Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Life in Crazy Land

This captures my day so well
In case you hadn't heard, our lives are crazy full right now over Chez Szrama.  In addition to our own precious kiddos growing and getting into all sorts of fun, we are hosting two extras kiddos (from within my extended family) while their mama gets some stuff sorted out.  V just turned 6 and is in kindergarten, while A is 3 and a half.  I also still nanny for L, who just turned 2, 3-ish days a week.  So, what's life like with 5 kiddos underfoot?

Well, it's busy.

But I'm living my dream. :)  Since the time I was very small, I dreamed of running a house full of children, especially children who needed extra love.  As a teenager I wrote imaginary Christmas newsletters updating my future friends on all my imaginary children year to year. (Ryan still hasn't read these.  Babe, you knew I wasn't normal when you married me, sorry.)  Working with children is something the Lord keeps leading me to; I've been told I'm good at it, and it brings me great joy.  So I'm over the moon.  Having kids simultaneously napping all over our house also kind of makes me feel like I have my favorite super power of sleep-induction.  Maybe I should see a psychologist.

In all seriousness, one of my favorite Bible verses is Psalm 68:6-
"He sets the lonely within families; He leads out the prisoners with singing, but the rebellious shall live in a sun-scorched land."  
I love being a part of fulfilling that verse, whether it was by bringing home college friends for Sunday dinner, sharing the Gospel with hurting people, welcoming old friends to our family table no matter what our food budget was, or now by tucking in two more at bedtime.

Also, we knew this was something God wanted from us.  When we became aware of the girls' situation, both Ryan and I immediately wanted to say "yes."  When Ryan and I agree on anything, that's kind of a divine sign. :)  (Especially if it involves me saying "yes" to anything... Ryan's usually my "let someone ELSE say yes-- you can't do it all!" coach.)  And as countless before me have experienced, when He calls, He enables.

Even youths grow tired and weary; young men stumble and fall.  But those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength; they will rise up on wings, like eagles.  They will run & not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  Isaiah 40

Our day to day routine starts like this:
6:45 ish- roll out of bed & into my bathrobe, get downstairs to start making V's lunch and commence breakfast.
7- rouse V and get her to start dressing herself through any manner of threat and coersion  (Of course on Saturdays this is reversed and she wakes up raring to go.  God's sense of humor is kind of sick sometimes.) As she eats, I do her hair, cook breaskfast for everyone else, make my coffee, pack her lunch, write her a little note, and review our memory verse.
7:40- Ryan takes V to school, which is mercifully 5 minutes away from us on foot.
8- the other prisoners (ie Eowyn, William & A) are allowed out of their beds and begin munching.  Usually during breakfast L gets dropped off.  (If you're wondering at what point I take my shower and get dressed... ummm, yeah... I haven't really figured out how that fits in, either.)

Since Classical Conversations is over for the school year, we are settling into a homeschool routine that we like.  I aim to do "circle time" with everyone 3 days a week, followed by a math lesson (A kind of tags along and the boys make general mischief).  I get the girls at the table to work on handwriting (E) and number/letter/color/shape recognition (A).  Wednesdays we head to dance for E, during which I get to Zumba (the other kids try it too), then library story time, then lunch at Nina (my mom)'s.  E & I do one lesson in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons about 3-4 days a week.  E is enjoying experiments with TOPS Get a Grip math supplement... during lunch we work on Bible verses from My ABC Bible Verses.  There is a lot of playing.  E is LOVING having sisters!  The little boys absolutely adore each other and come up with games of their own invention (such as the "ow" game, where they pretend to knock their heads against a hard surface, intoning "owwww" and laughing uproariously).  Another favorite is "Jump," in which case one or both of them hauls any object-- stool, book, beanbag, anything else Mom hasn't yet confiscated-- to the middle of the floor, and they jump off of it.  Repeatedly.  We head to parks pretty often, too.

Everyone naps between 1 & 2 (well, E naps every other day or so-- the off days she picks a quiet activity and plays ALONE as long as others are sleeping).  Usually that includes me.  Ryan brings V home around 3, and she goes straight to the kitchen table for a snack and homework.  I often make us some tea to share and she's starting to learn how to tell me about her day.  Her situation has made her quite behind academically, so we started at the beginning of TYCTR and have done one lesson each school day.  Then I coach her in handwriting, drill some sight words, and if E isn't napping, we do a number or word game together.

