Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Space Between

I wake up, throat burning, eyes bleary from shedding big fat tears of mom-worry.  Today is the day my sweet little boy, just 3 months old with the mouth like mine and the eyes like his, is getting cut open.  He has a hernia which needs repairing.  I feel helpless, aware of how little control we have over what life brings.  The big life and death moments, these are the things we cannot rule, the things that matter most.

My sweet boy is hungry and I cannot feed him.  Belly needing to stay empty for surgery, my eyes plead apology as I gaze down at him.  He grins wide, not realizing what this day will bring.

Hand in hand, my husband and I bring our 4th born to the hospital, searching for courage but finding little.  We whisper frantic prayers, trying hard to stay calm.

It's standard procedure.  Should only take an hour.  Happens all the time.  They bounce right back.  These phrases bring little comfort, but we cling to them nonetheless, willing to try on anything that  cloaks the pain and worry.

Down the hall we march past other kids and parents.  United in our stress, we don't need to speak.  We exchange knowing glances finding comfort in fellow faces lined with anxiety.  And the children--waiting so brave. The little blond boy, pale faced, hugging a Garfield stuffed animal plays video games.  The sweet little girl with the pony-tail swinging and dress twirling about, prances across the waiting room while worried parents hover nearby, pained smiles across their faces.  They glance at our baby carrier and wince.  A baby.  We silently wonder what each one is here for--what little broken places need fixing.

We walk the corridor to the pre-op room and I lose it.  You never realize just how much you'd sacrifice for your child until you're confronted with their frailty.  I would give anything, do anything to avoid my sweet little boy being taken away--life in the hands of a surgeon we barely know.  And I know this kind of love comes from elsewhere.  From Love Itself.  From love on a cross.  And every painful brush with death I've had comes to mind--thoughts of eternity looming too close. I find myself dangling in the uncomfortable space between Earth and Heaven, where the separation feels thin, like moth's wings.  When your heart just might burst from the momentousness of it all, and you're broken open to life's bigger lessons, delivered in painful packaging.

The nurses try their best to console and pass boxes of tissue, because they know.  They see these looks every day.  They wear crazy happy shoes of tie-dye and zebra stripes, don teddy bear scrubs and name tags with shiny stickers.  Anything to make this place feel more like a warm happy place instead of this space between.  Despite their efforts to comfort, the clock on the wall looks cold, metering time much too slowly.  It cares not for solace, wears no face of pity.  It just keeps pace-- this rhythm of life and death.  Tick tock.  Tick tock.  My little one is taken from my arms, crying hysterically from hunger and confusion and now its time to wait.

We all deal with these moments differently.  The man eating crackers by the handful, tossing crinkly red wrappers in the bin nearby.  The brunette woman sipping hot chocolate, glancing nervously at her iphone, a welcome distraction.  There are muted chuckles across the room--and I understand the times when you just can't help but laugh instead of cry.  A man in the room next door faces Mecca, alternately bowing and clutching his chest, eyes closed, whispering reverent prayers.  I can't help but stare in awe at this private moment between a man and his faith. The space between brings us all to our knees and I stare at my empty baby carrier, waiting, wondering.

Surgeons come with reports for some--just a little longer now.  Things went very well.  The face of relief is universal and I want to reach out and celebrate right along with those whose wait is over.  They hug teddy bears tight and wipe tears of relief, unable to contain broad smiles of joy.  And though it's only an hour it feels like an eternity and finally our smiling face comes to greet us, too.  Everything's fine, the hernia was large, you can come and see him now.

Down the hall, sighs of relief rise in our throats.  We pass other children, some recovering, some entering their own space between.  There's a brave bald-headed little girl being wheeled away and mingled with my own relief is the pain of others right here in this place--the place where life and death come together.  My heart aches for this girl and the others like her, and I am faced with my sense of helplessness once more.  The pain of this world is too large, too real, too present.  The banged up, broken, ripped up places inside us all that need stitching back together and the knowledge that only He can truly repair it.

