11 November 2013

Of Our Non-Expendable Brood

As we await the long-coming arrival of Baby #4 to our growing flock, I recognize we have crossed a threshold - in fact, we crossed it back in 2011, when our youngest had just turned one, our oldest was still yet two and we learned our third was on the way, the point at which the question on everyone's lips subtly changes to, "So, are you planning to have more?" to "So, do you think you're done?"

And whether real or imagined, there is a definitive sense of judgment in our culture toward those populating the earth with more than the allotted 2.5 children. Sometimes I feel the weight of those questioning eyes, with my burgeoning belly and three little ones scurrying underfoot as we head to the library or the grocery store.

Yet, I watch my children playing, all seated together on the floor engrossed in a book or huddled into the plastic Fisher Price tree house out back, and as I melt in their large brown eyes I ask myself this question, "Which of these would I give up so as to have a socially acceptable amount of off-spring?"

Would it be the fiery strawberry blonde? Maybe it would have been nice to have waited just a little longer before starting our family - more time for my husband and I to have to ourselves as 'just us' before taking the deeper plunge from marriage into family. We could have traveled. We could have indulged in couple time and spare change. But then, where would our boys be without their big sister to lead the way? And who would impress me with the compassion she shows for others or her aptness for learning?

Or maybe it would be that middle one. Perhaps it would have been nice to have that longer gap - breathing room between Micaiah and Joey? But then, what would I do without my sweetly sensitive, yet rough and tumble little boy with that insatiable curiosity? And with whom would Micaiah have "camp-overs" in the living room or play hide-and-seek throughout the house? Joey isn't quite old enough for that, yet.

Well, then there's that, maybe we'd just give up that youngest one. He doesn't do much to contribute to the family, yet. Perhaps we could have enjoyed those first two a little longer if we'd spaced it out a tad. But, then, whose mischievous grin would break my stressful days? Or who would climb in my lap every time I sat on the floor to be with the other two?  Who would stand next to me in the kitchen, waiting to help, as I prepare meals? Who would offer Emmett the joy of having a brother and future games of cowboys and Indians or catch in the yard?

Then again, maybe we should have just been done after three. That's a perfectly acceptable number. But then, what would I do, on those long days, without the refreshing kicks, tiny reminders of life inside and the purpose I hold? Where would be that hope of a baby sister for our eldest - something of which she has long dreamed?

Where would we be, as a family, if any one of us were missing - had never even existed? Perhaps we'd be just fine. But seeing where we are now, I wouldn't have it any other way. I know God has formed our family perfectly, and I have a strong sense he's not finished with us yet. Which is just fine - because he seems to have done a wonderful job of putting just the right tiny souls into our wonderful little mix at just the right times.  Perhaps not every family is meant for this kind of blossoming - their perfect number may be smaller than ours - but I am so grateful for all we have been given, and all that is yet to come.

04 November 2013

Of Joey's New Favorite Celebration

In case you didn't know, last week was Halloween. Having grown up trick-or-treating (yes, I was the teenager knocking on doors through high school with the ever-ready response to the obvious question, "You're never too old for free candy" - and I still stick by that, though I don't carry my own bucket, sadly) with a husband who had never trick-or-treated in his life (apparently the children of preachers and missionaries only celebrate Halloween if it's called "Fall" and it's done at the church - because that's when costumes and candy become holy) we have often debated on how to pass this inevitable evening. And we've taken varied approaches each year.

This year after celebrating at the church's fall festival Sunday night, and spooking the dorm of the local university Tuesday night, I wondered what we would actually do on Halloween night. Because I'm too stingy to pour out money on candy to give to other children (though our daughter does love answering the door, so maybe I should have taken that into consideration) and it's hard to just sit by and miss out on what others are doing.

So I convinced my holy husband to allow our children to haunt the street - just our one little street - for the night.

The kids had no idea what they were in for. Especially Emmett, who continued to whine at the plan, "I don't want to walk up and down our street!" Trust me, kid, I thought, you're gonna love it.

And he did. As we meandered home with full buckets at the slowed pace evoked by an hour or so of knocking and walking, I asked him, "Are you glad we walked up and down the street?" "Yeah."

But the biggest fan of the evening was little Joey. After our two previous costumed bag/bucket carrying events earlier in the week, he knew what was coming. I dress funny, I carry this and people give me candy. He was so ready.

Our Little Lumberjack

It took about two houses before he had the routine and he would wiggle himself out of our arms, dash to the door on which sissy had already politely tapped (shy Emmett always hanging behind the others just a little) and bang his little fist. Mommy would then have to pull him back so the poor candy-giver inside could even open the door and then, if it was in reach, that tiny fist was in the candy bowl, no questions asked.  Sometimes he hollered a courtesy "Or-teet" - which was about all he could muster of the famous phrase - before diving in. Sometimes the occupant was a little more cautious (understandably so) with the loot and would simply hand him a bar or two of chocolately goodness, which he would grasp and then stare as he waited for more. Then, after giving the obligatory, "Tank oo", he would drop it in the bucket hanging from his arm and turn, running, ready for the next stop.

And that little guy raced up and down our street - seriously, those little legs pounded the pavement for a full half-mile without wearing down.

Yeah, I'd say he's discovered his new favorite holiday. Then again, I doubt he remembers last December, so I'm pretty sure he has an even bigger surprise in store.

Happy Fall from our Crazy Crew!