January 30, 2009

one joint to rule them all.

we had a birthday get-together for tom's 29th last week and it was just for "grownies" as my kids would say. however, even though no kids were in attendance, we ended up sitting around in a huge circle bouncing a balloon around, trying to keep it up in the air. our friend joe has a way of turning any social activity into hilarious feats of strength. so, his rule was that whatever body part you hit the balloon with, you would have to consider it removed from your body - from the joint down, unable to use it more than once. all the grownies were sitting around using different joints - an elbow, hip, a shoulder, even a desperate pelvis was once used - trying to keep that balloon up off the ground. it sort of made me question the difference between a party with kids, and a party without.

don't try to figure out why i wrote that. there is no real explanation for this sort of behavior.

my sister, bethann, her husband and their two boys just left. they came from michigan, my motherland, and stayed for the week. we had a great time with them, as usual, and the kids did quite well together i must say. the week was wonderful with my sister. we talked, we saw a movie in the grown-up movie theatre (for a small fortune) and we overhauled her whole wardrobe. we even took pictures of newly assembled outfits as a guide for when she returns home and panics.

having five kids in the house was a wake-up call. they did great together, but i just kept imagining doing it myself because i have definitely always thought we will have five kids. we talk about adopting one more time, and having one more biologically. five kids. that is a lot of humans. right now we are a family of five. but a family of seven? i am afraid we would become that family with a million kids, that nobody knows any of their names (probably not even us), and people just think of us as the family that sort of looks like the united nations. i hate thinking of myself walking around with really frizzy hair, looking haggard, calling out a list of names, with a blank stare on my face, hoping that a herd of children (with collicky hair and some sort of sticky mustache) will come running. why, oh why is that the image that i have?

people can have five mustache-free children right? kids that have hair that lies normally on their head? this is possible isn't it? i can have kids whose names i remember. and even if we do look like the united nations when its all said and done, i may not necessarily look haggard right? i mean, i have seen mothers with a lot of kids that don't permanently wear a robe... or a long floral dress. why do i have this idea that if we have five kids, i will be issued a long, pastel, floral jumper as my permanent uniform? do i have to wear blouses? will i start serving huge pots of off-brand franks n' beans? where are these images coming from? does anyone even know what i am talking about? more importantly, will somebody out there stage an intervention if i am ever able to sit on my own braid?

everyone says that you will know when you are done having kids. i would like to know i am done. we already have a house full. money isn't exactly overly abundant. harper produces enough drool to rival lake ontario. i can't remember that last time i showered. i haven't gone to the bathroom alone since 2004. i spendapproximately 1 million hours of every year sorting through kids clothes that are too big, too small, too stained, out of season, or too ridiculous to wear in public. haven't i had enough!?

maybe i love kids. maybe i trust god to provide. maybe i am clinically insane. maybe it is a combination of the three... but i just know i'm not done. when consulted on the matter of how many children to have, my daughter marlie (3 1/2) holds up both hands (showing ten fingers spread impressively far apart) and says "mommy, you should actually have this age of kids." it's a bad sign when i am taking family planning advice from someone who just told me she was "choking" because her pants were too tight.

January 21, 2009

i got the joy.

"to youth and natural cheerfulness like emma's, though under temporary gloom at night, the return of day will hardly fail to bring return of spirits. the youth and cheerfulness of morning are in happy analogy and of powerful operation; and if the distress be not poignant enough to keep the eyes unclosed, they will be sure to open to sensations of softened pain and brighter hope."

-emma, by jane austen

i love this novel, and i especially love this excerpt. i go through the day stressing or worrying about things that i know won't really keep me up at night. "...and if the distress be not poignant enough to keep the eyes unclosed..." jane austen makes sleep sound like such a wonderful little healer. you can stress all day about something that seems so important or so upsetting, go to sleep, then wake up with total perspective. upon waking you are "...open to sensations of softened pain and brighter hope." i love that. i once heard somebody describing sleep as your body's way of cleaning off it's desk. your brain has to sort of sift through everything that was put into its "inbox," decluttering spam and junk mail, and re-prioritizing tasks that need accomplishing. this makes sense to me, because when i wake up, i often have a perspective shift on what is tolerable, what is important and what is urgent.

now there is, of course, the occasional (or not so occasional) tragedy that causes distress that is poignant enough to keep the eyes unclosed at night. this little quote only refers to the youth and cheerfulness we might experience when the relief of morning comes. but, sometimes, what is slipped onto your desk is suffering from which morning brings no relief.