I hold my sweet groggy boy in my arms, a hazy fog taking over from exhaustion and emotional overload.  My mind is fuzzy but my heart swells big as I hold my little boy to my chest, wires and monitors still attached.  The computer screen throbs signs of life but I know the biggest signs of life are the throbs of love we feel here, in the space between.  Thankful for another life lesson of sacrificial love, the universal language, this bumpy road of motherhood brings, I prepare to take my little one home.  Though relieved my heart still aches for the others in this place--the ones still wearing their faces of bravery and worry.  I want to tell them it will all be ok, but I don't know that and who really does but our Maker?  The elevator doors open as the clock on the wall keeps metering out the moments--the big, the little, the ones that make you yearn to reach out and grasp the hand of the kneeling man and the girl sipping cocoa.  Here, in this sacred space between we are all swirling together like tie-dyed shoes, trying our best to love and to live.  In the space between, we are One Body.

"So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and we all belong to each other."
Rom. 12:5

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Five Minute Friday: View

It's been ages since I last participated in Five Minute Friday.  It's where we write for 5 minutes flat on a given subject.  No editing, no worrying.  It is so much fun!  This week the prompt is: view.

Here goes:

Right here the view looks pretty.  Serene.  Scenery falling into place, the road ahead looking bright.

But I've driven darker roads.  The rearview mirror flashing blinding lights, high beams illuminating loss, loneliness, misunderstanding and grief.  When we check the view behind us, the road ahead looks smoother, gratitude rushing in over a road smoothly paved.

Sideview mirrors reveal mixed scenery; lives ripped apart, marriages ending, new ones beginning.  Feasts, famine and everything in between.  These views give clearer perspective on the road ahead, heavy heart swelling though leveed by hope.

Driving on I take all this in--roads traveled, others' trails.  Stepping on the gas with the windows down, radio's soft hum wafting on fragrant breezes, thankful for this calm stretch and trusting the view ahead will be spectacular.

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Five Minute Friday

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mid-May Daybook

Outside my window...

Spring is in full swing!  It's one of those ideal days of May with gorgeous breezes, chirping birds, bright sunshine.  It's one of those days that make you feel like the world is full of imagination and possibilities...

I am thinking...

About my homeschool plan for the summer.  I usually take a good chunk of the summer off--like the entire month of July at least.  This year my goal is to try to keep up at least a little bit with the "3 Rs" throughout the summer since we missed so many days this past year due to moving and baby.  But summer is when I love to take trips, do tons of hands-on fun stuff and just laze around the kiddie pool, so I'm hoping to try and strike some type of balance between work and play.  Maybe early morning schoolwork, and play the rest of the day?  Or school 3 times a week?  I'm not sure what this will actually look like yet.  I'm good at making things sound good in my head, but the implementation is always the challenge, LOL!  Last summer was not the greatest, since I was going through first trimester yuckies coupled with the stress of trying to sell the house, so I want to really live it up this summer!

Planning on making lots of these...
...and picking plenty of these...

...taking time to stop to admire these...
...and always a boat load a' this!

I am thankful...

For Spring and creative juices flowing and my little guy settling down into somewhat of a predictable routine (the first 3 months with a newborn are kinda crazy! I can't say I'll miss 'em one bitty bit!).  I'm also thankful for Pinterest and it's endless inspiration (or I guess I should say "Pinspiration," right?). 

In the kitchen..

I'm FINALLY starting to get back my "cooking mojo!"  It's been on vacation a looooong time.  It's funny--I often get inspired to cook when the nice weather returns, but this is the exact WORST time to cook because it's so dang HOT!  (And our new house does NOT have central air!) Oh well, gotta grab that motivation whenever it comes, right?  I'll just have to cook and sweat. :)  I plan on trying some new recipes soon, so I'll share the good ones, promise!

I am creating...

Along with the return of said cooking mojo comes the return of the Crafty Mama!  I recently made this book-page wreath.  It was fun and fairly simple, aside from the uber-painful glue gun burn I sustained while holding down the LAST page!  That part was definitely un-fun.  But I love it.  I made it from a really old book, so the pages have that cool agey-patina, which I wanted. And best of all it, it even smells like a library!  Bonus!!

I am going...

ummm...does the back yard count?!  The kids have been sick this past week, so it's not been the most adventurous of weeks for us.  But last week one of our homeschool groups celebrated it's final meeting of the year with a May Crowning.  It was beautiful, and best of all, was this cupcake rosary the hospitality group put together!  Amazing!

