Sunday, December 23, 2007

And This Is Love

What I hope you remember this Christmas season...

God gave
His Best for the worst;
His Highest for the lowest;
His Greatest for the least.

Merry Christmas to all my dear readers!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

This is the way we do... Family Get Togethers

My title depicts such a peaceful and calm event. You are probably immediately thrust into a world of reflective nostalgia just by reading my title. You may even feel a bit cozy and warm inside. If so, come to a Nelson Family Get Together and experience something you may not experience with any other family. Peaceful and calm are the definition of what's not at our gatherings.

It ALWAYS goes like this...

After months and even years of not seeing each other, new babies being born, going for weeks of only poor mail communication, rarely experiencing the togetherness of your entire family walking on the same continent at once and enduring months of sickness and trial while separated from the rest of the family, you'd think we'd all be gushy, warm and tickled pink. Not so.

The guys delve into hefty church topics, sort the world's problems and figure out what's wrong with their jobs and the ladies jump into wild shopping trips and unimaginable sewing flings. The kind of sewing that produces a new dress for every female family member by the following Sunday.

The kids? They are here and there and everywhere. Considering the Nelson family is doing a fine job repopulating the earth, we are in our 8th year of reproduction and so far have 11 children 8 and under. That includes 2 new uncles as well. What noise future children lack in now, the current bunch more than compensates for.

We are a colorful family that has members of Haitian, Mexican and Wisconsin ancestry. Plus the usual German and Norwegian here and there.

Eventually during a typical evening, a dad or two will be sprawled on the floor or a couch sound asleep, a grandpa on the computer, another dad reading a book and another dad wondering when his wife is ready to go home. A baby or two will be screaming, the 8 year olds will be trying to stay away from the 4 and 3 year olds and the 2 year olds will by crying for the toys the 8 year olds have. The 6 year old will come up with a gotta-do-it-right-now art project involving lots of paper, a pair of scissors and a handful of crayons. The 4, 3 and 2 year olds will be climbing on, over, under and around the table the 6 year old is designing art. The 8 year olds will suddenly race through the entire maze of children and out the front door to go watch the noisy train and suddenly the whole flock of children will stampede out the room, tripping, falling and pinching themselves through the door. The said dads will remain sleeping, the said grandpa will continue the computer and the other dad will scratch his head and look for his wife.

The wives will be discussing the family reunion. While coming from all parts of the earth (or so it seems), the art of planning the annual, First Ever Family Reunion is a task that should really only be expected from those who have received a degree in such matters. Combine all the criteria with the fact that it is rare, almost entirely completely unexpected that we'll all be on the same continent again in the near future. So, this needs to be a well planned reunion filled with quality time.

Did anyone see the two year old come out of the bathroom yet? And who's kid stinks this time?

So, I get the box of popsicles out while assuring all the sugar concerned parents that these popsicles indeed are made with natural juice and contain no sugar or dyes. Suddenly, I am swarmed by children like a hive is swarmed with bees. I come to find later that in the haste of reading the ingredients label, I miss the fourth ingredient which is composed of a sugar defining ingredient. But, for now, I am only trying to stay standing in the swarm of children at my feet.

He wants his popsicle to match his. She wants a popsicle that's yellow. He wants a popsicle just like hers. And she can't have one tonight since she didn't finish supper. A child that is not mine is pulling on my skirt saying, "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy...." while his parents are yelling across the room that he is supposed to say please. 4 other kids are sitting around the table asking for their popsicle and a little 18mo. old is down by my feet signing "please" in an attempt to get his own popsicle. A dad is sitting across the room on a couch feeling dejected and wondering why I didn't give him one yet, as if I intentionally kept him from having one. "Can I have one please?" continues to circle around the table while I quickly rip open packages of popsicles before being completely stampeded by the flock of children. And bear in mind the box of popsicles has only been out of the freezer for 45 seconds.

Finally, all the children have their popsicles at last and as the noise dies down, a thoughtful aunt sitting in the living room offers to help me. She probably didn't offer to help until then because she knew I wouldn't be able to hear her anyway. That was so thoughtful of her but unfortunately, I had to turn her offer to help down considering the herd of kiddos was quietly and contentedly corralled with the popsicles.

When the rounds of "Can I have another one?" began, hails and shouts of "NO MORE!" came sailing from the living room back to the popsicle craving children. Being obedient children, they all rambunctiously jumped away from the table and dispersed to all ends of the house in a cloud of popsicle wrappers and sticks.

And so ended another Nelson Family Get Together night. The dads relaxed peacefully on couches until the time came to leave and the mothers despaired over another evening spent without concluding the plans for the upcoming family reunion.

