Monday, January 30, 2012

All According to Plan...Just Not Mine

I woke up this morning with one thing topping my priority list: laundry. Both hampers are overflowing and Hannah had to wear Emma's pants because all of hers are dirty. But that was fine with me, because I had nothing else to do. Then the day started.

Emma came down from bed with her left eye completely crusted shut. She couldn't even open it. I had to wash it with a warm, wet, rag to loosen the crusty matter and peel her eyelid free again. Inside was a bright pink eye--no surprise there, but hey, I can be flexible. I made an appointment with the pediatrician for later this morning. Then, putting Emma's glasses on I noticed that one arm was severely bent, a nose piece was missing, and a screw had disappeared. So I figured we'd swing by the eye doctor's office after the pediatrician.

The pediatrician's appointment was at 11:15.  We got to the eye doctor about noon. The lady there commented, "Boy, Emma did you have a fun day yesterday?!" when she saw the glasses. Toby ran up and down the handicap ramp as fast as he could making car noises while the repairs were made. When we drove by the pharmacy for the antibiotic eye drops Elijah was out of patience with his car seat and screamed as we sat in the drive-through line, then all the way home. Emma attempted to calm him by singing, "If you're happy and you know it." Which I found simultaneously highly annoying and hilariously amusing. After calming Elijah at home, making lunch, and putting Elijah and Toby down for naps I felt triumphant. I hadn't planned any of that, but we survived. The only obstacle between me and a successful day now was five loads of laundry.

I sat down to tie up a few loose ends in this week's schedule. Only a few minutes later I heard Naomi yell out, "Emma! Why did you leave your glasses on the floor?!?! I just stepped on them!"

Can I cry now? Maybe I should just laugh, but I feel more like crying. Emma's glasses are mangled! Both arms are bent, the lenses are popping out, and I don't know if they'll be able to fix them this time. Seriously? We went nine months with only one minor repair before and Emma manages to mangle her glasses twice in 24 hours? Am I supposed to learn something from this? OK, I just wrote "string to tie Emma's glasses around her neck" on my shopping list, but beyond that, Lord, is there a reason for this madness?

The horrible, sickening twist is that if I want Emma's glasses fixed today (which I do, she has preschool tomorrow and she needs them to see), I will now have to wake up two sleeping children to load them back in the van and drive back to the eye doctor's before they close at 4:30. Unless I take drastic action, poor innocent Matt will then come home to a dinner of Rice Chex with rice milk, no clean clothes, and an angry wife. I know this is not fair to him. That's why I'm venting here...then calling my mom. Pray that the pressure is released before Matt makes it home, for his sake.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

An Eye for an Eye

"Is that a fight upstairs?" Matt called to me as I cleared the lunch dishes today.

"I'll go check," Naomi volunteered, running up the stairs. She returned a moment later to report, "Toby hit Emma."

I called the acused in for questioning and he didn't deny his guilt, so I probed further, "And why did you hit her, Toby?"

"Because she hit me," he replied.

"Well, why did she hit you?"

"Because I was pushing her."

"And why were you pushing her?" I pressed growing more confused.

"Because she hit me."

Fearing we were going in circles I gave up on the interrogation and simply doled out the consequences for hitting--no matter the cause. I doubt either of them remembers what started the fight anyway. The problem with "An eye for an eye" is that no child would make it to adulthood without being blind.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Elijah Lie

This is a poem written entirely by seven-year-old Naomi to her seven-week-old baby brother. She wrote this for journal yesterday.

Elijah's Poem

Elijah lie
Don't you cry
You don't need to yelp for help
Be happy, and not sappy
Be glad, not sad

Mama's home
So do be calm
It's okay
Mama's on the way
Don't keep awake to play
This whole long day

Please take a nap
And don't play with that little flap
Remember don't be sappy
But be very happy

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On Toby's Farm

"I have to work on my farm," Toby informed me yesterday as he watched me slice potatoes for french fries.

"Oh really?" I probed, "What do you need to do there?"

"I have to feed the cows, and the pigs, and the sheeps," he answered. "And there's a bad, bad monster there. He wrestles the horses and the pigs! I have to catch him."

Toby paused here, so I pressed him again, "A bad, bad monster? What will you do with him when you catch him?"

