Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Little Things of Parenting...

There is SO much to good parenting.  I can't begin to talk about everything in a short post, and I'm the first to say I'm a sinner, not a perfect parent.

But I wanted to mention one little thing.

A few minutes ago, I stepped into our laundry room and noticed that our 6 year old daughter had moved stuff from the washer to the dryer, turned on the fan (which is necessary as we vent into the house during the winter, and we don't want the humid air trapped in a small space), and then went downstairs without turning the dryer on.

Now, a few years ago, I would have just turned on the dryer.  Why call Miriam ALL the way upstairs to push a couple of little buttons?

But this time I didn't do that. I was going downstairs anyway to drop something off, so when I did I told her to go upstairs and turn on the dryer.  And she did.

I'm thankful to my husband for his perspective on this issue of finishing jobs for the kids.  I like to help people and I like serving my children, BUT it is vitally important that they learn to do a job well and thoroughly. Obviously, the "dryer job" is not done well if the dryer isn't turned on!  The throwing clothes down the chute job isn't done well if our 5 year old daughter misses one basket of dirty clothes.  The sweeping job isn't done well if a corner of the room is neglected.

We really don't do our children any favors if we give them they idea that they can do a half hearted job and someone else will finish things up for them.  I'm afraid I have given my kids that idea on more than one occasion, but I'm trying to consistently call them to finish a job if they are careless or lazy.

Of course, sometimes a job is difficult and they  need help. Sometimes life circumstances come up, and they need help.

But I'm not going to reward laziness or absentmindedness by doing my kids' jobs for them.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Miscellaneous Pictures

Cute Daniel

Beautiful Naomi with cute Daniel

The weather was unseasonably warm this week and we met a friend and a couple of her children at a local park.

It was a GREAT place to play. We had a lot of fun.

Thanksgiving dinner with Kevin's mom and grandmother.  Kevin took the picture so he isn't in it, but everyone else is!  We are quite a crowd :-).

Friday, November 23, 2012

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

The first few weeks after Daniel's birth were rather surreal.  I was really tired.  I was through the roof hormonal. I was delighted with our new little baby.  I spent quite a bit of time upstairs hiding away from the rest of the family, especially the first week when I had a catheter in due to a bladder problem during the C-section.

At some point during all that, I read the first Harry Potter book, for the first time.

Now that may sound odd, that it took me 'til 2012 to read Harry Potter. Those books have been cultural phenoms for many years.  And I'm a reader.

I didn't get around to reading the book thoroughly because I had heard concerns about the magic in the Harry Potter books. Some Christians said the magic was too similar to true satanic "magick" and the books should be avoided for that reason.

I finally decided during the post partum period to read the first book,  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  I decided that I'd evaluate the "non magic" issues before bothering to check on the accusations about the kind of magic in the books.  To be clear, I have read many books with magic and I usually have no problem at all with magic so long as it doesn't replicate demonic activity in real life.

Ok, my verdict: I hated Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  Hated it.

Why?  Let me count the ways.

First, the book pushed a MAJOR emotional button for me, namely the "kind but irresponsible people not taking care of children" button.

The story opens with some "good" magical person dropping 1 year old Harry Potter on the front porch of his aunt and uncle.  His parents have just been killed by the main evil bad guy, and magical friends of Harry's parents decide he should be raised by near relatives.  All to the good, except that Harry's aunt and uncle and cousin are bona fide abusive.  They are awful. They are cruel.  They make Harry sleep under the stairs.  They torment him in various ways. They treat him despicably.

And where are the magical people who supposedly care about Harry?  Not around.  They show up when he is 10 or 11 and finally whisk him away from his life of torment, but during those formative years the poor kid is living a nightmare.  Yes, the abuse is portrayed as being somewhat amusing but it is NOT amusing.  I hate child abuse of any kind but what REALLY upsets me is when some supposedly good person is a jerk and doesn't take care of an innocent child.  So, major black marks against the supposedly good magical people.

