Content Amidst the Chaos

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Mommy, I’m transforming! June 9, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — jps23 @ 10:21 am

I went to pull my Bible out of the Bible basket after dinner.  I have asked Adam numerous times to lead a time of devotion for our family, and he really wants to, but we’ve had a hard time just doing it.  Should we use a curriculum?  Should it have a craft or interactive time?  So many questions about doing it the right way just overwhelmed us and kept us from getting started.  BUT WE NEED IT.  So, I pulled out the Bible with no clue as to what scripture I would go over, and he said, “When you finish, I have something I’d like to read”  I told him I had no clue what I was going to read, so please just go ahead.  He chose Romans 12:2- Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing, and perfect will.

His reason for choosing this verse was because of some sassiness with have experienced with a certain daughter after she spends some time watching the Disney channel at the grandparents’ houses.  Now, I am not saying that Disney or t.v. is evil, but I do feel like they depict a certain image of and for tweens that is inappropriate.  The whole, “I can back talk my parent and be sassy and still get my way.”  Even if the said teen gets it resolved and figured out in the end, making the right choice, my kids are still seeing the negative behavior modeled.  Now, my child chooses to emulate it sometimes, knowing it is wrong, but until they are more firm in their understanding of what God expects of them, which is what we also expect of them, I don’t like to expose them to things they aren’t prepared to handle.  Now, I am also not blaming the grandparents because I honestly didn’t think it was that harmful for them to watch certain shows every once in a while.  But it never fails.  When they watch those shows, they try out what they see in them.  Garbage in, garbage out, as the saying goes.  We have to guard our hearts and minds, and since we have been placed in charge of these children, we have to make sure that they know how to do that before we put them in the place to actually do it.  You wouldn’t send a soldier to the front line with no training.  And it’s a war.  Do not be deceived.  The enemy wants the hearts of our children as much as he wants ours.

So, back to the story.  We discussed this verse with our kids.  And we asked Coleman what ‘transform’ means by relating it to the Transformers.  “What do the Transformers do?”  “They change from a robot to a car.”  Because we are a large family, we tend to raise our hands for a turn to talk at the table, and the little ones like to say, “Ohh, ohh, ohh!” as they thrust their hand in the air as high as they possibly can.  Joseph did this repeatedly, and when called on, he simply said, “The robot turns into a car?  Huh?”  By discussing something relevant with the boys, we helped the verse make sense for them and kept their attention.  Then we added moves another night because it’s easier for kids to learn things when they are moving.  Their sensory receptors in the joints are activated, making their brains more receptive to the information.  As a matter of fact, I had to picture the moves to help me remember the very first words of the verse to type in this note!  The other thing we have done is make sure to discuss their behavior and choices with the key words “transform” and “conform”.  Example: “Coleman, is that a conforming behavior or transformed behavior?” or “Coleman, that is awesome!  You are really acting like a transformed person!”  This morning, he was being amazingly sweet and sharing cars with his brothers, and I complimented him with a simple “You are being so sweet!” to which he replied, “Mommy, I’m being transformed!”

It works.  No fancy curriculum or cute, creative idea book necessary.  No craft.  No prep.  Just opening the Word of God and reading it.  They still wiggle, but if they are listening, then I don’t care.  We’ve experienced amazing results with the little boys and the bigger girls.  Don’t get hung up on doing it “right”.  Just do it.  Read the scriptures with your kids.  We got our inspiration here:


Getting ready June 4, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — jps23 @ 7:09 pm

I’m about to reveal the #1, hardest thing about being the mom to a big brood of small people.  Wait for it…here it comes…the #1 HARDEST part about my “job” is GETTING READY!!! 

Yep, that’s it.  Getting ready for what, you ask?  ANYTHING.  Getting ready to leave, getting ready for Christmas, getting ready to go on vacation (or a day trip, even), getting ready for a new baby, and just plain ol’ getting ready.  Don’t even get me started on getting ready for birthday parties.  There are so many people to coordinate, and no matter what you do ahead of time, you can never be ready enough.  You see, ten people generate a lot of stuff just for every day living.  And ten sets of hands (okay, really just nine, since Isaac can’t use his very well yet) move things to many different places, unless you have it under lock and key.  But if you have it under lock and key, then no one can access it but you (like the toilet lid locks we just installed to keep Thomas from playing in the potty water, which the “I barely make it to the toilet” preschoolers can’t operate-and toothbrushes, which you want in reach so they will use them, but not have in reach so they can scrub their feet with them).  Which means you get to be the person to do everything for everyone.  All.  The.  Time.  But I digress…

