Saturday, January 26, 2013

Warm, but He Doesn't Match!

I had to chuckle when our eldest son emerged from upstairs in this outfit.  No,it DOES NOT MATCH!
I'm not a fashionista (as everyone who knows me can attest) but I do try to match the colors of my clothing to one another.
Our children rarely share my concerns about "matching".  They often wear clothing that clashes.
While I will point out when an outfit clashes, I very rarely make a kid change his or her clothing based on "matching".  We have enough rules in our home that I figure I can give the kids the freedom to wear clothes that don't match.
I will admit that when we are heading out to church, I want the kids to look fairly decent so will request a change of clothing if necessary.
Isaac did eventually go back upstairs and change his pants into ones with the same fabric as his shirt.  He was so bright that it was hard to look at him straight, but he did match!

Winter Dawn

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Chess (and other Games)

I don't like playing chess.   Don't get me wrong, it's a great game. I know it is challenging and interesting and makes the brain cells do happy little dances. For some people.  Not me.
My father was, at one time, an excellent chess players. He was in chess clubs and came close to being a member of the chess club of the University of Michigan (which wasn't an easy thing to do in his day.) 
We have chess programs online and several of our children enjoy playing.  In the last few days, we've started having head to head tournaments between the children.  It isn't easy because of the age differences...not surprisingly, the older kids tend to do better.  Mostly, they are enjoying themselves and the losers aren't getting too bent out of shape.
I love this picture because it shows Lydia and Isaac playing chess, while Miriam and Angela play a card game with each other.  Playing games together is fun.  I like it when the kids play games, and should work harder to encourage it.

Kids Around the Table

I thought you all might enjoy a picture of the kids around the table.  We got this table back when we were married, so you can well imagine that the two of us had plenty of space to stretch out.  There are TWO extra leaves now permanently inserted. I am not sure if there will be space for Sarah and Daniel when they are big enough to sit at the table.  We'll figure it out :-).

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Our Sweet Angela and...Birth Order

Our 6th child, Angela, is 5 years old.

This is going to sound like a non sequiter, but bear with me... I've enjoyed Kevin Leman's books on birth order for a long time. Leman has written several books about how the birth order in a family affects the personality and behavior of the children IN the family. That may sound like psychobabble, but I totally buy into it. The idea isn't that a baby in the womb automatically "knows" her birth order and that affects personality. It is all about the "environment" part of personality.

  Leman's contention is that parents tend to treat their children differently based on birth order. For example, first borns are often high achievers, focused, and perfectionistic. This is because the parents spent a lot of time with the first baby, and they are also more focused on discipline with the eldest child. (There is a lot more to Leman's ideas, but that's a quick summary.)

The baby of a family, Leman claims, often gets LESS discipline. The baby also tends to be more of a "clown" because he or she is trying to get attention. After all, the bigger kids have already successfully completed potty training and reading and early math. What's a baby to do but be a spirited extrovert to get attention?

Leman also contends that there can be more than one "firstborn" in a family, which sounds counterintuitive. But, for example, parents will often treat the firstborn son like a firstborn even if he has an older sister or 2. Of course, there are ALWAYS exceptions. But I've found, in looking around, that many people I know fit into Leman's birth order ideas. I, for example, am a firstborn and am a classic high achiever, who longs for control and order.

Kevin also acts like a firstborn, and while he has an older sister, he is the firstborn son. He also grew up in a family where he had to take on some unusual responsibilities at a young age.

Angela is interesting to me from a birth order perspective. She was born right after our first miscarriage, and was followed by 3 more miscarriages. At one point, Kevin and I were quite sure she would be the youngest in the family. Then, of course, we had 2 more living blessings from the Lord. Angela is 3+ years older than Sarah, whereas all the other births are about 18 months apart from the next child.