So Harry is eventually whisked away to a boarding school.  Emotional button two. I hate boarding schools, just the concept.  I am sure many people have enjoyed boarding schools but I don't like them in general.  Compared to his abusive relatives, yes, great place.  But overall the boarding school reeks of inane rules and peer pressure and various stupidity.

Harry's personality is actually quite consistent with growing up in a home with abusive parents.  He has no regard AT ALL for rules of any kind.  Throughout the book, he flouts the rules with monotonous regularity -- which is to say, whenever he feels his own wisdom and desires are more important than the rules.  The adults' response to his rule breaking is emotional button #3.  There is zero consistency. Sometimes he is lauded for breaking rules, like when he does something wrong during a Quidditch practice session and is promptly congratulated by a teacher.  Sometimes he just gets away with breaking the rules and no one finds out. Sometimes he is encouraged to break rules, like when someone gives him a magical cloak that lets him sneak around and do things he isn't supposed to do. Sometimes the hammer comes down like a ton of bricks, like when some instructor fines him and his friends heavily with the result that their school group (which is trying to win some kind of contest with other groups) is very angry with them.

Button #4 is that the supposedly strong, good magical adults can't get their own house in order so that Harry and his friends have to save the day at the end of the book. Yes, it makes for fun reading but I don't like books where kids have to save the world while adults fail through vague stupidity.

The magic part?  Seemed fine.  There were wands and spells and other crazy things that definitely don't happen in real life. I had no problem with that part of it.  But the basic truth is that Harry is a very dubious hero.  He has my sympathy because of a rough childhood, but he is a rule breaker, he has little respect for his authority figures, and he isn't particularly kind. The end of the book has Harry going back to his relatives for the summer, cheerfully plotting to use magic to torment the cousin who used to torment him.  (And oh yes, THAT is against the rules as they were forbidden to use magic during summer break.)

Now, am I taking all this too seriously?  Probably.  I am a very serious person and I think about worldview in almost everything I read.  I think about plots. I think about the ideas that come out loud and clear. 

I would say most adults could probably safely read this book and not be affected by it.  I am not thrilled with children reading it.  I don't want my kids reading books where adults are either evil or incompetent, where rules are made to broken, and where children have to do what adults are incapable of doing.  Sometimes children have had to be heroes, but I don't want my children to EVER think that their wisdom is greater than my own, and that they should ignore basic instructions and rules and laws because they are smarter than stupid adults.  And that's one of the messages of Harry Potter.  I also never want our children to imagine that they are responsible for solving adult problems.  Kevin and I are the parents.  We don't need our kids rescuing us, we don't need them taking responsibility for adult level problems.  May our kids never get that crazy idea!

There are many more books in the series but I don't plan to read them anytime soon.  The first one annoyed me enough as it is :-).

P.S.  And now, having jumped on a cultural icon, I will throw out another tantalizing statement. I hated the movie Titanic from 15 years ago.  Hated it!  Why?  Let me count the ways, in another post :-)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pizza by Naomi

 What's that??  Oh, Daniel's hand.

Ah, there it is!

Miriam loved it!

Ok, so some back story.  Growing up, I was blessed to be fed by a mom who was (and is) a GREAT cook.

Mom did a wonderful job teaching me how to take care of a house but for some reason, I never quite "took" to cooking. She was a great cook, I was reluctant and busy, and the sad truth is that I left home with few cooking skills. I could and did bake, but for some reason didn't even know how to cook a bag of frozen veggies!

I learned a few things in college, but marriage brought the necessity of actually learning how to cook well.  I had subsisted for years on bread and corn (not literally, but that was a common dinner for me!) but Kevin expected something a bit more nutritious and sustaining.  Our first couple of years of marriage were an easy transition, though, because Kevin did most of the cooking and I did all the dishwashing (he hates washing dishes.)

When we moved down to Ohio for Kevin to start his job, I was 6 months pregnant with Naomi and became a stay at home wife and mom.  So now I really needed to figure out that cooking thing.

And I succeeded.  I am no gourmet cook, but I cook well.

Kevin has talked repeatedly about how the children need to learn to cook, for their own sakes and to take a job off my shoulders.  Somehow, it just wasn't happening.

