We Have Our Fingers In Many Pies

My older sister has four kids.  She homeschools, raises chickens, you name it, she does it. 

Is she Super Mommy?

Her recent texts reveal the truth.  Want a peek?

S. spent the morning being, um, busy.  She ate toothpaste, got into Q-tips, brushed her teeth with the floor cleaning toothbrush, took out books and distributed them into several rooms, fell off a chair and bit her tongue making it bleed. 

A. did puzzles, which S. wrecked.  A. picked a scab and came to me with blood trickling down his leg. 

There have been tears over not being able to read the word “short,” complaints over not being able to measure and cut straight lines like Mommy’s, belches and toots, someone being sent out to run around the house 4 times and do 27 jumping jacks to help with energy…and school work. 

Tonight is youth group, and that means rushed, quick supper without [my hubby] and getting home well after bed times. 

…add a room clearing diaper explosion.  And S. emptied the dirty diapers into the clean ones again…

And this was all in one day?! 

I asked her permission to share these bits with you, and this is what she said:

…just don’t build me up to something I’m not.  I cling to the verse about his mercies being new every morning.  Our days are busy but our hearts are full of love.

This only proves how super she is.  

Moms all around the world are dealing with crazy days like this one.  Remember who to lean on.

Had a day like that recently?

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Tooth Hurty

Once upon a time someone thought this joke was really funny:

What time is it when you have to go to the dentist?

A: Tooth hurty.

Ah ha ha ha ha ha HAAAaaaAaaaaaah!!!!!!!

ah.

It’s not very funny when you’re only 1 year old, though.  Poor Riley fell onto a toy and shoved one of his front four teeth up into the gum.

What’s there to be thankful for in that?!

Well so far, he does not require surgery.  We thought he was facing a tooth extraction at this tender age…  But God has answered our prayers and started bringing the tooth down, infection-free. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you God!!!

Riley has developed a fear of blue rubber gloves from this experience…  But we’ll deal with that the best way we know how:

Bunny, hugs, prayer, and The Berenstain Bears Go To the Dentist. 

Good job, Riley!  Mommy and Daddy are proud of you.

Cycles and Seasons

Today’s post shalt hitherto be peppered generously with photos of the seasons, reflecting the title of this post, and the bent of my brain.  Enjoy.

Ah, the midwife’s office.  Frought with toddlers (mine) and babies (mine) and bellies (not mine this time).  Yesterday I gazed around at the riffraff (me) and had a wonderful, sneaking feeling come over me:

ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….

Not

AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

as in

“I’m on the Tower of Terror and I think I’m going to lose my lunch!”

or

“You just won five mill-y-on dollars!”

but

aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, soaking in a bathtub.

 

At the midwife’s office?

Yes, there at the midwife’s office, I had an Inner Bathtub Moment.  IBM.

The woman sitting across from me was VERY pregnant.  She was wearing a loose, baggy T-shirt (or it would have been loose if her coming offspring hadn’t been stretching it to smitherines) and hot pink plaid pajama bottoms.  The look on her face reflected her clothing choice:

ugh.

Ugh as in ugh.

I am familiar with that feeling.  In fact, my IBM was stimulated by the memory of needing a forklift to get myself into the driver’s seat of the family vehicle.  Doing the limbo just to retrieve a dropped spoon.  Catching a sob in my throat when I came across my favorite skinny jeans, buried deep in a drawer.

Ugh.

Then I looked at my side of the waiting room.  It was covered in winter coats, hats, mittens, books, drool, toys, water bottles, boogers, strollers, cell phones, goldfish crackers, and a host of things that exploded from my bags when we arrived two minutes earlier. 

Euphoria.

I was so happy to be my normal weight again, flanked by my Mother and my awesome boys, getting only a routine checkup.  I realized how good I felt, despite too little sleep and too much coffee (and I dare say, too much Elmo).

Right now I couldn’t be happier to have my two little precocious squirts at home.  And someday I’ll say the same about being round and due-any-day again, slogging around in my pj’s, waiting for the big day.  Calling for a forklift.

 

I love seasons.  God does too, apparently.  Just look at New England, bare trees holding the promise of new life within them, just like a mama’s hidden womb.  And cycles!  Look at the paths of the planets.  Look at life cycles.  Look at how we learn, revisiting and reviewing. 

Look at our hearts – opening and closing to new things.

