Thursday, October 27, 2005


After spending the past week preparing for a psychiatric appt today, I decided to revisit my 5 1/2 year battle with the field of craniofacial surgery. It's tough to believe but every cleft clinic in the Baltimore area is powered by the same surgeon - yep, that infamous man who stitched up the inside and outside of our son's lip and then left him in the hospital overnight writhing in pain and confounding nurses who could neither help him nor get the man who could to bother answering a page... Just as I was beginning to wonder if they do bedside manner lobotomies on these guys on their way out of medical school I seem to have stumbled across a new dr...Captain Personality's associate, actually. They share a clinic. But this guy has a reputation for being, well, can you believe it...a NICE GUY! His personal secretary assured me of this. After I rattled off a list of CP's shortcomings I asked her frankly if I would have the same problems with her boss. Her exact words, "Oh you won't believe it. His bedside manner is so wonderful." Then she said the one thing that shocked me and left me breathless with heart palpitations for the man (not the same kind, of course, which are reserved solely for my dear husband)..."He often calls his patients at home just to check up on them." Say it isn't so?! A surgeon from the infamous you-know-who hospital actually bothers to call ME?! Well, this I gotta see...of course I probably won't get an appointment until NEXT JULY. What's that? I can see him on November 14th?! - Well mark me in permanent ink!! Of course, he'll probably want us to sit through 5 useless hours of waiting in the clinic (this is NOT an exaggeration!) just to see him and maybe one of his associates for 5 minutes. Um, did I hear you correctly? He'll see us in his office?! On a non-clinic day?!


Now all I gotta do is get from the elevator to this guy's office without running into you-know-who...

It's moments like this I know that God smiles on us at least once in a while...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Some days are just HARD...

We've had one of those weeks which is probably more like what people *expect* our life should be like considering everything on which we have to focus. Yesterday was my birthday and, I must say, probably the worst day I can remember in a very long time. One of our dear children has really been struggling through church for a couple of months now. It seems he can't get through without being physically restrained - interesting thing to have to do while dealing w/2 antsy toddlers, keeping the hems of the girls' dresses closer to their ankles than their necklines and making sure everyone else is at least acting like they are more interested in the service than the contents of their noses. I've been thinking after each Sunday, "I wonder when this is all going to break me" and I've been astonished at how long my patience and endurance have lasted.

Well, yesterday was the breaking point and I readily admit I dissolved into a weeping pile of exhaustion right there in the front row moments before the elevation of Our Precious Lord Jesus. I cried and I cried and I cried and asked God, "Where is your mercy for an 8 year old child?" He replied, "I wept at the tomb of Lazarus and I weep with you now. My victory is coming but first I will mourn and weep with you." And my Lord opened his bleeding heart and held me close to Him and wept with me for my son. He never fails to comfort but He also never fails to continue to prod us along this road called LIFE.

Soooo...on Wednesday this child has won himself a visit to the psychiatrist...Yep, the all-natural- do-it-with-diet-down-on-pharmaceuticals family is taking a trek down Mystery Drug Lane. We are consoling ourselves with the fact that we've done all we can do - short of shattering our family finances on uncovered (talkin' insurance here) natural alternatives such as osteopathy, homeopathy, etc. There isn't much comfort in the knowledge that the wrong diagnosis can lead to the wrong medication which could drive our son into suicide or a psychotic state. And so we will go and pray really hard and trust that God will continue to hold our little sparrow in the palm of His hand.

Yes, some days are hard but even in the hard there is the grace that flows around us. There are the prayers that go up from so many different directions. I shudder to think just how hard it really would be if the Body of Christ stopped praying. As Fr. Jeffrey likes to say, our needs are carried on the "stretchers of the prayers" of our dear intercessors to the throne of Grace. And so in this really hard time I publicly thank our intercessors. I thank Madeline and Mary M and Mary L. I am grateful for the Life in Jesus Community. God bless the rector's council, their wives and all those who surround us at Church of Reconcilation. Thank you to our mothers whose tireless prayers for their children are most precious to the heart of Jesus. And for all those who pray for us in the silence of your prayer closets...thank you. It is only by the grace of God and your prayers that these days aren't impossible, just hard....