I've been thinking about how I treat Angela and...I expect a lot from her. Since she is much older than Sarah, I expect her to act more like Miriam than perhaps is fair. She is only 5 and a half, and Miriam just turned 7. When Angela forgets to complete a task, I tend to assume it is deliberate. I think if she WAS the youngest in the family, I'd cut her more slack. So it is helpful for me to think through all this and adjust my expectations accordingly. Angela is a very sweet girl but yes, occasionally scatterbrained about doing things. I need to remember she is still VERY young. It is reasonable for her to struggle with being organized. It is right to give her grace while also training her to do necessary chores.

  I'm also reminded that I need to expect appropriate things from the true babies of the family. Daniel is, of course, way too little to help with anything. He isn't crawling yet. But Sarah is 2 and CAN pick up toys and do little chores, but I've not started doing that much with her. I need to. I guess my goal is to not push my "firstborns" TOO much, and not be lazy about training and disciplining the young ones.

May God give me wisdom, grace, perserverance, and strength.


Our neighbor's guineas visited us this week for the first time in a couple of months. We only saw 2 birds, though. There used to be 4. I don't know if the other 2 were on walkabout somewhere else, or if those 2 are dead or gone. They are so cute in an ugly sort of way :-).

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Keep Forgetting my Camera...

at our monthly PEACH Skate. Our homeschooling group organizes a monthly skating time at a local skating rink. We've gone the last 2 months, and did so today. Again, it was great fun. Our older 6 all can locomote with skates on, though Miriam and Angela move slowly. Toddler Sarah likes taking off shoes and socks and running around on the skating rink. Amazingly, all those big kids watch carefully and no one has run her over. I didn't know any of the families skating today, but struck up a conversation with a fellow mom and had a lovely time chatting. I came home worn out and with a pretty bad headache. Kevin took the day off from work as he was feeling super tired, and I feel pretty tired too. I HOPE we don't have another illness. I think maybe it is just straight forward fatigue on my part, anyway. Daniel was waking up every night at 4 a.m. for almost a week. I think he was still catching up with food after being sick with something intestinal. Anyway, last night he slept through from 10:30 p.m. to 6:45 a.m. Hooray! I am very thankful that our homeschooling group arranges activities like skating. I rarely participate as going anywhere with 8 kids tends to wear me out. But this monthly skating event IS a blessing. Perhaps as the children get older, we'll be able to participate more in field trips and the like.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sarah, Kevin, Daniel, and a Guitar

The socks were too small for her feet, so she was sensible...she put them on her hands. So cute :-).
Kevin, incredibly enough, made this guitar. I kid you not. My husband is talented in many ways, obviously. He has spent years working on wood and reading about acoustics and determining the best way to make an acoustic guitar. This is one of his finished products, the latest one in fact. It sounds great! He serenaded Sarah and Daniel with worship songs and they were grateful.

More Pics

Another cute picture of Daniel!
Ok, awesome, I have figured out how to do more than one picture. This is... Isaac standing on his head! He just up and did this one day, for fun. I love it! I love also that he is sensible and used a pillow :-).
This is one of those classic science experiments that takes almost no time. These are polymeric cubes that absorb water to an incredible extent. The bag holds the dehydrated crystals, the bowl holds the hydrated ones. Each cube has expanded at least 25X its initial size. Joseph loves science experiments and I'm working hard to provide more hands on science for him.
Naomi put together a Blinky Bug for Angela. Angela got Blinky Bugs (by request) for her birthday, though putting them together requires finer motor skills than Angela has right now. Blinky Bugs are electronic creations that use wires and batteries and fuzzies to create a bug that blinks. It was a huge struggle to get one to sort of work, because the metallic tape didn't stick properly. I don't seem to have a picture of the finished project, unfortunately.
Our chickens are SO happy to be outside! We had a snowy couple of weeks, but the last few days have been very warm -- into the 60's! Kevin let the chickens out and they are overjoyed.

Sleepy Boy

Our little man doesn't fall asleep in my arms very much anymore, so this was a precious moment. I'm sure it is partly that he has been sick. P.S. Blogger is acting strangely so posting pictures is hard. I think I might need to post them one per blog entry.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Our Little Man...

Daniel has been very funny the last few days.  After 4 or 5 days of eating relatively little, his appetite has returned with a vengeance!

