Sunday, November 30, 2008

Well, I Made It.

I posted every day for 30 days, and I survived. Thank you, my awesome readers, for sticking with me, even when I didn't really have anything important, relevant, or even vaguely coherent to say.   I had forgotten just how much I really *like* to write.  Now, whether what has come forth from my keyboard into cyberspace is worth reading is another question, entirely...

But I have learned a lot from this little exercise.  Mostly, that I really need to keep writing.  I cannot promise that I will be back every day, although that maybe ought to be a goal of mine.  But I will promise to be much less neglectful of my little corner of the blogosphere than I have been in the past.  Just don't come hoping for any deep wisdom or wry humor - I'd hate to disappoint you! *grin*  But those pics of cute kids will keep coming.  I just need a better camera, and some more skilz...

And on a completely different note. Happy Advent to All!  I didn't manage to get candles for my Advent wreath yesterday, so we're wreath-less tonight, but I'll be hitting Hobby Lobby tomorrow (barring bad snow-covered roads, although I think it's too warm for there to be much of a problem...).  The Christmas boxes will be making their way up from the basement today and tomorrow, and I hope to have everything all done this week, with the exception of the tree.  

Since we get a real one, we don't usually get it until closer to Christmas.  I'm hoping that we'll do better than last year, though, when we didn't manage to get one until the week before.  Talk about last-minute... *sigh*  We do get good deals, though, on those trees that people are wanting to get rid of.  Almost makes the procrastination worth it.  Almost....

So I'm looking forward to making cookies, hanging stockings, and draping with pine garland everything that will stand still long enough.  Maybe I'll even post some pics of our  festive home... Maybe.  But that means it has to be clean, first... *rolls eyes*  One thing at a time...

So, once again, thank you, loyal readers, for joining  me on this, my first NaBloPoMo quest.  I hope that you've enjoyed the journey, and I look forward to more conversations with you ~both  deep & inspirational, and random & mundane.  I've had a great time.  Thanks for indulging me.

Signing off NaBloPoMo '08...  Maybe I'll even do it again next year!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Theme Song, This Month

One thing that I had planned to blog about this month was some of my favorite songs.  But somehow, I never got around to it.   So I thought that I'd post a video of a song that really speaks to me, where I am now, and to where I will be in the next few crazy weeks.

His Grace is Enough, by Matt Maher

Please excuse the somewhat cheesy video. It was the best I could find, and there are any number of versions of this song floating around, and I was, of course, in search of just the *right* one. It took me all afternoon, and involved the kids asking, "Mommy, why do you keep playing that song over and over again on your computer???"

I hope this song blesses you as much as it has me. And I hope that I can keep it as background music for my crazy-busy life this time of year. His grace really *is* enough. Praise God!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Random Thoughts for Today

What you blog about when there's not much else going on...

  • I don't like my turkey reheated.  Cold is good, covered in warm gravy is even better.
  • I could eat pie All. Day. Long.  With whipped cream, of course...
  • The boys need haircuts.
  • I need a haircut.  And highlights.  I haven't gotten my hair done professionally in about 5 years.  *sigh*  Mommy's hair is strictly DIY these days...  What I would give for a cut/color at an Aveda salon...
  • We cooked 10 lbs of potatoes yesterday.  I bet they are gone by Monday...
  • I broke out my collection of Christmas sweaters today.  I love them - they are so festive.  But I'm waiting for Stacy and Clinton to come knocking at my door...
  • I am going to put away the Fall Decor tomorrow, and get out the Christmas boxes  Which reminds me....
  • I need advent candles.
  • I did no shopping today.  As a matter of fact, I stayed in my jammies until mid afternoon.
  • I'd like to get another kitten.  However, Brian says NO.  Two cats are enough...
  • I need to read The Shack.  It come highly recommended.  Brian recently finished it, and I need to carve out some time to devote to it.
  • It's almost time to eat, again... *grin*
Enjoy your weekend, my friends!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope that this day has found each and every one of you well-fed, sated with both the bounty that found our tables overflowing, and with the fellowship of family and friends that filled our hearts. 

We had a great day. Laid-back and relaxing. It was the first time in a loooong time that we have spent Thanksgiving with just us - no extended family, no cousins or grandparents. Just the eight of us. Which when you put it like that, sounds not so alone.  *grin*  Yes, I missed the traditions, the camaraderie, the fun that we have when we all get together.  But there were some benefits, too.  My house wasn't (ahem) perfectly clean, and I spent a good bit of the day in my jammies.  It was a good day.

I have so much to be thankful for, this year.  My husband, and my children.  Friends and family.  How our needs have been met, and how we've been blessed beyond our wildest dreams.  Hannah's birth.  Nathan's teeth.  And just today, I reconnected with two of my very best friends in the entire world.  God is good...

This next year, I am going to be more intentional about acknowledging my blessings, and writing about everything for which I ought to be thankful.  I have been truly blessed beyond measure, and I need more than just one day a year to celebrate that.

So, to all my friends, even those of you to the North and those across the Pond, Happy Thanksgiving.  I am thankful for you, more than you know.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - A Birthday Celebration

Enjoying cake batter...A family tradition.

Such a little lady...

Hannah's cake, made by Mommy

Oooh - Look! A candle!!!

Can I please have cake???

That's more like it...

Chocolate! My favorite!

My new sippy - my favorite gift, so far. I can't put it down...

I guess we figured out how to open presents after all!

A good time was had by all...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Two years ago today, I was initiated into a club.  This was not something that I sought - not somewhere I ever expected to be.  But still, there I was - crushed and numb, mourning the loss of a child.  Two years ago today, I had a miscarriage.