When it’s time for another member of our family to come along, I know God will open my heart fresh and new to that idea.  For now, here I am, enjoying this season of life and relishing the baby-hood of my sons. 

I wouldn’t mind a literal Bathtub Moment now and then…

But, as the woman at the market pointed out this week, “when your sons are out of the nest and you’re alone, you’ll miss them.”  I sure will.  And I’ll take a bubble bath then.

A Star To Chew

When we brought home a new ornament for Quinn’s first Christmas, I noticed something:

He’d rather chew it than watch it dangle somewhere above his head.  Surprise.

The store-bought, knit star had 3 glued-on wooden buttons.  Gorgeous touch.  Nice choking hazard.  Plan B.

I decided to knit a star for my little reindeer (here he is…)

…Dasher, Dancer, Prancer…and Cuteypie.

Anyway, I decided to knit a star for Cuteypie the Reindeer to chew to his heart’s content.  I found a very easy online pattern.  Here’s the link:

http://dutch-blue.blogspot.com/2008/02/knitted-star_07.html

If you’re a knitter, eat your heart out!  You can make this pattern any way you want, using any yarn weight and needle gauge to produce your desired size.  I made Quinn’s with left over worsted weight in three shades of blue:

The star tips and center are made with a mock bullion stitch, borrowed from crochet.  The stuffing is an old sweater, cut into small pieces.  If I make another one for a baby, I’ll use a lighter weight yarn.  But this one came out so beautiful, I have no regrets.

This, by the way, was made during our hurricane-inspired night-time reading sessions.  Yesterday’s post will tell you all about that if you missed it.

What could be better than a handmade gift?  But there’s no reason for putting away your crafting things just because Christmas is over…

The whole winter stretches out ahead of us, beckoning with hot chocolate fingers: make something new

I’ve already started making individual star pieces with fingering weight yarn, lace-like and delicate.  These will become a wall hanging for our bare, echo-ey dining room.  Something to warm it up and give it that homey, artsy touch I love so much.  I’m just making a bucket-full of them and seeing what comes out.

Do you have any interesting winter projects going on or coming up?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments! 

Have a wonderful, warm day.  🙂

Murphy vs Mommy

What’s Murphy’s Law… if anything can go wrong, it will?

I get a good laugh over how this principle affects my home.  Here’s just a few:

Murphy’s Maddening Laws of Home Life

  • No matter how many times you change a toddler’s diaper before leaving the house, they WILL poop explosively the minute you head for the door.  And you’ll have actually been on time when it happens.
  • When your house is a pig sty, clean and dirty laundry mingling at laundry dance parties on your living room floor, dust bunnies doing the limbo in the corner, every friend and relative will stop by spontaneously.  When the house is spotless, you’re sure to be alone. 
  • The woman of the house may try to be demure all day, setting a good example for her children and keeping her…uh… emissions bottled up inside.  But the second she lets out a good, satisfying fluff, her husband WILL walk through the door, home early from work, reaching out for a nice intimate squeeze.
  • The clock will move faster on Sunday mornings. 
  • The clock will move slower on rainy Tuesdays, right around 11:15a.m., when it’s too early for lunch and naptime, but bed and snack have worn off.
  • Have no doubt – the messiest toilet visit of the week will occur when there’s no t.p. left.
  • Your infant, who hardly EVER poops, will choose to do so…loudly…as soon as the pastor visiting your home opens in prayer.  “Father in heavaaaAAAAAhhhn!  What in the world was that?!”
  • (Why do so many of these have to do with bodily functions?) When you have to pee the worst, your drawstring pants will have a knot, your nails will be freshly cut, and you will have a big, awkward bandage on your index finger.  This happened.
  • Just like washing the car, when you’ve labored on your hands and knees to produce a shining dining room floor, someone in the family will drop a plateful of pasta or a bowl of sticky peanut butter oatmeal all over it.  And you will walk through it in your socks.

And last but not least in “oh WHY?!” quality:

  • You will not discover that you have mice living in your kitchen drawers, shredding your towels and defecating on your silverware, when you are alone.  This filthy revelation will take place when your mother-in-law is standing right there, watching the carnage.  (She was very nice about it, to her credit.  But I’m still squirming.)