"I'll throw him in the potty!" Toby growled emphatically, "and kill him! He's not gonna be alive anymore!"

"Oh," I said, because, well, what else can one say to death by drowning in sewage? It's a harsh penalty, but he was a bad, bad monster. I decided to move the conversation along. "So what else do you need to do on your farm?"

"And the chickens need some eggs," Toby replied. "I have to give them eggs from the egg feeder, and they have to pay $1.00. And the pigs need pickles."

"I see. Do you grow any plants on your farm?"

"Just green ones. And purple."

Then the potatoes were sliced and seasoned, and apparently the farm work was done, because Toby jumped down from his chair and ran off to find an innocent sister to torture.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Full Hands, Full Heart

Today began yesterday. Some days I have to start the day before or I'll never fit in everything that needs to be done in 24 hours. Yesterday I made sure to catch up on laundry and cleaning, and to cook an extra big dinner, because I knew there wouldn't be time or energy for any of that today. In the evening I re-stocked two diaper bags, packed Naomi's medical binder, a picnic lunch, and a few other essentials, and set up the juice cups and breakfast bowls for the morning. What was this major undertaking that would happen tomorrow? A routine doctor's appointment. But, being a 90 minute drive away with five small children, that pretty much equals the preparation and energy required to climb Mount Everest.

Soon after having Naomi I learned that a small child can cause myriad unforeseen delays, and in order to be on time anywhere I should plan a little extra time into my schedule, just in case. Now, with five small children the number of possible combinations of unforeseeable delays has increased exponentially, so I've learned to plan way, way, way more time into my schedule because, well, something strange will happen, it just will, and it will probably bring friends with it.

The appointment was scheduled for 11:00am. My alarm went off 7:00am and the race began. The alarm, of course, woke Elijah so there went the first thirty minutes of my morning to nursing, diaper changing, and resettling the baby. Then dressing, combing, and feeding everyone. Then nursing Elijah again, and, of course, he had a bowel movement that erupted up the back of his diaper and all over his outfit. So, I called out orders, "OK, everyone put your shoes on! Naomi, help Toby with his coat, please! Has everyone gone potty?..." while I scrubbed neon-yellow poop from Elijah's onesie and re-dressed him. After being stripped bare, Elijah was mad as a hornet when I strapped him in his car seat, and he made sure everyone in the van knew it for the first 20 minutes of our drive. But we left on time, which means that we left the house at 9:00am for a drive that only takes 1 1/2 hours. That left half an hour to unload the passengers and luggage at the hospital, take everyone potty, and nurse Elijah a little before the 11:00 appointment. Step one of my journey complete.

When Elijah was born I had wanted to arrange the kids' seats in the van so that Naomi was beside him to help calm him, but with our combination of seat belts and car seats only Emma could sit beside Elijah. She tried as hard as she could to console him as he screamed this morning, shoving the pacifier in his mouth and belting out "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" over his screams. I hated to discourage her so, when I could bear it no longer, I said, "Wow, thanks, Emma. You are such a good big sister, let's listen and see if he calms down now." We listened then, and within a few minutes he did calm down.

That's always such a magical time--all five kids are strapped down; all is calm, all is quiet. For the next hour I felt almost like a real person again. I could listen to the radio, enjoy the scenery, and ponder things deeper than how to zip up a coat and scrub poop at the same time. I don't even care much what's on the radio: Chuck Swindoll, David Jeremiah, or some new punk Christian band--if you're over the age of seven, have an intelligent sounding vocabulary, and demand nothing from me, you're music to my ears.

We arrived at the hospital a little early, 10:20am. Elijah woke up as soon as the van stopped moving and picked up his protest right where he had left it, somewhere in the middle of "waaaaaaahhhhhhh!" I shoved the diaper bags and the cooler in the double stroller with Toby and Elijah, had the girls hang on to the sides of the stroller, locked the van, and away we went. Elijah screamed through the parking garage, the elevator, the sky walk, and the halls as I called out, "OK, Naomi run ahead and press that handicap-sign button to open the doors! Hannah, run ahead of her and press the up button on the elevator. No, the UP button! OK, Emma, can you press the number two in the elevator? No TWO! OK, let me help you. Naomi, open the bathroom door now. Wider! Honey, I have a double stroller here, you're going to have to open it all the way. Everybody in now! Pick a stall and go potty. Naomi, can you help Toby while I change Elijah?" One lady walked into the bathroom, saw my crew, and turned around and walked right back out!

