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Ruby Romper

Have you ever been flabbergasted? That happened to me a few times today.  I’m not sure which moment tops them all, but it’s somewhere between the romper and going upside-down.  This evening Jack and I went to Elijah’s last basketball game of the season.  Afterwards, the boys wanted to go to the mall.  This has been a twice or thrice yearly occurrence in our household, in my estimation.  I’ve been wanting to try on a pair of jeans for a few weeks now, so thought I’d utilize this opportunity to do so.  I grabbed what I thought was a super cute shirt to try on as well.  Since I was there.  It was super challenging to pull over my head and felt very twisted around.  After taking it off and examining it a little closer I found out it was indeed a romper, not a shirt.  I had stuffed my entire body through one of the legs.  I kind of felt a bit flabbergasted to be wearing a romper.  I think the last time I wore one, I was my daughter’s age.  But it was cute and the red color made me think of another moment of shock I had today.

It was the afternoon chaos of snack time and getting myself ready to head out the door to Elijah’s game, when my cell phone rang and the caller ID read “Arizona”.  I almost always answer my phone, because you just never know who might call.  My surprise wore off about five seconds before I hung up the phone.  So basically, for the entire call, I walked around with a big grin on my face while making wild and crazy hand motions at my kids.  Harry was crying in the background.  It was Plexus corporate calling to congratulate me on last month’s rank up to Ruby.  There was a whole room of people cheering for me and I just stood there dumbfounded and shocked.  I knew it had happened, but the past two weeks have zoomed past me like a bullet train and it hasn’t sunk in for real yet.  What a special treat to receive such a fun phone call!2018-02-12 21.08.25Every day I’m flabbergasted by the insane amount of growth I see in each of our kiddos.  Harry especially makes me chuckle and sigh all in the same millisecond.  He trots around with confidence and can’t decide whether he loves books or snacks best. 2018-02-11 14.12.20-1He loves to drag things around, like heavy bags of rice, or his little toy train attached to a string.  Ninety percent of his vocabulary consists of the word, “buggah”, with the inflection on the “a”.  It means everything from hungry to bagel, to water, to milk, to every other food besides banana… which of course is “nana” or “noo-noo”.  His lips make the most darling “oooh” shape and always get a kiss when he says it.  His baba is his pacifier and his bobo is his elephant.  His elephant which I hope we never lose, because it is no longer made or sold by the UK-based company.  He takes after his brother Jack by eating a man-sized portion of oats every morning.  I have never used soap on his skin before, since we only use water and everyone has their own special body cloth for all of their showering/bathing.  This week he got a bottle of shampoo, which I thought was empty, and there happened to be some suds left in it.  I peeked over to him crying in a pile of bubbles, unsure of what was going on around him and scooped him up laughing.  Fifteen months old and he’s never had a bubble bath.  2018-02-08 15.51.55Another flabbergasting moment today was when I found myself actually flipping upside down in the basement on our pull-up bar.  It’s been a couple years since I did that move.  The best part?  When Elsie exclaimed, “Mommy’s still cool!”  Then Jack looked at her and said, “She’s always been cool, Elsie.” Insert as many laughing emoji’s as possible here.  What a way to make this mama feel amazing!  Because at that particular moment, every muscle was yelling at me for the strange contortion I had put it through and my inner ear buzzed a little at the notion of being upside down.  But this mama has goals, and they don’t happen by being sedentary.

There is always more to write, but I need sleep like I need that romper… or something like that.


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Fearless Overcomer

A few times now our high-schoolers have gotten themselves on the bus. Our bedroom is right above the front door, and I’ve been jolted awake by the bang of the door closing behind them.  Ninety percent of the time I wake up before them, but every once in awhile Harry’s teeth bother him through the night or some other reason makes me turn off my alarm.  The front door will wake me up every single time.  From taking full advantage of our flexible homeschool schedule to waking up by 6am each morning and getting out the door on time every day, they truly are some of the coolest, strongest, best teenagers I know!  I love hearing all about their day, and seeing them grow.  2017-12-23 17.21.132017-12-24 11.08.30Last night while I was out with Jack, Nadine pulled out the cookbook and made chicken parmesan from scratch.  It’s difficult to describe the feeling of weariness and hunger being met by a delicious aroma wafting through the door, before you even open it, and knowing that aroma came from the loving labor of your own daughter.  On the flip side, it’s strange for me to be in the thick of toddlerhood once again.  I am swiftly being reminded how much disaster a tiny two-foot person can make in five seconds flat.  It’s been six years since Betty was at that stage, and she wasn’t ever that messy.  It’s been ten years since I had a little BOY that age, and I am getting daily flashbacks of how Jack used to be.  From painting our freshly laid wood floor with white paint, to swimming in mud puddles, sometimes it’s hard to believe this strong, disciplined young man is the same person.  Take hope, young mamas!