Crowning of Mary  

Our May Crowning--can you find Luke, Adam and Megan?  (It's like a "Where's Waldo!" LOL!)

I am wondering...

What to make for dinner--the kids have had no appetite from being sick (think stomach bug but "the other end" instead. Blech.).  They're past the BRAT Diet stage now, but not exactly up for a big ol' slice of pizza or heaping bowl of chili!  Some type of bland chicken it is...again

I am reading...

I'm proud to report that I'm falling back into my old routine of reading a gazillion books at once!  The book heap is crazy.  Seriously.  Along with several others, I'm finishing up A Mother's Rule of Life, making my way through Educating the Whole-Hearted Child, and starting Carry On,Warrior.  I'm also about to crack open Poisonwood Bible.  I tend to get in more of a fiction mood in the warm weather, I don't know why.  It's sort of my version of beach reading I guess, except I always go for the meaty topics, since...well, that's just how I roll!  You'll never see any Daniel Steel on this girl's night stand. (My apologies to any Daniel Steel fans out there.  I won't judge, I promise!) :)

I am hoping...

To dive into some more crafts projects!  I also need to paint Megan's bedroom.  My girl decided she was done with her granny wallpaper in her room and took it upon herself to, um, rip off ginormous pieces of it.  Yeah.  So, I figured I'd better finish up the job she started!  This is how we spent an entire day last week:

  Yes, and I even pulled a "Fun Mom" and let them draw on the walls, since we were washing them after, anyway.  (Warning:  I wouldn't recommend the drawing!  It created gross colorful drips collecting at the baseboards when it was time to wash the walls!  TOTAL MESS!!!)
Here's a shot of said Granny Paper, when we first got started.  It looks nicer in this picture than it did in real life, let me assure you!

I am looking forward to...

Thomas's baptism!  I'm so excited, he's fitting into Luke's baptismal outfit--this will be the first time I've been able to re-use any of my children's little white outfits!  Woohoo!

I am learning...

how much more I'm able to give to others, when I'm feeling filled up.  After months of feeling totally depleted from the move and pregnancy, I'm finally getting my "groove" back, and have noticed how much more...present I'm able to be.  I'm thankful for that life lesson.  So, with that, I urge you all to take time to re-charge!  It's not being selfish, and it actually makes you able to be less selfish in the long-run!  When I was in high school my biology teacher had a lump of clay he kept in his cabinet.  He told us if we ever needed to, we could "take a clay day."  This meant, that on a rough day, instead of participating in class, we could just sit and play with clay.  Cool, huh?  So, in the wise words of Mr. Arnold, if you feel like you need to, take a clay day!!

Just do it. :)

Around the house...

Little-by-little I'm hanging up pictures, un-packing various do-dads, making the house look more like a home than the generic living space it's been for the past several months.  It's fun.  I'm also doing a "room analysis" as per suggestion in Mother's Rule of Life.  I'm trying to create a kid-accessible place for everything in each room, so the littles can grab things and pick up after themselves without needing a ton of help from me.  This is a looooong-term project!  I'm hoping to chip away at this a little over the summer.

We also wrapped up our Garden of the Good Shepherd festivities and packed away our Easter decorations.  I had grand plans for Pentecost (think crafts, games and special foods) but the kids being sick put a ginormous kink in that plan.  So, we kept it simple.  I did however, throw together a game of "Pin the Flaming Gift on the Holy Spirit" (Yeah, I need to work on that title, I know!  It sounds super creepy!).  This was actually really fun.  And those who know me well, know all about my obsession with "Pin the____" games, so I'm living up to my reputation!  Almost every single party I've ever had for the kids has featured some version of "Pin the____."

Our Pentecost candle
Our game of "Pin the Flaming Gift on the Holy Spirit" (BAD name!)
Fun for the whole family...minus the creepy title!
I drew some little pictures on the kids' juice cups to add to the day of lame-lack-of-prep-festivities, but they thought this was the greatest thing ever!  I love how easy my kids are to please!