Amazingly, we made it to the appointment right at 11:00am. Awesome. Unfortunately, we spent the next 40 minutes in an 8' x 6' room waiting for the doctor. When all the books had been read, all my patience had been spent, and Elijah was ready to nurse again, the doctor arrived. We yelled over Elijah's cries as we discussed Naomi's last urine collection. There was still the same amount of protein in her urine, so the doctor wanted to switch her medication and increase the dose, then re-check her urine in 4 weeks. He wrote the prescription,  listened to Naomi's chest, pressed on her belly, and was done. With four hours and forty minutes of preparation behind me, our five-minute appointment was over. Now there only lay ahead of me lunch, one bathroom break, a 90 minute car trip, and a stop at the pharmacy before I was home. Piece of cake.

I drew a lot of attention as I wore Elijah in the baby carrier and doled out lunch to my kids in the hospital atrium. Over and over strangers stopped to comment, "Wow, you sure have your hands full!" and one kind man even said, "You're doing a good job there, though." The lady eating at the next table called over, "That reminds me of me. I had five kids too--all teenagers now. I sure miss those days!" Ah, yes, the rose colored glasses of retrospect. I'm sure I'll miss these years too, fifteen year from now. Then all the way to the bathroom, in the bathroom, and all the way back stranger after stranger said, "You sure have your hands full!" just as if they were the first person to ever make that observation. I just smiled and quipped, "yes I do, but my heart is full too."

Just the time I was starting to get a little annoyed Hannah made my day by remarking loudly, "Why does every person in this hospital keep saying that to us?!"

I laughed and replied, "I guess it's because it's true."

I had my hands full all the way to the parking garage, but then I had another blissful hour of silence and deep pondering on the drive home, and in that hour, when my head cleared and my hands stopped, my heart really was full.

Tomorrow there's a snowstorm rolling in and Emma needs to see her eye doctor--a 45 minute drive away. Leftovers tonight, then resting up for round two tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Look At Me Now

This morning Elijah was having trouble settling down for a nap, I was trying to ingest some caffeine while calming him, and Toby asked me to read him a book. He used his big brown puppy dog eyes that said, "You know I've been neglected lately while you focus all your attention on Elijah." So I found myself bouncing up and down on a large red exercise ball with Elijah strapped in the baby carrier on my front and Toby sitting beside me in a chair. I held "The Cat in the Hat" in my right hand and alternately read a few sentences, then sipped from the coffee mug in my left hand (and it is tricky to sip coffee while bouncing up and down--I'm not allowed to break the rhythm or Elijah cries again).

When I got to the page where the Cat lists all the things he can hold up while bouncing on a ball I had to laugh. I was almost as talented as him. So I read to Toby:

Look at me.
Look at me.
Look at me now.
It is fun to have fun, but you have to know how.
I can hold up a baby and a white coffee cup.
I can read from a book as I bounce down and up!

That caught even Naomi and Hannah's attention as they folded laundry. They laughed and I laughed. Tomorrow I will hold up the fish on a rake and fan with my tail, come by and be impressed!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Decade

Ten years ago today I woke early in a hotel room with my college girlfriends. We smiled and joked and felt the rising excitement as my roommate carefully curled and pinned my waist-length hair in perfect ringlets. We met my family in the lobby and drove in the twinkling white flurries to a majestic old cathedral (now turned Presbyterian church) in the heart of Chicago--the same church where a young man and I had spent our college days wrestling with the deep issues of faith. I put on a simple white dress and a friend pinned on a veil that I had carefully hand-stitched during long phone conversations in my dorm room.

Ten years ago I married my best friend who had challenged and inspired me when most other boys seemed superficial and dull. We packed our few belongings and headed to a Seminary on the East Coast. We had no idea what the next ten years would bring our way: deep peace and joy, close friendship and warmth, tragic loss and mounting stress, distance, bitterness and resentment, reconciliation, refreshment, babies and more babies, disease, doctors and more doctors, tearful prayers and astonishing answers, and the unmistakable hand of providence through it all.

