Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Unconditional Love

I have had an amazing week.

I have had an extra surge of energy, amazing amounts of patience, and have been embarrassing my kids with my awesome dance moves. In other words, I've been really happy.

Maybe it's all the christmas cookies.
And the wrapping of presents for my kids.
And the christmas music.
And the fact that it's been in the 50's the last few days.

We decorated the tree. I did the top part and the kids did the bottom. And then at nap time I re-distributed the bottom half onto the rest of the tree to even it up a bit. ;-) This tree is super pokey! We cut it down, like we do every year, but this year we really got a lethal one. One poke from a needle and I've got tears in my eyes! Also, remember the naked tree two years ago that dropped all its needles in the house a full week before christmas? Fortunately, our tree isn't naked yet, but let's just say that we could have a repeat on our hands.

Poor little Oliver rolled unassumingly underneath the tree yesterday and got his arm stuck in one of the branches when he tried to pull down an ornament. Poor kid not only got poked like crazy, but he also got a shower of pine needles in his face! Seriously, christmas trees are the worst. But they look so pretty! But they're so much work and ridiculous besides! Still pretty. An environmental tragedy. And yet still so pretty. 

A trunk of my high school and college belongings arrived in my house last week. This is what happens when you move over ten times in 18 years. Your stuff is all in trunks being stored who knows where. Anyway, this particular trunk was home to about five journals. Yes, I used to do that religiously. Before I had kids, since obviously I have so much time to write for hours and hours about my feelings now. Eric got his hands on them and pretty soon we were both flipping through four years of my personal history. You know what the best part was? In every single journal, from 2005 onward, Eric was the main character. You know what else? I was in love with him by December of my freshman year of college, exactly nine years ago. Eighteen-years-old and completely in love with my new best friend. I'm so thankful to have shared nine years of history with him!

Speaking of Eric (urban farmer extraordinaire), he thinks our goat Jane is pregnant. Which means she could be having triplets in February. But we don't actually know for sure, because we messed up a little with the whole breeding thing this year since it's our first time. And we can't feel the babies moving yet...if there are any. Let's just say we are learning a lot. Haaaa.

Two of my kiddos are down with fevers today, accompanied by rattling coughs and fountain noses of green. It's a great excuse to drink hot chocolate and watch movies all afternoon. cough cough **every day** cough cough. Can we be better by Christmas please?

Do you know one of the greatest things about having little kids? I get to read The Jesus Storybook Bible over and over and over. And it never gets old. Best children's Bible EVER. And you know what else is great? It ministers to me every day. In reading it every day, I have been really trying to instill in my kids that God's love is unconditional. That no matter what you do, God will always love you just as much. Because He loves you for who you are, because He created you and He delights in you. I want my kids to know that no matter what choices they make, or their birth parents make, or whatever may happen in the future, that God will always be pursuing them and loving them. Because it is not about being good or even being kind that will win God's favor. We've already won his favor, just by being alive! 

So even if we choose to walk away from God, we can never ever walk away from His love for us. Because He will continue to love us no matter what. 

That is grace.

So as I preach the gospel to my kids, I'm also preaching it to myself. That God delights in me because He made me. And I am enough. Because I am His.

I am thankful that my life is God's. (And that I get to explain to my kids that Jesus isn't actually a tiny person living inside each of their hearts and that no, there are no doors or windows in there...who even told them this anyway?). And whatever my kids decide, whether to walk with God or without Him, may they always know His incredible, unwavering, unconditional love He has for them. Simply because of who they are.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

God with us

I've been thinking a lot about Jesus's mother Mary today. About how she was a nobody. Just an average girl. Nothing special. Probably poor. Definitely imperfect. Completely human.

But she was willing.

Willing to let God work in her life in the ways that He chose. Willing to give up her dignity, honor, and cultural acceptance as a woman by saying YES to God and therefore YES to the baby in her womb.

God chose to send his Son and our Rescuer and Savior into the world through a girl who was broken, who had problems, who struggled with life and hard questions, as all humans do.

