Friday, October 30, 2009

7 Quick Takes: Baby Edition

This baby just slept through the night so I'm surprisingly awake at this time of the morning. I know this won't happen again for many many many many days but I'm really grateful just this moment.
In two weeks we will have had two funerals. The down side of this is that its really sad and awful. The upside is that my house is full of beautiful white funeral flowers that my mother and I have been coaxing along and hoping to put on the altar for All Saints. There's something sort of bittersweet about bringing a baby into a house full of funeral flowers.
We've temporarily solved the trouble of Halloween being the same day as Reformation Day. Last night, as a means of welcoming home this lovely new baby (who shares, by the way, a birthday with my dear cousin, Erasmus And John Cleese) we carved a pumpkin and ate Reformation sausages cooked in beer. Said Matt to the children, "Do you know why we're cleaning out this pumpkin?"
"No!" they all shouted.
"Because," he said, "on this day Martin Luther began the Reformation whereby all the gunk was cleaned out from the church."
So Saturday we will go trick or treating without feeling like we're missing the Reformation and later we'll invite friends over (hopefully) for fondue to celebrate John Calvin. And I need to seriously think of some food for the English Reformation. hmmm.
Continuing vaguely with the subject of Halloween, Elphine, this year, has determined to dress up as Queen Victoria. This is a direct result of Classical Conversations Week 9 History Sentence which begins 'During the age of Imperialism...' and was So catchy that my mother and I discovered ourselves both to be reading Kim in the hospital while I was in labor. The whole week has been taken up with volleys of emails between me, Matt and my mom comprising pictures and information of Queen Victoria and debates about whether Elphine should go as a Young Victoria, or Old Victoria or a Bride Victoria. Anyway you look at it, I don't know how we're going to make a crown.
Romulus and Alouicious are going as knights. Gladys will be the proverbial Bee. New baby, hopefully, will be a chili pepper. It really saves time to have a standard set in this matter. Every child starts out in the nice soft felt chili pepper, graduates (hopefully angrily) to the bee which has a really fine stinger. And after that some choice may be exercised but we encourage the use of some favorite already existing costume.
Speaking of Imperialism, we're also reading the Jungle Book and the Just So Stories for school. Can you tell the Kipling is one my three all time favorite authors? Except that I've never actually read the Jungle Book as one who really hates suspense in any form. If my dad hadn't read Kim to me as a child I never would have read it. So I'm pulling myself together and reading the Jungle Book out loud. It is So Exciting. When we get to the CC history sentences about Africa we're going to read The Long Grass Whispers.
So far, my favorite part about having 5 kids (besides the children themselves, which, obviously, is Joy Enough) is the look of horror when people, having asked 'Is this your first baby?'
hear 'well, no, its my 5th'.
AND then, usually, whoever it is will say something charming like
'Wow, you don't look it!'
By this they could mean that I look Way Too Young or that I'm Way Too Skinny. Either is just fine. Of course, I haven't actually gone anywhere yet with all five, so who knows if the love will keep flowing.

Go check out Jen and have a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It seriously looks very much like a baby

Matt managed finally this morning to run home and pick up the device to get pictures off our camera. So I thought I'd post a few.

I gave birth to our newest baby girl last night at 10:01. Despite an ultra sound that afternoon that she was 7lbs 1oz, she weighed in at birth at 6lbs 10oz, only one oz more than Elphine 7 years ago. She is 18 inches long with some darkish hair and a mushed chin from having tried to come face first. For the purposes of this blog I'll be calling her Marigold, but if you'd like to find out her real name you can head over to Stand Firm.

After fretting all day that maybe we were inducing too early etc. etc. (and then feeling bad about worrying after listening to an Outstanding sermon by Marc Driscoll on the subject of Mary while labor was bearable enough to concentrate), I'm really grateful that we Did induce. This baby is a peanut and the cord was all the way around her neck and she was super hungry at the moment of birth. She's been eating and eating and eating and looking cuter and cuter.

