Thursday, November 3, 2016

I am

In light of my doubts about publicly sharing our life on the internet--it begs the question: Why even blog at all?

But I really, personally, actually, enjoy blogging.  I enjoy the writing.  I enjoy the thinking through my ideas as I get them on screen and the building of a story as I figure out the best way to tell it.  It is a form of creative expression--and I have always been a person that needs creative expression.

Jeremy and I have been talking about short-term goals lately.  (As in I/we need some.)  My long-term goals are so huge and immeasurable, like "raise my children well."  Well what does that look like today, or any other point along the way? What are any sorts of achievements or checkpoints on that path that I can note?  They don't exist.

Blogging has long offered me a way of setting goals and noting checkpoints, and at times when I have not blogged I have sometimes felt, well. . . maybe this old Supernews video about twitter--which basically applies to blogging as well--can explain how I feel:  [note: Infrequent use of mild language.]

It satires the obsessive ways of social media users, who in a moment of internet failure cry out that "If we aren't connected then we can't twitter, and if we can't twitter then we don't exist!"

Yes, pathetic.

The level-headed guy notes that "friends don't just shout out randomly into the darkness and hope someone is listening!"

It's true, and yet somehow blogging helps me feel more connected to the world, and that I am producing something of value.  And helps me feel more like "I exist"

There is something else as well.  Which actually refers back to Twitter again (what is it--140 characters length limits?"), and Facebook status updates...

Have you ever tried to have a conversation on someone's facebook wall about something that really matters? It doesn't work.  There's no room for a real conversation!

It reminds me of one of my favorite books Fahrenheit 451 and once upon a time I wanted to find a one-liner from it that I could post on Facebook to explain my feelings (and why I wanted to give up Facebook).  But, not surprisingly, the book does not give me a one-liner--the book gives me this:

[Beatty, a future day fire chief of the civil servant book-burners is explaining to Montag, a fireman, why they ever started burning books in the first place--A "dumbing-down" and shortening of good books, followed by a devaluing, followed by a self-censorship of ideas in order to not offend any minority groups, followed by an institutional removal of good books to promote "equality" by keeping them away from the bright kids (who make others feel inferior)--thus the books became the "badguys".  He begins with the dumbing-down.]

"Picture it.  Nineteenth century man with his, horses, dogs, carts, slow motion.  Then, in the twentieth century, speed up your camera.  Books cut shorter. Condenations.  Digests. Tabloids.  Everything boils down to the snap ending[. . .]

Classics cut to fit fifteen-minute radio shows, then cut again to fill a two-minute book column, winding up at last as a ten- or twelve-line dictionary resume.  I exaggerate, of course.  The dictionaries were for reference.  But many were those whose sole knowledge of Hamlet [. . . ] was a one-page digest in a book that claimed: now at last you can read all the classics; keep up with your neighbors.  Do you see?  Out of the nursery into the college and back to the nursery; there's your intellectual pattern for the past five centuries or more."
He even adds a bit in later about politics, "One column, two sentences, a headline!" Obviously this is the current national conversation on politics and everything else that matters in the world--what can I fit in a tweet, what "zinger" or clever phrase that makes me sound like I know what is going on and have meaningful thoughts about it?  Occasionally someone might write a one to two paragraph update on Facebook that no one will "click to continue" reading because that simply isn't the right format for facebook.

So honestly, the other reason I still want to blog is that I want a larger format for saying the things I feel, and not having to condense my ideas into one-liners that rhyme, or have alliteration, or end with the invisible air fist bump for what a good snappy comeback it was!

And maybe that means that no one will be interested in reading what I write.  Some people say that the age of blogging is over. And maybe it is.  But I will continue writing because writing makes me feel alive.  It reminds me--amid so much mindlessness I see and feel and sometimes experience--that I actually think.

And no matter how much it sounds like the pathetic people on the Supernews Twitter satire, it reminds me as Descartes said, that "I think--therefore I am."