And God still wanted her to be the one to bring Jesus into this world. In spite of her sin, in spite of her shortcomings. In spite of emotions, or doubts, or whatever she may have been going through.

That is grace.

That God still wants us. Just as we are.

And if we are willing, He will work in us, work through us, and fill us with Himself. All for His glory. For making all things new. Because He loves us that much.

So I hope.

I hope for my daughters who are living in my, perhaps temporary, care. That God would make their brokenness whole. That their sorrow would be changed into laughter. Because he loves them that much.

And I hope for the children from my womb, that they would be willing to allow their Creator to write their stories. And I hope for words of joy, redemption, peace, and grace to be woven into the sentences of their lives.

And I hope for my husband. That his heart would beat in sync with our Father. That he would be clothed in strength for the days ahead.

I hope for myself. Because God can use my broken pieces. And He is, even now, creating something beautiful with them. I just know it. I choose to trust that He is doing a good thing. And perhaps a bit like Mary, I choose to be willing.

One day I will look back on this season of my life and will be able to see God's goodness and faithfulness even more clearly than I can see it now. But even in the darkest moments, I still see His goodness. In Oliver's smile, once open mouthed and gaping, is now a vertical line that squishes out his cheeks and defines his little dimples. In Lyla, slipping into my lap out of nowhere. Fitting perfectly. In the smell of Lexi's hair as she tucks her head against my shoulder while I read aloud. In Joy Girl asking for an extra kiss at nap time. In Kia spreading peanut butter on slices of bread and licking her fingers when she thinks I'm not looking. My children are a blessing.

For my hope is in Christ the Lord, the Risen King. Emmanuel. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Not Alone

This last week I have noticed that my blog is becoming my external thinking space. So if you don't want to hear what's rumbling around inside my head, stop reading. Otherwise, welcome to my crazy scrambled eggs brain!

I have also noticed something else: I am a happier person when I get the chance to sit and write at some point in the day. Usually it's nap time. But since I'm sleeping better at night, I usually take nap time to sit in my chair and stare into space while sitting in the silence. Or typing madly away on my laptop in an effort to organize the chaos inside my head.

Speaking of being a happier person...

I am a part of a women's group that meets on Monday nights for a Bible study/book study/women's fellowship time. We just started two weeks ago, but we are all friends of at least two years (some longer), we we already have a friendship base formed. Anyway, this past Monday since we didn't all have the book yet that we had ordered, we just went around and shared what is going on in our lives. It wasn't great.

In fact, I affectionately dubbed it, "Wet Blanket Night." Since pretty much everything that was shared was heavy, uncomfortable, and hard. Blankets aren't exactly hard, but you get the point. It was gloomy. And damp. And... never mind.

As these lovely women (myself included) were sharing their struggles and fears and questions, I couldn't help but notice a few things.

First off, I have been completely in the dark. I had NO idea that these ladies had this stuff going on and we actually called ourselves friends. I don't think so, but here's to a fresher start. Secondly, most of the words we were using to describe how we are really doing, included this vocabulary:
Lost identity
Lost purpose

I know there are a lot of women in the world, but honestly it was so good for me to hear that I wasn't the only person who is incredibly lonely and unhappy and trapped and you get the point. I may be surrounded by five kids who touch me and need me every second of the day, but my husband works twelve hour days. And weekends are usually filled with projects or managing kids or hanging out with other people. It gets lonely during the week. And sometimes I even feel trapped. Well, more than sometimes.

So it was good to see that there are other people in very different seasons and stages of life than me who are actually feeling similar things in very different circumstances. Proof that the grass is not always greener on the other side of that really tall fence.

But it was also really discouraging. And I'm just being honest here. It was discouraging because all of us in that room are professed Believers. And as such, shouldn't our vocabulary look more like this?
Because a life in Christ should be filled up with HIM. Consumed by Him. He IS the stairway to God. He IS all that we need. So isn't that first list of words pretty much everything that is NOT of Him?

