Monday, December 22, 2014

What Christmas Means to Me

I am a horrible, obnoxious, vicious critic of Christmas songs. I deliver up a full helping of snarky comments all day long, all season long. There are the stupid meaningless songs, the dysfunctional relationship/recent break up/stalker songs, the "winter" songs, the bad theology religious songs (Do you hear what I hear?), the Beach Boys attempt at comparing Santa's sleigh to a hot rod, my kids' favorite which they call '6-pack at a liquor store', and it just goes on and on. I've written blogs about particular songs and lists of songs. This is not one of those posts. It's just inspired by one of those Christmas songs, but I'm not going to critique it. Just quote it.

Fires burning low, lots of mistletoe
Lots of snow and ice everywhere we go
Choirs singing carols right outside my door
All these things and more, that's what Christmas means to me my Lord

Here is what Christmas means to me, why I love to celebrate it.

A long time ago, God made a man and a woman. He gave them only one rule. Eat from any tree but this one. They disobeyed, and everything began to die. But even as God told them to leave and described some of the consequences of their actions, He said, I'm gonna fix this.

Thousands of years of sin, judgement, repentance and forgiveness later, in a moment of unfathomable and extraordinary grace and mercy, God placed the glory and majesty and splendor of Himself in the humble womb of a nondescript unmarried young woman. The glory of Mary is that she said yes. The glory of God is that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. He showed us the Father. He became acquainted with grief. He learned obedience through suffering. He fulfilled the Law and the Prophets, and in the same earthly breath, was Himself the propitiation for our sin.

Unbelievable, and yet gloriously believable.

All in a moment, in a gestational moment. All of creation, pregnant with desire and expectation, waiting for that one pregnancy and delivery of the Deliverer. Is it not magnificent? Is it not extraordinary? I am not diminishing the Cross or the Resurrection. But the culmination of everything before was that moment. The Word become Flesh. We beheld His Glory. The Glory of the Only One begotten of the Father. Full of grace. Full of truth. At the same time. Not in competition, not torn, not confused. Grace and truth. Mercy and justice, simultaneously born to us here together. Stunningly, exquisitely, universe shatteringly beautiful.

You can see where "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" sorta falls just a tad short, right?

Friday, December 19, 2014

What I tell my kids about Santa

When I think about writing a book, which I do sometimes, I think I will have a chapter, or a part of each chapter, or a whole book called "Conversations with my children," which would be all the things I say to my kids about sex or friendships or racism or when someone is unkind to you or Santa Claus. So here is that one:

Santa is real. He is a real person who lived a very long time ago. He loved Jesus and is in heaven with Jesus right now. When he was alive on earth, one way he showed how much he loved Jesus was by helping people and giving to people who were poor and needy. He was so great at it, people said he was a saint, a person who is holy like Jesus. That's why he's called Santa Claus. Saint-ni Claus or Saint Nicholas.

He was such a great guy, people still talk about him, dress up like him, make up stories about him. But he was real. And if he was here today, he would probably say that all the stories about him are silly and that we shouldn't focus on him, we should focus on Jesus.

On Christmas eve, we leave cookies and milk for Santa, a carrot or two for the reindeer, and stockings hang from our, um, kitchen cabinet knobs. And on Christmas morning, our children find candy and gifts and a letter to each from Santa, telling them how great they are, how loved they are, how pleased their parents are with them, and how loving Jesus is the most important thing in the whole world. In mom or dad's handwriting. Love, Santa.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Consider the cost

I used to love an old song by Steve Camp, I think, "the gospel according to Jesus". It had all the hard sayings of Jesus in it: consider the cost of building a tower, it's a narrow way that you must come for to do the will of the Father is to follow the Son, to love Him more than father or mother, to love Him more than even your own flesh. To give all that you are for all that He is."

Today I failed to consider the cost. I enjoyed a moments pleasure but I am paying for it now.

Several of my kids (who says that?) went to dance class today, leaving only 6. 2 were studying silently, 4 slept peacefully, I did laundry like the wind, or like the wind would do laundry if a woodchuck could chuck wood. It was bliss. I listened to a podcast, I tell you. It was like I was single or something.

But now. Now it is approaching 11:00. P. m. And 3 of the four who napped are awake. Wide awake. Chatting. Climbing out of bed. Throwing toys. Writing doctoral dissertations.

Regret. I am filled with it. If only I'd thought. If only I'd known. Sure, it was great to fold 4 baskets of clean clothes. But was it worth it?

Consider the cost my friends. Sure, 2 hours of uninterrupted laundry folding might sound like a dream come true, but not if you find yourself stationed on a step strategically positioned equidistant from all three bedroom doors, hours after you wanted to go to sleep, like a guy decked out in duck dynasty duds at the end of bow season, just waiting for something to pop it's head out.

Say, "La vee!" Friends. That's just the way it goes.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Why don't blog very much right now

I do not blog very much right now for several reasons, and these are in no particular order.

1. I have a baby who is trying to get 8 teeth in, all at the same time. When he is not doing that, he is on the floor (which we DO vacuum sometimes) consuming large quantities of dog hair (from the dog we DO brush sometimes) He also breast feeds and is learning to eat baby food, which is a complicated process that involves the repeated smearing on and scraping off the face and neck of the baby a simple nearly liquid food substance, and in the process, combining it with the baby's saliva, thereby doubling the original quantity of baby food, rendering the task of finishing the food impossible.

2. I have an almost 2 year old and two 3 year olds who are bent on my and their imminent destruction. Most recently, the 3 year old female cut off significant portions of her previously gorgeous hair. (I may have told this story here already, but I was so traumatized by the event, it will require multiple tellings for me to fully recover.) While I was cutting the rest of the hair to match, she shoved a tiny game piece up her nose, lodging it where it could barely be seen. My eldest son removed it by plugging the other nostril and blowing in her mouth. Hard.

The 3 year old male insists on 'peeing a tree' and the 2 year old insists on carrying food and drink throughout the house.

3. I am training my middle children to be kind, work hard, and treat me and each other with respect... In exchange for turns playing games on the computer. Then I have to break up the fights that ensue as they jockey for the best seats for watching each others' brains melt.

4. My oldest children require a great deal of my attention and every ounce of Christlike-ness and biblical wisdom that I have, and the application of every scripture and life lesson I've ever learned to get through each day.

5. I am struggling to honor God with my body, to feed it well and move it around and lean on Him for the things I tend to go to food for. This is a difficult and constant battle, one I would assume everyone is tired of. I know I am.

6. I am trying and failing miserably at honoring my husband's most basic and appropriate request, simply that we clean up after each meal. Like normal people.

7. Our family is attempting to begin a set together at our local house of prayer. Weekly. Every week. Together. Yeah. Well that is the goal.

