Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Break

Muddy castles in the sandbox.

Naked baby climbing the stairs for the first time, giggling at his new prowess.

The whir of the air conditioner....followed by nights so cold that even footie pajamas couldn't keep the big boys in their own beds.

Easter egg hunts at the park.
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The six year old is that boy who drove me crazy at the hunts when I was little. Dashing in front of everyone else and greedily snatching every egg he could find. I made him give some back, and he hasn't stopped talking about how I knocked all the eggs out of his basket. The four year old judiciously and grandly would have given almost all of his away if I hadn't told him it was ok to keep some.

 A saver and a giver.


That sweet, tough, all-boy, but always beauty-finding saver shivering for 20 minutes in the cold at the hunt to have a butterfly painted on his face.

The first surf session of spring.



Spending time with friends and family.

We won't talk about the scene we made at Lego club (just not a good time or location for The Dude),

or how much a grocery shopping trip to Super Walmart took out of me. Or how a simple trip to drop off Aquaman's sample at the lab turned into half hour of humiliation....3 boys running wildly around the waiting room.

How I just can't get out of my head when I took them out for a few minutes to calm down, and I told The Dude that I was really frustrated with him, and how he pretended not to care, but then I turned around to see him wiping a tear from his big brown eyes. And how I had to hug him. Because he just can't seem to help himself sometimes.

A haircut that makes his eyes look even bigger, and he's growing up so big. This time he wasn't even scared of the buzzers.

The happy baby, turned serious, who now that he is feeling better, has turned happily and seriously mischievous. The words he most frequently uses are "whoa!" and "wow!" with very animated inflections.

 Usually when he is flailing himself backward on the bed or hurling a ball, or watching one of the other two do some crazy trick. After weeks and months of illness, he finally seems....well. Even though at last check there was still some fluid in his ears, and he always makes a strange snorting sound when he's eating.





Nursing that is. Because he hardly eats anything anymore. He recently had tonsillitis and stopped eating food altogether, and though he is well now, it is rare for him to eat more than a bite of anything. And then he can hold that one bite in his mouth for 20 minutes. I always think he's found a choking hazard on the floor, only to discover, with digging, that it's still his half-eaten lunch that he's chewing on.

And just like that, our wildest, most chaotic, most exhausting, and most fun spring break ever is coming to a close. My nerves are shot, and my heart is full to overflowing.

We're going to what looks to be our new church this morning. It seems that a change has been calling, and last week when we visited a church with my niece who just moved to town, Aquaman came out declaring "I learned something!", and later, in confidence came to me and said "mom, I think we need to go to a new church. I learned more about how to follow Jesus, and how to hear Jesus at this new church."
JT and I also realized that we already knew more people at the new church than we do after years in our same one. And so we go on new adventures. A new quest to learn and teach and grow together as followers of Christ.

And that's exciting.

Now onto a new week. Back to work for the first time in a couple weeks. Chaperoning Aquaman's field trip on Thursday. And another day off school on Friday to prepare for Easter.

We all seem to finally be well, though the allergic shiners have not left The Dude's eyes and the cough lingers. But we are stronger from a season of fighting. We are closer from a season of holding each other. We are ready for a new season.

Spring break is over, and spring has officially arrived.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Pestilence

It's been a couple weeks since my last post.
We've been busy, and tired, and mostly happy.

We got mostly well and now Greystoke is sick again. and The Dude has another ear infection, and after 3 months of wheezing, he's finally on allergy medication and round the clock albuterol when he cooperates. Which isn't often.

This is the 2nd day of spring break, and it's already been an adventure. The two older boys have been playing together a little better lately. Aquaman is, every so often, able to love his brother more than his toys. The Dude has lost a touch of his 3 year old orneries.

Yesterday when I commented to The Dude that he had been listening and following directions really well the past couple of days, he shrugged and said "I just hear what you say, and I just want to do it." Then he dashed away, in his characteristic gallop-swagger, leaving me with my mouth hanging open.

Truly, I've been feeling somewhat unaccomplished lately. Nothing is ever done, and there is no meter to measure exactly how I am doing from day to day. Instead of doing a job until it is complete now, I have found that I simply have to set a time limit for each activity. I clean until my time is up, and then I play, or oooh and ahh over Aqauman's video game feat (one of his friends at school showed him a game on an educational website and he has become addicted.), or read a book to The Dude, while he tumbles around me, or roll the ball to Greystoke.


Poor sick-eyed Greystoke.

But yesterday as I cradled Greystoke in my arms as his temperature spiked to 104, and the 2 older boys splashed in the blackest mud out in the backyard, I wondered to myself how I was doing, and I realized I was doing ok.

