I’m grouchy and I don’t feel like writing.

Here we are, halfway through the week, and what do I have to show for it? I haven’t touched the laundry that needs to be folded, I’ve got snot trails on my shoulder, and my 3 year old is watching Barney on the kindle. Thank you, God, for Barney. I never thought I would say that!


But I promised myself I would write on the blog once a week, and the rest of the week is looking hectic. I don’t want to write, but I want to have written, so here I am.


It is hard for me to quantify my work around here. If I am always moving forward, all I see are the jobs not yet done. But that is not fair, because I have been working since before the sun came up! I’ve taken to writing things on my to do list after I do them if they are not already there. Then I still get to check them off. It’s amazing how motivated I can be by a simple X on a paper. But my to do list is not just about putting X’s on things completed, it is my rudder that steers me through my day, it keeps me moving towards bigger goals than just getting the dishwasher loaded and run for the first time of the day before 3 pm One of those goals this year is posting here once a week. So today you are stuck with my surliness. Enough about things done and to be done.


Next up: turning things around. This post is completely uninteresting right now. I wouldn’t want to read about someone else’s grumpiness. So let’s look at other things: right now in my home, Paisley is outside unpainting her furniture, getting it ready for her new apartment. Molly is, as I said, quietly watching Barney, and Gus, having woken from his nap, is back to sleep in my arms, nursing. It is not so easy to nurse a 26 pound sack of potatoes and type, let me tell you. It is lunchtime, but it is quiet right now, so lunch time can wait.


Ah, quiet. Can you hear it?


Nevermind, it’s over. Now Gus is awake and clapping with his fat little hands, sitting in my lap. He wants down from my lap, then he cries because he didn’t want down after all. Barney is over and Molly wants peddit butter and honey. We all love the way she says peanut. We avoid saying the word ourselves because we want this moment to last as long as possible. This moment when she speaks so clearly and still mispronounces specific words, it is so brief and so precious.


Today has to be about fat little fingers, toddler mispronunciations, and grown up children moving on with their lives. Sweet and tiny, big and important. And then the laundry is just a thing… it will always be there. These others are fleeting, gifts just for today.


Maybe I am not so grumpy anymore.


Why am I not better at this yet?

I have been a mother for 22+ years now. I have nine children. Other mothers look at me and ask me how I do it all. But they are usually only the ones who don’t know me well yet. They don’t know that I am still not completely cleaned up after last night’s dinner and it’s 2pm. They haven’t seen that my floors haven’t been vacuumed in over a week, nor has the floor been swept in days. They don’t see that I am so tired that I find myself unable to sympathize with a child who was walking backward in Target and nearly impaled himself on a shelf.


When I ask for help, whether advice or physical assistance, some of the responses I get are:
“Your older kids should be doing more around the house!”
“You have nine children, you should know!”
“You need to just lower your standards a little, you have a large family.”
“You need to make time for yourself, get away for a while.”
“Just call me anytime, I can take {one child’s name here} to play for an hour or so…”


Let me address those one at a time, and maybe you can see how I can still be such a novice mother after 9 children and 22 years.
“Your older kids should be doing more around the house!”
– You know what? They do help a whole lot. But once they are older there are other things to keep in mind as well. They have homework. A ton of homework. They have jobs. And, the bottom line is, they are still kids. So while they have jobs to do, I am still the one who has to follow up on every. last. one. What is that saying? Kids will do what you INSPECT, not what you EXPECT. Very true. And to my kids, if you are reading this? Thank you for the help you give, you know instinctively that loving on the little ones is higher priority than a clean bathroom, and I am grateful for that. But I do still need help with the dishes and bathrooms and stuff.


“You have nine children, you should know!”
– Yes, I do. I know an awful lot. But here is a funny thing, I am so tired from trying to stay up late to make sure the computer gets turned off when the older kids are done with their homework, being up with the baby off and on all night, and then up at the crack of dawn with the younger kids, I start to doubt my own mind. I can’t remember things. I wonder sometimes if I am making mountains out of molehills because the only thought I can fully form is “Should I have another cup of coffee and try to be functional or should I stumble around half asleep and hope that I will get to close my eyes and take a nap?” And another thing… there are a lot of new things coming out, being discovered every day. Maybe someone has come up with a sure-thing cure for diaper rash and I am too busy to have heard of it. So I ask a fellow mom, “Hey, what do you do for this kind of rash?” Remember, since each child is different, we are a first time parent to that child.