8. It is the beginning of August and I am not ready to start school. Not. Ready.

9. It has taken me most of a day to write this, and I am on vacation. My train of thought is not that long. If it takes all day to finish a thought, chances are, it will never be done being thunk.

10. And, the final reason I don't blog very much is that I just don't think I have anything worth saying right now. I'm frankly not very impressed with myself, and I don't know why anybody would want to read what I have to write. Granted, I started this blog for me more than anybody else. But even then, I get tired of saying the same things, get tired of sucking the same ways.

I have things that are really important that I need to do that aren't getting done. So, if you like my blog, and you wish I wrote more, here's what you need to do. Pray to Jesus to help me not suck so bad, so I can blog more often. It sounds like this: "Dear Jesus, please help the amazing super mom be amazing and/or super today. Help her to eat food that her body needs and not eat stuff that will kill her. Help her make time to read her bible and worship You and talk to You today. Help her find joy in doing the things that are hard or seem futile or impossible. Give her wisdom about the coming school year and how to raise teenagers and grace to not throttle preschoolers. Help her Lord. Please. And help her write more blogs for me. Amen."

Something like that.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Supermom takes a sick day

We got home from a Memorial Day camping trip (which I'm sure is worthy of a blog post of its own) to a relatively clean house. At least the sink was clean. I'm sure of this because we have ants and I have issues with ants, so I wanted the "ant area" to be as clean as possible, except for the poison I left in hopes of killing the little suckers (which I now suspect is acting as a homing beacon for all the ants of my neighborhood). Anyway, the sink was clean.

But the clean sink did little to compensate for the 2 van loads of crap we brought in and laid, well, everywhere. Our kitchen island (9'x3') was covered in a 2 ft layer of camping gear and food waiting to be put away, not to mention the floor of two rooms. We managed to get the sleeping bags and pillows and dirty laundry to the appropriate places, ate supper without really cleaning it up, bathed or showered all the humans, and fell into bed (did I mention it was tent camping?).

I was feeling old and fat and pathetic after the camping. Air mattress. But I was thinking I just needed a night in my own bed. It would have also helped if a certain baby would sleep past 5:30 some morning. He didn't. I started yesterday feeling horrible, tried to work towards conquering the mess, and maybe around 10 took my temperature. What'd'ya know, I had an actual fever. So I spent most of the day lying on a couch or bed or in the bathtub watching full episodes of Cupcake Wars on Youtube.

I've decided that the definition of when I am sick is when I feel lousy enough to not care at all how much of a bind I am putting my husband in by making him take care of the needy masses when he had work to do and needed to go to bed early because he had a midnight meeting to attend (not a cult, a production release - he's a computer geek and they do important stuff at night so it doesn't take down the system, or something like that). Didn't care. I was sick.

Meanwhile . . .

I got up this morning feeling much better. I actually got dressed. Dealt with the babies, diapers, cereal. But, alas, the kitchen sink. Both sinks full and several inches above sink level full of all the dishes of yesterday. Could we have used all those dishes yesterday? Wash clothes down in the sink and one hanging over the edge (with an entire colony of ants hiding under it - I said I don't like ants, right?!) I would have thought I was gone a weekend or longer. It was impressive. I kept telling myself, it was only a day, it was only a day. A washcloth couldn't have gone rancid in a day.

Ok, most of what I'm feeling is overwhelmed by all of the dirty clothes and camping gear and general whiny pathetic-ness of post road trip depression. But oh what a difference a clean ant-free sink makes to a girl's ability to cope.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Weight loss for moms of toddlers

I'm beginning to think that such a thing does not exist. Unless you just don't mind wasting food. I do. I mind throwing away an entire bowl of raisin bran with freshly poured milk because someone noticed there were miniwheats or cheerios. I mind the 1.5 inch margin of crust with nutella or pbj that had to be abandoned because it wasn't the middle of the sandwich and there was a ball somewhere. I also am vulnerable to half eaten bits of chocolate laying on the table, the first several gulps of root beer because the more I drink, the less they spill, and the cake left behind after the frosting got licked off.

In addition to these temptations, there is also the issue of what they do when I try to do something healthy like walk on the treadmill. I'm on the treadmill, they need to go potty, but they don't "how". Or I'm on the treadmill, and they are pretending the back of the treadmill is a jungle gym. Or I'm on the treadmill and she's sitting on his head and he can't breathe.

These are all hypothetical situations, of course.

Then there are birthdays and holidays. From mid February to Mother's Day, we have either a birthday or holiday nearly every two weeks, just long enough to not set up a pattern of healthy eating long enough to be able to stick to it through a Challenging Event Involving Delicious Food, like Easter, Valentine's Day, a birthday or Mother's Day.

Tonight I went out with a friend for dinner and made a pretty healthy choice, drank water, was on track. I came home and loaded the dishwasher. There were 3.5 toasted raviolis on a plate. I'm not going to let those things just die. My husband worked long hours earning the money to pay for those suckers. My daughter labored for minutes to cook them. There are children starving in Africa for crying out loud. And, yeah, I could have put them in a baggy in the fridge. In fact I did put them in a baggy. Then I got them back out. And I ate them all!

I'm not really trying to excuse my weakness for my kids' food. I know better. Some days I have the will power to be the mom I want to be, to set a good example, to suck down the spinach smoothie at breakfast and go through the effort to make the completely comfortless salad for lunch. Other days, most days, I don't. Some days I reach all the way in and find a trace of the faithfulness of my Maker that He put in me, and I get on the stupid piece of crap treadmill and walk nowhere for 20 or 30 minutes. Some days I don't. Usually because I'm doing something fun like reading really entertaining literature called my kids papers on communism or taking a child to the amusement park we know as the pediatrician's office. Or maybe even because I got to go get the heck drilled out of another molar and have several (ugh) impressions made so they can give me a new expensive tooth to replace the other one I used to have before they drilled the heck out of it.

It just isn't the easiest thing to change. That's all. I'm not good at it sometimes. And right now is one of those times. Not giving up. Fessing up. That's all.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Some days are like that ...

I had a day like that recently.

My big kids were finishing up book reports. Equals - not maybe as helpful as sometimes are.

Second tier big kids, well, daughter number 2 is a reader. I can pull her out of her book. With effort. In an emergency.

So I was down to kid-5, who is mostly extremely helpful, but is also mostly kid.

The weird thing was that the next 4 kids were missing, at a friend's house. You would think that would make everything easier. You would be wrong.

The 6-11 year old crowd are the go-getters. They're the ones you send to the bathroom to see what the terrorists are up to. They are the brute squad. They put babies in bed, hold crying infant while mom goes to the potty, tattle on whomever for whatever. They are important people. And they were gone.

All I really had was kid-5, who sometimes does a freakish hormonal downward spiral thing, and the smallest 5. I have 5 pre-schoolers. Five.