Jack is in the middle of wrestling season and was chosen to be on an all-star team this weekend.  He is the only elementary kid from our school district to participate.  It’s been so much fun watching him get stronger not only physically, but mentally too.  2018-01-13 11.49.52We’ve had a mild case of the stomach bug floating around our house.  It seems to have worked its rounds thoroughly, and it’s wonderful to be feeling strong again!  Betty had it last, and sometimes I wonder at her strength.  She is a running commentary of hilarious tidbits and comical statements.  She loves to help and has just about mastered making pancakes all by herself.  All on her own accord, with the encouragement of Elsie, she decided to stop sucking her fingers.  So they cut off all the “taggies” on her pillows, stuffed animals and blankets, to help her break the habit.  It’s been a month, and she is doing fabulously.  I’m so proud of her determination.2018-01-07 08.27.08-1Elsie is beginning ukulele and voice lessons next week.  She has been waiting a very long time for this, and we’re so thankful to at last be able to open this door for her.  She practices constantly, and when she isn’t practicing, she is sweeping the floor.  Ever since Matthew refinished our downstairs floors, they have remained spotless, thanks to this girl.  She is the epitome of helpfulness.  She can make Harry giggle (which is hard to do) and has a beautiful voice.2018-01-03 11.55.48 HDRWhen Elijah gives me a kiss, I’m taken aback every time.  Not sure how this teeny tiny boy grew up and surpassed his mama in height.  How his soft baby cheeks have the hint of manly roughness to them.  I am so grateful eyes never change.  He still has the same gorgeous blues, so I can feel for at least a moment, the same way I felt the first time I locked eyes with his and was in complete awe that this little boy was mine.  I say that loosely, because I know none of them are truly mine.  They belong to God, and He has blessed us to raise them, then release them like arrows into whatever He has planned for their lives.  Watching them get on the bus every morning has been a small taste of that letting go, and it fills me with the oddest concoction of feelings.2017-12-22 19.07.26Matthew has had a whole round of doctors appointments this week.  He had pre-op yesterday for surgery on Monday.  When his doctor scoped him Tuesday, he found his sinuses to be clean and not needing any cleaning on surgery day.  This was good news!  The trouble he has been having catching his breath and breathing is all due to scar tissue and shrinking of the subglottic area of his throat.  So he will be sedated (not put under!) and they will balloon open his airway and laser some of the scar tissue away.  He has never had the laser done before, and the last time they did the balloon was 4 years ago.  For it to have lasted this long is fantastic.  All of his blood work came back great yesterday!  So, even though he sounds and feels tight, thankfully (according to bloodwork and examination) the disease is not active right now.  I don’t think either of us have been THIS excited for him to go to the hospital before.  They said he should feel immediate relief.  2017-12-24 11.06.10This year I have cried many times.  There have been so many unexpected blessings, even through an intense month of work for Matthew.  We haven’t even celebrated our 16th anniversary yet, but we will.  I’m keenly aware of the battle for our marriage, and am so grateful for the challenges we’ve experienced which have brought us closer.  This year my word is fearless, and his word is overcome.  I am bursting to share more, but it will have to wait a little longer.2017-12-24 12.14.38

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Hidden Burritos & Poly

Last Thursday was Thanksgiving.  It began in a very non-traditional way.  Usually we have a delicious breakfast and relaxing morning.  This year we moved our table outside into the yard and every other object out of the two downstairs rooms.  It’s been on the list to refinish the floors for a very long time, and the time worked out to begin.

