Thursday, July 29, 2010

daddy



"Daddy, please, please come play with me in the big pool again!" Mollen was dripping wet & Neil was all dry & comfy in the shade.
"Ok, but i'm done chucking you guys in the air, ok? My arms are tired - let's just play, alright?"
"Sure daddy!!"
i strolled over with the 2 little boys about 4 minutes later to see Mollen launching through the air.
'Softy', i thought to myself.
& then i saw the line-up behind Mollen.
There were probably 7 or 8 little boys varying in age, size, shape & colour - all lined up... "Me next? Please, would you throw me next?"
i watched for the next several minutes as my husband threw kids in the air - the circle widened & with each throw, the tiny troops of onlookers hooted & cheered.
It seems to me that there is never a shortage of little ones wanting a daddy - anyone's daddy - to have the time to play.
There's something exciting to little ones about the way a daddy plays... his size, his strength, the danger.
& i gotta say, it's equally intoxicating to the mama watching...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

it seems...

That each day is a little sweeter than the one before...
We swim, we eat, we play, we laugh, we love...
& then we get up & do it again.
Today we went shopping - a silly little thing like browsing stores, getting out of the scorching heat for a few hours, spending our birthday money...
Sloanie bought a dress that makes her look all grown up...
Peyton bought the wildest shoes that suit her so perfectly for $7.
Cai had her eye on a couple tank tops & the "perfect" skirt.
Neil got flip flops & mama got a shirt at "forever 21" - who knew they let 34 year olds shop there?
Charter got a hat, Mollen leggings - even Ephraim & Gagey got a little umbrella stroller that they'll share on our meanderings when mama gets tired of slingin' it.
Afterwards we took everyone out for supper. The littles were so good. Ephraim gave big open mouthed grins to the little old lady sitting behind us. & a man had to call me over to his table when we were about to leave to tell me how he had never seen such a sweet group of children.
& at that moment... i had to agree.
Home to swim & then ice cream from Trader Joe's in bed.
Tomorrow, whassit gonna be?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

goodbye Canada

Hello Montana, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada & finally...
California.
Something amazing is happening....
Little ones - will you remember this epic journey? Our first "family holiday" that wasn't to visit family?
Will you remember our marathon 25 hours of driving - spread out over 2 days - singing in the van, watching movies, comforting babies, trying to sleep...
Remember how after 3 hours on the road we hit the US border? The border guard came back & greeted you each by name, whistling under his breath, "seven kids? to California?" - & we all knew that most people thought we were crazy, but we too giddy with excitement to care. As we drove our first 30 seconds into Montana, daddy teased you all, remarking how different the scenery was from "way back in Canada..." but it wasn't long till the scenery did change & he found himself muttering, "Just another flavour of breathtaking, isn't it?" & i smiled 'cause i love that i'm married to a man who appreciates beauty.
Will you remember the laughing fits that precipitated the bathroom breaks? Will you remember the grungy Super 8 that greeted us at 1AM in Idaho & the way the lady at the continental breakfast called everyone "sweetheart"? Remember when you all tried to put in your orders when daddy stopped at Starbucks in Salt Lake City? Nice try, guys :) Remember the oppressive wave of heat that greeted us when we opened the van door in Las Vegas? The breathtaking sight of those red hills in Arizona? Remember how proud we were of Gagey for being dry the whole way here? & how hard Ephraim laughed at Charter for no reason - well, i think he had his reasons, but we sure couldn't figure them out...
Remember how i sang, "route 66" when we passed Barstow - & how daddy chased you all in San Bernardino around the palm trees through the green grass when everyone was "done" & needed to go to the bathroom on the last tiny leg of our journey...
Will you remember how we all crowed & laughed when we finally pulled into our destination & couldn't believe that *this* was where we were staying for a week. & how dad just kept ordering, "fancy ladies, guys, fancy ladies!! - pulleeeze just remember to act like fancy ladies..?" & Charter was so incensed 'cause there was no possible way he could act like a fancy lady... Daddy told us to wait in the van while he got us registered... didn't happen - but he forgave us.
Will you remember that first day at the pool? Calamari & nachos. Dad's specialty...
oh, i'm thinkin' i'm too busy to blog this week...
but it would be a tragedy if i didn't steal a few moments here & there to help us remember the time we packed up the silver fox & did something crazy.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Getting & Giving