I am pondering... article I read about a study on happiness which found that keeping our thoughts focused on the present makes us happier than thoughts that are past or present oriented.  Fascinating.  I was thinking that so many of our thoughts are of memories and future goals.  Why would memories and dreams make us less happy, I wonder?  It makes me think of that old Simon and Garfunkel song, Bookends:  "time it was, and what a time it was, it was..." (I LOVE Simon and Garfunkel.) I suppose these thoughts make us yearn for what we don't have right at this moment, which makes us, consequently...less happy?  Interesting to ponder.

A favorite quote for today...

"I am convinced that the shortest distance between two strangers is a shared story about our broken places."  

I had jotted this down awhile back and shoved it into a notebook I recently unpacked, but I have no idea where this quote comes from! If anyone knows please let me know and I'll gladly give credit!  I completely agree with this, having experienced it more than once in my life.  In my opinion, it's one of the most amazing things about real friendships.

One of my favorite things...

This past week the kids and I were sitting around in the backyard and Luke came running up to me exclaiming, "Mom, I was just SO close to the cutest little bird that I could almost reach out and touch it!  It was chirping just like it was talking to me!  It was one of the most magical moments of my life!"   Oh, how I adore my sweet, sensitive nature-lovin' boy.  Sometimes he says the most amazing things.

A few plans for the rest of the week:

I'm in "the-spring-cleaning-that-should've-happened-a-month-ago" and project mode!  Oh yeah, and I suppose I should do some homeschooling, too. :) 

A peek into my day...
Aaaaah, Spring how I love you!

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real


The other morning there was gorgeous dew on the grass, and I just had to get out there with my camera to capture it!  I'm continually amazed by the beauty that's all around us, if we just slow down to really see it.


 My little man is 3 months old already, and is all smiles these days!  How can you not be happy at the sight of this little chubby little beaming face?!



We wanted to crown our little statue of Mary for the month of May, but were having a hard time coming up with something suitable to fit her head (this statue is only about 5 inches tall).  Later in the day Adam came running up to me proclaiming, "I found the PERFECT crown for Mary!  Let's use Megan's beautiful ring!!"  So, yes, our Mary statue is now donning a 5 n' Dime plastic children's ring.  I agree, it is pretty perfect. :)


If you can believe it, these slimy nasty-looking things are REAL, though they look like something straight out of a horror film!  AND they're allllllll over my backyard right now!  They're a fungus called Cedar Apple RustThey're currently inhabiting my cedar tree, making it look like it belongs in an orange grove!  They're actually pretty fascinating to learn about.  They take 2 years to complete their growth cycle.  Google away if you have a minute!

Gah!  Sooooooo gross!

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round button chicken

Monday, May 13, 2013

Motherhood is Messy

It's Mother's Day and I wake up at 4am to cat bird's cry, trained to rouse at the faintest sound after 3 months of waking for newborn night feedings.  Falling back to sleep is no use, and I stumble downstairs to put on the coffee.  The sink is full of dirty dishes, spilling over on counter tops.  I look out the pre-dawn window where it's cold and rainy and everything's grey.  My littlest one stirs and my day begins.  Bleary-eyed I fetch him, no doubt with sour expression on my face.  He's all groggy smiles, eyes alit at the sight of my face.  He doesn't seem to mind the bags under my eyes from a bad night's sleep or my grouchy mood to match.  Newborns don't see these things--our fault lines and fractured insides.  They see the best of us--what we strive each day to be.

I blink and the other ones now stir, my three year old girl with the wild hair and pouty frown.  She's feverish and needs new underwear, a stomach virus has taken hold.  My gangly boys tumble downstairs, another one sick, with under-eye bags that match my own.  Though ill and tired, these little ones look at me with tender love in their eyes, faces filled with mom-love.

The rain is pouring down, cold and sad and I feel cold and sad, too.  This Mother's Day I'm mother-less for the fifth year, no mom to phone, no greeting card to write. Bouquets of bright flowers sold by vendors on street corners are not mine to give.  The trees outside nod their sagging heads in agreement, knowing that real motherhood is not all cloudless skies and sunshiny days.

