Friday, March 29, 2013

The Week in Review

It was a good week but we were plenty busy.

I mentioned that Daniel is into everything.  Babyproofing and making new habits takes some time. 

On Sunday, the snow started falling.  We were privileged to host the neighbor guineas as they enjoyed a late March snowstorm from our pool fence.

That same day, Kevin worked with the children to start tomato and pepper plants.  We keep them on top of our big freezer, which is a warm place.  At least one pepper plant has come up!  No, 2 have come up (I just checked.)

Kevin also spent a good chunk of time considering our gardening plans for the summer.  He has sketched out a 50 foot by 22 foot garden (on paper) and we will have sweet potatoes, bush beans, sweet corn, pole beans, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbres, zucchini, squash, and melons.

  My personal goal is to plant some strawberry and raspberry plants.  Truthfully, I'm a lousy gardener.  I don't really know what I'm doing. But we've got land and I can read and Naomi has written a report for me on strawberries and if they die, it won't be the end of the world.  (And Kevin can help. He's a good gardener.)


By Monday, we had quite a bit of snow (4 to 5 inches).  It was enchanting, but looked more like Christmas than late March! 

A thread running through our week was a humdinger illness for sweet Lydia, our 11 year old.  She got a cold sore on Sunday, her first.  Several of us get cold sores is one of those tiresome viruses that, once its in the bloodstream, pops back up occasionally.  I was sorry she had contracted the virus from one of us, but didn't think too much of it until Tuesday. By then, she felt terrible with a bad sore throat, headache, exhaustion, fever, and lips covered in cold sores.  Poor darling!  We kept giving her ibuprofin and while she seemed maybe a LITTLE better, she wasn't well. Yesterday, I finally took her in to the doctor and confirmed it was the cold sore virus.  I also discovered there is an anti viral to combat this virus.  I should have taken her in earlier, poor sweet.  I'll know in the future. 

She's felt so rotten that much of the early week was spent in bed.  That meant Naomi and I (primarily) were covering for her in terms of chores and caring for Sarah. It made me appreciate how much Lydia does most of the time.  I am also very appreciative of Naomi, who has cheerfully taken on the chicken chores that Lydia usually does.

Naomi also "stepped up to the plate" by helping with the care of Daniel and Sarah this week.

And speaking of plates, the Major League baseball season starts on Monday!  I'm a Detroit Tigers fan.  Go Tigers!

Ya Forget...

Just how BUSY a newly crawling baby is!

Daniel rolled late, crawled a little late, and pulled up a little late.  For many peaceful months, he was a placid, happy baby who liked to sit and watch the world go by.  I kept saying to myself and others, "When he starts crawling, life is going to be a lot more complicated!"

  I should know that as I've had 7 other children proceed through this stage.  Still, I have to confess I'd forgotten how challenging this stage is.  It is of course good, very very good.  But wow, he is into EVERYTHING!

  We have spent part of the last 2 weeks baby proofing the house.  Sarah, our toddler, had a mild oral aversion so rarely stuffed paper and other small, inedible objects in her mouth. Daniel?  Daniel LIVES to stuff paper in his mouth. In a homeschooling family with 8 children, there is a lot of miscellaneous paper floating around, some of it on the floor.

  Just today, Daniel discovered the joys of playing with canned food in the pantry, and the fun associated with turning the lazy susan about and pulling bags of baking supplies out on the floor.  From his perspective, this is the life.  From ours, it is time to start putting baby locks in place. 

  I am also stepping up my prayers that the Lord will protect him.  Realistically, I can't be everywhere and we need to retrain the older children in certain areas.  One big one is that everyone needs to shut the door to the basement all the time.  It leads down steep stairs to a concrete floor, and a tumble by Daniel down those stairs would likely be serious indeed.

  The Lord has guarded our children in the past and we will do our best and trust Him with the rest.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I've Got Fish!

I've been stuck in the dark ages of blogdom with no post settings, no search engine, and no FISH!

But now I have all 3 on the side of my blog.  Because Naomi, my sweet 13 year old, is way better than I am at this blog thing.  She helped me out.

The fish are, of course, fun rather than useful. But they ARE fun!

And I hope it will help my loyal blog readers who want to read my reviews and philosophical ramblings to actually have the labels where you can get to them.

Thanks, Naomi!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Busy Week

It was a busy week!

