25 March 2008

the changing of the seasons~

I am so thankful Spring is here! I absolutely love Spring. After a long, dark winter filled with laundry (laundry multiplies around here in the winter...can you tell I have a laundry thing?), this Mama is longing for shorts, tank tops, flip flops, days of kids playing outside for hours on end, walks and kickball games after dinner, ice cream night on Fridays, and that rush of energy that springs up with the flowers...my world is beginning to right itself...

This winter has been particularly challenging...gee...this year has been particularly challenging. I thought with the arrival of baby #5 that I was over the hump. I always tell my friends and people I meet when they do the "..gasp! "You have six??? I don't know how you do it" thing" that it gets easier. And it does, in a way. I tell them there's a hump, around baby number 3 or 4 depending on how close in age they are, and there is, if you can cross it, you are home free. What I didn't count on is just when you are over the hump, the hump of pre-pubescent hormones kicks in and it's a whole new ballgame...with much more weighty issues than dirty diapers, snot, baths, toy hazards, and yes...even laundry (although my laundry does weigh a ton!)

So, I'm thinking that maybe it's not so much #6 throwing me off as it is just having children growing into different stages of life.

My life is so full and so rich right now, there is so much in my heart I want to say. At church recently Bill Greenman was speaking and he mentioned about how the Lord often starts speaking to him about things mid-winter and they often begin to start coming to fruition around February or so. Boy did that ring a bell with me! That is right on for me, in past years as well, but never so much as this year. The Lord started speaking to me about so much this winter. Giving me new thoughts, new ideas, new strategies, and new vision for my family, my mothering, and my homeschooling. I really hope I get around to sharing some of it more specifically soon.

This year holds some exciting changes for us. I feel like our life as a family is taking a 180 turn. I am very excited, but also apprehensive. I am, though, overwhelmingly thankful for my apprehensiveness because if I have learned one thing in parenting it is that I absolutely cannot do it on my own, apart from the grace of God. I lean on Him fully. And I do not say that lightly, I do not say that flippantly, I say it as a heart cry from a mother who longs desperately, above all else, for the Lord to stay with me and lead and guide me through every minute of every day, for without Him, and His grace covering my mothering, I will fail miserably. He must show up, every day, for I need Him above all else. I talk with Him continually. I must, for my life and my family and my children depend on it. I can do nothing without Him, but with Him, I can do all things. His grace is made perfect in my weakness, and for that, I am eternally thankful.

That took a little different direction that I had planned, but I feel better. It's good to remind ourselves of that often.

It's been interesting to me that so much of our life is changing with the seasons. Our schooling is changing, our children are all changing, and our diet is changing as well. I
hope to write soon about how our schooling is changing (that has a lot to do with the new vision, etc. I was talking about earlier).

Our children are all in that kind of limbo stage where they cross from one level of awareness and maturity into another. While that always brings new challenges, it also usually brings with it a sigh of relief as it signifies transition and victory in areas that have begun to cause parents to become road weary. They are at different stages, really.

Anna is currently the most challenging (if you read this sweetie, know that I love you desperately :o) She is our first born, my right arm, and our guinea pig. Her name was always supposed to be Anna, but when the Lord opened up some of the weight behind her name and opened my eyes to how He gave her that name, I broke down (and I am most definitely not an overly emotional person!) Her name means grace. He gave me Grace first, before all else. He knew that is what I needed, He covered her in grace to walk as the firstborn with a mother who was never taught how to mother. This is a daily thing for me that I come back to, and remind Him as well as myself, that I am trusting Him implicitly to cover us. My mother and I basically hated each other throughout my childhood. I did not know the meaning of communication other than strife and yelling. I grew up learning that that was how mothers and daughters communicated. My two best friends did not have great relationships with their mothers either. My example was that mothers and daughters are at odds. What a lie of the enemy! I am in a continual fight against Satan in that he will not have my daughter. Glen and I will have her heart. This is one of the things that I am most passionate about and is one of my main priorities as a mom. It is also where I seem to face the most opposition. Our culture is full of mother/daughter animosity. I am learning as I go, making plenty of mistakes, but that is when I come back to the Father and trust His promise to me that if I commit my way to Him, then He will make my path straight. I trust Him to complete the good work He has begun in each of us. That said, the whole hormonal thing is very new, and I am in daily talks with the One decided the whole puberty thing was a good idea (just when parents think they have the whole baby/toddler/childhood thing down...wham! He likes to remind us that we need him :o)

