Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Blabber

The Man is squeezing in a post-bedtime workout, and the kids are off to dream about coughing and football and getting to wear much beloved Halloween costumes to preschool tomorrow (I guess this is the autumnal equivalent of visions of sugar plum dancing in their heads). And I am sitting here thinking about, well, honestly, nothing in particular except for the fact that I should be writing, and so here I am: writing.

Some of the exciting costumes that will be debuting tomorrow.

It's hard for me not to correct myself and say that I am merely "pretending to write". It makes me think of where that line is between practicing the piano and playing the piano. When do you stop practicing and just play? When do I stop pretending to write and realize that I'm actually writing? I'm not positive. I recognize only that this is good exercise for my mind and heart, that forcing myself to sit down and type something (anything) is healthy for me at a soul level.

Bruiser finds dinosaurs healthy at a soul level.
Also dragons.

So here's what we'll do. I'll sit here with my feet propped up on the coffee table and my window open, and I'll pretend that you're beside me, curled up with a throw pillow on your lap, and I'll tell you the things that I think you may want to know.

Here's Iron Man being artistic at the aforementioned
coffee table.

First, I'm really sorry that all three of the pets are in the room grooming themselves. I realize that it's rude. I didn't know that dogs could chew their nails before Trigger. I wish it was still a thing that I didn't know because loud.  And also, gross.

Trigger's partner in nail chewing.
She may be cuter than he is though...

Second, I apologize for the lack of pumpkins in our home. I realize that, as a basic white female, I am breaking lots of rules by not having a pile of miniature gourds gracing my mantle and at least one very large decorative pumpkin that will be skillfully carved into something amazing before the 31st. The truth is that we've been planning to take the kids to get pumpkins but first we realized that the Man was actually home and so we kind of wanted to take him with us, and then we got side tracked by twenty gazillion other things, and then the kids got sick (see above coughing reference) and now it's the 25th and...you guessed it...no pumpkins. Seriously though: profuse apologies all around.

Fall mantle: no pumpkins.
Will we survive?!
Third, I'm sorry that I can't sit still for longer than ten minutes at a time but Bruiser was convinced that Blythe was still in his room (she wasn't), and then Tiny wanted me to light the candles at the top of the stairs, and then Bruiser felt the need to inform me his throat hurts (yes, that's what happens when you get sick), and now I'm hearing the baby (but I'm going to pretend like she's going back to sleep on her own). This is why my thoughts are all disjointed and out of whack. Also, I had a six year old tell me today that I have too many kids. Which is a distinct possibility, but I like them all so much that I'm not sure which one I should give back.

I especially like this one.
Fourth, here at the home front (important news you are dying to hear!), we are finishing up football season. Tonight was Littles' last game and tomorrow is Tiny's. At the beginning of football season, I wasn't sure we'd survive, but at the end, I'm actually a little sad that it's over. I made football mom friends. I sliced oranges like a boss. My slow cooker and I bonded at a deep level. And it was fun watching the big boys learn and grow and be awesome under someone else's supervision. Do you think they'll give me until Christmas before they start trying to talk me into baseball?

Real men play sports and take care of their baby sister.
Evidently.

Fifth, if I go back and add a few cute pictures of the kids, can I give myself a check mark for today and move on with my life? Especially if I promise to next time actually write something bordering on coherence possibly with a legitimate point? Thanks. Good plan.

Let's go get ice cream now.

This is pretty much everyone's response to this blog post.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Bookish Blog with Baby Sightings

Last week was drenched in happy rain which meant cancelled football practice, puddle jumping, hot cocoa parties, pillow piles, and, you guessed it, lots of books. I thought I'd share a few of the ones that have been circulating in our home, just in case you were looking for reading material of your own.


First, the kids and I are still plowing through the Little House books. Plum Creek wound up last week, and this week we are already neck deep in Silver Lake. So much drama: new baby Grace! dead Jack! blind Mary! And we're only on chapter two. Also, Bruiser took the time to ask me if Trigger was old or new. You know, just in case Trigs decided to join Jack in the Happy Hunting Grounds.


