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Dear Delightful Thoughts of School,

I realize I sat down here thinking “I’ll just make a quick list of things I should focus on tomorrow to make sure all the priority 1’s get accomplished before I get distracted by priority 2’s.” which opened the door to your whole raggedy lot, but

GET OUT! BEGONE!

No, I don’t want to make ‘activity dice’ or come up with other activity rotation plans to help occupy the pre-K and toddler at key points in the day. No, I don’t want to immediately mentally reread every montessori/charlotte mason/classical ed homeschool organization/misc education book I’ve ever read or even think about Educating the Whole-Hearted Child which I am normally up for (and thanks a lot for reminding me that that one bit the dust, thus creating a neat little bunny-trail to all things mold-hatred related!)

No, I don’t want to make cool Bruce Lee clips to show and an accompanying poster of his not fearing the guy who has done 1,000 kicks, but the one who has done 1 kick 1,000 times thing-a-jig as a ‘kick’ off (yes, yes… very clever! Or at least punny.) for our highly neglected, much remedy needed copywork efforts or consider what tactic I will take to do the actual remedying.

I don’t want to try to find the recently and hastily relocated school books we own, figure out what we need, order books, consider creative/effective memory work review ideas, consider putting a few ‘teacher’s hung up on something right now’ go-to things in place, try to adapt Shurley English to replace Essentials for Orion in a way that doesn’t make it annoyingly/unhelpfully overlap other things we will be doing, figure out how to get that awesome music program that was supposed to be life-savingly simple but instead has been a pain in the rear to even load despite tech support tips to actually load/run, decide which subjects go where/when/how/in cooperation with whom on which days, or whether or not to start where we left off last year or just start at the beginning of the next book, or what pattern our weeks/months/days off will take to fit everything in or any of the other multitudinous aspects of this too quickly approaching year.

No, I don’t want to figure out how to make up for the lost time of not starting punctually, whether or not to formalize our currently ‘let’s dabble in this’ approach to various language stuffs, or start comparing options of how to simplify our school year by doing something completely different (what about that one that you looked at end of year last year, how much would it need adapted, let’s compare… STOP IT!)

And no, I absolutely do NOT want to answer or return the persistent phone calls of that ‘free online school’ I foolishly signed up to get EMAIL information from before making that last decision against looking for something completely different!

Just take that whole messed up, missing pieces, advanced level, no edges, all the pieces look the same puzzle and stick it back in the box, duct tape it shut and lock it in a safe behind an equally secured vault behind a fastened door somewhere until the potatoes have been dug/stored, elderberries picked, labor day is prepared for, end-of-summer activities are wrapped up, the girls’ room has had the crib traded out for a loft bed, the bunny she’s been waiting for since the end of June has been picked up, the youngest is potty-trained (ha!) and no longer using a sucker (what teeth?), the pool is no longer green or is torn down for the year, the trim-mowing is finished, the gutters are up the right way with covers to prevent future clogging and flooding during heavy storms, I’ve quit my most recent ‘I’m not cooking/we are using disposable everything’ binge and proven that we can still cope in that ‘normal’ situation of dishes and meals, cleaned out the fridge from the massive milk spill, cleaned out the freezer that thawed for an unknown but apparently extended period and then refroze, am consistently milking in a way that makes using the milk for human use afterwards somewhat more conceivable, the dog no longer looks like a home-less coyote (he doesn’t generally require much upkeep, truthfully, but he is rather late for his biannual brushing ūüėČ ), Lithany’s playhouse door has been replaced, I’ve met up with or called all the people to whom I owe visits/calls and… STAHP! Stahp it!

At the very least, come at me when I’m doing something that allows me to ponder life the universe and everything while doing it, and not when I’m just trying to get to dreamland.

Because, let’s face it. Try as you may to come singularly and in an orderly fashion with good timing, anymore you bring all that extra ‘to do’ baggage with you and tromp into the room much like a herd of stampeding elephants with no sense of rhythm having recently been introduced to roller blades! I am now but a pitiful shambles who can’t think of what I should do tomorrow beyond contacting one of the basement companies we decided not to use and finding/returning or at least renewing our now overdue library books because everything else is so convolutedly trampled beneath your onslaught. Pretty certain there were 2-3 equally urgent items that were supposed to be on that list.

Hopefully, I can think of them tomorrow.

If the stupid elephants stay out of the room long enough.

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We’ve had an incredibly crazy ‘back to real life’ transition after vacation. Just crazy. And disruptive. And uncomfortable. And stressful. And overwhelming. (The trip itself was amazing and awesome and definitely worth the post-trip stress and probably its own blog entry, however, I’m busy marveling at something tonight that I want to share instead.)

At one point, I came back from the barn close to tears because to top off the rest of our ever-lengthening ‘this needs done immediately’ list which lay atop the ‘pick up sticks’ list of things that needed done before the next urgent thing could be tackled (yes, it’s so overwhelming as to need that kind of confusing description!) was the looming possibility that Dandee’s mastitis was returning with a vengeance.