How do you summarize ten years? Is it the events? The emotions? The growth we've experienced? It's even more complicated on a blog, since I'm not exactly sure who I'm summarizing for. I'd sum it up differently for my family, a stranger, or my long-lost friend. But however I put it down it will be inadequate, some things you just have to experience to understand.

2002: Matt and I were married, moved to the North Shore of Boston and continued Matt's seminary education. I worked as a Nanny for two families that year. We helped lead the youth group at a Reformed Baptist church. We spent the year visiting the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean, taking long walks through hill country, and chasing each other through the haunted halls of Matt's security job in an old convent turned advertising agency. One of the boys I nannied for had Autism and it was here that I first learned about therapies for this disorder and gained the skill of gluten-free, casein-free cooking.

2003: We survived a colossal New England winter. Matt was accepted into the tuition-paid PhD program at Wheaton college in Illinois. We bought a little condo in a half-way safe neighborhood and learned a lot about cultural diversity there. I miscarried our first two babies. One night, on the balcony of our condo, I was struck with the deep conviction that children are gifts from God, and I prayed, much like Old Testament Hannah, that if God granted me children I would surrender my plans for them and graciously accept his plan for them. I felt deeply convicted then that suffering would follow. Several weeks later we learned that another child had been granted us. This baby stayed with our family.

2004: In January we headed to our 20 week ultrasound like any naive first-time parents. The technician was friendly at first but grew more distant and less chatty as the exam went on. She hardly seemed happy when she told us we were having a little girl. I figured she'd had a long day. One week later our OB told us bluntly that our little girl's kidneys were too "echogenic" or bright on the ultrasound. She had no idea what this meant and advised we see a specialist. We declined, being confident that everything was fine and knowing we didn't have the money for needless doctor's visits. It is better that we didn't go. I wasn't mature enough then to handle the diagnosis that would come.

In March I was put on complete bed rest for preterm contractions. I spent six weeks reading, crocheting, and crying at every episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. On May 17th, just over three weeks before I was due, Naomi Katherine Eby was born. Her club feet immediately dampened the mood, and it wasn't long before they observed her distended abdomen and ordered an ultrasound and blood work. The next day Naomi was placed in intensive care as her kidney function declined and the doctors began to discuss the possibility of putting Naomi on dialysis. We cried and prayed and sat at her little plastic bassinet in that bright, beeping room as many hours as we could. Everyone we knew prayed, and by her fifth day of life Naomi's kidney function had stabilized at impaired, but sufficient levels. She came home on Matt's 26th birthday.

Though a relief and a joy to bring her home I soon learned the stress of a special-needs baby. She needed routine blood draws, ultrasounds, nephrologist appointments, and orthopedist appointments, alongside the normal well-baby visits. But far more stressful was her unique personality. She screamed just about night and day, she never slept for more than 20 minutes at a stretch and woke in full-blown screams again. It took ages to settle her again. One day, after reading that a newborn should sleep 16-20 hours a day, I recorded Naomi's sleep patterns and found that her 10 and 20 minute naps only totaled about 6 hours out of 24! I used to dream about committing myself to an asylum just so I could sleep. I tried altering my diet. I tried "sleep training her" (Ha, Ha, Ha! She could cried for five hours at a stretch without falling asleep!) I only found a measure of rest when I gave in to putting her in bed beside me, wearing her around while I was awake, and nursing her most of her waking hours. We later learned that Naomi had a complete inability to concentrate her urine causing her to dehydrate quickly, hence the need to nurse constantly. She also soon gained a diagnosis of "sensory integration disorder" which basically means hypersensitivity to every stimuli and an inability to calm oneself. No kidding.

In December I began nannying for a family with a newborn little girl. I brought Naomi with me and the two girls grew up as friends the first three years of their lives.