Meanwhile, the twins and I re-enjoyed (for the third time) The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson. Cute, cute, cute. And Donaldson gave us some great discussion about when your fears are just in your head instead of based on reality. Here's Bee showing you her favorite page.


We satisfied Bruiser's need for machine books with Firefighter Duckies by Frank Dormer (which was charming and funny and needed to be read at an excited yell) and Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney. As Dewdney's work goes, Little Excavator was not one of my favorites. Sure, it rhymes and it scans, but mostly it just fit the bill for a book about something with a motor and wheels, which is about as discerning as three year old boys get. Sad truths. I didn't find it to have any of the humor and sweetness of the Llama Llama books, but maybe that was just me. Bruiser loved it.


For the inquiring minds that need to know, Twinkle enjoyed any and all books presented to her. This isn't saying much as she tends to happiness, not discernment. I'll give her a grace period.




The Bigs have been obsessed with Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales by Nathan Hale (the author, not the spy, but based on the spy, not the author--which I thoroughly enjoyed). True confession: I haven't read all of them but I have skimmed through parts. I did also do my research. History in comic form with a good dose of humor and imagination thrown in.


I included both shots of Tiny reading Nathan Hale simply because I couldn't decide which was cuter: the cat in the background or the baby butt exiting the frame. So far the boys have plowed through One Dead Spy (set during the Revolutionary War), Big Bad Ironclad! (Civil War), Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood (WW1), and Alamo All-Stars (which was what got them sucked into the series initially). If nothing else, I love that these books are giving us a chance to talk about history. The illustrations help my boys envision the past more fully. We had a rousing discussion of about war tactics (trench warfare, guerrilla warfare, attacking head on, etc) which about used up all my military knowledge. From now on, I'll be fielding all questions to the Man.


Meanwhile, I plowed through two different trilogies. The first was Orson Scott Card's Pathfinder series. If you like your sci-fi with a heavy dose of physics, philosophy and time travel theory, these will be a good fit for you. Personally, I find all of the above to be quite fun, and I like it when a good novel (or three) makes my mind work as well as entertaining me. I also didn't mind thinking through the evolutionary framework Card insisted on providing. It's always good to consider why I believe what I believe and then go from there.


The other trilogy was Colors of Madeleine by Jaclyn Moriarty. So many great plot twists that kept me engaged while also teaching me fascinating information about Isaac Newton, color, and light. Moriarty's humor keeps it fun but her writing provides depth and empathy, helping the reader see from multiple perspectives. Young Adult fantasy done right.


Lastly, I've been relishing Shauna Niequist's Present Over Perfect. It's been on my To Read list for quite some time, and it's been worth the wait. It showed up at the library at the perfect time, enabling me to think through how I really want my days spent and who I want to be. Months ago I had a friend tell me that as she passed her 35th birthday she thought to herself, "Is this who I want to be at forty?" and adjusted accordingly. This book goes hand in hand with that idea in my mind. It's helping me to slow my mind and heart even as my hands are busy caring for the precious ones entrusted to me.


Anyway, now that you've enjoyed the myriad pictures of my myriad cute kids, go forth and stock your book list! And know that I will never lead you astray, even if Bruiser valiantly continues to brainwash me into accepting machine books as classic lit.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Megaphones, Elephants, and a Side of Football

I'm only blogging right now because I'm trying to keep myself from buying book two in the trilogy I'm reading. My library doesn't have it yet and the immediacy of kindle is so tempting... Evidently, my ability to embrace delayed gratification has died an early death this week.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I'm also eating a spoonful of hot fudge straight from the jar, because I've discovered there are few things worse than not having decent dessert options while a) your husband is out of town and b) you're supposedly trying to lose what's left of the baby weight.