It never actually LEFT in the first place and started before we ever left on the 3rd. I was still getting (get out your ‘farm speak’ translator!) subclinical signs from the milk, though the quarter was in much better shape than the day I left, the antibiotics in her system were either to the point of drastically waning or gone and this was conveniently coinciding with the quarter steadily ballooning/forming hard spots over the last couple of days -all signs of it blowing up again. In which case, I would be going back to hot packing and milking every 3-4 hours which FEELS like constant milking all day and all night (and which makes getting ready for a long trip more difficult, I speak from experience now!)

Matt calmly, lovingly, encouragingly reminded me that none of these temporary nuisances are going to last forever, but I was still feeling like a complete and utter basket case… an exhausted one at that. After he left, I found myself pleading: “God, I am willing, if not exactly perfectly able at certain moments, to handle all the rest of this mess with the eternal perspective of a Christian, but I just can’t deal with mastitis on top of it all without curling up in a corner and whining pitifully for several days or maybe a month… or two… or 12… and in a padded room at that! Please just fix that one part!”

I probably wasn’t that eloquent, but He understood. He always does.

And knowing full well that God is not a genie and being cognizant of fact that God can/will do what He will do and that my job is to praise him whether it lines up with my ideals or not (but still trying to keep in balance the equally true idea that God also loves to give good things to His children… these kinds of tensions are at least one of the reasons why writing about spiritual things accurately is so difficult, FYI! ūüôā ), I went to bed dreading/resigned to an even fuller, more stressful day ‘tomorrow’ hoping only that I wouldn’t blow it completely in the face of adversity. Matt may be amazing, but he probably can’t handle it all by himself while I sign myself up for a vacation in the psych ward, so…

Now there simply isn’t any reason I can think of for actively developing mastitis (especially mastitis that’s been hanging on that long despite 2 rounds of antibiotics!) to reverse itself without some form of intervention as you nursing moms may know.

Yet, the milk looked almost perfect the next day.

And do you know, I haven’t once done an extra milking. I have spent an extra 5-10 minutes massaging the affected areas/very carefully stripping out that particular quarter each time which is but peanuts… putting a drop of water on a forest fire.

Instead of blowing up into a big issue like I expected, after a few days of fretful “Is it actually better? Why is this hard spot smaller today? Will the whole things be hard as a rock next milking? Clogged because I’m not taking proactive action (didn’t have time to do such things, or I would have at least started hot packing and milking 1-2 extra times as a precaution) Is this quarter ACTUALLY IMPROVING? Am I the delusional victim of wishful thinking?” it feels next to normal tonight. Now it’s not a blind man seeing or feeding the 5,000. There’s no guarantee it won’t be rock hard and completely plugged tomorrow. (hey, it happened to my substitute milkers right after the first round of antibiotics wore off and I was pretty sure that’s the road we were traveling again a few days ago!)

But for now, it appears that ‘the problem has resolved itself’ (my husband’s favorite Gulliver’s Travels line). It’s a ‘little’ thing.

But if you consider how great God is and how very small my daily ‘problems’ are by comparison (both to God Himself and to the scale of problems worldwide), God’s grace in these little things is a pretty BIG deal. Worth celebrating. Worth noting. And I thought it might even be worth sharing.

NEVER underestimate the power of a neighbor couple’s invite to use their shower.¬†¬† Now if this were a totally random offer,¬†the great power it wielded would likely be ‘creepiness’.¬†

“Hi!¬† It’s been so nice to chat with you over the fence.¬† Do you want to come over?¬† See my flowers?¬† Chat awhile?¬† Use my shower?¬† We just got a new hand held thing.¬† It’s amazing!¬† You want to take it for a spin!?”

Yeah, that would seem odd, even to me. 

However, when that offer is extended in the right circumstances…

Let me set up a ‘for instance’…

1) You spent yesterday afternoon/evening weeding in the ‘mud’ and slapping mosquitoes

2) You spent last night at grandma’s in a bed with a child that wakes you up from her crib in the next room when you’re home because she’s such a noisy/squirmy sleeper… and now she’s next to you… nuff said.¬†¬† But hey, you read an entire book in a single night AND¬†

3) …you got started at dawn¬†weeding in the ‘mud’ and slapping mosquitoes and continued in the same vein until noon.¬† (If you don’t understand why this is an integral part of the story, just dip your hand in mud or flap a very muddy weed root-ball around¬† and slap your arm a few times… then legs, shake your shirt so they get off your back, rub them off your neck, slap them out of your hair…. Instant mud monster.¬† That’s what it is!¬† Mud monster!¬† RAWR!)¬†

4) You came home this afternoon anticipating a shower/bath/hot tub pulled by a limo or something that will be absolutely heavenly after the kids are in bed (because at this point everyone is exhausted,  more because sleeping elsewhere = not asleep on time than due to weeding in their case, though they did assist often and well) since at this point it would be ludicrous to leave them to their own devices,

