Monday, August 23, 2010

Juju Turns Two

We had a simple celebration for him here at home. He enjoyed being the center of attention and playing with his family and friends.
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Mama made a homemade chocolate cake with sprinkles. As you can see, it got sampled a little early.
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His favorite gift was a DVD with Dora the Explorer on it. He LOVES Dora. At night when putting him to sleep, he has a little litany…”Dowa…Map…Boots…Pack-Pack…I Map, I Map, I Map, I Map, I MAP!…”
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He got a trike from Mama and Daddy. Now when we take all the big kids to ride their bikes, he’ll have something to ride as well! As soon as his legs get a little longer, that is; they don't quite reach the pedals yet. I’m sure that will happen in the blink of an eye.

Of course, the best part of birthday celebrations is getting to visit with our family and friends. Grandma and Grandpa, Uncle John and Aunt Catie, our homeschool friends, and NaDean (one of the midwives who was at his delivery) came to celebrate with us.

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A huge thanks to my friend, Catherine, for taking all these beautiful pictures!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A New Baby

It is my belief that every new baby is precious and should be joyfully welcomed. Yet, preparing to announce a new baby to the world creates in me feelings of joy mixed with...dread. Some of the comments I get from folks have a less-than-welcoming vibe to them. In fact, some of them have more of a judgmental kind of vibe. I like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and assume/hope/pretend that they are just innocent banter. Maybe the pregnancy hormones make my usually thick skin a bit thinner. I never know what my mood will be on any given day. So how about we just go ahead and get it all out of the way now? If you have just learned that I am expecting another baby, and one of these questions or comments forms in your mind, here’s the response I might give you depending on the mood I’m in at the time. That way, next time we bump into each other in real life, we can talk about how hot it is, or our favorite recipes, or whatever.

1. “Don’t you know what causes that?”
Joyful: Sure, I do! My beautiful children make the world a better place…of course, I want more!
Sarcastic: No. I slept through my whole OB/GYN rotation in nursing school. Do you mind filling me in?
Silly: Yeah, this is what happens when you hold in your farts! Believe me, I will NEVER AGAIN hold in my farts! (I like this one when my belly is prominent.)
Irritated: OK, that question is getting a bit old now. Can’t you come up with something more original? 
Weepy: So you think I’m stupid just because I value children?
Frankly speaking: I learned in elementary school how babies are made, and I’ve also done quite a bit of research on the different family planning methods and how they work on our bodies. Not only do I have problems with contraceptives and sterilization from a women’s health standpoint, I also have problems with them on a moral level. This is one of my soapbox topics; do you want me to go on? Well, alright then. But I’d love to give you a copy of Dr. Janet Smith’s lecture “Contraception: Why Not?” to listen to in your spare time.  
We also don't have children solely because we don't believe in using contraception (NFP is acceptable to us and is just as effective as contraception at avoiding pregnancy...when we choose to use it.) We have children because we value them. They are blessings to us, not burdens. Each one of our children is loved and wanted.

2. “Wow, you have your hands full!”
Joyful: I really do! But not as full as my heart!
Sarcastic: That’s a very astute observation.
Silly: Actually, I have a couple hidden that I can pull out in emergencies.
Irritated: Ya think? 
Weepy: Are you offering me one of yours?
Frankly speaking: Yes, my hands are full. My life is busy and even overwhelming at times. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

3. “Are you trying to catch up with the Duggars or something?”
Joyful: We’re pretty happy with our own family.
Sarcastic: Sure, ya know, every family who wants more than three children is secretly trying to catch up with the Duggars. 
Silly: Nah. It's just that I'm so hawt and he's such a stud! We can't seem to leave each other alone!
Irritated: Nope.
Weepy: <sigh> If only I had it together as much as Mrs. Duggar.
Frankly speaking: I really am not concerned about keeping up with any other family, expectation, or status quo. The only person whose opinion I care about is God’s. 

4. “Six? OMG, are you serious?! That’s a lot of kids!” 
Joyful: Yeah, ain’t it great? My house is always rockin’!
Sarcastic: No, I just said that because it's so funny to watch people freak out.
Silly: All part of my plot to dominate the world! Mwahahahaha....
Irritated: I think we're doing just fine with them.
Weepy: <Smile and nod>
Frankly speaking: Six used to seem like a lot to me, but now that I’m there, it doesn’t seem like that many. I adjust and adapt with each child.
Besides, in the crowd I hang with, six is just a medium-sized family.

