Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Science Of Silence

Today was most definitely a trade-in day. A day where, as the sun rose or peeked through the clouds or whatever it did this morning to cause light, I would have just traded it in for some different day. If I had known what was to come, that is. That included a multitude of little boy fits, sick kids and a visit to the immediate care center for an ear infection, a hurling session when we tried to coax medicine into a 2-year-old's gullet, whiny kids up the kazoo and bad attitudes in plethoraness and even multiple myriadness (Editor's note: Oh, I get it. You just like making up words, don't you? Author's reply: You're catching on.). In the interest of self-disclosure, that bad attitudeness includes me. All of this yuckiness occurred on Olivia's first birthday.

Yes, Olivia turned 1 today and Claire made a beautiful cake that looked like a pink and yellow flower -- she's very talented in the design and cake-making business in case anyone needs to hire one out -- and I heard the "Happy Birthday" song being sung to Olivia tonight. While I was upstairs settling an issue of "bad attitudeness/humongous fit" exhibited by our resident 4-year-old. Hopefully Olivia will find it in her heart to someday forgive me for missing her shindig.

But as I'm sitting here typing away, the house is silent. All I can hear is the hum of the fridge, the rattling of the keyboard and, well, the ringing in my ears. As much as I'm enjoying the moment I know there are sweeter sounds than the silence in the house. I really don't have to try too hard to think of them. First thing that comes to mind is the giggle of my babies. Those little belly laughs that make me laugh right alongside. Or the little kids singing songs together with Julie at bedtime. But here's one that's always my favorite. I like to take walks in the house late at night just before I hit the sack when everything is quiet. I tread oh so softly into the room where our latest beautiful baby is sleeping and get right up next to their bassinet and lean down to listen to them breathing. Quick little breaths, one right after another. Sometimes I almost have to stop and hold my own breath to hear the baby's breathing. I like to lean down and get so close that I can smell my baby and sometimes I dare to softly put my hand on the baby's back or chest. Hoping all the time, of course, the baby doesn't stir. It's addicting I tell you. And I suppose there will come a day when my late-night strolls through our house won't take me past any breathing babies. I'm not particularly looking forward to that. Even after a day like today.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Notes From Brazil

We've been missing two of our teenagers and it's just not the same around here. Taylor, 16, and Ethan, 15, are in Brazil on a missions trip with 25 or so youth and leaders from our church here in Corvallis. They left on Sunday, March 22, and are scheduled to return April 4. Here's an update slash praise report we received from Ethan the other day. What an awesome time down there for the lads and what great things the Lord is doing. Praise the Lord.

Hey Dad...please share this with the fam!!
Brazil has been incredible, in these last few days I have seen about 200 people come to Christ and it has been amazing!! Taylor got up today and open-air shared his testimony and like 5-10 people came to Christ. It was amazing!! I started crying out of pride lol. God is sooo good he has brought me through sickness both physical and spiritual and blessed us incredibly! Thank you for your prayers they are working. God bless.
In Him,

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Date Night

Julie and I were powering our way through Winco tonight absent any of our children when we ran into a friend. We joked it was our date night. The truth is that the kids were out in the van in the parking lot -- Brenton had the keys and he was in charge -- and we were "alone" in the store. I'm not sure if going grocery shopping qualifies as a date, but we've done it plenty of times. In Gloucester we usually hit the Super Wal-Mart for a big night out on the town. You know, really do it up. Since we've hit the teenagers stage, it's been nice to get away on dinner dates, but sometimes we go all practical and get away, escape, make a night of it, or whatever, to the grocery aisle. There's something therapeutic about chatting about the vagaries of life and parenting and suddenly blurting out, "Babe, check it out! Buy one Chocolate Moose Tracks and get one free! Scooooorrrrrreeee!"

Look at this way, at least we can talk without having food in our mouths. And it satisfies that inner manly `hunter and gatherer' desire of mine that every man possesses, if he's really honest with himself. I mean here I am, taking my bride into the grocery jungle and emerging victorious with enough grub to feed our small tribe! And best of all, I did all this while satiating my wife's desire to talk! I hunt and gather and she talks ... ingenious, yes. I think that's known as a "two-fer-one" deal. So let me raise this bowl of ice cream as a toast to the beauty of the "Grocery Shopping Date Night."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Voices In My Head And Ice Cream

Ever get to a point in your life, say pretty much every night, and you start hearing voices? It's happening to me right now. These voices are calling me from the freezer. That's where the Tillamook Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream lurks. I'm so thankful no containers of chocolate chip or Moose Tracks are in there because then I would be hearing multiple voices in my head. I've been addicted to ice cream for years. Probably since high school when I used to scarf down bowls of Heavenly Hash while watching Miami Vice or Monday Night Football. I tell people I have three vices: ice cream, pop and Julie. In no particular order. Which raises the question of whether my wife can be a vice. Probably not, but we'll let America decide that based on the fact that there seems to be an extraordinary number of my progeny running around here. She at least gets the sympathy vote.