I can't help but think sometimes that I am missing something. I love the Lord. I would even go so far as to say that He really IS my life. But what if I'm wrong? Because if He really had every part of me, why would I be feeling so unhappy? And is this depression speaking or really a deep longing for something more?

I will never EVER give up my faith. I love the Lord too much for that. But I think sometimes I lose perspective when most of my day-in-and-day-out relationships are with little people who have underdeveloped frontal lobes. And when my best friend tells me that I can just choose to be happy and I will be. But what if I can't just choose? What if I really do have a problem?

Anyway, this was a little more sad than I wanted it to be, but I think that life as an adult is never quite what most of us imagined it would be when we were kids and just wanted to grow up faster. I really do have joy in my life and wonderful little moments with my kids too. But I am tired of the masks. I am tired of thinking that I am friends with a person only to find out in one evening of honesty that I never really knew them at all. I am tired of the social media shameless bragging and idyllic lives that are portrayed every second of every day. Because that's not real. And when I say "Hi, how are you" and you answer "I'm great, how are you" are you telling me the truth? The real truth? And will you still be my friend if I answer with truth? Because my truth right now is that first list of vocabulary words. I don't like that it is. I don't want it to stay that way. And yes, yes, yes, I pray to God that it will change and soon. But this is today. And I am so very thankful for Ann Voskamp's words in The Greatest Gift,

Christ becomes the one step we can never take - and takes us. He comes to us like He comes to Jacob - He comes to us not in spite of our failings - but precisely because of them. Ours is the God who is drawn to those who feel down. Ours is the God who is attracted to those who feel abandoned. Ours is the God who is bound to those who feel broken. ....This is grace.

A friend of mine told me yesterday that she is praying for God to make my life into stained glass. Broken up, messy pieces put back together by the master Artist. Created into something intricately more beautiful than I could ever have imagined or thought possible. 

I wonder what that will look like. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Cutting Trees and Mending Hearts

Yesterday we went out and got our christmas tree. And by "got" I mean that we drove an hour outside of the city to a tree farm and cut one down. We cut a tree down every year. Is anyone else bothered by this? While I enjoy the tradition, and the fact that Eric loves hunting down "The Perfect Tree" with the shivering, teeth chattering kids, I can't help but cringe whenever the saw hits the trunk. Cutting down a tree and bringing it inside the house and putting lights and ornaments on it and then throwing it out three weeks later seems like something a crazy person would do.

Hello, United States of America.

Oh well. At least my house smells good now.

Also, I forgot the camera and my phone battery died. So we have no proof that we even went all that way to cut down that tree. I DID remember diapers though. And snacks. Both of which are more important to immediate survival than a camera is. So there's that.

And a guy dressed up like Santa Claus was there. Kia went right up to him and said to his face, "You're NOT Santa. You don't even look like him!" Ha!

After killing a perfectly good tree and strapping it onto the roof of our van, we drove to my parent's house and Eric made duck pho for all of us. Which is another name for an extremely delicious noodle soup that is cooked with the broth from one of our smoked ducks. So good.

Eric cooked in the kitchen and had a blast, my kids were entertained by the grandparents and aunties, my dad was laughing and singing silly songs, and my sister (who is currently in massage school) gave me a massage. On a heated massage table. It was glorious. And, who knew? She's actually getting really good!

I love being with my family. It always feels right and good and so so safe. Being with them is like having a warm fluffy blanket wrapped around me. Like nothing can go wrong. And if it does, it will be ok. Because we are all together. A family.

This morning, back at home, Kia was having a rough moment because it was Lexi's turn for me to color with her (yes, I set a timer and have to rotate my way through four little girls who all want me to color in their Dora coloring books with three times a day. We need some more exciting coloring books before Mama starts pulling her brains out through her nose.). Anyway, Kia was angry and among other things said that she was leaving the house and going to go live with her Mom. I said, "Ok, have fun, but you can't open the door and leave the house without permission." And so it went.