Friday, October 21, 2005

I Am a Homemaker!

I always love when I have to check off my occupation on a form and I am offered the option of Homemaker. I check that one off with a flourish, gleefully acknowledging my place in this world.

No I-can-do-it-all-better-than-a-man feminist has anything on this one. This is where the world begins and ends - in the art and joys of homemaking. I have in my power and the authority vested in me, the ability to MAKE a HOME! And what is a home but the place where we all ultimately long to be?

To think, *I* have made this place possible! I have baked the meals, cleaned the laundry, swept the floors, scraped the baby's banana goo off the linoleum and left the bathrooms free of that been-used scent. Now *this* is power!

*I* decided to have the kids line up their shoes on the steps when they come in the door and I decided where we would stack the tupperware containers. It is completely in my power to determine when the household will experience Quiet Time and in the hot sticky weather, I turn on the fans, open the doors and create that cooled off feeling. Add a glass of homemade lemonade (yes, that is an option in *my* home!) and THIS is the place my family wants to be!

I have created a haven, a resting place, a safe harbor for my 9 precious charges. They all know where to find their shoes when they want to run out the door to play an impromptu game of football with their neighborhood friends. And they know they'll find a pitcher of ice water for all those friends to share on the porch when they're hot and sweaty. There is no feeling like this in the world.

I am not being facetious or sarcastic, I am sincerely pleased to be a woman charged with the occupation of Home Maker. There is no other satisfaction to be found like that of knowing my precious family *enjoys* our home - feels safe, feels welcome and feels loved and cared for. Perhaps having our home burnt out from under us has impressed me even more with the importance of my craft. Oh how we long to be *home* now- all of us! But it is also in my power to vest this temporary safe harbor we currently inhabit with all the comforts of home - with predictability, with security, and with the knowledge that it doesn't matter where the steps are, the shoes will be still be lined up there...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

You Know You Have a Large Family When...

The following list is the result of our late-night musings a few weeks ago...Enjoy!

You Know You Have a Large Family When...

- You have more than ten snappy answers to the observation "You sure have your hands full!"

- You walk in the bathroom in the morning to find no less than 4 people brushing their teeth at once.

- Your 3-year-old is already an aunt or uncle.

- You nod your head knowingly when someone complains about 'Seventh Child Syndrome'

- When you have to miss a game, your sons' baseball team has to play shorthanded.

- Your youngest has abandonment issues when only four of his siblings are in the room.

- Your traded in your 8-passenger van because it was too small.

- You automatically buy four of the 'Family Size' each trip to the grocery store.

- Your Child Tax Credit is worth more than your Mortgage Interest Deduction

- Your kids consider a trip to McDonalds as fine dining.

- Your last trip to McDonald's cost about the same as your last meal at a fine restaurant.

- Your babysitting bill was the same cost as your last trip to a fine restaurant.

- You can't remember the last time you went to a fine restaurant.

- You never bother taking down the 'Happy Birthday' banner in the dining room.

- You had to special order your dining room table, or you eat in shifts.

- You always have the right size of diaper when your friends need to borrow one.

- You would buy a new six burner stove, but you're not sure it would be big enough.

- Your children's sense of "personal space" is measured in millimeters.

- Your garage resembles a bicycle shop.

- None of these observations really seem particularily unusual or humorous.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Well, the reconstruction on the house has finally begun! I sat in the trampoline with the kids as we watched a little backhoe dig the foundation for the Dining Room and Kitchen addition. Tomorrow the shingles and the roof are supposed to come off. It's so hard to be at the house and not be able to just go about the business of living. I had to explain to the kids today why we couldn't just go inside and have our lunch. They so enjoyed jumping on the trampoline and playing in thier dirt pile.

I'm not sure I can handle seeing the burnt and charred trusses when they take off the roof of the garage. The whole fire-damaged part of the house gives me the willies. I keep trying to look forward to what the house will look like when it's all done but that's hard for me to see in my mind's eye. We just want to go home...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Patience Myth

What's the first thing any homeschooling mom hears from anyone who doesn't homeschool? Let's all say it together now, "You must have so much patience!" Well, I am here to put this myth to rest having had one of those days where my patience was scraped off the floor at the end of the day with a gazillion holes shot clean through....

