Content Amidst the Chaos

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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

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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?

 

 

Trust Me Today February 11, 2011

Filed under: babies — jps23 @ 9:56 am

I have gained great encouragement from so many readers and friends this week.  All remarks have been encouraging and uplifting, none carrying judgment or condemnation.  What a gift.  However, I received this email from a friend last night that simply stopped me.  It was the comfort that I needed.  It was the truth that He wanted me to hear.  I am hoping she doesn’t mind me sharing it here with you.  I can’t imagine she would, especially if she knew these same words might do for you what they have done for me.

Hi Jamie!

I have been reading all about your week through facebook and your blog.  You have been on my heart a lot.  I know these days of caring another little one must be exhausting.  And having such big heart decisions laying in your lap on top of it all is just another weight.  So as I have read through your week, and prayed for you, the thing that keeps coming into my heart is just this:  the weight of this decision is not coming from Him.  He is the God of the I AM.  He is forever in the present tense.  He is not in all those thoughts of tomorrows and ‘yet to comes’.  He asks us to trust Him for today.   Because He is in our present tense with us.  He isn’t asking you to trust him for the yet to come, at least not yet.  He is saying “trust me today, and I will walk with you into tomorrow.”  All of these thoughts about what will happen down the road, that is Satan digging in and picking at you.   Jamie, you are an amazing mom, a wonderful wife, a committed friend and most importantly a loving, open daughter to your heavenly father.  He loves you beyond belief and is longing for you to pour out your desires to him.  If right now you want to shout “no more children, never, no way, that’s it.,”  then my goodness, shout it!!  And trust him to bear the weight of those emotions for today.  But don’t worry about making that decision right now.  He is your father and more than anything wants to hear your heart, and provide for your greatest heart’s desire!  And if He longs for you to have 9, 10 or 20 kids, then He will gently walk with you into that tomorrow.  But for today, He loves you, and cries with you through every joyful and aching moment.

I am praying for you and all those little Stovalls.

 

But then… February 8, 2011

Filed under: babies — jps23 @ 8:25 pm

I was prepared to post tonight that I have come to a conclusion.  I can’t do this again, at least not for a while.  I’m very overwhelmed and feeling quite worthless these last two days, and I just don’t see how I can survive a pregnancy while parenting/raising/educating eight kids.  Once they are here, it is truly no big deal.  I had my brother’s three kids over yesterday for a visit, and it didn’t change a thing.  Well, there was a little more mess, but there were also more hands to help, like when my nephews pulled my trash cans up the driveway so Adam didn’t have to when he got home after 10:00 from teaching his class at the college down the street.  And, we will be having another c-section this time, which makes two in a row.  How does that work for multiple pregnancies?  Sometimes I wish I had Michelle Duggar’s phone number.  She’s not my God, but I think she has a pretty direct connection with Him.  She knows the Word, trusts it, and lives it so calmly and peacefully.  I wouldn’t mind being her when I grow up, minus the long hair and denim skirts.

Anyhow, I had decided to post this, waiting only for the kids to finish watching their Magic School Bus video on my computer (that was school today- it’s been a rough two days).  So I pull up my computer and open my Internet, where Facebook is my homepage.  I see the news of a friend celebrating her second pregnancy directly posted on my wall.  I shoot her a message through the inbox, offering her much congratulations and encouragement, and she writes back, with this line in her message…

“Actually being around your family put that desire of wanting a family!”

She grew up in a large family.  She knows what my life is like.  Yet it was spending time with my family that had a positive impact on her.  I would never have dreamed it.  Now, I know that doesn’t mean that I scratch the way I feel and ignore my hesitations, but this is where I feel torn.  I feel like that in the moments I don’t think I can go on any longer and it’s time to retire the uterus, God sends me little messages and assurances.  I don’t know if it is to convince me to continue to trust Him or just to remind me that He is there.  But it gives me pause.  I know that opening my womb to another child IS NOT a salvation issue.  I know I won’t be banned to hell because I didn’t have 13 children or more.  I just want to trust Him.  I wonder if my overwhelm is a sign or evidence of a need for us to change some things.  It’s just hard for me to believe that it is a sign that I’m supposed to interpret as Him saying “Don’t trust Me anymore.  You know better than I do whether you need another kid.”  I just told my brother last night that I haven’t ever heard a distinct voice of God.  These are the places where I feel like He speaks to me.  Moments, comments, and encouragement like this.

