Thursday, October 31, 2013

Gotta Start Them Young...

  Not really, of course.  We DO start our kids young on laundry, but not ages 2 and 1.  No, our sweet young ones just LOVE to mess with the washer and dryer.  We like the front loaders, but the buttons are accessible and both machines make cute little noises when the buttons are pushed.  Downright irresistible.  At least there is a Child Lock feature for both machines.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Location of the Plastic Dishes

   I thought I'd mention one little thing we do to make life easier around here.  First, we use plastic bowls, cups, and plates for most meals.  That, of course, is to minimize the chance of breakage.

  Another big thing we do is we have these items stored in a lower cupboard so they are accessible to short people.  Our 6 year old currently sets the table.  She can easily reach in and grab what she needs.  I don't need to help.

  Our 2 and 9 year olds, who empty the dishwasher, can easily put the plastic dishes away. Yes, our 2 year old is starting to help with this.

  Just a little tidbit that I thought might be helpful. I read about this idea somewhere -- having the dishes near ground level -- and it has been a huge time saver for me and enables the children to do more.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Last Couple of Days

Isaac finally succumbed to the illness on Thursday night. Thankfully, he was only sick for a few short hours and was mostly recovered by Friday.  He does have lesions on his face, one of the fun symptoms of this illness.

Yesterday, Lydia and Isaac walked way back to check out the fall colors and kick large mushrooms on the ground.

We've been on a chess craze this week.  I don't enjoy chess, but most of the children do.

Kevin made very tasty sticky buns!

They were delicious!

One morning, it snowed.  In late October.  Kids were thrilled.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

One By One...

  At the beginning of the Fellowship of the Ring (the first of the Lord of the Rings movies), the narrator solemnly intones something like: "One by one, the free peoples of Middle Earth fell to the power of the One Ring."

  Here, it is more like, "One by one, the children fall to the power of the Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease."

Ok, it doesn't have quite the same ring (ha ha, pun!) but you get the idea.  The kids are sick.  Daniel got it exactly a week ago and is close to recovered.  Miriam and Angela got it yesterday, and spent much of today huddled in miserable, weepy balls on the couch.

  All the children have had it except Isaac and Naomi, and N. may have gotten a touch of it. Kevin has it. So far, I do not. I have a remarkable ability to stay healthy until everyone is healthy, and THEN I get sick. Usually I get quite pompous about my immune system, and then I fall to The Illness.  So we'll see what happens this time.

  In some ways, a semi-major illness is a total pain.  The kids are unhappy, I get less sleep than usual, and I have extra work because some kids cannot do their chores.  On the other hand, in some ways life is simplified.  I fairly often battle anxiety about whether I am using my time well. Should I do extra school?  Should I take the kids on a field trip?  Should we go to the library? The park? 

 When we have a fairly serious illness, I know what I need to do. Stay home.  Keep the routine moderately stable.  Minister to the sick. Comfort the miserable.  There is less anxiety because I don't have to wonder if I am using my time wisely. Basically, we are in crisis mode and I just want us to survive :-).

  Of course, I don't WANT us to be sick, but I am trying to be content in all circumstances.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

   So we have another illness sweeping the Kendig nation.  I have to admit that "hand, foot, and mouth" disease sounds very impressive, though apparently it is not a huge deal.  A few days of fever and fatigue and if we are REALLY lucky, bumps and lesions.  Daniel got it first, almost a week ago. Coincidentally, it was the day after he got a vaccination so at first I thought the fever was from the shot.  After 3 fussy days, he broke out in a rash. That was when I took him in to the pediatrician, and she diagnosed hand, foot, and mouth.

 Joseph got it rather suddenly on Saturday evening (AFTER the Fall Festival at church).  He is old enough to just go to bed instead of whining and fussing incessantly. Then Sarah got it yesterday. She was cranky for a couple of hours yesterday morning, then spent much of the day asleep on our Lazyboy chair.  It was very adorable, but you know that kid is sick when she falls asleep on a chair. She is very much a child who sleeps in her bed and nowhere else.

 Lydia has it now. 

  So 4 kids down for sure, 4 kids to go, maybe.  Naomi felt a bit off 2 nights ago, but was fine yesterday.

  It'll be a quiet 44th birthday for me, but that's OK.  I decided against doing formal school, though Angela is trying out a Reading Eggs game online that is supposed to help with reading.  Several kids are in bed, and I'm hoping for good naps for both Sarah and Daniel.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fall Festival at Church

Our church hosted a Fall Festival today.  There were many cheerful volunteers, good food, good drink, inflatable bouncy houses, pony rides, a climbing wall, and a mechanical bull! 

Ritter's ice cream. Cold but GOOD.

Yes, her hair really is green!

Lydia astride a BIG pony.

Miriam, hanging on carefully.

Isaac going up the climbing wall (Miriam is on the far left. She didn't get very high up as it was difficult climbing for little people.)

Lydia about to fall off the mechanical bull.