Because when I tuck the boys in tonight, they'll be a little bigger, a little stronger, a little smarter, and they will know that they are loved. Even though I have been letting them watch movies as they fall asleep, just to be able to put them to bed just a little bit earlier so I have at least a couple minutes for adult interaction with the only boy of mine I get to keep.

"Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words."
-St Francis of Assisi

Sometimes at the end of the day, I wonder if I ministered to them enough. Did I teach them as much as I could have today? Am I pointing them in the right direction?
Lately, it's been hard to get everyone to hold still very long at the same time, and sometimes our lessons are fleeting.

But really, that's not the only way we preach the gospel.

Last Sunday morning when I woke up, there were fire ants in our house. They found their way in from the backyard, and were swarming in between the area rugs where, yes, some crumbs had escaped. I had a few minutes with just the baby and a steaming cup of coffee when I found them. The other 2 were completely silent, and this might be the only quiet moment I had to pray all day. But the fire ants.

And I stood there feeling anxious and stressed because everything seemed like it was falling apart. And then I just sat down in an area that didn't have any ants. And I read my Bible and drank my coffee, and kept my baby from being bitten, and I thought to myself...I'm not that great at a lot of things. Sometimes I run into people with 3 kids or more and they just shrug their shoulders like it's no big thing, and I imagine how ant free and crumb-less their houses are, and that's not me. I'm just barely remembering the inhalers and struggling to calm the fevers, and there are crumbs and ants in my house.


But not everyone can just sit down and pray and talk to God when their house is filled with ants and crumbs either, and that's what God told me. And he led me right to a verse that talked about how we shouldn't fear "the pestilence" which, I'm pretty sure fire ants and roseola count as pestilence.

And I just felt peace and laughter washing over. And I stopped looking down at those ants, and when my boys woke up, I just looked at them instead. And then I looked up online how spray bottles with soapy water will kill the ants, and I bought one for each boy and they went on ant hunts while I was putting Greystoke down for his nap.

And I sprayed the ant hills outside, and now they're gone.

And they'll be back, like the coughs and fevers are always back. But none of those things can steal my peace every time, and so maybe...just maybe...even if my boys all have the wildest of ADHD I'm an ok mom to them after all.

Because I don't have to fear the pestilence. It's not on me. God's got it.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Dreaming

It's been an eventful couple of weeks.

We all recovered from the flu, though all of the kids ended up on antibiotics by the end. 

Aunt K and Uncle B came to visit.

The Dude had a 4 year old birthday. 

Greystoke turned 10 months. 

JT and I made it to the spa.

Cousin Rebecca moved to Florida. 

The weather got cold and rainy, and then it got warmer. The promise of spring arrived. 

And Aquaman came home from school sick again. This time with strep. Which is much better than the flu. It was more miserable for exactly two days and one night. And then it was over. He's home from school again today to keep from infecting anyone else, but the fever is gone, the sore throat is much better. He still doesn't feel like eating much. 

Now we wait to see if anyone else will catch it.

It's been a nice couple of days with Aquaman. He's sat nicely and done his homework, read me books, and let me take a nap with Greystoke yesterday (since he kept me up most of the night the night before last delirious with 103.8 fever that wouldn't break, and feeling like he was going to throw up). 

Aquaman is growing up. He's taller, but still just as skinny.

 He still won't eat a bite of meat. His handwriting is getting neater, with much less reversals, and I'm looking forward to seeing what level he is reading on with his coming report card, because he has improved a lot these past couple of months. 
He did great at The Dude's birthday party, while I was certain there would be a melt down or two, he held it together quite nicely.

He still pushes the boundaries as often as he can. He still struggles with anger on occasion.
He loves Legos, though only Legos with wheels. He's a boy. I love him to pieces.

We haven't had as much time to spend together in God's word lately, but I'm hoping over the summer to find time to do some one on one discipleship with him. He was very excited about it when I mentioned it. I still remember the few minutes of special time I had with our pastor once a week after I accepted Jesus into my heart at age 6. 

Yesterday Noni and Papa picked up The Dude from school and took him fishing and playgrounding, so I had all day with just my biggest boy and my littlest boy.

I have been so grateful for family these past couple of months. I've heard before that "it takes a village to raise a child". I never entirely agreed with this statement until Greystoke was born. Not that you can't do it on your own, with God's help, we certainly could. But I know that wasn't God's intention. And what an amazing gift not to have to. It is a gift to my children, to get special attention from their grandparents. To have Godly examples outside of their own nuclear family. And on top of that, to get more individualized attention at home, while their siblings are being loved by others. It is also a gift to me, because while I love the wild and crazy times we all have together, I also so enjoy getting to know each of my children individually. 


