Saturday, July 19, 2014

Silence is golden

I'm still gestating over here, and I don't feel much like writing right now. Things are likely to be quiet here until baby arrives. We will make sure there is an update then!

If there are specific ways I can pray for you over the course of the coming days, please let me know. 

Thanks to each of you for your prayers and support of our family.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Five-minute Friday: Belong

It's Friday...the end of another week, the beginning of another weekend. I'm excited to have my mom coming up to help out this weekend so we can get a few last-minute things done before Baby arrives soon. As much as I feel I've been neglecting this space, it still seems important to keep writing here (both so the conversation doesn't totally die and for my own mental health!), so I've been trying to keep up with Five-Minute Friday.

In case you're unfamiliar with it, Five-Minute Friday is a writing exercise, kind of like coloring with words without worrying about staying inside the lines. We set a timer for five minutes, write in response to a one-word prompt, and then share it with others so we can encourage each other. If you have a blog, you can link your post up with Lisa-Jo and the group here.

Today's prompt is Belong.

It's a place I've passed many times but never really noticed, set back a bit from the road and surrounded by carefully landscaped beds with daylilies. Some of the apartments have little screened porches or rockers in front of them. Mom says they thought about getting you a screened porch one but were worried about your wandering off with direct access to the road.

While I know she's right, I remember sitting on your screen porch, on the white wicker furniture with its African violet cushions, watching a summer thunderstorm. I was scared of that storm, and you told me it was God's way of showing He was in charge of everything. The porch eventually became a room with walls, the furniture was painted over- khaki with new cushions- but the conversation stayed in my mind.

God's still in charge of everything, right? Because when I stand in the center of the room you now occupy, so much smaller than your old house, with many of your familiar things missing, it just isn't the same. It doesn't smell right. There are no violets in the windowsill and no kids' drawings on the refrigerator. I can't point out the place on the cabinet that burned when the meat caught fire on the stove that time, or the nail near the fireplace where you always hang up the little wooden jumping guy at Christmas time...the one I used to play with as a child, the one my children always play with now.

Except not now...because now, you're someplace else.

My son says, quietly, "This isn't Gram and Gramp's house."

He's never been more right about anything, ever.
Part of my heart wants to cry, wants to ask, "What happens to me, where do I go when the place that has always felt like home, the place I've set so many novels and stories in my mind, is no longer your place?"

But now, for now, this is where you belong, even while my barefoot memory walks the hallways with their wide-plank dark wood floors, still hearing every single creak.

For more Five-minute Friday, visit Lisa-Jo Baker.

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Theme Thursday: Bright (and {p, h, f, r})

I've been struggling lately to keep up with everything I want to be able to do. I guess it is my body's way of making me slow down a bit in preparation for this new baby's arrival in a few weeks. Anyone who has known me long, though, knows that I like to be doing things rather than wishing I were doing them, and it's been difficult these past few weeks to have to recognize that I just can't do everything I want to do right now.

As I've needed more time to rest, I've found less time to write here...and wouldn't you know it? My children still need the same amount of care, attention and love as they ever did. To-do list or no to-do list, they expect me to be at least somewhat present with them. 

Today, though, you get content (light content, but still! content!) and pictures. 

It's Theme Thursday at Clan Donaldson, and I'm linking up with a photo of this amazing, potentially life-changing bracelet my dear friend gave me as a birthday gift.

It's engraved with the prayer of St. Francis.

In my continued efforts to be less reactive and to create a climate of peace in my home, nothing could be more appropriate. I hope that seeing it and feeling it, bright and cool against my skin, will remind me to be kind and gentle with those around me.


Being kind and gentle (and using my quiet mommy voice) is not always easy around here, especially when things like this happen:


That is Lucy and Nora's room at approximately 10 pm on Tuesday night. George had a rehearsal, and I was very much looking forward to hanging out at the second online meeting of the Carrots Classic Book Club to discuss Brideshead Revisited. All the children were snug in their beds, and although I could hear the girls chatting to each other, I thought things were fine. Then Lucy started screaming, "I NEED my BLANKIE!"