Caleb has transitioned from a little boy to an awesome big brother. He has a new found awareness of things that need to be done and a sweet heart toward the little ones, particularly Haven. He has always been sweet and sensitive, but he also deals with things by internalizing them rather than verbalizing, and that made for a very frustrated, angry little boy sometimes. He did not have the words to communicate what was going on inside of him, so we had lots of angry outbursts and tears. Lots of feeling slighted and easily hurt feelings. He was finding his place in our family, I think. In a large family, I think each child has to more consciously work to define him or herself and form an identity of their role as an individual and in the big picture of the family. The transition began for him around the beginning of this school year. He spend the first half of the year frustrated and crying. I was at a loss. Now, in hindsight, I realize it was the process of transition for him (aren't all of us natural birthing mothers intimately familiar with the process of transition!), and I am thankful to have that perspective now for when my other children are seemingly not themselves! I am also thankful that the Lord showed us that Caleb needed some space with firm, loving boundaries. (Not that I was always particularly loving...but that goes back to trusting the Lord to cover my mistakes.) He spend a good part of the winter building things, creating things, and thinking. It is very important for children, but boys in particular in my experience) to have an outlet. (Gee whiz, how many things can I talk about at the same time?) Once the weather began to turn colder, we made a conscious effort to make sure he had something he could put his energy and focus into. This year, that was mainly K'Nex. We got a bunch of sets off ebay, and he has built so many models. They are very cool, too, by the way. I'll have to post some pictures sometime. His favorites were his 5 foot tall roller coaster, and his robot that can actually walk and talk. He has become the hit of the second grade boys :o) It has been a sweet balm to this mother's heart to see him develop into a young man with a heart to please his father and me, a tender heart toward his siblings, a willingness to work hard and help wherever is needed, a heart for obedience (we had some definite defiance issues when he was in the middle of his "angry phase"), and a growing heart for things of the Lord. He discovered a love for reading the Bible as well this winter! Now...if I can just get him to get over his pouting and frustration that rears its ugly head at church sometimes when he wants to go to class but has to wait. (We're still working on the pouting!)

Ethan is still working on his transition. He has made great strides in his self control and I believe we are almost over the hump. He is still my affectionate ACE (animal collecting expert and adorable cuddly ethan -as he likes to call himself). But he is still very much a six year old boy in that he likes to play with his animals, read voraciously (finally! I have a reader!), draw and make books, and daydream, and he hates to be interrupted. We have been working on his self control and grouchiness/grumpies when it is time to do jobs or he can't have his way...but such is the life of a six year old boy. He has been working on it really hard this year, though, and I am proud of what he has accomplished. One thing about all our children that I appreciate and am so thankful for, is that their hearts want to please us, even if their flesh isn't too happy about it. (I like to think that is how God looks at me too :o)

Moriah is in a very fun stage. She is a little girl, and no longer a toddler. She can communicate perfectly and her personality is just exploding all over the place. She brings us lots of laughs. She was often a frustrating toddler (before she learned to talk she would point and scream, we have since learned to incorporate at least a little sign language into Noah and Haven's infancy which helped tremendously!), and she still has a very stubborn streak, but she is an absolute delight (not that they all aren't, but she is in a fun stage...I think you know what I mean. More fun, less challenges.) It has been loads of fun for me this year having her home with me as the "oldest" and she has enjoyed it too I think! I am still undecided about doing Kindergarten with her this year. My plan is to do whatever she is excited to do, what I am mainly trying to decide is if I want to keep her home full time, or send her to "school" one day a week. I think she would benefit from another year at home, my only hesitancy is that she has always thought she would "get" to go to school when she is five, and her three cousins. In Glen's family there are four siblings. We all had babies within nine months. Moriah was the last born of that group. She definitely keeps up in terms of spunk, personality, vocabulary, etc. but she has such a late birthday she barely makes the "official" cutoff. Anyway, my strategy for this decision is the same as all my other ones, I've asked God to tell me, and I am watching for Him to talk to me about it and give me a clear answer. The verdict is still out...