The problem is that the stuff you need is the stuff you use every day, and if you are using it, you can’t pack it, unless of course you have extras of everything.  We live in a pretty big house, and even though there may be room for doubles of everything, it creates so much clutter.  And did I mention that it might get moved?  For no reason, too.  Nothing is ever where it belongs, and I’ve containerized it, labeled it, and done everything short of locking it down!  It’s an inevitable fate in this house, in our vans, and in any other space we inhabit.  If I had a bag packed with baby stuff at the back door for the big day, it would get moved or buried.  If I pack my favorite book, what am I going to read when I have down time?  (I know, that doesn’t ever really happen, but I make time for it.  I’ll go crazy if i don’t.)  I wanted to be ready for the baby’s arrival, making it easier for anyone who came in to help with the kids.  So I went to BJ’s and stocked up on food and snacks, but they all got eaten between that trip and the big day.

The other part of this problem is that I am an “out of sight, out of mind” kind of girl.  I have to see things, but if they are out where I can see them, they are bound to get moved.  And most of the time, it is Adam that moves them, saying “I was putting it up so the kids wouldn’t move it/lose it/break it.”  Now, don’t take this as complaining.  It’s more of an annoyance than anything.  It isn’t a deal breaker to me, obviously, because we keep having more kids.  However, this is one of the reasons I feel a need for some space, at least.  I feel like I can’t get in front of, keep up, or even catch up with the daily tasks like these.  And it’s backing up.  You should see the clothes in my basement.  The school resources.  The craft supplies.  The outside chores.  The dust bunnies, which I could care less about if Coleman weren’t highly allergic to dust mites.  Add into those mundane, not-so-important things that aren’t urgent but still need to be attended to, the important things like shaping your child’s character and faith walk, being the wife that your husband deserves, and other relationships that God places into your life.  Some days feel hopeless.

However, I have learned that if I devote all my time and energy to getting ready, allowing the stress of it all to blind me to the event that is happening right now, I’m missing it.  It’s like that quote that says “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things (Robert Brault)”.  I don’t want to miss the right now.  The moment where I catch Thomas putting his Matchbox car in the swing next to Isaac.  The one where Coleman wants to cheer on Andrew and Joseph in the swimming pool.  The sweet talks the girls have with their daddy.  The ambitious plans of a creative girl who wants to start her own clothing line for girls who want to be stylish and modest.  The giggles between two sisters who share their age for two weeks out of the year.  And one of my favorites, the one where I catch him looking at me the way he did in the band room almost 20 years ago.  So I try not to focus too much on the getting ready and just embrace the “let’s go.”


The Honeymoon May 31, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — jps23 @ 6:22 pm

I’ve been racking my brain over what to post upon my return to my blog (I say that like I’m some fantastic blogger, imparting wisdom to all 3 of you who read my posts). When you have been “gone” during a period of transition, it’s hard to know where to pick up. I did post a note on my FB page about our decision regarding more babies, and if you didn’t read it, it basically said that we feel the need to allow some spacing, at least, and practice natural family planning (charting your cycle and abstaining during fertile periods) and the use of barrier methods when we aren’t sure of the timing. If you know our story about our sweet surprise, then you realize you can’t always rely on the natural signs from your body when nursing in order to avoid/prevent a possible pregnancy (I just cringe inside saying typing that, but I just can’t imagine being pregnant again anytime soon).  It took A LOT of prayer to come to that place, and I’m not certain that decision won’t change next week, but for now, this is what makes me feel less overwhelmed.  I’m a healthier momma when I am not as overwhelmed as I have been the past few months.

That being said, I have to describe these days home following Isaac’s birth as The Honeymoon.  The cool part, though, is that for us, our honeymoon was just the beginning.  We are the couple that was so desperate to marry one another that we didn’t care about the honeymoon.  Adam’s aunt and uncle offered us the gift of a week at their lake cottage on Lake Oconee at Reynold’s Plantation.  It was a nice stay for us, but it wasn’t like these honeymoons where people go for a week to some exotic location, all meals included, open bars and endless activities to entertain us.  I’m certainly not knocking those and would actually like to do something like that some day, but it also didn’t leave us coming home to reality slapping us in the face, leaving us yearning for crystal clear waters and seafood buffets.  The honeymoon was the hint at what was to come for us.  Giddy to wake up together.  Thrilled to fix one another breakfast.  Eager to iron his shirt.  Blessed just to be there.  And I have to say, that is what I feel like when each of our children have come home with us from the hospital.  Giddy to wake up to find him here.  Thrilled to nurse him in the morning.  Eager to wash his outfits.  Blessed just to be there.  Add to that the amazing joy of watching our older children fall in love with their brother.  Thomas kisses him no less than 20 times a day right now.  The girls “fight” over who gets to hold him next.  Joseph loves his “teeny tiny” everything.  Coleman is so proud to hold him, pat his back, and be his buddy.  Andrew is ever concerned about where he is and if he has what he needs.  Oh, how my heart melts.  Coleman even asked me if I could have another baby the very day we came home with Isaac.  So many people think the kids feel cheated or ignored in a large family, where time for one-on-one seems more limited, but oh, they are so wrong about THIS large family.

