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.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

What's it like?

What's it like, homeschooling 8 kids with 5 preschoolers?

Like being drug through a knot hole backwards. 

Like having your gums scraped.

(those are both quotes from my dad)

Like being a Chinese acrobat, trying to keep all the plates spinning.

Like that kid in the fairy tale, trying to plug the holes in the dike.

It's hard.


We haven't really started yet, not full force.  We added one subject each day this week, except on Friday, we just did Thursday again.  So after a week of barely half days, I can confidently say, we are in deep doo-doo.  My older boys are going through puberty in equal and opposite ways.  One is an early developer physically.  Means he is, for the moment only, bigger and stronger than everybody else.  He is also, incidentally, angrier and more frustrated.  Goes with the testosterone.  The other is extremely verbal.  He thinks and talks a lot.  And he's cocky.  Actually, they're both pretty cocky.  I have them doing Apologia Biology together.  And the younger is going to drive the older to the brink of insanity.  And then the older will pull a Cain and Abel, most likely.  Because the younger is getting back at the older for being bigger and stronger by being quicker and more perceptive in academics.  It's working.

Oldest son is also taking Algebra 2.  Teaching Textbooks has a different order of things than most maths, doing Algebra 1 then 2, then Geometry.  The reason most maths put Geometry in the middle is in case the student absolutely despises Algebra, he gets to take a little Geometry break, or vice versa.  Oldest son is experiencing no such reprieve.  Much growling and gnashing of teeth.

And then we have some outside-the-home classes beginning next week.  Very challenging, lots of reading, lots of writing.  First born daughter will do fine, she is more than ready.  Second son, the chatty thinky one, will do grand.  But #1 son is pretty sure he's going to die.  And he might.  Or I might.  He has had some good years lately, but we're ratcheting up the pressure, asking him to really learn, not just get done.  It's not going to be pretty.

And that's just one child. 

Every year every thing is harder, bigger, more challenging.  Add a child, add a subject, add an expectation.  I have never had 5 preschoolers before.  And I've never had 8 in school before.  It's kind of a lot.  I am not really smarter, stronger, wiser, or more efficient than I was last year.  I am not a better teacher.  There are not more hours in the day than there used to be.  I'm still just me.  And just me is feeling a little overwhelmed, a little underqualified.

And that is just looking at the day to day.  That is not looking ahead at things like college/jobs/marriage/stuff like that.  I'm just trying to get to bedtime without a nervous breakdown. 

But more than that nervousness, I have another kind of nervousness eating at me.  I am nervous about what my kids see in me.  Do they see a mom who is abiding in the Lord?  Delighting in the Law, meditating day and night?  Do they see me seeking the Kingdom first?  Are we showing them a marriage they will want to emulate someday?  Do they see Jesus in us? 

Or do they see a compromising, time-wasting, food-aholic?  Do they see the very image of overweight self centered mediocrity? 

I know the end of the story:  I come up from the wilderness leaning on my Beloved. 

I am hungry for the Word.  I want to know it deeply and well.  I want to hide it in my heart.  I want to understand the descriptions of Jesus in the Song of Solomon.  I want to read Revelation and not be afraid for the future.  I want to know the gospels so well that I can say I know the One they are about.  I want to get past Paul's annoying grammar enough to grasp the grace of Romans. 

I want to be His.  Belonging to the Lord - that's my banner.  If my children could look at me and see something of that journey, the one that ends with me "leaning on my Beloved".  Even if it takes me longer than a lifetime to reach it, if they see me drawing nearer, not for their sake, but for His, for mine, then I will have lived well.

What's it like to try to homeschool 8 children and simultaneously love and nurture 5 preschoolers?  Like butter scraped over too much bread.  Like trying to make 5 loaves and 2 fishes feed 5,000 plus women and children.  Like coming up from the wilderness leaning on my Beloved.