5. “You must be a saint/superwoman.”
Joyful: No, I’m just blessed!
Sarcastic:  You must not know very many saints/superwomen.
Silly: I am! I just leave my halo/cape at home because I don’t want to be a show-off.
Irritated: C’mon. Do I look like a saint/superwoman to you? Seriously?
Weepy: Sometimes I don’t do such a great job of juggling it all.  
Frankly speaking: I’m no more saintly or super than you are. I struggle with the same things that every mother struggles with--patience, organization, discipline, fatigue, worrying about my kids, and on and on.  I trust God to give me the tools I need to carry out the work He has set before me. He will give me what I need WHEN I need it, not before.

6. “When are y’all gonna be done?” (or “Geez, how many more do you plan to have?”)
Joyful: We’re just getting started!
Sarcastic: I dunno. One of my kids broke the crystal ball, so I can no longer read the future.
Silly: When the timer dings.
Irritated: We’re the ones raising them; it’s really nobody else’s business.
Weepy: I don’t know. Sometimes I think I’d like to move past the diapers and lack-of-sleep phase...
Frankly speaking: God is Lord over ALL my life, including my family size. I entrust those decisions to Him.

7. “Are you gonna get fixed this time?”
Joyful: Oh, honey, I am fine just the way I am!
Sarcastic: I ain’t broke. 
Silly: Have they figured out how to fix me from misplacing my keys and cell phone? I’d be all about that.
Irritated: What do you think is wrong with me that needs to be fixed?
Weepy: No, that’s not an option.  
Frankly speaking: Fertility is the natural state of health for a woman my age. Sterility is caused by declining health or disease. I do not plan to intentionally cause a perfectly healthy organ to no longer function properly--how backward is that?! Nor do I intend to subject myself to the health risks of these so-called “fixes”.
Besides, contrary to popular opinion, we really don't control as much of that sort of thing as we'd like to believe. God is still the author of life. I’ve personally known a few folks who have had a baby after getting themselves “fixed” and a few more who have had the heartbreak of ectopic pregnancies following tubal ligation. The only 100% effective way for preventing pregnancy is total abstinence or removing the reproductive organs. No, thank you.

8. “I could never afford that many children!”
Joyful: We are clothed and fed and happy. God blesses us abundantly!
Sarcastic: Too bad you don’t have a rich husband like me.
Silly: It pays off when they get a little older. Free housework, yard work, and babysitting!
Irritated: I guess it just depends on your priorities. I prefer a household of love to a household of things.
Weepy: It’s hard to make ends meet sometimes. But we manage.
Frankly speaking: In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus tells us "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” 
My children are the only earthly treasures that I have the hope of taking with me to heaven. I will not be able to take my house, cars, clothes, vacations, diplomas, ranks, or even this old body into heaven. The fleeting amusement of material possessions just doesn’t compare to the lasting joy of another child!
And we’ve found that we are actually more content with less “stuff”. Kids really don’t need a bunch of material things. We all know of children who have every toy under the sun and are still bored and dissatisfied. What they really need is food, shelter, parents to love and teach them, and siblings to play with. We are never lacking in those things.
And no, I’m not worried about college. I got scholarships and worked my way through college, and if my children want to go badly enough, I expect they will do the same. If they aren't willing to work hard for it, they sure don't deserve a free ride. So far, they are turning out smarter than me. ;-)

9. “Do you ever worry about overpopulation? What about your ecological footprint?”
Short answer: No, I'm not sold on the idea of overpopulation.
Long-winded answer: I suspect that the overpopulation myth is propelled by a hidden agenda. The UN Population Database is projecting that the world’s population will peak at about 8 million in 2040 and then decline indefinitely. The decline is expected to be much more rapid for industrialized countries than less-developed countries, and it's hard to stop a decline once it begins. I’ve read many sources over the past few years express concern about a  population implosion. This does concern me, as I could possibly experience the effects of this in my lifetime.
I believe that many of the world's problems, such as hunger, clean air, and clean water, are due more to asinine policies of corrupt governments rather than not enough room for us all. Ah, but this topic would best be discussed over a cup of coffee on a long, lazy afternoon while the children are playing outside. As with the contraception issue, there's just too much to say here.
As for ecological footprint…many of the larger families I know are one-income families, which means we have to be more careful with our resources than the average family. I could write a couple paragraphs rattling off all the things we do to conserve our resourses (and I'll be happy to if you really want to know), but for now I'll just say most of the large families I know are more “green” than other families I know who only have one or two children and can afford more convenience and material things. We strive to teach our children to be good stewards over their resources.  

10. “Better you than me!”
On a good day: I wholeheartedly agree.
On a bad day: I wholeheartedly agree.

11. “Congratulations! I’m so happy for y’all!”
Thank you so much! We’re happy, too! most favoritest comment ever, made to me by my Daddy when I announced to him that I was expecting my 4th child...
“Oh, goody, another grandchild! I hope you have a dozen!”
I laughed and said “Oh, Daddy, a dozen? Maybe half a dozen.”
I'm sure he's watching us from heaven, proud as can be, and cheering us on.