The pregnancy was a surprise - Brian and I *thought * we were done.  But we've thought that before, too...  And, to both of our own shock and surprise, all Brian and I felt, once we saw those two lines, was pure joy.  No panic or angst - only elation.  Almost giddy.  Which is strange, considering what we *should* have been feeling.  On his salary, we could barely afford our 5, never mind one more.  And we'd need a new mode of transportation, since both of our current minivans each seat 7.  And who *has* six kids these days??? Seriously, who does that??!!??  But despite everything we knew in our heads, our hearts were rejoicing.

I knew, though, from the beginning.  I knew that it wasn't right.  I've been pregnant too many times to know what it is supposed to feel like.  And this one didn't.  I'd have fleeting symptoms from time to time, enough to give me hope, but deep  in my soul I knew that it wasn't going to last.  But I held out hope.  I even abstained from indulging in wine at Thanksgiving dinner.  Not even a sip.  I took my prenatals and folic acid.  But I knew...

And, as we were about to leave my brother's house, to drive the 2 and a half hours back to Davenport from Chicago, it began.  I think I cried the entire trip home.  Quietly, though, because we didn't want the kids to know.  We've had too many experiences with infant loss in our circle of close friends that they almost expect babies to die.  I wanted to spare them from this...

After a visit to the midwife, it was confirmed that the baby stopped growing around 4-5 weeks, but it took until 7.5 weeks for my body to catch on.  It was not painful, though, which was a blessing.  I know many women who have endured unbearable physical pain along with the loss of their babies, but I was given the gift of a peaceful passing.  And for that, I am grateful.

Brian and I are fortunate to be surrounded by people who had gone before us into this club, and they ushered us through the initiation rites with gentleness and understanding.  They helped us to grieve, not only in our own individual ways, but together, as a couple, mourning what could have been.  And by the grace of God, what could have torn us apart, brought us closer, giving a new dimension to our life together.  We talked, and cried, and held each other.  And we began to dare to think about the future.  We decided to give ourselves the holiday season to let things settle, and to process  just what had happened.  

And so, with the dawning of the new year, we began to pray and discern where God was leading us.  We were both so surprised with our own gut reactions to the prospect of adding another child to our family.  Apparently, we weren't as *done* as we thought we were.  *smile* So after much time on our knees, talking to God and to each other, we decided to go ahead and try for three months to conceive another child.  Since I was almost 39, we didn't want to prolong TTC if it wasn't going to happen.  But we also wanted to give it a try, because getting pregnant has always come easy for me.  So if it were going to happen, it would happen quickly.  If not, we were ok with that, too.  It was all in God's hands.

As it happened, the first month we really tried, we got our answer, in the form of two lines.  And nine months later, we welcomed that sweet baby girl whose birthday we celebrated just 5 days ago.  Without this loss, we would not know the joy that Hannah has brought into our lives, once again proving that God does, indeed, redeem all things.

Today, I remember.  I remember the child we lost, whose hands we never got to hold, whose toes we never got to count, whose head we never got to kiss.  But my heart overflows with gratefulness for the child who now nuzzles at my breast, who is because God opened our hearts one more time.  And I realize what a joy, and a blessing, that is, in a way that I never could have, before.  And I give thanks for all of it - the sorrow, the grief, and the joy.  And I will never again take for granted the gift of life.  But most of all, I long for the day I will gather all of my children together, at the feet of Jesus, and know that my joy will be complete.  Until that day, God bless you, Little One.  Mommy loves you, and Jesus loves you even more.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Writer's Block

I knew that it would happen at some point during this month.  I just didn't expect that it would be today.  After suffering through a basically sleepless night with Hannah (who never really settled, and since we co-sleep, consequently, neither did I), I was fighting exhaustion from the moment I crumbled out of bed.  I've had one of those days where it's difficult to put two thoughts together, never mind try to be coherent.  My temper has been short, and I've burst into tears for no apparent reason, other that the fact that I need sleep.  Really. Need. Sleep.

I had lots of plans for what I wanted to accomplish today.   All I managed to get done was one load of laundry, and to keep up with the kids - getting them fed, clothed, out the door, and back into bed this evening.  I'm struggling with feelings of inadequacy, and constantly being behind the curve.  As in, I had the downstairs *mostly* clean the day before Hannah's birthday last week.  However, in  mere 24 hours, you couldn't tell I'd even swept the kitchen floor. *sigh*

So I want to apologize to my readers (all 2 of you - you know who you are) for my appalling lack of any meaningful discourse this evening.  And to thank you for indulging me in this mini pity party.  Hopefully, I'll get to rest more than just dozing tonight, and I'll awake tomorrow  with a brighter outlook, and a renewed trust that God will take care of it all.

Well, I guess I did run on a bit for someone who supposedly had nothing to say...  Sorry about that...

Back to your regularly scheduled blogging...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Advent Conspiracy

While I was perusing Facebook this weekend, I happened upon one of Brian's mentors from seminary, and he had joined this group . So I clicked on the link, and found something amazing. The Advent Conspiracy is an organization seeking to raise awareness of how far we've drifted from the original intent of Advent and Christmas, and to encourage a return to seeking and celebrating simply the Season, without falling victim to the commercialism, crassness, and guilt that is heaped upon us by our society.