today in my email devotional that i recieve daily, it said "...a person who forgets what god treasures will not be filled with joy..." this is so convicting. i don't know how many times i have prayed for joy, but this is a reminder that joy comes only if i remember what god values. do you know what the bible says about suffering? to consider it pure joy. isn't that just what we want to hear when crap is being shovled onto our desk? no. but, god values suffering. and god treasures us drawing near to him when we suffer. so, even when the youth and cheerfulness of morning cannot relieve or soften pain... we can still experience true and uninhibited joy knowing that we need "...not be afraid or discouraged... for the battle is not yours, but god's." (2 chronicles 20:15)

my 15 month old son, harper, has a small chenille blankie, which he calls his "picky." he loves it. it is soft and white and smells like saliva. when he sees it, he roars at it like a lion, and then he kisses it. when he kisses it, he smacks his lips needlessly loud. he's in love. as soon as you say "wanna go na-night?" he drops whatever he was doing, and sprints as fast as his little bow legs can take him, laughing wildly the whole time. he loves his picky, his crib, his little ocean music machine, and he loves to say hi to all of these things as soon as his bedroom door closes behind me. "hi! hi! hi!... (pause)... hi!" maybe his desk needs to be reorganized, or maybe he is just sleepy and super pumped about it. who knows. but harper thinks that sleeping is god's gift. and i think i am starting to agree. jane austen suggests that sleep is the healer, but perhaps sleep is just a little gift from the healer. perhaps.

so here's to sleep, to whatever saliva soaked object comforts us, and to god's goodness for allowing us the chance to have joy, even when morning fails to bring return of spirits.

January 18, 2009

my first thought tonight... is about friendship. how precious and valuable it is. there is nothing like a friend who asks you for help, or advice, or company. a friend that accepts those things has got to be the best. this isn't really a change of prior opinion, but the strength of that has become particularly profound to me. while a little cliche, true friendship really is hard to find. i have developed a checklist i am going to use from now on to put potential friends through a sort of qualifying process. this will, of course, be neatly listed below.

  1. a good girlfriend should look different in every situation. sometimes they should cry with you, sometimes they should make you laugh until you pee just a little, and sometimes they might need to verbally slap you in the face. (this is always for your own good.)
  2. a good friend should always pray with you when you need it, and absolutely offer treats of many kinds.
i realize now that the bullet points weren't necessary, because i really only had two points there. but, i don't think that's any of your business and i am weary of talking about the list. please stop bringing it up.

my second thought is that i have a really nice husband. he is kind, humble, thoughtful and very, very patient. he lives with me, so i think that also qualifies him as a saint. he spends time with and takes care of our kids because he wants to, he laughs at pretty much everything they (or i) say, and when we are all really annoying and most people would complain, he finds the grace to say our little peculiarities are "cute." i do not say any of this to brag, but i find myself appreciating him much more than i have before and so sorry to ever have taken him for granted. i know that love and marriage aren't easy, and ours certainly has not been... but, even when it gets super hard, thomas is still good. he is good.

alright. that's enough. i promise i will not write of love and friendship in the same blog ever again. it got pretty touchy-feely there for a minute. but, we're out now and i don't think it'll happen again.

i am off to read, and hopefully finish, emma. then i am going to see how long i can balance on my excercise ball without touching my feet down. i will add a link to my next blog that will lead you to my homemade petition to get excercise ball balancing an official olympic sport. there will also be a link to petition that we bypass the formality of creating an official sport, and just award me the golden medal because i assure you that nobody will ever beat me in excercise ball balancing. ever.

January 7, 2009

it's okay to say poop deck twice in one blog.

starting this blog has made me keenly aware of how uninteresting i can actually be. it's a little sad, but it really comes to me, largely, as a relief. i spend much of my time feeling pretty chaotic - which, in my mind, somehow guarantees good blog material - but finding that i am not as exciting as i had hoped is better news than being such a complete lunatic that i have constant chaos to write about. i guess the best way to put it would be saying this: if there were hidden surveillance somehow involved in this analogy, much of the footage would look like a fish that inadvertently landed on a poop deck. i'm just flopping and flailing around my life... just loopy, spazzy, and remarkably gangly for a fish. just twitching around trying to remember what it is i am supposed to be doing. chaotic? quite. interesting? not so much.

