Friday, June 28, 2013

New Furniture

  The blue furniture is going.  The leather is staying.  It looks weird right now but it'll be less crowded soon.

  I'm excited about the new (used) couches!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Shorts that Look More like Capris on Our Little Man

I just think this outfit is so cute!

I'm not "into" dressing our kids up much but these little shorts make me happy.  Daniel is a big boy and these shorts fit well around the waist, but are actually size 2 instead of Size 1.

Result, shorts that look more like capris.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Pool

I keep forgetting to mention the pool.

  I also keep forgetting to take pictures! These were taken the day we opened the pool and the water was a brisk 71 degrees.  The water is now in the mid 80's and much more comfortable.

  The pool is really a blessing!  I was opposed to a pool when we were house hunting, but we fell in love with this house and the pool came along with it, of course.  Short of filling it in, we were stuck with it.

  It takes a lot of work and quite a bit of expense, but the children enjoy it so much.  The older 5 are good swimmers and Angela is learning. Sarah is very nervous about the pool, thankfully. She likes to sit on the steps but she doesn't want to go deeper. She wears a floatie suit but she is short and the practical upshot is that if she goes in alone, she will float but her face isn't out of the water.  Yes, it is useful that she floats in that we can grab her easily, but the face in the water thing isn't good.

  I am SUPER careful with the young ones.  When all the kids are around the pool, I constantly check Daniel and Sarah and also frequently count heads in the pool.  We very rarely have visitors and guests swim with us, and partly that's because while I enjoy having friends over, it is harder to keep track of my munchkins.

We did make a big change this year in that we are allowing the older 3 children to swim without an adult present. They are all very good swimmers. They are learning to keep track of each other.  Any horseplay means immediate eviction from the pool, and I do check on them regularly.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Stints Are Out

Kevin had a doctor's appointment yesterday morning. The operating surgeon came in and said, "You really made me work last week."  He also mentioned needing a chisel to remove some extra bone (?) from K's nose.  Ok, probably don't need more details than that.  It was an arduous and difficult operation for an outpatient surgery.

But the surgeon removed the stints and immediately Kevin could actually...breathe. That's enough to make anyone feel better :-).

We're both really tired.  I'm realizing that I've not been eating well.  I was sick with some little virus plus I've been so busy that I've just been eating lots of ... chocolate.  Chocolate is fine in small doses, but lots isn't too good.  I made beef veggie soup yesterday and coconut flour banana bread this morning, so I have more available that is low carb.

Oh, making the banana bread was kind of funny. I was interrupted again and again and again, to wipe up mandarin orange messes under 2 high chairs, helping kids with various tasks, etc.  Sometimes I make things and forget ingredients.  It really isn't that surprising.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Short and Sweet

It's been a hard week. Kevin is recovering slowly from his surgery.  I've had a minor intestinal illness and have been very busy.  Sigh.  Hard week. But we're alive and I think headed in the right direction.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Little Laundry Thing

  I have had a few people tell me that they "don't know how I manage" with 8 children who are home MOST of the time thanks to our homeschooling lifestyle.

 There are many facets to managing.  One, I'm fairly organized by nature.  (I am not bragging, it is just the way I am.  I have lots of weaknesses, I assure you!)

Two, I have a bunch of older kids who can do a lot.  I have a husband who works hard to train the children to do a lot.

Three, Kevin and I work to improve efficiency as much as possible.

So, All stainlifters mighty pacs are part of our constant war against the laundry.  You can IMAGINE, or maybe you can't, the piles of laundry that grow and multiply in our laundry room.

Our children do most of the laundry.  Angela, age 5, throws laundry down the chute from the dirty laundry baskets upstairs. She then sorts them into the correct baskets (towels, darks, pinks, and whites).

Miriam starts the loads of laundry, then moves them over to the dryer when they are done, then moves them into baskets when the clothes are done drying.  She does at least 2 loads a day, on average, sometimes more.  We have a big front loading washers and dryers so don't have to do as many loads as you might expect.  We still do plenty!

Our big boys fold the clothing and put it in appropriate baskets. They carry the baskets upstairs to the appropriate rooms.  Isaac and Joseph take turns putting their clothes away, as do the big girls.  I am teaching Miriam how to put her, Sarah's and Angela's clothes away, though it is rather slow going as Sarah's are smaller but not so small that telling her clothes, and M. and A.'s clothes apart, is easy.  I put away Daniel's clothing, and my clothing and Kevin's clothing.

