Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Underwear Story

This week was challenging on many different levels.
It started on Monday with a call from a friend whom also has much to do with our adopting 7 kids over the last 7 years. It shook me, mostly due to the fact that her voice sounded accusatory, and I just wasn't expecting that from her. After a few terse emails, we got the issues resolved, and parted friends again. Then, I got sick with a headcold/flu type thing, and had to cancel a much awaited outing with another friend. Bummer, big time. But I had to rest up, since my dear husband was facing surgery on Thursday night. It was to be a routine hydrocele hernia. 24 hours recovery.
Right. It was much more complicated, a painful cyst was removed, and he came home with an ice pack where most men wouldn't think of putting one. That night I was exhausted, sick and out of patience with the older kids who let me down with not getting their chores done, and one daughter that had not even done her homework. There were no clean clothes for the 6 year old for school the next day, and my temper flaired.
"Can't anyone else in this family see the things that have to be done before morning??" I hollered. The kids shrunk a little, feelings hurting, and I felt like the worst mom in the world. For one, if I were a good mom, they would be learning these things, and I certainly wouldn't be yelling at them when they "goofed", right?
I went to bed, berating myself for the mistakes I had made, and wishing I could escape with a couple of "shots" of Nyquil for my aching sinus headache. But who would hear my husband if he called out in the night?
By Saturday, in a home where (usually) chores are divided and shared, I was tired, tired, and more tired of being sick and tired. And cranky, and mean. I had to escape. I grabbed a Taco, sat at the Riverfront, and watched six white seagulls perched on their haunches on six posts rising from the dock in the river. Since there were no boats or fishermen out in the overcast noontime weather, the gulls were content to sit and watch the ducks float past, every now and then tail feathers raised to the sky as the critter tipped below the water surface to catch a treasure swimming underneath their underside. I visited two local stores looking for jeans for my ever growing 9 year old, and made it back home in just under two hours to the same (if not worse) chaos I had left earlier. But things were better.
My brother and his wife came to visit, breaking the tedium of the endless work awaiting my arrival, and our visit was pleasant. I had finished sorting through 20 bins of clothing for the cooler weather, placing summer clothes in the empty bins, and sending them back down to the basement for the next season. The work was fast, furius, and at the last minute, three of the girls and I were scrambling to get dressed warmly for our Harvest Party at the Girl Scout camp in a nearby town.
Once I got dressed, I was wishing I had taken more time to find a pair of underwear that were not so tight, and even wondering at more than one point during the evening if I had actually put them on sideways, or something!! It was uncomfortable for a time, but not unbearable, and we went on with our evening plans.
Returning home around ten that night, I finally switched into my pajamas, ready to shed the undies that had been aggravating me all evening. To my chagrin, I looked down to see the entire crotch of the panties had been chewed through by our puppy, and was hanging together with a few threads. NO WONDER I had been so uncomfortable in my jeans!!
I won't forget these underwear, although they went into the trash immediately upon removal!! You see, some days are just like that pair of panties. I rush to put the day "on", get moving even though things may not feel "just right." I struggle and squirm, wishing I were more comfortable, but do not always know until the end of the day when I relax and settle in for the night just exactly what had been bothering me all day. It may be the kids attitudes that "rub me wrong" or it may be something I heard someone say that didnt' feel "just right." It may be that I didn't take the time to thoroughly examine what was causing my uncomfortable feelings, because if I had taken the time to know what the irritant was, I could have changed it and had a better day.
So the underwear story is what I hope to remember this week. If things feel out of place, or awkward, maybe I just need to stop, remove the problem, and start all over again. Maybe I need to take a little more time for myself, making sure things are OK before I start my day. And maybe once I settle in for the night and relax, I can look around me and see just how great things are, and forgive myself for wearing a pair of "imperfect" undies. How good it feels when I don't let my undies get in a bunch!!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