Kid-10 is the platinum curled, blue-eyed, snuggler, the manipulator. Kid-11 is my gorgeous, ornery beyond my wildest imagination, and makes a hobby of pushing k-10's buttons, and biting kid-12. Kid-12 is anal, uptight, particular, intense, and has me completely whipped. He is also a very easy target for k-11, especially since she bites and he is frequently naked. Kid-13 is pretty much standard issue 20 month old, climbing on tables and counters and throwing everything from them down to the floor. Kid-14 is a baby. Cute. Vulnerable. Nurses or cries or sleeps.

It was a long day. (I should mention that I did sneak out for a lovely lunch with some young friends who have been in my life for a long time.)

The middles arrived home just in time to leave for Awana. My plan (mastermind) was to leave husband at home to get work done and hook up with another mom while kiddos played. However, my friend got her hair cut instead (it looks lovely) and I was alone, in a small room with lots of toys which hurt when thrown but don't leave a mark. There is a little miniature playgroundish thingy in that room, which k11 and k12 decided needed repurposing, so, instead of going up the little steps and down the little slide, they jumped off the other two sides, under the rails, head first. Repeatedly. Screaming bloody murder. I wasn't really concerned about the concussive activity, just the screaming.

Well meaning adults kept peeking in on me, and walking away quietly with heads bowed.

Right about the time I had had enough, one of the three year olds winged a small plastic banana across the room, tagging me in the back of the head. I rapidly moved to deal with child and banana, and the other three yr old, as if on cue, from a movie script, made a one in a million shot smacking me in the face with the same flying banana. It was stunning.

I cried. Hard.

Then kid-12, who you'll remember has me whipped, takes my face in his little hands and looks in my eyes with his big blue ones and says, somberly, "Mommy, you be ok. It ok. You ok Mommy."
It was so cute, I decided not to murder anyone.

I said very few words on the way home. I did text my husband to insure he had gotten lots of important work done on the back of my banana beaten labor. He did.
I stayed up later than 42 year olds should reading about Islam in my kids' papers, was up during the night with the mostly sleeping through the night baby who went to bed with a less than fresh diaper, and was up early ironing a shirt for my man, because I am ironing pretty much day to day right now.

Treadmill? Ha! Eating healthy? No. Getting by? Yes indeed, and that will have to do for right now.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


I lift my eyes to the hills
Whence cometh my help?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of heaven and earth

Ok, I'm quoting that from memory, half from the Bible, half from songs people have written from the Bible.

And it's a funny passage, because I've heard it interpreted different ways. Some people say/sing it in a way that kind of makes it sound like our help comes from the Lord via those hills. (Cue: Climb Every Mountain from The Sound of Music). I've heard others say something along the lines of the opposite, that people were building false altars on the high places, and the psalmist is saying, "Ya'll can go to the hills, but MY help comes from the Lord."

Either way, I think we all pretty much mean the same thing. Our eggs are all in one basket: His. (nice little Easter touch, eh?)

I recently hit a roadblock of faith. I need God to move. I need to see Him move. I don't want to pull a Hagar/Abram/Sarai type of stunt, in which I have a pretty good feel for what God is going to do but assume He needs me to take over. But I also see that I have some responsibility to walk in what He does give me to do. (That whole thing we made up that isn't really in the Bible but is maybe sort of true: God helps those who help themselves.)

So I shut down and gave up and stopped trying for a month or so. And the nearer I stayed to the Lord, the more grace I had for what wasn't changing. But I wasn't always near. And the farther away I got, the more sarcastic and snippity I was, and nasty, and spewing and flailing. And nobody likes me like that. And one day I just said, "This isn't working."

I don't think God wants me to sit on my hands and stew. And I don't think He wants me to take over and assume He's apathetic. I think He wants me near, and nearer, and still near. Everything else is details.

So my baby steps are just that, and I'm holding His hands, and if I let go, I will fall and get a bloody lip. But then He'll give me a popsicle, a red one, so my friends don't all know what a mess I am, maybe. And we'll try again.

It's like that with everything. The point is not winning or succeeding or losing or failing. The point is nearness. The rest is background.

My hope is in the One Who made heaven and earth. A thousand may fall at my side, and 10,000 at my right hand. But my hope is in the Lord. He will not allow my foot to stumble.

Here's an old song that doesn't fit the modern American church:

Let sorrow do its work
Send grief and pain
Sweet are Thy messengers
Sweet their refrain
When they can sing with me,
"More love, Oh Christ, to Thee"
More love to Thee
More love to Thee

Saturday, March 29, 2014

how you do it, part whatever

i haven't written a 'how you do it' post for a long time
(i know, i haven't written ANY post for a long time)
but here's one, in case you're wondering

we've really been struggling with the family maintenance/housekeeping scene for, um, forever
and lately we've found something that has worked way better
for a whole week
so i will share it with you because a week's success after 2 decades (or a lifetime) of failure
makes me an everloving expert.

the Duggars call it jurisdictions
instead of what we did before, which was
every kid has a laundry job AND a kitchen patrol (kp) job
every day
so my 9 relatively competent children were on various teams for laundry and kp
each laundry team was to do one switch and sort (move wash load to dryer, start dryer, start new wash load, fold and sort stuff from dryer, hanging shirts, folding everything else; putting shirts in each person's spot on rack, putting pants and underthings and other things in one of 10 buckets or on mom's bed; each person has in his bucket his own things and stuff for his little buddy or another category like dress up or attic bathroom towels . . .)
you can see where that got complicated, right?
and kitchen teams, with a sweeper, a table clearer and wiper, and a dishwasher loader for each meal of the day
and the oldest 7 had a day that was their day to unload the dishwashers, all day

it sounds ridiculous, and never worked.

here's what we're doing now.

9 relatively competent children, right?
#1 (age 17) hangs up shirts
#2 (16) dining room floor
#3 (15) dining room table
#4 (13) fold and sort laundry except shirts and socks
#5 (12) washes and dries all laundry
#6 (11) unloads all dishwashers
#7 (9) kitchen table
#8 (8) matches all socks
#9 (6)(ok, really me) kitchen floor
#10 (4) helps unload dishwashers, or not

they all have a household cleaning job as well
this way, they are able to master their jobs and actually do a good job
and if they don't, it is easy to know who needs some training

so much better
so much less frustrating

(baby in bed = typing with capitals and punctuation)
In other news, for those of you reading here just so you know how to pray for me, I am doing better in the health and fitness department. I've run walked 21 miles in the past few weeks, and I'm eating somewhat healthier, though that's been just this week. We have a chart on the fridge with 150 boxes. Each one is a mile. When hubby or I or one of the adolescent children does a mile, we fill in a box with our initial. When we fill the boxes, we go to Cheesecake Factory! Mostly I'm doing it because it is good for my blood pressure, which has not really gotten back to normal after baby #14, probably because I ate so much that my weight is in the "tilt" bracket and my body systems are on strike. I have a check up coming up, and I'll probably be put on bp meds again, but I'm doing my darnedest (no kidding, that's how you spell it!) to get it under control before then.

