Thursday, November 21, 2013

The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places

The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.  Psalm 16:6

I was reading over old blog posts from last fall while working on a project the other week.  They were from right before Julia turned 1, and I was lamenting the fact that yet another one of my babies had grown up.  I was sad to see it end, for the last time...  And then we found out about Baby #4 a week later.

Funny how that works.  Joci has been such an absolute blessing in our lives.  I had completely forgotten that there was a time when we all thought three kids was it.  Now that she's here, now that she's been here for four months, it's like it was always meant to be.  Like her seat at the family table was there all along, we just hadn't noticed it before.

As most of you know, this is it for us.  Four is our magic number.  I've always wanted five kids.  But I never planned on having my babies in such quick succession.  I wouldn't change it for the world.  But it has made me rethink my plans.

That's me.  Jon is sure this is the end of newborn parenting for him.  He was actually quite content with two kids.  And then more than happy to declare three was enough.  So at this point, he's not going to allow me to sneak any more babies by him.  And in some ways, I envy his conviction.  I wish I was as sure about four as he is.

I'm a baby person.  I love babies (now, two-year-olds ... that's a little different).  I love being pregnant and giving birth and I think those first few weeks of not sleeping, feeling like a cow, and dealing with crazy hormones are still so MAGICAL.  But let's face it, there's a whole lot more to parenting than newborns.

I mean, let's talk about how we're going to send four kids to college within five years.  Okay, let's not.    I wouldn't even know where to start with that one.

He's all 3YO boy - spitting, yelling, inserting the word "poop" into every sentence... you get the idea.
 But anyway, I'm working on being content with my fantastic four. We fit snugly in the minivan, there's just enough chairs around our table, our current house can still hold us all comfortably, and we have just enough stockings to hang by the fire this Christmas. (Okay, actually, we're one short. But Joci will never know.) I've got it good - two boys, two girls. If this is God's will, I'm at total peace with my lot.

And if another baby is His will, I'm cool with that too. We're certainly going to some extreme lengths to prevent that, but I believe God is sovereign. And I kinda have to nod my head and smile when I hear Mark Driscoll say:
If God is sovereign, you’re gonna have a baby if he really wants you to have a baby. And statistically, a large percentage of you were conceived while your parents were using birth control, and God was in heaven chuckling, okay. 
I like to think that God chuckles, that he has a sense of humor.  That he sees the beauty and joy in a situation that would cause many of us, including me, to just curl up and cry.  Because, let's be honest, growing and birthing and raising babies is tough business.  And sometimes it all just seems like too much.  But I've come to find that God's grace is sufficient.  It was sufficient when I was a new mom completely overwhelmed with my newborn Jack.  It continues to be sufficient five years later when I've got four Littles who's names I can't keep straight, much less their needs.

She thinks the baby in the mirror is cute, too.
The MOPS leadership team met at my house this week.  And while we were all mingling and chatting before the meeting started, and while my three oldest were running around upstairs trying to put off bedtime just a few minutes longer so they could catch a glimpse of all the "fwends" gathered in our living room, conversation turned to the typical mom stuff - poop and barf and long nights and early mornings.  And, since I'm generally the mom in any of our circles with the most kids, someone inevitably drops the "I don't know how you do it" line.  Or the "whenever I have a bad day with my two I just think of Janine and her four!"  And we all laugh and nod.  And I laugh and nod too because the Janine of two years ago would have looked at the Janine of today and said the exact same thing.

I'm not supermom.  I wasn't born with some extra mothering gene that enables me to parent four under five.  Spend the day at my house and you'll see how really, truly, incapable I am.  But I believe, now more than ever, that God gives us the grace we need for our lot.  When I only had one, there was grace for that.  When I had two, there was grace for that.  I look at Michelle Duggar and think there's no way I could parent 19 (or is it 20 now?  I've lost count).  Well, at this point at least, I don't have the grace for that.

This is a grainy, front-camera, iPhone shot, but we're all looking at the camera!
I'm human.  I'm just another tired mom that sneaks chocolate when her kids' backs are turned and dreams of being up at the crack of dawn but really just stays under the covers until the kids start yelling that they're hungry.  For every area that I'm strong, there's at least another area or two that I struggle with.  And the only, ONLY, way that I can be a mother to these precious four is by the grace of God.

And this is where I've found my peace.  I'm happy with where the lines have fallen.  If those lines should move, I'm satisfied with that as well.  I'm in a pleasant place, wholly dependent on God's grace.  And I'm content to stay there forever.