So Kevin had a brilliant thought-- assign the big girls a night when they needed to make a meal.  The last couple of weeks, Lydia has taken most Tuesdays and Naomi has taken most Thursdays.

So far we've not had a bad meal yet!  Yes, they've needed a little coaching, but mostly they've done it all.

Naomi's pizza was a HUGE hit, and she did a GREAT job.  We were all proud of her and excited by the meal. I was particularly touched that she made me a salad without any prompting.  I can't have pizza as it makes my blood sugar soar. 

So I'm excited about this new plan.  When Isaac is a bit older, he'll take a meal, and then Joseph, and then Miriam...well, there may be a time when I don't do any cooking at all!

Happy Birthday, Kevin!

My wonderful husband turned 42 years young this week.

I'm a year and almost 3 weeks older.  He never quite catches up, but at least we're a year apart again instead of 2 :-).

When we went to the Esther Price store last week, we bought Kevin a box of milk chocolate caramels. They are his FAVORITE :-).

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Amblyopia update

Amblyopia update: I took Isaac to the opthalmologist today and she said he has leveled out, so no improvement in the last 3 months. BUT he is 20/40 in the bad eye, instead of 20/150, which is where he started. His depth perception has improved from zero to close to normal. So we are super thankful. And he doesn't have to patch his good eye anymore, hooray!

Angela was also checked and she needs new glasses because her eyesight has improved!  Praise God.

We are doing our noble part to keep the glasses industry running, with 4 children in glasses all the time and 2 more who occasionally wear glasses.

Daniel has his baby checkup in a couple of months. We're ready for some good vision as our 6th and 7th children are very farsighted.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Wonderful Time by the Chiminea

Last night, Kevin fired up the chiminea again.  I know it is early days yet, but so far the chiminea is a roaring success.  We've had bonfires before, as I said.  But the bonfire spot is quite a ways from the house, which makes it hard for me to be there since I don't want to leave the littles in bed by themselves for more than a couple of minutes.

We have the chiminea right outside our sun room door in a little patch of grass.  We can easily haul folding chairs and lawn chairs out and put them in a circle around it.

The children have varying interest in the chiminea, with Naomi being least interested and Isaac the most.  And that's fine, everyone is different.  Sarah got to spend a few minutes on Lydia's lap before going to bed. She thought it was interesting, but not for long.  What she REALLY wants to do is run around and grab things, and that doesn't work with a fire.

The really special part of last night was that Kevin pulled out his guitar and we sang worship songs together in the light of the fire.  Kevin is an accomplished percussionist, but he took up guitar many years ago and is very proficient with the guitar as well.  Isaac announced that Daddy's music was "much better than church" which I thought was cute.  The church music is probably pretty good (he is in a special kids church during the service and I haven't heard how their band plays) but Kevin is better. 

It was amazing to be worshipping God together as a family with the stars shining brightly overhead and several precious children gathered around us. 

We are probably done for the year as a cold front is moving through.  Of course, soldiers and wanderers have camped out by fires in the cold, but we're wimpy.  It was actually quite chilly last night as their was a strong breeze and the fire, while nice, wasn't really hot most of the time. But it was great fun.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

We Have Paper!

After 8 agonizing days, we made it Sam's Club and bought more paper.  Whew!

Actually, there was a silver lining.  We recycled a lot of paper this week. We had paper with something on one side and used the other side for the printer.


We live out in the country and enjoy occasional bonfires, but we decided a chiminea would make it easier to gather around a fire.  So we bought one.
Beautiful glow.

Most of the clan.  I used the flash with this picture, obviously.

A mature fire.  I love burning coals!  Next time, maybe we'll roast marshmallows.

After the rest of the children came in, Isaac stayed outside talking with Kevin for at least half an hour.  It was a good time for them.  I came out briefly at one point and Kevin said they were talking about subatomic particles.  OKAY!  Actually, Isaac was quizzing me about subatomic particles a week or so ago.  I'm glad Kevin took care of that particular question.

The Tie

There are many things that connect a father and son, including wearing the same tie.

I think it fits Daniel better :-).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Standing. With Help from the Couch

And We Know That in All Things God Works...