They advocate four points to change the way you celebrate Christmas this year.
  • Worship fully
  • Spend less
  • Give more
  • Love all
This really spoke to me.  Every year, I have a semi-breakdown while shopping for gifts and making all the preparations.  All the glitz and gimme-gimme drowning out the true message of Christ's birth.  It gives me fits.  Every year.  And the pressure to buy gifts for my kids, who have enough.  More than enough.  But they still expect to find something under the tree on Christmas morning, and I need to find things that  they will actually use...  *sigh*

Now, these people aren't going to suggest that we stop giving presents altogether. But they do have some great ideas on how to be better stewards of our resources this season, something which I found very helpful.  One of the places they link to is, which has some brilliant ideas on alternative gift ideas. Great stuff. This is one website that I will be coming back to again and again.

And so, I invite you to come along with me, as we give thanks this week, and begin to look towards the birth of our Lord.  Join the Conspiracy.  Be subversive. Give joyfully. Love radically.  Be the in-breaking of the Kingdom.  Wait with me, in a new way, this Advent season.  Prepare the way of the Lord.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Catching My Breath

It dawned on Brian and me this afternoon, at some point, between Angel Food distribution, chauffeuring Nathan to a birthday party, and various other errands and issues, that we haven't really a real day off, or respite from anything, in about 2 months. Something always comes up - there are people to visit in the hospital, counseling sessions, meetings, school events, meetings, pastoral emergencies, and did I mention meetings??? He even had one scheduled on Thursday night, Hannah's first birthday. Fortunately, he was able to go late, and slip out between dinner and cake for about 20 minutes to attend to the business at hand, but it really brought home just how crazy things have gotten.

It's hard on Brian, being the only one at the church. It's all on him, and there's no break. No assistant, no deacon. Half the time, he doesn't even have a secretary. And, because of all of the outreach that he's involved in, people who aren't even members of our church seek him out for their pastoral issues and hospital visits. It's good work - what he is called to do, but it's draining.

Add to that the responsibility of a family, and the fact that 6 kids require *all* of my time and attention, in one form or another. Like now, as Hannah is fussing, because she wants all-mommy-all-the-time. *sigh* Neither one of us is getting any relief. And both of us know that, and are well aware of the risks of burn-out.

And, now, Advent will be upon us in another week, calling us to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Christ Child. It's hard to put yourself in a waiting frame of mind when all you can see around you is list after list of things to get done, places to be, and things that must be attended to. So I must trust that God will see us through the next few weeks, giving each of us the strength and grace to keep it all together, and to provide moments of rest to recharge.

So, as we begin, this week, to enter onto the Holiday season, I pray that God will give me the grace to get through it all, to do what needs to be done, to let go of that which is not necessary, and to keep the Main Thing the main thing. And I pray that we'll also get some really awesome free time in the not-too-distant future, and that we'll not lose sight of what all this fuss is really all about - a Baby, born in a manger, who gave up everything, that we might return with Him, one day, to His house, and through Him, to learn the true meaning of Love.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Silly BlogThings Quiz

Since it's Friday, and I'm still recovering from all of the emotions of yesterday, and gearing up for yet another busy weekend, I'm weaseling out of anything even remotely deep and philosophical, by sharing one of those silly quiz things. You know you've always loved them, secretly, from the first time you took one in Seventeen magazine... *grin*

And, in honor of the fact that today is, indeed, Friday, for all of my blender-drink loving friends... Here it is...

You Are a Strawberry Margarita

You're so sweet it's a little overwhelming, and people are a little afraid of corrupting you...

It's a little difficult to imagine you with a margarita. And you're truly a different person after you've kicked back a couple!

I suppose it fits... Once upon a time, I used to consider myself "sweet and innocent."  I do, however, like to think I'm still sweet, although maybe not so innocent as I once was... *bats eyelashes*

So, go on... Take the quiz. You know you want to... *grin* And share with me what flavor YOU are...

And to answer your question, YES. I fully intend to enjoy something cold and fruity from *my* blender later this evening. Even if it is flurrying, as predicted...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Hannah!

One year ago today, at 2:22 AM, we welcomed Hannah Kathryn into our family. And what a day that was! In case you missed it, you can read her birth story here. Her entrance into this world was just perfect, as was she. And every single one of those days since, she has been a true blessing.

Here are a few pics from that day...

Just 7 minutes old.  8 lbs 12.5 oz, 21" long... Perfect, healthy baby girl

Snuggled up with Mommy

Baby burrito

Being born is hard work...

Going home

Two days old, on Thanksgiving, with Daddy

Once upon a time, if you had told me that I would be the mother of six, I would have told you that you were nuts. Well, I might not have had the words, exactly. Who *does* that, anyway???? But I remain, every single day, amazed and humbled by these wonderful, priceless gifts that God has entrusted to me for safekeeping. I have the greatest job in the world. I am privileged to be able to watch them grow, to be included in their circle of love. Every time I look into her intense brown eyes, I am reminded of just what an incredible gift Hannah is. There are no words to express that feeling.

And yet, that overflowing in my heart is only a dim and dark reflection of that Love which our Father has for us. Wow. It's just almost too much to contemplate. So on this memorable morning, I thank God for all of the blessings that He has lavished upon me, His daughter. And I'll give my almost-no-longer-a-baby an extra snuggle, and rejoice as all eight of us gather this evening for cake and presents - and be reminded of the Feast to come.

Thank you, Lord, for all the blessings of this life.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Autumn Randomness

David, on his tricycle

Amanda and David, in the leaves

David, engrossed in the joys of fall

Gotta love those leaf piles...

Hannah, on Halloween


Earlier this week, first time with a fork. She did quite well...

