Saturday, July 9, 2011


Somehow, suddenly, inexplicably, it has been seven weeks since the birth of our beloved Henry. Obviously we have been sailing away on our babymoon with minimal contact to the outside world. But lest you think that the babymoon has been without hiccup, let me share this little story...

When Henry was 9 days old, the boys were asking to go back to church. It had been weeks and weeks since we had made it to a service, but I was feeling ready to at least attempt it. Justin and I lay in bed the night before and made a game plan--decided who would need to shower and who could pass with a hairbrush and some q-tips...visualized where all of the non-muddy shoes were...defaulted to cold cereal so that we all had a chance of getting out the door on time. And against all odds, we made it....
and it seemed that everyone did quite well (despite having to take both the car AND the truck for the first time, since we no longer fit in the Volvo)...
until we returned home and the boys were throwing their crafts down in search of peanut butter and jelly and I found this sweet little paper that said "Reuben's Mom"

and I turned it over to reveal this...

and I thought suddenly that maybe the transition of bringing Baby home hadn't actually gone as well as maybe I thought it had (tho I would love to have a pair of those killer boots)...

A bit dismayed but not wanting to squash tender, resentful feelings, I asked Reuben about his picture...

and he shrugged (while eating his pb&j) and said, "oh, that's just a picture of that giant we learned about, the one that the boy killed....I wanted to write "Reuben's. For Mom" on the back, but I didn't know how to spell "for". So I just wrote my name and yours. But you can have it!" and he danced off to make another sandwich.

One tiny crisis averted. I try to remember that on the hairier days!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Heard Around The...Volvo

(alternately titled: Mama's Ears Must Be Going)

Reese: "I just saw a cannibal!"

Cole: "What?"

Reese: "I just saw a camel!"

Sean: "I just saw a fart."

Daddy: "Ooh, look, that was a rabbit on the side of the road. I might have to stop and pick that up on the way home."

Cole: "Maybe it was Obama."

Mama: "What?"

Cole: "I said, maybe it was a llama."

Sean: "Nope. It was a fart."

Thursday, May 12, 2011

38 weeks

and thinking it's about time to get the baby clothes, blankets, carriers and car seat out of storage

relishing an 8-hour night of sleep this late in the game

feeling way too comfortable and mobile for being so far along

giving Ari extra squeezes because his babyhood is ending

feeling thankful that Whitney asked for more photos of Snake Hill because it alerted me to the fact that the camera battery is DEAD

trying desperately to keep up with the dishes and laundry

abandoning cloth diapers for the easy-peasy disposable ones

making last minute trips to the chiropractor

trudging through Target with all five of my boys for non-essentials that seem terribly essential suddenly

checking out name books from the library

huffing and puffing up and down our hill

eating a Paleo diet and loving my un-swollen feet and low sugar numbers

dozing in front of Mad About You reruns in the evenings

cooking huge pots of refried beans for the freezer

warding off attacks from the new kitten

dreaming of starting a million new knitting projects suddenly

reading books about childbirth

living at the doctor's office (3-5 times per week)

wondering if I can hold on to the title of Queen

falling behind in my book club book because it seems to require a level of concentration that I just don't have



moving forward!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wendell Berry Love

Oh, how we love us some Wendell Berry around here.
Oh, how his words ease the days.

This is my favorite of his poems--the first time Justin read it to me, I wept. I still cannot get past the part about "the forest that you did not plant" without my eyes brimming with tears. Especially when I see my five little oak trees running out in the field.

...and don't get me started about the line referring to the woman about to give birth...

The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

by Wendell Berry

Copyright (c)1991, 1996 by Context Institute

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Grab Bag: Laundry Baseball

First of all, let me say thank you for all of the encouraging comments on my last post. I have been so touched by the way that many of you have contacted me and shared your common experiences; depression can be a messy thing to talk about, but it is wonderfully comforting to know that there are other sojourners on the road. So thank you!