With that said, I thought you'd like to know that the twins started a two day Kids Day Out program because, get this, I'm not super mom. They're only gone for about three hours, and I have already trashed my grandiose plans to actually get stuff done during that time, but what I am enjoying: there has been a dramatic reduction in noise. Hands down the hardest thing for this introverted, homeschooling mother of five is the noise, noise, noise, NOISE (name that quote!). And my two worst culprits are the twins, who like to tie on blanket capes and charge from one end of the house to the other bellowing a mash up of "How Far I'll Go" and "Let It Go" (pretty much the same song) like a herd of trumpeting elephants armed with megaphones. So yeah, it was a little blissful.


Then we went to pick them up and got to hear all about their day which was essentially doing exactly what they would've done at home: playing with each other (except I didn't have to hear them do so). I asked them if they'd made any new friends which prompted confused looks from both of them. Why would they play with someone else when they can play with each other? Twins: a universe unto themselves.


I was gratified to discover that they missed me (so, maybe not quite a universe unto themselves) when Bruiser dissolved into a puddle of tears on the drive home demanding some 'nuggles NOW. Sorry, bud. Mom doesn't snuggle and drive. He got half an hour curled up in my lap once we got home before we had to start prepping for Tiny's first football practice.


What can I say about Tiny starting football? I'm glad that he started this week and Littles doesn't start until next week (in spite of the fact that I get to spend this whole week hearing Littles sigh pathetically about how he can't wait until it's Monday). This way, they're kind of easing me in. I have also discovered that doing football with five kids is going to stretch my multitasking abilities to their uttermost.


First, I packed dinner for everyone (Tiny ate in the car on the way home) because when one has a baby who is very attached to her early bedtime which is in direct conflict with someone else's football practice, one gets creative with scheduling. Second, I played soccer with kid number one while holding kid number five and watching kid number two (who demanded that I send multiple video clips to his dad). In the meantime, kids three and four were charging up and down the bleachers with reckless abandon while I lovingly reminded them that there are no ER visits allowed while Daddy is on work trips. Third, I decided that I was not going to resign myself to this season in life but instead accept it as a new and exciting logistical challenge. I also promised myself the couch, a good book, and a bowl of popcorn if I could get everyone in bed by 8. Which I did. Because I may not be super enough to dismiss the opportunity to farm out a couple of my kids two afternoons a week but I am definitely super enough to respect the blessings of bed time. Amen.

This is how Twinkle pulls off dinner (with a side of football).

One last note: I ended up chatting with another mom of multiples as we left practice. She asked me if I was baby sitting the other kids. Nope. They're all mine. This is my circus, and I do love these monkeys. Even the ones who masquerade as megaphone toting elephants.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Quacamole

Having five kids is kind of like waking up on a Monday morning and discovering that you have just enough milk to make a double batch of pancakes (if you partially substitute with the buttermilk that expired a month and a half ago). First, though, you pour a splash of milk into your waiting mug for the coffee you're about to make. Unfortunately, in your morning delirium, you then accidentally pour the coffee grounds into your mug instead of the coffee pot, thereby destroying the tablespoon of milk that you had explicitly saved. You then contemplate drinking your coffee black--something only sad people do--or bothering the neighbors. But THEN you realize there is ice cream in the freezer! So you get to start your day with a scoop of ice cream melting deliciously into your mug small bowl of coffee.

Alternatively, having five kids is kind of like going to shake the new bottle of lemon juice before opening it only to discover that 1) your super helpful oldest son already opened it for you and 2) he didn't replace the cap leading to a fountain of lemon juice drenching your kitchen. Since lemon juice is a natural disinfectant, you can now put off cleaning the kitchen for another week. Also, it covers up the smell of wet cat food so...winning!

Finally, having five kids is like accidentally typing "quacamole" when you meant "guacamole" and knowing that there is a great joke there if you could just figure out exactly what it was and laughing anyway at the joke that you can't quite put your finger on.