“You need to just lower your standards a little, you have a large family.”
– Oh. my. goodness. If I lower my standards any more the neighbors may complain. My standards are low. But even in houses with low standards the floor must be swept sometime.


“You need to make time for yourself, get away for a while.”
– Yes I do. My kids are an overwhelming bunch. But if I ask you to babysit…


“Just call me anytime, I can take {one child’s name here} to play for an hour or so…”
– I’d love that! It would be really nice for {one child} to have a play date. I do appreciate when they get that opportunity. And I’ll love it even more if you are the one to drive. But unless you are taking one of the kids who is really too young for a play date (and classifies more as highly focused aerobic babysitting) then my load isn’t really any lighter. In fact, if you are hosting one of my kids who is 8 and up, my job will become a little harder for that time because I have less hands around to help out. That’s okay, they need their breaks and social time too.


So here are some facts:
1. I am a mother with several small children. That is a lot of work. They make constant messes and still have “fussy days” when they just need a lot of holding. They aren’t fond of sleep.
2. I am the mother of a few middle grade kids. They can help a bit and yet still need a lot of help.
3. I am the mother of some teenagers. They are a lot of emotional work. They need guidance making decisions that will impact their whole lives. They also sometimes need supervision somewhat like toddlers. They don’t sleep either.
4. I am the mother of two adult children. They help out, they need help. The help they need is often of the more expensive variety. They are a lot of worry because I am not the one in charge anymore.
5. Each of the above is both delightful and hard work. All of them generate a lot of dishes and eat a lot of food. And the paper! Some days I am afraid I actually growl at the 4th or 5th child who comes home and hands me more paper.
6. I make a dinner for 8-12 people almost every night. And when I don’t cook it, it is still my job to figure out what it is going to be and how much it is going to cost. That is a major job.
7. I can have the laundry caught up OR the kitchen running smoothly. Not both. Never both. Sometimes neither.
8. If you have fewer kids than I do, I do not think you have it easy. Parenting (if you’re doing it right) is always hard work. I do not wonder why you have that many children. I can barely manage my own life, it wouldn’t cross my mind to manage yours.


I realized the other day that one of the reasons I am not more adept at this is that I start completely from scratch every two years or so. Each time a baby comes, I have to take time to recover and then I step back into running my home, but it is different after each baby. The family has grown, the kids are going through their own adjustments, the bedroom assignments have shifted. The youngest has been dethroned and is generally not happy about it. And I have to restart or refigure all my routines and plans, only this time with a tiny baby in one arm and a toddler hanging off the other one. Then… then a new school year starts and we shift who is going to which school and we have to get the routine down again – the snacks, the driving, the money, it’s a whole new plan.

I guess what it boils down to is that I am good at this. It just changes so quickly that adapting is difficult. For any plan I make to manage our lives, there are so many possibilities for variation (and disaster, lets just say it) that I often forget that I ever had a plan in the first place, which makes me feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants and wondering why I haven’t figured this all out yet.

The Large Family Age Shift

The Age Shift: it happens every couple years. The older kids are a huge help around the house and with the younger children.  They fill in when Jay is out of town and even babysit at a moment’s notice.  They really are great about sharing the burdens of being a large family.  Family life flows smoothly during these times,  or at least it feels smoother to me when I can get a break now and then and have someone to hold the baby while I make dinner.

Then all of the sudden, they get jobs, get involved in ministry at church, or find themselves in very challenging classes at school, or even all of those things at once.  Suddenly I find that I am mostly on my own again with all the small children in tow, no babysitting availability, and no chores done.  I’m overtired from a baby who doesn’t sleep, and I realize that I have kind of forgotten how to do this on my own.  How did I manage before there were older children around to help out?  In my memories I return to that time when I had four children, age seven and under and I realize…


That I can’t remember a darn thing about that time.  In fact, I have little photo evidence that it occurred.  I was thoroughly overwhelmed.  For one straight year, almost all of the pictures I have of our children they are either sleeping or in the bath.  Those were the only times that I could take a breath and think, “Oh look!  They really are sweet!”  But the rest of that time I think I blocked out – either through exhaustion or just the trauma of it all.