And now, onto something lighter. I mentioned some time ago in my Alignment post that I have a little "grab bag" (for lack of a better term) of things that I use to *attempt* to manage my life. I thought it might be fun to share a few of these things from time to time---simply because I am nosy and like seeing what other people are doing that works, ha! So I'll let you take a little peek into my home. And if you like, you can join in the conversation and add your own Grab Bag ideas, and I will come peek at yours, too!

So here is Laundry Baseball--an invention that came about in our old house, when my laundry system was completely unmanageable. Our old house had STEEP stairs into the basement--and in the basement was the boys' bedroom, their playroom, and my laundry room. And I NEVER went down there. Meaning--as you well can imagine--that their room and playroom was a Pit Of Despair and that my laundry was perpetually overflowing. Occasionally I would go into a whirlwind and wash a ton of clothes, but I have this fault of loving to wash & fold, but hating to put away. So the "clean" piles would get knocked over and stepped on and put back into the dirty, and the laundry room would continue to overflow, and it was a sad, sad cycle. Enter: Laundry Baseball.

Laundry Baseball is a way of dealing with laundry when you have multiple loads of clean clothes that are in Grave Danger of being attacked by the one-year-old and strewn all over the house...and this is how it goes...

1) The Pitcher (aka Mama) clears off a large, clear, clean space in the middle of the living room.
2) The Pitcher gathers up every stitch of clean laundry and DUMPS it in one spot--a pile on the carpet, the couch, whatever suits her.
3) The Pitcher yells: "LAUNDRY BASEBALL!" at the top of her lungs and children come skidding from every corner of the house (this is true, I promise you. Even if you have never played and your children have absolutely no idea what Laundry Baseball is).
4) The Pitcher instructs each child to find a place to sit on the afore-described clean floor.
5) The Pitcher explains the game (if necessary).
6) The Pitcher begins pulling items out of the monstrous pile of laundry, one at a time. Any item that belongs to The Pitcher, The Pitcher's spouse (unless spouse is playing), The Pitcher's baby, and the Pitcher's linen closet get dropped into a pile on the other side of The Pitcher. Any item belonging to a child over the age of 18 mos. gets hurled at said child at top speed, while The Pitcher simultaneously shouts the child's name.
7) Children giggle uncontrollably as they try desperately to snatch their laundry items out of the air (and avoid getting beaned in the face).
8) Children drop each item of their personal laundry into a pile next to them and continue to listen for their name to be called.
9) The Pitcher continues through the laundry mountain, trying to catch each child unaware (to solicit more explosive giggling).
10). Children inevitably begin to devise their own "point" system (1 point for each caught item, 0 points for each missed item) so that there can be a "winner" and a "goal".
11). At the elimination of the laundry mountain, begin Phase II: Each player folds their own items and puts them away. Older players and The Pitcher help the younger players after completing their respective piles.
12). Breathe a sigh of relief that the clean laundry is finally caught up and Out Of Danger.
13). Be prepared for future requests for Laundry Baseball!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The View From Here

I had the sudden thought recently that maybe I have just been depressed for the past year.

It has been such a crazy, crazy year--last February we began the process of applying for a loan and looking for a house (with all the chaos and stress that entails) summer Justin had lost his job and we were juggling all of the house stuff while simultaneously hoping our work situation wouldn't cause us to lose our loan...he began picking up work in Seattle to help slow the dwindling of our savings account and then I was juggling the house/loan/money/moving/kid stuff on my own...we found Snake Hill and found in love with it and struggled with the details of watching it come to fruition (see earlier post) in addition to everything September I discovered I was pregnant right when Justin was trying to finish up his work in grandmother was dying...I was trying to manage the house on my own and still get some boxes packed every day while battling first trimester fatigue...we got the house and started our long, painful move with the holidays fast approaching...Justin started up back at work after four long grandmother died...we celebrated Christmas...and then New Years came, bringing with it another lay-off and more fervent searching for work and dollars. That was three months ago, and he has only just started back.