I'm telling you this because it might help you understand why there are such massively long gaps between blogs right now. But also because I'm here tonight to provide you with a brief break in your obsessive checking on the status of Hurricane Harvey. Tonight I don't have for you any deep thoughts or thought provoking words, only a few funny moments that happened because we have a truck load of kids. So, for your entertainment pleasure:

  • Last night at 1.30am, stumbling blearily towards' Twinkle, who is yelling happily for her second middle of the night feeding, I see the light on in the twins' room. I go in to investigate, assuming there will most likely be pee waiting for me in someone's bed. Instead, I discover empty bunk beds. I notice that there is also light filtering up the stairs, accompanied by the sound of small voices. I find the twins playing stuffed animals on the couch. They inform me that they're tired of sleeping. I inform them that I'm exhausted and don't care. I haul them off to bed (protesting) while Twinkle continues to demand milk NOW. I realize that this is the closest I get to a theme song.

  • The votes are in: our creepiest child is definitely Bee. The other day she informed me: "Mom, I have slept with one eye open. I have slept with two eyes closed too. It was very dark." She also shared with me in confidence once that Bruiser saw a pepperoni on a tree outside. Alrighty, then...
  • Tiny recently expressed his frustration because there was a) too much bacon on his bacon and egg burrito, b) the bacon was too brown, and c) the bacon was too crispy. We are considering excommunication.
  • You know you're reaching new parenting lows when the following conversation occurs:
    • Bee: what movie are we watching?
    • Me: The Jungle Book
    • Bee: you mean, The Jungle Movie
    • Me: no, The Jungle Book
    • Bee: The Jungle MOVIE
    • Me: sure, whatever


  • Being a homeschooling mom of five kids when the youngest is teething like a beast and refusing to sleep for longer than 2.5 hour stretches at night has left me feeling a bit like Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone...except I'm living off caffeine instead of unicorn blood. Still, pretty much the same thing. I've rejected the idea of finding the blood of my father (unknowingly given), the flesh of the servant (willingly sacrificed), and the blood of my enemy (forcibly taken) simply because I'm worried that I will lose my nose in the process, and I really like being a rebel with a nose ring. No nose ring with no nose. If only He Who Must Not Be Named had thought that one through a little more.
  • Your hormones might still be a bit out of whack if your husband finds you crying while watching American Ninja Warrior. This is a public service announcement.
Not shown: book I was simultaneously reading to Bee,
while playing cards with Littles and Tiny,
while balancing Bruiser on my shoulders,
and keeping Twinkle from face planting.
  • One must always be prepared to walk into the bathroom and inexplicably find a long turd sitting in the sink. Preparation is key to not screaming hysterically, "WHAT THE CRAP!?" only to discover that it literally is crap and you just said "crap" in front of the child who gets in trouble regularly for saying, you guessed it, "crap". Explanations as to how said turd got in the sink are only understandable if you too think like a 3 year old twin.
  • Icing your bruised knee with a tub of ice cream while you simultaneously eat said ice cream is like making lemonade out of life's lemons but way better. 

  • The twins decided to move their humongous dresser across the room during rest time today and position it directly in front of their window. Then they pulled all the clothes out of their closet and deliberately snapped a third of their hangers in half. One day I will understand why they do the things they do, but today is not that day.
  • Twinkle peed on the kid who has been pulling out all the stops in the misbehavior department this week. I enjoyed it more than I should've.
The kids are on stair duty as our future mountain climber
risks life and limb and Mom's sanity.
  • Some people bring themselves to full consciousness by splashing a little cold water in their faces and drinking a cup of coffee. Last week, I got the same effect during early morning snuggles with Bruiser when I discovered a cockroach crawling up Bruiser's leg.
  • Our unrepentant beast of a dog stole one of the kids' quesadillas during a picnic the other day. I got him back by looking directly in his eyes while I proceeded to eat every bite of the leftover chicken I'd been planning to share with him, and then licking off my fingers. Slowly. 

And this is now way more entertainment than you called for. Good luck and good night!

I leave you with Cat Face.
Two seconds after I took this picture,
she decided to stretch out both paws
and knead my chin.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Broken Record Truth

A few weeks ago, I plowed through Psalm 119. It took a few days, and by the end, my snarky self was convinced that the psalmist had an alternate identity as a broken record.  Seriously: 176 verses of the same thing over and over again. Evidently the psalmist didn't consider conciseness to be a virtue worth having.