2005: Naomi began having physical and occupational therapists visit our house weekly. She was hospitalized three days again in March, but soon after began to sleep through the night. Phew! In June, just after Naomi's first birthday, we learned that God had granted us another baby. Two separate geneticists told us that they didn't know what disease Naomi had, but it certainly wouldn't repeat itself with our other children. We were excited, but tension mounted. Naomi was still quite needy and Matt was supposed to be finishing up his dissertation within a year to graduate within three years. We learned then what happens when two people are pushed to the point that they have nothing left to give to the other: distance and bitterness.

2006: On March 6th Hannah Claire Eby arrived safe and healthy. Matt didn't get the dissertation finished to meet the optimal three year goal and opted to use a fourth year of full-time work to finish. I continued to nanny, now taking two kids with me and found support with other moms in our local church.

2007: In January we learned that a third baby was on the way. Matt was still unable to finish the dissertation and bills were mounting. We would have to find full-time work to support the family and try to finish a dissertation on the side, long-distance from the college. On May 17th, Naomi's third birthday, my grandmother passed away, and Matt and I sat stunned at another 20 week ultrasound. Our third little girl's kidneys were echogenic. This time we opted to see the specialist.

In June we were offered positions as dorm parents and bible teacher at a small christian boarding school in Iowa. Just before we moved in July the baby showed fluid collecting in her abdomen and the pregnancy was watched every few days with ultrasounds. We spent July and August settling into our new house, driving the hour-long trip to the University of Iowa for monitoring and tests, and meeting our new family: seven teenage boys who lived in the dormitory attached to our house.

On September 9th labor was induced almost a full month early because the baby was in clear distress. Emma Peace Eby arrived and was whisked away to intensive care. She spent a total of eight days there before being sent home. She was a peaceful baby and we began to love the busy, full days of boarding school life. In October we finally received a diagnosis for Naomi and Emma's kidney disease. It was scary and dark: Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease and Congenital Hepatic Fibrosis (ARPKD/CHF), a disease that the information on the Internet mostly described as a death sentence. Matt was able to accomplish absolutely nothing towards the dissertation that year.

2008: Matt, Emma, and I flew to Philadelphia in April for a meeting of and ARPKD/CHF support group and learned more accurate information about the disease. We were also accepted into a study on the disease at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Maryland. NIH flew our entire family out to Maryland for a week-long research trip in June. The girls were poked and scanned and tested with every possible test that week. At the end we were sat down in a conference room with doctors and nurses who told us that our girls had a mild version of ARPKD/CHF, that their condition would deteriorate slowly, and that transplant and surgeries could be many years away. We were advised not to try to have more children unless we wanted to do In-Vitro Fertilization with genetic screening to implant only healthy embryos and destroy the diseased ones. They looked at us like we were crazy when we said we could not ethically do that.

Two days after returning from NIH I began to feel nauseous. Baby number 4 was already on the way. I dreaded the next 20 week ultrasound. Matt dedicated the entire summer to his dissertation so I took the kids on vacations by myself that year. In August our dormitory filled with seven teenage girls and the busy year began. In October, at the dreaded ultrasound, the baby was found to have only one normal kidney. Subsequent specialist ultrasounds showed a small "right" kidney attached to the bottom of the left, but no signs of polycystic kidney disease.

2009: February 17th Tobiah Matthew Eby made his debut, healthy and strong with one good kidney. With the down-turned economy enrollment dropped, our dormitory was closed, and we knew major staff-cuts would be made at the boarding school. Matt was granted only one more year to finish the dissertation. When other employment couldn't be found we made plans to move in with Matt's parents and make a last push to finish the PhD. We moved in July. Naomi began kindergarten at the nearby public school, and we settled into a new church home and routine.

2010: For months Matt had done nothing but eat, sleep, and breathe dissertation. In February, two days before Toby's first birthday he turned in a completed draft of a 100,000 word masterpiece. In April we drove to his oral defense, which by all accounts he nailed. Students congratulated Matt in the hallway and said it was the best defense they had ever seen. Matt called me in good spirits and I drove to pick him up with the kids. But the committee was solemn when Matt was called in. The dissertation was not passed, the PhD was not granted. I will not speculate here as to why. Matt was never given a straight answer. He had made mistakes in the process, the draft was not perfect, but it was almost admitted that he never would have been able to please the committee with the topic he chose. It was too controversial, too volatile. Perhaps the fault lay with those who approved his topic six years earlier. Whatever the reason, it was not to be. Matt was granted a second masters degree instead.