I've been reading 1st Samuel along with a commentary on the following website:


It is an excellent commentary.  I naturally don't agree with everything said because the person writing it IS a fallible person, and the many people he quotes are also fallible people.

But it is wonderful because while I've read every word of the Bible more than once, reading a commentary like this helps me think through the history and the geography and the theology in a new and fresh way.

So I'm reading about King Saul.  Much is said in the commentary about how the people of Israel wanted a king for all the wrong reasons...they wanted "to be like other nations."  In spite of Samuel's solemn warnings, they said they wanted a king and the Lord gave them...King Saul.

Saul wasn't a roaring success. He started well and then turned away from the Lord from fear, arrogance, and pride.

I've not discussed politics in this blog and I won't very much, but I am deeply troubled by our election. I'm not enamored with Romney but Obama is much farther away from my core political concerns. The issue of abortion is my litmus test issue, and Obama is a darling of Planned Parenthood.  And then there is the fact that Obamacare tramples on religious rights.  And Obama's campaign included an ad that correlated losing your virginity to voting for Obama and how both change a female from being a girl to being a woman.  Ok...so random sexual relations make you a "real" woman.  GREAT message to all the precious girls in our country.

It is tempting for me to be fearful about the future of our country.  And...we may be going down the tubes.  Or maybe we aren't.  Actually, for all that people wail about the state of our country, it is true that in times past there were seriously horrific things going on.  Slavery comes to mind.  Horrible.  Rampant racism earlier in the last century.  Dreadful.  Painful, insidious, constant political corruption -- just reading about Teddy Roosevelt and his fight against the "machine" in New York City (I think that was the city) is very eye opening.  Yes, we have plenty of corruption but it isn't nearly as open and blatant than it was at the end of the 1800's.

How about the Cherokee Trail of Tears?  (Hmmm, racism issues are popping up a lot in my memory of awful things in our country.)

So, sin is nothing new in our country.  And of course, as the country goes, so goes the president.  We are living in a season of our country's consciousness when there is a strong move towards "freedom" -- to abort our babies, to have sexual relationships outside of marriage with as few consequences as possible (though the spiritual consequences are ALWAYs there), to allow gays to "marry"when marriage has always been between a man and a woman.  There are plenty who argue that gays should be allowed to marry, but the reality is that marriage gives certain privileges like health insurance and the right to adopt children, and the issue of the children disturbs me in particular.  Yes, there are plenty of kind homosexual people.  But the ideal in God's plan is for a child to have a mother and a father, and mothers aren't like fathers and fathers aren't like mothers.  I don't believe gay couples can provide the best environment for children.

I have Christian friends who believe that God is peaceful about gay unions.  Well, as I said above, I've read the Bible from cover to cover.  And I cannot find ANY justification for that view.  It would, frankly, be a lot easier to accept gay unions.  The cultural tide is moving in that direction, and we who stand against it are accused of being bigoted and cruel and narrow minded. 

But God is God.  He is the One who created us.  He has the right to say that sexual relations belong ONLY within a marriage between a man and a woman, even if many people want to believe differently.

I am not of the view that we can force morality.  Of course, we cannot. But to force employers to pay healthy insurance for gay couples is a violation of religious freedom. 

I'm aware that there are plenty of areas of honest disagreement about how best to tackle our country's problems.  I believe our country chose the wrong person last night, but ... to God be the glory. 

Romans 8:28

New International Version (NIV)
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

I Love my Kindle

I love reading, and have since I was 6 years old.

We own 3 Kindles now, with the newest (mine) having a luminescent screen which  makes it easier to read in low light situations.

Oh, I love my Kindle!

I can borrow books from the library on my Kindle.

I can get free books from Amazon.com on my Kindle.

I can pay a dollar or 2 for entire collections of works from Shakespeare, G. K. Chesterton (the Father Brown Mysteries), and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes.)  I also have complete collections of Dickens, Jane Austen, and L. Frank Baum, who wrote 22 Wizard of Oz books. I bet you didn't even know that there was more than one "Wizard of Oz" book.