Every time I turn around, our little man wants a bottle.  For several days, ALL he wanted was a bottle as he turned up his nose at baby food. Today he ate some baby food too.

So all is right in the world again.

P.S.  He has one tooth now!

Thursday, January 10, 2013


I enjoy watching college football.  I don't  understand the rules completely, and I am confused when Kevin starts talking about different offenses and defenses.  I don't even know the names of each of the players (like lineman, receiver, tight end, etc.)  But in spite of being somewhat of a football ignoramus, I enjoy watching college football games.

The end of the year used to be a fun time as there are a bunch of bowl games with good teams participating. But a few years ago, we observed an unsettling trade...namely, that ESPN was broadcasting most of the games and therefore only cable customers could watch the bowls.  That trend has continued and this year, all but 3 bowl games were on ESPN.

We don't have cable, and have never had cable during our 15 and a half years of marriage.  That obviously was a deliberate decision. Cable is expensive, and I have a tendency towards watching too much television.  We decided when we got married that we would remove temptation and just not have cable.  The result is that we watch the occasional football game, weather reports, and the Olympics.  That is pretty much it.  We watch DVD's and a few things on Amazon Prime so we do watch shows, but not nearly as much as we would if we had cable.

99.5% of the time, I have no desire for cable, and I love saving the money.  But every once in a blue moon, I REALLY want cable.

Monday evening of this week, I REALLY wanted cable.  The bowl championship game was on, between Alabama and Notre Dame, and I wanted to watch it.

I wanted, I wanted, I wanted!!

I know this sounds SO whiny, but I was feeling very unhappy about not being able to see the game.  It has been a couple of tough weeks with illness and I just wanted to kick back and relax and watch the game.  Is that too much to ask?

I don't know if you ever get like that, but I do.  I'll be feeling stressed or unhappy or angry and my brain latches on to SOMETHING that, I think, will make me happy.  I feel like I deserve it.  I felt like I deserved to watch that game because I was tired and stressed and other people get to watch the bowl championship game. (Of course, I knew we CHOSE not to get cable but I was still feeling grumpy and whiny!)

I gave myself a good talking to on Monday, and was mostly at peace about not seeing the game.  That evening, when Kevin got home from work, I mentioned that tonight was the game but of course we wouldn't be able to see it.

He looked around online and discovered that he could sign up for a 4 hour free ESPN app for our Google Nexus 7.  So we were able to watch the game!

And here's the irony.  It was a TERRIBLE GAME.





I was sort of rooting for Notre Dame because I am tired of Alabama winning, but I didn't care that much. All we wanted was fun football and we didn't see it.  Alabama creamed Notre Dame. It was as dull as watching paint dry (unless you were an Alabama or Notre Dame fan, in which case it was either great fun or very frustrating.)

I thought it was a beautiful life lesson for me.  Here I was, latching on to the idea that I NEEDED to watch the game, and then it wasn't fun. 

It was an excellent reminder that when I get really excited about something and feel I NEED it, I almost certainly do not!  I mean, I need the Lord all the time.  But I don't really kid to read well at age 6, or my toddler potty trained right now, or a book that I want to read right now, etc.

Whenever I feel like I MUST have something RIGHT NOW to make me happy, I'm off base.  Like the Apostle Paul, I need to content in all circumstances.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


I am feeling almost completely better.  I felt sick yesterday.  Right now I have a headache, but maybe I'm hungry.  I often don't eat right during the day because I'm busy with the kiddos.

Daniel is MUCH better. I think he lost some weight, but he is a big boy so he'll be fine. He still isn't eating quite normally but his diapers have been ... better.

It is one of the humorous aspects of motherhood that a certain kind of diaper makes me happy.  Dry is NOT good when a baby is sick.

No more details required :-).

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sick Little Man

Daniel is sick with his first, bona fide illness.  He has had a clogged nose a couple of times, but now he has some intestinal bug.  He keeps producing nasty diapers, poor little man. I'm having trouble getting formula into him.  He just isn't hungry.  He will drink a little so I'm feeding him frequently.