Ok, that's a long explanation, let me talk about the All pacs.

One minor bottleneck in the washing process has been pouring soap for the washer.  It used to be that we had a giant container of wash detergent on a shelf in the laundry room. Whenever Miriam started a load of laundry, she needed me to get her the soap as it was too high for her to reach, and she didn't know how much detergent to put in the cup anyway. That proved a problem as often I was frantically busy with something else at the exact moment she needed soap.  She'd ask for it, I'd say "later" and forget about it, and a load wouldn't be started.  (Ok, I think that is very much using a passive verb tense which is not considered good writing, but I'm not going to fix it!) 

So we found these laundry pacs.  Now Miriam just reaches up and grabs a little pac of detergent, which is encased in a soft membrane.  She drops it into the "detergent" slot, and the membrane dissolves at the appropriate time.  And I am out of the process of washing clothes entirely (except for the important part of telling Miriam to move laundry along, which I do frequently.)

It's a little thing, but it is the little things like this that add up.  Any time I'm involved in a chore, it slows things down.  So we're trying to think about ways to remove me from the chore process for streamlining. It also lightens my load!

Pics and Update

This will be a bit random. Kevin is coming along. He still feels unwell much of the time with some pain and quite a bit of discomfort.  His sleeping schedule is off too, not surprisingly.  The biggest challenge of my life right now is keeping the children moderately quiet so he can sleep when he needs to sleep.

Here are some random pics from the last few days.

  This was from a few days ago.  I sauntered over to the barn to throw something into the weeds and found this MASS of ants.  Yes, those are ants!  I don't know why they were swarming in that particular spot.  Perhaps the rain from the previous day made their underground nest too damp for comfort?  A few hours later, most of them were gone. Weird.

I just think this is a cute picture of Daniel.  We have a baby gate between the family room and the breakfast room.  The family room has 2 other exits, but both have doors we can close so Daniel can indeed be "trapped" in the family room.  He often sits by or stands clinging on to the baby gate, murmuring (or yelling) indignantly. He can't quite vocalize it yet, but he is clearly thinking, "Lemme OUT of here!"

The night before Kevin's surgery, he and 2 kids ran off to a friend's house to pick tart cherries.  They picked quite a few and we pitted them that evening and put them into freezer bags.  Cherry cobbler with these cherries is a much appreciated treat by many (not all!) in the household. Those who don't like it either don't like fruit (that would be our 8 year old son) or think the cobbler is too tart, even with lots of sugar.

 Yesterday morning, I took the children to a local park for a couple of hours.  It was the kind of park with one giant piece of play equipment all connected.  It worked very well as I could keep track of our 8 children relatively easily.  I don't worry much about the older 4 kids but the younger 4...well, I want to keep close track of them. 

This park is known as the "spider web" park because of this feature on its playset.

Today I went to another park which is older and has a lot of play equipment separated by grassy spaces.  It was nice, I guess, but I found it stressful as it was hard to keep track of Sarah, in particular!  She kept wandering about and was hidden by play equipment, and of course I DID need to keep track of other kids as well.  I prefer yesterday's play area.  I polled the children, and half liked yesterday's better, and half liked today's better.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Kevin's Surgery

I am tired so this will be quick. Kevin had outpatient surgery this morning to repair a deviated septum and to clean out some problems with his sinuses as well.

It went as well as can be expected.  The doctor said the septum was more "of a mess" than he expected. The end result is that he should experience MUCH improved breathing.  Right now, there is swelling and bleeding and he generally doesn't feel perky AT ALL.

He also isn't able to lift anything (or anyone) more than 15 lbs.  That means all our kids are off limits.  I'm thankful for big kids who can carry around little kids around here.

So, thankful it went well. Tired.  Praying that he recovers quickly and sees wonderful improvement in breathing.

Monday, June 10, 2013



So far, this has been the Summer of the Frog.

I already mentioned how a host of tadpoles were living and growing in the water on top of our pool cover.

We have also been "blessed" with lots of froggy noises every evening.  LOUD froggy noises.  The noises are rather charming, but it is a good thing we have good windows and walls so we can sleep.

Kevin found this frog hopping around the back of our house.  He seems to be a tree frog, perhaps?  He has sticky feet and ...

can climb windows!

To be clear, this frog probably isn't the frog from the picture on top.  A few days after meeting Frog #1, Naomi was bringing in towels before a rainstorm and Frog #2 suddenly appeared on the sliding door to the deck. He had obviously hitchhiked in on the towels.