Ephraim gave me something the other day.
After a series of non significant events made my heart beat faster & i found myself over thinking the trivial things that didn't go my way... i felt overwhelmed & under strong & i'll admit it - insecure.
i walked into the room & there he was.
In all his baby splendour.
His eyes met mine & danced - daring me to pick him up... so i did.
i held him to me & he let his body lay on mine like a damp beach towel after a long day on the
water.
& i just took.
i wrapped my arms a little tighter & breathed in that sweet, sticky smell in the folds of his chubby neck. i fingered his delicate ears & crowed, "thank you's" while he pushed his chubby feet into my stomach & grabbed heaping handfuls of my hair.
i felt so greedy in that moment - taking all this loveliness from my little one - but it was just too good to pass up....
That little boy left me filled, topped up, ready.
& imagine that magic that when i set him down - his loveliness wasn't depleted at all...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Seven kids?

"Seven kids?" he said in a surprised tone, "man, you guys don't mess around..."
"Actually - we do. That's how we ended up with 7 kids." i smile benignly & Neil rolls his eyes at me.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

He's got me...

i was lanolizing my wool diaper covers yesterday when i heard grunting... i had left Ephraim in his room on Gagey's bed & i told Gagey to sit with him... but i guess he got bored so he wanted to come see me in the next room. Not wanting to leave his little brother alone, he brought him. i turned around to see my sweet 2 year old heaving his 20lb baby brother into my room. They were both grunting with exertion. i dropped my fully wrung out soaker back into the water (whoops!) & ran & rescued Ephraim who looked at me like, "What's the big deal momma? Gagey had me..."
i get a kick out of Gagey's intense love for Ephraim - & Ephraim's good natured acceptance of it. If Ephraim is nursing & Gagey starts bangin' his head - i'll try to distract Gagey so he doesn't bother him, but Ephraim will just unlatch, lean his head back & give his brother a big milky grin.
i have a feeling i'm witnessing the birth of an especially unique & precious bond of brotherhood.
Both little boys knowing what it's like to be the little ones in a big litter,
both having 4 extra little mama's fawning over them,
both having an older brother who will seem to be a lifetime older than them for a long time - being 6 & 8 years their senior...
i lifted Ephraim onto my bed & laid him down. He looked around till his eyes locked on his big brother - then gurgled a grin as Gagey climbed up beside him & they were nose to nose.
He's gotcha, Ephraim - & i don't think he'll let you down.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

intentional







Ephraim thinks he is a genius.
He uses those little things sticking out the side of his body to grab things - he's able to masterfully maneuver them towards his mouth & grind his very new bottom teeth into whatever it is he has managed to get ahold of.

Reaching -

Those random movements are becoming more controlled and...

intentional.

Oh, Father - do you see my immature form longing for you? i'm trying my best to use these spiritual muscles that seem to leap and lurch all at the same time... Will my random efforts become more controlled over time as i seek to become intentional in reaching for You?

Monday, July 19, 2010

littlest ones

It's DVBS here this week - (daily vacation bible school). My two oldest girls are volunteering & my 3 middlies are attending & that leaves me with my 2 littlest boys for all 5 mornings this week.
Funny - people seem to assume that will leave me with so much time on my hands... but not so much :) Those 5 little people got up & created a whirlwind - it took me a half hour to clean my kitchen when they left... & i'm not even gonna peek downstairs.
& then there was the tiny one left crying on the stairs, "Gagey need shoes!! Gagey need shoes!!" as his brother & sisters filed out the door apologetically.
i picked up his sobbing form & snuggled him for a bit before suggesting we go make muffins so the kids have something fun for breakfast tomorrow.
i noticed his hands are getting so thick & his honest square little fingers - so much more boy - & less baby. Ephraim's are still just tiny clutching starfish - but Gagey's are starting to look like Charter's whose are starting to look like daddy's.
He carefully pulled up his chair to the counter - pouring and measuring exactly as i told him to... & slowly - my batter came together.
So - i'm not at the stage where when i hear, "Bye mom!" & the door slams - my house is quiet. Almost 14 years of motherhood have flown by & i'm still at the stage where i can't leave for too long 'cause baby's nursing.
i feel almost giddy that i have been able to stretch out these years - overwhelmed with the Creator's generosity when i look at those chairs to be filled around our table.
i know that one day - even these littlest ones will run out that door - with a quick, 'love you' slung over their shoulder... & maybe since they're boys, i won't even get to fill my bleary eyed morning braiding hair :)
i'm raising them to run - independent of me - to bring Glory to the One who gave them life.
& on these slow mornings, adding molasses to the batter... my gratitude overflows.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

