Category Archives: family

The best donuts happen at night!

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Of course we would pick National Donut Day to go to Krumpe’s.  Derek was practicing his fun-dad-creating-memories routine.  He told the kids to get their jammies on, and then loaded them up in the car.

Oh, summer nights! We rode into town at dusk, with windows down and warm wind making the back seat kids shriek that they were cold.  As if!  They just don’t like wind in their face, silly kids.

Krumpe’s was PACKED!  I wish I’d thought to get a picture.  Krumpe’s is this hole-in-the-wall local joint, in a back alley, and it opens for business at 7:00pm.  They close up shop in the wee hours of morning, so they can deliver donuts to all the local stores that carry Krumpe’s.

We got there around 8:30pm, and cars and people were lined up all over the place.  Derek dropped me off instead of trying to fit the Suburban down a packed alley.  I found the back of the line, and mentioned to someone that I’d never seen Krumpe’s this crowded, and was it just a Friday night thing?  I assumed the lady I was addressing was a local gal.  (You can just spot them somehow, you know?)

She shook her head.  “It’s National Donut Day!”

Ohhhh!  I forgot about Facebook.  All day, people had been posting about free donuts at Krispy Kreme, and I was lamenting that fact that we don’t have one close to us.

Don’t get me wrong, I love packed out places — like sold-out out movie theaters!  It heightens the experience for me.  Community, and all that.  I love Christmas shopping at the mall!  My husband is the opposite.  He hates lines, and restaurants full of people.  (I love waiting for 30 minutes at Olive Garden, so I can people watch, and chat with my date for that much longer!)  He’d rather sit in the middle of an empty movie theater.

I chatted with the people around me in line, and soaked in the warm summer darkness.  I probably stood in line for 30 minutes.  People took turns holding the shop door open, passing it on to the next person when it was their turn to order donuts.  Maybe some people like holding doors, but I couldn’t take it any longer!  I walked over to a planter full of dirt and flowers, picked it up, and walked over to the elderly gentleman currently holding the door.

“Here.  Let me put this down right there.”

Startled smile.  “Oh!  Thank you!  You should work here!”

I wanted to raise my hand and be like, “HOME SCHOOLER!”

I ordered 3 dozen donuts, and by the time I found Derek parked out on the street, he’d killed his phone playing Free Fall, and some of the kids were asleep.

We pigged out on donuts on the drive home, and tucked our sticky, sleeping children in bed with un-brushed teeth.

Mmm… sweet memories!

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The things you learn sitting outside at a picnic table

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“She’s mine,” Megan said, about her big sister.

Her words warmed my heart, and I don’t know why it surprised me.

We were at church, and Megan was sitting next to me on a bench, outside in the sunshine.  Another girl came and sat down next to Megan, and asked how old she was.

“I’m five.” Megan said.

“I’m nine!” said the girl.  (Guys.  I’m horrible with names as it is, and our church has 100 kids.  NOT exaggerating!)

“Oh!  Kirstyn’s nine too!”

“I think I’ve seen Kirstyn…”

“I know.  She’s mine.” 

Megan spoke with a smile, and what seemed to me like pride.

My heart flipped.

I heard love, and bff inklings, and one of the reasons I have so many kids!  I loved it — loved growing up with five siblings, and I wanted the same childhood pals for my kids.  I always knew I’d have at least 6 kids, just like my mom.  (I joke now that I’m having a midlife crisis, having met my goals to be a SAHM to 6 kids so early on in life!)

Of course my childhood also had battles.  I won’t say which firstborn daughter (*cough* *cough*) was bossy and possessive and started stupid territorial wars.  I also butted heads with my parents — who would’ve thunk?  But I always, always knew I belonged.  I knew deep down that if for some reason I got pregnant out of wedlock, my dad wouldn’t kick me out, and my family would help me raise the baby.  (Yes.  As a teenager, I did think through this hypothetical scenario.)

“Family is where your story begins,” you know?  Mine was a good story.  IS a good story!  My sisters and I are still best friends.