But when she was calm, I gently explained to her again that it is not my decision if and when she can return to live with her mom. That the decision is up to the judge. I also assured her that the adults will make the decision about what is best for her, and that she just needs to be a kid and not worry about it. Because either way, she will still get to see her mom. And either way, she will be in a safe home (I may have been stretching a bit on this one).

And then something strange happened. She started crying and grabbed my arm and told me that she doesn't want to live with her mom and she wants to stay here. That she doesn't want to leave here, ever.

And here I am, still feeling all warm and snuggly from my time with my family, listening to a four-year-old tell me that her family isn't working. That her family has been broken apart. Wounded and bleeding. That some wounds might be too deep to heal.

How is this fair? Why should a four-year-old have to be dealing with so much confusion and grief and pain? And she is sitting there choosing me over her own birth mother because she was forced to, in a way, due to the circumstances. While I treasure the fact that she loves me, that she tells me she wants to live here, that she is thriving with us, my heart is also so broken over the 'whys' of how she even joined our family in the first place.

It didn't have to happen this way.

I know God can write a new story for her. And even for the rest of her family. But the pain and cold hard truth of what brought these girls to our doorstep can never be erased.

Sometimes this is hard for me to accept.

And I want our family, my family, to be enough. To wrap her up tight in our love and hold her there, safe.

And I am scared for her. Not knowing what's coming. Not knowing if her life will be happy or safe. Not knowing what choices will be made for her and what choices she will make herself.

So I hold her close. Tell her I love her no matter what happens. And I pray. Pray that God will mend her little broken heart.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Bad Karma

Let me start out by saying that I don't want to live from crisis to crisis. And for the most part, I don't. But lately, things are getting a little out of hand. In Eric's words, "We can't catch a break around here!"

I'll fill you in so you can laugh at our problems and also understand why we are currently a bit low on the extra bucks.

A month ago, our neighbor ran into our garage door with her car. I really don't know how she managed to do that. Unless she just was really not paying attention. Anyway, about a quarter of the garage door was missing. It was old and made of wood panels, so you can imagine the wreckage. Of course this happened on a very cold, dark evening when Eric was still at work and I was home alone with the kids. Our garage had a lot of Eric's power tools in it, and our neighborhood can be kind of seedy. So I SOS-ed a friend, locked the kids in the house with Curious George playing, and emptied out the garage.

Everyone has asked why we didn't ask the neighbor to pay for the damage. We could have, but their dad just unexpectedly died from cancer last month. And their family is already struggling financially to cover the bills that came along with his diagnosis and final treatments.

Then Eric and I took off for a long weekend in Florida. It was great. Except for the fact that our hotel bed was infested with bugs (and they wanted us to continue staying in the room!), so we switched hotels at 11:30 at night. It was chilly and rainy weather, and on the one gorgeous day the tire blew out on our way to the beach. We lost four hours of the day with that ordeal. And then our plane was delayed on the way home. And Oliver pooped through every outfit that I brought for him. It was gross. Other than that, we had a great time. We really did. But this post is all about the bad things, so obviously I can't tell you all the good stuff (and really, there was so much good stuff, I can't wait to go back!).

A few days later Eric was pulling into our alley on the way home from work and the tire exploded on OUR van. We ended up needing to replace all four.

The next week, our dishwasher broke. When the guy finally came last week to look at it, he said the motor was completely burned out. It's only three months old. Yeah.

Yesterday, one of the kids (I won't tell you who) used an entire roll of toilet paper to wipe her poopy bum. Said toilet is still very very clogged. It's getting gross. And slightly (more than slightly?) unsanitary in there. Thank goodness we have use of the bathroom in the basement since my sister recently moved out.

And the mouse. The mouse! We can't catch it! It's everywhere and nowhere, and just when we think it's gone, I find yet another turd and another bag of nuts that has been chewed through.

So today all the kids are wearing these crazy mixed matched, ill fitting clothes because it was laundry day about four days ago and I still hadn't washed anything four days later. Today I was determined to wash it all! No more digging through dirty clothes to pick out even more dirty socks to wear! I was in the middle of the wash cycle when a city worker came to the door and informed me that they are turning off the water for the afternoon.