So, I had made up my mind.  No more, at least for a little while, but then my friend went and said that.  He’s at least got my attention.  I revoke my made-up mind and will place it back in the realm of uncertainty and unknown for now.  This is quite the journey.

 

The days I consider no more February 7, 2011

Filed under: babies — jps23 @ 8:40 pm

There are bad days in our household.  I know that’s hard to believe with all the adorable faces I get to look at every day and the amazing husband that I get to call mine, but they do happen.  I had one last Thursday, courtesy of the child that makes me think outside the box when it comes to discipline, and I had one today, courtesy of that amazing husband.  Don’t get me wrong.  I loooooooooove my husband and I am thankful that he is mine.  He is wonderfully amazing, but people, he’s not perfect, and neither am I, so some days don’t run so smoothly.

Now, I have admitted that life with two or three, or heck, even one, can be hard sometimes.  I do not think that moms of fewer coast through this job of being mommy.  However, the ER in harder comes in for me because it feels constant here.  As soon as one is satisfied, there’s an issue with another.  Even on good days, many things go undone and I can’t ever stay caught up on it all.  I’ve learned to let go of what people think about my house.  How undecorated it may be, how messy it always is, and how I’ve swapped out rooms, yet again.  That doesn’t mean those things don’t bother me.  It just means that I don’t beat myself up over it anymore.  It ain’t gonna help it get done!  But I digress…

Life in a large family has to be lived differently.  You HAVE TO have a schedule, or it all falls apart.  You have to plan and execute your grocery shopping, preparation, and delivery of your meals, and if you want to save money, you have to clip, sort, and stack coupons with the sales at each store, after poring over the sales papers or tipster websites.  It is work, people, and it’s something we aren’t very good at here at the Stovall household.  I’m working on that, and yesterday afternoon, I buddied up with our meal helpers (each girl helps with a mealtime, the boys don’t because they aren’t quite big enough yet, not because we’re sexist!) and made menus for the week.  If they help pick it, they’ll enjoy making it and eating it even more.  From that, we made a grocery list.  So, we needed to now go to the grocery store to get the groceries.

Now, if you’ll recall from a previous post, I was tired this weekend.  Very tired.  Tired enough to post about it.  So I didn’t feel like going to the store.  The catch for me goes like this- “Do I feel like getting out (showering, finding clothes that aren’t a 15 year old pair of sweats stained with bleach) or do I want to stay home and entertain the kids?”  When I’m not pregnant, the answer is easy.  I’ll get out, zip in and out of the store, and get home.  When I am pregnant, no thanks, but I don’t want to entertain the kids, either.  I do that all week long.  (Insert judgment here)  So, my amazing husband offers to go to the store for me and hit the bogo’s at Publix.  What a sweetie.  He gets home, offers to go to Kroger (which he doesn’t like for me to do late at night because he is constantly asked for money, and he just prefers I not be approached by strangers asking for money), and I tell him not to worry about it.  I’ll make do with what he got from Publix.  My mom was going to be bringing my two nephews and niece over today (my brother had to work late, and she was already going to be sitting for me like she usually does on Mondays so I can take the girls to their lessons), and I wanted to be able to offer to feed them to help make their night easier.  Instead of beef casserole, I decided on chili and hot dogs.

This morning, when Adam finally rolled out of bed at 8:30, I asked him if we could talk.  I was already overwhelmed at what didn’t get done on Sunday, which yes, should be a day of rest, but I don’t know if that means “let the whole house go”.  And having ten people living in this house (counting our college roommate) makes enough of a mess over a day’s time.  I have to constantly remind him that while he may not care if I don’t get things pristine, or clean even, it still has to be done.  He never comes home and fusses at me, y’all, no matter how bad it all looks, but it overwhelms me to live in it sometimes, and even though he doesn’t ride my case, I still feel bad that it doesn’t always get done.  I don’t have a house cleaner.  Our roommate doesn’t babysit or pick up extra chores.  Our moms don’t come over and clean for us.  It’s all on me.  When Mom does come to babysit, she’ll do anything I ask her to, but I don’t like to ask her to do things like that.  I did ask her to fold two loads of laundry last week, but I didn’t ask her to take it downstairs and put it away.  I am trying to train my kids to take care of their home and their stuff in a way that teaches them responsibility, but in teaching them, it doesn’t always get done the way that would look best.  And when one thing gets done, quite often, there are twelve things undone.  It’s just tricky.