I am not complaining. On many levels, I think that this past year has been one of the most amazing that we have ever experienced. We are expecting the arrival of our sixth child in a matter of weeks and we have seen the house of our dreams delivered into our hands. We got to watch God provide for us in amazing, amazing ways over seven long months of unemployment (I had actually just emptied our savings account only a week or two before he was called back to work this last time. Somehow that money lasted the better part of a year!). We have drawn closer together as a family as we have struggled with our basic needs, instead of turning on each other in attack.

By the middle of March I realized suddenly that somewhere along the line, I had sort of lost all desire to get up and go. I had been canceling plans with friends for more weeks than I could count. I had stopped even trying to answer my birthday had come and gone and I had refused to see anyone. I was struggling to keep up with the housework, but it wasn't because there was too much of it per se, I just didn't care anymore. So--and I know this sounds backwards, but--the thought that maybe I had just been depressed for months on end was somehow a terribly comforting thought. I've been through depressions before. They are certainly nothing new. But I didn't recognize it this time because if I stopped and questioned myself, I was right where I wanted to be. I love this house, I'm pleased about the baby coming, I know my husband loves me. It was all that garbage stress! It takes a toll!

I might be wrong here, but I think they say that the top five stressors are: losing your job, moving, having a baby, death in the family, and divorce. I told Justin finally: We are experiencing four of the five; as long as we can stick it out (you and I); we'll be okay!

I'm probably butchering the way I'm saying this, but I don't think that depression is un-Biblical. What I mean is: I think that it is plenty natural that we are all going to go through times where we feel fairly well-balanced, and like we want to engage in life...and I think that we are also going to go through times where we withdraw and grow quiet and disappear emotionally for a while. It fits with what I see in the nature out my window; it fits with the weekly pattern of Sabbath. In our culture, we feel this sense of having to be "on" all the time, and I think it's extremely damaging. Nobody can live up to that standard. Even the trees cannot flower all year round!

Now I know, I know, there are many, many other factors at play, and I'm not even going to begin to get into the discussion about medications etcetera...all I'm saying is: I don't think depression always has to be a bad thing, or something we should always stifle or stuff. In some occasions, I think it can play a valid part in our lives as part of our story; I believe that God is still present in those moments when we shut everyone else out. Realizing that I had sunk into that pit was such an encouragement to me (backwards as that sounds) because in that moment, I realized that the season would come to an end. Winter always thaws at some point.

What I have learned is this: It is always dangerous to assume that your life today is the new normal. No matter what. Life is good? Beautiful. Use it, revel in it, because tragedy may strike tomorrow. Life is a pit, with no way out? Watch for a ladder to present itself. It will, eventually. This life is ever-changing.

It is the middle of April and we woke up this morning to snow dumping out our windows. It made me smile and made my children jump with glee. Just one more example that we cannot always see what is headed our way!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Heard Around The House

Reese: "Cole! Do you know what an international wedgie is?!"

Cole: "No, what?"

Reese: "A space wedgie."


Cole (to our boy Ari, who says Mama and Dada and little else): "Can you say 'doctor'?

Ari: "Doc-tor."

Cole: "Good! Can you say 'uh-oh'?"

Ari: "Uh-uh."

Cole: "Good job! There are so many other words that you will learn someday. Like 'the'. And 'complicated.' And a bunch of other ones, too..."


Daddy: "Pregnancy is terminal, you know."

Mama: "What?!"

Daddy: "I mean....I mean, it will end. It will be terminated. No wait, that's not right either..."

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Five Year Olds and Manners

Part One:

Reuben (counting to thirty): " One-ty one, one-ty two, one-ty three..."

Mama: "Reuben, there is no 'one-ty'. That's what the 'teens' were. You don't have to count it again."

Reuben: "No, Mama, I like it this way. Just don't worry about it. But you'll have to cover your ears in a minute, because the next part is Bad Manners."

Mama: "What do you mean? What is the next part?"

Reuben (shaking his head, horrified): "Oh I can't tell you. Please just cover your ears."