David, being silly with me

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Some Musings, as International Babywearing Week draws to a Close

As a mother to a rather large brood, I can honestly say that I don't know how I would have been able to survive if I had not worn my babies (and yes, toddlers, and even the occasional preschooler...).  And although it's something that's always come naturally for me, I must admit that I do, in fact, still relish the stares I get while wearing my babies in public.  Some are smiles of approval and the recognition, however brief, of a kindred spirit.  Others are wide-eyed shock, some questioning, and some, that all-too-familiar head shake - "Oh-look-at-the-hippy-granola-crunchy-wacko-lady."  The last is especially amusing to me, when I have all six kids in tow. *evil grin*

On more than one occasion, I have been able to mentor a young mom, who at first gave me those same askance glances, but after talking with her, was off to eagerly browse websites and join  I love doing that.  No, it's not strange, alien, weird, or abnormal to use a sling.  And no, the baby isn't going to grow up spoilt, whiny, and clingy because they are being worn.  What you *will* find is a happy, secure, attached baby, and a more in-tune, relaxed mom.  Babies and their parents were made to need each other, made to need to crave closeness and intimacy.  And if you can get that while having both your hands free, everyone wins!

Slings don't take up room on the subway, and they are great in airports.  They fit easily in a diaper bag.  Some even have multiple uses - blanket, leash, nursing cover.... The list is almost endless.  And so what if I've dripped salsa on a baby's fuzzy head?  I've also been able to feed the same child while eating my own dinner.  Older children love to ride on your back - and Daddy's back is even better!

And I love it when my kids (especially Nathan - he's so good with babies...) ask to use the sling.  They will have grown up thinking it's normal to keep a wee one close, and already know how much easier babywearing makes life with a newborn.  Just as they think cloth diapers are "real" diapers, they'll know that babies are meant to be close to their hearts - in every way.  And while I know that not every baby enjoys being worn, many do, and learning his skill will make that transition easier for them as new parents.

***Ok, is anyone else a little freaked out that I'm thinking of grandchildren already???***

And so, on that note, I'll bit adieu to International Babywearing Week, with the hope that more mamas and daddies out there will discover the joys of holding their babies close to their hearts.  And that I'll be able to continue to spread the babywearing love to everyone I meet.

Long live babywearing!

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Stash of Baby Carriers

So I'm back to posting in honor of International Babywearing Week. And as promised, here are some pics of my stash. And yes, I even dug out the trusty old Snugli. *grin*
My Lucky Baby, lined with green minkee

The Comfy Joey - green side is silk, I think...

Kozy Carrier mei tai, with pocket, Blue Swirls

My mama-made ring sling (thanks, Leeann!)

OTSBH, from Amanda

NoJo BabySling

The Snugli that started it all...

And finally...  My rainbow of babywearing love... All together, living in harmony...

I've really come a long way from those first days of my blue and while Snugli.  I'd like to add a BabyHawk, and maybe an Ergo, one of these days.  But really, I'm happy with my stash. And I'm happy to have been able to share the babywearing love with you!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Sunday Full of Blessings

Today began like any other Sunday, with Brian and Nathan getting up and leaving for the early service, and me getting the other ones ready for Sunday School and the late service. Hannah is still teething (darn molars), and wanted to nurse and nap instead of letting Mommy get ready. So we just make it before the service music begins, and as I drop Hannah off in the nursery, I have to deal with bad attitudes from both Nathan and David. *sigh* Not exactly the perfect lead-in for worship...

But somehow, through all of the noise God met me there, and the day began to change.

Brian had been gearing a noise coming from the blue van, newly fixed, and running again (thanks, Dad!), and had quit driving it. He thought it might be a belt coming through one of the tires (yeah - we need 4 new ones - they're bald. *sigh*), because it felt wobbly and kind of thumped. He drove it to church this morning, though, so I could come in my van at my convenience, since Hannah was so fussy. Well, as it turns out, it wasn't the tread. When the garage changed the flat while doing the other repairs, they apparently didn't tighten the lug nuts all the way. *eek* And it was completely by the grace of God that the wheel didn't come flying off at any point during the last month. Brian got them tightened down after church, and we're good. What a miracle!!!

And so, as the kids are settling down for a much-needed quiet time (they were wiped out from the wedding and trip yesterday), I sat down at my computer and logged on to FaceBook, to be greeted with a friend request from our former neighbors in Ambridge, while Brian was in seminary. I can't tell you how good it was to see her name! They have a large family, and homeschooled also, and our kids played so well together. I can assure you that we will never have better neighbors anywhere we ever live. Ever. And both of us have been too busy to catch up by other means, so FaceBook is the perfect opportunity for us to keep in touch. Well that, and the fact that my kids want me to ask if her kids have Webkinz, so they can play together. Again, what an unexpected shower of God's goodness and grace!

And lastly, I was perusing one of my favorite Mommy Boards while nursing Hannah to sleep, when I noticed one of my friends posted a link to Target for an INCREDIBLE deal on a Britax Marathon. This top-rated convertible car seat, which retails for around $250-$280, was on sale for an amazing $42.99. Yes, you read that right. FORTY TWO DOLLARS AND 99 CENTS.  Well, $46.00, with tax. Free shipping. I have been stressing about how we were going to afford a new carseat for Hannah, who has pretty much outgrown her Graco SnugRide. I have lusted after a Britax seat for years, but we were never in a position to be able to afford one. These are the safest, highest rated seats on the market.  And now, I am the proud owner of one.  It might take up to six weeks to get here, but I really don't care.  It was such a good deal!  Once again, God knew the need, and met it, going beyond my wildest dreams.

We are called to abundant living.  God wants so much for us - he is just waiting to let our cups overflow with bounty.  And today I was given a lesson in that.  Truly, He is great and loving beyond measure.  My heart is spilling over with joy, praise, and love.  Thank you, Lord, for all the blessings you have poured out on me today.  And, please, make me truly thankful.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

I'm Half Way There!