Noah is transitioning as well. The difference between early two and three is astonishing. He is still very much a mama's boy (the kids nurses more than Haven these days), but he is fighting hard for his Independence. Never have I had a child that is so....two. Everything is do it myself, everything has to be just so, and you'd better make sure he really wants you to cut his food up or his whole world falls apart. All those round blocks better stay exactly where he put them or the offending party better run and hide! His personality is coming out as well, though, in some very funny ways. I think he is currently trying to classify himself as the family clown. He has definitely figured out that he gets attention by being ridiculously silly. He is finally getting past some of the baby crying and whining and able to verbally communicate what he needs. Whew!

And lastly, sweet baby Haven. He has long since left his babyhood days behind and is a big boy of almost ten months. My heart is breaking over this one. He was so big when he was born and this year has been so intense that I feel as though I'm grieving the passing of his babyhood. I feel as though I missed it. I think he is beginning to wean himself which is making it really hard for me. He much prefers a cup or bottle during the day (the reason Noah is so addicted to nursing is that the two babies prior to him did the weaning thing earlier than I wanted and began to prefer a bottle that I refused to give Noah one) and mostly only nurses at night. He does still cuddle, though :o) And although I miss that sweet baby infancy, he is sooo cute. His chubby little legs stuck out to each side as he learned to balance his body (he's a little top heavy, you know), he can roll or drag himself wherever he wants to go, and has just taken to jetting around the house with his new wheels (aka the walker). He is one mobile little guy now and it's only a matter of days before the older kids remember how fun it is to tie a rope to the walker and fling him around the house (just wait Dyana! my kids are going to love to come over and fling Addyson around when she gets bigger and you have a great floor for walker derby!). It makes for some very cute giggles all around!

And so, I am beginning to enter the stage of thinking that should we continue in our current pattern, I would be gearing up to think about another baby. The verdict is still out on that one as well. Glen and I are not on the same page about this, or at least not consciously. We have had several "last" babies. I am not even sure about my "official" position on the birth control thing, I just know I've not wanted to say "no more". For me it is very personal. I feel as if I would be rejecting actual children and saying they would not be worth the work, whereas for Glen, it is not like that. He does not think about it like that. I can't explain it very well. One thing the Lord did show me after Moriah was born was that it was His job to change Glen's heart, not mine. So that is where we stand. We did have number 5 and 6 because the Lord did talk to Glen about it. I am tired, though. I have been pregnant or nursing (sometimes both) for over ten years now. I want our kids to get older so we can travel and do things that we currently don't or can't do because it's just too difficult. But at the same time, there is nothing like a baby. A baby is the best gift you can give your children. It's a new present every morning around here. Cries of "Haven's awake, Haven's awake!" ring through the house anytime he wakes up in the morning or just from a nap. It is so, so sweet. But then there's the interrupted sleep for years on end, dirty diapers, more to do at the same time than humanly possible, meals and laundry and schoolwork coming out my ears. But also hugs and flowers and kisses and pictures and songs and laughs that are priceless that only multiply with each new baby. So...I think I need to get away from so much "me" thinking and just trust the Lord and take it day by day. Most of the excuses for using birth control are selfishly motivated when we really come down to it. How much work will be created in my life, how it will affect my life, how many more months of being tired and cleaning up diapers and baby food messes it will mean for me. My job is to follow my husband's leading, and I am thankful that I can trust Him to follow the Lord's leading. He has a willing heart to listen and obey. So we'll see. I know I don't want to be done, though. They are a lot of work, but they sure are cute.

