Monday, November 28, 2011

Hello, Baby!

Kevin and I are expecting another child!

I have an ultrasound picture but I'm tired (that's definitely part of being pregnant) so I'm not going to post it right now.

I'll confess that this pregancy was a surprise on a number of levels.  First, I got pregnant in September when I was a month shy of being 42 years old.  Kevin and I have been blessed with 12 pregnancies during our marriage, so we obviously conceive easily.  We've had 7 live births, 4 miscarriages, and I'm carrying little #12 right now.

BUT, 42!  I mean really, at 42 you would THINK that I wouldn't get pregnant this quickly.  Or at least I thought.  Our little Sarah was only 9 months at the time!  But life, and the Lord, are full of surprises.

Surprise #2 was that I didn't miscarry.  Pregnancy hasn't been easy the last few years, and I've not carried 2 babies to term in a row since our 5th child was born.  In fact, I had lost 4 out of 6 pregnancies to miscarriage.  So when I got pregnant, I was concerned that I would lose the baby.

But here I am, at 13 and a half weeks, and so far Baby and I are doing great.  Now there is a long way to go, but I've always had first trimester miscarriages so I am feeling hopeful.

I had an ultrasound last week and the baby was very active and looking good. 

It has been a hard first trimester. All my first trimesters have been hard, but as I get older they've gotten harder.  But a baby is a great reason to feel sick.

I relish your prayers that this pregnancy will go well and that Little One will be born healthy, and at just the right time. He or she is due May 31st, 2012.

Friday, November 25, 2011


True confessions here, I am not a huge holiday person.

I am not a Scrooge, I hope.  It is more that I try to have the spirit of the holidays all year long. I mean, we shouldn't JUST be thankful at Thanksgiving, and we shouldn't JUST think about Jesus' birth at Christmas time or His death and resurrection for our sakes at Easter!

All that is true, but it is ALSO true that God very definitely blessed and even created holidays and celebrations for His people. There are very detailed instructions in the Old Testament about the Feasts that the Israelites celebrated to remember the Passover and the harvest and things like that.

So there is very definite place for holidays and contemplating the blessings of God.

And Thanksgiving, while it isn't an overtly Christian holiday, certainly shines a light on an important mental exercise...being full of thanksgiving and gratitude.

So today I thought about being grateful.  It didn't come entirely naturally...

I had a well child checkup for our 1 year old daughter, but yesterday it became clear that Lydia had an eye problem so I brought her in as well.

Lydia has a raging case of pink eye.

Sarah needed some bloodwork to check for lead levels so after the appointments, I took her to get that taken care of.  She didn't appreciate it very much, but didn't wail for long.

Then we went off to Kroger to fill an antibiotic prescription for Lydia.  Turned out that the pharmacy didn't have the medication we needed. Sigh.  Her eye is BAD and it is very contagious so we needed it.

I got home at 11 a.m. to find Kevin had just gotten up. He is not feeling well.  I called the doctor and they called in the prescription.  I listened to the messages on the answering machine and discovered that I had left a credit card at the doctor's office.  Sigh.

So, no huge biggie, but this morning just didn't go that well.  I felt stymied in trying to do things efficiently, and I'm all about efficiency.  I was sorry that Kevin didn't feel well as he's had a cold off and on for several weeks and is tired of it!

But then I realized how much I have to be thankful for.

I have a car so I can take my kids to the doctor.

We have insurance so I can take the kids to the doctor.

The credit card is in a safe place though it isn't in the place I want it to be.

We have pharmacies on every corner so I can get medication for my children.

My husband is generally healthy.  A cold is tiresome, but a cold is just a cold.  There are people battling far more serious health issues.

Our children are all quite healthy too.  Pink eye is a pain (figuratively and literally) but in the grand scheme of things, it is small.

All these are minor things compared to the joys of salvation and the joys of a strong marriage.  But its the little things that sometimes wear me down, and it is good to think about the things I am thankful about in the midst of life's little irritations.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sarah is 1!

We celebrated Sarah's birthday this week!

Since we were in a hurry, we bought a carrot cake box mix from the grocery store, and some fluffy icing. But Naomi went the extra mile and colored some of the frosting so it came out nicely decorated. The weird part in the corner without frosting was for Sarah and Miriam, both of whom have problems with dairy.

Sarah didn't have a clue about what was going on but she knew we were happy, so she was happy.  And we are happy. Sarah is such a blessing to us and we were delighted to celebrate her first year!

She has a strange aversion to dry or chunky foods, so I knew she would gag and protest if I tried to feed her plain cake. So I took a piece, mixed it with coconut milk, and fed it to her that way.  It looked weird, but she liked it.

Ah, a mysterious picture.  What IS this?

It's a bonfire!  This was not for Sarah or indeed any of the little girls, as it was late and they needed to go to bed.  But Kevin and the older 4 spent several hours outside enjoying a bonfire. 

Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Our Fall Back Science Experiment

When I'm at a loss to find a good science experiment...

we make a volcano!

This one never, ever, ever gets old.  We pour vinegar into a bottle (a flower vase, in our case.)  If we feel adventurous, we add some food coloring.

Then we pour in baking soda.  Voila, wonderful chemical reaction!  Lots of carbon dioxide!  Foamy stuff pours everywhere!

The kids love it. So do I. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Barn, and internet access

First things first, our internet access has been mostly off the last couple of days. I'm expecting to lose it any  minute now.  The little lights on the modem keep appearing and disappearing.  This happened once a few years ago and we needed a technician to come and fix something.  We have an appointment scheduled for next Tuesday. It is hard not having internet!  But I suppose it is a good experience to have a break.

So, big news...we are going to build a barn!  Our home is big and out in the country. We own 5 acres of land.  Long ago, before we owned the house, there was a building with an apartment on the 2nd level sitting about 100 feet from our back deck.  Then, one exciting night, the whole thing burned down.  Now there is just a slab of concrete.

 Kevin has long been interested in building a barn. Now we have a tractor so a barn is even more attractive.  He spent some time this year hunting up bids and just this last week we got a bid that works for us.  We need to get some concrete work done to make sure that the concrete and foundation are stable for the barn.  That's going to happen in the next couple of weeks.  Starting in mid-December, the barn will go up.

I'm expecting the children to be quite excited by the process.  It surprises me that a barn can be built in winter but apparently it can.  We have electric cables that run back there (from the previous building) and at some point we'll put in electricity.  It should be a multipurpose building which will house the tractor and possibly some animals.  (We keep muttering about raising and then slaughtering a pig.)  Kevin has also thought about building a climbing wall for the children. So exciting stuff!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chicken Update

Sigh, our poor chickens.

In some ways, they are doing well. We've not had one keel over dead in a few weeks.  They are strutting and scratching and generally looking healthy.

But they still aren't laying much. We've gotten 2 eggs quite a few days.  We get 1 egg some days.  Sometimes we get none.

We're still waiting for 3.

We suspect that only 2 are actually laying and the others are just eating and getting fat.

It is frustrating. It is probably the cooler temperatures and the shorter hours and the trauma of getting sick. We understand it, but it is still a disappointing thing that we are getting so few eggs.

Last night I dreamt that I was hunting for eggs and found 2 of our chickens up in a tree, sitting on a nest full of chicken eggs.  "Ah, " I thought, "That's where all the eggs are!"

So I've got chickens, and eggs, on the brain.


Lydia is our 2nd child.  She is sort of in 5th grade. I say that because I really don't think about what grade my children are in but it is useful to peg them somewhere so people can relate.

Lydia is our first "mixed dominant" child. She is right hand dominant, left eye dominant.  According to Dianne Craft, mixed dominant children often have more trouble with handwriting glitches.  Lydia's handwriting is readable but she does struggle to stay on lines.   Her letters tends to rise and lower as she is writing across a page.  We are working on that.

She's a very bright girl, and in many ways different from her older sister Naomi.  Despite the occasional sibling fight, though, they are very much best friends.  And they have a great deal in common too.  Both are artistic and love animals. They like some of the same kinds of games.

Lydia read very early, even earlier than Naomi.  I was shocked when she sounded out a 3 letter word at the age of 3 and a half!  She was fluent by 5 and reads voraciously.

Math proved more of a struggle.  Naomi, Isaac and, I think, Miriam are hard core mathies.  Math concepts just come easily to them.  That wasn't true for Lydia.  She didn't learn her math facts very easily and some of the concepts were tough. She has gotten frustrated with math on occasion and said that she was not "very good" at math.

We encouraged her that she WAS good at math. This year she is charging through MathUSee gamma, which covers multiplication.  And she finally has all her multiplication facts down cold.  She also understand completely how to do long multiplication, which is my goal.  It is important to understand the concept of long multiplication though in actual fact, she'll rarely have to do a long multiplication problem as an adult.  Unless she is stuck somewhere without a calculator (and that HAS happened to me) she'll just reach for a calculator.  But I want the children to understand where the number comes from and she does.

Lydia has never written long prose and even her emails generally are short.  Naomi encouraged her to start a story for Na-No-Wri-Mo and she decided to try for 2000 words.  (Naomi decided on 10,000 words and is almost there...she might try something longer since Nov. 30th is a long way off!)  Lydia sat down and started plugging away. She hasn't worked on it a lot the last few days but she is over 1000 words at this point.  That is very impressive for her and she thought through her plot carefully.  So I'm delighted.  We haven't done as much structured writing practice as I would like due to busyness on my part, but so far the older girls are developing as writers anyway.  It probably helps that they read so much. Well, I know it does.