We also have another type of honeymoon that we experience when we bring home another baby.  It’s like a renewal of vows for us.  All the petty crap falls away and we realize why we love each other so much.  Time together without a child around is very limited in this phase, so we grab at every squeeze, kiss, or hug we can get with one another.  We don’t take them for granted, like we tend to do so many of the days in between every day living.  He hates going to work and counts the minutes to being home with us.  I miss him not even 2 minutes after he leaves that morning.  And when he returns in the evening, all is right.  The kids greet him at the door as if he had been gone two weeks!  I can’t wait for him to land those lips on mine when he comes in the door.  It’s this blissful joy that just can’t be put into words.  I love being his wife.  I love being their mom.  He loves belonging to us, being needed by us, being loved by us.  And we are even more crazy about one another today, after almost 14 years of marriage and 18 years of being a couple, than we were when we first held hands at that band competition, or shared that first kiss, or said “I do.”

Ah, the honeymoon.  This one certainly doesn’t have meals included and prepared in some rich display (unless the Lunchables were on sale this week).  The only open bar is the soap dispenser in our bathtub filled with Dove shower gel, Suave for kids, and Baby Magic.  The glistening water is that in the clogged sink, with a hint of spaghetti sauce residue (you can’t ever get that stuff clean!).  The activities include play-doh and Matchbox cars.  The bed is turned down only because it never got made up.  But oh, what is to come is so promising and so rich that I’d take it over one of those other honeymoons any day.  I am so in love with that man and our babies.



I’m back!!!!!!! May 20, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — jps23 @ 6:27 pm

I finally got my computer repaired!!! Now, it will take me a couple of days to see where I left off and review what I might want to share with you, so hang tight and expect an update over the weekend. I’m very pregnant and sitting A LOT, so I’m sure I will get to this sooner than later. SO GLAD TO HAVE MY COMPUTER BACK, WITH MY BOOKMARKS, FILES, AND PROGRAMS!!!


Hot bath and a team of maids, please February 27, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — jps23 @ 11:06 pm

Our day started bright and early Saturday morning, with three boys bounding out of bed excited about their first ride on the MARTA train.  This train ride has been talked about for a while now, but our canceled barber shop plans on Friday made Saturday the train ride day to make up for the disappointment.  While the big boys and Daddy had that outing planned, we decided to make up missing our day out to get our ears pierced when Anna came down with the yucky throw-up bug.  We took the baby to make the morning easier for Daddy with three preschoolers on a very fast train, and off to the mall we went.  After soliciting advice on Facebook over Claire’s vs. Wal-Mart, we decided to head to the mall and take the plunge which we’ve been discussing for at least the past year.

We did not elect to pierce ears when the girls were babies.  I have nothing against those that do.  My mom waited and let me decide, so I thought I would do the same thing.  When I had three girls in three years, I was grateful I didn’t pierce straight out of the delivery room because that was much more than my mind could have managed, on top of the every day necessities.  So I let them decide as they grew older, on one condition.  They had to consistently manage taking care of brushing their own hair and their own teeth before I would agree.  I am supervising care of the ears, but it is their responsibility, not mine.  I have a few more kids now than I did then.  I’m still not interested in managing something for sheer aesthetic pleasure.  They made it to that point, and we began discussing getting the ears pierced.  My experience was a bit traumatic, even though my jeweler uncle did it for me.  I’m a little like Gillian, pretty sensory sensitive, and all I remember was the screaming!  But it is temporary.  So we talked our way through it, prayed they would have enough staff to do two at one time, and headed out to the mall.

We get there and there is only one girl available, but she was Ah-mazing!  She handled the girls with such gentleness and care that I didn’t even feel the need to warn her about Gillian’s ASD.  Anna boldly goes first, yet cries out as the first ear is pierced.  The other two immediately say, “Never mind.  I don’t want to.”  She holds it together for the second one, cries a bit more, and shakes it off.  I talk Addison into going through with it, and she squints her eyes and holds in tears to get hers done.  Gillian would take a bit more convincing.  About 20 minutes walking through the store, assuring her that yes, it hurts, but only for a moment.  I even draw a parallel to my having babies.  It hurts, but it is totally worth it.  She is convinced, and sitting in my lap and squeezing Dora, she gets it done.  She cries into the over-sized face of Anna’s Dora doll and endures.  She’s my brave girl.

