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.