Thankfully we were able to enjoy some family time at Matt’s brother’s house that evening.  2017-11-23 16.05.37-2

The rest of the week has been spent sanding, staining, and polyurethane the living room and dining room floors.  It’s been a puzzle, figuring out the timing of when to be home and when to be out. One morning, the oldest two went to school and Matthew finished the second coat of poly, while I stayed upstairs with the short crowd.  We didn’t have a ton of food, because I didn’t think it through very well, but we survived until the floor was dry enough for us to venture downstairs and leave the house.2017-11-26 19.58.26

Every Thursday the street cleaners clean our side of the street where we live, and we have to move our van from 10-noon.  I remember getting a ticket when I was 9 months pregnant with Betty.  Matthew was in Haiti, and I drove my pregnant self over to the police station to beg forgiveness, because we were that broke, and twenty bucks was almost at tank of gas.  Ever since then, I’ve been pretty vigilant about Thursdays.

Today, as I moved the van to the other side of the street, I glanced down to see an eighth of a burrito in a piece of foil on the floor of the van.  I grabbed it and went to the bathroom to get my shower.  I’m sure no one else has pulled this trick.  I hunkered down in the bathroom to “take a shower”, when in reality I just sat on the footstool with the five bites of burrito.  It was delicious, by the way.  Reminiscent of my hurried date with Matthew the day before, when I delivered a tool to him at work and brought him a better-than-chipotle-salad from our favorite Mexican joint.

I finally did shower, and by the time I was finished, Harry was awake.  This is kind of when things started spiraling rather quickly.  It might have been the clean laundry spilling onto the floor from the overflowing baskets (who’s idea is it to do laundry during a renovation??) or maybe the cans of polyurethane, or the broom handles, crumbs, coats, and papers which all acted like they had magnets built into them… the floor being their greatest attraction.  There was probably one more question asked, one more whine, voicing what was welling up inside my own spirit all day long.  I don’t even remember.  But I yelled: “Mommy needs a timeout!” and ran to my room.  After throwing some of the aforementioned clean towels around, I sat down and started to fold them.  I cried and complained about living in such chaos.  Then a quiet little knock on my door.  A kiss from Jack.  A smile from Harry.  A note from Betty.  A freshly baked cookie from Elsie.  Tears were dried, apologies were spoken, forgiveness was given.  We set out for a coffee shop to soothe the cabin fever which felt smothering to us all.  Because acknowledging the problem is ok and helpful.  But staying there is not.  2017-11-30 13.09.29

We’re all definitely ready to get the piano out of the kitchen (sounds cute, I know, but definitely not practical for our house, unless it doubles up as a bar stool for the island).  We’re ready to sit down together at the table again.  To have our couch back inside and not go to bed with the smell of fresh poly wafting up the stairs.  Will all this chaos and mess be worth it?  Absolutely!  If I’ve been reminded of one thing, it’s been this: every difficult thing we go through produces something beautiful.  If we let it. Some of the most beautiful things we enjoy have been forged through fire, heat, friction, water, repetition, monotony, blood, sweat, tears, and time.  And if I may add: sandpaper and polyurethane.

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The Day I Almost Sold It

Her stomach had knots in it as she strode down the street of Philadelphia.  She was alone, without her four children, and her husband was at work.  He worked so hard and so long without complaint.  Maybe what she was about to do would ease the burden just a little bit.  Her thumb impulsively twirled the diamond ring on her left hand, like it had done for the past ten years, and she remembered the day he proposed.  After a silly argument the previous night, they were standing on their special rock in the middle of a stream.  He had the ring in his pocket.  His plan of proposing on the rock was thwarted when it began to rain.  So they ran over slippery rocks to some shelter, where he popped the question.  The argument from the night before faded into forgetfulness.  Never had she seen anything so gorgeous.  So much hard work and saving had gone into it, and she wore it with an incredible sense of awe.  It was square, just like she had hoped it would be. The way it sparkled made her think of the brilliant stars in the African sky of her childhood.

She stepped into the doorway of the first shop on Jewelers Row.  It was where her ring was first bought.  She nervously took it off her finger and asked the jeweler if he would buy it back.  A feeling of relief swept over her when he said he wouldn’t.  Then just as quickly, the knot formed again when he pointed her to another shop that might.