remodeling and messes

We are in the midst of remodeling. Now, anyone that has been through this messy process, understands just where I am at emotionally, without me saying another word.
I HATE REMODELING. Don't get me wrong,I love the results of the finished project, it's just living through the process that I hate. The mess, the expense, the torture of living in the midst of the chaos: I hate it all. Since our current project is tearing up 2 rooms on the far side of the house, you would think it would be more removed from our daily lives. But since our new front door was installed at the front of these two rooms, there is nothing we can do to hide the mess from all who enter, and nothing we can do to clear up the mess until the whole process is completed.
With seven children in our home, I am comfortable knowing my house is not going to be spotless for alot of years yet. I also know that my value and worth are not determined by how clean my house is. But what I can't figure out is this: how do you go from start to finish on a huge remodel project without losing your mind completely???
So, this morning, in the midst of fresh sawn lumber, sheetrock dust and stacks of finishing boards that have to be stepped over to use the bathroom, and in the midst of furniture stacked in corners, surfaces stacked with supplies, and pizza boxes littering the counter tops, I know this: someday it will all be finished (or not!) and someday it will all be a part of our past rememberances. And someday when the kids are gone, and there is nothing left to do except vacuum and put dishes away, we will remember the hectic days of remodeling to fit our lives and the growing wonders that keep us busy. We will remember the laughter when we miss the nail head and the jokes we shared as walls crumbled. We will think fondly of the times we spent as a family making our home just right for us. And we will forget the mess that got us to that point.
And mostly, we will be glad for all the times we spent together. The messes will be done soon, and I believe this morning that it's perfectly OK to HATE remodeling!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sometimes we just don't understand

It has been an up and down week, and today is only Wednesday.
I had been following a sibling group from Oregon that we were interested in adopting. At times it seemed like it was very possible that we could be adding these darlings to our family, and then the wind would totally go out of our sails. We got the final word from our state, and Oregon, that the total number of children in our home was just too many for either state to approve adding more.
Wow. That was something that hurt really bad. I know rules are always in place because someone had abused a situation in the past, and the rules are to protect everyone. But in this case, it seemed so harsh to say it would be better for these little children to continue to lanquish on a state list than to place them in a family with "so many children." In another day, our clan of seven kids would just be another family. But with family sizes shrinking across the states, we are more of an oddity than any of us would care to admit.
Yeah, we're odd. We enjoy camping and bike riding, and running the big kids to their activities. We enjoy showing up at church, ready to learn how to handle another week by studying what God has for us, all 7 kids neatly dressed, hair combed, and happy. We love taking pictures doing crazy things, like jumping in leaves and body surfing in the ocean. We like to cook hot dogs and marshmallows on a fire, and tell stories of when the "big kids" were little, and watch the little eyes widen with appreciation for what their older siblings have done and maybe even believe that there are still adventures out there for all of us yet.
Crazy? Crazy enough to believe that someone out there still needs the loving arms of a big family to enfold them and help them traverse this big world. Crazy enough to believe that even though lawmakers and judges find our crowd to be "too big", we know we are effective as parents because we care to try it, and stick with it. Crazy? You bet. Alot of people we know don't want to stay up at night with "someone" else's kids and love them through the painful terrors that grip their bodies from the irresponsible acts of birth parents that just couldn't get it right for their kids sakes. Crazy, of course, but crazy enough to believe that in the midst of all our activity and motion, in a house that never stands still and everything seems to move, we believe there will always be room for "one more" . And crazy enough to keep seeking just what it is that makes our hearts sooooo desire to lift the burden of one more child who just may thrive in the crazy lives we lead as a family. A crazy family. And I guess we just like it that way.
An up and down week, but never down for good. Tomorrow will be another "up" day.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bella is almost 20 months old now. Since 6 of her siblings are in school at least part of the day, Bella gets total mommy (and sometimes daddy) time all morning. Today we chose the local restaurant to eat breakfast and catch up with a friend.
Bella doesn't really like eating out. She hates a high chair now, and would much rather be on the run. The restaurant we go to is great with her, calling her by name and making sure she has anything she wants as soon as we walk in the door. Today she just wanted to stack the creamers.
I was able to visit for ten full minutes before "SPLAT!" I felt cool liquid on my face, my glasses, my arms and my shirt. She wasn't stacking the creamers anymore, she had bitten into one and the sticky cream coated me.
I looked at the spots all over my shirt and then over to the look of amazement all smeared all over Bella's face. What a mess!! But Bella was grinning. I sensed the entire clientel at the restaurant was looking our way, collectively holding their breath to see what I was going to do with the mess.
I carry diaper wipes whereever I go, so clean up was quick and painless, and our conversation with our friend continued with little delay.
Why is this important to write about? I am thankful on bright sunny days for time with Bella, time with friends, and a good toasted bagel. I am grateful that there are waitresses in this town that look forward to our visit, and thankful that Bella can smile when she sees mommy with creamer all over her shirt and face. And mostly, I am glad I have made it to the point in my life where I have learned not to cry over "spilled milk." Like my dad always says, "One meal, one shirt."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Red Hair day

