Sunday, December 30, 2012

We're Sick

Well, we have a respiratory virus circulating among us.

I got it a few days ago. I am definitely on the mend.  2 of the children are coughing and hacking. So far, the baby hasn't shown any symptoms. He has been a remarkably healthy little man, especially since I only breastfed him 3 months.  I'm a big believer in antibodies from mama and it grieved me when I had to stop nursing early. But he seems to have a strong immune system of his own.

We get sick a lot in the winter.  I used to get terribly frustrated by it.  Now, I just accept it.  There are 10 people in our house.  It isn't that we get sick with 6 things every winter, its that when we get sick, SOMEONE is sick for a long time. 

Last fall, we had an intestinal bug that literally circulated for 2 months.  It was a throwing up illness and the children got it one after the other, but sometimes there was a week or 2 between one child succumbing and the next.  In the end, Lydia was the only child not to get it.  I even got it, and THAT was fun.  (Oh, how I HATE throwing up!)

Lots of people have suggested lots of things to avoid getting sick and I've implemented some of them, but I am mostly at the point where I just try to be peaceful.  I don't like taking sick children anywhere, so we stay home a lot in winter.  I comfort myself that their illnesses are not dangerous, and they are strengthening their own immune system in the process.

So, we'll have a quiet day at home and not go to church. I am especially not keen on "sharing" respiratory ickiness with a bunch of other children.

Friday, December 28, 2012

THREE babies?

No wait -- one is Angela's new doll.  Truth be told, it is a little eerie.  I have done double takes more than once when I've seen it in an odd place.  Out of the corner of my eye, it looks like Daniel!

Sarah is so cute in her overalls.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree

  Our Christmas tree went up late this year as we didn't make time to put it up before our Michigan trip.

But now it is up, in all its lopsided glory.

  It isn't lopsided right to left or front to back, which is just as well.  We'd hate to have it fall over frequently.

  It is lopsided top to bottom because the ornaments are mostly at the top of the tree.

 Why?  Well, because of Sarah, of course.  She LOVES to walk off with ornaments.

 I'll be honest, back when we had 2 or 3 kids, I worked with our toddlers to not walk off with ornaments.  And with enough training, they left the ornaments alone.

  With Sarah, well...I'm tired.  I'm busy. I have more important things to do than hover over her and the tree.  So we just move almost everything to to the top.

  And yes, the tree looks a LITTLE silly, but it is still pretty and we enjoy it.

 I'm peaceful with that.

Sitting Boy

And We've Got Ourselves a TEENAGER

Yes,  our precious Naomi turned 13 last week!!

Wow.  Wow. 

I just can't believe she is 13.

We love her so much and are so proud of her.  She has matured so much in the last few years.  She is growing into a beautiful, responsible and hardworking young woman. 

She gladly made her own cake and it turned out beautifully.

And it was eaten up quickly as well.

That is a fine thing, because the coming week brings 2 more birthdays for Miriam and Isaac!

Happy Birthday, Naomi.  We are so glad that God gave you to us.  My greatest prayer for you is that you follow Jesus all the days of your life.  My second greatest prayer is that God will guide you every step of your way.  I don't know what God's plan for you is, but I don't need to know because God DOES know and will give you wisdom. And in the meantime, let's enjoy life together!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Mild Rant on Cooking Shows

This is supposed to be humorous, so don't think I am REALLY down on cooking shows.


For fun, we looked on the web for other "lasagna videos", and they were all short.  I understand that as most TV shows can't spend 35 minutes showing how to make lasagna.

But I had to chuckle because AS USUAL, all those professional videos show a chef in a spotless kitchen, with the ingredients for the dish measured carefully into charming, clean bowls.

Let me say that cooking shows don't reflect the reality of our lives.

If I had some nice (or paid) person to measure ingredients, chop up veggies and meat, and put them in beautiful bowls, I could do some M...E...A...N  cooking around here.  Yes, I could possibly be a gourmet cook if I had somebody doing the hard work of cleaning, chopping, and measuring.

Cooking in our house is SO not like that.  There is a constant struggle against entropy as mail, dishes, and various sundry foodstuffs creep up onto the counters. 

There are dirty dishes everywhere, or at least it seems that way.  Sometimes clean dishes are not as clean as they should be, and need to be rewashed.