With the economy plummeting a PhD was practically useless anyway. There were no jobs in that field. There were no jobs in any field. Matt put out applications and attended interviews in all fields of work, but nothing materialized. Tensions grew with Matt's family, as they will when any two families live on top of each other for over a year. I began blogging as an outlet, and a way to focus on the positive things in my life that summer. Naomi and Hannah were diagnosed with Celiac Disease and I began gluten-free cooking. By Christmas things were desperate.

2011: A neighbor helped Matt land a factory job. A friend from Matt's parents' church showed us a rental house. Our church family helped us fix it up and move in. I began homeschooling the girls. In March we learned that baby number five was on the way. In April Matt got a job as a phlebotomist, which was slightly more lucrative and a lot more secure.

It was a healing summer, in our own house again, with Matt home every evening--no school work hanging over his head. We went for walks again, spent evenings talking again, began to live again. In September Matt was hired by the American Red Cross, and in December Elijah Gabriel Eby arrived, healthy and whole.

2012: I truly have no idea what will fill this
 year, but I look forward to finding out.

Ten years ago I married my best friend, and we walked a difficult road of blessing. Remembering those years here (however briefly and inadequately) is my way of celebrating them. May we walk together many more years.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Errands and Shoplifting

I lay in bed last night thinking through the next day's schedule and realized I had no choice but to take all five tots to the grocery store with me today. The list had filled an entire notebook page, the cupboards were looking bald, and Matt was working three long days in a row. I couldn't leave the kids with him, they would just have to come with me. That was a daunting enough thought, but several hours later as I lay awake feeding Elijah I realized that it was also time to drop by the hospital for Naomi's next 24 hour urine collection kit. Two stops with five kids, wonderful.

It took me all morning just to get everyone dressed, combed, and fed; then organize the shopping list by aisle, and pack the diaper bags (yes, I need two now). After lunch we piled out the door in the usual shifts. Naomi stayed inside with Elijah, rocking his car seat to keep him happy, while I strapped Hannah, Toby, and Emma into the van. Then I strapped in the last two; double checked that I had 5 kids, two diaper bags, a cell phone, a wallet, and a double stroller; and pulled out of the driveway. Halfway to the hospital I realized I'd forgotten the baby carrier. Rats. I'd have to swing back by the house on the way to the grocery store to pick that up, otherwise I'd be sunk if Elijah protested the stroller while I shopped.

At the hospital we piled out in reverse order and loaded Toby and Elijah into the double stroller. We marched in the revolving door (and whoever invented those things did not have in mind a mother with five children and a double stroller fitting through there at the same time), and greeted our favorite registration desk lady who knows most of the kids by name now. After picking up our kit at the lab and visiting the new birds in the aviary, we marched back outside and piled back into the van: Elijah, Hannah, Toby, Emma, Naomi: check, check, check, check, check. I wasn't too thrilled when I hopped in the driver's seat only to have to hop out again because Hannah (in the opposite corner of the van) needed help with her seat belt. But, (don't tell Hannah) I was secretly very glad I had because I discovered the double stroller still parked behind the van! OK, so I need a little more practice at this.

One quick stop home followed, then off to the grocery store we went. After unloading the passengers at the store, we picked up a prescription at the pharmacy, then Naomi pushed the boys in the stroller while I pushed the cart and tried to fill it as quickly as possible because I knew the clock was ticking until Elijah's next feeding. Ten minutes into the trip we had to take an emergency potty break in which we occupied every stall in the women's bathroom. Back out on the floor I began grabbing groceries faster than ever. Toby was extremely restless. He threw his weight back and forth in the stroller, leaned over the side and tried to stick his fingers in the wheels, and lunged for any groceries he could claw off the shelves. Emma had to wrestle a can of tomato paste away from him once. Naomi proved to be an expert stroller driver, and we soon landed in the check-out aisle with an overflowing grocery cart and a baby that was still sleeping. Way to go mom!

