Saturday, December 20, 2008

Miss the Mark

You miss the mark. A wisp of an idea, a whisper, a breath during these happy, creative days. Cookie baking and Christmas carols. You miss the mark. Stories and puzzles in front of the fireplace. Hot chocolate. Presents...storebought and homemade. You miss the mark.

This unrest grows and swells until, finally "How? How am I missing?" I look into the lives of others and am not found wanting in giving or worship.

Child, look to Me.

I look. I fall short. I miss the mark.

In worship. You attend to many things but only one thing is needed. I have this complaint against your family. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! In giving. You bring buckets of water to full wells and spare only a few drops for me.

My heart breaks and into the wreckage He pours out His plan to finish well this season.

For worship: We put aside Isaiah for a time and begin the Jesse tree devotional. A soothing balm. A right turning for our wayward souls.

For giving: Silver words challenge. Confront. Words about the very catalog that I glanced through yesterday with callused heart. The catalog in the trash. I sob at my desk and call to the children. John reads aloud. I cannot.

What do You want for your birthday?

I am thirsty. I am hungry. I am cold. Look after my least.

So we gather again around this screen and make plans to forgo the stocking stuffers and look after Him. And in lightening our checkbook to fill other homes with livestock, books, the wrestling with the Word... we fill our own hearts with joy. Abundant, delightful, life-giving joy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Room for one more!

Hello everyone! I am excited to announce that we are expecting our fifth child late this summer! We are all thrilled, and the kids think it is so neat to look at the pictures online at babies in utero.

I am suffering from my usual all-day-long sickness, though, and I am in quite a hurry for that to pass. I will post again later, when I have more energy!

A blessed Christmas to everyone!


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Goon Shoes

One dollar! Who will buy us for just one dollar? Down here! One shelf below Timmy the Tooth on VHS. Down. Behind the green press-on nails. Yes! Us! The Goon Shoes!

We'll fit all of your children with these handy straps! We're bouncy! We're fun!

No! No, lady! Don't make your boy put us back. We're not junk! You don't know! You, you middle-aged woman with big feet! Please! Pleeease take us home! Don't leave us here under these big bikini bottoms!

Put down that sweater! Put it down and look at your son sproinging down the aisle of Second Hand Sams in our green and purple majesty. We were made for each other!

Yes? You said yes?! Oh, you won't regret this! I promise!

Watch that first step out of the store, son. We've got bounce but no traction.

Don't fight! You can't all wear us at once. Two shoes. Two feet. That's how it goes. Set the timer. Wait your turn! Wait!

Yes, big brother, we do turn vacuuming into a circus performance. Yes, youngest sister, it is fun to make the springing trip down the hallway. You're tipping! Grab the wall! Yes, little boy, you are taller than your big sister but your turn is up. Pass us on.

One dollar! A day full of giggles and springs and bounces all for one dollar!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas in a Large Family

is simply magical. It's so fun to be the mother and watch it happen. We don't have a lot of family around, so mostly it's just us. Here are some of our traditions:

* We try to keep Christmas fairly simple and focused on the Savior. We usually sponsor a Sub-for-Santa family and go shopping together to pick out gifts the children would like. It is so sweet to see my children thinking about what a stranger might like.

* We keep our gift buying simple. We get several presents for the whole family (this year's gift? A counter-top ice cream maker), and then find two main presents for each child, one from Santa and one from Mom and Dad. The kids also get small things like books and socks and clothes. I don't worry too much about keeping the amount we spend the same per child, since their needs and interests are so different. I always try to find at least one gift that is hands-on. I remember one Christmas as a child being so disappointed because everyone else was playing with toys or putting together some cool Lego set while I sat there with nothing to do (of course I got plenty of great gifts that year, like books and clothes and things, but there wasn't the same excitement). So even though my daughter Lillian is a huge bookworm, I try to still give her a puzzle or an art project or something that will fill up some time on Christmas Day itself.

* To help us with our shopping, around Halloween, we have the kids make a list of things they want, and we try to get them at least one thing on the list. This year's lists cracked me up. Lillian (age 9) wants a watch, a digital camera, Nancy Drew computer games and boring stuff like that. Michael (age 6) wants Star Wars or Indiana Jones lego sets, plus dress-ups (specifically Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Knights, and Pirates). Joey (age 8) wants a "gold locashion book," a 6" megaladon tooth, and a bag of sand with real gold in it so he can pan for gold. Oh, and a book on what to feed "hornd" toads, a package of "hornd" toad food, and a reptile cage. Think he's trying to tell me something? Sarah told me today she wants a baby, the real kind that grow in mommy's tummy. I hope that's not some sort of premonition!

* We usually decorate for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. We collect nativities and buy a new one each year. It inspires reverence to see the way different artists and different cultures have portrayed the miracle of Christ's birth, and the older kids like to pick up the Mary in each set to see what year that nativity joined our family (I write the years on the bottom).

