Friday, December 7, 2018

My Weird Career

There was a recent comment about my career, or lack thereof :-).

On February 14th (Valentine's Day!), 1997, I turned in the final paperwork for my Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan.

Obviously, I still remember the date.  My defense was exactly a month earlier, on January 14th, 1997.  I haven't forgotten that date either.

I was very driven academically as a teen and 20 something.  I fully intended to be a single career woman until God intervened and brought Kevin into my life.  He was in graduate school with me. He became a Christian in late 1996, started attending our church within weeks, we began courting, and we were married June 1997.

So, quite the romantic whirlwind :-).

Kevin is younger than I am and thanks to co-oping as an undergraduate, he was 3 years behind me in graduate school. So while he finished up, I worked as a staff member at the University of Michigan in the Materials Science Department. It was a great job for me. I got teach a little, fix instruments (not always my easiest thing, I admit), and help with the labs.

Kevin finished his degree in September of 1999.  I was pregnant with our eldest at the time, and we moved down to Ohio so Kevin could begin working at Wright Patterson Air Force base.  He was part of a program where the Air Force paid for his Ph.D., and he was obligated to work for them for 15 years!

We had already decided that I would be a stay at home mother to Naomi.  That was a decision based on a number of things.  We could do it; Kevin made enough to support us.  We knew that even as DINKs (Double Income, No Kids) that with both of us working full time, life was busy. Add a kid to the mix, and we would get super busy.

And I wanted to be at home with our baby.  Kevin wanted me at home with our baby.  I am not someone who trusts easily, and I really wanted to be the one providing primary care for our little one(s).  

Given that I did have a Ph.D. in engineering, it seemed reasonable to look for some part time work. For a few years (through the births of our first three children), I taught the occasional engineering class at a local university. Then in 2003, Kevin heard that there might be an opening at the base where he works.  I went in and interviewed and got a job with a contractor on a very part time basis. The original plan was one day a week.  I've been there 15 years now (15 years!) and now I work 4 to 5 hours a week!

It's a crazy situation and I feel very blessed. I keep a foot in my field but I'm home with the children almost all the time.  I bring in a little income, which is helpful with 9 kids. My job has been very patient with me with frequent absences for new babies, and I was gone for 2 months earlier this year because of the hysterectomy.  

Since I was 44 when Rose was born, I'll be 62 when she graduates from high school.  That's a reasonable retirement age. All this is to say I doubt I'll ever work full time.  I'm homeschooling the horde, of course, so I have plenty to keep me busy at home.

That's my weird career story.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Let Us Not Become Weary of Doing Good

Galatians 6:9 New International Version (NIV)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

This is one of my main verses these days.

One of the odd things about having a big family is that we have spent literally 19 years taking care of small people who can't, for example, rummage around and find food if necessary.

It frankly requires stamina and perseverance to keep feeding these kids over and over and over :-).

It requires stamina to teach the younger children necessary chores so they can develop a good work ethic and the skills they will need to survive life.

It requires faithfulness to teach the 7th kid to read, and the 8th, and the 9th.  

I'm not hero.  I'm just a mom who loves her kids like crazy. But I'm also a selfish person at heart, and an introvert.  My idea of a good time is to be on the beach at St. Croix with my wonderful husband.

Which is why we've been going there once a year!

But the rest of the time, I have to persevere and persevere and persevere.  I must not grow weary of doing good.

I would take a bullet for any one of my children. I would.  But in a way, in a way, a one time heroic act would be easier than being faithful every single day to mediate disputes and read Bible stories and talk to them about their scientific and spiritual questions, to try to focus and understand when they babble away about obscure computer games!

That's why I need, desperately, the Holy Spirit of God in my life.  By myself, I could not do this.  I want to, believe me.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.  But through the Holy Spirit and prayer, I am able to faithfully fulfill my tasks day after day, week after week, year after year.  Thank you, Lord.

This Week in Pictures

It snowed!  Not a LOT, but still, it snowed!

The 3 littles and I did quite a bit of schoolwork this week.  Sarah and Daniel are both learning to read.  Sarah is 8 and is not yet fluent, but thankfully I have years of experience and I can see she is progressing very well.  I am confident she isn't dyslexic.  Every week she reads a little bit better.  Daniel is an early bird in reading compared to his older brothers.

We are death on microwaves!  Yet another one bit the dust. We bought a replacement in stainless steel, to match our refrigerator.

We went to the annual party of the company I work for. I was recognized for 15 years of service. Time flies.  Hard to believe I've been there 15 years already!

Friday, November 23, 2018

The Future

We are approaching a new milestone in our lives, when our eldest works towards launching from our home.