Leaving the store was a little more tricky now that our groceries occupied two full carts. I pushed one cart and pulled one cart, behind my carts traipsed Hannah and Emma, and behind them came Naomi with the double stroller. Strangers stopped to stare at our 20 foot train as we headed into a busy parking lot. I breathed a huge sigh of relief as we all pulled up to the van, and for a moment I celebrated the accomplishment...until I lifted Toby from the stroller. Under my son's bottom lay six rolls of Mentos candy! So, after loading 5 kids, two bags, a double stroller, and mountain of groceries back into the van I parked my van illegally in the fire lane, ran into the store, dropped the loot in the hands of the first uniformed lady I could find, and explained, "I think my two-year-old shoplifted these, sorry," before I dashed back out the door to my van. All five kids were still fine and no one had ticketed my van yet, but Elijah was waking up.

I raced home while Elijah made small stirring and fussing noises. Just as I pulled up to my house he began to scream. Out came the crew of five and into the house we flew. I stationed Emma to rock Elijah's car seat and give him a pacifier while Naomi, Hannah, and I dashed back and forth unloading groceries from the van. Elijah emphatically denied my gesture of kindness, and Toby attempted to block our entry to the house with all the skill of a football hero.

Finally the groceries were in, the van was locked, the house was locked, and I collapsed into a comfy seat where I fed Elijah and was served a banana, a string cheese, and a glass of water by my little angel Hannah while Naomi put the groceries away. Next week we will survive without groceries until Matt has an evening at home. I don't think I'll be up to repeating today's display of bravery for a few more weeks.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Notebook Highlights from December

It's frustrating, but I just can't type on a computer with a baby in my arms, and that is where little bitty Elijah wants to and forever. The only way I can even get the cooking and cleaning done is by wearing him in a sling or carrier while I do them, or by putting him in the bouncy seat and begging his sisters to bounce it for me, though this usually only buys me a few minutes. Naomi and Hannah are also growing a little less enchanted and a little more annoyed at having to stop their play to care for their brother, but alas, if they want a hot meal, they have to pitch in sometimes. I tell them often how grateful I am and we make jokes to Elijah and try to convince him that he really wouldn't like to take a shower, but I know they still get tired of it. I worry that they will resent him, but last night as we talked over everything God had given us in 2011, they both chose to thank God for Elijah, and I breathed a little sigh of relief. Phew! They still like him!

Blog posts roll around in my head and compose themselves throughout the day sometimes, but then never make it to the computer. Finally, last week I did jot down some funny happenings in a notebook, and I am attempting to take a few blessed minutes of peace to put them down here. Let's hope Elijah stays asleep. Here goes:

*No matter how many times Hannah and Emma play their new favorite game it always cracks me up. What is this game? It's called: "Hurry to the hospital because Emma's water broke!" Emma shoves a baby doll in her shirt, yells, "My wah-er guh bow! (My water just broke!)" Then Hannah runs and yells in a panic as they race to the hospital. A few seconds later they emerge with an adorable new baby and the game is over. I really didn't run and yell like that when my water broke...really. Where do they get this stuff?

*When I told Toby that he needed to pick up his toys he looked at me with stone-cold defiance and yelled, "I'm NOT..." but seeing my raised eyebrow and knowing it translated to something like "Are you sure you really want to say that to Mommy?" he decided to switch tracks and end the sentence with the words, "...six, I'm FIVE!" Which was, in my estimation, a brilliant save for a two-year old, even if it was entirely off subject and altogether untrue.

*As I bounced up and down on our big red exercise ball with Elijah in my arms, I sang "She'll Be Comin' 'round the Mountain" in the hopes of calming his cries. Hannah listened, then laughed and admitted to me, "When I was little I thought 'She'll be drivin' six white horses' meant she would be driving a car with six white horses inside it, but they wouldn't all fit in there would they?" No, dear Hannah now that you're old and wise I'm glad you've realized six horses won't fit inside a car.

*My grandma sent out a box of gifts for my children, which we opened last week. Each present was wrapped neatly and packed in packing peanuts inside the large brown package. The brown box and packing peanuts lived in our school room a few days before I decided to throw them out. Emma began sobbing frantically as I tossed the peanuts in the garbage and yelled to her sisters for help, "Mommy's throwing away our craft things that grandma sent!"

That's all for now, but I intend to keep more notes, so look for future "Notebook Highlights" posts from me for more Eby silliness.