We're so grateful for a really healthy baby and an excellent and clued in doctor and such excellent care. I'm delighted to meet this latest edition and wondering quietly to myself whether yet we will get one laid back child or whether she will be as intense and complicated as all the other ones....I already have my suspicions.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The end is in sight

I am up at an unusual hour because Matt was called out at something like 5 this morning for a pastoral emergency. He wildly made tea and found his phone and collar and was out the door in a matter of minutes. I've been trying to stay awake since then because Romulus has been up singing 'Pharaoh, Pharaoh OH BABY LET MY people go' loudly in my ear as well as 'AND ONE WAS A DOCTOR and one was a QUEEN and one was a Spiderman and one was a bad guy and I WANT TO BE ONE TOO'.

I've been contracting regularly and irregularly since Tuesday, thinking all the time that I'm about to go into full blown labor but never actually doing it. I have another ultra sound tomorrow, and if this baby isn't any bigger, the doctor intends that I go in on Monday or Tuesday and be helped along a little. In other words, the baby isn't really packing on weight the way we would all like and I'm beginning to loose weight, and all these contractions are doing something. So for everybody's health and safety, she would like this baby to be here with us now rather than waiting till Nov. 2. I'm really grateful to have such a wonderful doctor, even after whining at the beginning of the week. And I'm longing to meet this baby who, in every ultrasound picture, has the most amazing pouty flower like lips, rivaled only by her big sister, Gladys.

So, today and through the weekend, I am going to try to be 'restful' as instructed (whatever that means). I'd like to finish up some math lessons with Elphine, organize all the school work into some kind order so they can keep busy next week, and maybe make a pie. And hopefully Matt will help me rearrange some more furniture to make room for the cradle which is currently made up beautifully, covered with a sheet and then a board so as to keep cats and children out. But I have to figure out where to put it.

Meanwhile, I hope you will pray for the people Matt is with now. My impression, as he ran out the door, is that some lives have been turned upside down during the night and that Good Shepherd will be called upon to rally around in the next few days. And prayer is the best place to start.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why Confinement is a Good Idea; or a blog post of complaint and woe

In a few minutes I have to dash around and try to get myself out the door for yet another doctor's appointment. At this stage of the game, the more pregnant you are, the more your doctor likes to see you (or at least me), Which, it has occurred to me more than once, is Entirely Backwards.

In the beginning weeks of expecting a baby, sitting in a doctor's office is comfortable, comforting and relaxing. For one thing, its possible to sit in a chair. And for another, its really nice to know that everything is ok and that the baby is growing charmingly and healthily. But towards the last weeks of a pregnancy, going every three minutes to the doctor and being asked 'is the baby moving?' as you have your breath kicked out of you makes it hard to respond in Christian charity.

OF COURSE, I say that as someone who is pathetically grateful that everything is healthy and on track, and that week by week there is a good strong galloping heartbeat on this baby and that I am being kicked and kicked.

But with the measure of gratitude is the equal measure of weariness and hope that Maybe I'll miss Something by having this baby--another doctor's appointment? the Harvest Dinner? another day freaking out that apparently we are no longer allowed to receive mail at this address?

But this is the nature of human inconsistency and fickleness. The second I'm in the hospital having this baby, I will begin to fret about all the things I'm missing at home, and start hassling the nurses to let me out as soon as is reasonably possible.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Moving in, and the floor...and you thought I had moved on from this subject

We had marked off 10:30 as the moment to blast through the garage and basement in a last final push to completely unpack and be moved into this house. But I hear Matt still working out so I will take a quiet moment to write. The tree outside our living room window is so golden and beautiful in the sun, we Will Have to go outside for a few minutes today at some point.

I'm thoroughly surprised to be so enjoying this house. The cat smell is COMPLETELY gone. The cleanness just permeates my being and settles my spirit. Here are the new floors, with children.

Here they were being put in,

with children.

Certainly there is work to be done. We need to paint the children's rooms, our room, the hallways. The kitchen cabinets need to be painted and a new floor put in that somehow matches the beautiful floor everywhere else, but none of it is urgent in the way these cat laden floors were.

Matt's weights have stopped clanking, so I will rouse myself. I have boxes and boxes of beautiful crystal to unpack and dust, and books, and little tiny baby shoes.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Happy Birthday (updated)

I've started three or four posts over the last week, wandered away from them and on return discovered that I had No Idea what I was talking about. Every moment that I haven't been doing something else I've been imploring God to send me into labor. The trouble is, I think, is that I'm praying without belief. I don't really expect ever to have this baby...Ever.