She gulped past the lump which was forming in her throat now and walked back onto the city streets.  What would he say when she told him?  The man of her dreams, who worked so hard for their family.  She had already sold her favorite camera he had given her their first year of marriage.  And almost anything else she could get her hands on to help contribute to their ever growing family.  He wouldn’t yell at her, she knew.  He loved her far more than any material possession they owned.  Yet, what would be his reaction?  She had been thinking about this for a long time, and hated to think about how he might feel.  So she didn’t think.  She walked straight into the second shop and held up her ring.

How much is it worth? She asked, knowing the answer they gave her wouldn’t match what was her heart was screaming back in answer.  Three-hundred dollars, he was telling her, while her mind kept saying: Priceless.

Three hundred-dollar bills.  They would buy groceries for the next month.  They would take a small load from her husband’s shoulders.  But they would swiftly disappear, and she would stare at her naked finger for years to come.  She thanked the man and walked out onto the street.  Her heart was pounding.  She didn’t know how God would provide for them that week, but she knew she had made the right decision.  Tears streamed down her cheeks, as the glorious reminder of sacrificial love sparkled back at her from her left hand.

That young bride?  She still wears the ring with much gratefulness.  That young bride is me.

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Cheveux Blancs

Yesterday we went to an auction for the kids’ school.  It was full of incredible things to buy and I found myself more than once getting caught up in the heart-pounding adventure of raising my little number and making eye contact with the auctioneer.  A quick nod to stay in the running.  Swifter and less complicated than figuring out if a credit card is facing the right way and much faster than signing my name.  Then the words, “SOLD!” and a nod to my trembling little self as I REALLY hoped I followed the auctioneer’s sing-song voice correctly.  Yes, I paid twenty dollars for two homemade pizzas.  Not one-hundred and twenty.  Big sigh of relief.  A few times I wasn’t positive.  Or I was sure the number was at fifteen when it in fact had soared to FIFTY.  I didn’t walk away with a few of the items I had my eye on, but some delicious pizzas and a home-cooked chicken BBQ dinner to be picked up in a couple of weeks, were some of my claims.  Harry fell asleep on my chest, lulled by the smooth cadence of the auctioneer’s voice.  I found myself toe-tapping a few times because it was just that catchy.

Speaking of school, Nadine and Elijah absolutely love it.  They are making friends and growing deeper in their own personal ways.  It is a joy to watch.  Their teachers are incredible and it’s very evident they love what they do.  The bus comes bright and early for them, and that’s been a nice break for me to not have to drive them each morning, but I still pick them up occasionally, because it’s a consensus that the drive home is one of our favorite parts of school.  To hear about their day, talk about deep teenager things and debrief about life.  In a year someone will be practicing to get their driver’s license, and I know this job won’t be mine anymore.  My stomach kind of does a weird flip flop when I think about that.

Nadine is playing junior varsity soccer after school every day.  She is a fantastic babysitter on the weekends, and is an incredible big sister.  She knows how to make her little sisters feel loved, whether it means asking Elsie to help her with her homework (which is her cup of sweet tea!) or reading Betty a story.

Elijah has a natural bent towards photography, and is enjoying taking a class about it in school.  He is even acting as a pinch-hitter for the toothfairy… who kind of retired about five years ago.  And he’s much more creative too, leaving teeny tiny fairy-sized notes.  Last month we had the privilege of having my dear sweet childhood friend, Nadine, for a night.  It was a joy-filled 24 hours.2017-08-06 17.33.19

Jack practices his math skills, then works on flips.  He reads through his spelling list, then works on flips.  He plays with legos, then works on flips.  He eats an apple, then works on flips.  About half of his day is spent in flipping motion. IMG_4048[1] His hand is all healed from the last break, and he promptly did the trick which broke it in the first place.  A living breathing example of not letting our fears of past failures paralyze us from action.  Wrestling started up again, and it’s a privilege to have this one-on-one time with him when I drive him to practice.  He has a favorite play list of songs and I can guess which ones he will pick for our drive.  The other night he told me he wanted to treat me to a coffee after practice.  So we drove through Starbucks and he bought me a drink with his own money.  He’s practically my size, but how did it happen so fast?  I’m sitting here on our living room couch with his baby blanket wrapped around my legs.