I am thankful he is 7 months old and a big boy.  I am watching him carefully, but he'll tolerate this far better than a newborn would.

So, it looks like we'll be hunkered down at home another few days.  I have an uneasy feeling this is a NEW illness...we had something respiratory, and now we have an intestinal bug.  Caluy, Calay, oh frabjous day!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Review: The "Matched" Trilogy by Ally Condie

The "Matched" Trilogy is a set of 3 fictional books about a girl named Cassia, who lives in a dystopian society in Earth's future.  Dystopian is a new word to me, but I think it comes from "dysfunctional utopian".  Her society seems perfect at first, but as the layers are peeled back, we see many, many problems.

Let me say, first off, that I usually dislike modern teen fiction.  Anything to do with school bullying and angst, unhealthy romance, or vampires leaves me cold. Of course, many books are not like that but... in general I don't like teen books.

The Matched books were an exception. I loved the first book, liked the second, loved the third.  There are some caveats that I'll mention, but in general I was very impressed.

Ok, I don't want to give away a lot, but let me set up the premise of Matched, the first book.

Cassia is 17.  And in her culture, run by "The Society", 17 year olds are "Matched" to their future mates.  Not all choose to marry and don't have to, but those who choose to marry can't decide on who TO marry.  The Society collects information throughout the lives of all its people (including their dreams), feeds it into computers, and then "Sorters" (specially trained people) Match people together.

The culture has 20 million people in it, so the odds of personally knowing your Match are infinitesmal.  On the night of the Match Banquet, Cassia and her parents go to a special hall and expect to see Cassia's match on a big screen. There are Match Banquets all over the Society at that particular time.  She and he will say hello, each person in the Match will receive information about the other, and the courtship will continue with special regulations for 4 years, followed by marriage.  Childbearing is not allowed until age 25, and no one can have a child past 30.  All of this is to ensure (as much as possible) that children are healthy and smart and all that jazz.

Cassia is very nervous and excited.  When she stands up, the screen stays dark.  This means, to her astonishment as well as everyone else's, that her Match is there her own Hall. This is a very rare event.

Even more amazing, her Match is announced as Xander, her very best friend from childhood.  Cassia, Xander, and their respective parents are delighted.  It seems like a dream come true for all of them.

A couple of days later, Cassia inserts Xander's information card into her computer.  She isn't expecting to learn anything exciting as she has known Xander all his life, but she knows it is expected. Then, the unthinkable happens.  Xander's face comes up, with an announcement that he is her Match.  But a few seconds, later a SECOND boy's face comes up, and the computer again announces that HE is her match.  She knows the second boy as well, a boy named Ky.

  The addition of Ky to her data card bewilders Cassia. She is told shortly after by an "Official" that it was a mistake and that Ky is an "Aberration" -- his parents did something wrong and Ky is therefore not able to be Matched.  He is an outcast in many ways. She is told that Xander IS her match.

But the mistake starts Cassia thinking. And that starts a whole series of events in her life and the lives of those around her...

There is a whole lot more and I won't say much else about the plot.  A few points about the books.


1.  The biggest "pro" in my mind is that Condie does an AMAZING job of creating this weird society without blatantly pointing out how weird it is.  Cassia has grown up in The Society, and she accepts the way things are for 17 years.  There are many, many oddities -- like Matching, like the fact that everyone dies on his or her 80th birthday (that isn't natural, but she doesn't know it right away), like the fact that almost all poetry and art has been destroyed for "the good of the people."  Fairly often, Condie introduces some bizarre concept and just references it casually.  It sometimes took me half a book to really figure out how some weird thing was working.

  I particularly like this because I often think about how people as a culture WILL accept bizarre things if they are used to it.  The Society, as I mentioned before, is very restrictive about childbearing.  People can only have 2 kids (as far as I could tell) and only when the woman is in her mid-20's.  For us in America, that seems an appalling violation of personal freedom. But of course, China is currently even MORE restrictive, only allowing ONE child per couple.  I know people from China from graduate school and from work, and it is interesting to me that they'll say, "Well, of course we could only have one child."  To me, that is outrageous. But in the fictional Society, and in real China, it is largely accepted as normal.

