblings, the new baby is always in the most danger from the child immediately preceeding him or her. I am learning this is doubly so with two preceeding. If they come upon the baby in his bed or otherwise unarmed, they start looking around for things he might need. Like a blanket the dog pooped on. Or several stuffed animals. Or a car. Or a pencil.

We do not have a swing or a bouncy seat or a bumpo. For one thing, it puts the baby in a very vulnerable position for the toddler(s) to kill or maim him. (Yes, I know I can teach them not to do that, but frankly, I'm not that good of a mother.)

The other reason we don't have those objects is that we don't really need them. We have people literally waiting in line to hold the new person. "I'm next in line," is what they say. Rarely does a newbie get to sleep out a whole nap in his bed without someone needing to snuggle him. We cherish the babies. (Of course, as I race to finish this, New Guy is screaming in the next room waiting for me . . ., never mind, #5 got him.)

All this just is to say that I am every bit as overwhelmed as I thought I might be and you knew I would be. Still loving all the humans, but this has indeed been a challenging week. And it's only Wednesday morning.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Day 11

So far, so good. 

I weigh 194.  That is the least, best I remember, I've weighed in 15+ years.  When I got pregnant with second baby, first son, I believe I was 189 lbs.  So in 5 lbs I'll be at my lowest in nearly 17 years.  From then, I don't really know.  We didn't have a scale for a while.  Bad idea.

I have to say, when we got married, I wasn't much of a cook, but we were great at eating.  We would go through a whole thing of frozen Salisbury steaks (6 portions) with mashed potatoes, eating the gravy, with a can of greenie beanies to make us feel less guilty.  Our special Saturday breakfast was scrambled eggs, pigs in a blanket (probably 5 each) and a whole pack of cinnamon rolls (4 each).  We plumped up pretty quickly.

And I ate as if I were incapable of getting full and somehow immune to calories.  My favorite type of suicide was a box of Little Debbie zebra cakes.  There were 10 in a box, and I would eat most if not all of them, guzzling half a gallon of milk (skim, of course) to wash them down.

In those days, I didn't have a real job.  Okay, I've never had a real job.  But I was teaching piano lessons and substitute teaching and playing secretary for a small pest control company and volunteering for the March For Jesus, while my beloved husband was working 70 hour weeks as a consultant.  I was lonely.  I filled my time with pretending to be a teenager working with the youth group, taking up too much time at the houses where I taught lessons (and other houses where I didn't have any real reason to be there), and, well, eating. 

I made an effort from time to time to slim down or exercise or be more disciplined.  Usually I started feeling like I was in a healthy place about an hour before I got pregnant again. 

So here I am (and I let this one sit for a while, so today is actually day 20, and I've gained, not lost weight), still at the brink of being healthier and thinner and stronger than I've been for a long time, but also at the brink of going back to the way I've been for a long time.  Funny thing about brinks - they go both ways. 

I am struggling with my addiction, struggling with exhaustion, struggling with the desire to grow and change and conquer, and with the desire to just give up.  But I can't, because I've come too far. 

It doesn't feel like I've come very far.  I feel fat.  I feel ugly.  I feel like I just had a baby and am not sleeping and want to eat the world.  I feel like a failure, not a success, even though I've just succeeded.  I'm over the elation of being smaller than I have been, and just in the trenches of still being bigger than anybody wants to be.

Jesus, I need Your help.  I cannot walk near to You unless You hold me close.  And I cannot walk in self-control unless You grow it in me.  I am only a failure unless You shine and live in and through me.  Please draw me near.  Help me each day to turn to You, to stay close to You, to hear these words of Yours and obey.  Thank You for loving me no matter what.  Thank You for not rejecting me or accepting me based on my performance.  Thank You for seeing me as Your bride, for calling me beautiful, for seeing the end from the beginning.