She will get her associate's degree this spring.  After that, we're not sure. She's not sure.  It seems likely she will get a full time job and then work towards moving out of our home.

It's quite a stage to be in as a parent.  Part of me wants to fold her close and keep her here because I love her dearly. But of course the rational part wants her to fly as God intends her to do.

Brick and mortar college (which is to say, a college with a dorm a significant way from the parents' home) is a natural transition for many young adults. Both Kevin and I went 'away' to school, and lived in dorms for at least a year.  In some ways, its a cocoon.  On one hand, the student has to learn to manage her own schedule without parental supervision. On the other hand, meals appear at regular intervals, so the food part is taken care of.


College is very expensive, isn't it?  Since we are blessed with 9 children in less than 15 years, we cannot afford to send all our kids to 4 year brick and mortar schools. They could hypothetically get scholarships and maybe some of them will.  We can afford to send our kids to local public colleges and have them live at home, too, and some of them may do that.

It's just not simple.  We are praying for the Lord's wisdom and asking Him to guide our steps, and, more importantly, our children's steps. As they mature to adulthood, they will have to make more and more decisions on their own.

One thing we will not do is go into debt for our children's college education.  I've been reading horror stories about parents with tons of educational debt on their shoulders going into retirement. What a nightmare.  Given that our kids were born late, we will be in our early 60's when Rose graduates from high school.  We just can't make it work to send our kids to Harvard.

Not that Harvard would touch our kids with a ten foot pole.

I have strong, strong views about college and truthfully, I think community colleges are often a better route the first couple of years.  In big schools like U of M and Ohio State, profs are focused more on research than teaching.

I'm not going to fully get on the soapbox about THAT.  My point is that this is a hard time, but a good time.  Our goal is for our kids to become functioning adults.  It is hard for me because I love having a big family at home but I also know that this next step for Naomi is an important one. And after her, Lydia, and after her Isaac, and down the line.

And someday, if we live long enough, we'll be empty nesters.

But Rose is 4.  So it'll be awhile :-).

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

And they are off!

My parents very kindly have paid for a trip for our older boys, Isaac and Joseph, to Hawaii for TWO WHOLE WEEKS.

They left yesterday and made it without any problems.  They are staying on the Big Island of Hawaii.

In a week or so, my brother will join them; he lives on Oahu permanently.

Neither boy had ever been on a plane until yesterday!  And neither could remember an ocean.  Kevin and I took our 3 young children to Florida back in 2003 but Isaac of course doesn't remember that. He was a baby.

So this is a big and exciting deal. We are good parents, but I have to admit we haven't given our kids many exciting vacations in recent history.  We're just too tired and it is too expensive.

So yes, this is delightful and wonderful.  Thanks Mom and Dad!!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Large Family Logistics: Medical Care

I took Angela and Joseph to 'well child' checkups this week.  Doctors recommend that a kid/teen be brought in once a year to check for growth and to get vaccinations if necessary, that kind of thing.

Both these kids have August birthdays but I was in the throes of my ectopic pregnancy/miscarriage then hysterectomy in August, so they didn't happen.

Since Angela and Joseph are growing up, I decided to take them separately because Angela would prefer a female physician and Joseph a male physician.

So a couple of trips this week, on top of working, etc. etc.

One of the interesting facets of having a bunch of kids is that we have more medical appointments than most families with fewer children. I say "most" because of course there are special needs kiddos who require a lot of medical appointments.

I often struggle with having a good attitude about such things, because I don't enjoy leaving home for doctor appointments.  We drive somewhere, sit in a waiting room, sit in an office, see doctor, go home.  It takes time and effort.

But, I remind myself often, we are so blessed because a.) I can be a stay at home parents so can easily make time to take kids to the doctor and b.) we have good health insurance and c.) we have access to good medical care!  What a blessing.

Angela and Joseph had very mellow appointments, but most profound area of interest being that both are growing like weeds.

Joseph is 90 lbs and almost 5 ft. 8 inches tall!

Angela is 80 lbs and has sprouted to almost 5 ft. 2 inches tall!

Angela is taller than her next older sister Miriam.  I think Angela may well be quite tall.

So that's that.  Healthy kids, skinny kids.  Blessed to have access to good medical care.

Ice Storm

First we got an ice storm, one of the heavier ones I've experienced.  Ice everywhere, and many trees lost limbs. This was 2 nights ago.

Last night we got a little snow, which covered the ice.  It is like a cold fairyland out there.

Some of the trees were pretty unhappy. Look at this poor tree with limbs dragged low by ice.

It is gorgeous, though!