Here's how I like my ice cream: When it's quiet in the house. (Ha! I bet you were thinking with chocolate sauce.) I'm not sure what that says about me, but I like to savor it in the silence of my own home. Or wherever it is I'm calling home at the moment. I'll dish the kids up early and hold off until 10 o'clock or so when I can feed the beast in peace. Like right now. Cheers!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Loaves And Fishes

Somehow I survived a week of finals in Cornerstone School of Ministry and now it's "Spring Break." Now if spring would just break out. It was a very tiring week of school and studying and I was telling someone how much I felt like a weenie. I mean, it's just studying, right? I was comforted by the fact that Brenton, who pretty much spent the week acing test after test, said that even in his two years of Bible college he had never studies as hard as he did last week. I have learned so much in the six months we have been here in metropolitan Corvallis. I pray that my heart is changing and surrendering to the Lord. This is a big week for us and we covet your prayers. Two of our sons, Taylor and Ethan, arrive in Brazil today for a two-week missions trip with a group of teens and adults from Calvary Chapel Corvallis. They departed yesterday morning, Sunday, and when they woke up Saturday morning, they were still hundreds of dollars short of their fund-raising goal. That day, though, a woman gave them $100 and another family gave them $700. Praise the Lord. God is good, eh? We're in kind of the same boat here at Team Sabo and we're excited to see what the Lord does this week. God bless.

Friday, March 20, 2009

One Of Those Mornings

About 6:45 a.m. I rolled out of bed to head for the shower. Our sweet little Olivia was stirring in the porta-crib so I tried to quietly gather my clothes and head out of the room. Yeah right. She was up and at 'em in no time and so I grabbed her to give her to Julie. That's about when I figured out Julie was gone. Which is approximately the time I remembered Julie said she was heading to the 6 a.m. morning prayer at church.

I was on my own.

I packed Olivia into the bathroom and sat her on the floor with some toys. Then I proceeded to give myself a haircut. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you're right, that doesn't take long. Real funny -- even if it's true. Meantime, she seemed to be doing fine doing what babies do in the morning. You figure it out. I jumped in the shower, freshened up then after getting dressed toted her back to the bedroom. By now Eli was up. He's hungry and wants some cereal. I quickly deduce, based on some olfactory inspections of parts of Olivia, that she needs a new diaper. Boy was I in for it. Somehow she had pretty much completely missed her diaper and the contents of what was a short time earlier in her bowels was all over her onesie and tights she wears under her pink sweatpants. This was not going to be easy. Nor clean. Nor efficient. I'll spare you the details but let's just say portions of the area where I changed Olivia may have qualified for a Superfund site after I was finished. She ended up clean and happy and I managed to make it to school at 7:59 a.m. -- with a minute to spare -- and yes I washed my hands before I got 3 or 4 kids cereal this morning (I can't remember exactly who was being served up a delicious, nutritious breakfast). The bigger question is why this morning? Why did Olivia choose this particular morning, when I'm flying solo, to perform a consumer test of the quality, effectiveness and performance of her diaper? I'll have to pray about this one. Clearly the Lord is trying to teach me something.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Man Up! Now!

Tonight while studying diligently and, hopefully, fruitfully for tomorrow's Old Testament final on prophets, I noticed the sound of a movie blaring in the other room. Imagine my horror when I walked in and saw Ethan and Brenton watching ... High School Musical 3. Egads! Have the lads no shame! Julie, Claire and MerriGrace were watching it and I'm OK with that. But my teenage boys! Taylor, fortunately, would have no part of this travesty, this scandalous, repulsive behavior. He walked by shaking his head making disparaging comments about their apparent lack of manliness.

I'm not sure if Brenton and Ethan were caught in a momentary bout of weakness, if they were bored out of their skull (Brenton should not have been; he has the same Old Testament final tomorrow.) or what exactly was going on. I just know that only the night before they were playing football video games on PS2 and delighting in the bone-crushing hits in the game. And best of all, when they scored to go up 42-7 at halftime, they kicked on onside kick! Later they joked about how after their team -- which was the visitor -- cleaned the other team's clock they would load the opposing team's cheerleaders on the bus and burn down the home team's stadium on the way out of town! (Editor's note: Matthew...please. Is this appropriate? Author's reply: Very much so. Sherman left no doubt when he marched to Atlanta. Same goes for PS2 football.) Clearly it's time to man up around here. I'm breaking out the boxing gloves. Or maybe I'll have them spend more time with their little brothers, who man up routinely by parading around shirtless and sitting around their room at bedtime seeing who can pass gas the loudest.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spelling Champion...Who's All Washed Up