I am someone who thrives on routine, and we were out of routine this week, so I found it a bit stressful.

I decided that we needed a week to organize our lives and run some errands, so the kids had a week "off" from school.  By that, I mean that we didn't do our formal schoolwork.  The children watched many educational videos, read many books, and Naomi and Lydia wrote a lot in their current stories/novels. 

So, what did we do this week?

Well, one day I ran off to a Boy Scout store in a nearby town to get our older girls their American Heritage Girls outfits and books.  AHG is a scouting organization for girls, something like the Girl Scouts.  But the Girl Scouts are straying firmly into liberal territory, and AHG is Christ centered and conservative, perfect for families like ours.  Our girls joined a new troop a couple of months ago.  So far, it has been a great experience though I've felt like I was wandering in the fog without quite knowing what we are supposed to be doing.  The leaders are very patient with me and us.  Now that we have the official AHG book, we're figuring out what to do.  Naomi is thinking about badges she wants to earn, and we'll work with the younger girls to determine which badges they should pursue as well.

Thursday afternoon was our monthly homeschool skating event.

  The place where we meet has been around since Kevin was a child.  It has a very dated feel to it, in a charming way. We had a great time, though Sarah stressed me out a bit as she kept wandering off.  It is a splendid place for a large family because there is only one main exit, but she still managed to alarm me a couple of times.  One time, Isaac found her in the men's bathroom!

  Wednesday, I started feeling sick. I made it through work and felt pretty well Thursday afternoon (so we were able to go to the PEACH Skate) and then I started feeling badly again on Thursday evening.  I'm still not perfect but I'm up and down and not too sick.  It is just a tiresome cold with some congestion, fatigue, and achiness.

  In the middle of all this busyness, I was sorting through clothes and shoes to figure out what we do and don't have.  Last night, Kevin and I made a run to our favorite children's thrift store and bought a bunch of items for our kids.  There are still a few things we need (shoes, especially) but we're in pretty good shape otherwise.

 Daniel learned to crawl well this week, so we've been scurrying around babyproofing the place.

  And today is supposed to bring a humdinger of a winter storm.  Really?  In late March?  That just doesn't seem right!  The weather people don't always know what they are talking about, so we'll see.

Spinning Field Trip

I wrote a week ago saying that a neighbor around the corner was kind enough to show our children how to spin fibers into thread.  I promised pictures but it has been a busy week.  Ok, here are the pictures!

  This is one of the first steps in the spinning process -- carding.  This little machine aligns the fibers of the wool so that it can be spun into thread.  This is angora rabbit wool and it is so soft and splendid!  Our children loved the carding machine because they could turn the handle and help card the wool.


And here, Mrs. L. is showing us how she spins the wool. The spinning wheel looks like the spinning wheels I've seen in movies and pictures.  I ALWAYS thought that the large wheel had the thread spun on it.  That is not true!  The large wheel is connected to a spool with the white cord and the wheel  turns the spool.   So Mrs. L. uses a foot pedal to spin the big wheel, and the big wheel is connected to a spool that spins and she feeds the angora wool through a hole and it is spun into thread.  This spinning wheel is flexible and she can also spin 2 threads of wool together to make a stronger thread.  Very neat!

Spinning the wool takes expertise so none of our kids tried it.  But they all got to spin the wheel with one foot.

And oh, the bunnies!  We visited them as well and they are so adorable!  Here, Mrs. L. is demonstrating how she "harvests" their wool. They are so fluffy that they need their wool removed often for their own comfort.  Mrs. L. has 3 rabbits, 2 male and 1 female, and has plans to breed the female.  If there is anything cuter than an adult angora rabbit, it is baby angora rabbits!

Here are the resident alpacas.  Also extremely cute, though you can't cuddle them in your lap :-). 

After visiting the bunnies and alpacas (and horses), we got to see maple sap being collected from their maple trees.  Mrs. Laura very kindly gave us a gallon of maple sap AND another jar of sap that was mostly boiled down already.

We took the fresh maple sap and boiled it down and down and down.

When it was about 75% boiled down, we filtered it with a coffee filter to remove impurities, and poured it back into the pan.  We added the jar of sap from Mrs. L. that was already concentrated.  Then we boiled and boiled and boiled some more.