I'm taking a break from International Babywearing Week today, mostly because I'm leaving in a few minutes for a wedding in Des Moines this evening (Congratulations, John and McB!!!!). I'm looking forward to the celebration because we'll get to see many of our old friends from St. Tim's. But I'm bummed because we can't attend the luncheon reception tomorrow, since Brian has to get back for services in the morning. This is one time when I wish we lived closer to Des Moines...

But I'm also very proud of myself, because I've made it to the half-way point in my NaBloPoMo quest. I wasn't sure I'd make it this far, and I *know* my dear husband is shocked! So I want to thank all of my faithful readers for indulging me, for inspiring me, and for coming along for the ride.

Gotta run - but I'll be back tomorrow!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ring Slings, Mei Tais, and Pouches, Oh My!!!!

As I wrote yesterday, I made it through many years (and four babies, to be exact) with only my lowly Snugli. I was simply addicted to babywearing, and couldn't imagine life without it.

So it came to be that I gave birth to my 5th child, David, and my sister generously lent me her NoJo BabySling. And so, my odyssey into babywearing diversification had begun. The ring sling was a new concept for me, but several of my friends in seminary had Maya Wraps, and I was eager to test the concept. The main difference was that my Nojo was padded, and the Maya wraps were not. Adjusting to the ring sling took some time. There was a bit of a learning curve, I must admit. But I eventually got it all figured out. And my trusty, faithful Snugli was finally retired. I think I might still have it - I will have to dig around and see...

And so, my love affair with ring slings began. I used the heck out of that sling. I carried David everywhere. My parents gave me a second-hand swing, but I rarely used it. Both David and I were happier with him being worn. It was natural to me by this point, and we were homeschooling. It made it so much easier to be able to have David happy in the sling that to have him whining on the floor or somewhere else wile I was helping the kids with school.

But the fall that David was 9 months old, my sister was getting ready to have her 4th baby, and so, like the good sister I am, I packed up our shared stash of newborn clothes and the sling. *sniff* We had no extra money, with Brian being in seminary, so I couldn't replace it. But I have the most generous friends in the world - my on-line mommy=friends... And several of them very kindly sent me replacements - either from their own stash, or brand new. You ladies are angels! I was now the very proud owner of a mama-made ring sling (unpadded, unlike the Nojo, which was heavily padded), an Over The Shoulder Baby Holder ring sling, and a Kozy Carrier Mei Tai. A whole new world of possibilities had opened up to me...

I liked the OTBH in the house, for naps. The padding was nice and comfy for David. I used the mama-made RS when we went out, because it fit neatly and compactly in the diaper bag. It was also the RS of choice as he grew, because it was more adjustable than the OTSBH, and I am very short - the padding would get in the way. But I absolutely LOVED the versatility of my Kozy. It was everything that the Snugli of old had been, but better. And WAY cooler. Front-carry, back-carry, hip-carry. I get so many compliments when I wear the Kozy.

And so I was able to continue to wear David. And then, when Hannah cam along, another one of my on-line mommy-friends offered to sell me her Lucky Baby pouch sing. And I took her up on her offer. Boy, am I glad I did! I am a total LB convert. It's my go-to sling, now. It has that nice, soft, buttery minkee lining. *sigh* It is compact, and multifunctional. And oh-so-stylish. It's pretty much perfect! This lovely lady threw in a Comfy Joey silk pouch sling, too, for free! It's been wonderful for those formal outings. I've attended a couple of weddings and brought it along. So chic!

But I still have all of my stash accessible, and I do still use them all. The Kozy is great for long walks, and she loves the back-carry. The kids use my ring slings, because they are adjustable. Yes, my children (girls *and* boys) wear their siblings. It warms my heart... They are going to be such good attached parents, some day... And the LB lives on top of the diaper bag, ready to come with me, and ready to grab if I need to comfort a teething, cranky little girl. ANd the Joey for hot summer days, and for when I'm in the mood to be stylin'.

So there you have it... My babywearing journey, in a nutshell. I've come a long way in 14 years, from that light blue Snugli. But I wouldn't have changed it for the world. Now, maybe I ought to work on pics of the stash...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Babywearing - A Love Story

From the moment I gave birth to my first child, in December of 1994, I knew that I would want to keep this child always close to my heart.  I knew nothing of babywearing.  All I knew was that being attached to my child made sense.  It felt right. It made me happy.  I was babywearing before babywearing was cool or hip.  It was, in fact, quite hippy - a bit granola, even, for the Dallas suburb where we lived at the time.  But then again, I was parenting by instinct - an AP mom before I'd even heard of Dr. Sears or Attachment Parenting.  I just followed my heart. And I knew my baby belonged close to it.

I have been wearing my babies for almost 14 years, now. It all began with Sarah, and a Snugli. Yes, I know. Please don't throw anything - I was young, and didn't know any better. It was a front-and-back carrier - very versatile. I had wanted a Bjorn, but they were very expensive, and the Snugli was about half the price. I couldn't find a pic of my first one, which burned up in the fire (it was similar - but blue chambray with white trim). So here's the one I replaced it with.

I loved it. Yes - I know... How much more I would have loved a ring sling, an Ergo, even a Bjorn... But it did what I needed it to do... And I even got Brian to use it. Yes - real men *do* wear their babies! He liked to wear them on his back, mostly. But hey - I think it's sexy when a man wears his child...