Here I am again.  My older children have matured and gotten all responsible and have their own lives.  Sure, they help out now and then.  A couple even do their own laundry.  Jay has quite the work schedule, and even with that, he jumps in and works in the family the moment he walks in the door.  But for the day to day minutiae, I am wading through this on my own.


I keep thinking that as a mother of nine, I should know how to navigate these waters.  I suppose I am doing better than the first time around with a group of little ones, but that isn’t saying a whole lot.  I recently have been working on my bad attitude about some of these issues.  And I have been actively trying to find a way to live through this part of our family joyfully.  Just because we have several small children at once, doesn’t mean we can’t still thrive.  I know other families who can do it, so there must be a way for me to do it too.


I started this journey when a friend posted this article on Facebook: How to be a Good Mom on a Bad Day.  I realized that ALL of my days could be summed up with her definition of a “bad day”.  There was just never a time when I wasn’t feeling overwhelmed and crabby.  That couldn’t be a good sign.  So I started loosely following those steps and trying actively to move myself from that bad attitude into a better one.  In reading that blog and a few others I found a treasure trove of mommy-blogger books and have been relying on them to help me adjust my attitude and reorient myself in the right direction.


Here are a few that have been so helpful: (Some are available only in ebook format. Links follow list, turn off Adblock if you don’t see them.)

  • Maximize Your Mornings: Very specific tools from Inspiredtoaction.com on getting moving towards treating yourself right so you can treat your family right.  This one is free, only about 30 pages long, and available on their website.  I’m not going to give you the direct link because I want you to go to her website and find it.  One of the steps in this program is a morning Bible Study. I have been using reading plans I find on the YouVersion app (free for iphone, android, and Kindle).
  • Loving the Little Years: because I just wasn’t loving these little years.  I was spending all of my time fantasizing about the days when they will all be older, past diapers, past bedtime fights, past carseats in the summer.
  • Steady Days: A Journey Towards Intentional, Professional Motherhood:  Motivation to get my act together and the practical tools to do that.
  • 31 Days of Prayer for our Daughters, and Warrior Prayers: Praying Scripture for Our Sons: Both of these gave me specific ways to pray for my children and helped to open my eyes to them again as something more than work generators.
  • Hope for the Weary Mom: Exactly what it says.  I read this one evening when I had practically run out of the house, desperate to get a few minutes on my own to collect my thoughts.  I was thoroughly weary, I needed some hope.  And I found a good dose of it here.
  • Mindset for Moms:  This is a different author that Hope for the Weary Mom, but feels like a very expanded version of it.  This one has one short chapter for each day of the month, although I didn’t read it slowly.  I may use it to review a little at a time like that though
  • First Steps Devotions for Families with Small Children: This has been a nice way to reconnect to my children spiritually and the devotions are short enough that no one even has the chance to get squirrelly halfway through.  We’ve added these to our bedtime prayers a few mights a week.


By changing some habits and seeking out encouragement I found, not so suddenly, that I’ve been having fewer “bad days”.  I even find myself smiling for no particular reason.  And, as much as I still really need sleep, I am less likely to feel overwhelmed and overworked and more likely to just have fun in the busyness of my days.  Oh, its still a ton more work to not have extra hands to help as often as before, but one day at a time we’ll get through it, and I am very sure I will miss it when this time is past.


The days go so slow but the years go very fast.



Not my Cup of Tea

I’m an idiot. Let’s just put that out there right now. I’m overtired and didn’t know what I was doing, wandering in to the loose leaf tea store. But the sample was so yummy…


When we were at the mall last week, Jay and I tried the samples. They were so good, but we didn’t go in. I resolved to go back another time and buy some tea. Jay wondered aloud how such a place could stay in business in the mall. Well, I’ll tell you how.


How silly of me to think I could walk into such a store and just “buy some tea”.


I was at the mall, just me and Gus making a brief trip to pick something up and I sampled the tea again. I told the pretentious hipster sales boy I wanted some of that one, right there, so he accompanied me into the store.