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Why Blogging Has Been Hard --part 1

It's NaBloPoMo so I'm blogging.  I'll write more about why later--but today is more about the "why not?"  Why haven't I been blogging?

It's a multifaceted situation.

I read an article a while ago that really hit on some of my feelings, called, "Why I Decided to Stop Writing About My Children."  Basically she writes about how it was hard for her to write about her children--particularly as they got older--and maintain their dignity and privacy.

I don't want things I write about my challenges with my children to become their internal narratives about themselves--possibly limiting them in their dreams and aspirations.  I don't want my children to look back and feel hurt or embarrassed about the things I wrote about them.

It's different with small children.  Everyone recognizes the universal--even adorable--shortcomings of small children.  But as they get older they are investing more in their choices.  They are more intentional.  They are thinking deeper and remembering more.

And thus I recognize that the commentary I make on their lives and choices (particularly in a "permanent" location)  has the real potential to impact them.  

Yet how do I write about what's real and what is meaningful to me without going in to some of these more sensitive topics?

I hit the transition and I quit.  As soon as the things I wanted to write about I had misgivings about, I didn't.

But now I'm going to try again.  To write.  But to respect my (aging) children as whole persons, and honor the trust that they don't know they have placed in me, as their mother, to protect them and nurture them.

Friday, April 22, 2016

I Was Wrong About LIFE

This is me. Sitting on a park bench with the baby. Watching the middle boys play on the playground.  As the toddler tries to keep up.  While the oldest chooses to sit alone in the van.  And Jeremy is at work.  

I had these ideas about LIFE.

LIFE was the thing we were working towards for the first ten years of our marriage.  It was a plan that we were dreaming up, a set of values and principles we were drawn to.  Our vision of a good life, and a life that was Good.

LIFE was what we were going to do together.  How we would spend our days when we had children, had a job, had a house, had cash instead of credit.

I failed to realize the manner in which real life gradually unfolds and moves along and changes and is different for each participant, and it's taken me almost two years to figure out where I went wrong. There is never going to be a point where this LIFE I had been planning for my family would "begin," and when we would all "do" or "live" it together just as I had imagined.

In reality, my oldest is about to turn eleven--his childhood is practically over-- while my baby has barely begun to interact with the world and people around him.  The way in which he is experiencing our daily events is completely different from his brothers.

I want Peter to have the type of LIFE for a young child that I dreamed of, yet now I'm realizing that Owen is "aging out" of that particular phase of LIFE.

Additionally, I failed to fully account for the proportion of Jeremy's time and effort that would provide for the LIFE we wanted.  Jeremy and I have been blessed to develop a common vision for our family over the years, and yet, I failed to realize how little he would actually participate in it.

So while I had this plan for our "LIFE as a family," I've now realized that I was wrong.  My whole underlying premise was inaccurate.  So now I'm just trying to figure out--where do I go from here?

How can I provide for Peter and Rory the childhood of my dreams, with plenty of unstructured play, outdoor time, and Wonder, while I try to honor the changing needs of his older brothers in terms of expanding social circles and developing skills and talents outside the home?  How do we include Jeremy in our days while the majority of his time and energy is spent in the consecrated activity of breadwinning (and another large portion in church service)?  How do I pursue personal development and goals (on my own or with Jeremy) in my adult life?  And finally, how do I come to act on the realization that, as the manager of our home, and nurturer of the children, most of the responsibility--to see that any of this happens--falls on me?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Home Improvements

We've worked on quite a few more improvements around our new old house.  We've been here four months now and are almost unpacked.  (I know--not impressive.  I did absolutely nothing for a month before the baby came.  And, to clarify, when I say "we have worked on improvements," I mean: "my dad came to town and did a ton of projects for us.")

The first thing he worked on was painting our wood panelling.  We had the paint all ready to go and we did our part by taking the four boys out of the house for a few hours!

 Dining area before.

Living room before.

Apparently, a fact I didn't know about my father (that my sister did) is that painting is his most detested job of all!  But you really can't deny the huge improvement painting the panelling was and how much it will, seriously, improve our standard of living in this home!  So, thanks Dad.