When I hear about my sisters’ (or my brothers) newest parenting notch-in-the-belt, job, sports achievement, awesome dish, or really just anything they did, I’m like, “I know.  They’re mine.”

I love that this imperfect, fierce love is just a darkly colored image of what our Father says of us:

“She’s Mine.  I know her, that girl.  I made her and I see her and I will never, ever leave her or forsake her.”

I belong.  I have what every heart craves!  Acceptance. Love.  Loyalty.

Megan’s words reminded me.  They encouraged this often-weary mama heart that worries if the kids will be OK; and they reminded me that not only will my children belong to each other for life, they will belong to God for eternity.

The post after my meltdown one

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You guys.  You’re just so sweet!  All the Facebook love, the phone calls, the offers of dinner, a pedicure, and just hanging out time for me and my kids.  You know who you are!   It meant the world to me.

Ruby Peterson, you are my hero.  One day, I promise, I will repay all the kindness you’ve showered upon me.  I’ll find some young mom still in the trenches of motherhood, and I’ll sit and chat with them at the Christmas party, and really listen, as the rest of the world swirls around.  I’ll bring a meal over for no reason other than to be a huge blessing.  Thank you.

So.  The rest of my week was not uneventful.  I just had courage, thanks to you all!

There was the bedtime routine where nobody was in bed yet, and the baby was cranky so we couldn’t put her down to sweep up the broken, special dolphin that shattered glass everywhere and made Megan’s foot gush blood and both girls were wailing at each other…  And meanwhile, downstairs, Zach was putting the baby monitor and toothbrushes and apples in the potty.

Yeah.  There was that.

The chili is still on my curtains.  Removing it is just not high on my priority list!  Oh.  And?  My fridge that was brand new 6 months ago?  I realized recently that I haven’t cleaned it yet.  Not once.  It’s pretty scary in there!

But then…

Then there was the day I just hung out with my friend Michele and her kids, and I wondered why my husband didn’t seem interested in coming over to hang out with us when he got off work early.  Well!  It was because he wanted to get home and make a meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and corn for me.  So I didn’t have to worry about supper!  Oh. My. Word.  Serious heart melting right there, folks!

My baby wore an outfit yesterday that said, “Who needs a superhero when I have my dad?”  Isn’t that just the sweetest cheesy rhetorical question EVER?

(My husband teases me about Anthony Hopkins and Johnny Depp, but he knows that he’s my real favorite!)

I was forced into time-out/prolonged nap time for a couple of days by a breast infection.  Nasty, those infections!  Derek came home from work early on Wednesday to take care of me (see why he’s my favorite?), and my mother-in-law took care of the kids when he wasn’t home.  My poor oldest daughter thought I was dying.  Like, with breast cancer.  No, no, I tried to explain about the baby not drinking enough, and it’s like the milk gets rotten and gives me an infection, and so Mercy just needs to nurse more.  Cory says, “But she can’t drink rotten milk!”  OK, I give up.

I’ve been sitting in leaf piles this week.  And dancing.  And putting puzzles together.  And sharing my coffee time with children instead of shooing them away.

Because my children, those “animals that we don’t eat” (from The Croods… awesome movie!), they’re such unique creatures.  They make you want to tear your hair out and they tear your heart up at the same time.  I know I don’t need to explain this to you!  I love them.

I’ve been eating chocolate too.  Everyone knows that chocolate is good for the soul!

Have a good weekend, ya’ll!  May you also be blessed with chocolate, and yummy children too.

We bounce-bounce-rocked all the way to a month!

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(from last night…)

We made it to the one month mark!  Not that I thought we wouldn’t, but that first month can be crazy.  Crazy sleep patterns, crazy messes, crazy no shower days, crazy mac and cheese again meals, crazy music to get the baby to sleep.

I know the music that plays on the radio station between 9:00 and 10:00PM, and between 10:00 and 11:00PM.  That’s usually when we’re doing the “bounce, bounce, rock” around the kitchen.  Tonight a song played called “Days of Grace.”  Totally appropriate.

