in it.

so, i’m sitting on the edge of the bath tub, balancing leif on his tummy on my lap.  he has poo smeared down the back of his leg, a fun find at diaper time.  which is normally no biggie, child #4 you’ll remember, except that this poo necessitated a bath, & in this bath tub was a pair of another kiddo’s pants in need of laundering, along with the puke bucket which had seen recent activity. i considered the kitchen sink (sorry if i just lost half of you), but i hadn’t done the dishes from lunch.
yep, sterile as a hospital here.

so while i was balancing sweet, patient leif, i was going to need to clean out the bath tub.  & being the stubborn woman that i am, i sure as sugar wasn’t going to put leif down & do it like a sane person.  heck, no.  we’d do this circus-style.

as i’m trying to unscrew the cover of the hand soap i’ve got on the tub ledge, balancing leif now with my elbows?  forearms?  andy walks by.  i begin to consider my sanity.  i’m not sure at what point he started chuckling, if he did indeed wait until he walked by again & saw me standing in the now-clean tub, my jeans pulled up to my knees, behind leif to keep him from toppling over, or if he just got right to it there, as i s.o.s.’ed for help with the bottle cap.  holy grief.

i caught a glimpse of my self, then.  pure ridiculousness.  really, jill?  try to space out the crazy a little bit & save some for the rest of us.
& this crazy happens EVERY DAY.  not the poo part, or the collection of nastiness that was my bath tub, but something absurd & humbling.  this morning it was a kiddo drinking water & then burping, accidentally spewing the entire contents of his stomach onto my bedroom floor.  yep, that just happened.  i’ve been awake a whole 6 seconds.

if there is anything these children are teaching me, it’s stay loose & lighten up.

see how the one in the middle isn’t holding still, which makes his arm look disembodied & creepy?  that motion is kieran.  if you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know.

[*also:  please admire my husband’s fine carpentry/remodelling work.  this room used to be white white white.  top to bottom.  horrible, stained, gross white carpet, too.  now it’s a lovely shade of coffee with extra cream (my favorite color) with trendy white trim & IKEA wood flooring.  wood flooring, how i love thee.]

so yes, i’m in for it.  in every sense of the word.  four children.  three of them boys.  a baby, soon mobile [oy, legos.].  i’m in for it all:  all the crazy, all the mess, all the can’t-keep-up, all the laughter & learning & humbling & love You can send my way.  keep me loose;  keep me lightened up.

i’m all in.

friday photo(s) (or: children wearing children.)

the other day javin says to me, out of the blue, “mom, can i try wearing leif in the moby wrap?”

[caveat:  one of our practices in this family is to “wear” our little ones as a way to keep them close.  i dig the bonding, & it keeps little bean happy.  (happy baby = happy everyone else.  the kids see this all the time, & naturally want to join the fun party.)

me:  “ummmm.”  hesitate, hesitate.  thinking, he’s probably big enough, strong enough, tall enough.  but if i let him, i KNOW thalia & kieran will both want a go, & do i want to go there?  is a 6-month-old baby strapped onto a 3 1/2 year old smart?  the potential for harm presents a horrible visual.  but if i keep them right next to me, maybe. . . .

me:  “okay, honey.  after i feed leify & burp him, you can try him on.”

without further adieu, i give you:  children wearing children.
p.s.  this was meant to be my second in a (regular?) series of a friday photo, but i can’t not post all three with their baby brother strapped onto them, can i?  i didn’t think so.  🙂

though you can’t see it in this picture, one of javin’s main objectives was to “drive” leif around, leif’s fists around javin’s thumbs, as a star wars bomber craft (you’ll excuse my complete ignorance of actual craft names.  i’m just the mom.).  i had to put the kibosh on that fun activity real quick.

thalia, in true girl fashion, just wanted to be like mommy.  leif is obviously digging it.  (i couldn’t get the last panel that’s supposed to go over leif’s belly up & over because thalia is so short.  so i stayed really close.  just in case you were wondering about my mental health.)

two words for this:  craziness & pride.

& what moby wrap, baby wearing post wouldn’t be complete without a picture of how it really is?

yes, every baby worn in this house comes with a sword.  so now you know.  

