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From Kayaks to Clark Kent

It is most definitely time for a photo dump.  Halfway through June, and so much has happened!  We went to Marsh Creek during Memorial Day weekend and had a fabulous time!  The weather was gorgeous, and Betty was so cute in the canoe.  Elijah experienced solo kayaking for the first time.
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There have been moments of frustration and moments of sweetness.  We still have Toby, who loves to go on walks with his little vest and leash on his back.   Phone Photos9
The Weldons recently had a family reunion/anniversary party and there was a fabulous glam cam there.  We took full advantage of the fun:June 2014
And just because I love it:
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The kids and I recently went on a field trip to Harrisburg.  What a beautiful building and fascinating history!  The photo of the bookshelf is of a treat I found on it one day: superglue, super-glued to the wood.  On Father’s Day all Matthew wanted to do was have a workout in the park, so he and a friend met there and did just that.  Elsie and Betty continue to be “twins” every day, and it’s hard to keep their two “twin” outfits clean… but on the days they are dirty, they seem to figure out another way to manage the job of looking as much like the other as possible.Phone Photos6
The small photo of the girls sleeping is a tiny glimpse of what has been filling my weeks.  We have rearranged five rooms of the house to accommodate an office for Matthew.  As his business grows, so do the papers and the need for a spot to do his at-home work.  Happy Father’s Day to him!  I will post pictures o the finished product soon.  As an exclamation point to our week, Jack got glasses!  We are excited to see if they help with the challenge that school has been for him this year.  We may not have Mary Poppins living here, but Clark Kent is in the house.Phone Photos8


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An Eagle Scout and Singlets

Life is a constant heart-beat, which drums all around me.  Sometimes in the thundering noises of many little elephants coming down the stairs, and sometimes in the aftermath of many mouths having been filled and satisfied.  Tonight, I have two hours of quiet.  The heartbeat of life still hums in the background, even though there is silence.  There is a crudely drawn circle on the mirror in the kitchen.  It appears to  be etched in maple syrup.  The stairs have more dust bunnies making themselves at home on each step.  Paper airplanes have crash landed under pieces of furniture.  A small pretzel has been stepped on more than once, looking like a little mountain which has been leveled to a mess of crumbs in the middle of the floor.  The once-caught up laundry smirks at me from a huge pile, now ready to go through the cycle again.  Our fridge is still in self-emptying mode, as dozens of eggs and bushels of apples and clementines disappear into thin air… or hungry bellies.  The clock is ticking, and life is still drumming.  There have been a few poignant moments in the past week.  

It was an honor to attend Matthew’s little brother’s Eagle Scout Court of Honors.  I have known Jacob since he was Betty’s age, and am so proud of the young man he has become!DSC_8710 DSC_8686 DSC_8706DSC_8724 DSC_8729 DSC_8740 DSC_8745 DSC_8756 DSC_8817 Eagle Scout Court of HonorDSC_8828DSC_8860DSC_8865DSC_8883

The other night I came across Nadine trying to give Jack a shoulder massage.  He was backing away from her and exclaiming: I’m not a woman!  I laughed, so thankful he isn’t!  Then Friday night he was peeling potatoes for me.  The aftermath of his help was a scattering of sweet potato skins all over the kitchen floor.  He gazed at the mess, shook his head and said, If I was a woman, none of this would have happened.  I guess his impression of women is as follows: They are neat potato peelers who love shoulder massages.  I think I qualify.

The boys are both in the middle of wrestling season.  I finally got to watch them on Saturday, and it brought back many memories of watching their daddy, donned in his singlet, oh so long ago!

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I’m so proud of the boys in my life.  Whether they’re wearing singlets, an Eagle Scout uniform, or a wrestling coach’s shirt… they all make me so very proud.  Their hearts all march to the beat of their own drum, and make my heart beat a little faster.


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Not Giving In To Wimpy

Elijah is my resident chef.  He likes to help me cook and can make pizza dough all by himself now.  Yesterday he made banana bread while I oversaw.  Once it was in the oven I reminded him that he also had to clean everything up from cooking.  He likes to “experiment” and had left a lot of egg shells and such in various places on the counter and table.  Then there was the butter, the dishes and the measuring utensils to wash.  As I directed him, in the background there were a few arguments that needed refereeing, a bottom that needed wiped, and the usual questions that needed answered.  It was an hour and a half after everyone else had eaten lunch before I finally sat down to my peanut butter and banana toast.  He must have noticed my weariness because he looked at me and said, You know, I guess that card is right: motherhood is not for wimps!  You see, a few weeks ago a friend sent me a marvelous card with that saying on it.  I didn’t even know he had read it, but Elijah pays attention to details when I least expect it.  I just laughed.  He always knows how to make me laugh.