I used it everywhere - to the grocery store, on walks around the neighborhood, at the mall. It was just so much easier than dealing with the stroller. This was back in the dark ages - before travel systems where you could just pop the bucket into your stroller. I simply buckled on the Snugli, and tucked Sarah in. I was able to do laundry, cook, and clean, all without putting my baby down. I put her on, and she was happy. She slept. This was ingenious! Why wasn't EVERYONE doing this???????

And when Amanda came along, I was able to wear her, and keep Sarah in the stroller. When you've got a newborn, and a 20 month-old, babywearing is a lifesaver. When we found out that Nathan was on the way, we went ahead and bought a double stroller. So I was still able to take all 3 kids out by myself. (By myself??? What was I *thinking*???) Having a 3 year-old, a 21 month-old, and a newborn -I could not have survived without the Snugli!

And after the fire in the fall of '98, I replaced my Snugli, but not the swing. I found that I would rather wear my babies than put them in the swing. We both liked it better, actually. And I've had 3 more kids, and still no swing. But my collection of baby carriers has increased exponentially... *grin*

I truly love wearing my babies. It just feels so natural - keeping them close to my heart, where they grew for 9 months. And a carrier is much more user-friendly that a swing or a stroller, and takes up much less space than either one. And I've grown accustomed to the inquiring glances and the strange looks - even gotten to enjoy them. Kind of like nursing in public... *grin* Like I said - I never knew any better. I just did what came naturally. And babywearing did. Still does. In's a wonderful fringe benefit of my job. I love it.

Tomorrow - My first ring sling - and beyond...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - International Babywearing Week!

Me, wearing David, in my mama-made ring sling, Summer of '06, at the Museum of Natural History in DC

David, in my Kozy, hip-carry, trying to climb out to pet the doggies at the Feast of St. Francis, Blessing of the Animals, Fall '06

I just realized that I have no pics of Hannah being worn, mostly b/c I am the one always holding the camera!  Must change that...  And the others are all non-digital pics, and our scanner is less-than-adept with good quality pics.

And make sure you check out Adventures in Babywearing this week, for lots more info on babywearing.   You, too, could be entered to win a free sling from Nonny & Boo!

More on my love affair with babywearing to come...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Meditation for Tuesday

I have been trying to get back into the habit of daily devotionals. I tend to be woefully neglectful in that department - something which really bothers me. But finding any sort of quiet time in my days is difficult at best.. *sigh* So it remains a catch-as-catch-can sort of thing.

I have picked up an old standby, recently - God Calling. The meditations are short enough for me to read over in a minute or two, but have enough substance for me to ponder throughout the day. There is an online version here. Today's message really spoke to me...

November 11 - Heaven's Colors

Looking back you will see that every step was planned. Leave all to Me. Each stone in the mosaic fits into the perfect pattern, designed by the Master Artist.

It is all so wonderful!

But the colors are of Heaven's hues, so that your eyes could not bear to gaze on the whole, until you are beyond the veil.

So, stone by stone, you see, and trust the pattern to the Designer.

This really spoke to me, today.  So often, we stumble through our days, just trying to get from one thing to another, and hoping that we don't leave anything behind in the process.  And when we stop to catch a breath, all we can see is a pile of stones and mortar.  

I do find myself, from time to time, having to step back and remember that there *is* indeed a bigger picture, one that we can't see.  I am often reminded of all the seemingly random things that happened to Brian and me during our lives which have prepared us for his ministry, things which, at the time, appeared to be tragic at worst, and inconvenient at best.  But God wastes nothing, and He has redeemed all things.  We will not see the masterpiece of His perfect will until our days on this side of the Cross are done, and we dine with Him at His great banquet feast in the life to come.

And in the meantime, I keep telling myself that even though all I may see is a cracked stone, a broken shard, God is using that to create something of surpassing beauty, something so perfect that it can be appreciated only  by His eyes.  And I must trust that He can, and will, honor that promise, no matter how shattered and broken things look to my clouded eyes.  And I hold onto that hope with all of my heart.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Confessions of an Untidy Housewife

I think it's entirely possible that I have the messiest house on the planet. No matter what I do, I never seem to be able to get it under control. Yes, I realize that I do have six kids, and that does, in fact, contribute to the disorganization, but I feel that I ought to be able to keep up with things much better than I actually do. *sigh*

I have tried FlyLady, but the best I can seem to do with that is to have my sink clean before bed. And forget about the whole putting on shoes to clean your house... I wear shoes outdoors under protest, only when necessitated by weather conditions and the fact that Target won't allow me in with bare feet. Having to wear shoes inside my house is just WRONG. Period.

It's not like I dislike housekeeping, either. I have done it for pay, for years. I did light cleaning for an elderly widow when I was in high school, after her husband died. He was the tidy one, and she just couldn't bring herself to take on those chores after he passed. And I worked as a housekeeper in a B&B summers in high school and college. I don't mind cleaning someone else's house, but when it comes to my own, somehow I just can't quite keep up. *sigh*

I suppose one contributing factor is that my husband doesn't really mind the mess. If he did, I'd probably be more motivated to do something about it. But he'd rather relax during his off time than help me with the chores, and there's something to that - there is a true need for a Sabbath which is often neglected in our busy-busy culture. And I'd rather spend my time interacting with my kids than sweeping the kitchen floor for the twentieth time this week.

A wise friend of mine once commented to me that she discovered that she was a much nicer person when she had a dirty floor. Clean floors would always bring out the b*tch in her - yelling at her kids to keep everything just so, and generally becoming not a very nice person. But once the floor wasn't so pristine anymore, she discovered that she had mellowed, and the little things would slide off her back much more easily.

