Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Meatballs and Rules for Marriage

Ellie thinks her baby brother's head looks like a meatball.  I ask why. Well, because it's kind of round and kind of lumpy.  Yeah, you should really see our homemade meatballs.  Comparing someone's head to them is not exactly a compliment. I don't like making them, so I delegate. Picture little lumps of meat, having been 'rolled' by little hands, sitting in sort-of rows on cookie sheets.  Not exactly my mother-in-laws meatballs.  Poor little Michael. But for the record, he has a beautiful head.  People who don't even know him can't help rubbing it. We go to the park, and little children can't resist it.
And by the way, if you like meatballs, make some and freeze them for all kinds of things like sub sandwiches, sweet and sour, teriyaki, or meatball stew.  I mix together 3 pounds lean ground meat, 3 eggs, 4 T water, 1 1/4 cup quick oats, 1/2 cup minced sweet onion, 1 T worcestershire sauce, 1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.  After they have been 'rolled into balls' by clean little hands, I bake them on cookie sheets at 350 for about 25 minutes per batch.  And I make mine smaller in size.  Because it makes it look like more food at the dinner table.

Ellie says she wants to marry one of her brothers.  To this, Sarah lets her know that God doesn't let you marry your brother.  Ellie asks why.  Sarah explains that it's because if you do, you will have children with 'things like three arms.  Or four noses!. Or probably like 18 necks.  Something like that.  That's why God doesn't let us do it. Just trust me, Ellie. Do not marry your brother.' I guess that settles that.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Thankful for the Kindness of God

Yesterday I took my six younger ones to stay with some friends and play, while Hannah and I and her friend and friend's mom (also my friend) went clothes shopping at the thrift store.  We had a wonderful time, visiting over lunch and looking for bargains.  I ended up staying out later than I had planned, and was quite tired from being gone so much this week, and from being a single mom while the guys are in Arkansas.  I hardly said a word on the way home, just ready for bed.
When we got home and sluggishly unloaded everyone and everything, I checked email to see about future showings and such.  What I saw was that somebody was putting together an offer on our home.  Our older, lived in, but prettied-up home was going to bless another family!  And the offer is really good.  I know there are many days until we actually close, and we have to walk through all the stuff and paperwork, but I am so thankful for this most generous bid on our little place!  Truly thankful for God answering back to those who have prayed for a quick sale. 
I have seen the hand of God this season, walking us through a lot of things. Covering us and leading us even as we have felt discouraged, exhausted, and unsure.
Yesterday as my mind and body seemed to be like a balloon letting air out, I struggled to stay patient with my crew of kiddos.  I was at the bottom of the barrel, having many demands from many darling people who weren't seeming so darling at the time.  I read this blog post, written by our friend from church, and was relieved and encouraged.  God is working, and we don't have to bring a whole lot to the table.  What kind of God is this that we serve? He is better than we think. Hallelujah!!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Climbing the Rock

This morning we awoke with no showings on the calendar.  But, since all our stuff is packed up, we needed to find something else to do with our day.  The sun was just beckoning us to climb Castle Rock, and so we did.  As the morning went on, however, we found out we were to have a couple more showings, so we did quite a bit of running around and being in the van. Whew, are we tired.  
Seven of the most wonderful children. Ever. The Castle Rock is behind them, and we climbed to the base of it today.

My sweet, sensitive Emma

Just some really handsome young men.

At the top, looking out at the town below.

A bit of the view.

Some of my very favorite people to hike with!

Michael is 17 months old. And he's still bald. Here he has his mouth full of lunch, while he takes a rest.  It's hard work being carted around in a backpack, you know.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Little Peace and Quiet

We had two showings today. Still no offers, and I am trying to be patient, but it's really not working. We ventured out again after scurrying around wiping up, vacuuming, and mowing. When we got home, we were all tired and needed a little space from each other. So I sent everyone to find an alone place in the house and read a stack of books. Natty and Sarah really wanted to rest in my room, and I gave in because they're so very cute. Unfortunately, Michael Jude had taken one of the dreaded *5 minute naps in the van*, and he was ready to party as we rested.
Sorry the photos are so grim.  My phone camera isn't the best...But the kids are sure cute!

Nat tried to rest but couldn't stop laughing at his little brother.
Let's have some fun!!

Sarah finally gave up.  Her new-favorite tongue twister book will have to wait.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Christ in Us!

Last week was a whirlwind, for sure.  Not only were we in the very last stages of finishing up the house, but Kenny and the older 3 boys were also getting ready to travel out to Arkansas for 10 days.  All three boys qualified for nationals in their speech and debate league.  So once again, for the last time this school year, we were doing hair cuts, putting together suits, and finishing up details for travel. Each of the boys ended up going out with a different family, at different times, through different states! On top of that, a number of my kiddos had mini-meltdowns over the changing seasons in their lives, and over different hurts and struggles.  Through it all, I found the favor of God on me.  How could I manage it all? I was somehow gentle and kind, and I found myself so grateful for Christ in me. The power to rise above when I am worn out.  It is not my power, I am limited and run out so quickly.  He fills and sustains and makes it all sweeter.