on turning 34

i embrace you 34.
i think it's gonna be a wicked fun year.
i realized some things about being in this stage of life:
i'm strong enough not to be intimidated by cruelty, malice and ignorance.
i'm weak enough to be sidelined by a small 'trip & fall'.
i'm smart enough to know that...
i'm dumb enough too.
i'm old enough -
to appreciate that i'm still young enough.
i'm brave enough to make tough choices...
& i'm wise enough to follow through when it matters most.
i'm soft enough to love completely, cry often & laugh daily.
i'm curious enough to be taught.
Not perfect.
Never arrived.
His workmanship - in progress.
& that's enough.

Friday, July 16, 2010

do the next thing

is great advice...
most of the time.
This week - i feel a little bit overwhelmed. We just got back from holidays last week & we're *going* on holidays next week. i've got a lot packed into these 2 short weeks at home & i'm so hungry for sleep that i'm operating on about 4 brain cells. Add to that the fact that Neil has a lot of 'catch up, get ahead' to do & you've got me... a hot mess.
Usually - i can just look around me - & pick the biggest fire to put out & that's what i have to do next... but sometimes... every once in awhile... you gotta break from the next thing & jump to a different plain of existence called 'doing the unnecessary'.
That's what i did yesterday.
i tamed our home as best as i could, got laundry all caught up - including washing my sheets & putting them back on my bed. Then quickly, before more messes could be made, i gathered my chickies all into the silver fox. We drove to 130th & meandered through dollar stores, winners & walmart. They brought their coinage to spend & i found a scarf i wanted on clearance for $3. We looked for a swimsuit top for Sloanie & found a tank top for Cai.
When we were done, we loaded up & went for a couple of groceries. Cai picked out orange nail polish so she can do pedicures for all the little girls before our trip, i picked up more dish soap, worcestershire sauce & cinnamon. Taking our time, we wandered aisles - letting Gagey pick out veggie juice to go with the supper that i had left warming in the crock pot.
As we were about to leave, i grabbed a bouquet of flowers & bought that too. Just because.
Little E started to fuss as we walked through the line, so i gave Cai my mastercard & went & sat on the floor & fed him rather than trying to rush home with a fussy little one.
Our mellow little troop eventually filed out of the air conditioned store & back into our van while the littles made plans for a water fight in the backyard.
When Uncle Elmer phoned as soon as we got home - we had a nice long leisurely chat.
My flowers were neatly arranged in a vase on my table & i figured... 'ah, well - surely the next thing can wait till i'm done chatting with Elmer..."
& it did.
"The next thing" - eventually gets done. Plates keep spinning, laundry will come & go, my house will get messy, clean & messy again, i'll spend many days doing one necessary thing after the other...
But sometimes the unnecessary will take precedent - & that's ok with me.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

who do i want to be?

Sometimes i watch people.
& sometimes people's reactions inspire me to be a better wife, mama, follower of Christ.
Sometimes when i feel all rotten...
i think to myself - how do i wish i could react? Sometimes drawing on the beautiful reactions i have seen modeled for me...
& then trying my very best to do it just as good.
Initially, having a little blast of heat - 's fine...
But then... then - what am i gonna choose?
Anger, bitterness, malice & strife?
or...
love, joy, peace, patience & kindness - goodness, self-control, faithfulness and gentleness...?

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
when there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying [to ourselves] that we are born to eternal life.
-st.francis

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

more frivolity...