By this point usually some of the kids are awake and if it's remotely sunny they are clamoring to go outside.  This is where my life is much easier in some ways than it used to be. THEY ALL PLAY TOGETHER!!  Outside they troupe, usually first to ride bikes/push each other in the stroller/ pull each other in the wagon, and then they transition to some form of story-play.  Last week they've been poor people looking for a home, mother birds sitting on nests, Easter bunnies hiding eggs, mommies visiting each other, or cafe vendors selling smoothies & coffee.  Liam just wants to play basketball.  I try to interact with them a bit-- reading books aloud to everyone, playing, pushing or pulling on bikes, doing sidewalk chalk art, acting out a fairy tale (we really like the Three Billy Goats Gruff).  L's mama comes around this time and whisks him away; often we chat for a while (or a long while =D).

I make dinner... I've learned to get the kids started cleaning up earlier so it's done by dinner time.  They clamor to help me set the table and I let them.  We try to eat by 6:30 but we often are late-- either I haven't gotten my act together or Ryan works late.  Dinner is chaos... between our anorexic, highchair-hating-toddler (that would be Liam), an incredibly slow eater, kids still needing various degrees of help, trying to hear about everyone's day and a sudden advent of eye-ball-popping-out and poop-related stories... dinner is not for the faint of heart.  And just about every night amidst all the craziness and me giving someone the evil eye my heart just melts and I tell Ryan "oh please, when can we have some more?"

Dinner is swiftly followed by bed time.  That is one thing that DOES take longer the more kids you have!! Right now we are preparing for Easter with our Resurrection Eggs, which I love doing with the kids.  I am amazed at how much Liam loves them!  He begs to open "eggies" throughout the day, squeals with delight as each is opened, and is a generally enthusiastic nuisance the whole time they are out.  Hopefully he's learning something.  The girls are certainly starting to grasp the narrative of Passion week, and I pray that the reality of the Atonement sinks in.

Once eggs are opened and closed, Ryan takes over.  He supervises teeth-brushing, PJs & final potty-ing, and then reads them a Bible story.  We are into the NT in The Jesus Story Book Bible.  He sings & prays with them.  Meanwhile, I take Liam & get him into his PJs and we have our own little bedtime routine.  He asks for "che-che" and "Bobo" and I tell him "no!  Che che is yuck!"  He laughs and says "no!  che che is NUMMM!!!" (his version of "yum), or he will tell me "Mama, che-che is yuck" and then laugh and correct himself.  Once he's all dressed and holding as many lovies as he can cram into his arms, I settle into our glider to rock and nurse him to sleep.  I love the chance to snuggle him and smell that sweet little-boy smell.  He is getting so big and I know these days are numbered.

Once he's drowsy or asleep, I plop him in bed (well.... sometimes I might read an extra article online or comment on FB...) and make the rounds of kissing the girls & tucking them all in. Usually they're all waiting up for me.  E usually has some minor medical emergency like a hangnail or toeache or scratch requiring a band-aid...

That's pretty much how it goes!

they played "Doggy" in their self-made "cage" for hours
Don't get me wrong; there are times when I basically just tell everyone to sit down and stop talking... when I tell them that the next person who tattles gets to live outside... when I realize I've been ignoring "Mom! Mom! Mom!" for about 10 minutes... when I realize it's been a week since I opened my Bible... when I just want to be by myself for a whole 5 minutes... when I call my sister and add a topic to our "Least Favorite Ways to Spend My Time" list... when I lose it and shout and sin against my children... when I realize I've made the wrong call and need to backtrack... But overall, this is a good life.  It's a busy season, but it's one I'm enjoying.

We are being blessed by so many others, too.  Our extended family helps with the kids in countless ways; pitching in to get them to and fro, keeping them overnight so Ryan & I can get some us-time, bringing us meals, helping with chores.  We also have been so well-served by our brothers & sisters in Christ -- for the first three weeks after we got the girls, my cooking consisted of re-heating meals others had made.  People have brought over bags of hand-me-downs, given us bikes & toys, welcomed us with all our craziness, and come over and helped us clean.  It's so cool to be at the center of God's plan for His people to serve women & children in need ("widows & orphans")... you get a lot of tangential blessings, to put it geometrically. =D

And let me close with a "plug" for the Daddy of this crazy family.  If our family "tone" is of welcome and friendship, it's because he leads in it.  He excels at entering into people's stories and loving them in them.  He's also been amazing at doing lots of dishes and making sure I don't go insane.  I married a keeper.  =D

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