But then, I realized that the psalmist is doing exactly what I have to force myself to do all day long: preaching the truth to himself. Our world is antagonistic to truth. Our hearts are as well. And so if we want to walk in truth, which is the only way to peace, we have to remind ourselves of it over and over again.

Sometimes this gets repetitive. I remind myself minute by minute that not only does what I do matter, but how I do it matters too. I remember that Christ is with me, Emmanuel. I hold before myself the suffering Christ and then the hope of the resurrection. I tell myself that being present is more important than being productive. I repeat truth to myself like it's a paying job that can provide for my expensive book habit. All day. Every day. And sometimes it gets tiring. Okay, often it gets tiring.

At the close of the day, I am tired of reminding myself of what is Real and just want to wallow instead in what is easy for a little while, knowing that the next morning and the battle to believe truth will come quickly. But here is my joyful realization for the week: this is why God gives us the Church. Because when we are the Church for each other, we know that others are walking alongside us fighting the same fight, struggling to remind themselves of truth as well. We are not alone in our fight to live in the hard truths instead of easy numbness.

Simultaneously, when we are part of the Church, there are moments of reprieve when someone else can speak truth into our lives for a bit. This is one of the reasons why Sunday morning church is so important to me: because for just an hour and a half every Sunday, I get to just listen as someone else reminds me gently of what I have to forcibly fight for the rest of the week. This is an incredible gift.

If you are someone like me who struggles to remember what is real, I hope you find others who can help you remember. I also hope you try memorizing Scripture with your children so that then the inner voice repeating it to you throughout the day has a really cute voice. Most of all, I hope you don't beat yourself up over the off days but just keep trying to jump back on the broken record band wagon of truth. It might make for a ridiculously long Psalm, but it also makes for a richer life.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Overdoing

There are times when we blink fast and suddenly find ourselves finishing out the month. Honestly, it's kind of like going for a run in the early morning dark and then discovering yourself face down on the concrete and not completely sure how you got there. Not that that happened to me this week, of course.


So what have I been up to this month instead of updating the blog? Well, other than turning myself into a full body scab, I've been working hard to get quality time with the Team before we start school again (and it just becomes quantity time full of math lessons and handwriting). What does quality time look like these days? It's endless games of Dutch Blitz and Rummikub, baking sessions, snuggle time, half of the Little House series, weekend movie marathons, braving the pool (and no one drowning!), and laughing hysterically at Twinkle doing her best imitation of the Worm. Also, I might've broken up a few fights here and there...potentially...in between all the quality time we were having.


I've also spent a good portion of the summer letting the kids loose to entertain themselves (legos! football! ridiculously intricate games of Pretend!) while I attempt to get housework done and keep up on my reading. Other than my annual reread of Harry Potter (because what else are you going to do with your right hand and both knees out of commission?), I've been enjoying a handful of books that have functioned well as a triple whammy of conviction. So, if you too are looking for a challenge I can offer you:
  1. Your familial kick in the pants: Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul David Tripp. It will give you a big picture, long term view of your parenting along with practical encouragement along the way. The Man downloaded the audible version of this onto my phone last week, and I've been listening to it when my children decide to move their tumult out of my general area. Worth it. 
  2. Your marital kick in the pants: Sacred Influence: How God Uses Wives to Shape the Souls of Their Husbands by Gary Thomas. You should know up front this book is not about how to change your husband, rather it reminds us that we are not a neutral influence in their lives. It gave me a lot to think about and even more to rejoice over.
  3. Your personal kick in the pants: Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life by Kathleen Norris. I'm still plowing through this one, but I wish I'd read it years ago. Norris is not a light writer, but she is helping me see my soul in new ways. If you have a history of depression, this is a must read.
One week until this gets covered in school books again...

