Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I Want Butter!

Sometimes you just need some fat!


Have you ever felt as if you were being watched?  You can just sense that somewhere out of your own line of sight there is a pair of eyes following you, observing every move you make.  You may begin to feel nervous.  You may become acutely aware of what you are doing and how you are doing it.  Most likely you will not be relaxed and will probably have a hard time acting "normal" under the pressure.

I happen to know tha I am being watched most of the time.  How do I know this?  Because the little pairs of eyes that are watching me are connected to little mouths.  And these little mouths love to report what their little eyes see.

I can be standing at the sink and from the table I will hear, "She's putting soap on the sponge."

"Yeah, now she's filling the sink with water."

"Oh, yeah...and she's scrubbing the pan."

Or I may hear the following, "She's getting milk out of the fridge."

"Now she's getting a cup.  Ooh, it's a glass cup!"

"Uh-huh.  And now she's putting milk in her cup.  I bet she's going to drink it."

And I just think, "Guys, I'm right here!  I can hear everything you are saying about me!"

Everything I do is under scrutiny.  I can't enter a room, leave a room, or go to the bathroom without at least one pair of eyes watching my every move.  Even as I write this post there is a pair of eyes reading over my shoulder!

Having five sets of eyes watching me day in and day out is one thing.  But the constant commentary is a totally different story.  It's like if an Olympic athlete had an earbud to hear everything the commentators were saying about them and their performance while they were performing!

I have a particular memory from my childhood that strikes me as funny right about now.  I was with my family at my grandparents' house.  All of the aunts, uncles, and cousins were visiting, probably for a holiday.  At a rough estimate I would say that there were at least 25 people in one fairly small house.  Not just any 25 people but 25 very loud people (for the most part).

Being a part of that brood, I got used to the noise, but I didn't like it much.  I learned that I could sneak off to a small room above the garage, curl up with a book, and only have to deal with the din of all the commotion happening downstairs.  I was in such a corner of the house one evening when I heard an announcement for dinner.  I didn't go down.  I figured it would be a while before food was actually dished up and surely someone would come and get me before it was too late.

I don't know how long I was up there, but it became obvious that no one realized I was missing.  Feeling a bit dejected, I wondered if anyone would ever know that I was gone.  Would my parents?  My siblings?  A cousin, maybe?  My grandma?  When I could hear the sounds of a full-fledged family dinner going on below me, it hit me.  I had been forgotten.

Of course, I didn't stay forgotten.  My dad came in search for me at some point and I went downstairs to join the crowd.

If only I could be forgotten like that in this stage of life.  Oh, the autonomy!  Oh, the freedom!  Time to go to a quiet corner and read a book without anyone saying, "Look, she's reading a book."

It's all about perspective, right?  Being lost in a crowd of boisterous family members gets a little discouraging.  Being watched on a moment by moment basis gets a little annoying.  On one hand you want to get a little attention on yourself so you don't feel left out.  On the other hand, to slip under the radar every once in a while would be refreshing.

For the time being I'll just stay under the watchful eyes of my children.  I'm told that they will  not always be this young and that one day they won't follow me to the bathroom.  Hallelujah for the hope of privacy one day!  ;)


Friday, April 17, 2015

Snapshots: Games

Joshua and Hannah finished their first ever standardized tests this week.  Praise the Lord!  As a special treat (and since we had the tests scheduled all week and managed to complete them on  Wednesday) we took Thursday and Friday off from school.  The kids enjoyed free time and playing outside, and while it rained yesterday afternoon we played some games.

Rachel wandered around scavenging for stray popcorn.  She found more than her fair share!  She also rummaged through the fruit drawer and rounded up all the oranges her little arms could carry.  I am convinced she would eat all that we would peel.

Jeremiah played along and turned the same two tiles over each turn until he finally got a match.  Some of his older siblings were quite generous and donated their matches to his cause.

The kids usually get pretty upset if they don't win.  Maybe it was having unlimited popcorn to snack on and being able to enjoy a piece of candy, but they didn't seem to mind when I won.


And, as things usually go, moments after snapping these photos the entire fun operation came to a screeching halt.  The older kids were on a sugar high, the younger kids were crying, and the middle kid was coughing, sniffling, and starting to feel pretty terrible from an oncoming cold.

Such is life with a crew of littles!

Friday, April 3, 2015

45 Minutes

 The morning was great.  We got up, made it through our morning routine, even read a few books with the little kids.  School time was smooth.  Everyone was in their places doing what they were supposed to be doing.  It was a good day.

12:05pm - Two children began throwing tantrums for different reasons.  I cleaned up Rachel from her lunch, attempted to put her in her bed and quickly realized that she needed a new diaper in a bad way.  Jeremiah walked in the room and it became obvious that he also needed a new diaper.  So I began the process.

12:15pm - Both tantrums persisted as I cleaned up the little guys' diapers.  Both messes were a bit bigger than I had anticipated.  Rachel needed a new shirt.  Neither diaper swished out in the toilet nicely.

12:20pm - One tantrum ceased, but the other ramped up as I rinsed out some pretty fowl cloth diapers.  It didn't take long to be literally elbow deep in some pretty mucky water.  Ewww...