I have tried to learn from her wisdom, as she is a mom of 4. But I am afraid that I take it to the extreme. My kitchen floor is beyond dirty, most days.. Shoes, coats, toys, school papers... And that's not even mentioning the crumbs, wrappers, and other assorted  gunk that accumulates and reproduces under the kitchen table...

I have been told that as the wife of a priest, I need to be ready for drop-in visits at all times. Ummm - no. Not here... But fortunately, most of the people in our parish respect that I have 6 kids, and are kind enough to call first, giving me enough time to shove and sweep things into some sort of pretend order.

Am I proud of this??? No.  But I am trying to improve, bit by bit.  One day, I do realize, the wee ones will be no longer wee, and I will have more freedom to engage in orderly homekeeping.  But for now, I will settle for clean enough, and hope the guests don't mind...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Settling in...

I think it's official.  The cold weather is here to stay.  We've been spoiled, here in Iowa, by some extraordinarily warm weather, late in the season.  Getting my kids to accept the fact that they do, now, in fact, *need* winter coats has been more of a battle that I would have liked it to be.  And then, there's the annual sorting out of who has grown out of what, and what can be passed down to whom, and who needs new boots, mittens, etc.  And trying to remember exactly where I put all this stuff last spring... *rolls eyes*

And as I sit here, snuggled up with my fuzzy socks and warm fleece pants, menu-planning for this coming week, I am dreaming of all the yummy winter comfort foods I have to chooses from.  Chicken pot pie, chili, French onion soup, lasagna, enchilada casserole...  And that's just for starters...  Too much good food... 

The kids had hot chocolate after church.  I buy this in bulk, you know...  And I was informed that I need to get marshmallows, too, because no self-respecting mug of hot cocoa is fully dressed without those sweet white puffs.  And whipped cream, if I'll let them...

Soon, it will be more than just flurries I'm watching out the window, and wind chills will be in the unspeakable range.  And I'll be making Christmas cookies, and lighting Advent candles.  And, at some point, the cold will begin to seep into my bones, and I'll begin to yearn for spring.  But right now, I think I'm just going to grab my own warm, chocolate beverage, drop in a few marshmallows,  squirt on the whipped cream, and dream of homemade cream soup and the scent of baking bread, and entertain visions of my sugar plums snuggled up around the fire.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Reflections on my weekend

Well, we have returned home from the 156th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa.  And although my husband had to endure all of the minutia of plenary sessions, resolutions, budgets, and voting, ad nauseam, I was able (for the most part) to simply enjoy the worship services.  Well, in between dealing with the 3 boys and Hannah - spotty child care and meal planning by the organizers (which is, in all fairness, light years better than past conventions, as there actually *was* childcare...)  And Hannah is teething. Again.  More molars... *sigh*   So she was velcro-baby - all-mommy-all-the-time...  The big girls were safely ensconced across the street at a lock-in, though... 

But anyway...  In my moments of quiet, (and some not-so-quiet) I was able to be reminded again of exactly why I am an Episcopalian.  I love the liturgy.  Love it.  The pageantry and the mystery speak to my soul.  The familiarity of the prayers, the power of words spoken in community - in communion, the power of coming to the Table together.  The knowledge that I can walk into any Episcopalian or Anglican church, anywhere in the country, anywhere in the world, and pray those same prayers, and worship together, just fills my heart.  It really *is* all about Jesus, and how, despite all our many differences, He can bring us together.  And that's a beautiful thing...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Random Thoughts

I am in Des Moines this evening, for the Iowa Diocesan convention - where all of the clergy, and selected lay people of the Episcopal church gather once a year to fellowship and decide the future for the church for the next year. Or so I'm told. Something like that, anyway... It's nice to be back in central Iowa, since we spent 8 wonderful years here. The kids are in bed, and we're in a bar, drinking beer. And thus, is my 7th NaBloPoMo post is born...

My random thoughts for the evening...

  • The absolute *worst* weather on the planet is 33 degrees and raining.  Which we drove through from Davenport to Des Moines, and had to walk through to the cathedral.  Not fun...
  • Babysitting for dinner would have been nice, this evening.  Fortunately, I have a 10-year old, who was able to watch the younger 3 while we ate, and I had to go back to the room only 3 times...
  • Iowans are friendly people.  I really *do* love the midwest.
  • I am looking forward to going to the new mall tomorrow, which is walking distance from the house we lived in before Brian was called to the priesthood.  I miss that house...  And the mall...
  • It's good that we moved.  being within walking distance from the Cheesecake Factory would not have been good for my figure...
So, is that random enough for you????  And now, if you don't mind, I'll go and enjoy the rest of my beer... or two... *grin*

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thankful Thursday

I did, in fact, have this wonderful, sweet post planned out, and then my day went haywire. I'd use other language to describe it, but there are kids around... *sigh* So I'm not in the same frame of mind that I was when I began this post, oh, 12 hours ago... *sigh*

But I do want to start a tradition of expressing my gratitude for the blessings that have been given to me, and I thought that Thursdays would be a good place to start. Several of my blogging friends are doing similar exercises, for an entire month. I'll try to get there, but my life is so random that I really better just start small.

I am thankful, today, that we have food on our table. There are so many around me that don't. I see them every time that I go into church to see Brian - all the Angel Food people, all those we serve at the Community Meal... The people lined up outside the free lunch cafe downtown... Those invisible people that you hear about, but never really see... But by the grace of God, we are able to eat. And we eat well. And when you've got a family of 8, that's no small thing. There are days when I am glad that the kids actually *like* ramen noodles, and that they do, in fact, request pasta at least once a week. And occasionally, we get to enjoy more exotic fare, like Chicken Tikka Masala, chicken enchiladas, all kinds of Chinese food... And let's not forget fondue - cheese, or chocolate...