I like the frogs.  Kevin likes the frogs.  They are cute.

 Look at his charming spots!

But...the frogs aren't smart.  They keep jumping into the pool.  Naomi and Lydia rescued 3 of them today.  They transported them over to the garden in the hopes of keeping them safe from the pool water but very quickly the frogs hopped back to the pool area.

Chlorinated water does not make frogs happy, so I'm afraid we're going to have quite a few dead frogs.  It's a pity.  But that's life.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

I ADORE her, but I don't always LIKE her

   This is our 2 year old little lady, Sarah.

  I hope it goes without saying, but I will say it anyway, that I love this sweet girl to the very core of my being. I would gladly die for her.  I would gladly die for any one of my kids. 

  She is also a pain in the neck a lot of the time.  2 year olds are such challenging creatures.  The baby stage is so sweet, with lots of smiles and charm.  Then,  the kid turns 2 (or 18 months, or 3, or whatever) and a switch turns on and the child gets ornery.

  Poor Sarah!  It is hard living in a world that doesn't revolve around her.  Why CAN'T she eat M & M's whenever she feels like it?  Why can't she change her mind about whether to climb the stairs alone, or have me carry her, 5 times in a row?

 For some reason, early morning is one of her grumpiest times.  I usually get up pretty early (6 a.m. is typical) and Sarah usually gets up around 7:30 a.m.  So I have 1.5 hours when I read the Bible, pray, email, check Facebook, and feed Daniel and get him ready for the day. I also make breakfast sometimes (except on cold cereal days.)  It is a relaxing, pleasant time.

  At around 7:30, Miriam and Angela show up. They share a room with Sarah and if they are awake, she usually is too.  I mentally brace myself, and go upstairs and get her.  She generally greets me with a huge smile and lots of enthusiasm.

 When we get downstairs, the "fun" begins.  Today was typical.  After I changed her diaper,  I offered her lemonade, grape juice, or coconut milk for breakfast (that's more options than usual).  She chose lemonade.  I put lemonade in a sippy cup and gave it to her.  She said, "I want milk!"  I said, "No, Sarah, you chose lemonade."  She threw her cup on the floor.  I told her to pick it up and give it to me.  Somewhat to my surprise, she promptly obeyed. I put it in the refrigerator.  I told her to get in her high chair.  She moved VERY slowly. I picked her up to help her in.  She had a fit.  I put on her seatbelt  while she thrashed and wailed.  After she was firmly in, she calmed down and started eating her morning muffin.

  It's fine.  It's also tiring.  She really isn't a very likeable human being at times.  She is self centered, willful, grumpy, and prone to throwing tantrums. 

 But then, kids are tiring, especially young ones.  Anyone who thinks parenthood is easy and fun all the time probably doesn't have kids.

  It helps me a ton to remember that parenting is a gift but it is also supposed to be a lot of work. We are charged with the task of feeding, clothing, educating, training, and LOVING our kids.  It takes work.  It takes sweat and tears, and even blood sometimes! 

 There are tremendous rewards, of course.  Sarah is extremely cute and we adore her charming sayings.  We chuckle at her antics, and revel in her burgeoning vocabulary.

 But it isn't easy.

Update on Kevin's Coworker

Kevin's coworker in the hospital (see previous post for details) is waiting on the triple bypass surgery until he has had further testing.  We heard that the medical people are not certain how best to repair his heart. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Kevin Saves a Life

It was just another day at work for Kevin yesterday.  Packing up his stuff to move to a new office.  Hosting a meeting with a visitor from off base.  Saving someone's life.

Oh wait, that latter was pretty unusual and yes, it really did happen.  Kevin and a coworker were at the right place, at the right time, and probably saved someone's life.

Kevin and his colleague, G., were talking in the hall when someone rushed out of a nearby lab and said that there was a medical emergency in the lab, with someone having a seizure.  After Kevin and G. made sure 911 had been called, they rushed in to see what was happening. Sure enough, a man whom K. has known for years was on the floor, obviously in distress though still breathing (the breathing was very labored, however).  K. took charge and sent someone out to direct the EMS personnel to the correct lab.  All too soon, their coworker stopped breathing and G., who is trained in CPR, was not able to find a pulse.  G. started CPR, and Kevin rushed out to get the AED unit.  This is a device which analyzes an unconscious person and can administer a shock to the heart if necessary. Kevin took the training when the AED units were installed, so he knew where to get it, and how to use it.  Kevin set up the AED, which analyzed their coworker's condition and advised a shock to the heart.  K. administered the shock and the AED instructed that CPR continue. G. started CPR again. A minute later, their coworker regained partial consciousness and started fighting G. off.  That is a GREAT sign. I've taken CPR and First Aid and when the heart stops, the situation is very dire and the fatality rate high. The fact that their coworker was able to move again was very encouraging.