The ingredients are scattered about and need to be retrieved.  We try hard to have what we need on hand, but occasionally we mess up and discover we desperately need some tomato paste and the store is 10 minutes. away.  (For the record, when that kind of catastrophe happens, we improvise.  I don't run to the store for one item.  That is just too stressful and annoying.)

While cooking, there are between 0 and 8 children underfoot.  2 or 3 is probably the average.

Yes, cooking in our household is way more challenging than in any cooking show.

And that's fine.  It's real.  It's life.  We are teaching our older children how cooking actually works.

For a little light entertainment, I might watch a cooking show.  But it is more like watching Fantasy Island than really teaching me anything useful :-).

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lasagna Video

And now, for your cooking pleasure, we present a youtube video of my husband and 2nd child making lasagna.

 Our eldest did the editing.  They all did a great job.

(Note: the video is more than 30 minutes long, so it takes a while.  But then, making lasagna takes awhile too.)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Michigan Trip Pics

My beautiful mother and Daniel.

Watching the carousal...
Better yet, RIDING the carousal.

Now is this cute, or what?  My mother made these stockings for everyone.

Naomi stunned us all by successfully putting together this puzzle.  It is composed of nine pieces and you have to match all the sides.  That may sound easy but trust me, it isn't.

The older children made festive paper chains using Christmas wrapping paper.  Daniel hung out in the high chair.  He is sitting up quite well now though still needs support much of the time.

It really isn't possible to have too many pictures of Daniel looking adorable.

Here I am on the Lake Michigan seashore.  My parents kindly kept the children for 2 days while Kevin and I went to Holland, Michigan for some "just the two of us" time.  The beach was interesting but very, very cold.

If you look hard, you may see the sillouette of a very intrepid person.  This person is wearing a wet or dry suit and has a surfboard and is about to go surfing.  In December.  In Lake Michigan.  We were joking that he'd probably think better of it and perhaps he did, but a couple minutes after we took this pictures we saw 3 or 4 other surfers already in the water.  So this is apparently a regular thing, for people to go surfing in Lake Michigan in the winter.  Wow.

We like the ripples in sand.

 7 children watching the Muppets at my parents' house.

8 sweeties in our big van.

On the way home, we passed an enormous wind turbine farm.  We couldn't count them carefully, but estimate there weer at least 200 of these gigantic windmills.  Most impressive. I want to look it up and find out if they are actually producing enough electricity to make them worthwhile.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Our 3 Boys

This is a picture from this morning, when Daniel joined our 2 older boys on the couch.

You would think that since Daniel is almost 7 months old, I'd be blase about having him around. But I'm not.  I still find myself surprised that we are blessed to have him in our lives.

I never said this before on my blog, but 5 or 6 weeks into his pregnancy I was 95% sure I was miscarrying.  I started bleeding one day, and the bleeding was moderately heavy.  I have been pregnant 12 times in my life and have had bleeding with 10 of those pregnancies, so bleeding for me  isn't a definite sign of a miscarriage.  But...I was 41 years old at the time, I had a recent history of miscarriage, and things didn't look good. I went to bed that night almost certain we had lost him.

I woke up the next morning and the bleeding had gotten lighter, and by the end of the day nothing was happening.  The pregnancy continued, we heard a healthy heartbeat at the 10 week appointment, and a 13 week ultrasound showed a very healthy little guy wiggling around in there.  He was born at 39 weeks by C-section and was an impressive 7 lb, 4 oz -- our biggest baby ever.

 I think having 4 miscarriages in the last 6 years has shown me with special clarity that a healthy pregnancy is not to be taken lightly.  For a baby to form and grow from a few cells into a full term baby is a bona fide miracle.

Every one of our children is a special gift. I am so thankful to God for all of them.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Home Again, Home Again...

We've been on vacation but life is returning back to normal. I'll post some fun vacation pictures soon.

Kevin and I got away for 2 days while my parents watched our children.  A good time was had by all.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Tale of Two Babies

They really are still babies, both of them. On the left, we have Miss Fluffy, 2 years of age.  On the right, Mr. Chunk, closing rapidly in on 7 months of age.

Both are adorable. 

Miss Fluffy (a.k.a. Sarah) is a grumpy mess much of the time. She is "2" in spades, with all the whining and tantrums and frustration that is typical of that age.  She is of course a delight and we enjoy her blossoming verbal skills even as the antagonistic demeanor gets wearying.