...So the other big change around here is Glen. The Celiac thing. Wow. Talk about a big change and a lot of information. I am so thankful I live in the information age where for the most part I can just type in an ingredient and find out if it contains gluten, but it still is making for a lot of practical changes. They are mostly for the better, though. Some are difficult, but it really means healthier eating. It just takes a lot of time reading, learning, planning, and being more creative. We've developed some yummy, healthier meals, it just takes quite a bit more time. We are actually in the process of having Anna tested as I have strong suspicions that some of her issues could very well be diet related and Glen and I have mentioned to each other more than once that perhaps his diagnosis was the Lord's mercy in showing us what some of Anna's deal has been. Not just emotional stuff, though that is very often tied to it as well, but she's also just generally felt yucky for a long time. We will eventually have all the kids tested as we've learned that lots of people actually can have Celiac but not have typical symptoms. I'll have to write some about that sometime. I'm still learning, though!

Well, now that all my cleaning time is mostly gone, I am off to speed clean (you know when you do your best to make it look like you've cleaned all day, but really you spent most of your time reading or on the computer...story of my life...)

And by the way, I'm sure everyone wants to know...I am 28 now. I am finally a grown up. I'm not really sure when that transition happened, but it did. No longer do I feel as though I have to give my entire life story when someone finds out about the number of children I have. I have been married for over a decade and am close to 30.
Enough said...ha ha ha :o)

(And if any of you are wondering, I wish I could blog more, but for some reason I always end up writing a novel and I just don't have tons of time for novel writing. I need to figure out a way to keep it shorter I think, but as I've said before, a lot of my purpose in this began as a way for me to just work through some stuff outwardly, in a more conscious manner, so a lot of it is just my thoughts in process or for me to bring a measure of closure to things I've been pondering and feel as though I've put to rest mentally and emotionally...make sense? I just felt as though I needed to explain that. Hopefully (as always) I'll get around to writing about some of the stuff I mentioned earlier.

Happy Spring. May the Lord's face shine on you increasingly this year and may you know Him in a way you never dreamed possible. May He pour out His abundant blessings on you and your family and cover each one of you in His indescribeable grace...and may you rest in the knowledge of His immeasureable and completed love for you.


Mrs. Bethany Hudson said...

I just found your blog, and just wanted to say that I really enjoyed this post. As a new mother (my daughter is 8 months) I really enjoy reading about how other Christian moms reflect on parenting. Thank you for sharing such poignant insights into your family.

Rachel Wilson said...

Hey Sweetie, so glad to read your post. Love all the updates on the kiddos. I have always wondered if the Lord spent all winter talking to other people and now I know YES! I feel so energized and ready to start making all of these major changes in our lives. I know it won't be easy but if I can give over the control freak part of me and get on my knees for Gods help then we will make it. I am so glad that you are on the right road with Glens health. Wesley is actually being tested on friday. he has had problems for almost 3 years.
I can't wait till the Mother-Daughter Tea. I told Coogle to get them to put our tables together! I am sorry things have been so crazy lately and I haven't been able to e-mail or check on you. I get so caught up in the day to day of our lives sometimes. I don't want to come across like I don't care. I do. I value our friendship very much. hope to see you VERY soon.

Serene in Singapore said...

Ahhh!!!! Shyla! What you have written about last babies echoed my thoughts!

If you remember, I have 6 too & the youngest is almost 10 months. And yes, transitioning to #6 has been HARD!!!

So to have more or not is the main question floating around in my head. I would love to be able to say YES but like you, I am tired and unlike you, I am NOT 28 :)

Let me know when you have some answers!

Rachel Norris said...

Shyla, this is my first time on your blog, and I am delighted to have finally gotten to it. I hope to catch up soon! How/when do you make time to write? I have the hardest time making it happen.


"How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about arithmetic, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness." ~GK Chesterton

2012 November

2012 November