& the moral of the story?  they will do exactly everything you do.  so beware.

happy weekending, friends.

throwing up in church.

sledding, etc

yesterday i was sitting in the parking lot of our church with the kids as they finished hunks of trader joe’s garlic parmesan bread.  andy had gone in already;  he was teaching & had to be in early to meet for prayer.  we were listening to an “adventures in odyssey” audiobook, which my kids really dig right now.

without warning, kieran looks up at me, bread in one hand & a tj’s lollipop in the other & says, “mom, when i have to throw up, will you take me to the bathroom?”  he’d been sick earlier in the week, & still today he said his tummy was a little hurting.  but he was acting normal:  wrestling with javin every minute, wearing long johns to be iceman or asking me to tie a ridiculously long piece of yarn around his waist for a monkey tail.  perfectly normal. so this matter-of-fact question made me panic & scramble inside my head, as well as set my mommy heart reeling.  (it sent javin reeling, too:  his eyes were saucers with the prospect of little brother chucking right beside him in the back seat of the van.)

“of course, honey.  mommy will take care of you.”

i wasn’t sure if i should feel tenderized that he’d felt like he had to ask, or grateful that he was verbalizing his needs in a solid, matter-of-fact way so that i could reassure him.  checking in for love is routine with kids, but i still was struck down by it.  i felt softened, that i’d fetch the moon in all its glory for that child.  just say the word, little buddy.

(fyi:  there was no puke anywhere, kieran was his fine self, putting ear plugs into & out of his ears during church, dropping them, crawling under the auditorium seat to retrieve them, & then sticking them back in his ears again.  fine self.  no puke.)

in the middle of the night last night, i woke up (or was wakened by one of the 3 boys that were there when i got up this morning) & thought of his asking me to take care of him.  how of course i would.  he didn’t need to ask.  i’d do anything for that child.

3 a.m. clarity startles me:  is this how God feels when we ask?  

i don’t know.  maybe it is.

when i pray & ask Jesus to help with the cavity i just discovered in kieran’s mouth, & i can see that it’s getting bigger, & then i cling to my worry like a freaking life raft, does God not say, gently, “of course I will, honey?”

when the baby is up in the night & then i’m up early in the morning, quickly followed by someone else small & i’ve not got a moment to my harried self, when i ask for strength, does God not say, kindly, “of course I will, honey?”

when i pray for protection for my kids, wafting up a string of syllables while still planning & plotting my own protective circle around them, does God not say, a bit matter-of-factly, “of course I will, honey?”

my lil’ scarface.  there are raspberry bushes at the bottom of our sledding hill.  if you go too fast & are going backwards on the sled with your brother & sister, this may be what you look like when you come out.  praise the Lord, this is all it was, right?  oy.

i don’t know.  & yet, i do.  God talks about His plans for us:  “for I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you & not to harm you, plans to give you hope & a future.” (jeremiah 29:11).  & then there’s the whole a-father-knows-how-to-give-bread-&-not-a-snake thing. (check out Jesus in the new testament.  He’s crazy.)

i don’t know.  but every day i ask God to let me know more of Him, & when i think about kieran asking me if i will take care of him, i realize that i’m that needy, too.  maybe even more so.  i’m fairly certain this whole aspect of being cared for is something that’s gonna blow me open.

i pray it does.

hopefully, with a red teapot.

i almost can’t stand how good the future looks from here.  you’ll excuse me if i’m overly optimistic (i stepped on a unicorn over christmas).  but seriously, the downtime, the revelling, the wonder of christmas did my wee heart good.

& isn’t this the time of year for hope?  new year’s, january, an entire 365 days laid out for us to scrawl our stories across.  does it look good from where you’re standing?  i hope so.

christmas! 012

christmas is past, yet still ripe in my belly in all its fullness (brought about by some very elving grown-ups & many late nights.  you can relate, huh?).  & really, christmas is just fantastic with little kids. the wonder & magic. & the promise of rescue.  almost too much.