More veggies means more full means not as hungry in between. But also, a wonderful friend and I are humiliating humbling ourselves and texting each other every blessed thing we eat. That helps a whole lot.

But the main thing that is going better which is really the mojo behind any other improvement is that I cried to the Lord and He heard me and delivered me and helped me and comforted me and healed me and gave me wisdom. He is faithful. I highly recommend Him.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


My baby likes to party late. We are up till midnight most nights, just hanging out, doing what we do. Nurse, burp, nurse, poop, change, nurse, spit, change, nurse, burp, you get the idea. Husband sleeps. S'okay, he has to get up in the morning. No, wait, so do I. Seriously, someone should sleep. Might as well be him. Or me.

Nursing a baby is a pleasant thing. Makes you feel good. Feels like a miracle, that God made my body, not only to nourish this baby for 9 months and give birth to him, but then also to provide what he needs for most of his first year, not just nutrition, but also the ability to fight diseases, to comfort him, to bond with him and keep him close to me and lots of other things.

But nursing a baby off and on for hours on end, all the while getting tireder and tireder (too tired to even use proper grammar, obviously), makes me feel woefully inadequate. To stay awake (I do a better job nursing when I don't drop him) I cruise around on facebook (where, as it turns out, there is no life), work diligently to perfect my spider solitaire skills, and peruse the internet for theories on why a 6 week old would still be awake at 1 a.m.

One word that pops up is a term I refused to label my previous 13 kids with: Colic. My mother in law has told me the stories of my husband as an infant many, many times. Many. It must have been dreadful, because it honestly comes up nearly every time any one of my many children cries for longer than a few minutes. Not to mention that the whole breastfeeding mystery kind of escapes some people.

But I have avoided that word because it seemed like a bit of a cop out. I read an article about crying in babies, and how if you chart the number of hours babies cry on a graph, you get a bell curve, which means it's normal. Some cry more, some cry less, it doesn't really matter what you do. And what you are supposed to do, I'm doing. Nurse them when they want, it's a natural comforting thing. (The scientific terms escape me.)

This, however, this late night party thing, this is excessive. I may eventually describe it as colic, I don't know.

At any rate, I am sleeping a solid 5-6 hours a night. That is just enough to make my body think I'm getting enough rest to drive, but not enough for it to be safe to go through a day without coffee.

Nice thing now, though, is that no one at my house is sleeping enough, thanks to the winter olympics running till 10:30 every night. Not that we are all watching it that late, but we are watching way more tv than normal, and dragging our feet at bedtime, desperately hoping to watch another American who ought to have been able to win a medal do slightly less than they were capable of at an event that we know absolutely nothing about, using terms like "twizzles" and acting like we have some genuine interest. Heck, we live in America and we don't honestly even watch basketball, football or baseball the vast majority of the time. Superbowl, World Series, Final Four. That's about it. But we can't go to sleep unless we see whether our guy got the bronze risking his life sliding down pipes on a mountain covered with manufactured snow with his feet strapped to a big piece of fiberglass or whatever it's made of. Really?

Ok, he's asleep, so I'm going to see if I get to do that too. The party is over. Maybe.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Why are we wimps?

We went to a great party this afternoon, the 16 of us. It was a great party for a number of reasons. It was great because we were celebrating the adoption of a couple of wonderful boys by a fantastic family. My friends both shared their adoption journey. They were funny, they were vulnerable, they were real. They exhibited, without meaning to, a marriage that survives and thrives through the bumps and joys and disappointments of life. It was also great because of the truly amazing collection of people there. It was a wonderfully mixed bag of skin colors and family builders. Many large families, many adoptees, several big vans parked outside.

It was also mayhem. There were lots of people there and lots and lots of kids. And, while many of them were kids we brought with us and brought home afterwards, a whole lot more of them were other people's children. And keeping track of your own flock in the midst of a much larger herd is, well, challenging. We left early, and cancelled our plans to go to a worship night at our church. We were trashed. We are wimps.

My in-laws have a notion (delusions of grandeur) that they would like to take us, all - of - us, to Disney next fall. I am having panic attacks about this plan. It sounds absolutely exhausting. The idea of keeping this many people together and cared for and fed and clothed on foreign turf (aka Florida) for multiple days, not to mention getting there and back, well, just, dang. When did we become wimps?

I used to be brave. I used to take 5 kids under 6 to the zoo by myself, 8 months pregnant, in 6 feet of snow, uphill both ways, and I was grateful. Now I'm afraid to stay home alone with the youngest 4. What happened to me?

Am I getting old? I am. I know because I have to stop after every paragraph and go back and delete the extra spaces I put between sentences because I learned to type on an obsolete piece of machinery called a typewriter. I don't feel old, but the mirror tells me I better deal with that reality or start coloring my hair.

But I don't think it is an age thing. I think I am just settling in, maybe? I just want to be home with my people, listening to them fight, I mean, spending time with them, kissing the babies, talking with the bigs, hugging whoever will let me. I want to catch precious moments with my husband, in the off chance he looks up from his electronic device of the moment. I don't want to go places and be vulnerable, be on display, be weighed and measured and be found wanting.

But that's not really it either. I think I'm just not doing a very good job training my children's characters right now, and I don't particularly want to take the show on the road. It is too big for me. The way they talk and think, who they will become, who they are now, their relationships with God and the degree to which it impacts (or doesn't) their lives daily - these things are out of my control. I feel woefully inadequate to deal with them, and staying home is easier.

Maybe I've got some leftover hormones in me (ya think?), certainly I am low on sleep (because I have a newborn, of course), and I am way less connected to the Lover of my soul and His magic Book than I like to be. But it is also, well, overwhelming.

I am overwhelmed. My husband is overwhelmed. We are overwhelmed and overwhelming. If we stay home, perhaps no one will notice. But if we go out, somebody's bound to figure out the emperor's got no clothes. Especially because we stick out. Like a sore thumb. More like an erupting volcano. And people ask questions. And I typically answer questions. Honestly. No, better to stay home and keep our unimpressive non-Von-Trapp like qualities just between the 16 of us. And the dog. And the hamster.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Only As Happy

I've heard my dad say, quoting James Dobson, I believe, "A father is only as happy as his unhappiest child."

I'd like to add an addendum to that: my children, especially the older ones, are generally only as happy as their unhappiest mom.