Anyway, I just was talking to him about how overwhelmed I am feeling.  How the mess gets to me, since I don’t get to leave it for eight hours every day like he does.  I can’t keep up the laundry and the meal planning and preparation and the homeschooling and the character training and the organizing and the project planning (to save money by building things versus buying them at a 200%+ markup).  I just need some help somewhere.  He agreed and said we would try and figure out how we can make that happen.  Then he got showered, dressed, and went to work.

He didn’t do his small chores that he has offered to do to make the morning a little easier for me.  No biggie, I can deal with that, although I’d rather him just say, “No, I can’t help you ever” than me rely on his help and get it sporadically.  What’s the point?  He’s not intentionally neglectful, and believe me, I know, his plate is full.  I hear that one enough (never from him, mind you, but plenty others feel this way).  I didn’t notice any room on mine, either, but I guess that is beside the point.  And just so you know, THE EIGHT KIDS WEREN’T MY IDEA!  WHY DO PEOPLE THINK THE ONE THAT ACTUALLY BIRTHS THEM IS THE ONE THAT DEMANDS WE HAVE THEM???  In my times of doubt and concern about having another child, it has been Adam that has said that we need to trust God.  Do not mistake me for saying he tells me I have to have all of these babies.  I wish this were as black and white as some people would like it to be.  I’d like it to be more black and white.  But it isn’t.  This is a faith issue for us that we aren’t always sure how to handle.  That was the point in sharing this with you to begin with.  The point is, the one that actually physically endures the pregnancy, delivery, and the daily upbringing of these children did not strong arm the one with the easier role into doing this.  I just think that needs to be clarified sometimes.  Again, I digress (see why these posts are harder?)…

So, the little extra helpful chores of changing the diapered children (2) didn’t get done and Addison carried out the trash (on her own, without being asked, just ’cause she wanted to be helpful), which is the other thing I ask of him before he leaves.  But then my mom calls and tells me that Adam called her and said he went to work with the groceries in the back of the van.  The ones I was counting on to get me through the day.  And he wanted her to come by and pick them up for him before she came to my house.  However, she wasn’t coming over until 3:00, which meant I didn’t have anything to get through the first part of the day, AND this changed my dinner plans.  So these little oversights, these “no big deal” things to him were a huge deal to me.  And I let it ruin my day.  We fussed, I got depressed, and I said “I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE!”  I tell him when we are considering opening our womb to the possibility of another baby that pregnancy exhausts a woman, and when she has seven other kids to take care of and educate during that pregnancy, it means he has to help.  He’s aware of this before the seed is planted, if you know what I mean.  There is open, honest communication going on in this house.  I don’t say, “Oh dear, you won’t have to worry about a thing” and then spring this on him.  He knows.  And guys, some days it is just. so. hard.

Now, I know he is a gem.  And I know he doesn’t intentionally do these things to hurt me or make my life harder.  But in the moment, in the chaos, it overwhelms me.  I have relied on an anti-depressant in past pregnancies to make the hard days easier, but this go ’round, like the last one, they make me sick.  So, I’m doing this on my own.  It’s hard.  And I know what some of you are thinking (because some of my own relatives have said it out loud), “Why do you do this?”  Again, we are just trying to trust God with what He wants for our life.  He doesn’t always promise easy, and quite honestly, when I struggle the most is usually when I am leaning on Him the least and trying to do it all on my own.  Or, as my dear friends haven’t been afraid to say to me in the past, I am leaning on ADAM to be my savior on these days.  Again, it’s not black and white.

So, I may have rambled a bit and it may not make sense.  I don’t feel like I make sense on these days.  But, out of fairness and a need to be honest, I thought I’d share.  Today was a day where I said, “I can’t be pregnant again.  I can’t have another baby.  I can’t add to the laundry or the groceries or to the schedule.  I can’t do this anymore.”  I’m sure He will put something on my heart about this all at some point, which is what usually happens, and it tends to make me forget the little details that made this post so long.  But I gave it to you, raw, before the kids were even in bed.  Yes, there are days I consider no more.

 

The bad day

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…

 

daycare February 6, 2011

Filed under: You know you are a large family when... — jps23 @ 10:46 pm

You know you are a large family when the city code enforcement officers knock on your door on your BIRTHDAY and say they received a call concerned that you were running a day care out of your home.

For real, they had to come in and see a family picture.