Mercy didn’t fall asleep until 11:15PM. I held her All. Day. Long.  (Maybe a wee, tiny exaggeration?)  Yesterday was fabulous, her napping in bed and me getting lots of school done with my big kids.  Today she seemed to be asking, “Do you still love me?  Even if I won’t let you put me down?”  She didn’t cry or fuss, as long as I held her.  She looked up at me and crinkled her eyes, just like me, and practiced her smiles and coos.

Silly girl.

So we read books together.  And I did what school I could.  She must know now that 7+8=15, and Beowulf was a great, legendary Celtic warrior, and how to spell the word “the.”  We go back and forth between Preschool, Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 3rd grade; so by the end of the year she should be ridiculously smart!  Oh, and we listen to Mozart and Bob Dylan on Pandora, and Toby Mac on iTunes.  She really is well-rounded in her education so far.

She learned how to pay a bill over the phone, because the internet was down, and maybe she learned not to procrastinate bill-paying.

We talked about the chickadees outside at the feeder.  Two birds come every day, so we named them Toby and Mac.  (Yes, my kids love that artist.)

Mercy LOVES her siblings!  Megan spends the most time with her, and is rewarded with huge smiles.  She loves to grin at Kirstyn too, and Cory.  She just loves to smile, really!  Cameron doesn’t hold her much, but when he held her this afternoon she craned her head around so she could look up at him.  I think she was telling him that she understood.  Everything about him.  Maybe she’ll be my other introverted child.

Mostly she winces when Zach kisses her!

She’s just like me.  I’m rubbing off on her, literally!  Sunday evening, our church had a beautiful creek baptism.  Glorious!  I cried as some of the dads baptised their kids.  Anyway, as we were walking away from the creek, I noticed Mercy’s face sparkling in the sunshine.  It was my make-up, rubbing off on her from all the kisses and snuggles.

Now I’m going all figurative on you, but isn’t that what happens?  The people we spend time with rub off on us.

My kids love the things I love, say the things I say, and do the things I do.  Mercy even has my sleep patterns, from spending so much time with me!  Yes, girl, 11:15PM to 10:00AM is ideal.  I admit.  All of my kids love to cuddle, and all of my kids are fairly laid back.  The doctor yesterday even said as much, about Mercy!  Some things I’m proud to claim, like their penchant for words, and books, and gentleness with animals, their love of the outdoors, and just life in general.  My kids know bird names, tree names, and flowers.  They even know some of the weeds that are yummy to snack on, or have medicinal benefits!  Cameron, especially, seems to enjoy pruning and weeding with me.

My oldest child hates Cheerios, bananas, eggs, and raisins.  Just like me.

Every single one of my kids LOVES coffee!  I think I’m proud of that one…  Coffee wards of depression and cancer, after all!

Sometimes my kids drop a phrase or tone that makes me cringe and think, “Oh!  I speak that way.”

And I realize that I need to spend more time with God, to pick up His ways and personality.

So, baby girl — and the rest of my children — let’s hang out with Him together!  Your mama is learning just as much as you, on this journey of motherhood.  Let’s soak up His face, and sparkle with His grace.

Handling hardships myself is crazy talk!

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I read an article today, about how false it is to tell someone, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

It’s true, the false ring to that statement!

I won’t even try to list all the horrible tragedies that some people are facing.  But you probably know somebody who is, or you might be facing something yourself.

I was just going to talk about what I know — motherhood.

Even my midwife uses this phrase.  She said it to me when I sat in her office for my first visit with baby #4.  I told her, “I didn’t mean to get pregnant this soon!  I don’t know how in the world I’m going to handle four kids!”

She said, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.”

Ha!  I would have burst out laughing if I wasn’t the polite type.  God gave me that baby, my sweet Megan, in spite of myself.  He also gave me a mother-in-law that lives right next door, to help with my kids, and a husband that loves babies and doesn’t mind a disaster zone for a house.  He gave my husband a good job, so we can afford to have babies.  And he made the coffee bean.  And placed the idea of Starbucks in somebody’s brain.

There’s absolutely no way on earth I could do this alone.