Which leaves us in a sad catch 22. If my happiness is limited by the happiness of my saddest kid, and my children's happiness is limited by mine, then the child who currently has an issue has the ability to drag all of us down. Furthermore, with 14 children, there are very few moments when no one has an issue. The other night when we left Awana, there were at least 5 children crying in the van. And 3 kids rode home with dad. So nearly half the children in the vehicle I was driving were out loud sad.

This presents a problem. For everybody. So even though James Dobson said it, I'm resolving to reject it, somewhat, if I can. I think my children deserve to have a mom who is happier than the unhappiest child. I think they need a mom who has the joy of the Lord, even in the most hormonal moments. Even with potty training issues. Even with papers due and young boys drag racing through the foyer in unbreakable broken little tykes shopping carts. Even then.

Youngest daughter runs into my room at breakneck speed tonight, declares, "I gotta go potty!" I am, of course, nursing at the time, because that's what I do. I say, ok, GO! [This is why it is my firm and reaffirmed policy NOT to potty train anybody when I'm pregnant.] She runs into the bathroom, runs back out to tell me she needs my help, I yell (in my best Mama Dugger voice), "Get your butt in there, pull down your panties, and PEE IN THE POTTY!!"

She goes in, flushes the potty, closes the door, LOCKS IT, pulls her pants down and empties her entire bladder (and a jug of water she may have been hiding, I don't know, it was a lot) on the floor.

I get up, put the baby in bed, and storm into the bathroom, telling her to get on that potty. "Are you angry, Mama?" I am. It is my intention to have her sit there for the rest of her third year of life, or till she gets it. Eventually, though, I am ready to be done with my time out, and I get her fresh britches, give her a warning about next time, and a hug, and we pray and ask Jesus to help her not pee on the floor. A good night kiss and she is off to bed with peace.

I have the song in my head, an old Keith Green song, "I want to, I need to be more like Jesus. I want to, I need to be more like Him."

I need to maintain my grip, to maintain my "abide". It's so simple - if I abide in Him I can ask Him anything, but apart from Him I can do nothing. Why would I not abide?

But I don't. I get distracted, or stay away because I think He won't be pleased with me, I'm feeling rebellious, or just filling my brain with garbage.

For example, I keep loading and deleting and reloading and redeleting spider solitaire on my phone. It is a waste, of course. But when I'm nursing I have a lot of that sort of time that is easily filled with things like spider solitaire or browsing Facebook. And yet. There is no life there, and I feel so empty when I do those things.

I'm often too tired to read the Bible when nursing, especially in the middle of the night. But I could pray. I could talk to my Savior. Why wouldn't I? What better use of that time than to talk to my Friend?

I think, really, I'm only as happy as I am near to Jesus.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Intimate Ed

Hey, if you are reading this blog right now, but you are not old enough to go to war, I need you to have your mom read it first. Thanks!

There is a topic going around Facebook, an article and news story about a father in Kansas City, whose 13 yr old daughter took a picture with her phone of a poster hanging in her middle school. The poster lists various ways people show love to each other. That is the title. Some of those ways are completely appropriate for a 13 yr old to know about and talk about and do. Some would be appropriate for a mature young person to talk to her parents about. Some were not things I want my 13 yr old daughter (or my 17 yr old) (or my 42 yr old self) thinking about or talking about at all.

Some people respond with the feeling that sex ed should not be part of school at all. Some of us are reminded that we are glad we home school our offspring. Some, however, say this type of information has to be communicated in schools because "if the parents don't do their job, the schools have to".

I have a friend who was given the option of previewing the material of this type to be shown in her child's classroom, as were all the other parents. The context is a good school in a good area with presumably 'good parents'. Of all the parents in that age group, I assume 70 or so families, my friend was the ONLY ONE who chose to preview the material. Everyone else was content to let the government do their job for them without question.

I have a neighbor who I would guess has been both a user of illegal substances and one who spends quality time with those who do, and is active in a not monogamous way, and at 50+ years of age, did not know how people get HIV. She didn't know. Had no idea. It's a good guess that her parents didn't know. And her children, and grandchildren, if they know, didn't find out from her.

So our idealistic idea that it is the parents' job to teach their kids about private things, while noble and true, may not always be realistic. Some parents don't know. Some parents don't care.

Does that make it the government's job? If the parents don't do it, is it better to have the schools do it?

There are a number of other subjects that fall in this gray area. The government 'helps' us pay our taxes by deducting it from my husband's check. They 'helped' the big auto industries stay in business when they nearly destroyed themselves with decades of bad decisions and policies. And currently the government is trying to 'help' us provide healthcare for our families. After all, if the government doesn't, who will?

I'm not trying to take all these subjects on in one small blog post. I don't even think I know the answer. It is a fallen world we are living in. We are pretty messed up as a nation. Evidenced by a creepy poster hanging in a Midwestern middle school classroom. I know that most kids may not have parents who want to talk about difficult subjects. I talked to a church going lady not long ago, who told me that when her daughter got a boyfriend, she drove her down to planned parenthood, saying, "If you're going to have a boyfriend, you have to go on the pill." Her highest value was *not pregnant*.

I'm afraid I don't have a conclusion. I don't want the government to take over parenting for everybody. I don't think it is good at parenting. I am sure we need to be talking to our children about everything. We need to be deliberate and awkward and out loud loving and not afraid of screwing up. We need to talk about those things often enough that our kids are sure we are the safe and comfy ones to go to.

We took our eldest out for her 16th birthday. It was a surprise. She got this horrified look on her face and said, "you're not going to talk to me about, you know, are you?" I said, no, honey, we talk about that all the time. I want to be easily approachable, even with awkward subjects. The conversation may be uncomfortable, but I am not, so they don't have to be.

I guess that's all I can touch right now. I can't change the face of public education. I have only my little dozen plus 2. I can prepare my 14 to face the world, and hope that in the process, they change it.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Thankful for . . .
People bringing meals
Not just token meals
Meals fit for kings
Plenty of food for so many children
People bringing green tea latte
And special treats for mom and kiddos
Thankful for friends
Giving of their time
Their talents
To help me be a better mom
For gift cards and money given
Above and beyond my imagination
For favor
For the kindness of strangers
For the honor of friends
For ears that listen
For hugs and kisses and prayers
And little notes and drinks of water
From sons and daughters
Who are learning to love
For roses and patience and sacrifices
From my beloved
My friend
For the Word of God
Always faithful
The magic Book
For the body of Christ
How beautiful, indeed

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Seek first

I'll be honest here, I've been feeling really overwhelmed. Not at the 14 kids. Just certain kids. The older ones. The oldest.

I have nursed before, diapered before, potty trained, taught kids to read and write and do math and think and look at the world before. I can pull off a mediocre job of most of the stuff that parenting is.

But this graduating and growing up stuff, I don't know anything about. I do not know what happens next. I don't know how to do it.