I should have known I was in trouble when his first move was to try to sell me a $100 cast iron tea pot “for the health benefits”. Ahem, no. I just want some of that tea, right there.


So he tried to sell me a porcelain one for only $50. My tea ball at home was just so lacking you know, it wouldn’t let my tea brew properly. I began to waiver. But no, that is way too much still. I just want my tea. Yes, I am pretty sure I just want the tea.


His next step was to show me the one cup tea maker thing – only $20. “And see? It lets the leaves swish around and expand, not like a tea ball.” He practically had to choke out the words “tea ball” they disgusted him so much. Ok, fine. Give me that one.


“Well, would you like this one here? It can make more than one cup and is only $10 more?” he asked. Now I was really starting to get annoyed. No, I wouldn’t like that one.


On to the tea counter. Now we have to talk about canisters. He tells me he can put my teas (because the tea I sampled was two teas – of course it was.) into large canisters ($7 each) or small ones ($6 each) and he’s scooping tea into them as fast as he can and I am seeing my money just oozing out of my wallet, and I’m starting to sweat.


He tries to sell me a full pound (to get a 10% discount!!) and I breathlessly tell him, no, just stop scooping and give me my tea!


But he’s not done yet! Oh no! Then he tries to sell me German Sugar Rocks. And that was one step too far. I tell him no and am about to scrap the whole thing, but what’s this? He’s already rung me up. How did that happen? As I go to sign the credit machine, I growl out, “Don’t you sell tea in bags or anything? Do I have to buy a canister each time?” And he tells me that they have bags, but they are not air tight. But it’s too late and I am seeing red so I don’t even remember that I have these special airtight bags at home called ZIPLOCKS.


So I take my fancy tea and as I retreat out of the store in total defeat, he calls out, “That should make you 150 to 200 cups of tea!”


And I wonder what kind of responsible sales person sells someone who wants to try something 150-200 cups worth.


One who just got a big commission evidently. This was definitely a case of “Shopper Beware”. Teavana, you will never see another dime of my money.



No Time to Write

There is no time to write these days.  I have revised my goals multiple times since the year started and have not made any of them.  Today, I am sitting at the computer with the desk piled so high with papers I can barely see the bottom of the screen.  So scratch the idea of waiting until I get the desk clean.  But last night we sat down to dinner and the clamor around me was all I could hear.  The baby was hollering in the high chair and banging his toy, the toddler was whining about having a drink or not having a drink- I can’t really remember, several things forgotten in the setting of the table were being remarked on by others.  It was a relatively happy chaos, but in my frazzled state all I could hear was the chaos part.  And I realized that I had not had a moment of uninterrupted thinking since the night before, when I had forced myself to stay awake (nursing the baby of course, so even then I wasn’t truly alone) just to have a few moments to hear myself think.  This lifestyle can, at times, be pure torture for an introvert.


I found myself getting crabbier as the day progressed, never being able to finish a thought without another little person coming to talk to me again.  In conversations that mostly go like this:

Molly: Mommy!
Me: What?
Molly: Mommy!
Me: What?
Molly: Mommy!
Me: What?
Molly: Mommy!
Me: WHAT?!?
Molly: I love you.
Me: I love you too.

I have these little exchanges with Molly about 10 times a day.  It is cute, but it can get a little grating.

So I figured that maybe, for my own sanity, I should write a little <insert phone call from one child, extricating a child from the tangle of scotch tape, and breaking up a fight between two others here>
Oh, and Molly please take your dolly away from the piano, she doesn’t know how to play.

What was I saying… something about finishing a thought…
Oh well, it’s gone now and the vacuum is making a very strange sound in the other room, so I guess my moment of sanity is over.

<An hour or so goes by.>

I’m returning to try to finish this post.  <How did she find another roll of scotch tape?>  Ahem.  My realization was that <NO, YOU CAN’T HAVE CAKE!> I need to carve out some time to finish my thoughts before I go completely catatonic.  I am at one of those stages when children begin to decide that all adults are idiots.  The first stage happens when they are learning to talk and tell you they want “Um gick!” forty three times before you figure out that what they really want is ” Some milk!”  Then next stage is where I am right now.  My brain is trying so hard to finish a thought that my kids will come and say something to me 4 or 5 times before I can register what they are saying to me.  And I can see the idea forming in their heads: Idiots are in charge!  Tired idiots! We can get away with ANYTHING.