About this time, EMS and emergency personnel arrived in force. There were paramedics. There were firefighters.  Presumably because it is a military installation, there were people in combat gear :-). They rushed K's colleague off to the hospital.  He was scheduled for triple bypass surgery yesterday evening and we don't have further word on what happened.

The whole situation was very intense.  I'm extremely proud of my husband for stepping up and, with G's help, doing the right thing at the right time. When the heart stops or is beating ineffectively (which may have been the situation as the AED would probably recommend a shock for an ineffective heartbeat), there isn't much time before a person either dies or experiences serious impairment.  Those few minutes were critical.  I'm also thankful for the Lord's gracious hand on this man.  He often works alone in the lab, and had he been alone he almost certainly would have died.  Thankfully, he was talking to someone when he lost consciousness.  It is also a blessing that Kevin and G., both of whom had the necessary training, were right outside the door and were able to come to his aid quickly.

I've read that when an emergency happens and a number of people are present, it is common for people to stand around waiting for someone else to take charge -- sometimes with serious consequences.  Kevin is a leader, and he made the right decision to take charge and do what needed to be done.

 So, it was a good day, and an intense day, for Kevin at work.  And I'm very proud of my husband.

Friday, June 7, 2013

New Chickens!

  Kevin and I went back and forth about it...should we get more chickens?  If so, should we raise chicks?  Or buy adult chickens?  (This is of course in response to our great Chicken Massacre of 2 weeks ago.  See previous Chickens post  for details.)

 Chicks are fragile, and require a high and steady temperature.  They also need to be under cover and are VERY stinky.  Adult hens are great in that they are already laying or will lay soon -- but sometimes the transition in location and food type shakes them up, and they don't lay well for awhile.

  We decided to go in between.  On Wednesday, a local seller sold us 15 9 week old Golden Comet pullets.  Golden Comets are great layers. They are charming, though not amazingly interesting birds.  We considered buying some Auracaunas as they had some of those to sell too -- but the Auracaunas were only 4 weeks old, and they wouldn't have done well with much larger, 9 week old Golden Comets.  (Auracauanas are so called "Easter Egg" chickens -- they lay pretty colored eggs.)

  Kevin built a coop for our meat chickens last year, so we put the pullets into it for now.  Our adult laying hens would probably beat up the 9 week old pullets and we don't want that.

 So now we have 2 batches of chickens in our back yard, plus an amazing amount of color coordination.  (Check out the red barn, the red main coop, and the red small coop.)

  Here is a better view of our new flock.  Cute, aren't they?

Monday, June 3, 2013

American Heritage Girl Picnic

  Our 4 older girls, our 2 older boys, and I attended a picnic celebrating the end of the school year for the big girls American Heritage Girl (AHG) troop.

 This is a new troop which began a few months ago.  It has been a good experience.  The combination of me being busy, and the wonderful leadership figuring things out, has meant that I've felt in a fog some of the time. But that's fine. We're getting the basics down and next year should be fun and exciting.

 AHG is a scouting organization that is Christ centered.  It was founded some years ago by parents concerned about the liberal bent of the Girl Scouts of American organization.

  AHG HAS been affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, but with the new rules regarding homosexual members of the BSA, AHG is severing ties with BSA.  (I agree with that decision.) So there are some areas of transition for AHG right now.

 Yesterday's picnic was a final joint AHG and Cub Scout picnic.  The children had a great time.  I was totally worn out for some reason and it was kind of an effort for me to be there, but I am very glad we went. Kevin kept the home fires burning and took care of the babies.

  There was a tug of war between the Cub Scouts and the AHG girls.  The girls won (with a little help from our sons, who came along for the fun).  Actually, the Cub Scout boys didn't have a chance. There weren't as many of them, and their average age was quite a bit lower than the girls because our troop has a whole range of ages and Cub Scouts are just the young ones.