Living room after painting.  (We tried to choose a color that would go well with the brick fireplace--we're pleased with how it turned out.)

Dining nook after painting.

This wall separating from the kitchen was wood panelling as well.  The ivory paint is such an improvement.  We had only lived here two months when Dad painted but it was such a drastic change it took a while to get used to it!

Another idea that I dreamed up while we waited for the house to close was this bench.  It allows us to push the table much closer to the wall which really opens up the route to the kitchen and laundry room.  There is nothing we can "do" with the additional space--it just helps everything to not feel crowded.

Right now it is painted the same color as the wall, but I had envisioned painting it a certain robin egg teal blue color that I'm incorporating into my kitchen.  When I was telling that to a friend the other day she suggested I could paint my chairs the same color.  I hadn't even thought of the chairs and think that would be really cute.

When my dad first arrived I gave him a tour of the house and basically told him all the dreams and ideas we'd thought of for the house.  Short term/long term, big/small.  Other than the painting and kitchen bench, the only other thing I really wanted him to help work on while in town was the tree fort.  But he latched on to one of the crazy ideas I told him and decided to do it right away.

This is the infamous "stripey wallpaper wall" in the room that is off the front entry way on one side and the kitchen on the other, and is apparently intended to be a dining room, but is fully carpeted, and--frankly--not really dining-room shaped.  Right now it's main use is for homeschool.  Sometimes I call it the "reading room".

When we bought the house we still didn't know if we were having a boy or girl, and we thought that if it was a girl she would need her own room eventually and so we could convert this room.  Since Peter is a boy he can share with his brothers, but we still liked the idea of having a bed in this room for guests to stay in.  We considered a daybed to double as a reading couch, but also thought the stripey wall (that has no window because the garage is behind it) would be a good candidate for a fold-up murphy bed.

My dad agreed and built it right away so that mom can have a nice bed to sleep in when she comes to help out with the baby.  They sell expensive hardware kits with pistons and things, but we just used some heavy-duty door hinges, and made little swing-down legs on the side.  The bookshelves to either side really help integrate it and are super-useful.  And my dad left a nice big display shelf above the mattress.  We now have our double mattress in there all ready for my mom's visit.

We've done more outside the house as well, but I'll share that another day.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

And Then There Were Five

Reader discretion:  This is a birth story and will include frank descriptions of bodily functions and the birth process.

At 6am I was vaguely aware that Jeremy was up out of bed returning one of our kids to their own bed.  I felt a sudden wetness between my legs, and instantly wondered and hoped it was my water breaking.  

I've never had my water break spontaneously before, and I didn't feel or hear the "pop", but after sitting on the toilet a few minutes I was sure I wasn't just passing urine.  I had called Jeremy, and we just sat looking at each other.  He wondered what we do next, and I said, 'Wait for contractions to pick up.'  

We tried to go back to bed.  Twice I put on a pad and lay on a towel, to just quickly jump up out of bed and run to the bathroom!  Finally, I decided to just sit in the empty tub on a towel for a while.  After a little while the leaking slowed down so I got out to join the rest of the family.  Jeremy had already begun to tidy up the house, so we worked on that for a few hours and my contractions slowly started coming closer together and being stronger.  

At 9 we texted some friends about having the boys over and I texted my midwife about my waters and 5 minute-contractions.  She asked if I was ready for her to come over and I told her, "Not just yet."  

I had a couple of pretty serious contractions during breakfast, so we told the boys they needed to get dressed and clean up their trains and Lego's and then we'd take them over to friends' houses.  But during the hour it took to do that my contractions slowed down and got easier.  

At my midwife appointment the day before, she determined that my previously-optimally-positioned baby had slid towards my back to a posterior positioning.  I had spent much of the previous day on my hands and knees to try and give him the opportunity to align himself better, so I did some more of that.  But the contractions stayed sparse.  