I decided to cut costs this summer. I have made my own laundry detergent and stain removers, and a huge batch of hot cocoa mix (that my 6 year old can't seem to get enough of). I elected to color my own hair today, and forgo a trim until it's just impossible to style anymore. We are remodeling several rooms in our home, making it a huge project that could be costing us much, much more in supplies and decorations were it not for the fact that I really love being frugal, and clearance shopping is my hobby.
Now, I have friends that proclaim me NUTS!! Yes, I love shopping, and spending, but I have my limits. And I do like "things." I look long and hard for a bargain, and have taught myself to buy what I can use immediately, or at least have a plan for how/when it can be used soon. I purchase gifts in advance, when I find them, and stow them until the given day. I love to surprise myself with how inexpensively I can outfit each new room, and still be proud of it.
So as I sit here pondering all my savings, the $3.oo box of red dye sinking in to cover the grey, I am thankful that I learned frugality from my parents, and am also proud of the fact that I am passing it down to my kids. Sometimes the best things in life can be found on sale....or clearance. And maybe tomorrow I will ponder my love of recycling.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Another day comes to a close

I always wonder how other people put their households to sleep. The bigger kids go down easily now, but the little ones seem to linger as long as they can. Another kiss, just one more hug, as if the parting for the night is just impossible to fathom in their little minds. However, once the last sigh escapes from delicate rosebuds lips, I can begin to relax.
How? Like other moms, I am sure. I fold laundry, tidy the kitchen, plug in the cell phone so it can last during all the travels coming up tomorrow. I check voice mails, emails, and sort the snail mail to the can that calls it the loudest. I enjoy the evening that I can read the newspaper, or sometimes visit a friend.
When I finally fall into my own comfy bed, I am relieved if there are no little bodies clammering for another piece of "mommy" time. At least for a little while. If I can get some time to snooze before the pitter-pat of their little feet sneaking (or wailing!) into my room, I feel ready to begin another day.
With six of the kids still at home going to school these days, I find myself re-inventing who I am. It's been a long time since I have had so much peace, and baby Bella certainly seems easy after all the others go their daily routes.
My problem tonight? I can't stop the feeling that someone is missing from our family. We have talked at length about another baby, and at our age, that means another adoption. But that's the problem. Our age. We've looked into overseas adoptions, local adoptions, different state adoptions. Some think we are too old, others just right. The costs are exhausting just to think about, and the paperwork to complete any of them is so overwhelming this week. That's the part that rolls over in my head day in and day out. So. I find myself pining for what will probably never be now, and yet so very grateful that we are where we are. We are a family that is blessed beyond measure - and as the old testament states, our "quiver" is full!
Tonight I am ready to lay down my head and rest. But my heart restlessly ponders the "what if's" , the "I wish...", and the "If only..." Maybe mom's like me never know how to quit the feelings of wanting another child, or feeling as if "someone/somewhere out there needs me."
Until the feelings are gone, I will dream of the possibilities as if the answer will be waiting for me as soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning. Dreams last for so long...and it's always much more pleasant than having no dreams at all.