This is getting embarrassing. Back in October, while I was still 39, I "misremembered" Olivia's middle name. (Editor's note: Misremembered? You mean, `completely forgot?' As in 'totally blank?' Author's rebuttal: Maybe I misremembered misremembering, or perhaps it's likely there was a `completely forgetting' incident involving Olivia's middle name.) The other day, however, while driving back from Salem Julie asked me a question about Madeline. Specifically how to spell her middle name. (I would like everyone to know that I did know her middle name. Still do, in fact.) So I launched into spelling it: "C-h-r-i-s-a-n-n," I said with supreme confidence. "Isn't there an `e' on the end?" Julie said.

Before we go any further, I would like to point out that I was THE Deschutes County spelling champ in the 6th and 8th grades, for my division. Spelling comes fairly naturally to me, in large credit to good bloodlines (my ma was a former spelling champ in Modesto, Calif.) and the fact that I was a bookworm as a lad. Back to Madeline's middle name, however. Nohohohoho, I told Julie. Certainly not there's not an `e' on the end of it. Well, she stuck to her guns and slapped an `e' on the end of Madeline's middle name on whatever paperwork she was filling out. Truly, I was embarrassed for Julie. But think of the child! Poor Madeline! Her own mother! Can't spell her middle name! The travesty of it all! The tragedy! (Yes, I kind of got a little happy with the exclamation marks there, eh? Well, in trying to convey the proper emotions, hopefully they had the desired effect.)

Today while doing taxes and rummaging through what little paperwork we transported here from Virginia, I came across Madeline's Oregon birth certificate. Now appearing on my list of things to do, here's item #3: "Contact the State of Oregon to correct the spelling of Madeline's middle name on her birth certificate to delete the `e' at the end of it."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Habakkuk, The Untold Story

Alrighty, here it is ... the moment you've all been waiting for. Ore something like that. I'm posting a Youtube link to the excellent, soon to be award-winning video production that our house group in the Cornerstone School of Ministry put together over two days this week. It's a modern-day telling of the book of Habakkuk and before you watch it I encourage you to read the book just to get up to speed. Huge props on the project go to Anna Scott, the multi-talented designer who took paper bags, construction paper and glue and produced masterpieces. Also to Rachel Smith, a computer whiz who took raw video, rap lyrics and some crazy ideas and put it all together. Also props to Parker Smith, whose powerful, moving rendition of the prophet Habakkuk will likely yield him a new career in Hollywood. And what can we say about Brenton? Other than that he's launched his rap career. Who knew?

Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0iwoNRakPU

Friday, March 13, 2009

Goodbye Journalism

Truth be told, I'm launching a new career. Yes, the rumors are true. I'm an author -- of rap music. Four of my "homies" in Cornerstone School of Ministry spent the past two days writing, acting, rapping, singing, doing the puppetry and producing a 10-minute video on the book of Habakkuk. Stay tuned as we're working on linking to the video -- you'll find it on Youtube soon -- for your entertainment enjoyment. The video included a 2-minute "rap" song that we expect will shoot to the top of the Christian charts in no time. I would like to take the time to thank Brenton for rapping it, for Parker Smith on backup vocals, for Rachel Smith for the excellent chorus that I just didn't have in me ... oh yeah, and thanks Anna for, well, for being you. We couldn't have done it without you. Excuse me while I go interview some agents as I prepare for this new season of life. Anyone know a good dentist around where I can get a "grill?"

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Airing Out The Sabo Laundry

Remembering 12 kids' birth dates can be fairly grueling for me. I'm very thankful that Brenton and Madeline share the same birthday, May 1st. (Author's note: Right? That's right, right? Editor's note: Very good Matt.) That's just good family planning. Middle names are pretty tough as well (which is why I'm continually going over them in my head). But laundry is killer for me. Not the sorting whites and colors part -- I have that down fairly well -- or the hot/cold versus cold/cold water combos. The hard part for me is trying to figure out whose pile to put the folded clothes in. Fortunately, I've come across a foolproof remedy. I usually enlist the aid of a little kid in the family to help me out. The other night it was Gabe, our resident 6-year-old. I'd grab a shirt and ask him, "Who wears this?" He'd answer, "Claire." Or, "Ethan." Or, "Daaaaddd, that's mine." That's how we folded three baskets of laundry. Sometimes I can even get Ezra to help. I find the little kids help the best because we can turn it into a game where I jokingly hold up a shirt, ask them if it's mine, but lo and behold it's Olivia's! And it's amazing how they know who wears what when you know who doesn't know who wears what. Or something like that.