Anna was ready to go for it!

I think she held it in for Gillian's sake. I love my girls.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

We get home and wait for the boys to return from their adventure, which included the train ride, playing at the playground in Centennial Park and eating at the CNN center.  They come together and share stories about their adventures, and we cruise through the rest of the day, getting things done here and there.  Adam started to work on putting together some storage benches that my mom found greatly reduced for the girls to use in their “areas”.  The space under each of their loft beds is designated as their “area”, and it is allowed to be set up the way they want it to, along with being the only space in the house they get to claim as theirs alone (and even then, we encourage sharing and inviting others in).  He started feeling bad (the nausea setting in), so I sent him upstairs to lay down and I finished the benches, all three of them, sitting on the laminate flooring.  In the midst of this putting together of the benches, we also took a little walk down the street to a neighbor’s house to let Andrew play with his friend.  I wore my flip flops, which probably isn’t great since I am supposed to wear high arch supports in a pair of tennis shoes.  I am also at the point in my pregnancy where the pelvis begins softening up in prep for a baby head, shoulders, and all the other stuff to come out.  Addison asked me the other day why that was necessary if I was having another c-section, to which I replied, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I could let my pelvis know that it won’t be needed this time.”

So, by day’s end, I was pretty sore, and our house was a MESS.  Adam has stepped up to the mom plate this week AND handled all the throw up stuff out of consideration of my olfactory sensitivities in pregnancy.  Not much time for regular cleaning.  Enforcing chores is hard enough when everyone is well, but when they are staggering illness, it just ain’t happening.  So, while the bath called my name and I envisioned happy maids dancing through my house, cleaning it effortlessly regardless of the clutter, I overcame and grabbed a garbage bag, gathering all the food sitting out and putting all the sippy cups in the sink.  And that was it.

So I am glad that none of you came over in the night last night.  I am glad no one called the city code enforcement officers on me.  And I was THRILLED to know that after swapping sleeping off nausea with sitting on the toilet, Adam had no desire to sit, so he opted to stand at the sink and tackle the dishes while we were at church.  What an amazing man!  Today was a little less exhausting, as we enjoyed another day of beautiful weather, put a coat of paint up in the craft room, cleaned out the “mini” van, and picked up Addison from a birthday party along with some Moe’s for dinner.

And as I close out this post, getting neither the bath nor the maids, I leave you with a few more items for my list of things to be thankful for…

6.  acoustic praise music

7.  a great Sunday school lesson to go along with a great sermon

8.  a wildly talented brother, who happens to play in the praise band at my church

9.  a semi-clean van

10. a virus-free start to the week for the first time in three weeks


My list February 25, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — jps23 @ 1:10 pm

I just began reading the fabulous book by Christian blogger Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts.  It is beautifully written in very vivid, poetic form, and it is a reflection on how amidst all the not so great stuff in life, we can still take time to reflect and count the endless blessings before us.  I woke up this morning to one kid feeling bad and another one having thrown up in his bed, only not realizing it until later, since he came bounding in the living room like he was perfectly fine.  Fast forward several hours, and the not feeling well kid finally threw up, so I now have about five loads of laundry to do, instead of the three that were waiting on me (plus our normal load of at least three-a-day to stay on top of things).  I took apart the boy’s bed so I could clean the throw up out of the crevices.  And, the plans for the boys to be gone for haircuts for the day got flushed and I had to figure out lunch for eight, as opposed to the plans I had for lunch with Daddy and the girls and Thomas that I had hoped for.  I thought for a slight moment, “So much for starting my list today.  Not a great day to find things to be thankful for…” and I heard in response, “But you have a washing machine to wash those linens.  And you have those linens.  And your children have beds to sleep in.”  So, I will start my list.  I can promise you that mine won’t wax on poetically like hers does, but it’s my list.  And because it is an expression of thanksgiving for all that He has given me, He will be thrilled with it.


1. a working washing machine and dryer

2. blankets to keep my family warm when it is cool, and to build tents with silly brothers and sisters

3. a bed for each of my children to sleep in each night

4. a husband who takes care of us when we are sick

5. a job for that husband that allows him to take two days off to take care of us


What are you thankful for?



The bad day February 7, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — jps23 @ 5:03 pm

Got that post coming to you soon.  It happened today.  As soon as I get a minute, I’ll get to typing…