Lest these laws should reduce us to tears in everyday life, God has equipped women with the special ability to be Loving Lawmakers.  Here’s how it works:

Mommy’s Marvelous Mayhem Laws

  • The same day your toddler bounces up and down on your last nerve from dawn til dusk will be the day he suddenly learns to say “I Love You” and practices it with wild abandon on you and your husband.
  • Shrieking and generally annoying noise-making become sweet sounds of happiness when Mommy realizes they’re emanating from her Little Treasures, who are just happy to be alive.
  • Cloth diapering will teach Mommy mind-over-matter and sense-over-stench.
  • Even though the week that Mommy and Daddy discover a staggering lull in income will be the very week both cars decide to give up the ghost, God will always provide, and the happy couple will learn economy and thankfulness along the way.
  • A pot of steaming vegetable chowder in lean times will bring more joy to the family than weekly take-out in times of abundance.
  • Almost any problem will be magically solved with a long, sincere hug. 

What laws are in effect around YOUR house?

Sweet Sleep

Yesterday Quinn fell asleep in my arms.  This doesn’t happen during the day very often anymore.  He’s 4 1/2 months old, and loves to be UP – standing with assistance, bouncing, sitting up, throwing himself backward. 

And when it’s time for sleep, he usually fights it HARD.

Very often I’ve had to pace the floor, vigorously bouncing him up and down, holding his baby blanket next to his cheek, waiting and waiting for his fussing to melt down to dreaming.

But last afternoon, after Riley went down for his nap, I swaddled Quinn in his blanket and sat to nurse him.  He has this unique way of eating: Gets off to a good start, stops abruptly to peer up into my face, grins when he sees me watching him, and suddenly goes back to eating.  Sometimes he’ll do this over and over again.

“Mommy!  Look, Mommy!  MAAAMA!  Look at ME!” has already begun.

Every human being wants undivided attention from time to time.

Riley nursed very differently.  Furiously.  If I may be a little frank and open, I have a forceful and overpowering milk letdown.  Sorry for the overabundance of information…  I thought I’d share that just in case a nursing Mama out there is going through the same thing but doesn’t realize it.

A feisty firecracker like Riley will want to eat SO BADLY that when he’s shot in the back of the mouth with the spray from a fire hose and doesn’t know what to do with the tsunami, he’ll flip out, screaming blue murder, shoving away from Mom, and acting like he’s being stung by 20 wasps.  Flailing, shrieking. 

Forget about the sweet Gerber pictures of mothers holding peacefully feeding infants.  More like a tomato-red woman trying very hard not to cry as much as her baby.

Having been through that as my first experience with nursing, I was delighted to find that Quinn settled in to things with more patience and determination.  He seemed to be able to handle the challenge well.  He meets it, however, with his own challenge: I will sleep when I want to, and not a moment sooner, thank you very much!

Yesterday…  He ate and finished, smiling sweetly up at me as if to say “thank you.”  I expected the usual OH-NO-IT’S-NAP-TIME-I’M-FREAKING-OUT; but it didn’t happen.  For old times’ sake, I slipped my finger into Quinn’s mouth for him to suck, tucked Blankie up around his face, and held him close.  He nuzzled up, and fell asleep.

If you’ve ever held a sleeping baby, you know that feeling.  Every chore in the house was tugging at my sleeve, but I wanted nothing more than to sit and bask.  All too soon I won’t be able to coax a snuggle, not even with treats.  Think Riley curls up to sleep on my lap? 

Think again.  (tickle-tickle-tickle-tickle-tickle)

Today I am thankful for the chances I have, especially with nursing, to hold my sleeping baby – to be his safe place, a pillow for his head.  I hope he always feels that way, even when he’s grown.

The Frugal Woman’s Toilette, Part 3: Her Skin

Oh NO!  I’m getting WRINKLES!  For cryin’ out loud – I’m only 30!

A sudden flash of advertisements blazes across my mind.  What will make the lines go away?  How can I lift?  Tighten?  Stay young and soft?

Smile.

I always forget that’s the easiest way…

Wrinkles and lines – laugh lines in particular – can hardly be helped when you’re living a full life and enjoying it too.  And I suppose there are some expensive creams that work, keeping a woman’s face, neck, and hands wrinkle-free a little longer…  But I can neither afford them nor spend the time right now sifting through them.

I always wonder, too, what the long-term effects are of using a lotion or cream with undisclosed ingredients – chemicals, perfumes, dyes – slathering it all over my skin, letting it absorb into my system day after day…

I suppose I could sleep sitting up and clothes-pin my face upward by means of a pulley system attached to the ceiling.  That would be “uplifting,” right?

