Thursday, October 27, 2011

slown down

When I broke my foot on Sept. 26, I really thought it was some sort of untimely joke arranged by God Himself. We were in the midst of soccer practice & games, full blown school, prepping for a piano adjudication & youth rally (both on the upcoming Saturday), and Scott already committed to work an extra 24 hours on a floor that absolutely needed him. Not to mention we have Halloween just a month away and at least two costumes which need making, including purchasing supplies. And there was that pesky sewing machine that gave out as I put the final stitches in the Alice costume last year which I still hadn't taken in to be repaired. In my mind, there was simply no time for me to have a broken foot.

As the orthopedist began to wrap my foot and give me directions, I felt my hopes rise. No cast, so surely I can drive and move around. Perhaps this won't be quite as bad as previously envisioned.

Alas, it was going to be exactly as bad as we had envisioned. I was expected to sit with my foot propped for most of the next 10 - 14 days. I was not to even consider driving for a minimum of three weeks. I was to use crutches for a minimum of 3 weeks, and wean off them gradually, using pain and swelling as my guide. And I should be grateful to the comparatively minor injury I sustained, given that most people who put the amount of stress onto their tendon I did end up in surgery with 6 months of recovery due to a shredded muscle. That I should be really impressed with the health and strength of my body.

Are you kidding me???

And so, we began to work things around my foot. The boys were all willing to give up soccer, but we had four different families call and offer rides to and from practice and games to make certain the boys could continue. A dear friend took Isabelle shopping for her costume supplies and another offered to continue the girls' sewing lessons by using the cape for her Ranger's Apprentice costume as the project. And to top it off, my machine was picked up, delivered to the repair shop, and then returned home, all while I lounged on the couch with my foot propped on pillows.

As other families were leaving for the store, they called to get our lists and would swing groceries and supplies by our home before they went on to their own. We had a family who went on our weekly Sam's run for us and, as if that weren't enough, they would bring us lunch and dinner for the day. Another family went to the farm for our weekly raw-milk run, making sure we never ran out of milk for those growing bones.

We were amazed at the sheer volume of support and love which threatened to overwhelm us. Every errand was done, every need was met, and it was all done with smiles and cheerfulness. All of the extra activities and events we had planned months before were still attended, with over a dozen people making certain that each Little Rutherford was delivered and returned.

And as I sat about on my couch throne, I was treated to visit after visit with dear friends and family. What a delight it was to just be able to talk and talk and talk! And for once, it really didn't matter that there were 14 kids in the house playing with every possible toy, lego, sword, nerf gun and train set because I couldn't do much about it anyway.

Over four weeks later, I am finally starting to move a little more freely. A few well-aimed, yet completely unintentional, crashes directly onto my fractured fifth metatarsal extended my healing time by a solid ten days. And we have all decided it is much better to be in a  family where everyone is able to participate in the daily goings-on. We all feel tremendously blessed to have such a large number of people who love us enough to help our family continue to run smoothly no matter what it took.

But mostly, I am grateful to Scott & the children. Scott, who would work a 16 hour stint at the hospital, stop by the grocery store to get more eggs & bread, and still come home cheerful, ready to visit briefly with everyone before going upstairs to get some well-earned rest. The kids really pulled together to accomplish just about everything within the home while also managing to keep up with their schooling, largely done around the couch. It wasn't always easy and during that first week we learned of some major gaps in our parenting. (Insert here: we had no idea just how much I was picking up on a daily basis or how poorly I was following through with requests to accomplish tasks. That was quite the shocker!)

So at the end of this particular challenge, I now feel confident in saying that it wasn't God's idea of a joke. Rather, it was God's providing an opportunity for us to learn so many, many things. We discovered major chinks in our family which, now that they are corrected, have helped us become a more cheerful and productive team. I have a new appreciation for the man I married and the quiet strength which he uses as he goes about the task of being the husband/dad/son/brother/friend/employee that he is. I see again the value in tuning out the fun the kids are having in order to focus on a dear friend. And I am utterly thankful for all the families who are a part of our daily lives.

We knew we are blessed. We just didn't realize just how much.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

where does it go?

I don't think I'm alone in experiencing this phenomenon. The whole time is fleeting conundrum has been around since forever. But I am caught off guard by it anew today.

I signed onto our blog for the first time in weeks and glanced at the family pictures. There we all are: happy, tanned, and grinning in the midst of our summer fun. Which makes it even more ironic that today I seriously debated turning on the heater for the first time. (We didn't. I just told everyone to put on a second layer.)