& now?  we look forward with hope, with anticipation (summer’s just around the corner, isn’t it??), with plans & projects.

and hopefully, with gratitude.
christmas! 006

right now, i am grateful for so much:

~a little one getting teeth & not minding (too much).  we’re at teeth already!  i can hardly believe it.
~a very pared-down gifting on both sides of the family, focusing more on the being together & the true meaning of it all.
~a good-sized decluttering when all our 11 days of christmas were said & done.
~a house significantly easier to manage with less stuff sitting around.
~a rockin’ sledding hill in our backyard & the kids getting into snowboarding.
~quiet days at home filled with legos, book-making, card games, & music.  there’ll just always be music.  (thank you, pandora.  thank you, youtube.  i heart thee.)
~my red teapot.  our electric model just kicked it, so it was time to refresh ye old wedding present from andy’s aunt in mexico — a teapot in a fantastic red (think cherries) with a handle that arcs in a rainbow & looks like a stretched slinky.  when the pot whistles, the kids come running, & kieran’s face is absolutely priceless as he waits in 3-year-old anticipation to see if that top will shoot off.

christmas! 434

so let’s make this next year something extraordinary, eh?  i’m ready for it.

here’s to hope, to gratitude, & to red teapots.
cheers.

sleeping shoes.

ornaments

as i look around the blogosphere during this christmas season, i wither at all the amazingness that i’m NOT doing.  i mean, cubes of homemade, pastel bath salts for grandma in a cute mason jar?  yep, not doing it.  homemade christmas cookies?  yep, asked my mom to please bring sugar cookie dough so my kids could have some memory with someone of cutting out cookies in stars & angels with cute christmasy sprinkles.
& pinterest?  i fear for my very life.

christmas can shake the amazingness right out of a girl.  

there are crumbs literally everywhere in my house, & my children’s hair?  let’s just be grateful the messy look is trending.  (what? it isn’t?  ummm. . . .)  so as far as all kinds of cool christmasy activities, sometimes we’re just watching a christmas veggietales.
that’s all i can muster.

& that’s okay.

sometimes (like every day) i have to hit “refresh” in my own soul & remind myself that yep, some good & profitable things are going down here, too.

for example, sleeping shoes.
kieran, my 3-year-old, may insist on wearing footies a size too small & be absolutely unable to not wrestle with javin at the dinner table, but can that child light us all up.  as in when he flies into my room at bedtime, hurling his little body up & over my bed, proclaiming,
“these are my sleeping shoes!”
that is when i notice the tennis shoes that i know he actually WILL wear to bed.  right beside me.  that will find their way into the small of my back by 3 a.m.

or that though we are not crafting this christmas (& OH! there are so. many. cute. crafties. to be made!), we did manage to string half a string of cranberries on a thread.  & we read an entire book this morning uninterrupted.
& cocoa?
i make homemade cocoa.
which totally counts.
also, & probably because she feels some female here ought to pick up the shine -&-design slack, thalia has taken it upon herself to wrap all our gifts & custom decorate them each with a drawing that correlates with the recipient.  she’s 6.  & gets this not from me.

so, if you’re like me, looking around you bleary-eyed at all the perceived goodness in every christmas window & yarn pile & coming up with a big ol’ “inadequate” on your own head,
stop looking around.
isn’t that the root of it, anyway?

instead, notice your own good.  because it’s there, & it’s big.
you let there be sleeping shoes in your bed sometimes, too, hey?

what do you say. . . ?

i couldn’t get myself out of bed this morning,
pinned under a sweet bundle in stripey pajamas
snuggled on my chest
& a warm comforter.

for this, i say thank You.

for warm afternoons to play soccer in the yard.
for grandma coming on the train
& papa following a few days later.
for what a different love grandparent love is
to my kids.

thank You.

for a warm house
& a strong husband,
for four lively, curious children.
for strong coffee (decaffeinated)
& warm meals.

for dirty dishes
& mounds of clean laundry, unfolded.
for a work in progress.

for hats & mittens
& baby blankets everywhere.
for a whole new category of thumb-sucking.
thank You.

for a season of gratitude,
& a life in progress.
for just today.

thank You.
happy thanksgiving, friends.