It turned out Nora had taken the blankie and was holding it hostage in her bed.

They had emptied the (supposedly locked) wardrobe of all the new baby's clothes, their own clothes and shoes, and every diaper and wipe in the room and had covered the floor and themselves with diaper cream. Because they were obviously still quite awake (and smearing the diaper cream around on their faces), I had to clean everything up right away. George came home in the middle of the process and helped me set things right, but it took about an hour to get it all picked up.

Notice the delighted, completely unrepentant grin on Lucy's face.

It doesn't get much more real than that...unless poop is involved, which it wasn't. Small graces.


We visited my mom and stepdad for the Fourth of July weekend and awoke to this scene.

Sam, the always-early riser, had set up a guard station at the top of the stairs outside his sisters' room.

The sight of those little guys with their campfire and weapons made me so happy, I had to giggle.

And, speaking of giggling, this:


Our kids have been enjoying a lot of water play in the backyard. Most of it has just been turning the hose on each other and playing in a plastic pool. Lucy always insists on drinking out of the hose. They haven't yet mastered the skill of changing the spray to a more drinking-friendly setting, so this is what happens.

To change things up a bit, I'm joining the crowd at Like Mother, Like Daughter for {pretty, happy, funny, real}...although in my case, it's {pretty, real, happy, funny} today. 

round button chicken

Friday, June 27, 2014

Five-Minute Friday: Lost

There is desperation in his eyes. 

"I know they must be under the seat in the van," he says. "I've looked everywhere else."  The tiny sword, quiver and belt he's been missing are critical to Erik the Red's mission, and without them, Sam simply cannot go on. "They have to be there. I just know it."

The search for the little figure's weapons has been relentless and unending. Every day begins with conversation about where they could be. Every night ends with musings about where they might have gone. How could they have disappeared? Did they slip between the cracks in the van seat? Did he leave them in the backyard after an adventure to be run over by the riding lawn mower? Could his sisters have eaten them?

It's hard to resist the temptation to be irritated by his singleminded focus, but I'm impressed by Sam's persistence. This is a boy who does not give up easily. He knows the name and location of every piece of Playmobil weaponry and armor his collection contains, and he will not rest until Erik's rightful pieces have been returned to him.

There's a lesson here for me, too, I, the mother who finds myself inconsistently bumbling through certain days, tired and losing sight of my mission, snapping at my kids, forgetting to start the rice in the rice cooker for dinner (multiple days in a row!) and hitting one of our family's parked cars with the other one in a parking lot. I sometimes feel a little lost, like I'm losing my bearings and letting down the people I care about most in the world.

But Sam reminds me, with his five-year-old tenacity, that God does not give up on us easily. For all my wandering off the path, I'm not really lost as long as someone is still looking for me...and so I keep trying to make my way back.

"Do not fear. The poorer you are, the more Jesus will love you. He will go far, very far in search of you if at times you wander off a little."

 - - St. Therese of Liseux

For more Five-MInute Friday, visit Lisa-Jo Baker.

Five Minute Friday

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

to my lost girl on her feast day

Dear Verity,

It's the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, and you won't be born today.

Most babies don't show up on their due dates, it's true...but you won't be born any other day this week or next week, because you were born into Heaven many months ago.

And I still miss you.

I'm not going to wrap you in a swaddling blanket or put tiny clothes on you. We're not going to marvel at how long your fingers are or how your chin looks just like your dad's. We won't be waiting to see if your eyes will stay blue like your sisters' or change to a rich chocolate like your brother's.

I didn't even knit you a hat.

(Oh, how I wish I had done that.)

Instead, Baby Girl, there's a space- a not-quite-empty space you occupy, a space where you are still (somehow, mysteriously) part of our family...a space that isn't here or there but is somewhere in between, where our spirits still touch and where someday, somehow we'll see you and hold you and know exactly who you are and that you are ours.

In that space, we belong to each other, and you are always my child.

Until then, I'm holding you in my heart.