5) You ran ALL but the napping infant through the tub before realizing your electricity was… was… um… not exactly ‘off’, but working kind of like a starter in a car struggles to turn with a dead battery.¬† It was the WEIRDEST electricity problem I’ve ever seen.¬† dim lights in one area, things completely off in another, some things running sub-par, next to rooms operating perfectly.¬†

6) The electricity weirdness that you had resulted in a well pump not running, which meant those baths ran you completely out of running water which is not the focus of your concern; nevertheless, thank goodness for water bottles and wet wipes!.¬† This¬†also means you left the hot water heater running empty while…

7) …You made a bajillion calls and waded through the rising basement water -sump pumps also need electricity to work- (wait, did I say we were OUT of running water?¬† We were out of CLEAN running water. There was plenty of ‘running’ water in our basement!¬†ūüėȬ†Anyone wishing to backfill the entire¬†basement¬†and put just a regular old foundation under the house for cashews, please contact us.¬† It’s a big can of cashews and still mostly full.¬† If you wipe all memory of¬†the beautiful “finished/rarely gets any water in it” basement ever existing from our brains, we’ll pay you peanuts too!) to look for possible solutions after being assured that neither the house nor the water contained therein was electrified or siphoning the power somewhere in a sinister plan¬†to arc at you when you pass, making¬†an electrocuted cartoon character-skeleton thing¬†

8) Watched the power company fix the electricity, waited for the well pump to catch up while I tried to make up for being all “Shhh!¬† I’m on the phone! SHHHH!” that evening with a few fun items, turned the water heater off (oops!) only to realize the well pump has pressure, but the pipes are¬†apparently blocked.¬† Also, when I began to try several water sources to feel out the situation, my two year old was angry that I would not recreate that perfect, drinkable water trickle from the hydrant after it slowed…

and stopped. 

Angry, I say! 

“ON!¬† ON!!¬† DRINK!!!¬† OOOOOOOOoooooooONN!!”¬† (remember that this is an almost two year old who had no nap and a poor night yesterday¬†plus a short nap today and imagine the appropriate amount of self-control)

“Flee to thine water bottle already granted thee, oh overwrought miscreant and be-est not a thorn in my weary flesh!”

Okay, so that last line was implied, not spoken. 

The good news, I don’t need to call an electrician tomorrow.¬†

The bad news, I probably need to call a plumber tomorrow. 

The good news, after taking advantage of the proferred shower and donning non-muddy clothes (and pieces of cake to bring home!) were obtained¬†because our neighbors are the best and offered such luxuries while calling to see if we had figured out the electricity weirdness (I had called on the recommendation of one of the many advisors I’d been calling that evening to see if theirs was acting up too or if it¬†was just our house.¬† They called back to see what I found out and ‘Is there anything we can do?’)

The bad news, I’m supposed to share the cake with my family or something!¬†

Bottom line, that offer of using the neighbor’s shower?¬† That one little joyful respite¬†might just be the wave that carries me right on through trying to find a plumber that will hopefully come after the younger kids’ library thing at 10:30, but before or after the older kids’ one at 2:00, but not during the fire dept event at 5:30 and have it all fixed by the time my niece gets here that night.¬†¬†

I’d consider just pre-emptively calling off the entirety of our ‘busy’ day, but the previous plan does¬†seem spaced about right for bathroom/drink breaks if the plumber can’t be here right away… or at all… tomorrow…

Brothers/brother-in-laws who answer silly, random¬†questions and grant good advice via phone…¬† also priceless.

And husbands that apologetically leave¬†for work,¬†but take the time to offer sympathies and help where he can before leaving… well,¬†Matt’s pretty much always been my favorite so I might be biased, but I’d have to say that he¬†ranks as invaluable.¬†

In the meantime, I’m sorely tempted to start fiddling with pipes and see if I can back-flush them myself, because.. you know… what could go wrong?!?¬† Especially when most of the items I put my hand to work so… um… smoothly.¬† And… um… not at all disastrously.¬†¬† Because I’m so… handy.¬† And fix-it-y.¬† And stuff.¬† My {cough} record proves it.¬†

On the other hand, sleep sounds like the exact right follow-up to my no-longer-muddy state.  

Yeah, all of it is helpful. 

Let it never be said that I only broadcast “Homeschooling’s awesome!  Kids are GREAT! RAINBOWS! HAPPINESS! REAL CHOCOLATE WITHOUT CALORIES! We perpetually frolic in my home!!”

In the interest of keeping it real,

Here, have this pile of ‘what’s it’!

While I’m trying to teach a map lesson to ONE child, all four keep trying to jump in (not usually a problem!) which segued into our trip to CA coming up right around the corner in… oh right. Not until July.  JULY, GUYS! So can we table that discussion until I get done with 5 minutes of map explanation at least?… and their desire to travel… well… everywhere in the entire world! And are there really rattlesnakes at the place where they are pictured on the globe and how dangerous are earthquakes and well, volcanos are worse, I know (because I’m 6 now!) and will we be thirsty in the desert when we get there and, and, and.