Elsie had her hair cut this week for the first time in a long while.  She also got new specs, which make her look older.  It’s hard to believe in only 6 months we will have FOUR children in double digits.  Right now we’re sitting at half and half, but the ratios are changing and our tribe is maturing.  Elsie keeps me inspired.  She loves order and neatness and has always had an eye for design.  She rearranges furniture like a pro, and I’m not sure between the two of us, who is more excited for our living room renovation to be completed.  2017-09-21 22.30.51

Betty keeps our world going around, with her practical no-nonsense self and sage-like wisdom.  She can’t be intimidated by a messy diaper, a blood-gushing wound, or a stomach bug.  However, keep her up past her bedtime and things can unwind rather quickly.  2017-09-12 17.07.20-2She cracks us up with her dry sense of humor.  The other day I remarked about Elsie being my right hand girl, since she had been cleaning all day.  Betty replied in her dry way, “She’s a lefty.  I’m a righty.”  I about died.  She snaps her fingers too.  This morning she woke up with a smudged rainbow sneaking out from under her bangs from the fair yesterday at school.  She’s trying to “collect money” which is why she is “trying to loose teeth”.  2017-09-20 13.56.36

Harry.  Just saying his name makes me smile and chuckle and wonder what he will learn and pick up today.  Every day it’s something different.  He can communicate when he’s hungry, say please and thank you in sign language, and blows us kisses.  When he says thank you, he swings his arm vigorously against his cheek or ear.  He knows so many words!  Banana, bath, ball, bus, hot, and can mimic everyone’s names… although most of them sound like “Elijah”.  He is a huge fan of Alexa, the Amazon Bluetooth speaker.  Sometimes he yells at it with a smile: “A-le-le!” and when we tell it to say, “Hello, Harry,” he can hardly contain himself.  He loves to purse his lips and whistle.  I’ve never had a baby who can whistle, and he surprises himself every time.

He loves to eat everything.  Enchiladas, chili, curry, sweet potato pancakes, guacamole, African food, bagels, yogurt, kefir, crepes, fruit, peppers, lemons… he loves to eat.

And all the praise hands: he is sleeping through the night now, for about 11 hours.  Not exactly sure how it happened, but about a month ago he just did.  Right around the time when I started weaning him.  He nurses once a day now.

Matthew’s work is going very well.  He has had a lot of doctor’s visits as well.  We’re actually excited about having another surgery at the end of October to dilate his epiglottis which will hopefully help his breathing improve!  We had a lovely experience this month called Dîner en Blanc.  It was a magical night in a cleared out section of someone’s backyard forest, with long wooden tables and white lights strung throughout the trees.  Everyone brought a picnic supper and we shared our table with friends dressed in white.  2017-09-14 09.15.40That’s not the only thing that’s white around here.  As I type, Betty is brushing my hair.  She keeps me humble with her honest chatter: “I just saw a GREY HAIR!”
I asked her: “What do you think about it?”
“Weird.” Then she yelled across the room:  “Elsie! Mom’s growing white hair.  What if dad is??  You’re both getting OLD!”  It is our motto, after all. Grow old with me.  Old and white-haired and better by the day.  I’ll hold up my number to that every day, heart pounding, until my dying breath.


Keeping it Sparky

Last night was kind of epic.  Thank you to everyone who was praying for Matthew to find the right truck.  He did!  It is exciting and we’re so thankful!
2017-09-01 21.25.44-2 Last night also brought some much-needed healing to a rough patch we were having.  I’ll be honest.  The last few months have held a boatload of challenges.  The last fourteen days alone have felt like a few months worth of struggles condensed into two weeks. There is a war going on, and we are being distracted to death to try and forget about it.  The enemy isn’t interested in messing with you if you don’t pose any threat to his agenda.  And his agenda is pretty simple really: to make us ineffective.  To get us to quit trying and to quit working hard on things which bring God glory.  When we no longer feel like something is worth fighting for, we quit.

So while every space of our day has been full of doing things which are expected of us, all of a sudden we were staring at each other yesterday as if we were complete strangers.  This has happened before, so we know the warning signs.  And knowing warning signs and heeding them is vital to having a healthy marriage.  We’re faced with two choices: sit back, relax, (or stay inanely busy), hope the other person will notice the distance you’re feeling, and just wait.  The longer you wait for the other person to act, the farther the distance grows.  The less keen it is felt, too, because eventually it feels normal to be living with a stranger.  We’re very adaptable as people, and we will adjust our thinking and calendars to make this way of living with our spouse feel normal.  Soon we’re desensitized to the fact that we are supposed to be lovers, not just co-inhabitants.