We almost shared our birthday day hey, Ephraim? You just couldn't wait. i totally remember in that final hour - not knowing what time it was - what day you would be born on... But you chose the 13th over my 14th - & so here you are 5 months & 1 day - on your mama's 34th birthday. You make it a wonderful one. i'm so grateful you came.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Birthday Frock

'cause what 33 year old doesn't need a frilly frock to celebrate her 34th birthday in?
Totally impractical for nursing...
but it swirls when i twirl.
Totally unnecessary for washing dishes & laundry & keeping house & home...
but it's *emerald green*.
Not for an occasion that's coming up - or because i needed a fancy new dress...
but because my mom saw my face light up when i tried it on & bought it for me...
for my 34th birthday... which by the way - is tomorrow.
Wanna see my plum one too?

Monday, July 12, 2010

husbands love your wives...

Love in a sacrificial way...
Love her specifically - not generally.
Love is a verb...
During the sermon this sunday my mind was tugged back to a conversation with a stranger that i hadn't intended to have.
"What changed your mind?" She had asked...
A woman had been waffling about the possibility of a fourth child - & she stated that she had thought they were done, but that she had a niggling conscience about the possibility of that fourth child... i had mentioned casually that i knew how she felt because we thought we were done after our fifth was born...
At first i didn't know how to answer. How to explain those curious years between Mollen and baby Hope. How to be honest without being defensive - so many had accused me of being a "non submissive wife"... & i have often felt tender to probing eyes & sharp tongues.
But the answer came out of my mouth before i had the time to even think it through...
"Because my husband loves me... We ended up having more babies because he loves me."
Beautiful truth.

Friday, July 9, 2010

the long shift

i got called into work a double last night.
heehee.
i realized this morning after i had changed a bum, nursed a baby twice, taken a toddler pottie, gotten a load of laundry started, made the bed - & not yet had breakfast - that motherhood is a demanding job.
& it's not that i *just* realized that...
but i guess i felt a certain satisfaction.
i do a lot of hard things - sometimes on very little sleep. i'm strong. i'm capable. i have a heart that loves & babies that need me.
i like that my Creator made us able to work. May each little job be done to bring Him glory - & may my small sacrifices bring Him praise.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

birthday joys...


My sweet little 1 decade old girl is afraid of change.
She was the most uncertain out of our crew when we've moved, had a new baby, changed vehicles, rooms, friends. She loves fiercely - & cares deeply if anyone feels left out or hurt. She sacrifices for peace - and is the first to step up and accept blame.
She's my "middly" girl.
Sometimes she comes to find me - when i'm hiding in my room, nursing a little one in the only quiet place in the house. Lately - she cries while she pours out her darling soft little heart - & nothing gives me more pleasure than talking through the big stuff in her life - affirming my love for her & the Love of the One who loves her even more than i'm able.
It's not love she's uncertain of though... it's change.
She told me that when she found out Ephraim was coming, she worried for Gagey - would he feel left out? Would he need his momma & not get the attention he required? Would our family change too much with the addition of a new baby?
She told me that she worried that her friends would move away - & she would have to find new ones.
She told me that she had spent the whole year getting used to being 9 - & that now that she was finally comfortable with 9... suddenly it was time to turn 10.
It seems familiar to me in a way.
Time is so beautiful & heartless.
She's relentless yet healing.
She's merciful and merciless.
We don't get to measure her out - she has been measured out for us.
& so i encouraged my sweet little birthday joy - to trust The One who was bringing change. To revel in the beauty that change brings - to be grateful for the things that bring us comfort just by staying the same - to live life deeply, richly & fully -
in the double digits.
She smiled at me - her little red rimmed eyes dancing -
"i like these talks..."
Maybe they make her feel more grown up...
Changes - they're a comin'.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

i forgive you

"i'm mad at you." i stated into the darkness as 72 holes of golf hung between us on a little thread of grudge.
"i'm mad at you too." he replied cheekily, pulling me closer, "but i forgive you."
i burst out laughing.
i started to ask what he was mad at me for, but before i could even get the words out, a thousand little trespasses came to mind & i shut my mouth.
i managed a little, "thank you for forgiving me..." still giggling that this man i love can snap that thread in an instant - those 72 holes flying in all directions impossible to gather together into an accusation.
He thought he was being funny - saying he forgave me when in his eyes i hadn't even done anything wrong... but really - i got the best end of that deal. Forgiven, forgiveness, humour melting bitterness....
i'll take it.
& Bess? i forgive you too.