This is no new revelation, that I need time for myself.  It just keeps getting harder, that’s all.  But it also becomes more vitally important as more of these people are relying on me to make important decisions and do things like use electricity to cook.


What I need now is for the baby to sleep.  And by that I mean to sleep while not touching my body, which he hasn’t been so hot on so far.  No swaddling, pacifiers, swings (we bought two out of desperation), or crying (his or mine) seem to do the trick.  So we are just going to have to be down to emergency measures: letting other things go so I can grasp a moment here or there to think. Typing things out, maybe that will help my disjointed thinking to become thoughts and thoughts to become ideas.  And this desperation will release its grasp on me just a little so that I am a little better to focus on these little people.  I love them so very much.  I just need them to LEAVE ME ALONE FOR ONE MOMENT PLEASE!!!



Click, Click, Click…

That is the sound of the roller coaster as it moves slowly to the top of the hill for the big swish down the other side.  (As  die hard roller coaster hater, I tend to avoid that sound, but I have experienced a few.)


And that is the sound I am hearing as we gear up to start school this week.  It’s a happy time, not a feeling of dread, but this week is the start of a New Year.  This is much more my New Year’s Day than January 1st.  Once it begins we will be off and rolling with loops and quick turns and no real time to catch our breath for a while.  The kids are happy too, ready to see their friends again every day, excited about their new teachers (most of them, anyway) and just DYING to use the fresh new crayons, markers, and pencils that they have been labeling and organizing over the last week.


I’m feeling a little overwhelmed myself.  I spent most of the week on the couch, slowly recovering from sepsis and gaining a tiny bit more energy each day.  I am so grateful for friends who are cooking for us, I don’t think I have ever relied on that so heavily as now.  Friends are also pitching in for rides for the kids this week, to help me rest.  I am sure that will make a huge difference as well.  (THANK YOU ALL!!!)  But I am looking forward to the renewed structure of our days, even as I will miss our lazy evenings in the pool.  And the days will get easier as I feel better and better too, at least until baby comes and then I will have to slow down again.


So Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope your year is as blessed as can be!

A Hospital Stay

There is never a dull moment around here.  I can’t tell you what I would give for a dull moment.

Last Monday, July 25, I woke up feeling off.  I had a fairly nasty backache that radiated around to the front on one side.  But since I was 28 weeks pregnant, a backache is not that far outside of normal.  I took a shower and got the kids dressed and doing their thing and then put my feet up for a bit, thinking I had probably just overdone it a bit over the busy weekend.  Drinking lots of water, laying down, putting my feet up all made little difference in the pain.  But it was manageable and later in the day I took a few kids over to target to pick up some school supplies and just get out of the house.  I had a meeting at church to attend that evening, but I figured that if I didn’t feel up to it, I would just stay home and rest.


Dinner time came and I wasn’t feeling any worse, so I went to the meeting, squirming a little in discomfort through it.  On the way home one of my front tires blew out.  Fun.  I was able to limp the car home and told Jay about the tire.  He immediately set to work putting on the spare, in what was to prove to be a very good decision.  While he did that I lay on the couch and iced my back and watched an episode of Torchwood to distract me from the now growing pain.


By the time Jay came in I was in tears.  We discussed for a few minutes and he decided that it sounded a lot like his kidney stone and that it was time to go to the ER.  So, leaving Posy in charge, we headed to the closest hospital to our home, PBH.


Being hugely pregnant has the benefit of getting you shuttled straight into triage and from there we were pretty quickly sent up to L&D for monitoring.  By the time they got the monitors hooked up, I was in agony, and the monitors didn’t help at all, tight against the band of pain.  They called in an ultrasound guy, who confirmed a kidney stone.  They admitted me to the hospital then, gave me a shot of morphine (which did nearly nothing) and started IV fluids and a catheter so they could just flush as much fluid through me as possible.  Jay stayed with me late into the night and then went home to be around for the little kids in the morning.