I just remind myself in the hubbub of activity that 10 years from now, we'll have two 18 year olds, a 16 year old, a 14 year old, two 13 year olds, two 12 year olds, an 11 year old, two 10 year olds and a 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 year old and a baby or two, at least. And when we're on the same continent 10 years from now, it'll be a whole lot more interesting than an evening eating popsicles and figuring out family reunions; it'll be a busy evening spent conversing with children turned adults.

The innocence and simple excitement of youth is precious and one I hope none of the littles in our family grow out of. Then again, I think that the Nelson Family Get Togethers have enough excitement in them to keep even the oldest of us young.

If I do say so myself, we look like a normal and civilized family afterall! Even the little guy in the front knows how to do a picture in style.... or does he?

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Housewife in Training

I came into the kitchen (a couple weeks ago- notice no snow out the window) and found a busy little bee...

Wow, I didn't think it was this big of a job.It's a good thing dishwashers are easy to reach for short people.
Even if you do have to stand on the door to reach the cups.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Beware of Nebraska Snow

There's a lot of things Nebraska does that are good. Like, they grow corn. And they put "Bridges May Be Icy" signs up year round at the brink of every bridge. And they use gravel on country roads to save tax dollars. And they even keep the sides of the roads clear when it snows.

But, they do not know how to deal with the snow ON the roads. For instance, when it snows any amount of snow, the snow plow dude gets in his big orange, county truck and proceeds to move the snow on the streets in town. He simply moves snow on the streets. Let me repeat: he moves snow on the streets, not OFF the streets. All the snow is piled in the middle of the street, right down the yellow line. I'm not kidding. They give it a technical term too: Snow Row.

When that is done, he plows the sides of the highways and gets them cleared off.

Then, he'll go down side streets about three or four days after the last snow fall (usually around the time when it all starts to melt) and with his plow truck, he'll drive back and forth, neglecting his plow but sprinkling small amounts of gravel at each intersection. Never mind there is usually about two to three inches of snow packed on the road, at least the intersections have trace amounts of gravel to help you stop.

I am from the North where feet of snow can be cleared of roads within just hours of the end of a winter storm. I lived on a country road for years that only us and our few neighbors used. That road was cleared and graveled and salted well shortly after the storm ended. So, on this winter day as I prepared to head into a nearby town, I didn't even think twice when I prepared to go out one day about 4 days after the last snow fall. I mean, I wasn't heading down a vacant farm road or anything real primitive; I was heading into a busy town. I just automatically neglected the fact that snow-on-the-roads would still be an issue so long after the last snow storm. (And just so you know, the "snow storm" consisted of like two inches of snow. Seriously.)

I drove into town and was suddenly enlightened that even the well traveled roads still had snow on them. The only reason there were a few bare spots were because the good Lord had sent a couple hours of warm sunlight that melted a few bare spots in the road.

This is ridiculous! I thought to myself. I mean, it had been a few days since the last flake of snow had fallen and this bustling town acted like the whole arctic had moved to their spot on the prairie and ended life as they knew it. And they submitted as martyrs to it's elements. If only they knew how to use their snow plows, this arctic experience would immediately end.

While driving no more than 25mph down one sloping road, I hit the breaks and slid several feet before coming to a stop. I was tempted to stick my feet out and get the van to stop sooner but decided to wait and see how long it took to stop. This was a well traveled road, folks. It led to the only Christmas light display in the park of the town I had come to that wintry day. Ice skates would've proven safer than my airbag-outfitted-front-wheel-drive-mini-van.

I slowly and cautiously edged my way towards the edge of town where the highway was safely glazed with salt. And what should I find after leaving the snow covered roads of Seward, Nebraska but a huge grater truck clearing the sides of the road. Yes, sides of the roads. What do we do with the sides of the roads that's more important than what we do on the roads themselves?

I just don't get it.

Nebraska can grow corn well and caution all drivers about the bridges possibly being icy. But, when it comes to snow, they could take a few lessons from Wisconsin. I'm sorry for my racism or whatever it's called when you think one state is better than the other but that is just the honest truth.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Blessings and Burdens of Motherhood

I couldn't figure out why a level of frustration and despair had risen to a new level in our home recently. Was I losing my mind? Were the kids really that bad? Was I becoming the parent I never wanted to be? What was happening in the life I had always dreamed of having and actually had? Why wasn't motherhood manifested in more blessings than burdens? Why was I so weary?

These honest questions were on my mind as I woke up early one Monday morning. I determined to make this week better than the week previously had been.

So. I forsook my bed. I forsook the phone. I forsook the computer. I forsook all my preconceived plans and determined to just do what needed to be done to keep peace in my home. I forsook everything that, you know, busy mothers really shouldn't do when they have small children.

And then Janae got up. That was fine until the baby got up. Even that was fine until Landon got up. And then disaster struck.