There are plenty of days I want to give in to wimpy.  I don’t like to be strong and hold it together all the time.  Yet once I give in to those feelings, my life unwinds like a ball of yarn and tangles me up so.  Like last week, when the oh-too-familiar “I really got hurt this time” cry met my ears from the front porch.  Elsie held on to her arm and refused to let it go.  An hour later, I dropped the other four kids off at my wonderful parents’ house and drove to the ER.  Again.  Elsie and I are becoming ER buddies.  Turns out she has a buckle fracture in her wrist.  After getting it splinted at the hospital she said, Everyone will be amazed!   The next day we went to the orthopedic doctor where we discovered she needs a cute pink cast on it for four weeks.  She described it as being: Cozy and comfortable but it hurts too.  That’s how it feels.  Elijah said, Elsie really looks good in a cast!  You know, it really suits her!

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On Sunday, Matthew and I were blessed to have an out-of-hospital date in the city!  We ate at an incredible restaurant with some delightful friends.  The view of Philadelphia was unbelievable.  It almost felt like we were in an airplane.  Even the elevator ride was fun!

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Sprinkled throughout our week have been unintended haircuts, library trips, doctor visits, school, funny finds, purple peppers in the garden, and crock pot dinners.
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The latest compilation of hilarious sleeping positions:

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Last night was a hard one for Matthew.  His throat has been stable, but was pretty tight again.  This makes for little sleep for us both, and leaves a lot of room for trust.  The water is rocky, but our Jesus is in the boat and He’s not going anywhere.  Soon we will be able to rest.   For now, there is no room for being wimpy.

 

 


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Doing the Beautiful

Between the lines… what really happens?  More than I can write about.  I want these writings to be something my children can look back on and see… love… laugh… learn… remember.  This month has been full to the brim with adventures, excitement, ordinary happenings and trying ordeals.  Some days have felt full.  Others have felt more like everything has broken all around me and what was once beautiful is being spilled onto the floor and wasted.  But more on that later.

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Sometimes I feel like I’m looking in a mirror when I glance up at this girl.  She’s eye-level with me now.  When did this happen?

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Sometimes I am looking in the mirror.  Yes, I was rather grossed out to see there was enough dried-on toothpaste flung onto our bathroom mirror for someone to play tic-tac-toe on it.  Yes, I took a picture.  Because I know this aberration will not be seen when these kids have flown the coop and I have all day long to polish my bathroom mirrors.  That is what I’ll be doing, right?

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This guy’s blue eyes fill a special place in my heart.  They are the first to open in the morning.  They are tender with tears when he misses his little sister visiting Grandma.

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Way back on January 5th, we were woken up with rustling feet and excited voices.  Big sister pulled everyone’s signatures and proudly presented this card to us.  Then littlest sister proceeded to eat the breakfast I was served in bed.  It was a special morning, marking eleven years married to the love of my life.

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Before the leg was hurt, everyone enjoyed watching Daddy crank out some moves on his blades.

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Don’t be fooled by the princess helmet, polka-dot pants and Mary Jane shoes underneath those plastic fisher price wheels.

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This girl can bust out some moves of her own!

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Sometimes I have helpers in the kitchen.  Sometimes an egg beater covered in vanilla pudding is the trick to stopping the evening-blues that tend to hit sweet two-year-old girls.

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Often there are hand stands, flips, break-dances, and other movements thumping the floor.

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After our December journeys, our van really did look that bad.  Not a speck of shine.  Since we had exactly enough money for a car-wash, we treated our van to a little pampering.  I’m not sure who was more excited: the kids or I.  Betty was in awe and when we exited the wash and kept saying, Again!  Again!

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Five days a week, there is school.  I relish the one-on-one times.  Jack is like an airplane who has stopped its taxi only to get faster until its airborne.  He is flying over obstacles, and getting better and better at sticking to a hard task until it’s finished.  The new camouflage overalls given to him recently have been a huge hit.

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Other spaces in my day find more messes.  More brokenness.  More being spilled out.  Sometimes I react like Jesus’ disciples did to the woman who broke a very expensive jar of perfume with which to anoint Jesus’ head:  Why this waste, Lord?  The time spent cleaning up, making beautiful, or saving for something special.  Then, disaster, messiness, shattered glass.  What’s the point?

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I hear Jesus speak in return to my disgust, my wondering, my anger.  You have done a good work for me…  You have done what you could.

Jesus never wastes trials.  Our perspective is so temporal.  It sees the shards.  He sees the end.

The ultimate brokenness was for you and for me.  He hung, perfect and sinless, bleeding and broken on a wooden cross.  More pain than shattered glass or ruined hopes.  In His brokenness, He crushed through the worst barrier separating us from God: sin.  While his mother wept and wondered at this loss, this waste of a perfect life… God saw the end.  He saw what we get to see now!  Resurrection power poured out on all who believe.  Forgiveness of sins.  Eternal life.  All because of brokenness.

Nothing we are going through is a waste.  He redeems, sweeps up broken pieces, restores, heals, forgives, and makes beautiful that which we thought was defective.  He turns what we think is worthless into something of unimaginable value.

So I will keep on doing what is before me.  What I can do.  I will give Him my best, my cracked, empty self.  Jesus says when we do this, we have done a beautiful thing for Him. (Mark 14:6)


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My Weeping Shadow

Every night I look back on my day and wonder at a few of the things I did or did not do.  When all is quiet, it’s hard to truly remember how very trying all the noise really was.  When there are no more voices calling my name, I wonder why I was so irritated at that hundredth call for mommy.  I know there was constant activity all around me all day long, because of the evidence.  An apple core hidden here.  A stuffed animal under the table.  Loads of dishes scrubbed and ready for more carnage tomorrow.  Baskets of folded clothes, indicating they were once mounds of laundry.  The ever-emptying refrigerator.  Not to mention everything in my dustpan at the end of the day.