I think that single 10 minute review lesson took us 40-50 minutes to get through.  At that point I began wishing we’d ‘taken a snow day’. 

The rest of the morning sounded a great deal like this the entire time I’m trying to teach and with precious few pauses in between:  “Mom, what does this say?” (random sentence on a non-school item) “Mom, where did the Joker come from? I mean, what’s his story and when did he first meet Batman?” (while doing math homework?) “Mommy, can I do a paper?”(non-schooled child) “MAAAAaaaaahm!” (from crib of awakened toddler).  “Mom, I’ve been thinking… {insert long, rambly topic that has nothing to do with anything}”

If I’d only outlawed the word “mom” half the noise in the house would not have happened!

That was just ONE of the many somehow very long but also short minutes that were today.  

I haven’t decided yet if my scatterbrain is genetic (because my offspring have it also) or environmentally induced (because we share the same weird environment). All I know is… we need focus, young grasshoppers! FOCUS!!!

Meanwhile, the toddler is, for example, begging for the things I’m putting in Matt’s lunch bag and creating an ozone layer of her own with her very obvious need for a clean diaper while I’m simultaneously trying to assist two children with a page they either don’t understand (child 1) or can’t read (child 3), wash a cup Matt needs for work, bake rolls for supper, and instruct another child on the virtue of not whining about not having chocolate milk before supper all while dodging the ‘broom rider’ running recklessly through the kitchen. 

But what she was doing while I was making Matt’s lunch is but a small crosssection of the toddler’s day, she was very good, really and no trouble at all… you know… when she wasn’t… oh… falling off the piano bench head first, perpetrating acts of marker violence to two of my teacher manuals, getting stuck in a chair in their bedroom, falling off the bunk bed ladder she shouldn’t have been on in the first place, taking another child’s seat (intentionally), dumping a water glass into our pan of brownies and generally wreaking havoc and destruction to herself, others, or inanimate items where’er she goeth. 

Then there was the reteaching of MULTIPLE concepts that we’d been doing successfully for weeks, while one child is impatiently waiting for me to get done so I can read to him. 

The good news, is I DID get to take my morning shower and get out of my milking clothes! (You can read that as “PJ’s” for non-milkers, because it’s basically a half-step from still being in bed.) … um… 5 minutes ago. 

And all the kids are in bed! … except for the one that J U S T got up to turn on another Paws N Tales… at 10pm.  That one is apparently not in bed… nor asleep. 

So it isn’t all grins and giggles or songs and stories and warm fuzzies and look at this pinterest worthy idea I employed! (In case I had you fooled, SUCKER! oops! Ahem.) But even when the warm fuzzies are missing for a good portion of the day it’s STILL a day of practice closer to being able to deal with days like this with peace and joy and laughter… well, most days find us with those at least part of the time, but I mean a day with those former qualities and NO slipping into grumbling or crabbing or counting anxiously down to bedtime and resenting the mess they made taking their baths before remembering to be grateful that they TOOK them and didn’t even need your help!  Yeah, I tried for a warm fuzzy there, but didn’t quite make it.

Another eon of practice should do it. 

In many ways that matter, though, our ‘ugh’ day was a good day.

It just may take until tomorrow for me to laugh and smile about it.

If you celebrate Christmas for some reason other than Christ’s birth, please forego this post.¬† It will be meaningless to you and may¬†just make you wonder how silly Christians can be anyway (Truthfully, pretty silly sometimes.¬† Thankfully, God is big enough to cover all the gaps and flaws we have.)¬† To you, I hope someday Christmas will be a bigger part of your life than it is this year and that you will know God for who He is and not for the pathetically inaccurate picture you get from His followers sometimes.¬† The end, and have a wonderful holiday.

To the rest of us…

I want to do this gently.¬† Because while I could pull Jude’s “CONTEND FOR THE TRUTH” out and paste it on a banner to wave as I charge into every petty controversy from whether Christmas is a pagan holiday to whether King James is the only version worth reading to whether alcohol today is the same as it was in Christ’s time all the while swinging my truth sword as hard as possible,¬†I’m fairly certain from the CONTEXT of that very brief portion of Jude that these examples were not the ‘truths’ he meant for us to contend to the death over. (GASP!¬† Preposition at the end!¬† Contend for the truth that this is¬†wretched¬†grammar!)

You may have noticed the obvious attention getting techniques I deployed on the words “Contend for the Truth” and “Context”.¬†

I think we (me too!)¬†do wave that banner in many instances where, like Israel when they tried to take Canaan on their own power and were utterly defeated, God is simply not on our side.¬† I mean, we may be right that wine is the only permissible liquid for communion or that our music needs to be more/less hip and our sanctuary more/less red/blue/chartreuse/teal.¬† But it’s possible to be on right side of the fight, but that you are marching under your own steam and not at all according to God’s directions.¬† The whole plank/speck thing comes into play here.¬† Before you correct someone else’s theological misconceptions over whether the pastor should wear a special stole or not, make sure the planks of ‘unloving’ or ‘rebellion’ aren’t¬†obscuring your vision of the route/timing God wants you to take.¬† So, this is me saying… I hope I’m¬†debating in love.¬† Sadly, our hearts are less than knowable, so if there’s a bit of pride or frustration in there, try your best to overlook it.