The second choice is to roll up your sleeves and fight.  More honestly, we should be doing a lot more than just rolling up our sleeves.  If you aren’t having sex with your spouse at least a couple times a week, this should be a warning sign.  I get it, there are times when that is impossible.  But those are the exceptions, not the norm.  We have had difficult pregnancies and much sickness in our almost 16 years of marriage.  I get it.  But I also know there is a huge white elephant in our bedrooms, and married folks aren’t having enough sex.  It’s all about NOT having sex before marriage (which is a whole ‘nother topic) but hardly anyone talks about the importance of having PLENTY of it WHEN married!

I’m not okay with fake plastic marriages.  God isn’t either.  Nothing is past His ability to heal, restore and revive.  If He can raise people from the dead, He can do the same for marriages too!  The thing about marriage is, it’s actual hard work.  We are so conditioned to shirk away from anything too hard or too challenging.  Yet every single thing which requires hard work to maintain or improve, is worth fighting for.  Marriage isn’t a disposable plate or a frozen dinner which leaves us feeling used or sick. (If this is you, please, please seek help!) It’s hand-made pottery with intricate painted designs and the most delicious homemade spread, leaving us feeling cherished and refreshed.  This is how God, who created marriage, designed it to be.

Matthew is an incredibly easy person to love.  Except when he isn’t.  And I’m super easy to love.  Except when I’m not.  If we only focus on the “when they’re not easy to love” moments… those moments start defining the other person.  I don’t know what you’re going through right now, but if you’re human, you’ve struggled or are struggling in your marriage right now.  Beg God to soften both of your hearts to see your spouse through new eyes.  Whatever you’re feeling is missing, they probably are feeling it too.  Whatever you wish they would do for you, they are probably wishing you would do for them.  If you’re lonely, they’re lonely too.  I realize some people might be truly in the trenches right now and I don’t want to sound like: one-two-three and it will all be fixed.  There are no quick abracadabra magical formulas to make everything all better.  But there is hope.

Another tactic the enemy uses a lot is this thought that we are the only ones struggling.  Everyone else looks fine, so we must be the only ones weathering this storm.  The truth is, we’ve all become much too good at chucking our umbrellas or stashing our life vests when people are looking at us.  Hiding anything that shows we are only surviving.  When we feel alone, we are in a very vulnerable place.  Be careful.  When God saw that Adam was alone, He said this was NOT good.  So if you’re married and feeling alone, something is not right.  You are not alone in the struggle.  Reach out for some help if you need to!

By God’s grace, we are where we are today.  I know chronic illness has been something which could have destroyed our marriage.  But God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.  He has used it to bring about so much good, even though it continues to be something that in and of itself is really very difficult.

This wasn’t easy to write.  I mean, first of all, my parents and in-laws usually read this, and why does that feel awkward?  Then I remember: they all know we do have six children.  Speaking of children, the second reason for this being difficult to write is: my kids read this.  But we’re pretty open about this topic and I know they feel secure that we fight for our marriage.  And maybe one of them reading this will remember where our bedroom door key is and return it.  Hmmm.  Lastly, because it is such a sensitive and prevalent issue, I know it’s going to cause some ripples.  I kinda feel like I’ve lit an explosive and am crouching in the corner, waiting for it to blow.  But the truth is, I haven’t lit something with the intent to cause damage.  A fire has been lit, yes.  But not all fires cause harm.  I pray the flame starts its journey towards many people’s hearts, because at the end are some of the most amazing fireworks you have ever seen.  Be ready.  Your marriage is about to explode.

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Six Dollar Car Wash and Shattered Glass

If you’ve ever wondered how many times you’re allowed to go through a carwash on one $6 purchase, the answer is at least four.  On Monday morning I drove the kids to school in my dad’s car.  So thankful we are able to borrow it while he and my mom are in Africa right now.  On Friday we had a glass shattering accident with Silver Belle (our van) which has left us without a vehicle.  More on that later. I can only fit 4 kids at a time in the car, so there is always a shuffling around to make it work.  After I dropped the older two off at school, I swung back home to pick up the middle crew since Jack had a dentist appointment.  Shortly after we arrived, some dear sweet friends we haven’t seen in much too long, started piling into the waiting room with us.  My entire weekend had been pretty shaken up with the accident and I was battling some discouraging thoughts.  You know how after being with certain friends for even five minutes changes your entire outlook on life?  That’s how this mama is to me.  You should check out her journey.  Between the two of us, we have 15 children.  We left the dentist office blessed and refreshed.  She even scheduled her follow up visit to match our follow up visit so we can hang out again in the waiting room together again in a few weeks.  Yeah.  She rocks!

