the poor me's

Well today was the day. Alden turned six weeks today and so far I have felt great mentally and physically. But today I had an epic melt down that came to a head at breakfast when I opened the egg carton and saw there were no eggs. It made me cry big, sorry tears for myself. Because, you know, we have a coop just 20 feet from our front door full of morning eggs. But I was sad I had to go and get them. And that they weren't in the carton waiting for me.

Melt downs are so funny after the fact.

In the moment I was trying to get all four kids fed and out the door so we could take Ivar and Elsie to Kid's Club. And I just didn't want to go because Elsie often is shy and needs me nearby and Hattie is a wanderer and doesn't want to stay in one place and Alden would need a diaper change and a feeding and it was a cold and dreary morning. But I couldn't bow out because Ivar worked so hard on his memory verse for the week and he was so excited to find out how they were going to make their Helmet of Salvation to go with the rest of their armor.

So I felt stuck and tired and did I mention that there were no eggs in the carton?!!

And this situation unplugged the cork and Rory got an earfull.  Everything came tumbling out about how I need to order our books for home school so they arrive before we begin the school year. There was much more, but I will spare you.

Lucky for me, I have a husband who listened to the whole sad story, walked 20 feet and returned with eggs and offered to drop Ivar off at Kid's Club so I could stay home with the other three my eggs.

I ate my breakfast, drank my coffee, took my vitamins, fed the baby, organized my thoughts in a to-do list, started with a few of the items on that list, listened to my favorite worship songs (This is my very favorite lately, and I love this one, and this one) and two hours later the kids and I went to pick up Ivar. We played at the park and I told my sad story to two girl friends and I felt the gift of complete understanding. And then we came home and I ticked a few more things off that to-do list so there isn't quite as much rolling around in my head tonight. Which feels great.

And I made sure there are eggs in the egg carton. Two of them. For me. First thing.

...and crayon on the wall

One day this week I noticed some green crayon scribbled on the wall in our sunny room. Then I saw pencil scribbled on our white window trim. Followed by yellow crayon on our hallway red wall. And then purple crayon on the kitchen cupboards and walls.

I saw all of this at the same time and I was more amazed that I haven't caught ANY of this in the act than I was at my newly embellished walls. Based on the designs, I'd say this graffiti art was done at different times, but definitely the same artist.

Anyway, it made me laugh and realize that clearly there are many things happening in my house of which I am not aware. Again, my bar is so low to keep everyone fed and reasonably happy that other things are definitely slipping through the cracks. Like toddler training on wall art.

the happiest

Tonight we were at Rory's parent's house and I said aloud to my father-in-law that I think this past month has been my happiest as a mother. I feel so content and completely grateful to have this life and the great joy of raising these four amazing kids. I don't know if I've ever been this overwhelmed with happiness with a newborn before.

And I have three reasons why I think that is true:
I've had babies before and have learned a lot along the way. 
This is a funny thing to say aloud, but I am simply improving my mothering game. I think I wrote this before, but I'll say it again...I know what to worry about and what not to worry about. And this should be the case. With all things, you get better with experience and practice. I have had a good deal of both from three other babies, and I'm better at all of it.

Alden is a sweet, calm and easily comforted boy.
This has to be said because it is true. He's just a kick back kid. And so clearly that is a major factor in this happy, blissful season. And I LOVE having a newborn. I love holding him, nursing him, burping him, laying him on my chest, watching him when he lays on my lap. I'm soaking him up, knowing how crazy fast he will grow and savoring him just as he is.

My expectations are right where they should be.
And this is the biggest factor for this happy season. I told Rory that my only goal each day is to keep all four kids fed and safe. If I add anything else onto those two goals I end up either resenting the thing I am trying to accomplish or the kids. So I have completely stripped down my commitments, things to do and personal expectations. I still get other things done but it's more bonus than expectation. I know this time of interrupted sleep is just for a time. I know that this slice of life is just a small slice. Everything will resume and life will have its demands. But as much as I am able, I'm going to reduce those demands and mostly lower my expectations of what I can accomplish in these first months.
And those three factors seem to be the secret sauce for a very happy season of motherhood. Believe me, I still have my moments. I'm generally caffeinated during the day and should go to bed earlier than I do.  But on the whole, we're just living our days as a family of six and it's a good, good life.

one week with Alden

I had someone ask me about Alden's birth story and it dawned on me that I haven't told anyone really how it all played out. Instead, I have been telling everyone about Alden's Second Day of Life story.