This morning started off with about a quarter cup of cereal.  Since that doesn’t divide between five children so well, I used some leftover bread dough for a monkey bread breakfast.  Served on my Italy plate, it was a splendid start to our day.  Then all of a sudden all I could think about was how long everyone’s hair was, and we had haircuts all around.  The boys got spiffed up, and Betty lost her baby mullet.  She did a great job, and her whole face looks older.  It matches her just-about-two personality.

Today I called her my weeping shadow.  After the morning cheer, she laid down great for her nap… except she never fell asleep.  A poopy diaper later, and she was not doing the whole nap thing today.  So we battled through many tear-filled moments.  She had her first time-out yesterday.  She is experiencing the “try one bite” at supper ordeal.  She understands every single thing we say, and is sprouting like a little seed in a jar of water.  Between my weepy shadow who couldn’t leave my side, math, geography, and everything else required of us today… supper ended up a last-minute outing where the kids were so enthralled with their surroundings that they didn’t eat.  Then we went to Matthew’s exercise class, and by the time we got home at 8 o’clock, my bearded husband was whipping out the pancake recipe for a late-night-second-supper.  The full moon was wreaking havoc on everyone’s ability to settle down anyway, so why not enjoy a few chocolate-chip pancakes before bed?  We did just that.  Betty relaxed her sweet chubby feet on my warmed up rice bag, and everyone ate their fill.


 I’m thankful for my messy life.  For the hair which shows growth.  Our daily bread, especially cinnamon and sugar-covered bread.  The beauty of a full moon.  Tears to show a heart alive, filled with emotion and the ability to feel.  I’m thankful for strength to do more than I feel physically able to do sometimes.  For creativity to color the mundane.  For chattering which makes silence more precious.  For grace upon grace upon grace.  For little shadows that need me to scoop them up and feel cherished as they are.


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Curiosity Almost Killed the Cat (If We Had One)

Curiosity killed the proverbial cat, and in my case, curiosity makes my house look the way it does.  Sometimes curiosity makes it smell the way it does.  This morning when I smelled a hint of smoke, I thanked God for my nostrils.  A child had indeed lit not one, but six matches.  They were flushed down the toilet, said a reliable source.  Not that this happens a lot, because it doesn’t, but at the same time I can say, “Just another day in the life.”  If it’s not matches, it is a great many other things.

The other night as I was about to flip on the lamp beside our bed I noticed that every square inch of it was coated in a thick layer of vaseline.  Oh yeah.  That one is fun.

Soap on the wall.  Marker on the wall.  You-name-it on the wall.  All things I silently told myself, would never happen in my home when I was a mother.  Really?  Sharpie on the piano?  How could any good mother allow her children to do such a thing?

The reality is, I definitely don’t allow them to do it, they choose to do these things.  The other reality is, childish behavior does not reflect our mothering.  I can not be in five places at once.  So unless I extinguish their freedom to explore, and always keep them within eye-shot, these things will happen.  Notice I said “childish things”, because as I am learning, there is a difference between childishness and foolishness.  Childishness is often just immature curiosity without common sense.  As we mature, we may wonder if sticking a screw-driver into an electrical socket will do anything, but common sense (or experience) will stop us from trying it.  Childishness thinks, “I  wonder how this color would look on that white wall?”  Children are naturally curious, but often their curiosity leads to mess, which we as mothers often translate as:  bad, bad, bad.  I’m saying this more to myself than anyone else, but mess doesn’t always equal bad behavior.  Mess means life, learning, and children abound!  That is not a bad thing!  They are learning to clean up behind themselves, but not every shoe out-of-place or smudge on the wall means that they are out to get me.  Every day I struggle to keep our home from looking like a demolition derby ran its way through each room.  I often complain about it.  I often compare myself to others who seem much more put together than myself.  This takes away the joy of all the life being lived within these walls.  So, as I anticipate starting school soon, I know there will be messes galore.  I really want my kids to remember, though, that life and living was more important than a perfectly clean house.


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Irregular Aberrations

There are many unusual things around our house.  Out of place.  Puzzling.  Strange.  Aberrant, not typical sights, but more common than I realized.  I actually never noticed these peculiar highlights until my friend Susan pointed out a marker stuck in the candle jar inside the bathroom.  Ever since then my eyes have been peeled for such irregular sights.  This happens to be one of my favorites.  Tea bags left in the flower pot by a nameless guest.  They’re still there, because they make me smile when I think of her.

This week I looked up to find this sight:

Nerf gun fights have been in full array here these days.  It must have been a fun target to hit, jingling with each shot.  This reminds me that it’s high time for the mistle-toe to be lovingly tucked away into the Christmas bins.  I’m not sure how it missed being packed for so long.  Must be that I have other things which keep me busy.