Where did the days and weeks go? As we did school today and I helped with word problems and verb conjugations, studied caverns and mapped Ohio, explained binary compounds and listened to piano practice and readings, the time seemed to go so slowly. It didn't drag and it certainly wasn't boring. (Unless you count the three loads of laundry. They were relatively boring.) Yet I know that I'll blink and it will be Saturday.

I often find myself wondering if time will always move so quickly. And then I try to make a conscious effort to pay better attention to the people and the sights around me. Occasionally I wish I had taken time to enjoy our gardens this year, as we'll move in the spring before they bloom again. And yet, if I missed the gardens in order to spend more time with the family, is it really such a loss?

What exactly is time? Is it just the ticking of one second into the next combined into groups to make a minute which marches on into hours, days, and weeks? Or is it something more fluid? Is time an investment which gives us moments to make a lasting change which will, in a sense, stop time?

As I read through John & Abigail Adams book of letters I am struck again by the lasting impact their lives had on our country and myself. I admire their courage, their unity, and their Yankee gumption and I am forever grateful that they chose to save so much of what they wrote. It seems that they found a way to slow time down, if not stop it completely, in their letters.

This week, we received a copy of a recipe from Scott's Great-Great-Grandmother which was measured by hand and cooked on a woodstove in a double batch to ensure there was an entire pan for the dogs. Has her time really ended if I am still cooking her recipe and teaching my children about the days before electricity and supermarket dog food?

Tonight, I feel like time isn't so much a foe to be beaten back before wrinkles, gray hair, and an empty nest overtake me. Instead, it is a series of moments during which I have endless choices of how to spend it. It is my quiet encourager reminding me that I do not have forever and that I have to chose carefully and thoughtfully.

Of course, the day-to-day goings and comings will still occur. I will get up in the morning and take the children to piano after their breakfast. And we'll continue to read, conjugate, and figure.

But I'll also work a little bit harder to find those impressionable moments and grasp on tight. To set the laundry down long enough to look into a little one's shining eyes while they tell of an adventure or to give a shoulder to a teenager who is struggling to find a way to explain how they are feeling. To laugh and smile and visit more.

Because that is what they will remember. They'll remember the eyes and the hugs and the laughter, not the conjugations. And in their memory, we'll be happy.

And, perhaps, time will be forever. 

poor fit

We started our crazy schedule back on June 20. You know, the normal summer swim team/dive team/Camp Manatawny/summer-schooling nonsense that takes over Rutherford-dom for the better part of eight weeks. We really have a lot of fun when we're in the midst of it, but to be perfectly honest, we just sort of drop off the face of the earth as far as everyone around us in concerned. We literally disappear only to reappear mid-August at which point we resume our normal schedule.

This year, though, we decided to give soccer a try. We have always had reservations about the kids participating in team sports because of the time commitment. Swimming is a good family fit because the kids all enjoy it, they practice at the same time in the morning, they compete at the same meets, it's only six weeks long, and we still have most of our evenings free. It is a good balance. However, our experience with Little League wasn't great and during Scott's time as a youth minister we watched dozens of families over the years explain away frequent absences because of sports.

Don't get me wrong - sports are like anything else and they have their positives and negatives. But having eight kids means schedules can very quickly become clogged if you don't choose very carefully where to invest your time both individually and as a family.

So, after completing Keats and Aidan's season and being only three weekends away from the completion of Dawson's & Tucker's seasons, we have our verdict. For our family, most team sports are definitely back out. With four boys on three teams, we literally had 7-day a week soccer. And while there were some fun moments, overall we had to acknowledge that we just miss one another.

I knew for certain it wasn't working when Dawson looked at me this weekend and asked, "How much longer until we can read books together again at night?" And Shelby, who happened to overhear him as she was walking by chimed in with a mighty "Hear! Hear!"

Just this morning Tucker asked if anyone had practice tonight. After I told him no he grinned and immediately declared today a jammie day.

I know there are families who thrive on the hither and yon practices and games. But we are willing to admit that we are not that family. We are more the go for a walk/run before we clean the library grounds together and come home to a crock pot full of soup after which we'll shower and then play board games and finish off the evening with a great book type family.

And so, we will finish out this season with a better grasp on what is important to each of us both individually and as a family. And in the week that follows the final game, I will carefully clean the barely used cleats, shin guards, uniforms, and cups for listing on eBay and Craigslist. Well, maybe not the cups.