Just last night, for example, I was crying at 10:30, rocking my baby #6 to sleep.  She doesn’t always sleep too well outside of my arms.  So I had a mess in my kitchen, a mess in my laundry room, dust and dirt everywhere, clothes piled high in my bedroom, stuff covering my kitchen table and counters, and a chicken in the crock pot that’s been simmering on low for days.

Maybe it’s the chicken that got me.  I’ve turned it off a couple of times now, let it cool, and then turned it back on because there’s no way I have time to pick the meat off the bones and make soup.  So it’s still just cooking.  It might still be cooking next week, or maybe I’ll just feed it to the cats.

I’d like to make bread, but I can’t even make it to the store to buy bread.  So we’re dipping shredded wheat in hummus.

I did finally get my bathroom cleaned, halfway, heading into week #4 of unclean, while Mercy was lying on my bed after a diaper change.  She seems to enjoy gazing around my room while I change her diaper, so I have about 5 minutes of free time until I have to pick her up again.  I scrubbed in the toilets, since the grime was starting to come alive, (and when you sit on the toilet you don’t really want to think about living organisms down underneath…) and I wiped down on the toilet, so I don’t have to scrub dried pee off of Zach’s hands every time he pulls himself up to the bathroom sink.

Then 5 minutes were up, and Mercy told me she wanted me to hold her again.

I wiped down the floors today.  Maybe I’ll do the sinks tomorrow.

I did take the trash out, since the maxi pads and piles of diapers were starting to stink up my whole room.

My Bible right now usually consists of flipping the daily calendar on my kitchen windowsill.  If I get up at a decent time in the morning, I can read my Bible and drink coffee all alone.  I’ve enjoyed that a few times.  But Mercy usually sleeps until 8:00 or even 10:00 some mornings, and after sleeping off and on all night, half-sitting, propped up on pillows, I’m usually gonna choose the extra sleep!

My kids watch TV in the basement until I wake up and feed them.

I’m freaking out about another year of homeschooling.  Add a newborn, and only God could pull off such a stunt!

I lean on Him, hard.

Last night, with tears burning my throat, and that sweet baby in my arms, I asked Him to help.  Just. Help.

I don’t have elaborate prayers these days!

My suspicion is, that the people who do manage to do it all themselves are full of pride.  And those people who are falling apart at the seams?  Maybe even contemplating the end?  Facing heartbreak?  Why in the world would you tell them that they can handle this… That God expects them to… That He gave all this tragedy to them.  What happens when they fall flat on their face?  Shame, and failure.

No.  If God did give it to them, He meant for them to bring that burden to Him.

And sometimes… sometimes it’s not God.  Our adversary, the devil, walks about this world as a roaring lion.  This fallen, sinful world.  This world that is not meant to be our home.  This world that is not perfect, and where people die.  And people hurt you.  And you have to watch children hurt and die.  And God never meant it to be so full of pain.

(I’m not still talking about just having a lot of kids.  I know why that happens!)

You might be lying if you tell somebody that God gave them the trial they’re facing.  Maybe a couple who desperately wants children is facing infertility.  Or a child is handicapped.  Or dead.  Or ill.

This world is ill, and God didn’t make it that way.

We did, and He offers hope.  He will take vengeance on the evil that we were never meant to handle.  He will justify the righteous and defend the innocent.

It doesn’t make the pain of this world go away, but it gives us hope.  I’m pretty sure life would be terrible without hope!

Hope is Jesus.  The answer is Jesus.

Next time you hear somebody say “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” please speak up and say, “Yes, He will, but He’ll also give you Jesus!”

(P.S.  My laughable “trials” of motherhood insanity are nothing compared to what some of you are facing!  I’m not trying to compare apples to oranges.  But the answer is always Jesus.)

A week of extravagant loving

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My husband went back to work today.  I have to admit, I’ve been feeling a little panicked about this day!  (Me, alone, with six kids…)  He took the whole week off of work last week, just to spend time with us and help me out with kids and household stuff.

He’s been reminding me of Jesus.  Because, honestly, all week I’ve felt kind of guilty that he “wasted” a whole week of his vacation time on me!  Extravagant love.  I told him this last night, about the guilty feeling, and thanked him for giving me a whole week of his time.  He said, “No, nothing I ever do for you is ever wasted.”  He called it a wise investment, this week with me.