I've even found some obscure exploration books and mountaineering book at low prices for the Kindle. 

I've been thinking about finances lately and I do believe the Kindles save us money in the long run, though that isn't why we got them.

Sometimes I do have an urge to buy something because I'm feeling bored or unhappy. That's not a good reason to buy something, but the urge is there.  When it hits me hard, I often will borrow a book from the library for my Kindle.  It is instant gratification and it costs essentially nothing.  Just having a book on my Kindle gives me a weird, satisfied, full feeling :-).

Maybe that sounds strange.  But I am a total book nut.  I love books.  If someone gave me $1000 and said seriously, just buy it on fun stuff, I'd probably buy books.

So it is great having a Kindle where some books are cheap or free or can be borrowed, and the books themselves don't take room in our house.

By the way, one odd thing about the Kindle is that some books are quite expensive, more so than their used paperback equivalents.  I don't usually buy those :-).

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Finances: Clothing Part 3

As I said previously, I have been taught how to buy clothes inexpensively.  My paternal grandmother (now passed on) was a superb clothes purchaser. We always headed straight for the sales racks.  She would keep track of sales and enjoyed "sidewalk days" in various towns when many retailers would have items on sale out on the sidewalk.

My mother and mother-in-law both enjoy going to thrift stores. I realized that when I said we'll spend $1500 or less this year on clothes, it is true both my mom and MIL buy some clothes for our children.  I would say they spend less than $200/year on our children but those gifts are a factor.  Also, my amazing mother makes dresses for our girls and shirts for our boys twice a year.  The picture at the top of my blog has the children in their Easter finery from my mother.

So, I know that the way to buy really nice clothes inexpensively is to either wait for major sales on new items, or carefully search the racks in thrift stores.

Neither works amazingly well for me.  As I said, I dislike clothes shopping. I am really really busy with my family.  I realize that I just am not a candidate for spending a lot of time shopping.  It drives me too crazy and my brain always comes up with a good excuse for avoiding the whole experience entirely.

So what do I do?

First of all, I use "hand me downs".  I have received hundreds of garments from other people whose children have outgrown their clothes. And yes, I've given away hundreds  of garments.  We none of us need all new clothes for our children.  I am blessed to have friends who are generous, and I try to be generous in return.

Just today, a sweet friend gave me a bunch of baby boy clothing.  Our 2nd son is 8 years old.  He was followed by 3 sisters and 4 miscarriages.  I thought we would never have another son, and felt God's direction to give my baby boy clothing to friends who needed it.  So I did, and had very little on hand when the 20 week ultrasound showed Daniel is indeed a boy!

And friends came through, as usual.  We've had to buy a few items for him, but relatively little.

I'm also a BIG fan of Once Upon a Child.  It is indeed a thrift store, but the store purchases clothes from people and they are picky. So their clothing is almost all in good shape.  I go in, I sweep through rapidly, I buy a bunch of stuff, and I'm gone.  In 20 minutes or less. That's my idea of shopping. 

I don't worry very much about fashion.  Ok, I don't worry at ALL about fashion.  Yes, it is nice to look nice but I'm not going to be concerned if I or my husband or my children don't conform to the latest styles.  The whole "style" thing seems like a not too subtle way the fashion industry encourages us to buy clothing every year when we already have plenty.

Now, don't get me wrong.  There is nothing evil about enjoying shopping and buying fashionable clothes.  However, I don't think it is valid to break the budget on clothing.  There is a passage in the New Testament that talks about the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's eyes.  The same passage says that our beauty should not come from braided hair or fine clothing.  Again, it is nice to look nice.  But to obsess isn't good.

Last but not least, we find it easy to dress "unfashionably" because our kids aren't in a peer school situation. I've read that wearing designer clothing is a big deal in the public school system. It was when I was in high school.  Our children can wear pajamas all day if they feel like it.  No one is going to give them a hard time.

So there you have it.  I feel like we do it all wrong in some ways in keeping our clothing prices down since I rarely shop sales.  BUT, we do something even better...we rarely go clothes shopping  at all :-). That's the very best way to not spend much.