The other word I tried to subtly draw your eyes to was context.¬† For example: “Before you actually do print out a ‘contend for the truth’ banner and tell everyone I told you to do so, please note the context of the passage and try to divine the author’s ultimate intent.”¬†Or how about “Honestly, the context of the Ezekiel Bread verse makes me think of it as more of a curse than a good addition to my diet.”¬†

You’ve probably all heard the joke about the guy who was trying to live the Bible literally, so he pointed at random to a passage and found “Judas went and hung himself” which didn’t sound right, pointed again and found “Go and do thou likewise”.¬†¬† Out of context, verses of the Bible are at best nonsensical and at worst dangerous!

Now that my disclaimers/don’t try this at home notifications are out of the way…

Apparently the new? thing this year (new to me, I don’t remember seeing this… twice in the same evening… and several more times over the course of a few days) is to explain how Jeremiah 10 makes Christmas trees unbiblical at best and anti-Christian at worst.¬†¬† I can see how, at first glance, this could be misleading:¬† Here it is and in KJV just in case:

Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.

3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

4 They deck it with silver and with gold

Oh.  My.  Goodness.  Wow.  The Bible talks about CHRISTMAS TREES!  

Oh wait, there’s more to that portion….

they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.

5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne (*this means carried, not birthed for all you heathen Non-KJV people), because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.

This is sounding less and less like a Christmas tree…¬† And a little further down (what, if you want the full text, you can look it up like I did, consider this the highlights to encourage you to read the rest)

9 Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men.

10 But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king:

Well… now I’m completely lost if I’m thinking Christmas tree… but just a LITTLE further down we find:

11 Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.

And suddenly it all comes together to evidence that the description above is meant to be of IDOLS.  IDOLS made from trees, cut down and polished by hands of humans.  Idols that cannot speak or do either evil or good and are adorned in silver and gold.  Huh.  Not really matching my description of a Christmas tree.  At all. 

Are Christmas trees idols?¬† Not in my house.¬† In my house they are symbols.¬† We don’t worship the tree anymore than Joshua and Israel worshipped the rock they put up in Joshua 24 (Oh. My. Word…. they made a stone idol!??!)

NO.¬† They did not.¬† They used a stone as a marker, a symbol.¬†¬† If you really want to get riled up about idols, check out the snake on a pole voodoo thing Moses pulled.¬† Oh.¬† That wasn’t voodoo?¬† That was a symbol?¬† Sanctioned by God?¬† To make a point?¬† OOOOOOH!!!¬† Nevertheless, it sounds a great deal more like an idol than the modern Christmas tree does.¬†

You know what else can be an idol?¬† The desire to do everything perfectly or at least better and more Biblically than everyone else and seeking out obscure ways to think better of ourselves than we ought.¬† “I don’t have a Christmas tree… you ‘like the heathen’ Christian you.”¬† So is the idol of ‘being right’ which I worship at far too often.¬† Just ask my husband who recently said (this is out of context so no judging¬†him by these¬†words!) Success is achieved when you bring joy to others and quit keeping score.¬† I quickly informed him that people who don’t like to keep score, probably don’t want to keep score because they are LOSING and went on to impress upon him that he would probably like that definition of success because of the vast (slight? exaggeration) number of pronunciation/definition debates I had been RIGHT on when he was WRONG.¬† If you didn’t recognize it before, you now have evidence that I’m a gracious sort of person.

Admittedly, it could be that some of the Jeremiah 10 quoters are¬†stepping up to the plate¬†because they want to save their brothers/sisters from error.¬† There is a lot of that going around: “I just learned that drinking from a plastic cup will kill you, you have to stop immediately!” “If you don’t sign this petition against global warming outhouse gas reductions in the middle east you will regret it later!”¬† “You shouldn’t let your baby cry it out, he’ll become a serial killer later in life!”¬† and so on.¬† And so forth.¬†And to those people who are thus motivated, thank you.¬† Thank you for caring enough about our souls, happiness, and/or future regret that you are willing to risk awkward silences or weird looks.¬† No.¬† that wasn’t sarcasm.¬† The motive for which you are doing what you do is admirable enough that those of us who disagree with you could stand to be less cranky and more appreciative of the heart behind it.¬† We could, as it were, not look on the outward appearance which may seem goofy to us, and look instead on the heart behind it.¬†¬† And I can admire you for being strong enough to stand for your beliefs.¬† My caution being that anytime you throw something out there whether it be an opinion or a selfie, you’re inviting comment/feedback/disagreement/disapproval.¬† If your love for us isn’t strong enough to weather those consequences, just don’t.¬† Bide your time.¬† For my part, I promise not to stop loving any of you who disagree or disapprove of this post and the opinions therein.¬†

