Saturday, December 29, 2012

When Family Lines are Permeable

We survived! Christmas came and went and we made it. It was by far the least stressful Christmas we've ever had, but we sure did stretch it out. Saturday night we headed to Nick and Joys to exchange gifts with them. Then Courtney and Isaac and Salinda and Gabby came on Saturday night. Sunday noon Courtney and Isaac opened presents and it was fun to see Gabby and Isaac interacting. They were so cute and Gabby was so patient!

Christmas eve we did our traditional routine. 5 p.m. service (where our family lit the advent candle -- a story in itself) and then went out for Chinese. A friend from church joined us as she was going to be alone. We had a nice time. Everyone was there except for Mike, Ricardo, and John. John is still in jail and we hadn't heard from Ricardo in months. We knew Mike was coming on Christmas with Tessa and Aiden. We unwrapped gifts at the Chinese place -- kinda chaotic but fun.

Christmas morning we waited until 9:30 a.m. to open presents. A record for us. It was fun and there were even some surprises. At dinner another friend joined us for dinner -- and I think he had a good time. The kids were appropriate and it was a good time. Mike and Tessa showed up -- and Ricardo was there as well! We loved seeing him again. Aiden was especially cute and I loved seeing him with his dad.

So we did it.... we had five gift openings in 4 days and everyone got along and it was all good.

So if you're in the middle of the trenches wondering if it will ever be ok.... it might be. It might not be perfect, but it can be what it is. And sometimes, it's good enough.

So we had 11 of our kids here, 3 grandkids, 2 grandbabymamas, four really good friends, and a daughter-in-law.... and we love them all.

Bart said the other night that the lines of our family have always been permeable. It's a wonderful way to live....

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Too Many Details

Remember the day when I told you everything, blog world? I just don't have time anymore. Our days are getting fuller and fuller. Why you ask? Well let me try to answer.

We are back to 5 kids at home with both Sadie and Tony completing Job Corps (Sadie in the right way, Tony in almost the right way). They now both have jobs so we are getting them back and forth to work on top of everything else. Crazy days. Sadie is at the Target bakery/deli and Tony at Pizza Hut.

Leon is not going to be able to wrestle this year because of the high school league rules. I don't even want to blog about this because it makes me so angry I could spit nails -- and our appeal was strongly written and very valid. There is no way we would have been working hard to get him on one of the worst wrestling teams ever -- but it was what he was counting on for his emotional and social sanity -- and now he is let down again. Like I said, angry, angry, angry. But we have a friend who is a lawyer who has a lawyer friend who has had 360 cases against the MN high school athletic league and he has lost all 380 cases. I can't tell you how wrong this is on so many levels, but that would take me hours and hours....

John has been back in jail for about a month. Probation violation. Sad. People think he will learn his lesson... but can he?

My husband preached a compelling sermon right before our music ministry program at church did our program. He started by reading the names and ages of the victims in Connecticut one by one. Powerful. He then talked about the shooter and how maybe there could have been an intervention -- asked us what we could do to prevent that in the future by reaching out to those who don't fit in. I keep asking myself why I am constantly thinking about the shooter and his family more than the victim. Maybe because I can see myself in that situation more easily. And that's scary.

Still enjoying our friends, our church, and trying to survive the special needs of the Tony/Dominyk combination in addition to Leon's struggles... but we are hanging in there.

I haven't read a blog for months. Between my job at Bethany and the church, where I seem to be 3-4 nights a week, there isn't much time left.

God's good, though, all the time.....

Sunday, December 02, 2012

We Need More Parents

A few years ago when we hit 12 kids, we said to each other, this family does NOT need more kids. What we need are more parents! We had a lot of great friends in Mankato ... you know that. And they are still our friends.

But since moving here we have been super blessed by a couple whose kids are grown who have been so good to us. They genuinely like our kids and theirs are young adults now, so they have some extra time. And we seem to fill it. Lots of it... and sometimes, when we need them to fill that role, it seems like our family has four parents. This weekend it was like that.

Historically we have had horrible Christmas decorating experiences. We have arguments and stress and crabby kids and parents. By the end of the night we are mad at each other and the tree doesn't even look that great.

But this time we asked Nick and Joy to help us have fun with it. They both love Christmas so we've made this a project. Nick and I made several trips to Menards and other similar stores and by last weekend the lights were up on the roof. And yesterday we went to cut down our tree at a tree farm. Joy had other commitments, but Nick drove his truck with Tony in it, and Bart and I and the other three boys who live at home. They each took turns sawing and we brought the tree home. Here's what that adventure looked like.

Tonight Nick and Joy came over and had chinese takeout with us and then helped us decorate. Joy (who is appropriately named) brought reindeer antlers and santa hats and made all the kids and Bart and I wear them. The tree is the nicest one we've had and we had fun!

I'm grateful for my kids cooperative spirits tonight. For them, they did good. And I'm grateful for our friends who took time from busy schedules (we had a packed day at church today -- two services, practice for Christmas program, and a memorial service that the choir sang out -- and they still made time for us.

So far, it's been the best Christmas ever. God is so good. It's so nice to feel happy. Aren't our kids gorgeous???