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.