Love can leave you feeling vulnerable, because sometimes you can’t repay.  Sometimes you have to accept extravagant giving, and realize that in the heart of the giver, you are worth every single moment or penny.

And it can make you fall hard in love all over again.

I watched him sweep and mop the floor this week, just because he loves me.  He rocked my newest baby, and my bigger babies, and took care of kissing the boo-boos this week, and made pot after pot of coffee, did laundry, re-filled the soap dishes, changed diapers, bought us ice cream, took us to the park, drove us to a tea party and time with friends 2 hours away, built a tee-pee and slept in it with the boys, rubbed my back, organized the basement and the shoes, went down the slip and slide with the kids, chased away bad dreams, switched out bed sheets, put my bedroom and bathroom back together after painting, built a campfire and roasted hot dogs… and if I could be cheesy for a minute?  My heart caught on fire too.

I kept thinking, “He has nothing better to do?”  and it was true.  He chose that he had nothing better to do than lavish his time and energy on all of us, his family.

He kept saying, “I wish I’d done this with all of our babies… taken a whole week off!”  I said no, we were okay.  And maybe I wouldn’t have appreciated it back then?  I’ve been upset before, that he couldn’t just see that there was hair on the bathroom floor and please vacuum it up because I’m really not supposed to life anything heavier than the baby!  I fumed instead of communicated, and took for granted his love.

(Now, I’d like to think I’m better at just letting go some of those messy things.  My kitchen floor didn’t get swept for days last week, and the crunch was an inch think by the time he swept it up!  It didn’t bother me.  My laundry room is a disaster.  I kid you not — a disaster!  It’s okay though.  My bathroom hasn’t been cleaned since before I went to the hospital.  That’s OK too.  I had company over to see the baby, and they sat at my table where discarded kids’ PJ’s were plopped next to the breakfast dishes.  Like my wise husband more than once has said, “What’s important will get done.”  I’m breathing in a baby, and her vanishing newborn days, and trying to focus on the other sweet young people in my life.)

I think that love, when not taken for granted, and just accepted in all it’s forms, can overwhelm you with its power.

We’ve had a rough year of it, my man and I.  Probably the roughest, relationally, since that infamous first year of marriage!  But it’s also been the sweetest year of all.  The thing is, God’s grace and love shine when we are weak.  And because we have God’s heart beating in us, we are stronger and more in love because of our struggles.

Yep!  I kind of love this amazing guy.  And Mercy, just so you know, in those those arms is one of the best places in the world!

Mercy 215

Join

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Today I’m joining Lisa Jo and her 5 Minute Friday crew.  It’s a beautiful community of honest, real people.  They pour their hearts out for 5 minutes straight and then hit “publish.”  No changing words!  I rarely join them (it’s SCARY!), but I’ve been inspired by my sister Anna’s storiesGo check her out!  You won’t regret it.

Join…

Join.  It requires a giving and a taking, this joining.  Always, when things are meshed together, there is NEW created!

I joined this family when I married my husband.  I choose to join myself permanently.  I joined the throngs of motherhood the day I got pregnant for the very first time, and now I’ve re-joined that group 4 times since.  We’re joined at the hip, the boob, the ankle, and at present babe — the hair.

I didn’t mean to join these groups so early!  My mother became a wife when she was 27, and gave birth to me when she was 28.  I just assumed I’d follow in her footsteps.  I’d see the world first, work longer at an orphanage, get involved with more children’s ministries.  And now?  I AM doing this.  (Well, minus the orphanage…)

My joining, it happened 4 years before my planned time, but God always has better planning.  Every single time.  He has me join friendships and places and situations to my life that are sometimes scary, sometimes uncomfortable, but I join anyway.  Because I choose to be joined, by Him.  It’s my surrender.

Beauty flows from surrender, and I have 5 breathtakingly gorgeous children that are joined to my life permanently.  That were created through a joining.  Through them I see the world, and I see God’s heart, and I work His kingdom work.