* Around Thanksgiving time, we draw names among the older kids (ages 3 and up). Each child spends their own money, usually about $10, to give a gift to one of their siblings. I love watching them plan and think and pore over ads to get their sibling the perfect gift.

* Each Monday night during our Family Home Evening, we try to do something Christmas-oriented, like making gingerbread houses, driving around to look at lights, reading the Book of Luke, and watching our favorite Christmas movies, such as The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (that's got some of the best lines in the world: "you mean they tied him up and put him in a feedbox? Where was the child welfare?" "What were the wadded up clothes? You read about it -- they wrapped him up in wadded up clothes!" "I'm not going to be a shepherd. Gladys Herdman hits too hard!" "My mom doesn't have any white sheets. Can I wear a sheet with balloons on it?")

* Our Christmas Eve dinner for the last five or more years has been spent at our favorite Chinese restaurant. I love eating family style, and the kids understand the funny Christmas Story implications of our meal (in case you've never seen the movie, the neighbor's dogs eat all the turkey at Ralphie's house, so they end up at the only restaurant open on Christmas Day, a Chinese one). One year, we even ordered roast duck. It was gross, so we decided to forgo it in the future.

* On Christmas Eve, we have a simple gathering with our immediate family. We act out the Christmas Story and talk about Christ's life. Last year, Lillian (on her own initiative) spent much of Christmas Eve day searching out the perfect outfits for everyone's costumes, such as Allison as a wise man holding a beautiful geode to give to the Christ Child:

* After the nativity story, each child gets to open one present. Sometimes, the present is new pajamas to wear that night.
* After the program, we send everyone to bed. Sometimes, they gather for a party in each other's rooms, playing games for a while before excitedly trying to sleep so Santa can arrive.

* Once a child knows the truth about Santa, they get to take turns being Santa's helper. Last year was Lillian's first year to help. She was so thrilled and excited to set out the presents for each of her siblings with us, and a bit disappointed when we told her Santa didn't bring presents to kids who don't believe anymore (we were kidding! After she went to bed, we brought out her presents from Santa.)

* I almost always make butterscotch rolls and set them out to rise that night (my recipe uses frozen rolls and is very simple. You can find it here).

* Santa brings one main present for each child and fills the stockings, usually with oranges, peanuts, chocolate coins, candy, and a movie or a book.

* Christmas morning dawns bright and early, sometimes with a child or two running into our room at 2 a.m., announcing, "It's morning time!" After we put said child back to bed, we finally do get up around 6 a.m. and head for the stairs. We line the kids up youngest to oldest and the rush for the toys begins.

* Santa doesn't wrap his presents, so right away, everyone has something exciting to look at. While the kids are looking at their presents, I start the rolls cooking in the oven.

* After looking at their presents from Santa and emptying their stockings, we go to the kitchen for a yummy breakfast. I get out the rolls and DH usually makes sausages, bacon, eggs, and pancakes.

* After breakfast, we go back to the living room to open the rest of the gifts one at a time. The kids can't wait for their sibling to open the special gift they picked out just for them, and since both of our extended families draw names, too, there are usually a few surprises in there, even for mom and dad.

What are YOUR family's favorite traditions?

Note: This was originally posted on my blog.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Time to Get My Groove Back

Hi all! Lately I have been having a hard time with time management and motivation. To try and inspire myself I am making up a daily What I Did Today List. This way instead of feeling bad about everything that I didn't accomplish on my To-Do List I can feel good about the things that I did get done.

I will be posting my Daily List on my personal blog nightly through the rest of this month in hopes of getting jump started before the beginning of 2009 and the addition of another little one! Yes, that will bring our grand total up to SIX! So it's time to get my groove back!

If the idea doesn't bore you to tears and you want to follow along come on over to Chaos 7.0! It should prove amusing if nothing else!

Blog to you soon,


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Hello from a new face!

Actually, my face was newer once upon a time. Now it's older with the wisdom of motherhood. Pah! Got you there didn't I?!

My name is Tania, married to Michael and we have seven children, with number eight due to make his or her entrance into the world some time around May 2009, God willing.

Our children are Ben (15), Stephanie (14), Caitlin (9), Harry (5), Eddie (3), Sid (2) and Patrick, also known as Paddy, who is 1. We live in Kent, England, where it rains a lot and you consider it a good summer if you get five consecutive days of sun.

When I'm not mummying, I'm working from home as a cloth nappy advisor, or baking, or blogstalking or blogging on my blog here. Actually, that list isn't in any accurate order. You may have to read it backwards for the true order of events. I hope my boss doesn't read this!

I have to admit that now I'm here I'm worried I won't have anything interesting to say. Don't get me wrong, I have plenty in my head but is it really anything that won't have you begging me to please, please stop!

I guess we'll soon find out, but until then I'm very pleased to meet you!