All that said, I certainly applaud those who are convicted that Christmas trees are not Biblical and thus don’t have a Christmas tree.¬† In this area at least, they put to shame¬†those of us who know that lying¬†and gossip are sins and continue to do it anyway, or who get their panties in a twist over someone else’s opinion and neglect to do what we know is right because we’re too busy correcting what someone else knows is right because it’s wrong… right fellow cranky Christians? ¬†

 

 

This thanksgiving I looked around at the midpoint and realized how very much this was like a ‚Äėnormal‚Äô day for us.¬† The girls had run off together a few times, nearly always ensuing in some sort of fussing (and, I found out that evening, ‘washing their hands’ in Sonata’s bed which drenched a good 1/2 of the mattress.¬† I don’t pretend to understand that.) but were now playing separately at different pursuits.¬† The boys were glued to some screen or other and/or complaining about their mother‚Äôs lack of ability to both cook a thanksgiving meal AND help solve Zelda puzzles at the same time.¬† The infant merrily fussed along as if I hadn‚Äôt already explained to her that I was supremely busy.¬† They were collectively involved in the same pursuits and arguments that they ‚Äėalways‚Äô tend to in their free time… only with more grumping.

If you are a fellow overly-idealistic-about-holidays person, you know that what we SHOULD be doing is having deep and meaningful discussions interspersed amongst doing things together as a family every second of the entire day that always involve smiling at each other in a saint-like fashion while observing all the niceties that Emily Post could have conjured up (because, you know, there are so MANY things that everyone from 0-33 CAN do all at the same time… and enjoy). 

Obviously, I never set myself up for disappointment with my expectations…

Later that day I took stock of things with a slightly different perspective.¬† I had noticed that my eldest daughter was tired enough she was beginning to ‚Äėdrunk drive‚Äô (If you‚Äôve never had a child who goes glassy eyed and whose common sense inhibitions basically turn off to the point she has NO idea what she‚Äôs doing‚Ķ you may not understand this term in context.), my oldest son was beginning to become obnoxiously fixated on badgering me or his dad for playtime on a specific game (if you want to know whether he‚Äôs tired, check to see if he‚Äôs being responsible and sweet or obnoxious and irritable.. there‚Äôs your answer), my younger boy was still being himself‚Ķ he‚Äôs fairly consistent, tired or no, and Sonata was starting to drag and rub her eyes. No really big irritants, per se, all day. ¬†We even painted some ornaments kinda sorta together-ish.

Throughout the day, Dad had divided his time between them beautifully.¬† Nothing ‚Äėwrong‚Äô was really happening, the only taint being that everyone was SO VERY TIRED… oh, and not meeting my preconceived notion of what Thanksgiving should look like.¬† ūüôā

Why were they tired?  

Only because we‚Äôd spent the last two days (and a separate day before that) doing things ‚Äėtogether as a family‚Äô in the sense that everyone was cooperating to reach the family goal of getting our 70ish chickens processed.¬† (Every time we counted, there were two more than we thought‚Ķ we have always suspected that they multiply on us!)¬†

And you know what?¬† We did have some deep and meaningful discussions while that work was being accomplished.¬† And while we may not have always been smiling like the metaphoric saints‚Ķ I had a 3 and new 5 year old who ‚Äėsaintfully‚Äô played together either WHILE entertaining an infant to the best of their abilities or while obediently being quieter and more adherent to the ‚ÄúThou shalt not play in the living room where the baby is sleeping, nor shalt thou make noises that might awaken the baby whilst she is sleeping‚ÄĚ commandment than they are when I‚Äôm inside to monitor it.¬† I had a near 7 and 8 year old who basically put in a cheerful 10 hour work¬†day (with breaks) the first day¬†with steadily decreasing enthusiasm and presence the following two (understandably‚Ķ)

When their help wasn‚Äôt required outside, I had no cause to stop what I was doing to solve sibling issues or ‚Äėhelp‚Äô one of the little kids until Caela was ready to eat or sleep‚Ķ she was pitching in by being easy to care for.¬† And why wasn’t I interrupted more often? Because everyone pitched in as cheerfully inside as when they were outside helping.¬†

I guess in light of all that, our Thanksgiving can be a less formal (read: less demanding) and maybe even with a less than ideal amount of grumping/arguing and maybe even serve as a break from coordinated family activity. 

Since we‚Äôre all done with our necessary fall ‘big labor’ days, though, I can begin working on my idealistic expectations for Christmas, right?¬† ¬†¬†

Crisis management

or mismanagement depending on which of the story’s participants you are speaking of…

So, I was keeping my cool (mostly) about the lack of significant progress on the housekeeping front by telling myself that watching my daughter write and act in a play and making errands take longer by not only inviting little ones to come but also allowing them to drive the cart and generally seeing and enjoying the kids instead of pushing us all through the day to get things done was worth it

AND BESIDES (this is the important joy-killing part, thus the big, bold letters),

I’d have after they were in bed to play ‘catch up’.