today when i was a few blocks from picking up annalee from pre-school, i lost all power-steering capabilities. i describe that like it is a super-power b/c in the world of mini-vans, power-steering really is a magical power that propels my big, silver van around corners with ease, and without thought or concern on my part. today, i lost the magic and gained a true respect for the super power behind power steering. i kept driving (which you should apparently never do). but, i was just a block or two away and while lights on my dashboard were flashing, and there were beeping noises in surround sound... marlie (3 years old) concurred that our car didn't look broken, so we kept moving. i have a seriously deep fear of being excessively late (or forgetting altogether) to pick up one of my children from school. so far, so good. and i wasn't about to let a really heavy steering wheel stop me from a perfect record.

needless to say, when i went in to get annalee (on time thank you very much) one of the pre-school moms asked me if i drive a beautiful, fashionable and super cool silver mini-van, and i replied (with my flowing hair blowing in the wind) "why, yes... yes i do." (okay. so, she really just asked me if i had a silver van, and we were inside where there was no wind and nothing was flowing. but i am trying to liven things up a bit.)

i told her that it was my van, and she informed me that she saw something hanging from the bottom of my van and when i turned the corner and barrelled through a huge puddle, she saw that it was no longer in the shape of a loop but was in two pieces. we got the car towed and are assuming the loop was a belt, and is not a belt anymore. but is simply evidence that the flashing lights and the beeping sounds are in fact a warning to stop driving your vehicle or you will make a bad thing worse. i, however, have no regrets b/c instead of seeing annalee sitting in the office alone (probably broken out in hives) because i wasn't there... was worth the inevitable cost of fixing a hanging loop. and that, ladies and gentlemen, is what a gangly fish on a poop deck looks like in human form.

January 5, 2009

made out of family.

welp, here goes nothing....

i guess i should start all this by saying that i am not really a "blogger" by nature. in fact, i am inherently pretty anti-technology. now, i know to most of the civilized world a blog isn't exactly considered the cutting edge of technology these days... but, for someone who thinks "the blue 'e' makes internet" and is satisfied with knowing nothing else... a blog is a really big deal.

don't get me wrong. i am not satisfied with being an ignorant fool all the time - just technologically speaking. quite the contrary, i actually can't get enough of "knowing stuff." when i told my beloved sister-in-law, carlie, that i was going to write a blog, she excitedly encouraged me to finally put all of my useless knowledge in one place. i think i am secretly proud of retaining information so easily, even if it interests no one but me and carlie.

so that is what this blog will start out doing: relieving my tireless mind of some excess information, tips, questions, thoughts, rants and an occasional cry for help i'm sure. while that is its intended purpose, i would like to go on record saying that i make absolutely no guarantees regarding what it will actually become. i encourage participation from whatever participants there may be, so feel free to leave a remark or ask a question. i am, however, an enormous baby so please take it easy on me. be honest, but no verbal abuse will be tolerated on my blog. other than me. i reserve the right to verbally abuse if i like.

i don't really know what to do next. so i will resort to my fall-back option of filling awkward silences with off-beat and sometimes inappropriate stories about my three children. i will start with a safe one for now. my oldest daughter, annalee, turned five today. five years old. this made me consider several things, which i will neatly list below.

  1. i have been a parent - an actual mother to a human - for five full years. and she's actually pretty delightful.
  2. can i keep describing myself as a young mom? sure, we started a little earlier than we planned (more on that later at some point, i'm certain) but, it's not like i was a teenager. i mean, i'm 27 and i think that still sounds young. but not when you've spent the last five years in pajama pants that are way too short for you.
  3. i am exhausted, but have survived the trenches of mothering babies, toddlers and now pre-schoolers thus far. it wasn't pretty at times, especially in those short pants, but we are surviving. some days, it even feels like we are getting ahead. okay, that is a total lie. it never feels like that.
i guess that is all for now. i will leave you with a sweet and funny thing my middle daughter, marlie, said to tom and i the other night at dinner. he was jokingly asking her if she was made of various materials - i think food was involved - like "are you made of ham? are you made of cheese?" that sort of thing. marlie said to us, as if we were ridiculous for not already knowing, that "we are made out of family!" somehow, they get it way more than we do. they have these clear ideas about life and our make-up and what is important, and over the last five years... i've gotten a glimpse here and there of life through their eyes. i hope that this blog is a way to share those little discoveries and also panic out loud when i need to. join me, won't you?