I mean, my toilet already won't flush and my dishwasher is broken too, so we might as well just slit the throat of the washing machine as well.

I guess I haven't mentioned yet that I have been without a vehicle for a while now. We were going to get Eric's car fixed so I could have the van during the week with the kids, but then all of the above happened. So, as my friends like to tell me (they're so nice), I'm kind of under house arrest.

And since this post is only about bad things happening, I'll keep going. Lexi is still sick. But apparently she is well enough to come out of her room, throw markers at my head because she's mad, and then yell at all the kids to shut their mouths and leave her alone. I made her go back to bed.

It's actually pretty amazing the change in family dynamic when Lexi is sick. All of the sudden Kia is the angel child who has all of my attention and absolutely no one to fight with. Don't get me wrong, it's sad when Lexi is sick, but at the same time, yesterday and today have been really great relationship building days with Kia. My affection for her (which was reaching dangerously low levels due to the two worst months of our lives with her in October and November) is rising again and we are having so many positive interactions that I am catching myself smiling a lot and laughing WITH her instead of cringing while I wait for the next bomb to explode. She really is a delightful child. Funny how we so quickly lose perspective when we are forced to wade through shit for days on end. There might not be flowers yet, but at least the road has been clean this week. It makes a big difference.

Oliver is sick too and has taken to rubbing his gooey, snotty face all over my shirt whenever I pick him up. Yep. Can't wait for that water to be turned back on.

We decided to do our christmas shopping for the kids at the thrift shop this year. This means that Eric hangs out in thrift stores in the suburbs during his lunch break at work, and I get to be surprised and happy about what ends up under the tree for the kids. It's actually kind of fun, since the pressure is off. And there's always Amazon Prime in a pinch. We don't have a tree yet, but we will. I got out all the christmas books and stockings and the kids have been forcing me to read aloud Charlie Brown's Christmas at least ten times every. single. day. At least it's not about Santa. That guy seriously bugs me.

Despite me writing about all the bad karma we attract, I am actually in a really good mood today. I spent some great time with kids this morning, and even though it took three and a half centuries for 12 o'clock to roll around, it finally did. And we ate lunch and now everyone except for me is napping peacefully. I should be too, but I would rather write. It fills me up more than sleep these days. Plus, you needed to know about my bad karma so you could stay far away.

Eric and I have a bet concerning which costly appliance is going to blow this winter. I think the refrigerator, he is guessing the boiler. Stay tuned. It will probably happen right when we are about to get the car fixed.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


I have this nifty little speaker that connects to my smart phone via bluetooth that Eric got me for my birthday a few years ago. I have a few favorite Pandora stations and like to blast them while I get my cooking or dishwashing on. Speaking of dishwashing, our dishwasher broke last week so we are back to the extremely time consuming hands-on approach. And the paper plates. Let's not forget about those handy little guys.

Lexi is sick today, so I used the morning to make a new batch of granola with Kia. I had music going as usual and was dancing along as we whip-whip-stirred (Star Wars Christmas Special reference. Don't ask.).

I took my lanky four-year-old Kia in my arms and spun her around to the beat, her giggles filling up the room and my heart. My love for her is still new, still tender and raw in places, but it's there. And it's growing.

"Look into my eyes," I said, "and remember This. When you are an adult, and you're feeling sad, just turn on some music and dance in the kitchen."

"Why?" she asked.

"Because it makes you feel better. Dancing in the kitchen makes everything feel better. Trust me. I know."

We kept dancing. And laughing. And spinning. Granola flying everywhere.

These are the moments I want to remember.

Not the tantrums, the screaming, the whining, the endless poop and clogged toilet, piles of laundry and food going bad in the refrigerator. I don't want my kids to remember me yelling at them or crying in frustration, or locking myself in my bedroom to just. get. away.

I want them to remember me acting like a happy fool, and dancing in the kitchen with them.

Oliver boy

My Oliver boy is the best.
Call me a biased mom, but he is.