We decided, since we needed a few things, to go take a walk around Target to encourage contractions.  It's just around the corner from our house and I packed a towel in my diaper bag just in case I ended up needing to wrap myself up in it and run out!

At 1pm we were in the Jimmy Johns drive through for lunch when my midwife texted me for an update.  She suggested I pick up some castor oil on the way home--since my waters had broken we really needed to have the baby "today".  

At 2pm I drank a fruit smoothy with 2 Tbls castor oil mixed in.  Around 3pm my contractions started to pick up just a little.  At 3:40 we decided to have Jeremy take the boys to friends' houses.  Rory woke up from his nap just in time to go out the door, and I had Jeremy take a picture of me holding him one last time as my "baby".  

As soon as Jeremy left the contractions intensified.  I went in to the bathroom and (aided by the castor oil) emptied my bowels through a number of contractions.

I texted my midwife that she could come over now because contractions had picked up and I was interested in checking on the baby.  (Though I really wanted to insert a disclaimer about not thinking it was really time yet.)  She and her birth assistant and a student midwife all pulled into the driveway at the same time as Jeremy right after 4pm.  The baby was born at 5:04.

They all came in and set up the room for birth.  Remade my bed with fresh sheets and a plastic shower curtain liner underneath.  Another shower curtain on the ground in front of my bed where they also put the birth stool I had mentioned at one appointment I might be interested in.  And pulled out the kit of supplies I had ordered and set everything up.

Meanwhile I had latched on to Jeremy who is always my rock during labor.  I squeeze his hands and pull on his arms and hang on him, and he just provides for me.  He comforts me and stands by me.

My midwife asked if I was starting to feel pressure.  I didn't really answer but in the next contraction at one point  let out a bit of growl with a grunt.  Jeremy (nervously) asked, "Are you trying to push?"

"Yes, she is."  My midwife responded in a pleased tone of voice that I was totally glad to hear--meaning she wasn't telling me to wait!  She asked if I wanted her to check where I was in terms of progress and I did.  So I got up on the bed and she said I was basically there.  I breathed through a few more contractions and then started pushing.

I was trying to push in a controlled manner (always hoping in vain to avoid stitches) but still trying to push hard, but wasn't making much progress.  (After Owen my kids have all come in about 3 contractions.)  We propped me up on some more pillows, she encouraged me to pull back on my knees more.  (At one point scolding me for trying to "run away" from that contraction--which was totally what I had done.)  Then she asked if I wanted to move to the birthing stool.  I did because I was really very confused at why the baby wasn't out yet.

I sat on the stool and the change of position was good just to help me get on top of the contraction and push from a different angle.  His head came slowly out and once it did, I said, "Oh, good!"  unlike Wyatt"s birth where I momentarily panicked in between head and body, this time I was just happy that it actually happened--the head was out, the end was here!  My body took a little pause and with the next contraction I pushed his body out!

He cried right away, and she suctioned his mouth and nose, and I delivered the placenta, then moved up into bed.

Peter Tom, 8 pounds 5 ounces, 22 inches long.  Born 11 hours after my water breaking, 38 weeks 5 days gestation

In this picture you can see a little bit how his head is misshapen from delivery.  He was born posterior (aka "face up", aka "the wrong way"!) But then his head also came through off-centered (I cant remember the technical term)  so his head was elongated to the one side.  Basically, both those things led to the increase in effort needed to push him out.

My midwife said she was wondering in the middle of it all if the baby had a hand up by his face or something, because it was definitely taking more effort and time than are generally needed for a 5th baby to come out!

Mom and baby getting checked out after delivery!

Apparently there was something different about my placenta as well, but I wasn't aware of the conversation going on about it--Jeremy caught a little of it.  But my midwife was telling the other two that they sure got to see a number of interesting things with my delivery.

So we've been recovering at home the last few days.  I'm sore from delivery, but frankly I just feel great not being pregnant anymore--it get's so painful and uncomfortable at the end!

The boys love Peter, and Jeremy is being a great dad--to all the boys.

Baby legs!

Sweet boy!


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