Anyway, today is Gladys' birthday.
She is Two Years Old.
And totally delightful. When asked by tricky and irritating adults where the 'New Baby' is she purses her lips and says 'I can't find her!'
When you open the door for her she says 'Pank you berry buch'.
When Matt is heading out the door in the morning without her she wails 'I NEED TO GO TO Church WITH DADDY!'
And when she's in trouble, she categorically blames it on Romulus regardless of whatever it is, without fail.

Already I've gotten into hot water by trying to engage the older children in a lie. They, of course, know that they are not to lie--NOT EVER. God hates lying.
'Yes, but', I said this morning, 'she doesn't know that its her birthday and it will confuse her if we celebrate it tomorrow, which we are going to do, and tell her that its her birthday today.'
'But tomorrow's not her birthday,' pointed out Elphine.
'I know, I know. I'll try to explain again in a few minutes!' But of course, there is no good way to explain breaking the ten commandments which they have all finally mastered from CC week One.

Today, besides school, and not telling Gladys its her birthday, we're going to finish rearranging the furniture. The floors in the living, dining and hallway have been REDONE. They are beautiful, clean, echoing, golden.

update: Is it possible that Gladys shares a birthday with the estimable and brilliant PG Wodehouse? Yes! Indeed it is!!!!!. Seriously considering changing her blog name to 'Honoria'. Hmmmmmm.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


Alouicious' stitches come out tomorrow, about the same time that I'm supposed to be having an ultrasound. He's barely noticed them all week, except that there's a little bit of string or thread sticking out that he can see if he looks down cross-eyed. Every now and then he's banged his nose while crashing around the house (it doesn't matter how many times I say 'Please slow down! Please be careful of your nose!) and been very unhappy about it. I don't know how to stop them from their evening lap--running crazily around and around the living/dining/kitchen over and over and shouting while supper is being made. Last night I tried closing doors and putting up gates but that caused a large amount of banging on the door and shouting.

I'm not complaining. It just takes psychological work to have boys (and a baby toddler girl who's as hyped up as a boy). My natural instinct is to always to achieve quiet. 'Please be quiet', 'please lower your voice', 'please stop hewing and smiting'--these words are always on my lips and in my heart.

The trouble is that I don't really know where they're coming from. 'Imagine that our family was a fire dragon' Alouicious just whispered into my ear.
'Ok,' I said, 'but I'm not really awake yet, and I don't know really know what a fire dragon is.'
He seemed disappointed, like surely his own mother should know what a fire dragon is. I've never, in a thousand days, even considered the existence of a fire dragon. In my haze filled memory I think I pretended a lot that my parents had had more children and I had siblings. And sometimes I would stand in the yard, looking up at the sky and pretend that visitors were coming that day and we needed to bake a cake. Surely I imagined other things, but I can't remember any of them.

The imagining of my boys is so beyond a cake for visitors.
'Are you the princess?' Romulus will ask his sister. 'I have a sword. I will save you.'
'I guess I can be a princess,' Elphine will concede, 'Don't step on my dress.'
Then he will run around wildly shouting 'Princess! Come here princess. I am saving you,' cape flapping behind him.
'Please lower your voice,' I whisper to myself. But less and less out loud. Maybe some day he'll really save something, and it would be terrible if he did it so quietly that I missed it.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Matt, I believe, is planning to spend this important and auspicious day working. It seems to be one of those years where all our birthdays fall on inconvenient work days. However, his oldest child has learned to play 'Here we go, up the road, to a birthday party' on the piano for him, so that should be Very Exciting.

Also, my dad is traveling back to Africa today and we would very much appreciate prayers for his safe travel. He'll be on three separate airplanes.

I am about to slowly and carefully rise from this spot and pack our lunch for school today. I was up most of the night feeling laborish. I am very thankful that its eased off but I'm intending to move very slowly today and try to keep everything in place.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The topics of conversation are lessening in number

This is the part of fall that I really enjoy--the part where, at 7am, the light is only beginning to emerge and so all the children are still asleep thinking that its still night. There's such a vast difference between being covered with children at 4 in the morning and being covered with them at 7:30.