Then, if you need something just for happiness and joy, something that doesn't make you say "Amen, but ouch!", Megan Whalen Turner, one of my all time favorite YA authors, just put out another book in her Queen's Thief series: Thick as Thieves, which was just good, clever fun. And don't worry, Eugenides does show up to steal the show, even though he's not the main character this time around.


In the meantime, I'll be over here herding children, kneading bread dough one handed, planning for the up coming school year, admiring Twinkle's new teeth, and feeling guilty for not updating the blog more often. Because, as I was reminded while reading Thick as Thieves, "Anything worth doing is worth overdoing", which could be our new family motto, now that I come to think of it...

Monday, June 19, 2017

Competitive Reading

I made the mistake of signing our family up for a summer reading program at the library. It's a mistake because evidently the Man and I suffer from hyper-competitiveness. We're one week in and neck and neck at 500 minutes of reading. He tried to convince me that the night time reading I get done while up with Twinkle doesn't count while making sure I wasn't logging quiet time minutes (which I had to confess I'd thought about). He also tried to log all the audio book minutes that he listened to after he fell asleep. Let me just say: dirty. cheater. Let me also say: I am putting every free minute to good use these days because he is going down.

Side note, I have the ability to do this because Twinkle has transitioned to the jumperoo after trying to flip her bouncer off the kitchen counter during breakfast and evidently the jumperoo is fun for the whole family.


At any rate, I thought it was time for a quick book blog. It has to be quick because I was up from midnight until 330 last night with my favorite fifth child and I would like to get a little bit of time to hang out with the Man before I pass out from exhaustion. And before anyone makes the assumption that the Man was snoozing away blissfully while I manned point with the baby, he took the first shift...and also has to get up at an obscenely early hour to go to the gym so that he doesn't kill people when he goes to bring home the bacon. Moving on, apologies for not including nice pictures of the books but all my reading is happening on my phone these days (the better to read while night-nursing, my dear). So here's what's been hanging out of my kindle app:

The Pigeon Pie Mystery and Acedia & Me are both still in the works
so no comment as of yet.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. My middle sister suggested this one primarily because she wanted someone to discuss it with. Aziz Ansari is best known for his role as Tom Haverford in Parks and Rec but this is primarily a research driven book on what it's like to find love in the 21st century. I could write an entire blog post just about this book, and I don't want to because not enough sleep AND want to hang out with the husband BUT if you want to understand a little better what is going on in our culture (and even cultures around the world), this might be worth a read. I found it to be a somewhat sad read (especially because I'm reading Little House on the Prairie to the Bigs right now all most people want in life is a relationship like Ma and Pa's).

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. Allie Brosh's blog is one of my favorite online reads, and I was so excited when I heard she was putting out a book. Turns out that more than a few of the chapters are repeats from the blog, which is why I get books from the library instead of buying them, but I didn't necessarily mind the reread. Her story about the dinosaur-goose was a fun add in, but her strongest chapters are still the ones on depression. If you haven't read her two posts on depression, please go over to her blog and read them. The last two chapters about identity were also fascinating. Brosh manages to blend humor with depth in ways that really gave me a lot to think about.

She's scooting, but only backwards...
which means I'm fishing her out from under the piano a lot.

My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith. My oldest sister suggested this book (why have a librarian when you can have sisters!), and it was a great read. I went through a massive Alexander McCall Smith phase after the Little Man was born, but this may be my new favorite. It made me want to take the Man to Italy. But we wouldn't rent a bulldozer to drive around in. But we might gently bend a few laws. But we wouldn't land in Italian prison. Hopefully.

This is the portion of the blog where I was going to force the Man to tell me about what he's been reading (he audio books like a beast), but he got sucked into watching The Office, so that ship has sailed. Anyway, assume I said something about military history and things that actually happen in real life and stuff blowing up, and you'll be pretty spot on.

I take a break from reading to hang out with this kid,
because she's pretty cute.

So, books: read them. And then compete wildly with the people you love to see who can read more of them. And then stay up way too late reading them instead of actually adulting.