Aunt K and Uncle B's visit seemed so quick as usual. We were so happy to have them here to celebrate The Dude's birthday. 

I really can't believe that he is 4 years old already. It seems that I was just holding him in my arms the afternoon that he was born. It seems like he was just learning to walk, holding my hands and demanding that I walk him around and around in circles.
Wasn't I just weaning him at night, teaching him to sleep on his own?
Yes, I guess he's still up at least once a night, coughing and needing his inhaler, or just needing to be tucked back into bed. But he falls back to sleep quickly now. No more long middle of the night stroller rides. He falls asleep in his own bed. No more vigorous cuddling.

The first thing he did when he woke up on his 4 year old birthday was ask me to measure him. He was just sure he was bigger.

He is precious.

He's still throwing fits, but maybe not quite as many. He's still winding up to hit me, but actually follows through much less. He can still hardly sit still...ever.

 He loves music, and wants to be a guitar player when he grows up. He can't keep pants on, because he has no butt at all. The only ones he can wear are the pair of girl skinny jeans he owns. They don't have any pink on them. With his curls and those jeans, he looks like the guitar player he wants to be. 

Even though he's really quite ornery, he's a giver. He's sweet. He's cuddly. He loves his mommy. And his Daddy. He's proud of his Aquaman. He likes to steal things from his Greystoke's hands, but he's always very remorseful when he accidentally knocks him down.
He's socially adept. He's naturally apologetic. He's gorgeous. 

And he's mine for a few more years.

Greystoke turned 10 months earlier this week. Unlike his brothers, who were on their feet by this age, he lifts his legs up high when you set him down. He likes to move, in his own little one foot and one knee on the floor way, He loves to be surrounded by toys, and he is definitely surrounded by a lot of them now that The Dude just had a birthday party. 

He had 3 major ear infections since December, and a minor one that started last week. I opted for no antibiotics on the last one since he's had way too many of them lately, but now I watch him all day wondering if he's in pain because he just doesn't tell me.

He's been more clingy. He's been much more sensitive. He's still quite naturally content, never loud and demanding. But he's grown more serious and subdued.


Wiser to the ways of this sometimes hard world I suppose. In some ways, it's hard to see him mature in such a way. I wish he didn't have to know.

But he's still a cuddly sunshine. Still so much my little baby.

He sleeps stretched out on his tummy, with his crib rail off and as a side car to our bed. I watch him breathe sometimes in the middle of the night. A couple of times a night, he wakes up, and I roll him close to me,and I don't resent it at all.
Greystoke is starting to imitate more. He gives "fives". He waves hello and goodbye, when he feels like it. He tries to put on shirts, socks, and baby carriers.

I've heard the occasional word: "ball" when he was playing ball, his favorite game...chasing it all over the house. "hi" as we waves at everyone we pass on our visits to assisted living, or the store.



JT and I made it to the spa last Wednesday, and it was just as amazing as we had imagined it. We individually each had the best massages we had ever had. As I lay there being massaged, I spent the time thinking about my dreams for the future. 

The day before, I heard about a full time job that was posted, something I have long been interested in for the future. I found myself looking into it, thinking about it. 

I found myself thinking about my dreams. What I want to accomplish with my life.

The crazy thing is, the only thing I could come up with? To help JT and our 3 boys accomplish their dreams.

 I lay there wondering if this was a cop out. I searched my heart, and prayed that God would search my heart to see if this was just me taking the easy way out. 

I found only peace.

A couple of years ago, I had sort of an identity crisis. I remember it well. The Dude had turned 2 and I was feeling a little less tied down by small children, and starting to wonder who I was again. Who was I? I went through a lot of soul searching at that time. I felt very frustrated. I looked at the possibility of going back to work more, taking a different job.

And then, God told me to stop the birth control. And then God gave us baby Greystoke.

And God also gave me peace. 

I wondered to myself on that massage table if I would someday resent having given all of myself, and all of my life to help others reach their fullest potential, but I could find none of that uncertainty in my prayers.

On the contrary, I can think of no better way for me to live my life. 

Sure, God has called me to other things, and I will live and serve in them faithfully.And I will never stop looking for Him in the everyday, because I loved the quote our pastor said a few weeks ago, by Francis Chan: "stop making a list of priorities. There should only be One on your list. God."

"Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness", and everything else will fall into place.

JT and I spent 30 minutes in the hydrotherapy tub after our massages. We talked about dreams. 

We realized we were living them.