Mr. Chunk (a.k.a. Daniel) is very sweet and easygoing right now. Yes, he cries, but only when he wants something to eat or is tired.  He smiles a lot. He coos.  He gurgles. He sits peacefully.  He screams for the sheer joy of making noise.

Only 18 months separate our little ones.  But they are at very different stages of life right now.  The contrast is amazing.

I was just thinking that I love them both passionately and equally, though Sarah is a much more difficult child right now.  And God loves us all equally and passionately, even though some of us have difficult personalities and are going through difficult "phases".

His response to us has some parallels too.  Those He loves He disciplines.  Sarah does endure discipline as she learns the world does not revolve around her.  Daniel pretty much gets what he wants all the time because his wants are simple, reasonable, and attainable.

I'm thankful God loves me when I'm doing well and when I'm doing poorly, when I have good days and bad days.   He WILL bring discipline if I need it, and I'm grateful for that.  He will allow consequences for my sins and mistakes.  But through it all is His neverending love, just like nothing can ever take away the love I have for my children. I am glad I am His child.

Silly and Cute


Friday, December 7, 2012

Who Can Afford a $200 Pair of Boots?

  So I was flipping through a magazine this week, one that my mother-in-law gave me.  It wasn't a "trend - setting" magazine.  It was supposed to be for normal people.  Like me.

There was a section on "must have" clothing accessories this fall.  Topping the list were $200 boots.

  Now we're not talking boots for mucking out the chicken coop or protecting one's feet in a coal mine. We are, of course, talking about fancy, stylish, trendy boots.

 For $200.

  Now really now, who among us can afford a $200 pair of boots?

  Or a clutch handbag for $100?

  Or a cute bracelet for $75?

  Or a pair of pants for $125?

 I find it ... annoying...that a magazine for normal people would come right out and say that to be a class act, you need to have expensive clothing and footwear.

  There are, of course, people who have enough money to buy such items.  There probably is someone out there with a strong desire for a $200 pair of boots and that someone saves up and gets them.  There is no problem with that.

 But the overall IDEA that we can't look good without spending a boatload of money is upsetting to me.  I think it tempts people to spend more than they have, and to feel unhappy and discontent with what they DO have.

  I'm going to be real here and say that we make six figures.  Which is a lot.

  And there is no way we can afford expensive clothing for everyone.  We can't even afford expensive for me or Kevin.  Kevin spends the most on clothing, probably, because he needs to look decent at work. But I assure you he's not spending $200 for a pair of boots, or $100 for a pair of pants.  He is a sales shopper and frugal where clothing is concerned.  As I said in a previous post, the children's clothing largely comes from thrift stores and hand me downs, and I just don't buy much clothing for me.

  We live in such a materialistic culture and it scares me how many people are spending money they haven't got to buy expensive clothes, furniture, food, etc.  It gives SUCH peace of mind to live within ones means.

  Now admittedly, it is easier for us than for many since we do make a lot.  On the other hand, we have 8 kids :-).  We do need to say no to our wants all the time.  Admittedly, saying no to a $200 pair of boots isn't a hardship for me as I don't long for such an item.

 What is hard?  Well, I love to buy homeschooling supplies, that's an area of temptation for me.  I want nicer furniture sometimes.  And yes, we do occasionally buy furniture, but it is rare. Our big girls are using a dresser I had as a child.  It is not in great shape, but it holds their clothing.  All the furniture in my room was purchased second hand or was acquired from relatives.

  Yes, I have temptations to spend when I shouldn't. I am sure we all do.  I sometimes DO buy things I shouldn't.  I'm guessing most of us do.

  The key, I guess, is to figure out the areas of weakness and think and pray when the desire for something arises in that area.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Night on the Town

Last night, Kevin and I attended a fancy party put on by the company for which I work. I work just one day a week at the local Air Force base for a contracting company.

  We rarely dress to the nines.  It was fun!  That suit Kevin is wearing is the same one he wore to our wedding, 15 years ago!  But my dress is different :-).

   We had a lovely time after a rocky start.  We got lost on the way there.