Mom and me, 1989

At the local drugstore sit shelves of cards working hard to sell their facade, their picture-perfect image of what motherhood and Mother's Day should be; all sunshine and smiles, breakfast in bed, lazing in hammocks amidst spring breezes.  But the reality of motherhood is much messier.  Real moms know what the cards don't express, that motherhood is sleepless nights and worried minds, hampers full of dirty underwear all tangled up in stinking piles.  That along with adoring baby faces come endless days of sacrifice, emptying out again and again, saying no to wants while filling child needs. Real moms know that along with wafting aromas of cookies baked in ovens come counter-tops crusted, spilled flour heaped high, puddle of egg alongside.

In the hospital with my firstborn, Luke, 2005

Motherhood is messy.

For motherhood is actually a beautiful mess of blessing and struggle, growth and sacrifice, love found on counter-tops, and in hampers.  Mother's Day isn't really just about smiling faces posed on colorful lawns, smiling pretty for the camera.  Motherhood is so much more.

It's 8pm and by this time I'm ready for bed.  Underwear's now washed but dishes are still piled high.  This Mother's Day has felt more like a marathon than a celebration.  After litanies of infant cries, sick toddler whines, cleaning mess after mess after mess, I'm worn out.  Empty.  Feeling like there's nothing left to give.  I tuck tired children into bed and sit down to feed my youngest one yet again.  He looks up and smiles, nothing but pure love in his eyes.  Adoration.  Not caring to see my exhaustion, frustration and disappointment over a day that started out bad and ended up worse.  He doesn't see the broken mess.  He just sees me, for who I am--a mother just trying her best, over and over again.  And that's enough for him.  I smile back, thankful for love and grace and fresh days ahead, another chance to celebrate this messy beautiful, heart-breaking, heart-strengthening path that motherhood really is.  And maybe that's what Mother's Day is actually about; a day to celebrate the victories along with the failures, the heart-swells with heart-aches, the messy love between mother and child.  And that's worth celebrating.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Little Things {A Mother's Day Reflection}

Next Monday is the 5 year anniversary of my mother's death.  It always falls around Mother's Day, which is kind of odd to experience.  Mother's Day, for me, is such a mix of emotions--missing my mom while remembering the very painful times we endured together.  Thoughts on how my own journey of motherhood has shaped me, stretched me and helped me grow in love, sacrifice and faith.

As the years go by and time marches on, I find myself most often remembering the things my mom got right.  These are the things that come up again and again as I spend my days with my own kids.  They're usually little things, yet the things that were the essence of mom.  The endearing things that make me smile.  Like how she could really tell a story.  She recalled all the details in a way that made you feel like you were living the tale itself, right as she told it.  I'd like to think I tell stories this way, too.

And other memories come flooding in:

~how we laughed sitting around the kitchen table until our sides hurt and happy tears flowed down our cheeks

~discussing novels, poems and song lyrics together, working out their deeper meanings, growing together in mutually sought knowledge and wisdom

~cooking steak and onion sandwiches in the silver pan, wonder bread slathered in butter, the whole house smelling like a '50s diner

~crafting together--sometimes painting, sometimes sketching, always creating

~the way she teased that made me feel annoyed and yet treasured at the same time

~her excitement over seasons and holidays, often months in advance!

~how she delighted in simple things--like peonies in bloom or cardinal perched on a nearby branch

~her competitiveness--determination to win anything--even a simple game of dots!

~her love of Scrabble and uncanny ability to beat the pants off me with the most esoteric of 7-letter words, strategically placed

~eating pistachio nuts by the handful, salty mouths, fingertips stained red

~how deeply she loved her family, with every fiber of her being

Mom was far from perfect.  Battling mental illness all her life, there were very dark days growing up.  But through it all the beauty of her spirit radiated.  The mother-daughter love was an unshakeable bond, knitting hearts together through trials and triumphs.

As I reflect on motherhood, the good and the bad all running together, I wonder what things will stand out in the minds of my own children when they are grown?  Which little traditions and everyday goings-on will they carry with them in their own hearts?  It's my hope and prayer that one thing I will get right, just as my mom did, is for my kids to know they are fiercely loved.

"These three things remain: faith hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love."
-1 Cor. 13:13

Wishing you all a truly blessed Mother's Day!