From there, we headed over to the carwash, because my dad’s car needed a bath.  Plus, it’s fun.  We paid $6 for the express wash then drove into the tunnel, paying close attention to the traffic light telling me to “enter slowly”.  I drove ahead until it said “STOP”.  Then it told me to drive forward again.  Stop.  Drive forward.  Stop.  Then it started and soap sprayed all over the car, but the brushes only barely touched the back bumper.  A few seconds later, the light told me to exit slowly.  Say what?  I parked the rather soapy car in front of the gas station and stated my problem to the owners.  A very Italian man smiled and coached me on the skills of carwash etiquette, because how I described what happened must have sounded like I truly had never gone through a carwash before.  He walked out with me and told me to drive through again.  He gave me instructions on what each hand motion he would make, meant, and we tried again.  He stood at the end of the tunnel, like an air traffic controller about to land a jumbo jet.  Except he added another hand motion we didn’t go over in our briefing: “put the car in park”.  It looked a whole lot like “Back Up”, so I did.  Slowly, of course.  The loud “exit slowly” buzzer came on.  He shook his head and motioned for me to circle around again.  He typed another pass into the little computer thing while I drove to the entrance.  The second attempt was better.  Not correct, but better.  Something happened which forced me to circle yet again.  He certainly must have thought I was fresh out of drivers ed.  Or carwash ed.  This time we had all the details worked out and I was dying of laughter.  He put on his traffic controller hat again, and this time it worked.  Harry only cried a little as the gigantic brushes scrubbed Grandpa’s little red car, which is now sparkling again.

After the carwash, I had to run to the police station to pick up the police report from the accident.  Last Friday, we were two blocks from home, driving to school.  I maneuvered down the narrow city street, noticing someone was double parked on my left.  As I navigated between his car and the other cars parallel parked, a woman to my right opened her car door as I was passing her.  The crunch was loud and sickening.  Her door was stuck in the sliding door window of our van, and the entire window shattered into a spider web.
2017-08-25 08.10.56Thankfully no one was hurt, but I did start to cry.  The second day of school, and we would be late.  The van was a mess.  To make matters worse, the party involved refused to take responsibility and mouthed off to the police officers.  It wasn’t a pleasant experience.  Now the insurance companies have to figure out what really happened since it is now word against word.  At the police station, I obtained the report no problem.  Harry was totally enamored with the receptionist.  He is usually serious towards strangers, but something about her sweet face turned him into a sunbeam!  It was darling.  I think we will need to go back just to say hello.

Much happened during those first 3 hours on Monday.  Tuesday found us at the eye doctor.  Jack and Elsie both need new glasses.  More dentist appointments and doctor appointments coming up too.  Then we’re all caught up on WELL visits for at least 6 months.  ALL THE PRAISE HANDS!  Matthew still has regular checkups to keep tabs on what’s going on in his unique, anatomically incorrect sinuses.

Nadine and Elijah absolutely love school.  We had our first parent/teacher back to school night last night and got to meet each teacher and hear how God is blessing them there.  So thankful for the input of others into their lives.

Our other three students begin school next month here at home.  Harry blends into the mix in his own sweet way.  As Betty said while she helped me at the store yesterday: “You are just such a precious child!”  Yes, yes he is.

No dentists, doctors or grocery stores in the mix for today, but there is plenty of laundry to do.  I’m going to pretend my laundry detergent is like the widow’s oil which didn’t run out until she didn’t need it any more.  Because it looks like there is only one more load’s worth left in the container, but I have a few more loads to do than that.  And as trivial and trite a need that is (because I know the detergent I ordered is on its way soon, and hey… I’m cool not doing laundry for a few days) we do have a true and real need right now.  Matthew needs a work truck by this weekend, so we pray and look and wait and anticipate that answer to prayer!  And maybe we’ll celebrate its arrival by… a carwash or three!