So this year is going well for Lydia. She does some of her work with Naomi and I am thankful that works well.  There are things that are tough for her, and Naomi is usually willing to lend a helping hand.

I am grateful that the Lord blessed us with 2 girls close in age who were both early readers and can work together so well. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sarah Locomoting

Honestly, this is just TOO CUTE!  We don't need a dog.  We have a baby that will play fetch!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The School Year So Far: Naomi

We started our homeschooling journey for this year on August 1st, so have been toiling away for over 3 months now.  How is it going?  Welll, I meant to write one post about everyone but Naomi's update got long, so I'll just talk about her now.

Naomi (age 11):  Naomi is the quintessential student. She writes well, learns math rapidly, and is in every way a dream to teach. I am thankful our eldest learns easily and doesn't have the handwriting glitches of some of the younger children. It helped me have confidence as a homeschooling mom when she read early and picked up math concepts enthusiastically.  The fact that she can write easily and well made it possible for me to turn over some of her schoolwork at an early age.

So far this year, academics are going well for Naomi. She is charging through Fractions in MathUSee. She and Lydia are working on Cantering the Country and Story of the World with relatively little attention from me.  My job for both curricula is to copy pages and check out requisite books from the library.

One issue for Naomi, and it IS an issue, is that she and I both have to work to make sure that academics are not too simple for her.  Kevin and I might qualify as gifted students.  Certainly we both found public school not very challenging.  While that sounds nice, in actual fact a student who learns very easily can become lazy.  Naomi and I had a really good talk about that a couple of years ago.  I told her about how I was the best student in my high school class, one of the 3 best students in my undergraduate metallurgy classes, and was taken aback when I went to graduate school and met students who were smarter than I was!  I remember sitting around listening to some Indian and Chinese students chattering away about thermodynamics and feeling like I had strayed into another world and that my brain just didn't work well enough.  Fortunately, I had a long history of working very hard and so what I lacked in brains I made up with hard work, and I did fine in graduate school.   While I probably strayed towards being obsessive at times about school, I did at least learn to work hard.  That is my goal for all of our children, that they learn to work hard.

Another issue for Naomi, and indeed all the children, is that at times school is boring.  I was bored a lot in public school and I want to avoid that in general for the children.  But reality is, sometimes there will be boring material and the kids have to learn to buckle down and do the boring stuff.  So long as it isn't boring all the time, I think some boredom is a good thing.  Sometimes life isn't very exciting.  It is good to tolerate some degree of boredom in doing tasks that must be done.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Amazing Writing Girls

Word count for Naomi:  over 2000 words!

Word count for Lydia:  over 500 words!

On Day 1!

They are charging along with this Na-No-Wri-Mo thing:-).

Our 2 little girls

So our family is laid out as follows:

Kevin and Laraba:  parents

Naomi and Lydia: the "big" girls

Isaac and Joseph:  the boys

Miriam and Angela: the "little" girls

Sarah:  the baby

Miriam is 5 and will be six soon.  Angela is 4.

If we sent our kids to public school, Miriam would probably be in kindergarten this year.  She wouldn't have to be, legally, but she would be ready.  Like all of our girls so far, she has been excited about drawing and coloring and even forming letters.  She is starting to read.

At the beginning of the year, I had vague plans to do kindergarten with Miriam and "preschool" with Angela.  And ... I guess you could say I am. But I spend very little time teaching them. 

There are 2 reasons for this.  One is that the older 4 children take most of my time and energy, especially Joseph (age 7), who is learning to read, write, and add. 

The other reason is that the little girls LOVE to play together.  Love love love it.  Fairly often, a homeschooling mom finds herself chasing around the preschoolers.  I chase the baby a lot, but most mornings, Angela and Miriam disappear into our playroom and play very happily for literally a couple of HOURS.  It is really amazing!  I sometimes feel guilty like I should be interacting with them more, but they are happy!  When I do pull them out to read to them or do a little preschool work, they participate gladly but are eager to go back in and play some more.

So...sometimes, often, having kids close together makes it much easier for mom to get stuff done because there are built in playmates.


Ok, that title just does not "trip off the tongue", does it?

It stands for National Novel Writing Month.  During Na-No-Wri-Mo, adults and young people are encouraged to write a novel in a month.

I believe adults are required to start at 50,000 words minimum.  Young people can choose their hoped for word count.

This year, Naomi (age 11) and Lydia (age 10) are participating. Naomi chose her initial word goal to be 5000 words.  Lydia chose 2000 words as her goal.

Naomi is, well, an astonishing writer for her age.  To give you an idea of how easily words flow, she wrote more than 1500 words today.  We are in agreement that perhaps she needs to "bump up" her word goal.

Lydia is much earlier in the writing process and finds it quite laborious at times. I am delighted that she is tackling this goal of writing 2000 words in November.

So I'll keep you updated!  Both girls are thinking about their plots and working on descriptive prose.  I am so proud of them.