  There is some irony there.  Earlier on Saturday, Kevin was looking at ads and came across a GPS system for...I don't know, not a WHOLE lot of money.  He asked me if we should get one.  And I scoffed.  NO, we don't need no silly GPS system!  I am QUITE capable of looking up maps on the internet.  We don't need another gadget, and we don't need to spend the money.  We never get lost.

   And yes, I did get a map to our party.  I looked it up, found the right spot, printed it out, and brought it with us.  But, I confused Patterson Rd. with Patterson Blvd.  We wanted the latter, and the map took us to the former.  So there we were, driving the streets, without a map at all as we discovered the car we were in had no local map.

  Kevin called his mother (who was watching the children) and she was able to direct us towards the right place.  We found it and weren't even late.  I was thinking it was going to be a short and disappointing evening, but we overcame with Kevin's mother's help and Kevin's flare for direction. 

  So maybe a GPS is a good idea, hmmmm....

  We sat at a table with my boss and his wife and had an interesting discussion.  My boss grew up in New York with a father who was a surgeon and therefore quite well off.  BUT, their family had friends who were seriously rich.  I mean like billionaires. 

  This was interesting to me because Kevin and I had been talking about that giant lottery this week.  I don't know how much it was for, like $500 million or so.  We're good enough statisticians to know we'd never win if we did play, but we also know that we'd probably destroy our lives if we were unfortunate enough to win.  As Kevin says, playing the lottery is the classic lose-lose situation.

 Why would we destroy our lives?  Well, that much money just has to be hard to manage, or at least I think it is for most people.  There are plenty of studies showing most lottery winners really do struggle and most are unhappy.  They lose their motivation to be blessings to those around them, and start spending wildly and using money foolishly.  A surprising number manage to spend it all in a short amount of time.

  One thing that strongly occurs to us is that our kids would probably have a really hard time with life.  Why?  Because they'd have very little motivation to work hard.  Why work hard and be thrifty and all those wise, sensible things when your parents are super wealthy?  And a lazy, entitled, adult is just not a pretty sight.   A lazy, entitled adult is not a blessing and is usually unhappy.

  So I mentioned those thoughts to my boss, and asked him what those very wealthy families did to raise productive adults.  There are wealthy families (like the Kennedys) who produce people who are ambitious, hard workers.  I disagree with the Kennedy's political views, but they are at least motivated to do something with their lives.

  My boss said that question was a hot button topic, because most of the families he knew did NOT do well with passing any kind of work ethic on to the next generation. The children of those families were 3rd or 4th generation wealthy and they were lazy, selfish, and spoiled. 

  That was not a surprise to me and it confirmed my belief that riches are truly a challenge.  Jesus said so, therefore it is true :-). 

  So we can be happy that we're not wealthy. We have plenty of money to meet our needs and some of our wants, and that is a good place to be.


Happy Birthday to Kevin's Mom

Here is my beautiful mother-in-law, celebrating her birthday with our family.

The Prince and the Marble

  I recently borrowed a modern version of the classic fairy tale, the Princess and the Pea.  It's a silly fairy tale, about a princess who proves she IS a princess by being unable to sleep when one pea is inserted way down in her pile of mattresses.  She is so sensitive to that teeny tiny bump that she is awake all night.

  A few days ago, I took Daniel and a couple kids to Save-A-Lot, and then (since we were in the neighborhood) to Kevin's aunt's house.  He was his usual, happy, smiley little self all the way, sometimes cooing, sometimes quiet, sometimes asleep. 

When we got into Aunt P's house, I pulled Daniel out of his car seat.  20 minutes later, I went over to put him in his seat and discovered...a marble.  Nestled in his car seat.  No idea how it got there, but OUR little guy wasn't distressed at all about a marble poking him in the bottom.  He was happy as a clam.   He was tough.  He was strong.  That's OUR little prince.

One bathroom closet

It is truly scary how MUCH can be in one bathroom closet!  This is the stuff that was residing in our main floor bathroom closet.

I have a teen friend who comes over occasionally to help me with housecleaning, child care, and organization.  She was here on the 16th, and helped me sort through meds for expired items, organized, and put it all back in the closet.


Medications are on the top shelf now, and other sundry items (sunblock, hair stuff, vaseline, bandaids) are on the lower shelf.

I am so happy to be able to FIND things now.

Kevin says he can't find anything, though :-).  The old way of doing things was illogical, but he knew where things were and now he doesn't.  But he's figuring it out; he is very smart :-).