2.  The books are interesting. The plots are interesting.  I thought the second one dragged just a bit, but all in all I thoroughly enjoyed what happened.

3.  Cassia grows a lot.  She thinks through freedom and decisions and whether she wants to be safe and comfortable, or she wants to be able to think and make her own choices.  Those are good things to ponder.  She makes choices that mean giving up her comfortable life to help those she loves.  At more than one point, she decides that the good of her society is more important than being with the man she loves.

4.  The prose is excellent. The poetry is interesting. There is quite a bit of poetry, and Cassia and Ky (yes, they do fall in love) connect through poetry and writing.

5.  Cassia and Ky and Xander all have loving parents (in Ky's case, his biological parents are dead and his parents adopted him).  That isn't that common in teen books and I loved that all the parents involved want what is best for their children.  The parents have to make hard choices, difficult choices, to give their children both protection and freedom.


1.  One odd thing about the stories is that NO one worships anything. The Society is an atheistic culture, but Cassia comes across a couple of other groups of people and no one worships the Lord, or idols, or anything.  That seems very unrealistic.  Yes, there have been governments that tried to force atheism but it never works very long. God has put "eternity in the hearts of man."  It didn't bother me a lot in the sense that the whole Society is a mess, but it seemed strange.  There are a few references to angels (in art) but no one believes in them.

2.  The biggest con of all is that the romance between Cassia and Ky makes me nervous at times.  To be clear, there is no sex.  There is not even a extremely inappropriate physical touching (for an unmarried couple.)  But there is a lot of physical attraction between them, and in a couple of places there are references to them kissing repeatedly.

  If I were asked, I would strongly discourage 2 in love, hormonal teenagers from engaging in a lot of kissing.  God has wired us for passion when we are married, and I'm a big believer in keeping the boundaries up before marriage to avoid choices that will lead to regret.  Cassia and Ky are pretty busy when they are together (usually) -- avoiding floods and protecting people around them so they don't have a lot of time to jump in bed, and they don't.  But I just felt like their actions were unwise.

  Cassia seems downright obsessed with Ky at times, and that makes me uncomfortable too. One VERY interesting thing, and I believe this is a positive, is that Cassia learns that she doesn't  understand Ky completely.  She believes certain things about him, all positive, that aren't true.  She realizes eventually that Ky, while a caring, loving person, has some serious personal trauma.  Actually, the poor guy could use some godly psychotherapy, but he never gets it :-).

  All in all, though, I really like the trilogy.  I wouldn't hand it over to a young reader but I am letting our 2 big girls read them.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Winter Glory

Naomi and Angela sliding on our "little hill",  next to the house.

Naomi and Angela out near the back of our 5 acres, on the BIG hill.

Snow everywhere!  Yes, we got a lot of snow over the Christmas holiday.  In fact, we've already had more snow this winter than we had ALL of last winter (but last winter was very dry.)

How glorious it is!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Random Birthday Numbers

I like numbers.  So I decided to share some peculiar numbers with you.

So a year has 12 months.

And most months have 30 or 31 days.

You would think, in a family of 10, that we'd have a nice random array of birth days and months.

But you'd be wrong.

In our family...

The first birthday of the calendar year is at the end of May.  So we have NO birthdays in January, February, March, or April.  What are the chances of that?

So, here are our birth months:

1 in May, 1 in June, 2 in August, 1 in October, 2 in November, 3 in December!

Obviously we are heavily stacked towards the end of the year.

And here'e another funny thing.  The earliest birthday in a month is the 10th!  That's Kevin's.  We have...

a 10th, a 13th, a 16th, a 19th, 2 on the 21st of a month, 1 23rd, 1 24th, 1 28th, and 1 31st.

So we have lots of birthdays at the end of the year, and lots of birthdays at the end of the month.

That's just ... odd. :-)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Gingerbread train and station.  The older girls superintended and did a fabulous job.  And everyone tells me it was quite tasty, too!