Perhaps I’ll just stick with what I’ve been doing.  Remember this photo from Part 2?

One reader guessed olive oil.  It was a nice guess.  A little close for comfort, in fact.  My thoughts were: Whew!  Smart lady…  She’s on to me…

Not it, though.  Nothing against olive oil.  It’s good stuff.  But I don’t like the smell on my face, since I’m used to it in my bread bowl and salad dressing bottle.

My main squeeze is grapeseed oil! 

It has next to no smell at all, and is not greasy in any way.  It’s about $10 a liter, which made me cringe at first…  But then I realized that in order to cover my face and neck, all I need is one fingertip-full.  One dunk.  That’s it.  This stuff will last forever.

Oil does not last forever, though.  At the end of its shelf life, it can become rancid.  It’s a good thing this kind of oil can be used for your entire body and your entire menu too!  Give it a try.  I know my mother also uses it as a medicinal ointment for her horses.  Try that, Pond’s cold cream!

I found a good article comparing olive and grapeseed oils for cooking.  Check it out:

http://www.ehow.com/about_5397992_olive-vs-grape-seed-oil.html

Grapeseed oil will be getting a thorough tryout in our kitchen.  🙂

Between the baking soda face wash and grapeseed oil as a moisturizer, my skin has never looked or felt better.  To prove it, I have decided to bravely “face” the world wide web sans makeup.  Here I am:

AAAAAHHHHH!  I mean – oh.  How pretty.

I also found a good article on the benefits of grapeseed oil for your skin:

http://www.foreverlookingood.com/benefits-of-grape-seed-oil

I find it lighter than olive oil, and less “oily” and “smelly” – better for my face and my senses.

There’s no product that can really stave off aging.  We age.  It shows.  My hope is that the evidence will be in laugh lines more than anything.  That’s the trademark of a good life. 

Laugh at myself, not others.  Laugh when I’m the only one who finds a joke funny.  Laugh in a quiet room because someone’s sneakers sound like toots (I really, really am just like a 5 year-old).  Laugh when an ad promises youth forever or, better yet, happiness.

Grapeseed oil won’t keep me looking perfectly young when I’m 90 (although according to the above article, it might help).  But it will save me the trouble and money spent so often on products that promise what they can’t deliver.  This one only promises something completely natural and harmless.  I’ll take it!

Grapeseed oil won’t bring me happiness.  But peace with God, a husband whose maturity level is both far beyond mine and just as juvenile…

…a couple canned hams called Riley and Quinn… 

That sounds like happiness to me.

If you give grapeseed oil a try, let me know what you think.  I’ve used it on my infant’s skin as a massage rub too, and he hasn’t had a problem with it.  Gentle, frugal, natural, simple. 

Sold American, as Dad would say!

Big Ol’ Feety Pajamas – FINISHED!

Two weeks ago I posted a project called Big Ol’ Feety Pajamas.  This is the conclusion: It is possible to extend the life of a pair of pj’s without cutting off the feet!  Hooray!  They look pretty darn cool, too.

Of course, by the time I finished making the adjustments, Riley had grown so fast again that he’s exceeding the length all. over. again.  Oh well!  It was fun.  🙂

Here’s how the project wrapped up:

So that’s where these big ol’ feety pajamas are right now – hanging out the side of the machine in our basement, in my little studio space.”

I serged the edge of the pj’s to the blue extension.  There were 4 edges to serge – 2 on each foot.

Next I turned them right-side-out to see if the lengths matched.  A snip here and there made them quite close enough.

Here I decided how long I wanted the toes, turned the feet inside-out again, and used a simple stitch to make the new line, joining the front and back (or top and bottom) together.

Just a double-check:

Since I liked what I saw, I trimmed off the excess and serged the new toe edges. 

Not perfect, but functional.

Not too shabby!

I really like the new look.  But he’s already outgrown them again!!!  See?

Oh well.  It was a fun project and now I know how to do it.  🙂

Hope you have a creative and productive day.

Talk To Me!

 

One day this past winter, Riley and I sat at the table eating lunch.  It was very quiet.

My mind was occupied with plans for something-er-other…  Actually I think I was planning this blog, since I remember having the original notebook out on the table. 