Yes. He wakes me up at least three times a night to eat. Yes. He naps erratically. Yes. He cried non-stop for the first nine weeks of life. And yes. He must be held constantly to remain happy.

But seriously, this boy.

He smiles these huge open mouth smiles at me every time he catches my eye. My sister and I like to joke that he looks like a Peanut's character with his bald little potato head and huge eyes and big vertical open mouth grins. And he ADORES me. I'm his hero. His drink machine. His greatest love and biggest fan. His milky breath is sweet like strawberries and his chubby fingers are always trying to find my hands, face, hair, anything that he can grab and stuff in his mouth.

It is hard to believe that this boy that I am so smitten with was causing me so much anxiety and distress one year ago. If only I could have seen into the future a bit, maybe it would have been different. Felt different. I don't really know. But I do know that a year ago, I was struggling to accept the baby that was gifted to my womb unexpectedly. And today, I can't even imagine one single day without him.

Funny how God (and those wonderful little bonding hormones) does that. He takes something that we think we don't want, that we didn't think we asked for, didn't think we could handle, and turns it into something beautiful. A treasure. A son.

I'm not ashamed of the fact that I was upset when I found out I was pregnant. It makes me sad to think back on my emotional state at the time, though. But don't forget that pregnancy hormones wreak a lot of havoc on my body, both physically and emotionally. Eric can testify to this. So while it makes me sad to remember how I felt, I understand too, and give myself grace.

Since we have pretty much decided that my Oliver boy is the last baby that my body will grow, I am soaking up every minute of his baby life. I can't even believe that he is almost six months old already. Wasn't it just yesterday that I birthed him in this very room?

His giggles slay me. And he has these little flecks of brown in his big blue eyes that you can see when the sun shines in. A dimple on the side of his button chin when he grins. A forehead wrinkled in surprise. Soft soft skin and thigh rolls that delight me to no end. He catches my eyes and his whole body reacts. Mouth wide open in joy, legs kicking and arms waving erratically. Round rosy cheeks that invite multiple kisses, soft peach fuzz hair.

If only they could stay this little for just a while longer.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Naptime woes

I'm pretty sure I'm going a little crazy.
I don't think it is necessarily normal for a person to narrate her life in her head as it happens. It's a strange third person experience happening live. Anyway, it's been happening a lot. And since I'm already writing about my life in my head, I thought it would probably make more sense just to write about it for real. Probably.

Also, I'm not going to beat myself up over the fact that I'm not filling this blog with pictures all the time. I need to write. So write, I will.

I started reading this book written by a woman who is journaling through her life. At the time of writing, she's my age, has three little kids all in a row, is an artist, and seems to be emotionally and personality-wise very similar to me. She also has a beautiful relationship with God and doesn't know what she's doing as a parent to three littles. And sometimes feels trapped. And depressed. And victimized by said Littles.

I love her.

Finally! Someone who isn't afraid to say that motherhood is hard. That it's not always fun and not always enjoyable. That sometimes, there are other things we would rather be doing and other places that we would rather be.

I'm going to come out and say it too. I don't always like being a mom. I love love LOVE my kids. ALL of them. But there is a difference between deep, unconditional love and daily like. Call it sin, call me depressed. I don't even know what's wrong with me. But there it is. I love my kids. I can't say that I always like them though. And I can't say that I love parenting them, either. Maybe it's different when you only have your own biological kids. I guess I'll never know. But either way, in my personal experience, parenting has certainly not been enjoyable lately.

Yesterday, after the epic trek to church and back again (we should be on a reward system for getting all seven of us to church every week), we arrived home with starving, un-napped kids, and two exhausted parents. Eric made soup for everyone (which was outstanding), but it took a while to get on the table. And then the kids, after begging him for the soup for the past twenty minutes, all decided that they didn't like it and didn't want to eat it. I tried to bribe them with dessert afterwards if they finished, but this only ended in multiple meltdowns...all at the same time. If you think one kid having a meltdown is annoying, try listening to four kids having meltdowns simultaneously. And then add a sick baby crying in the background.