Alden was born after lunch on a Thursday. And we left the hospital after supper on Friday. It was just the three of us back at the farm that night and on Saturday morning our kids were coming to meet Alden for the very first time. We had a family friend offer to come and take pictures of the joyful reunion and so everyone was scheduled to arrive at 10 am. We couldn't wait to see our big three. And they couldn't wait to meet the new baby.
Rory and I were having a very peaceful moment with Alden in the nursery before everyone arrived. We were listening to Andrew Peterson's The Sower's Song, a song that holds lots of special meaning for our family. Rory was sitting in the glider rocker holding Alden and we were thanking God for this little life that had been given to our family. A huge raptor was soaring out the window, dipping down and back up in figure eights, huge and mighty.

After a while Rory asked me to look out the window to see what was attracting the bird. I looked out past the garden, and there in front of the barn was one of our sheep, all four limbs pointed straight in the air.

"Ah, Rory. This is terrible. There is a dead animal in our field."

Rory jumped up, handed me the baby and gasped. It was such a shock. We haven't had to deal with death on our farm yet, in any major way. I said to him, "the kids come in 10 minutes. they can't see that." And then our friend Jenna pulled up our lane with her awesome camera, ready to capture the joy of this epic sibling introduction. I watched her unload her car from the nursery window, while watching Rory struggle to move the huge sheep by the front hoofs. He had gloves on and finally figured out how to drag the heavy animal back behind the pole barn. Moments later he was back washing up, welcoming Jenna and then the kids arrived with Grandma and Grandpa.
At one point during the photo shoot Rory excused himself to go make a quick phone call. The vet thought it sounded like Worms had taken the sheep, and said the other mammals should all be put on a special medicated feed immediately. And that their office closed at noon, and was 30 minutes away.

Rory joined back in the pictures and we got some really fun family shots by the oak tree. And then he asked Jenna if she needed any more shots with him, otherwise he had to run a quick errand.
He took off to get the medicated feed and then spent the afternoon digging a deep hole with the tractor. My next mental picture is when I stood in the nursery window to see what he was up to and watched him heave the sheep into the hole. There was one leg that stood straight up and Rory tried to push it down but it kept popping back up into the air. The hilarity of this moment was not lost on me. I whispered to Alden, "Happy 48-hours. Welcome to the farm."
Thankfully my parents stayed for the day and kept the big three fed and occupied. Rory came in the house later in the afternoon and I asked if he was able to slow down and stay in with us. "Oh no. I have 40 chicks I need to move out to the a-frame coop. They need to be separated from the 10 chicks that will be layers. I won't be able to tell them apart much longer." So he got to work moving chicks and preparing their food and water. At dinner he told of all the sweet peas that had to be picked or they would be lost. I told him of a sweet pea pickle recipe I had seen on a favorite blog and he said, "great. we can do that tonight."

And I mentioned casually for the eleventh time that day, 'hey, remember how I was pushing out a baby just 48 hours ago?'

We got the kids to bed, Rory made pickles, worked on the sheep fence a bit and eventually we fell into bed. Sunday he woke up and got right to work on the sheep fence, a project that seems to have daily needs. Sunday night we held Barn Worship up in the barn, our family's favorite part of the week, and 30 friends from our church showed up! It was wonderful, and in light of the fullness of our life since returning home, it felt totally right.

Monday morning came and Rory's dad went to scope out a used minivan we had found over the weekend. The minivan checked out and around 10:00 Rory took off to go and trade in our jeep for the minivan. He got home at 3, just in time to lock in the baby car seat for Alden's first doctor appointment. We got home, ate dinner and loaded all four kids into their car seats for a family country drive.

Tuesday was the 4th of July and we had six visitors before noon all bringing gifts and meeting Alden. And then we took off for Mimi and Papa's for a day of play at the lake. Wednesday my sister and her girls and my folks came to help get our house ready for friends to stay here while we go to Bible Camp next week. And today is Alden's one week birthday and I haven't done a thing all morning.

With the other kids I have this memory of a really quiet, hibernating week of slowly getting to know each other. But Alden's introduction has been in full motion since he arrived. And thankfully I am feeling great. My own recovery has been the best of the four kids. I have my limits and I have my moments, but overall I have been feeling strong and able. And steady. I am sort of amazed at my own growth with baby #4. I know what to fret over and what not to fret over. I have a confidence from 3 babies before this one. Plus Alden is a sweet and peaceful boy. Obviously that helps immensely too.

Alden, you are a real farm boy. You have been born into an agrarian lifestyle and you arrived during peak season. Come October, we will all settle in for the winter and there will be slow and quiet days then. But for now, you are entering into the thick of it. And it's a fun season to enter into. Thank you for being so flexible.

Love, your also flexible Mama.