'I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.' Galatians 2:20
Our house went on the market Friday evening.  Saturday morning I was anxious for a phone call to show the house.  I mean really, after all this work, let's get moving!  After lunch we got 2 calls for showings, and we had 2 hours to get it all perfect.  About 25 minutes before the first showing, the house was almost ready, but the vacuum was still out, the floor un-mopped, the baby napping upstairs. I was packing up a meal for a friend whose husband had back surgery, and I was feeling rushed.  As each one of my children were dutifully carrying baskets of laundry and boxes of et cetera out to the van, one of them yelled, 'they're here!', and we all just kind of panicked.  Ellie was crying over her missing dolly.  Sarah started being, um, Sarah-in-excitement.  The baby was still upstairs in the port-a-crib that's supposed to go in the closet during a showing.  In came the realtor, insisting that the showing start early.  I found myself thinking, 'What do I do now? We're not ready!' So, I did what any other half-exhausted-and quite-overwhelmed-yet-excited-mother-of-young-children-trying-to-sell-her-home would do.  I welcomed them in!  We talked for a few minutes as I wiped up the kitchen counters, and mentioned to the realtor that we were expecting them at 3:45 (not 3:20).  She didn't seem to be very concerned about that, so I made the best of it, feeling very uncomfortable, but trying not to let it show.  They were already halfway through the house anyway!
We headed out to the van with the vacuum still not put away (ugh) and off we went.  I was feeling quite embarrassed and discouraged when my daughter spoke up.  'Mom', said Hannah, 'You handled that amazingly.  You were so gracious and patient.  Good job!'  And all the others agreed.  Seriously? I supposed that it wasn't the end of the world if our very first showing wasn't how it should have been.  My children got to see their mother be gracious under stress.  And if you're a mother, you know that is a beautiful thing!

'To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.' Colossians 1:27
These stresses are only little things in our lives, nothing traumatic or serious, but Christ in us makes them sweeter.  What a joy to have Him live through us.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Built-In Babysitters

Boy, have my kiddos worked hard this season.  Not just packing, cleaning, and gophering, but helping to keep our little ones happy while I work on the house.
This happy can of Hunt's tomatoes was a part of Tommy's time with Sarah and Ellie one day last week.

They set up a lamp, and made a little studio for making a movie. Then they put faces on my groceries.  The groceries are the actors, I guess. I have to say, when I watched the movies, I laughed pretty hard.  Tommy is great at putting things together in a creative way.  He is learning how to do stop-motion animation. And his little sisters enjoyed being directors for a day!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

'Twas the Night Before Listing...

...And all through the house
All the creatures were stirring, including my spouse.
The carpets were cleaned and drying with care
In hopes that some buyers soon would be there.

The bathrooms were shined from bottles of bleach
And 'most our belongings were packed out of reach.
Outside the trim lawn and pots full o' flowers
Beckoned for realtors to come within hours.

The children told stories, with mouths yawning wide
Of playing and growing up side by sweet side
And Dad with his hammer, and Mom with her broom
Chattered 'bout what it'd be like to have some more room.

As the eve grew still later, tired bodies and minds
Retired for the night, settling in to unwind
And all the home rested as the family prayed
For the next part of their journey that the good Lord has made.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Selling Your Home, Large Family Style

I don't suppose there is really much difference in moving a large family than moving a small family.  Except for the amount of things you have.  And the amount of people you keep bumping into and stepping over when you are working on getting your home ready to sell. And the amount of people you need to feed while you are packing up.  Three times a day. At least. And the amount of people who keep wanting to live in the home you are trying to sell. And the amount of opinions as to where we should move and who we should move next to. And the amount of laundry that keeps getting dirty, just after you put it neatly away.  It really is a little crazy over here.  Organized, but crazy.  
My children are really great kids.  When Kenny and I say 'all hands on deck!', everyone pitches in. We have had a couple of goals to get it on the market, and haven't even come close.  We even took a weekend off because a certain resident mother was sort of melting down. But we're back at it today, doing what we're doing.

Aside from all the painting and fix-it jobs and yard clean up and staging efforts, I think the most important thing we've done is to pack up most of our things.  I'm not kidding, aside from clothing and furniture it's almost all in the garage.  Danny tried to fry some potatoes the other night.  No frying pan.  Toys are gone, dishes are packed, and good luck finding your favorite pair of shoes.  They're in the box marked 'SHOES and MISC.' It's all going out.  Because if it's in the house, Mama is going to be even more stressed when the realtor calls to schedule a showing.  
Natty thinks we paint the walls because they are dirty...

I have a couple of lists ready for listing week.  One is our regular morning routine, only changed up for being on the market.  All bedrooms and bathrooms spotless before breakfast.  Kitchen and dining room spotless before school.  And on it goes.  I also have a list for who does what when we have a showing.  One big basket for all dirty laundry.  (Then bring it out to the van to hide it!) One basket for little things, lying around.  (Out to the van!) Someone vacuums and sweeps.  Someone grabs the windex. Someone lights candles and fixes the lighting.  Someone does yard inspection and sweeps the walkway.
Whew.  And all this without raising my voice (very often) or giving in to the temptation to make them all sit on the couch all day, every day.  Should be an interesting summer, to say the least.  Life doesn't stop when you're moving your family of twelve!