What I know is that I don't want to just do what conventional wisdom and the Internet says you must do. We read through a list last night of things we ought to be doing, and frankly, I thought a good number of them were stupid. Or just focused on the wrong thing.

For example, visiting colleges. That sounds reasonable. Go visit a college, see how it feels, right? Why? We live right near a lovely, prestigious and incredibly expensive university. I'm sure it would feel quite cozy. But unless we win the lottery or the National Merit Scholarship (both seem equally likely), it doesn't matter how great it feels. No one is going there from here. Maybe when we get it narrowed down by, say, choosing a major, we could visit some realistic options. But not just for the sake of visiting.

Another thing we read that we need to do is basically beef up on activities that look good on a college application. Again, this sounds right. But for us, it isn't. Doing things that are worthy of doing for their own merit, certainly. But with 14 children and a mere 24 hours in the day, we don't have the resources, time, money, energy, oxygen, to do anything just because it looks good. If it isn't worth doing for its own sake, we're not doing it so that it looks good.

I know there are lots of things home schoolers can do to make themselves look more attractive to colleges. I understand that getting a better degree from a better school can/will help someone get a better (more $$$) job. And I am simple minded and naive, it's true.

But in my simple naive mind, here is what it comes down to: either Jesus is Lord and we can trust in Him for everything, or He isn't and we are the largest and most pitiful of fools.

We are training our humans to love Jesus, to work hard, to be kind, to do what is right whether or not anyone is watching, to love, to say they are sorry, to think and write and express themselves, to look things up if they don't understand and to ask for help if they need it. We are trying to seek first the Kingdom of God. Our hope is that He will help us, when we take the ACT, when we prayerfully choose majors and schools, when we fill out applications, when someone looks at the applications, when we attend classes and do homework and take exams and write papers, when we apply for jobs and buy cars and pursue mates, . . . He will still be our only hope.

I get that there is a whole lot of crap we need to do, and I'm scared to death of a bunch of it, but I have to keep my hope in Jesus alone, because if anybody's success depends on my getting it right, we are all doomed. I don't have it in me to make sure 14 children succeed. I am not that good. But I think, and correct me if I'm wrong here (no, don't, if I'm wrong, I don't want to know), I think the same God who created the universe and who knit us together and gave us these children and provides for all our needs every day, I think He is able to lead us for this next step as well.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms
Leaning, leaning, I'm leaning on the everlasting arms

Beginning to think about trying to consider beginning again

In the midst of everyone else making New Year's resolutions, I started the new year with very little hope or purpose. Have a baby sometime. That was it. And as the new year has progressed, I've pretty much stuck to that.

I have started over so many times during this pregnancy and in the end, utterly failed to eat in a manner that vaguely resembled anything like health or wellness. I just stopped giving a crap and ate what I wanted. And now I look like it. I weigh like it. I gained 40 or so pounds in the latter half of my pregnancy.

I am sitting at right about 230, after shedding baby and placenta and a week's worth of retained fluid. Not all of it. I still have pitting edema in my legs, can still poke holes in my shins, still have wretched carpal tunnel syndrome in especially my right arm. But that's where I sit.

I do not wish to do anything that will impact my milk supply. I don't want to make losing weight my focus yet. I am not ready to renew my vow of living a fasted lifestyle unto the Lord. But I can tell you this:

I ate salad yesterday, and it was good.

I made a single solitary positive choice, skip the pizza, have more salad, and making that good choice felt good, and I remembered what a good choice felt like and I liked it. It made me think I could make another good choice sometime.

I saw a picture of me from July, and I looked good, and I thought, that wasn't that long ago, and lots of people gain about this much weight when they're pregnant, and they lose it, and I think maybe I could too. I could get back to that version of me.

I could, once again, be that person I was, that ate healthy and exercised and couldn't imagine ever becoming exactly who I have become again.

I got rid of my fat jeans, now I wish I still had them. But not really.

I don't really want fat jeans. I want to be the skinnier me. I want to be the healthier me. Deep down.

We have a wonderful community here who, unbelievably to me, somehow provide meals to our large family for weeks after we have a baby. I am completely in awe at their generosity and kindness and at the immense blessing and favor they bestow on us. Don't worry about bringing a whole meal, I say. Just bring a couple loaves of banana bread, I say. Go in together with a couple friends, I say. They bring chicken pot pies and pizzas and our favorite soups and huge gourmet salads and brownies and cheesecakes and breads and muffins and send money or pay for us to have Chinese take out. Un. Be. Lievable. I am so grateful.

And I'm going to eat it. And enjoy it. And rejoice in it. But in the midst of that, I might make a good choice here or there.

I'm sorry. That's what I got. I'm eating and nursing and tired and that's just all I can commit to.

Those meals will end, though, and about then, I will be about ready to begin again, I think. My body will be all healed up, my baby will be sleeping better, and I should feel somewhat human.

I don't have much. I don't have strength. I don't have resolve. I don't have self control, or much of it. But I have hope. And that's something.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

I have 14 children

I am 5 foot 1 inch tall. I have 5 children who are taller than I am. Even my mother is taller than me.

But I don't think of myself as short. I feel pretty normal. Instead, I think of other people as tall or very tall.

My eldest is 5'5" or so, and I think of her as tall. It was a huge surprise to me that she wears petite jeans still. Since her legs are so long. Compared to mine. She's not tall. She's just tall to me.

So I don't think I have that many kids. 14 sounds about right. When one or two are missing, I wonder where everybody is. Maybe because the Duggars have way more kids, 20 or so? Maybe because it is just what is my normal. I think 14 kids is a good number.

When people ask me, did I always want a big family, I say yes. But I never thought of big as being as big as our big is. I wanted 4. Or 6. I remember thinking the Von Trapps had a lot of children.

I get overwhelmed by my children. But not because there are 14. I get overwhelmed because I'm not very good at some things. Like perfection. I suck at perfection. I'm so bad at being perfect, I'm not even trying anymore. [As a side note: Typing while nursing is not that hard, but burping while nursing is impossible.]

I also get overwhelmed because some of my children are overwhelming. Certain children, or should I say, certain ages or certain phases of life, are overwhelming. They (those certain children in those certain phases) won't always be overwhelming. I know, because some of the other children used to be overwhelming but aren't anymore.

[Additional side note: If I pat him on the back and he doesn't burp but he farts a lot, does that count?]

I am overwhelmed right now for the following reasons:

The two year old in my bed, in my spot, is too heavy for me to carry in my 3 days postpartum state back to his bed, so even if the baby in my arms ever burps and nurses on the other side, I'm still not going to get any sleep tonight. Unless I succeed in waking my lovely burden bearing exhausted husband.

We have to keep doing school and life and cannot just keep on watching Wild Kratts and playing in the snow and drinking copious amounts of hot chocolate.

The potty training I did a few months ago has evaporated into thin air.