I made it through the night with more morphine (IV this time, which worked better) and only sporadic sleep.  Jay returned in the morning and kept me company as I dozed on and off.  At one point in the morning, I felt complete relief and hoped that meant the stone had passed.  Shortly after that, I began to shake with chills.  Blood was taken for culture right away to see what was causing it, but the results of that would have to wait.  They gave me tylenol, and we began a roller coaster ride of fever that was to last the next two days.  Tylenol would bring my fever down and one to two hours later it would be back up to 103, with me shaking violently, unable to rest, and hours before they could give me any more.  That evening (Tuesday) I was given an x-ray with contrast.  During the x-ray I absolutely could not breathe while laying down and shook uncontrollably, causing them to have to take two more films just to get me still enough.


My blood pressure began to waver and drop, and breathing became harder.  I figured it was just from the fever, or from laying in bed so long with my big belly.  During the night I was taken for fetal monitoring again, and the baby’s heart rate was showing his stress from the fever and low blood pressure.  He was hovering between  170 and 190 most of that time.  Once back in my room, I tried to sleep again, only to wake up completely unable to stop shaking or catch my breath.  The nurses monitored my vitals and, while my O2 was only at 92%, told me that I was having a panic attack and just needed to breath slower and wait until I could take the tylenol again.  I resolved not to take any more of the morphine in case that was making it harder to breathe and spent the next hours just trying to breath and not shake too hard.


The next morning Jay brought the kids in to see me.  Thankfully it was just after a dose of tylenol, so I wasn’t feeling too terrible at that time.  They were a little scared of the whole situation and didn’t know what to make of it, especially Molly, who wouldn’t even let me hold her.  As our visit wound to a close, I began to shake again and head downhill.


A little while later, the resident came in to tell me the preliminary results of the blood culture.  She was alarmed at how much worse I looked and told me that the culture showed Urosepsis, a very serious blood infection.  She told me they were going to transfer me to SJH, a hospital with a better ICU and NICU so that I could get the care I needed.


Then things started to happen fast.  She left the room and 5 nurses came in and packed up all my stuff, transferred me to a gurney and moved me to L&D triage to monitor the baby and wait for the transfer.  While in triage, I was given a shot of steroids to mature the baby’s lungs and FINALLY someone gave me some oxygen.  My O2 levels were low, my blood pressure was hovering around 80/45 and my fever was around 103.


After a short wait there, I was loaded into an ambulance for a painful, bumpy ride to the other hospital.  Laying down made it so much harder to breathe, and I was laying down the whole way, even if it was with oxygen, bumping along in the hot ambulance.


The first thing I saw at the new hospital was Jay.  What a comfort his voice was!  Once inside I was brought immediately to their perinatal high risk ward and swarmed again with nurses and doctors.  To the IV and catheter were added a blood pressure cuff, oxygen mask, pulse oximeter, two fetal monitors, and several bags of ice.  The next hours are a blur of them adjusting things, fussing over me, and not being really too sure exactly what was going on.  Jay was there and made some phone calls to update people.  Fr. Lopez came and gave me the Anointing of the Sick.  A few others were in and out.  (I found out later that friends at our parish had held a Rosary for me in the evening, too.)


Night came eventually and I could only fitfully sleep.  I had to make Jay go home and get some rest.  He had been up with me most of two nights so far, with Paisley and the other kids doing their best to keep things going at home.  Every time I moved the nurses had to come in and readjust the fetal monitor and there were constant alarms over my low blood pressure.  The medicine they gave me seemed to finally be working though, because my fever didn’t return.  Thursday was much more of the same, only at a slower pace.  Constant monitoring of everything, more blood tests and ultrasounds.  But there were fewer and fewer blood pressure alarms and only my breathing seemed to still be giving me real problems.   I spent most of Thursday still on the oxygen just so I didn’t feel like I was suffocating.  I was also unable to eat, but the doctors weren’t at all worried about that.  They said my appetite would return as my body healed.


Late Thursday afternoon I was moved to a bed in the Antenatal unit, which was lovely because it was a real bed and not just a thin little gurney.  The doctors were still trying to figure out exactly which bacteria they were treating, so I was still on a range of meds through the IV, but they were content that I was making progress enough to not need minute to minute monitoring anymore.  Finally, I was able to get some sleep.