Mama: "No, I'd like to know please."

Reuben: "No, Mama."

Mama refuses to cover her ears.

Reuben: "Okay, but I warned you. One-ty-eight, one-ty-nine....(looks at Mama one last time pleadingly)..."tooty. Tooty-one, tooty-two..."


Part Two:

Reuben (helping Mama blend home-made refried black beans in the food processor for lunch's 7-layer bean dip): "MAMA! Look! They're not black anymore! Mmmmm.....they look like CHOCOLATE. .....And.....and, they look like something else, too. But I'm not going to tell you what. Because it's Bad Manners."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

It Is Only Tuesday

but the week's highs & lows are stacking up already:

high: work for Daddy....even if it is only a couple of days worth, and even if it is in Seattle
high: catching Sean just in the nick of time as he tries to fit Ari's eyelashes into Reese's froggy paper punch
low: crying over first grade math (mama)
high: the all-too generous gift of a trampoline, and the ease it gives each of my days (even the cold ones)
low: getting into a "I don't care that you don't care, you have to do it anyway!" fight with the 6-year-old (bad parenting alert)
high: watching the 9-year-old's extreme patience with teaching the 6-year-old how to form his letters correctly...and the humility that comes with watching such tender care
low: a streak of "break something of mama's everyday" that seems to be running through my house
high: boys stripping off their shirts to do their table work this morning because of the pure heat of the sun beating through the monstrous windows
high: feeling a sudden lust for planting after months and months of feeling stagnant
low: finding the compost bin frozen shut and having to admit that Planting Day is still quite some time off
high: a 9-year-old that insists on paying for the library parking meter out of his own wallet, simply to show kindness
low: after days of fighting and tears, a 6-year-old that not only did his entire math lesson on his own today, but tomorrow's lesson as well
high: a stack of new library books & movies
high: a fire in the woodstove, weeks after we officially ran out of wood
high: suddenly feeling baby movement now in my 6th month...what a late moving babe this one is!
high: a surprise piece of chocolate cheesecake and a couch movie date with my husband on one of my worst days
low: a teething baby
high: finding my oldest sitting in my Grandma's rocker with that baby on his lap, rocking and reading a story to calm him
high: 3 hour lunch with a bestie, no kids except our bulging bellies
high: a morning spent in the kitchen with all 5 of my children and the resulting clean counters & dishes
low: a baby's sudden discovery of how to climb up onto the benches & tables
high: just-made scribble cookies on huge pieces of butcher paper, spread on the kitchen floor
high: watching the beaming five-year-old as he is given his very first library card and asked to write his name
high: discovery of glitter by my 'shiniest' boy
low: glitter chaos just as mama finishes making the dinner
low: catching the three-year-old EATING the glitter
high: deep-fried sweet potato fries and horseradish aioli
high: the promise of a quiet movie all to myself at bedtime...which is in 19 minutes...

must be time to head for jammies, time is of the essence!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

January at Snake Hill Is....

....detoxing from holiday sugar highs. Taking a weekend trip to the mountains to be present at the burial of Grandma's ashes. Spending time with extended family who are willing to move in with us for days at a time. Dreaming about vacationing at the beach this summer. Praying for a slew of loved ones who are experiencing sudden health problems. Anxiously awaiting the birth of a dear friend's baby. Reviewing cookbooks to discover new recipes. Pouring over seed catalogs with the boys and a marker, circling the ones we love, adding up the total, and trying to pare down to our favorites. Ordering said seeds and stalking the mail for them to come. Feeling blissful about getting to chat live with my beloved sister while she is experiencing renewal in Bali. Being laid off and feeling peace that we have not been forgotten. Meeting with nurses and obstetricians finally and getting to hear Baby's heartbeat! Getting to see Baby wiggle around on the ultrasound! Taking early screening tests for gestational diabetes....with good results! Counting the days until a reunion with long-lost friends. Eyeing still-full moving boxes with disdain and making a resolution to finally do something about them...