Take a few minutes to be blessed by this video--a tribute to mother and child: 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

He Speaks

Have you ever wrestled in life with a question, praying that God would give you an answer?  We pray, and we wait, hoping the answer will come quickly, but many doesn't.    It's so hard to wait and wonder when we'll have our answer.  But sometimes, just once in awhile, God answers us right away.  And when this happens it's AMAZING.  I was blessed recently with the latter experience.  I am still in awe to have experienced God's voice so powerfully, so poetically.

As I've mentioned in recent posts, I've gone through some significant life changes over the past several months.  Between moving and having a newborn all at once, this past Fall and winter were really difficult.  And when things get tough for me, the hobbies and interests I love most fall by the wayside.  Things like art, cooking (the "fun" kind, I mean!), gardening, crafts, reading and yes--blogging.  These are the things that really keep growing and energized, and in their absence I started feeling really down.  Thankfully I'm feeling better now.  Life has settled down a bit, and I'm able to reinvest myself.  But as I delve back into creative pursuits, I've been assessing which things I should take up again and which I might pull back from, since my free time is so limited.

I started to question whether or not I have meaningful things to write, since most days I feel like my brain resembles a big pile of mush (newborns will do that to you!).  Some of the deeper things I love to write take time to flesh out--like deeper faith topics and life lessons.  I'm just not a "fast" writer when it comes to the deeper stuff.   The insights learned require stillness--something a homeschooling mom with a newborn does not get much of!  And there are so many truly gifted writers out there.  Writers who inspire, who write consistently, and probably with much greater speed and skill than I.  The internet is a pretty big place and I guess I wondered if what this oft-mush-minded mom has to say even matters in the grand scheme of things.

So, I prayed about it.  I asked God to illuminate my path--to show me the ways he wants me to invest myself.  Should I keep writing, even though it's hard to find the time?  Do I have anything meaningful to say? And HE ANSWERED .  He answered the very next day.  I sat down for my morning prayer and opened my meditation book--the one I've been reading for Easter.  This poem was there on the page:

When I Write

when I write
of the joy
of life with God
I think of you
for that moment
one with me

then I wonder
why that moment
ever ended
and I long
for when I don't

-Ralph Wright O.S.B.

Right away, I knew this was my answer.  It was one of those powerful moments where you truly feel the presence of God right there, swelling in your heart.  Those moments that knock you off your feet as your eyes well up.  Ok, God wants me to keep writing.

But sometimes God takes things one step further.  He kind of clobbers you over the head with His answer, just in case you weren't really listening.  (I can be a bit slow sometimes!)  So, God gave me an even clearer answer.  That very same evening at bedtime, I thought I'd do some reading.  I pulled a random book off  the shelf to thumb through--a book I've read before and thought would be good to read again.  I noticed I'd bookmarked a page several months prior and opening to the marked page,  I saw this:

Let It Be Written

Why write?
Why get out pen and pad,
chain oneself to a desk,
wait on the muses,
dwell in solitude
while the rest of the world
frolics to and fro?

To stem the tide of time?
Why, why write?

The psalmist had a motive:
"Let this be written for ages to come
that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord" (Ps 102:18)

Again the tears started flowing and I knew that, I need to keep writing.  Though time is limited and my thoughts a jumble, I will write.   I look back on this experience I am still in awe that I would receive such a powerfully crystal clear answer. Feeling completely unworthy of such a gift, I'm so thankful for this grace in my life. 

So, if you find yourself in a spiritual dry spell, questioning if God hears your prayers, know that HE IS THERE.  He hears every single word. Each struggle, each plea, each whisper and outcry for grace and mercy, He hears them all.   When the right time, He will guide you in His own wonderfully unique way.  He only asks that you place your trust in Him.

Trust just happens to be my word for 2013.  The word I chose to fully embrace, in the midst of change and transition.  Trusting in His guidance I continue on my path. writing along the way.

Friday, May 3, 2013

7 Quick Takes

1)  This Easter season we've been using Tomie DePaola's Garden of the Good Shepard calendar with the kids as a way to make the 50 days of Easter feel like, well... it's actually fifty days instead of just one!  Each year we use this (even when we fall behind and have to catch up on a million days all in one sitting!), we always glean new insights.  This year we talked quite a bit about how various aspects of nature (e.g. clouds, thunder, wind, etc.) reveal to us different aspects of our faith.  For example: clouds are things we can see but cannot touch--much like how God is always with us, though we can't reach out and feel Him.  As a parent, you never really know which things we tell our kids will stick.  Well, yesterday, we went on a picnic and sat under a gorgeous blossoming cherry tree.  As we were marveling at the shower of petals falling down on us my son, Luke, looked up and said, "Wow, it's like God's glory is raining down on us right now!"  Amazing mom moment. 
Cherry Tree picnic!