Friday finally all the tubes and such were removed and I was switched to oral antibiotics but had to remain under close supervision in case the fever came back at all.  I was still unable to eat anything and still struggling to breathe, but my O2 was stable and my blood pressure was getting better, so we just chalked it up to rest and time.  Jay brought the kids in that evening for a visit.  It was so good to see them and made me so homesick.  Saturday, they said I could go home if I was still not running a fever by 3pm.  I wasn’t, however, the kidney pain popped back up bringing a dark cloud on the horizon.  Still the decision was made to let me go home.  I was so relieved.


The kidney pain is still coming and going, mostly mild right now. But it is a threat and could stir up this whole storm all over again.  I will be kept on antibiotics for the rest of my pregnancy in hopes of preventing a recurrence of the sepsis, and then once the baby comes we will be able to get rid of the kidney stone itself.  For now, I am utterly exhausted and spend a good part of my time sleeping or resting.  I am told it will take a few weeks for me to really be well again.  Jay has been such a rock through all of this – keeping things moving at home with the help of the kids while still staying at my side every possible second he could.  Our Church community has come through with a few weeks of meals so that I can rest and recuperate, and our kids have been nothing short of amazing.  Paisley especially for her help even on long work days, Posy, James and Ben have all handled snacks, entertainment, naps, swimming, and bedtimes like the pros.


Thank you to everyone for your prayers, visits, meals, help around the house, and other wonders you have shown me.  Your generosity knows no bounds.  I am truly humbled to have such friends and receive your help.

Warts and All

I hate to post when I am in a slump.  I don’t want to be a downer and really don’t like for people to see me this way.  But I have been in a slump for a while now and life is passing this blog by.  So I am just going to let this post be what it is and see what happens.

My house is a chronic mess.  Picking up things that don’t belong on the floor is a bad idea for me anymore so the best I can do is kick things into piles and nag the kids.  That makes them super happy!  (Not really.)  But better yet it makes me feel like a crappy mom for freaking out about little stuff.  And I really screwed up this weekend, with two things that will cost us a bunch of money, so I have spent the day kicking myself.  Or I would have, if I could still reach to do it.  But mostly I just waddle around and whine instead.

This pregnancy has been a rough one on my vanity.  I started bigger and have gained more than usual and I can’t really do anything about it.  My skin has been a nightmare, especially on my face where another chin, a wider nose, and a couple of jowls have shown up.  And isn’t outgrowing clothes fun?  It was when I was a kid.  Not so much now.  Let’s not even discuss my hair which has become such a nuisance that it mostly is just shoved up in a clip all the time anyway.  At least it is cool that way!

Anyway… enough about my messy house, money troubles and weight.

In other news, I have two kids who REALLY want to get their drivers licenses.  Which could be a great help if I can ever find time to take them driving.  Or gas money, which brings up that whole money thing again.  Still, when did my kids get this old?

Lots of reading has gone on here this summer. Since there is really no TV to watch (only netflix streaming and that is limited to stuff PG and under) the kids have finally gotten bored enough to pick up some books.  Which is great, except for the giant piles of books on the floor as they filter through them to find something to read.  This is the same floor that I can’t seem to bend over and pick things up off of.  I can boast that I actually finished a book!  Starting them is never a problem but finishing is never my strong point.

We were able to see the Harry Potter 7.2 movie the night before it opened, which was fun, and our 21st anniversary is this Wednesday – We have a gift certificate for a nice dinner and will use that sometime in the next week.

The kids have a little bit bad case of cabin fever since we are stuck indoors most of the time with the heat.  Even going places is difficult because they whine and cry about the hot car seats (and yes, they are covered while we park, they still get hot enough to bother them.)  So we mostly don’t go anywhere.  We do swim a fair bit and Max and Lily have really improved this summer.  Lily can get to a back float and rest and can swim all over the pool.  Max is a completely independent swimmer now.  Molly has a death wish and thinks she can breathe underwater.  She is constantly just throwing herself off the pool steps and just enjoying the feeling of being submerged.  Crazy girl!

So we have our good times too.

Here are some recent pictures just to bring you up to date:
Posy straightened Lily’s hair one day last week, she looked like a completely different kid!
Posy straightened Lily's hair! Posy straightened Lily's hair!