And this was the final result.  Mrs. L. says that you need about 40 gallons of maple sap to get 1 gallon of maple syrup.  We started with probably the equivalent of about 2 gallons, so ended up with 1/20th of a gallon. Not a LOT, but plenty for everyone to enjoy a small serving on their supper waffles.  Everyone agreed it was delicious.  Kevin, who has always said he preferred Mrs. Butterworth syrup to maple syrup, said this was the best maple syrup he has ever tasted.

Mrs. L. told me that her maples aren't the traditional sugar maples so the syrup probably tastes a little different than store bought maple syrup.  We all thought it was incredibly good.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Ghiradelli 60% cacao chocolate.
24 bags.
All for me.

Thanks, sweetheart :-).

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Boy Is On the Move

  At long last, our little man is definitely locomoting in a specific direction. Yes, he is crawling.  Or scooting.  Or whatever. The odd thing is that he hasn't settled on a specific mode of traveling yet.  Sometimes he crawls sort of sitting up, with one leg under him for traction.  An hour ago he was wiggling along like a caterpillar, but moving!  I'm sure he'll settle on something soon.

  In any case, it is very cute, very timely, and means more work for us all.  He is getting into things very quickly.

 This was our solution for keeping him safe part of the day. The kids pushed him around in a laundry basket.  He though it was awesome.

Shoe Frenzy

  I'm taking a couple of days to do some organizing. One big area of concern is figuring out what the kids have, what the kids need, in terms of clothing and shoes.

  The children hauled out our 4 large bins of shoes. I know that seems like a ridiculous number of shoes.  But really...with 8 kids, it is realistic to have many shoes. If they are in decent shape, it makes sense to save them for a younger child.

  I'm struggling with whether to get rid of all the little girl shoes smaller than Sarah. It seems very likely that we won't have more children is POSSIBLE we might have another baby.  So I'll probably hang onto all the little shoes for a bit longer.

  I organized all the shoes by type...we now have a summer shoes/sandals bin, a dress up shoes bin, a winter boots bin, and 2 bins for normal closed toed shoes.

  Wow, we have such a lot of shoes! 


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Warm Day

Sunday was our first tantalizingly warm day.  It hit the mid-60's. So far, it has been a cool March and so we went out and played in the warm air with great enthusiasm.
It was so good for the kids to get some exercise and exposure to sunshine.  I'm so looking forward to spring. We all are.


I feel like I've not been blogging a lot lately. Well, I haven't been blogging much.  I throw a few pictures up here and there, usually with a baby in my lap grabbing at the keyboard and needing a restraining hand.

We're pretty much fine. Kevin has been quite sick with a virus which morphed into a nasty cough and some asthma problems. Several of the kids also have the same illness but not as severely. We're using lots of Kleenex these days :-).  I've had extra work because Kevin is sick.  It makes me appreciate how much he usually does!

I was able to take the children to a neighbor's house today for a spinning demonstration. She raises angora rabbits and alpacas and spins their wool into fiber. She is the same kind, wonderful lady who is teaching our oldest 2 girls how to knit.  We had a nice trip though a couple of the kids were squirrely and I had to keep reminding them not to touch things inappropriately.

I'll try to post from carding and spinning pictures soon.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Poor Sweet Darling

Lydia (age 11) was carrying Sarah upstairs yesterday and tripped on the stairs. They both went down, and Sarah got bonked on the eye.  Poor little lady.  I was checking her mouth for blood and it took me a minute to realize her eye got it.  She had her glasses on...maybe they provided some cushioning?  Anyway, she just has a whopper of a black eye and didn't need stitches, so we are thankful.  She is not in much pain and is quite cheery.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Field Trip to the Air Force Museum

We live relatively close to the National Air Force Museum, and this morning we visited it.

Coming out of a segment of a plane.

Space simulator

Lydia nobly pushed Sarah around all day.

A satellite.

Daniel did great though he is grumpy this afternoon after missing his morning nap.

Tired and ready to go home.


  I forgot to post this last week.  Yes, we have made it 3 times in a row to the monthly homeschooling skating event sponsored by our homeschool group.  I didn't get good pictures as it was dark and the lighting was strange. But oh, what fun we had!  Our older 6 children can all skate more or less, with the younger ones skating less than more.  Good exercise, good company, and a good time was had by all.

  I am glad we don't have many afternoon activities though, as our little ones struggled after missing their afternoon nap.  Sarah, in particular, was a small but grumpy bear for much of the late afternoon and evening.