The 1 year old has green gunk in his eyes, the 2 year old has a cough, and the 3 year old was on the couch sleeping most of the morning, which makes me a little nervous. Treacherous place for a newborn.

I have been eating the world since giving birth and am wondering what it will take to get me back under control, because I don't have time for a heart attack or a stroke, and it might take that. Maybe I need to start watching Biggest Loser again.

On a related note, I am out of pants that are clean and fit.

All the things that overwhelmed me 4 days ago are still here, and now so also is my new son, who is cute and takes a lot of time nursing, and a lot of energy is consumed deciding which child's turn it is to hold him and pass on their germs to him and threaten his life.

My husband will have to go back to work in a few short days and then I will be alone. With 14 kids.

I have peace for the following reasons:

I can do all things through Christ Who gives me strength.

He also gave me the 14 children. He will give me everything I need to do what He has given me to do.

He will help my milk to come in.
He will help my body to heal.
He will help me find a place of self control.
He will give me wisdom and grace for The Hormones.
He will give me patience and strength for the twins.
He will draw me near when I am far away.
He will fill me with His Word and breathe His Spirit on me when I abide, or even try to abide, or even glance His way.
He is faithful to the end. He is faithful to my heart.

The Amazing Supermom Rides Again

. . . and gets an epidural?

Well here's birth story number 14. Or something like it. And I can pretty much guarantee there will be something gross or an image you don't want stuck in your head somewhere here, so if you are too young to vote, you should probably have your mom read this before you do.

Let's see. Thinking Sound of Music, "Let's start at the very beginning . . . " My due date is, well, tomorrow. But because I have been drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea like a lush for most of my pregnancy and because I've been taking Evening Primrose Oil capsules in increasing amounts for the last 3 weeks, and because I did that with my last pregnancy and went into labor on my own 4 days early then, I have had in my head that I might have the baby as early as Monday (3 days ago) and have been watching for it. Also, frankly, the whole world was already at a grinding halt for Christmas and New Year's, and I thought I'd rather have a baby when everything was already stopped than to have to start everything back up again only to grind to a halt again (or worse yet, for everything to keep on moving with or without me).

In addition, my blood pressure was climbing. For my last two deliveries, I was on Labetalol for my high blood pressure for the last few weeks and that kept it under control. This time, because it wasn't as bad, my ob put me on a lower dose. But in the evenings it eventually got worse. At that point I really thought he would induce and was ready for it. But he offered to add a 3rd 100mg dose in between. Brilliant, I said! Gives me a chance to do this without Pitocin, a known evil.

After 2 whole days with the extry pill, I had a night, which we'll call Saturday, because that is when it was, when my bowels just emptied all night, in a way that reminded me of my last pre-labor. But no contractions. S'ok. Then in the morning, say 5:30, I start having some sporadic but labory contractions. Not sure whether to go in, I take my blood pressure, thinking it might be high if I'm in labor, and it is convincingly through the roof (158/106, I think). I call my ob and we decide I should go in.

Did I mention it was in the first few hours of what we in the midwestern United States are affectionately calling "Snowmageddon", aka, a once in 30 years snow storm followed by unheard of low temperatures, the Polar Vortex? Yeah. It was that. So that also made us think we should get in there. (It also means that my desire to have a baby while everything was stopped has worked out well, because everything is still stopped - we still have a foot of snow on our road, everything has been cancelled this week. Nice.)

Measuring my current contractions against previous experience, I sort of expected to be around 4, maybe 6 centimeters. I was not surprised when the nurses were unimpressed by my mood (which was good) but quite impressed (in a bad way) by my blood pressure. So my chart says I came in for high blood pressure but not really in labor. Because I was at a 2. Which did surprise me. I had been at 2 for a week. 2 meant, to them, that my contractions weren't real, I wasn't in labor, and that I had to be induced. After a tiny pity party/wrestling match, pitocin was started.

Ok, I think, because I have a grand and glorious nurse named Laura, who is totally on my side. I got to labor, on pitocin, with continuous (more or less) fetal monitoring, in the shower, for hours. It was a dream come true. Really. Because I sortof like a longer labor, alone (I was alone in the shower) with time to connect with the Lord and pray through contractions. I had wanted to listen to my music (never done that before either) and did. It was great.

Except for the part where I did not progress. At all. The baby was high. So high they had to stick their arm half way in to try to figure out how dilated I was. This did not change. Ever.

I was like a midwifery student in labor, practicing ev-ry-position-known-to-woman for working the baby down. Nada. I went about 10 hours doing my labor thing, starting from 5:30 (when I still maintain my labor started; remember, the reason I'm not in labor is because I wasn't progressing, um, like I'm also not progressing now on pit, you mean?) going to 2:30, at which time (with some more wrestling) we agree to have my water broken. Super Laura thought she felt fingers or something on the head, maybe that was keeping baby up? Ok, we do that. Labor on birth ball for another hour, all expecting that with the water broken and the fingers out of the way, this should really do it.

Nope. Nothing. Labor more in shower, but with more effort because of internal monitor (external kept slipping), trying to keep the dang thing dry, and eventually give that up.

I'm out of coping mechanisms, getting no where, it is 5:30, and Laura is going home. My new nurse is named Jen, looks like Nancy Kerrigan (Olympic ice skater from the 80's), is so composed and classy and aloof and I'm pretty sure she hates me. I was wrong, of course. I ask for an epidural, but inside I am afraid this is going to land me in the o.r. with a C-section. How is this baby going to come down with me laying in bed if it hasn't when I've been pretending to be a contortionist? But I didn't know what else to do. [Best epidural I've had, by the way. This was my 4th child with one, but I've had one placed 2 other times, just delivered before the medicine was turned on. This one was great - Joyce was awesome!]

(This story is nearly over, promise.)

But Jen, who is also super, has brilliant ideas. She has me put my now mostly dead leg straight and behind me and my top leg is flopped unnaturally over a huge peanut shaped exercise ball on alternating sides, and that plus about 30 people praying, convinces the baby to move down some, enough. I labored on a low dose for about 4 hours. We never really got past 8, and the head never descended very far down, but we got near enough for somebody who has already pushed a dozen heads down the same chute to give it a whirl, with significant doctor help.

And whirl we did. It was not my prettiest delivery, but was certainly satisfying. My body has some aching muscles that I was unaware of, my back is sore from the epidural, but I am (through most of this writing) nursing a lovely and healthy and somewhat bruised baby boy. Although the EPO and the RRL tea didn't make my labor quick or effective (it was the opposite of both) I think they helped me start when I needed to and be able to do what I did, and I am absolutely convinced that my uterus has healed up well because of it. I had no stitches, no tearing, and I think I am recovering nicely. A nurse was checking my belly and I asked how it was, she said this is what we want everybody to do. My 42 year old uterus that has held 13 babies, setting the example for all the other uteri on clamping down! Too old for nothing.