Snow white bit her apple and fell into a deep sleep…
Snow White
Yes, another sleep picture.

Who needs Barbie Dolls when you have little sisters to dress up? Molly is ready to take on the world!
Molly is all business!

And finally, the best for last: Molly and Max having a potty party.
Max and Molly: Potty chat
So that is it for now.  Like I said in my last post, I am working on small things to make life more manageable right now.  This is just one of those long, dreary summers and we’ll get through it just fine.

I hope you all are keeping busy and cool!

Sweet, Sweet Sleep

The year after Ben was born, we noted a curious trend in our pictures.  For nearly a year, all the pictures we took of the kids were either of them sleeping or in the bath.  We had 4 children, age 7 and under, and we were both seriously overwhelmed.  Seeing the kids sleeping was a reminder of just how lovely and sweet they were.  And I guess we documented that a lot to help us remember that!

So I had to laugh when I was flipping through my recent pictures on my phone the other day and I realized that I have an awful lot of pictures of sleeping kids right now, and not much else.

Molly conked out while watching TV Naptime in James's room Sleep swing Car nap for Molly Lily's sweet sleep

You have to admit, sleep pictures of little children are a little bit enchanting.  And it s so nice to know that they are not getting into anything right at that moment.  But it brought home to me the reminder that I am gearing up for a year or two of fairly intense chaos and I need to be careful to take care of myself in this, while keeping things smooth for my family as well.

I have felt pretty decent during this pregnancy, but muscle pain from abs that have been ripped apart many, many times now slows me down considerably.  As much as I am looking forward to our new baby, I am not looking forward to not having the time to spend quiet hours with him as I enjoy his newness and recover from birth.  We will be swept quickly back up into the ebb and flow of daily life with many demands.  For this reason, pain and discomfort aside, I am grateful for this pregnant time when the baby is quiet and manageable and all mine.

Still, his time will come, and I will find myself again in that mommy fog of having 4 kids under 7, 3 of whom aren’t yet in school.  Only this time I have several children older than 7 who also need me.  So I think I have preemptively gone into sleep appreciation mode.

This coming school year will be a challenge like none I have yet faced, and I am bracing for a bit of a hurricane.

In the mean time, I am doing my bit to prepare: planning a month of meals that replays each month on my google calendar, working on a running chore chart for the kids (and getting them to DO the chores, which is the real trick), decluttering the house, tightening the budget, planning out Christmas.

God, for His part, is working on my heart, as always.  Teaching me to let some things go, to trust more completely, and showing me more of what it means to really pray.  You can follow that part of my journey over at Circling Jericho, where my wandering around in circles does seem to help get me somewhere.  I am specifically being raked over the coals addressing the issues I have with trying to control everything and surrendering to God right now.  (Part 1 and Part 2, with more to come.)

For now, I will prepare for what I can and try to let go of the rest, and maybe take a few more pictures of the kids with their eyes open, because they are absolutely delightful awake as well.

Back Again!

I told you I would be back around 12 weeks and here it is – tomorrow is 12 weeks. Yesterday brought us the peace of mind of a nice, quick heartbeat at the midwife appointment. I had been worried. Even though I still felt nauseated and other lovely pregnancy symptoms, they were so mild (comparatively speaking – no one ever even had to think of putting me in the hospital this time!) that I just couldn’t shake the idea that maybe something was wrong.

I know something still could go wrong, but 12 weeks and a good heart rate are a great start to things and feeling better (mostly, anyway) is wonderful too.

Now, in the past 6 weeks, my house has fallen completely apart and I need to get things back up to par around here.

The first steps are, of course, dinner and laundry. Grocery shopping has been nothing short of agony for the last few weeks, so short trips were all I could handle. But the meals are planned and shopped for now. All I have to do is cook them.

Laundry. My old friend. I have been working on it, a little at a time. We’ll get there. There is always and ebb and flow to that anyway. So we are on our way.

Once those are underway and back up to normal, then it is time to tackle bedrooms. Let’s just say there are some I don’t like to enter anymore. Like ALL of them.

But for tonight. All I am doing is laundry and dinner.

Starting tomorrow, I hope to get the picture a day going again. Baseball is in full swing, so that should provide some good shots.