Monday, July 5, 2010

wake up calls...

BC is one hour earlier than Alberta. That makes Ephraim's wake up call come at the crrrrraaazzzy hour of 5am. The nights here have held a lot of wakings & the mornings find me desperately seeking a "snooze" button. Even underneath my droopy eyelids, i can sense his sweetness with his energetically pumping legs & his coos sounding like a little pigeon as he waits for me to open my eyes. When finally my eyes open a crack, his face breaks into the friendliest 'good morning' grin - & i try fruitlessly to nurse him back to sleep. He already nursed twice in the night & . i can't shush him too long - his big brother is sleeping only centimetres away with his tiny bum in the air - & i'd hate to wake him. Ephraim will only be satisfied with eye contact, having his bum changed & experiencing the scenery from my arms as i seek out a cuppa coffee. It appears he has a lot to say... & he wants an audience.
i like those little moments... slinging my fresh bottomed, happy baby onto my hip, going to find the rest of my posse & find out what the day is gonna bring.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

what the best days are made of...




i've seen a lot of people have miserable weddings...
Looking for perfection - there was always so much to be be dissatisfied with.

i get that.

i have always wanted to go to Hawaii. The pictures that i see look amazing. The colours, the beaches, the sky... Some kind of otherworldly paradise.
i used to harumph - just the littlest bit - that i might never get to see that.
There is always so much to be dissatisfied with.
But today -
today was what the best days are made of.
Today wasn't striving for perfection.
i wasn't looking for tropical paradise...
i was just taking what came.
Today was spent with the ones i love the most.
& in it's innocent trappings, i was amazed with the treasures that i unwrapped as today unfolded.
i saw a tree that is 9 feet across.
i felt tiny crabs try to escape from under my feet as i walked along a rocky beach taking pictures of my children.
i caught Neil smiling.
Twice.
i had a cinnamon dolce latte & the pleasure of ordering 6 steamers for my tiny crew left chomping at the bit in our Silver Fox to get rolling to coombs & the 'goats on the roof' market that became our destination.
Ephraim fell asleep and his drool ran down the front of my shirt as i carried him in my baby carrier.
i ate a chocolate peanut butter ice cream cone
& bought wooden toys.
My mom took us for a chinese food buffet... & i went back for seconds - cooing at my patient baby in between bites.
The best days -
are made of contentment, gratitude, beauty and and the time to let it all soak in a little.
& today...
Today was one of them.

perfect days... post to come...















Saturday, July 3, 2010

i thought of you today...


My 2 that don't get to be in all my pictures...
Maybe it's that i'm visiting such a beautiful place...
makes me think of heaven.
You won't throw stones in the ocean...
or try to wrap skinny arms around tall trees...
You won't trap tiny crabs in seashells...
Or comb the pebbles looking for beach glass...
& yet the ripples from your little lives continue to grow and spread...
i'm so grateful for you.

Friday, July 2, 2010

new tricks

ephraim has a new trick.
It goes with his new pearly whites...
i love this stage.
His brothers and sisters all gather 'round & stick out their tongues "pbblllttt!!"
& he grins his winning grin. Smiling at their goofiness. Revelling in their attention.
He opens his mouth, & then sucks on his lips. Trying to imitate their expressions & the intriguing noise they're all able to make.
His little face is the epitome of concentration, as he works his little mouth tirelessly.
Suddenly his little pink tongue protrudes from his slobbery mouth & he chomps down, "pblt!"
Cheers erupt - & a proud grin spreads across his dimpled face.
Every little milestone reminds me how much i love sharing them with our little crew.
Cheering brothers, squealing clapping sisters...
Oh, baby ephraim...
Could there ever be anything but success with that kind of entourage behind you?

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