Just so you know, I have a confession to make. I had taken a short shower. I know. That was bad and selfish of me. But, I guess I really just thought it was a good idea at the time. For a brief 10 minutes, I splurged in warm, clean water. I don't mean to be defensive or anything but while I was in the shower, I really tried not to be too selfish. I had Janae come in the bathroom and play on the floor with her toys. Landon wasn't yet up and the baby was secure in his swing. So, it should've been alright, right?

It wasn't. It was as if the walls of this house heard the shower as their cue and said, "Look at that girl run off to the bathroom like that! Let's get her before she has too much fun." That short shower was the only extra thing I did. Seriously. I had poured a cup of coffee earlier and didn't get to even sip it until 2 hours later.

At the dusk of my destructive shower, Alex began crying for his second breakfast and for his diaper to be changed. Landon woke up bawling because his groin area hurt from a fall he had sustained the night before in the bathroom while using the toilet. (don't ask... I have no idea how it happened.) Janae decided that right then was a good time to throw a fit.

I wasn't even dry let alone dressed yet. Who do I help first?

As I groped around for my clothes (read, house coat), I began to fill the tub for Landon to have a warm bath in hopes that would soothe his soreness. Janae wanted a bath too. Alex's diaper was oozing into the new outfit he had on. Landon didn't want a bath and declared that thoroughly through his tears. Janae wanted to watch Landon take a bath (read, get wet playing in water) and declared that thoroughly through tears. Alex needed his diaper changed and was starving and declared that thoroughly through tears.

Where do I start?

I quickly pulled my clothes on, stepping into my underwear while walking out the room. Couldn't waste anytime, you know. Nothing like killing two birds with one stone.

I finished the tub and got the boy in.

I changed Alex's diaper.

I washed the poopy clothes out in the bathroom sink.

I listened to Alex screaming in our room.

I listened to Janae throwing a fit because she couldn't have a bath.

I secured Janae in her room.

I found the baby and started to feed him.

For a few seconds, no body was crying! I couldn't believe it.

Meanwhile, the kitchen was a mess with dirty dishes stacked from the day before. I couldn't start breakfast until they were put in the dish washer. I couldn't put the dirty dishes in the dish washer until the clean dishes were unloaded from the dish washer and put away. And I couldn't do that until the baby was fed.

So, to all you people out there who think that motherhood is only baby lotion, cuddles and kisses and at it's worst, a few poopy diapers, I am sorry to burst into your dream and be the first to admit that it's actually a little different than that. If you don't understand, that's fine. Not even spellchecker knows about poopy diapers but "poopy" really is a word. Just so you know, I love being a mom. But, I am learning that loving it is a lot different than I thought it would be. I love things that I never even knew existed.

Like the joy of coming out to the kitchen and letting Janae empty the dish washer. She has so much fun that I have to stop her when it's empty; she'd reload and re-stack all day if I let her. Or the joy of kissing my little boy goodnight and having him ask me to stay in his room for a little bit so we can talk about the moon some more. Or, even the joy of getting up in the middle of the night to get a baby from his swing and tuck him in bed with me so he can nurse.

It did me good this morning to realize that having 3 little people living with me, all under my care and all age 3 and under is like living 3 lives at once. Plus living my life too. It just takes a lot of work and concentration. It's hard to think of everything that I must do in a day, let alone everything a 2 year old will try to get done. I am the kind of person that hates leaving things undone so it's hard to let one thing go just because I'm too busy to finish it. No wonder why I feel so weary.

A good friend asked me recently if I feel like I babysit all day long. Actually, I don't. I feel like I save lives all day long. I'm a Lifesaver, not a Babysitter. I couldn't count how many times I've walked in on somebody on the brink of killing themselves (unintentionally) or finding someone just seconds away from permanently brain damaging their brother.

And then there's the laundry that perpetually threatens to grow mold and mildew. Or the dishwasher that always needs to be emptied/loaded/emptied/etc. Or the dining room floor that must literally grow spots on the carpet. (carpeted dining rooms should be illegal). Or the sheets that always get peed on the morning after they were changed. Or the toilet that never-endingly needs to be cleaned. Or the meals that are almost forgotten to be made. Or.... you get my point.

I don't want to sound like I have answers or anything because I don't have any. The only thing I can conclude right now is that I need to sign off here and put my baby to bed before he starts bursting windows from the decibel of his voice. He was sitting here fine until I got to the end of that last paragraph. That's how mother hood is though... it never stays the same. As soon as you think you have the answers, it throws you for a loop.

Like just now, the baby got quiet and so did Janae. I caught her just in time before she bit the baby's toes. Just for the fun of it. She wasn't mad or anything. I guess his toes just looked too good to not eat.

For me, the hardest thing about motherhood is realizing the challenge that the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world. I'm rocking 3 cradles right now... what will this world come to?