We average a load of laundry a day. Maybe two. And if the household is in the grip of bouts of hurling, we can easily knock down three loads of laundry in a day. Perhaps you're wondering why I can't keep straight who wears what. That's easy. We do hand me downs here at Team Sabo. Take the t-shirt Eli is wearing right now. Abram wore that a few years ago. Then Gabe knocked around in it, and now it's Eli wearing it, unless he's feeling a bout of manliness coming on and he rips it off. It might last to Ezra. And the three girls, Claire, Evie and MerriGrace, are wearing what someone else might have worn 6 months ago. Then throw Madeline into the mix -- I do believe her shirt was last seen on MerriGrace -- and you can imagine what it's like for me. Socks are another matter. I just try and find matches and pretty much guesstimate who wears what. As you can tell, laundry day is a highly efficient, technical production based on the most advanced home economical mathematical formulas. Or something like that.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Divine Appointment

Wednesday night, during a rare respite of quality family hurling time, Team Sabo traipsed up to PDX to pick up Brenton from his trip "home" to Virginia. It's always something of a circus when we go out in public en masse, but in this case we only had 8 kids with us. Plus a friend from School of Ministry who wanted to get a feel for driving in the van with a majority of the Sabos. About 6 of my kids were standing there in the airport waiting for Brenton -- I was seated nearby with Ezra -- when I noticed out of the corner of my eye this skinny dude walk by our family and stop and smile. He started walking again, then turned around and stopped and stared, still smiling. This is where the radar went up and I started paying attention, wondering if this dude was going to snatch one of my little kids or something. Next thing I know he's walking toward my wife and saying her name. By this time I get a good look at him and whoa! It's Pete Julian! Aka "Pookie!" Aka "Pierre Suave!" Aka "Rico Suave!"

Pete rented a room from Julie and me for a year at this shack of a house in North Portland (see the January entry on "My Best Worst Diaper Story") during my senior year of college. We ran cross country and track together and he's like family, though I couldn't tell you the last time we saw him. To this day he thinks of Brenton as a thief. Here's why: In the morning Pete would make his lunch, put it on his bed, then hit the bathroom to get ready for school. Brenton was about 1 1/2 back then and more often than not would toddle into Pete's room to check things out. Well, like any good forager he figured out where to find the grub. He'd climb up onto Pete's bed and help himself to a p.b. and j. sandwich. Many times I'd hear Pete walk into his room and holler out, "Hey! That's my lunch!" Judging from how warmly Pete greeted Brenton in the airport, I think he's gotten over the loss of his sandwiches.

Pete is married to Colleen and they have a 4-year-old son and live in Denver. Here's the amazing thing about all this, though. He actually invited us to stay with them on our drive home to Virginia in June. Perhaps he was "in the moment" when he made the offer. Hopefully he's not waking up in a cold sweat and/or breaking out in hives at the thought of 14 Sabos piling into his casa ...

Here's a link to a story on Pete: http://www.denverpost.com/sports/ci_5152864

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Storm Of Questions

The Eskimo have something like 100 words for snow. No kidding. They have words for drifting snow, still snow, snow marked by dogs or wolves, snow that falls fast, snow that falls slow, snow that falls like snow ... well, maybe not that last one. You get the idea, though. The reason I thought of this is that for the last couple of weeks here at Team Sabo headquarters we've endured flulike symptoms among multiple children that include hurling. Or upchucking. Vomiting. Projectile vomiting. Gurgling hurling. Throwing up. Puking. Are you feeling us on this subject? Know what we're describing here?

Well, God bless Julie. I'm a total weenie when it comes to hurl, vomit, upchuck, or whatever you want to call it. The unbearable odor, the sight of it (Ew. That's right. We had hamburger for dinner.) the texture, the mess ... I'm getting queasy just typing about it. Julie, however, is just tough when it comes to that stuff. She can step right in and clean up whatever ended up on the carpet, in the vicinity of the bathroom, on the pillow, pajamas, or wherever the last meal in the gut ended up. So here's the big question. Is this a maternal instinct thing? Am I, as a member of the male species, genetically unpredisposed (Editor's note: Unpredisposed? Let's see that get past the spellchecker. Author's rebuttal: Ahem. I call it "literary license." Aren't you used to it by now? Don't you know I just make words up?) to clean up the dinner leftovers that didn't quite make it all the way through the gut system? Or am I just a bad husband?

These are big questions. I'm looking for answers. Thank you. Driven snow, granular snow, snow squall, snow slush, powder, yellow snow ...