Friday, November 8, 2013

a wind has blown the rain away

a wind has blown the rain away and blown
the sky away and all the leaves away,
and the trees stand. I think i too have known
autumn too long

-ee cummings

Autumn is wrapping things up.  I'm calling it.  The weather app on my phone has a giant snowflake  next Wednesday, where there is usually a sun, so that's a sure sign.  And I'm okay with that, because is has been a perfect fall.  

So many children, so many pumpkins to carve!

This is mine, because I like to be different and don't do faces.

This is Jon's, trying to be scary!

And this is a Lego man, that everyone wanted done but no one wanted done on "their" pumpkin.  Good thing we had a spare!
And perfectly mild as well.  The kids have been spending long hours outdoors playing in the leaves and I thoroughly relish the small bit of "quiet" I get to experience inside the house when they're on the other side of the back door.

Totally unsure what to think.

Jack's signature leaf pile pose.
We had our last soccer game on Saturday.  Jack played his little heart out, put 6 balls in the goal, and came home with a trophy that he'll show anyone who walks through our front door ... several times.  But more importantly we've seen him learning how to be a teammate over the past two months - making friendships, cheering on his fellow players, and high-fiving anyone else who scores a goal.  I'm proud of this little guy.  Even if the sport I just watched hardly resembled what I used to see in high school and even if this league follows the whole "no keeping score, winners or losers" policy.  He did good.

Little Sis has mastered yelling "Go Jack!" 

Daddy did his hair.  He wanted it to make him fast!

The first of many trophies, I'm sure.
But today, today it was so cold and windy (the backyard looked like an autumn snow globe) that I finally gave in to the kids begging to watch "The Polar Express," drink hot cocoa ... and listen to the Chipmunks Christmas album.

And I'm on my second hot beverage of the day.  Hubby bought an expresso/latte machine while we were out Christmas shopping last weekend.  It was technically for himself but so far I'm the only who's used it.  Like every day ... or twice a day.  I'm a sucker for frothed milk and this thing does it with a touch of a button.  So maybe we'll make it our "shared" Christmas gift ... to each other.  The best part is I've practically trained the kids on how to make my latte for me!

The 3 baristas!  Jack asks me several times a day if I "need more caffeine" just because he wants to make it.
So anyway, we hired a "real" babysitter last Saturday to watch the kids so we could really hit the Christmas shopping with fervor.  I was a little nervous about leaving the kids with a stranger, but more so for her than for them.  When I think about the lengths I'd go when leaving Jack with a relative for a few hours, over 4 years ago, and the effort I put in to preparing for this latest babysitter (I did remember to write down our cell phone numbers and address before we ran out the door), well let's just say, things have really changed.  I think it went okay.  Not great, not horrible, I never saw someone exit our house so quickly, but at least it happened.

This girl can pout!
And I would add that at least a date night happened as well, but we literally just plowed through our shopping list as fast as we could, only stopping for soft pretzels and a coffee.  Thankfully, Joci was an absolute angel through it all.  So while it was hardly a romantic evening, I do feel a little less stressed about the gifting.  

It's hard to believe that in less than 2 years, this sweet, innocent little thing ...

...will start hacking my phone, taking 40 pictures of her feet ...

... and smiling at the camera with a giant, green bruise on her forehead and a smudge of last night's ketchup on her cheek.  Gosh, they change so much!
And speaking of evenings, they come so early now.  We still haven't quite adjusted to daylight savings.  We have a friend living with us for the next three weeks.  She's awesome and we love having her, but for now, the novelty of having "Miss Mary" in the house hasn't quite worn off for the kids yet.  They're like a bunch of puppies from the moment she gets home from work until we can finally wrestle them down to sleep.  Add to that a baby who's approaching the 4-month sleep regression and still waking up at her pre-fall-back time.  And a 2 year old that we're trying to teach to sleep in a big girl bed in her brother's room, so we can move the baby into the nursery soon... well, neither Jon nor I are getting full night's of sleep right now.  Enter the need for multiple hot, caffeinated beverages.  Okay, so maybe just one caffeinated beverage ... and the rest decaf.  For Joci's sake.

I think he was trying to draw on his own beard and mustache.  Thank you Movember males everywhere for setting a fine example for my sons!

The breakfast bunch!  Up an hour earlier than usual.
I have a feeling that expresso maker is going to get a lot of use this winter.  *lifts decaf chai tea latte*  Here's to short, brisk days and long, dark nights.  With four kids.  And blowing rain, leaves, and sky.  And trees that still stand.  Hear, hear, autumn!
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