Then Sonata wasn’t in bed on time

and STILL wasn’t asleep when I went in to lay Asa down.

Any other kid combo of two at a time would probably work, but not these two.

My husband quickly ascertained that I was blowing this schedule hiccup all out of proportion, and I mean this kind

“THE EARTH WILL FALL OFF ITS AXIS AND GET SUCKED INTO THE NEAREST BLACK HOLE IF I DON’T GET TO FOLD LAUNDRY WHEN I PLANNED TO!!”

of ‘out of¬†proportion’

Then he calmly stated in an inquiring tone “If I sit in there with them, will that solve the problem?” and proceeded to sit¬†with them for the 10 whole minutes it took before they were both out so I could get down to the much delayed business.

My hero!

No, not for sitting with the kids for 10 minutes

…though being great at little things is often the best mark of heroes, isn’t it?…

but for realizing that my sanity was in peril over foolish things and biting his tongue long enough for me to realize I was being an idiot … all by myself.

And now the infant is nearly asleep (right on schedule!) and it’s time to finish dishes and study a bit more for Sunday School and a few other things I kept sliding back on my mental to do list as things like “Play with the baby” and “Help Sonata color” and “Help the boys figure out how to get past this whatever things in Zelda” crowded in.

Uh-oh… infant quit looking drowsy and started grinning and cooing at me instead!!!¬† This means another 15 minutes of infant centered time before she’s out!¬† Is Earth still firmly on its axis?!?!

Oh good.

Whew!

Labor Day

It is hard to put into words what goes through your head when, in the span of a single weekend, you see the kids you used to babysit and/or were privileged enough to watch (more or less depending on the kid) grow up and show their colours.¬† To watch them dearly love the same cousins with whom they tumbled with as pipsqueaks.¬† To hear the concerns or joys of their hearts and see them deal with those maturely.¬† To see them bless you and others with their conduct or attitudes.¬† To feel ancient when you watch these previous babies show off Sr. photos or talk about college or bring home special others.¬† To play volleyball with them and laugh our heads off at how awful we are.¬† To wish you lived close enough to watch them more/longer.¬† To see them build into your own children.¬† To paraphrase 3 John 1: There is almost no greater joy than to hear my sibling’s children are walking in truth.¬†¬† To think that as great a joy as this is, won’t it be an even GREATER joy if the same is true of my children as young men and women.¬† To be spurred on to prayer and effort on behalf of my own that I might see similar things in them as grown up ‘kids’ in 15-20 years.¬† To stop and wonder: aren’t the 30’s a little young to be so nostalgic?¬† Becoming an aunt for the first time at 5 years of age and rapidly increasing my ‘auntness’ until there are 20ish of them apparently lends to early geriatric onset disorder?¬† So thanks, siblings, for making me old before my time… but making that more palatable by¬†giving me super cool neices and nephews to love and enjoy as adults (or nearly so) and a few teens (or nearly so).¬† I’m just lucky my husband’s side (and maybe a couple on mine) granted me a few kiddos still young enough that I don’t have to feel too old all the time. ūüôā

I know what it looks like NOW… but that’s all about to change.

Because the hours when Matt is awake are often taken up by him getting ready to leave or him arriving home from work while we’re all sleeping, we have resorted to using email to talk about most things so that I don’t feel like I’m ambushing him at the door (Honey, before you leave I need your input on these 8 matters! No pressure.)¬† Despite my repeated request that he learn to go to bed earlier so the kids and I don’t feel so bad when we wake him during the day (inevitable), I’m always a little disappointed to find that he did, in fact, go to bed BEFORE checking email and responding. (Well… I guess I won’t be going anywhere on that item of interest today.) ūüôā¬† Ah well.¬† And I know that when we do catch the rare glimpse of his being¬†up and open-eyed he is bombarded by all the things we wish we could ask him to do with us on a daily basis.¬† “Dad, wanna play badminton/listen to this play by play of my recent conquering of this video game/listen to me sing/answer all my questions/work on my treehouse/see my cool trick/play ponies/give me a piggy-back ride/….(or in my case help with fencing/bedtime/child rearing/yardwork/weeds/…)” ad infinitum.

BUT! Another week or two of the phantom husband and then he’ll be home full-time except when out with a client (which will be often, we hope, though I know that sounds bad in this context!)¬† I’m not sure I know how to handle having a husband that’s home and awake at the same time.¬†

I assume, for example, that if we continue to plague his waking hours as if they were as rare as they are now, that he will eventually go crazy and also get no work accomplished at all.  Fortunately, the novelty of having an available dad/husband will eventually wear off and playing tennis or badminton or biking or, you know, putting up fencing, and whatever will cease to seem so urgent to either the rest of us or to him, but there are other concerns.