Yes, I am blessed, not only with the food that is provided for us, but also with a gift to prepare it. To be able to take the slimmest of pantry fodder and make a meal that the majority of the kids will eat. And to take the most exotic ingredients, and craft them into a delicious feast. Cooking is, for me, like therapy. It clears my head, calms me down. I am thankful that I am able do bless my family with the fruits of my labors. I hope to post some of my recipes in the future - you know, if I ever get time to type them out... *grin*

So there you have it. Kind of mundane, but then again, not so much. I am truly thankful that we can eat, and eat abundantly. And what a wonderful thing that is...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wordless Wednesday -Fall Fun

Pics taken by Nathan, age 10
I think he might have a future, here...

Hannah, in the leaves

David, in the circle

The artist...

The tree out front of our house

Hannah, again


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I voted.

So I did it.  Did my civic duty.  Took David and Hannah, picked Brian up at church, and cast our ballots.  And guess what?  There were no lines - no waiting - although that may have been due to the fact that we went at 10 AM - missed the breakfast and lunch rushes, and beat the after-work crowds.   And I am proudly sporting my cute "I voted" sticker.  I hear that you can get a bunch of free stuff merely by showing off that sticker!  Might have to look into that...

And how are we spending the rest of our day?  We are grilling hamburgers on the deck - how much more patriotic can you get??? Come to think of it, maybe I ought to make brownies, too...   I love this country!

And if you haven't already, go get yourself one of those cute little stickers, too!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Indian Summer

Today was a beautiful day.  Mid 70s, sunny... *sigh*  Darn near perfect.  One of the last such days we will enjoy until May, I dare say.  And because one night last week we had a killing frost, this is true Indian Summer.  I have been enjoying the fragrance of fall wafting in through the open windows, and I even got outside for a bit to try to capture some of the last vestiges of color that will inhabit my yard until spring.  Now, I am decidedly *not* a professional photographer. Not even close...   But I thought it was worth shooting...

The burning bush out back. LOVE the color...

Hedge apples in the lawn. These are supposed to keep spiders away, but the kids have decided that they make better speed bumps for the cars that fly by on the street behind our house...

The very last flowers in bloom in my yard. I am trusting that these are actual flowers, and *not* weeds. I am gardening impaired... *sigh*

The last of the apples on the tree. These were sooooo yummy...

And last but not least... A gratuitous kitty pic... Guinevere, enjoying life, in her bed on the porch.

We are all soaking up these last few wisps of fall, because before we know it, winter will be upon us, with its icy blasts, grey days, and salt trucks.

They are predicting snow by the end of the week...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I Sing a Song of the Saints of God...

Yes, I know that yesterday was technically All Saints Day, but today is All Saints SUNDAY - the day when we Episcopalians gather to celebrate the Feast of All Saints.  Which means we get to sing some wonderful traditional songs as part of the liturgy and worship.  The processional was For All the Saints - a requisite part of any self-respecting Anglican service, and which, this year, brought me to tears, as I remembered my grandmother, who passed away last March.  Surely she was singing with me, her voice far brighter than mine...

But my very favorite part of today's service every year is this song...

I sing a song of the saints of God, patient and brave and true,
Who toiled and fought and lived and died for the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor, and one was a queen, 
And one was a shepherdess on the green;
They were all of them saints of God and I mean, God helping, to be one too.

They loved their Lord so dear, so dear, and his love made them strong.
And they followed the right for Jesus’ sake the whole of their good lives long.
And one was a soldier, and one was a priest, 
And one was slain by a fierce wild beast,
And there’s not any reason, no not the least, why I shouldn’t be one too.

They lived not only in ages past, there are hundreds of thousands still.
The world is bright with the joyous saints, who love to do Jesus’ will.
You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea, 
In church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea,
For the saints of God are just folk like me, and I mean to be on
e too.

I remember singing this when I was young, and thinking how very proper, and how very British it sounded.  I have always been an Anglophile, after spending several years just south of London as a child, and all things British , well,  just make me happy.

I do love this hymn, though.  We used to have it in book form, for the kids, but we lost it in the fire 10 years ago, and haven't replaced it yet.  It is a great story for the little ones.  I like how it explains how we all are saints - it's the little things in the way you live your life - not just those BIG, DRAMATIC moments (although those *do* count, too...) that speak to our love for Jesus.  We are called to sainthood in the everyday-edness of our lives - in the way we greet people, how we speak with them, how we honor Christ in them, and His image,  in ourselves.

So go out and be a Saint today.  And I mean to be one, too...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Well, Here Goes Nothing...

So.  Today is the first of November.  And I'm beginning two very ambitious projects.  NaBloPoMo, which I've already mentioned, which will be a feat in and of itself, if I make it.  But that's not all.  I'm also, once again, participating in Diaper Decision's Great Cloth Diaper Hunt.  Which all means that I will be spending an inordinate amount of time on my computer.  When I mentioned this to Brian, you know... in passing... he reminded me that he has World of Warcraft, and a laptop, and there's an expansion due out mid-month.  So he'll survive just fine without me...*grins and rolls eyes*  I did, however, tell him to expect that the house would not receive its usual attention... *insert hysterical laughter here*  At least my computer is now in the family room, so I can keep an eye on small children whilst I am otherwise engaged...

I am looking forward to both the writing, and the hunting.  And I'll be awaiting a visit from those elusive cleaning fairies...

And Happy All Saints Day, everyone!!!!!