We finally got all the kids in their beds for naps. But that's when the real fun started. Joy Girl (3) and Kia (4) (yes, I finally decided on blog names for them at 2:30 AM this morning as I was, yet again, writing in my head) were messing around in their room so Joy Girl got moved into a room by herself. Kia was mad, so she decided to stand in her doorway and lick the entire mirror that is built into her bedroom door. I don't even want to think about the germs she picked up. Why would anyone lick mirror?
When I caught her licking the mirror and told her to knock it off and that she had to wash it, she promptly peed on herself and the floor. I seriously don't understand this child.

Meanwhile Lexi (4) and Lyla (2) are screaming and shouting in their bedroom and despite numerous threats and corrections and fruitless statements that I made referring to myself in the third person such as "Mama is SO TIRED. PLEASE please PLEASE GO TO SLEEP," naps were not to be had. At one point Lexi came out of her room (for only the fifth time) naked and asked for a drink of water. I don't know about you, but I remember nap time as a kid vividly. I laid on my bed and WENT TO SLEEP. I was perfect. I did no wrong. Obviously they don't get their bad behavior from me.

I finally removed Lyla from her room in a last ditch effort to get Lexi to take her nap. She didn't, but Lyla curled herself up onto my chest and fell asleep within a matter of minutes. Out of that whole exhausting, rotten afternoon, Lyla falling asleep in my arms turned out to be the single golden sunbeam. My heart almost burst with love for her. (And over the fact that she was sleeping.)

Out of the three other kids, Joy Girl was the only other one who slept yesterday. It's a good thing she did, too, because that little one is anything BUT joy when it comes to missing sleep. Eric had a mushroom growing workshop that he went to during said nap time, so when the kids woke up I was fully in charge. I made them clean their bedrooms as punishment. Again, I don't ever remember having to clean my bedroom as a kid. It was never messy. Ever. I ALWAYS picked up my toys. Seriously, these kids.

After they cleaned their rooms (and cried buckets of tears while doing it), I rehydrated them with some water and we got out all the craft supplies and made some pretty epic birthday cards for Eric's birthday. And when I say epic, I mean stickers EVERYWHERE. They were awesome. Lexi and Kia even wrote "Happy Birthday Daddy" all by themselves. I just told them the letters in the proper order.

Bedtime was less eventful since everyone was so exhausted from missing their naps. And this morning, can you even believe it? I was the FIRST one up! Miracle. Lexi actually stayed in her room until she heard me rustling around the kitchen at 6:30 to whip up some birthday pancakes for Eric. Sometimes the fact that it's still dark out at wake up is great. The kids still think it's nighttime and stay in bed longer.

Eric is back to work today after an entire week of being off. He took a few vacation days in addition to the Thanksgiving holiday so he could spend more time with us. I love that about him. He loves to be home. Even with all the crazy that is home, he still prefers to be here with us. Sometimes I would rather leave, but I don't have much of a say in the matter at this point. Right now financially it makes a lot more sense for me to be taking care of the kids. The cost of five kids in daycare would pretty much devour my teaching salary. That and I'm not so sure I want to teach kids all day and then come home to a house full of them every night. So I'm home for now. And I like it mostly. And some days I love it. Other days, well... We all have those days when we would rather run and hide somewhere than do what needs to be done. It's probably just one of those things that is part of the human experience.

Today, nap time went a little better. I only had to deal with one obstinate kid instead of four. And I even took a shower while poor sick little Oliver rolled around and cried on the bathroom floor. Poor kid. I have to drag him around everywhere with me whether he likes it or not. Sleep probably wouldn't be such a big deal around here if I got more of it. I'm just so tired all the time. And I definitely don't drink coffee. It's a lose lose situation.

Maybe one day I will be able to look back at this post and laugh instead of cringe. That's what I'm hoping for, anyway. That by chronicling my days, I can somehow validate them. And maybe eventually, be able to laugh at the absurdity of my life in the present instead of just in the looking back.