I know lots of crunchy natural moms probably could give me advice on how to do it better, but I am convinced that for me and my body and this pregnancy, I did my best. I am content with it, and thankful.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

On the edge

Ways that I am on the edge:

On the edge of having another baby. I am due in less than a week. That feels like any minute or an eternity. I do not handle suspense well. That is why I don't like tv or movies very much. I don't even want to be TOLD about movies. But this drama is real.

A brief review to help explain my drama:
S.K.#1 induced at 40 weeks + 4 days, due to ignorance and induction happy doc
S.K.#2 supplemented with pitocin at 40+7
S.K.#3 induction at 38+5 because #2 was big
S.K.#4 induced at 39+2 because #3 came fast
S.K.#5 induced at 40 because 1-4 were little, and I was cocky
But...when I went in my blood pressure was high. They made me stay in bed, it took forever and didn't go well.
S.K.#6 resolved to not have pitocin, went into labor at 40+7, high blood pressure during labor
S.K.#7 intending to never use pitocin again, was devastated to be induced at 41 weeks for high blood pressure
S.K.#8 2 weeks bed rest, induced at 37+3 due to high blood pressure and elevated liver enzymes
S.K.#9 after severely altering my diet, kept blood pressure to a marginally acceptable level (we thought), went into labor at 39+4 with abrupting placenta (nasty labor, scary heart tones)
S.K.#10 induced at 37 weeks to preemptively ward off abrupting placenta, happened anyway
S.K.#11 (adopted - birth mom had horrible pre-eclampsia, made me realize I do not have pre-e, I just have pregnancy induced hypertension)
S.K.#12 induced at 40 weeks, had been on blood pressure medicine for a few weeks, but liver enzymes were going up
S.K.#13 took red raspberry leaf tea for most of pregnancy and evening primrose oil from 37 wks, went into labor at 39+4 (blood pressure kept under control with medicine, still very high during labor)

S.K.#14 I've been taking blood pressure medicine for the last few weeks, half what I took with the last two because blood pressure has not been as high. It has been higher last few days, so doc increased dose to 100mg 3x/day (before did 2x), seems to be keeping it under control, but watching closely, wanting to avoid liver and placenta complications, but also hoping to go into labor naturally and avoid pitocin.

So I don't know if that makes a lot of sense, but I feel like I'm standing at the edge of several unknowns. I think normally people just wonder when they will go into labor, maybe what kind of labor it will be, how long, day or night, that sort of thing. I am wondering when to agree to an induction, if my blood pressure is high, if my liver is okay, if I might last long enough to begin labor on my own, if my body will be more receptive to an induction courtesy of the evening primrose oil and red raspberry leaf tea, those kinds of things. I am pretty sure I won't go all the way to that 41 week mark that I used to think was my normal. I don't know if going into labor early last time was because of the tea and epo, or just a fluke. I hope it will happen again, but I really don't know.

It seems like, after 13 babies, I should have some idea of what to expect. I have lots of thoughts, but really don't know what will happen.

We in the Midwest are on the edge of a storm they are calling Snowmageddon. I might have to bring a baby home from the hospital in the coldest temperatures anyone remembers.

My oldest children are at the edge of growing up. That is scary in an entirely different way. What will they do after high school? They don't know. I don't know. We've had one take the A.C.T. and do pretty well. But I am really and completely bewildered about what happens next for them. I've never done this before. I've not found other people that we can easily pattern ourselves after. I feel like I'm blazing a whole new trail - our way is not written yet.

I am at the edge of my capacity to be a mom for my people. The toddlers and teens pull everything out of me every day. My 12-13-14 yr olds have so much emotion and just basic growing up struggles on a daily basis, needing mama-therapy multiple times a day. I am glad we are doing this at home, together, with the time and situation that allow us to really work through, talk through, pray through each young person's issues. I think what they are dealing with is pretty normal stuff. It is harder because they are all going through it together. And because we are really trying process it thoroughly with kindness and forgiveness and not leave deep pock marks in their spirits to have to have inner healing from in 15-20 years. But it is time consuming and energy consuming. Sometimes I feel like I've been through a huge therapy session before I get out of bed in the morning.

Then there are the toddlers. Just normal stuff. The youngest, almost 17 months old, has figured out how to get on (some) chairs and therefore tables (if said chair is near enough - he has NOT figured how to move the chair to the table :). Normal baby stuff. The "twins" have been mostly potty trained, which might be worse than not-at-all potty trained. The boy one gets up every night to pee, sometimes drenched, sometimes dry (he's ironically more often dry on nights he has a pull-up on, but pees when he has clothes on - no, he really keeps the pull-up dry), but always insistent on snuggling in our small bed with us for a while. I think nearly all of my recent potty trainers go through this phase. It doesn't last.

Daytime, the boy pees in his pants, just a little, and discards them, so he is mostly naked most of the time. The girl does better but is less independent, needs an armed escort to go pee. All normal, but it adds up.

They also have all the character development going on typical of a 2 and 3 yr old, the fits, the nearly but not quite verbal communication, and it all needs MOM to deal with it. Mom going out on a date or to a doctor appointment is very emotionally expensive for the family because the babysitting aged people simply cannot give mama therapy to young teens, nor can they adequately train the toddlers.

The papa of our clan has a new role, new department, new boss, new coworkers at work. He is even wearing different shirts on casual days. Not kidding. All this for a man who does.not.handle.change.well. So he has been sort of awol in this season of much neediness for mama.

I am on the edge of failure with my fast. I have been on again/off again since we went on our cruise. This has sometimes meant my walk with the Lord has been distant because of feeling guilty. I do not feel that way now. He loves me. He is pleased with my offering, but what He wants is me. But I also know there is a place I want to be walking that I am not. My fast is not forever. I still want to do it. I still want to say to the Lord on a daily basis, "I belong to You. I want You more than this. I choose eternal heavenly pleasure over temporal fleshly reward. I count all things rubbish in view of knowing You."

I suppose I am on the edge of good stuff. I am perhaps on the edge of succeeding or growing or leaning. I am certainly on the edge of needing the Lord like never before. I have that feeling I always have of OH-MY-GOSH-I'M-ABOUT-TO-HAVE-ANOTHER-BABY-BUT-I-DON'T-KNOW-WHAT-I'M-DOING-WITH-THE-13-I-ALREADY-HAVE.

I know I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me. But I cannot, at this moment, see past the end of today. [Disclaimer: I hereby acknowledge that many of you have gone through things that are infinitely harder, truly difficult and painful - I'm just whining, none of this is actually even bad. I get that, and I'm sorry. Just processing.]

Anyway, there it is. I blogged. No promises that it will happen again anytime soon.