There was an old, inoperative hand pump which didn't produce WATER, but which Isaac enjoyed pumping (and pumping, and pumping.  Definitely NO water.)

  Our troop.

The kids and I took a fairly short hike and found this waterfall.  It actually took longer than we thought and I wondered if we would get lost and end up hiking the trails forever, but we did fine and found our way back to the picnic.

Trip to the Boonshoft in the Mall

There is a local children's museum called the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery. It is a science oriented museum for children.

The last time I went, we ONLY had 6 kids.  That trip took years off my life, and I decided never again. The problem was (is) that while the Boonshoft is a lot of fun, it is also very hard to keep track of everyone. There is a giant play equipment area that stretches THREE levels, so kids climb up a mesh and then can slide down a ladder, or go up one more level.  You get the picture.  One Mom, me.  6 kids, at that time ranging in age from probably 9 to baby.  Isaac got lost 2ce.  It was fun for them, a nightmare for me.

But my friend Sarah B. mentioned in HER blog that there is a Boonshoft extension at a local mall.  It sounded much smaller, so we decided to go last week. 

 And yes, it was much much smaller. Very small.  I confess when we first came that I was a little disappointed because it seemed so tiny.  But actually, most of the children had a great time and we spent 2 very happy hours there.  (It was also cheap -- admission was $15 for all of us.)

Daniel had a blast.  This is an area where lights turn on when a person steps on it.  Isaac said actually just blocking the light from the ceiling lights made the floor lights turn on too?  So I am not sure if it is pressure sensitive or light sensitive.

That is me taking the picture in the background. I don't usually look that warped so I guess it was a slightly funny mirror.

There were several apparatuses (apparati?) using light balls.  Here Sarah is playing around with balls and gravity.

Naomi made a giant structure out of light foam building material.  The museum staff had just put this together and our kids were the first to use it.  Awesome!

Miriam and Angela lounging around on other building materials.

 This was probably the biggest hit of all.  Both the cone and the apparatus Isaac is on had air blowing upwards, so that balls could either be suspended in air, or made to fly upwards.  Sarah is hiding behind Isaac; she was utterly enchanted with this thing!  She spent at least an hour playing with the balls.

  All in all, it was a fine use of time and money to go to this little museum extension. It was definitely aimed at younger kids and Naomi was a bit bored, but I was very pleased in general.

Chocolate Delight

  Our local Trader Joe's carries this Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds from Belgium.

  It is more than a pound.  And given that, not very expensive (I think a little under $6/bar?)

I've been a dark chocolate afficianado for a long time.  It seems to work well with my blood sugar though I've had to be a bit cautious, as usual, so I don't go high.

  Well this stuff...this stuff is heaven.  It tastes amazing.  Amazing.  AND, for reasons I just DO not understand, my blood sugar is great, pretty much no matter how much I eat of it.  I kid you not.  It has sugar in why am I doing so well?  I am guessing the nuts and fat slow down the absorption to the point that my body can process it without having a sugar high?

  At any rate, you can appreciate that I have a bit of struggle when I open up a bar.  No one should eat an entire pound of chocolate in one day, but I admit to being tempted :-).  It is SO SO SO good.  Oh, so good.  And it is hard to stop nibbling a square off here, and another square off there.  Or 2 squares here, 4 squares 15 minutes later :-).

  Fortunately, TJ is a long way from our house so I don't get over there often.  We bought 3 bars of this stuff 9 days ago and I'm on the 3rd bar already.

 Yum, yum, yum, YUM!

Chicken Update

We've not had any additional raccoons, so just the 2 caught last week (so far.)

The trap is still out there.

Our remaining 8 chickens are still alive.  One chicken is looking a bit funny, with one eye shut. Was she injured by a raccoon?

Another possibility is that she was hurt by another chicken.  Chickens have a deep need to establish a pecking order.  They had it all figured out and then 9 chickens were killed. So they are reestablishing their pecking order now.

We are only getting 3 to 4 eggs a day now.  At least a couple of the remaining chickens are moulting, so aren't laying.  And they are probably still traumatized. So maybe 3 eggs from 8 is doing pretty well.

Kevin and I need to decide whether to raise laying hen chicks or not.  We still haven't decided.  It would be a fair amount of work, especially in the early days. But it would also be fun.  Chicks are so cute! 

If we DO get chicks, we will keep them in our garage the first couple of weeks. We raised meat chicks last year and had them inside for a couple of weeks. They were mind bogglingly smelly after a few days.  Never again :-).