Honestly, I think that statement is just another way to say, "Oh yeah, some people are called to that homeschooling thing and I'm so glad it's not ME!" In other words, one who considers herself lacking in patience is obviously not called to homeschool... Hmmm, let's consider this for a moment using, say, well, me as a test case. Now my mother (if she ever gets a chance to read this) will be the first to attest that I have never been a stellar example of one who excercises the virtue of patience. In fact, not too long ago, my mother and I shared a meaningful look as she witnessed someone gushing about my assumed patience level. It was obviously news to her.

In my book, the bottom line is that everyone is called to do something really amazingly radical. We are all either walking into that call or running screaming from it (or sitting around wringing our hands nervously and wondering if we will ever figure out exactly what that call is..but more on that some other day...). For me the call happens to be to marry a perfectly normal computer geek who later becomes a priest, adopt as many special needs kids as we can currently fit into our house and then let God have His way with my womb as well. All the while homeschooling whichever ones of those little people happen to be of school age at any given day. Does it take patience to have 8 children ages 10 and under? Well, yes...Does it take patience to homeschool children who can't remember how to add 2+2 after successfully doing it 10 times just a minute before? Well, yes...Does it take patience to teach phonics to the same child for the 5th (or 6th - I've lost count) year in a row? Yes! Yes! And does it take patience to do all this while chasing about two toddlers who have a penchant for destruction of people and property? Most certainly yes!! And how about at the end of that day when the reinforcements call to say that they won't be home from his tent-making job that night due to an emergency situation within the church? Oh baby, yes! But wait a minute, this is my call...and I do so lack patience. Just what was God thinking?! How can that be?

In truth, I do have a lot of patience - probably a big boat-load of it - now - but I sincerely have not always and there is plenty more (just ask my Mom) room for improvement. I see patience as one of those on-the-job training things. You don't have to be good at it to start the job but you sure better get better at it as time goes on or you just aren't going to make it for very long. It's sink or swim.

Monday, October 17, 2005

A Delayed Adventure, a Pear Seed and the Unfortunate Plight of a Deer

After a very disappointing morning we decided on an impromptu trip to Muffy's house. We were supposed to view the first day's construction on the house but there was no action to be had so we abandoned that plan and met Muffy, Great and Henry at the new Wegman's. On our way out of the parking lot, I loaded the kids in the van and Mom and Great and Henry took off across the parking lot towards their new van (which, it is important to note here, I have YET TO SEE and so I have NO IDEA what it LOOKS LIKE!!). Well, the kids and I arrived at Muffy's house about an hour before Muff and after about 45 minutes Dad decided to go hunting for them. Turns out they were stranded on the side of the road with no gas in said new van and we had gone right on by. For the record, I also need to say I AM SOOO SORRY!! Turned out to be a great visit, though since the boys got to play both soccer and HeroScape w/their cousin - what more could they ask for?

Of course the question came up whether/when there would be more children to come. Now, folks should know better than to ask that question of us for anything other than entertainment purposes because we are firmly committed to the answer no matter how absurd it seems to others. There will be more children - more adopted, more homemade, lots more! I was just discussing this subject with a friend on the phone the other day. In the midst of our going back and forth about God's plan for our family as it relates to adding more space to the house, daughter #3 approached me with a pear seed in her hand. She wanted to plant it right away and she wanted to plant it in, I don't know, a soda cap or something... I absently wandered from my phone conversation long enough to say to her with some annoyance, "That's going to grow into a tree and you need to find a bigger pot for it." Hmmmm....that's really the crux of the matter, isn't it? Our family is a growing tree and we are being transplated into a bigger pot.

The beltway got too busy on the way home so we decided to detour onto the back roads. Son #1 and I watched in stunned silence as a deer came bounding out of the brush, ran in front of the car in front of us, bounced off the car's hood and then did a macabre twisting turning dance through the air, bounced off the pavement still twisting and turning, managed to get itself upside whoopsies and bounded back into the brush from whence it came. After a few moments I was finally able to ask, "Did you see that?" To which son #2 casually replied, "What was that Mom? A duck?" A duck ?! A duck? A duck...that was enough to thrust me back into speechlessness...