Finally!  The boy is strapped down.  Heh heh. 

Time to apply my mind to grown-up endeavors. 

What should I write?  Which day of the week could I use for discussing things like upcycling and diapering and should there be a separate day for cooking or spiritual thoughts?  But isn’t all of life God’s and why am I still separating things?

Suddenly I noticed Riley in his highchair, whining and generally acting like a pain-in-the-batooka.

Grrrrr.

Stop it, Riley!  Eat your lunch.

Something to the effect of smooshing food around and tossing it on the floor followed.

You know, I said (and I can’t believe I did), There really ARE children in other countries who would be grateful to eat what you’re horsing around with.  I’ve SEEN them.

Do I get points for being a pompous know-it-all?  I’m winning, then.

Suddenly I realized he’d stopped.  His whole mood had changed.  He came alive again and was happy. 

What made the difference?

(Musta been my lofty speech.  He’ll be repenting in tears and ashes any moment – I can FEEL it.)

It dawned on me suddenly: I spoke to him.

All the poor kid wanted was some conversation!  I believe at that point, I closed the notebook, turned to him, and began to include him in my thoughts.

I have no idea what we discussed. 

But I won’t soon forget: My son needs me to care about him in a face-to-face, eye-to-eye, out-loud sort of way, whether I’ve been talking in Elmo voice all morning or not.

And he’s worth it. 

(La la la la!  La la la la!  Riley’s world…  Iiiiiit’s Riiiiiiley’s world!)

(If you actually sang that to the Elmo theme song, I feel your pain.  God bless you.)

Do I HAFTA Ask For Help?

Something dawned on me today.  God is working on a stronghold in my life that I didn’t realize was a problem.

I mean, come on.  Is self-sufficiency really all that bad?  So I’m a little independent!  I’ve always liked that about myself – strong, capable, proud Yankee.  If it’s out there, I can do it (unless it’s Math or tanning, but I’ve made my peace with that).

So I handled every detail of the wedding myself.  Yeah?  And?

So I feel like it’s not worth doing if I can’t be instantly good at it and show off.  Your point?

So I had a hard time (did I say “had”?  I mean “have”…) a hard time learning to be a team player in marriage.  No big stink, right?

Wrong. 

God’s wisdom surpasses my stubborn will.  And for that I am very thankful. 

How is He doing this, you ask?  Through my children!  Only a wise and loving God would use my beautiful treasures, my exhasperating and exhausting and wonderful, incredible boys to teach me the tough lessons I refuse to learn.

I found myself envying women who don’t have to use any form of birth control.  Yes, they’re out there – ladies whose children naturally and almost methodically appear every 2-3 years.  At first I thought, we’re just extremely fertile.  Be that as it may, the woman with a more socially acceptable offspring spacing than mine is just as fertile as me.  She has kids.

But why are some women able to rely on God for the nice spacing and I can’t?

Because I have control issues. 

I was thinking, “Wow!  God just plans out their families for them.  Lucky.”  Ahem. 

Anyone else see the problem with my thinking?

God DID plan out our family for us.  This IS His spacing.  We ARE fertile, but my faith is not.  Two boys 15 months apart is God’s spacing for us.  If I have a problem with that, I ought to take it up with Him.

And really, I don’t.  I love that our boys will be close growing up.

What I’m realizing is that God is using this experience to force me to ask for help – His and others’.  I cannot be an island anymore, not to the doctor’s office, the fair, or some days even the backyard. 

I need help.

And it BURNS ME to have to ask for it.  I think God just smiled.  It dawned on me this week that unless I allow other people to assist me and admit that I’m not supermom, I’ll never go out anywhere or do anything.  Worse, much much worse – I won’t gain what God offers me through this experience.

And I don’t want to miss anything He gives.  After all, He’s the giver of good gifts.  I just look at my boys for proof!  They’re a blessing I don’t deserve and I can never thank Him enough for them.

Just hafta keep this verse in mind:

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  2 Corinthians 12:9

This proud New England mama can bend the knee and ask for help.  God’s first, and others’ too.  According to God’s Word, if I’m going to be proud about anything, it ought to be that I’m a big lame-o who desperately needs His help!  🙂

Maybe then I’ll know His grace on a deeper level and feel His power firsthand.  What a story!  What an adventure!  What a calling.  Thank You, God, for working on me and not giving up your work in my heart.