For example: does this mean I need to learn how to cook real full-course meals, now?¬† Or can we continue to survive on sandwiches, pasta and finger foods? (Fresh fruit counts as a fingerfood for those of you freaking out on behalf of my children’s nutrition.)¬†¬†

Selfishly, I wonder how many chores/daily things do I get to hand off before I’m asking too much with his new schedule.¬† (I suppose telling him he’s in charge of meals, bedtime child care and all forms of cleaning while I… um..¬†vegetate? would be pushing it? But I loved seeing him take over bedtime stories the other day so this concept of his being home to do things with/for us¬†is an exciting part of my imaginings right now.)

We will have a car to use to go places at more varied times now… but will we ever know WHEN we can use it.¬† (Is “Honey, I know you just got the kids to the park, but I contacted a client and they want to meet NOW.” a likely phonomenon?)

And I’m fairly certain that some things won’t really change.¬† Instead of saying, “Shh!¬† Dad’s asleep!” I’ll be saying “Shh!¬† Dad’s phoning clients!”¬†¬†That one won’t be too hard to adapt to.

I used to know what days worked best to schedule appointments.¬† (Well, Thursday’s are the turn around day, so let’s schedule my Dr. Appointment for Thursday morning when there is a good chance he’ll be able to watch kids if I don’t have someone else… pretty much everything gets scheduled for Thursday at this point…)

Do I need to run more things by him apart from the aforementioned car issue?¬† It will feel very odd just living life as if he’s nonexistant when he’s standing right there. “See you, Matt!¬† Sorry to leave you here with your nose to the grindstone, but we got plans.”¬†¬†“What do you mean you don’t want the kids to dig a big hole in the driveway?”

How do I handle¬†having people over?¬† Before he was sleeping.¬† People respected that, we were quiet, but we could still play a rousing game of Catan or go outside and throw a frisbee and forget he was there.¬† Will it be weird to invite people over and have a husband working his tail off in the next room more-or-less ignoring them?¬† “Pay no attention to the moving, breathing soul in the chair in the living room.¬† Just pretend he’s at the office right now… because… well… he is.”

How many times can I pull the wifely distress signal before I’ve officially become an intrusion into his workday.¬† For example is it a bad idea for me to be all “Honey, I bought feed that needs moved, can you get that done on your next 15 minute break?¬† It’s heavy.¬† And I had a baby… 3 years ago!¬† I don’t think all that lifting is going to be a good thing.” or is that a tacky thing for the wife of a work from home husband to do? ūüôā

So, we’ll be figuring all this out.¬† In the meantime, since he hasn’t responded yet to my emails, I still don’t know whether or not I should be applying to be a supervisor in response to a call and a text I received yesterday from a place I worked for only briefly this winter but apparently¬†gained credentials at from my much longer stint there many years ago.¬† Something about giving birth to the 5th child in almost 8 years in a mere month or so makes that idea seem a bit farfetched, but it is intriguing.¬†

And then, of course, we’d be adapting to both the¬†“You’re¬†home” and the “but I’m not” aspects of it all.¬†

 

 

 

 

Power-toys!

I confess that I am a stick in the mud.¬† I don’t like very many power toys.

My older 3 have all asked at different times for those little electric cars they make for Tykes.¬† I said ‘no’.¬†

Several hundred dollars for a toy that has no practical value (sorry, driver’s ed can be taught with more useful tools at an older age) doesn’t go any faster than you can pedal on the trike you already own (which provides free, enjoyable exercise) takes up way too much space¬†and will undoubtedly be used far less than the several other items we can purchase with that same cash?¬† No way.¬†¬†Not my bag.

The boys (in particular) are enamored with motorcycles and ATV’s (4 wheelers).¬† I said ‘when you have the money to get it, sure.’

Until then?  They have a riding mower.  I mean, WE have a riding mower.  They like to ride with us on it.  All the benefits of those other ride-on toys with the added benefit of practical usage and needed skill learning.  And roughly the same cost as a ride on electric car thingy! (We bought it used.)

Orion will be eight in August.¬† He took it for a short spin solo today;¬†and did very well.¬† By next year he should be old enough/tall enough¬†to weigh down the seat and push the go pedal without so much stretching.¬† This year?¬† He’ll probably be¬†doing everything while I weigh the seat down.¬† (It’s good for me to feel¬†useful.)¬†¬†

Now, if we find a cheap 4 wheeler with a snow blade on it?¬† Then we might consider getting THAT for the new ride-on toy.¬† (Imagine!¬† An acreage where you not only have a cleared drive but ALSO a path to the barn and chicken house!¬† And all done with the joyful “Can I do the drive, mom!” type attitude in a year or two.¬† Joy!) They can start a snow removal business or just do it out of kindness for our neighbors. (once they’ve done ours enough times to know how NOT to take out the mailbox or flower garden edging at the neighbors).

Those types of ‘ride-ons’?¬† You’re welcome to ’em, boys!¬† More gas/electric-power to you!¬†¬†

(You are also, of course, welcome to your bikes, trikes and skateboards.)