Until then, I'm always going to miss you in my here-and-now- at our breakfast table, in our minivan, in the bathtub with your brother and sisters.

Until then, we will celebrate your tiny life- today, with pools and splashing and water balloons and popsicles and all the summer chaos we can manage with all the kids we can find- because all life, no matter how small, deserves a party.

Until then, we love you.

Your Mama

Friday, June 20, 2014

Five-Minute Friday: Release

It's Five-Minute Friday again. Five minutes isn't very long, but it's long enough to catch your breath. Today's prompt is Release. Why not take five minutes and see what comes out? Not perfect writing, not writing without any mistakes...just the kind of writing that lets some of the pressure off our souls.


The walk to the mailbox isn't very far, but on a day like this, I can make it last just long enough.

The children are settled with their lunches at the table, the girls buckled safely into boosters with trays attached, their brother perched on his stool with one leg tucked under him. The noise is unbearable. I tell them I'm going to the mailbox and slip out the front door.

My feet instinctively pull away from the hot pavement on the driveway, sun-baked already by lunchtime, but I refuse to move over to the grass. I need to feel everything- to notice the haze hanging over the mountain to my right, which I can see again now that the neighbor has moved his new RV around to the side yard. My face feels tight and my lungs feel small as I try to draw deeper and deeper breaths, listening for the buzz of bees in the clover at my feet as I open the black plastic box.

It's like a doorway to someplace else, a place where things just show up...things that change just enough each day to make things different. Yesterday, some new books for homeschooling this coming year and a bill from the cable company. Today, a mortgage statement and a massive box of baby formula samples.

Tomorrow is Saturday, and I probably won't need this midday walk to keep my head from exploding. Today, though, I pause for a minute and soak in the sunshine, squinting at the horizon and trying to guess if we'll have enough of a thunderstorm later that I can skip watering the tomatoes. One more deep breath, and then I make my way back, not quite retracing my steps as I cut through the grass to give my soles a break.

Stepping onto the porch, I glimpse them through the window, clustered at the table, laughing at each other. The scene (on mute) makes me pause and smile with my hand on the doorknob, and I go back in to be among them again.

Five Minute Friday

For more Five-Minute Friday, visit Lisa-Jo Baker's blog.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

"Start running toward us!" (Theme Thursday: Sports)

Our family has a lukewarm relationship with sports.

I wouldn't say we dislike sports. George and I have a small obsession with the Olympics (and may or may not have subscribed to cable just for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi). We are not-especially-fast runners of middle and long distances. I played defense on my high school field hockey team for a year and on my church youth group's softball team for several years (mostly in positions where I wouldn't encounter the ball too often). George was on various sports teams as a child, frequently as the kid that picks buttercups over in the outfield.

Our kids seem to be following in our footsteps. They enjoy being active and playing ball in the yard. Sam even survived one season of micro league soccer. I wouldn't describe any of them as particularly athletic, but they get around fine.

Where my offspring really seem to excel, though, is in inventing their own sports.

Take, for example, the recent development of the game "Start Running Toward Us."

It started last month. From the kitchen, I overheard shrieking followed by the thudthudthud of three pairs of feet thundering down the hall, then hysterical laughter. When I stepped out to see what was happening, they were standing at opposite ends of the hallway, running toward each other as fast as they could, and crashing in the middle.

The game evolved, as such games do, and is currently known as Joust Practice.

The participating knights lie down on the couch and pretend to sleep. One of them makes a beeping noise like an alarm clock, then sits bolt upright and calls out, "Oh, man! It's time for Joust Practice!" All three kids grab pillows from the sofa and take positions at opposite ends of the hallway. The Lead Knight yells out, "Start Running Toward Us!" and they take off, as fast as their short legs can go, colliding in the middle with their pillow "shields" raised for protection.

No actual jousting is involved...yet.

I was fortunate to capture some of their practice this afternoon. I offer it to you for today's Theme Thursday at Clan Donaldson: Sports.

For some more takes on the theme today, visit Cari and the other photographers at Clan Donaldson.