Yesterday, without any nagging or whining or any other miserable tactics so often resorted to by women (that would be me), Matt measured the crib, went to Lowes, bought a board, sawed it into the right shape, rummaged around and found a mattress that fit perfectly (I have No Idea from whence this mattress originated. I've never seen it before. It is the perfect mattress), took the rockers off the cradle so finally, after four babies of whacking my ankles over and over and over for the fifth baby I will be basically bruise free, moved bins of clothes out of the way so I can finish sorting, And brought several more boxes of books upstairs. I watched his boundless energy hunched over on my stool like an old women, sorting through endless piles of baby and children's clothes, thinking on one hand that the baby ought to be born RIGHT NOW and on the other hand that I will NEVER BE READY and that I need several more months.

So you see, life is narrowing down into one main thought for me. Even though all the world is going gently on around me, I am going into some kind of mental confinement and wishing that I could send my body there too--to some place in the country only to emerge magically with baby in hand.

Friday, October 02, 2009

A Little Excitement

I have admonished my two oldest to sleep as late as they possibly can given how late we all were getting to bed. In other words I only have two little ones squirming around and preparing to jump on the bed.

Yesterday was another milestone in the unfolding life of being parents. We DID finish all our work by 1pm, leaving hours, it seemed, for a nap. And then friends came over to sing a different version of the Classical Conversations History Sentence Week 5 because none of us liked the tune provided. And then, while all the children (am I right in counting up a total of 7?) played knights and princess, Alouicious, armor and all, stumbled in the course of battle and sustained an injury that quickly became clear would require our first family trip to the emergency room. Actually, just Matt went, child in arms, calling out to his Bible Study to 'Keep Studying' and 'would someone please lock the church when you all leave?' because the Shepherd's Bowl was winding down.

The two of them arrived home three hours later, Alouicious still in armor looking pale, noble and brave. Apparently he Didn't Cry At All and held perfectly still, while some other grown person was having their leg set next door with loud cries and moans. He was given no less than 22 stickers by various nurses coming through every few minutes to check on him. And his mouth was blue from a Popsicle ('with a stick!' he informed me later).

Many of you who know Alouicious personally will be deeply impressed at his bravery because he's generally pretty quick to shout and cry over relatively small incidents. I was amazed by how circumspect he was--describing the nurses and the fact that there was a 'bed but no blankets' and that the stitches would need to come out in one week.

Elphine bubbling over with a cold and worry over her brother burst back into tears when it was finally time to go up to bed. She and Romulus and Gladys and the visiting friends had all wept properly when Alouicious was carried off. I so wish I had had a camera to capture the striking array of armor and princess dresses.

So today we will sit about very quietly and try to not bump into each other and do what little study we can without becoming too tired.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Its Thursday and...well, that's all really

I was rather hoping the children Woudn't be up this early.

I know its 7am, but its still dark out, and, well, I don't know, I just hoped. We're going to try to start work an hour earlier this morning. We're going to try to get all our studying out of the way before 1pm when I start to fall asleep. On the little scrap of paper I have fluttering next to me, it all adds up and makes sense.

Of course, so many things could easily send this plan off track. Like, the fact that the color of this blog and the picture is irritating me no end and I'd like to fuss until I get it right. And, I'm behind on email--seriously behind. And, I don't really want to get out of bed at all because its chilly and dark. And my oldest child is sneezing wildly and has her chin out in an argumentative manner, which means she's coming down with a cold. Which means everyone will be sneezing by the end of the day.

I had really intended today to write about the difference between being pregnant with baby number 1 and baby number 5. In the small recesses of my mind, I thought the subject might be interesting, but I'm reconsidering. Probably the biggest difference is that with baby number five there's no time to notice, there's other more important things to think about than what Exactly you're feeling at any particular moment. And, though I'm not feeling it this precise moment because I'm not awake, the best thing about subsequent babies is that you, or rather me, that is I, I look forward to them more. To put it a better way, I'm really excited about this next baby. Ridiculously so. Which is probably the biggest distraction of all. So if we haven't finished all our work by 1pm, That will probably be why.