Megan catching flower petals!

Thomas enjoyed mostly eating and sleeping through the whole picnic--just a typical day for him! :)

Adam's nature journal sketch

2)  I've been reading the book, A Mother's Rule of Life.  The author details how she learned to live by a schedule (as in "7:00-8:00 prayer time & laundry, 8:30-9:00 breakfast, 9:00-10:00 chores..."), and how such a thorough schedule brought her peace.  While I really love the idea of such a well-ordered week, I'm struggling with the question of whether I want to be that scheduled.  Our days definitely have a structure to them, but a lot of what I love about homeschooling is the ability to be flexible with our days.  I guess the idea of so much rigidity sounds like a lot of pressure! If you're a fellow homeschooler, do you live by a detailed schedule?  If so, do you really love it?  I'd love to hear any feedback you might have on this topic!

Megan coloring... with crazy hair.  We've been calling her "Anne Burrell" with the wild dos she's been waking up with lately!
Definite resemblance, no?

3)  I'm learning each week in new ways, how 4 kids are harder than 3!  Although my little guy is a good baby, I'm still adjusting to how much babies throw kinks into my plans! And can someone tell me why, oh why babies always cry right when you're trying to make dinner?!  What is that about?!  And to make the dinner hour just that much worse, my little guy hates being in a sling or wrap!  UGH!
He may mess up my dinner plans, but I can't stay mad at him for long--I mean, who could resist those chubby cheeks grin?!

4)  On the bright side, my other kids are becoming awesome helpers in pretty much every respect!  They're becoming champion PB&J makers, empty cup fillers, sweepers, laundry put-awayers,  fussy baby entertainers and making peace with the phrase "Please wait, I'm feeding Thomas right now!" (They hear that one a lot these days!!)  It's a good thing--quality control not withstanding!

The kids entertaining Thomas (Megan again sporting "Anne Burrell hair!")

5)  As a side effect of my multi-tasking due to baby-induced reduction of free time, I've been quite the klutz this week! While Thomas is napping, I'm usually dashing around in a frenetic craze, trying to simultaneously do dishes, talk on the phone, make a meal, check email and put out the latest kid-induced fire (not literal...most of the time!).   Well, in the same day I managed to both cut a huge gash into my thumb while making lunch (ouch!) and crush my middle finger in the window when trying to open it (double ouch!).  Since both injuries are on opposite hands I feel like I can't use either one with any sort of proficiency.  You should see me trying to type right now!  It's quite comical!

6)  I've been plugging along pretty well with my Weight Watchers plan, as a way to shed the baby pounds.  In about three weeks I've lost 10 pounds--not too shabby!  Exercising has been less consistent, though!  I'd like to do it at least 3 times a week but it's so hard to fit it in!  If I try to do it in the wee hours I'm just too tired to get moving, if I do it later in the morning I feel like it cuts too much into our school time, and then later in the evening I'm just too wiped out!  When do you fit in exercise?
Not exactly the results of Jennnifer Hudson just yet, but I'm workin' on it!

7) It's the time of year that I loathe and dread--it's kid-clothing seasonal change-over time!  It's extra complicated this year since we moved last winter, which means that we have clothing bins all over our garage, basement and even at my mother-in-law's house (not to mention adding a child to the family!).  To top off the complication, I did a HORRIBLE job of labeling everything before we moved since we were hurried and packing in the middle of a seasonal change-over.   So summer stuff got all mixed in with winter stuff--aaaaaah!  It's a mess!  So, if you see me crouched in a corner in bin-avoidance-position (it's a yoga move, haven't you heard of it?) and nursing my self-induced finger wounds, you'll know why!

This was such a random assortment of quick takes!  Now I'm off to take some Tylenol to soothe my throbbing fingers!  Enjoy your weekend everyone! :)

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