12:22pm - Hannah comes through the front door, screaming, "Abby won't let go of the jump rope and I already asked her to!"  Oh, yes...this requires my direct attention.  Not.  I send Hannah back out to resolve the jump rope issue with her younger sister.

12:24pm - Still up to my elbows in diaper water, trying to keep Rachel out from underfoot, and Hannah enters yet again.  This time sreaming about ten times louder than the last time.  "Abby hit me with the recorder!"  Cry.  Sob.  Jump up and down.  Yep.  Another tantrum.  At least the tantrum from the other room had toned down to some moaning and groaning.

12:30pm - I look up to explain to Hannah that I cannot deal with the recorder/jump rope situation because my hands are covered in poopy water.  I see blood streaming down her face.  A blood nose.  Perfect.  I send Hannah to get some tissue.

12:33pm - The diapers are rinsed.  My hands are scrubbed.  The bath tub is bleached.  Hannah is still freaking out.  She runs in to find me and I send her right back to the bathroom where she started.  She leaves a drippy trail of blood through most of the downstairs.  My usual pregnancy heartburn rears a very ugly head about now.  Oh, time for that.  I get the hydrogen peroxide, put Rachel in her play yard, and hope that this is over soon.

12:35pm - After cleaning the blood trail, I find Hannah standing over the toilet.  Screaming.  There is blood everywhere.  Her hands and arms are covered.  Her clothes are covered.  The toilet seat is covered.  Blood is splattered on the walls, the floor, the outside of the toilet, the sink, the mirror.  I'm glad I have the hydrogen peroxide and that I apparently have a strong stomach after working through those messy cloth diapers.  I start cleaning.

12:45pm - Hannah is clean and changing into fresh clothing.  Her nose is no longer bleeding.  The bathroom is clean.  The laundry has been rinsed with hydrogen peroxide to prevent stains and is in the washing machine.  All tantrums have stopped.

12:50pm - Three of the kids are playing play dough.  They are laughing as if none of them had thrown a tantrum, produced a blow out poop, had a blood nose, or beat up their older sibling with a recorder.  (Please note, the blood nose was NOT from Abby.  It happened all on its own.)  Rachel is in bed, not asleep yet, but on her way.  And the complaining from Tantrum-Thrower Number One has ceased.  Now it's time to dictate a spelling list, supervise violin practice, heat up lunch, and prod the preschoolers as they clean up the Duplos.

If ever you hear a mother or father with a few (or more!) small children in their constant care, this is what you should think of when they say things are "busy", "hectic", "crazy", "exhausting", "tiring", or "non-stop" at their house.  This can happen any time of day or night without warning, without due cause.  Things are running smoothly and then BAM!  Everything spontaneously combusts and chaos abounds for 45 minutes. on a good day it only lasts 45 minutes.  I won't even get into what a bad day can look like.  You're smart.  I'm sure you can imagine.

After you have imagined, then you can say a prayer for any parents you know who have a troop of little tikes at home.  You may just be praying at the precise moment that a blood nose, two tantrums, two incredibly messy diapers, some heartburn, and a few other urgent matters collide in one big train wreck.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Snapshots: Playing Catch Up

We haven't updated much about the general comings and goings in the Crew.  Things haven't been out of the ordinary, but they certainy have been busy.  I can't quite imagine what things will be like with another Crew member in tow this summer.  For now, the five little guys running around here keep Claude and I on our toes and ensure that we fall asleep without difficulty at night.

Here are some photos from the past month or so, just as a bit of a catch up on what we've been doing recently.

Working's what we did today.

Ice cream for lunch.  :)

Don't tell Rachel she missed out on the ice cream.  She has no idea!

Our church hosted a 5K to raise money for a girls' home in the Dominican Republic.  The entire Crew was supposed to participate, but with a few of us being sick, Hannah and I went on our own.  It was a fun way to kick off a mother-daughter day.  :)

Last Friday we did the big seasonal clothing switch.  We have been working on acquiring all that each child needed for spring/summer for a few weeks.  It was so much to keep track of that I was having anxiety dreams over it - even with my master checklist!

Praise the Lord, the final clothing items arrived just in time to put away the old and take out the new.  But by the end of a long day, I could hardly stand on my feet.  Joshua was sick that day, so these guys were my clean up crew - chocolatey faces and all!

Hannah and I may have walked a 5K, but Claude ran about 20 times longer earlier in March.  We hung out near the finish line, played on the playground, and ate candy.  :)

The kids were pretty excited to see the sun set and watch the stars come out while we waited for Claude to finish.  Here they are, enjoying some rest while Dad is slogging away in the mud.

And he did it!  100Ks!  Joshua is wondering when he'll run 100 miles...

We had quite a bit of snow in the late winter.  The kids loved it!
Claude and Jer built this snowman just after the last (Lord willing!) snowfall of the season.

There was plenty of shoveling to do.  Since Claude never did get a snow day, we had a pretty long driveway to clear with each storm.

I recruited a new team of kitchen helpers.

I have to watch these three.  They all like to taste test, especially Rachel.  Just this week she shoved her face into a measuring cup of cocoa powder.  I don't think it feels great going up the nostrils!

Hannah and Joshua helped sew some wash cloths.  They are begging to do more on the sewing machine.