The children had a great time in spite of problematic weather.  LAST year the fall festival fell on a cold and windy day. I hoped and prayed this year would be better but the Lord sometimes says no. Today it was cold, windy, and rainy too -- or at least the first hour we were there it was rainy.  I feel like I earned many Mommy points today, because I wanted to be home taking a nap, not shivering through a Fall Festival.  But of course it was worth it, as the children had a lovely time.  I'm so grateful to the staff and volunteers at our church, who put on a great show for the children.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Good-bye, Cast!

Today was a day long anticipated.  Today, Lydia was released from the bondage of her arm cast.

 They took x-rays. Her bones look healthy.  She is still having some soreness in a few spots, so they put her in a removable brace for a couple of weeks.  She will remove it to exercise the wrist (which is stiff), and to take showers. Showers have definitely been a pain since we had to wrap her cast in plastic wrap.  She is so happy to have it gone.

So all seems well...she can't do everything as usual, but she can do more things.  And we're working ourselves back up to a 100% healthy Lydia.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Movie Review: Soul Surfer

  Our older girls have expressed interest in watching more movies, and I've been hunting through the reviews trying to find suitable, healthy movies for them to watch., for those who don't know, is part of Focus on the Family's ministry.  Heroic individuals on staff watch movies and write very detailed reviews about sexual content, violence, alcohol and drug use, positive elements, negative elements, etc.  I say heroic because some movies are so awful that I cannot imagine having to watch them. Ugh ugh ugh.

 Anyway, PluggedIn had good things to say about Soul Surfer, which is based on the real life story of Bethany Hamilton.  Hamilton was living a relatively normal life in Hawaii with her family, with the exception that she was a rising star in the surfing community with dreams of becoming a professional surfer.  In 2003, she was 13 years old when she was attacked by a shark and nearly lost her life. She did lose her left arm.

  I watched about 90% of the movie.  I was concerned that the shark attack scene and subsequent medical crisis might be too intense, so I wanted to screen that.  I ended up liking the movie enough that I found time to watch MOST of it.  As you can imagine, it isn't always easy to find time to watch movies around here, especially movies that I want to screen ahead of time so I need to watch them when little eyes aren't with me.

  So, I like the movie.  A lot.  It is inspirational, it is encouraging, it is authentic, it is openly Christian. The Hamiltons are all devout Christians and it was their faith that helped them walk through this intense and difficult crisis.  They were firm with the filmmakers that the movie needed to reflect their faith, and it does.

 I appreciated that while the Hamilton family was very bonded, they weren't perfect.  There are a couple of scenes showing conflict and anger and grief over the situation.  There are open discussions by the parents that they don't know all the answers for their daughter.  It wasn't Pollyannish.  This was a tragic and difficult experience, and it marked them all.

  The shark attack was, I thought, handled well.  Unlike Jaws, which has lots of ominous music and drawn out suspense, the attack happens quickly. There is a lot of blood and the following scene is very intense as there was a good chance she'd die right in the water or on the beach.  Her best friend's father almost certainly saved her life as he reacted quickly to put on a tourniquet.  He stayed calm in a situation that would have panicked many people, including me.

  I will mention the one caveat, and that is the issue of modesty.  There are a lot of people showing skin in the movie.  In fact, in one early scene (before the attack), Bethany and her best friend are looking at swimwear and make a snarky comment about a modest one piece swimsuit.  That comment is followed by another comment about how bikinis shouldn't be too tiny.  I am not a fan of bikinis as I think they show too much in our American culture, but Hamilton did and does wear bikinis, as do many female surfers.

  I am perhaps somewhat unusual in my view of modesty in that I believe that modesty is somewhat cultural. I spent 3 years of my childhood in South America, and I occasionally went into tribal groups where older women didn't wear shirts.  When these ladies were young, it was incredibly hard to make clothing. And it was very very hot.  So they didn't wear shirts, and it wasn't considered provocative.  By the time I was there, western clothing was more readily available. But still, some of the older women wore traditional clothing.

 There have been cultures where even showing ankles was considered immodest for a female. 

 So to some degree, I think that modesty depends on culture.  In Hawaii, where it is very hot, perhaps it is considered fairly normal to wear bikinis.  Nevertheless, my Midwest sensibilities were a bit uneasy about a lot of attractive girls in bikinis.  I will say that there was no posing in the movie, and that helped.  There are ways and WAYS to wear a garment. I've seen women in modest clothing who held themselves provocatively.  In Soul Surfer, everyone is just going about doing his or her business. But still, if you are very concerned about bikinis, you probably won't like this movie.

  Bethany Hamilton did become a professional surfer, a surfer with one arm.  She got married 2 months ago. She says in her book that she is glad the attack happened, because she has been able to minister to many people.  I  find her a very inspirational young woman.


The End Is In Sight

  Here is Lydia with her cast wrapped in plastic wrap so she could take a shower.  Ah, the joys of a broken wrist!  Well, the end is in sight (we hope).  She has her cast off on Wednesday. We hope and prayed it healed well. 


   These are HUGE carrots from our garden.  The longest ones are about 10 inches long, 2 inches in diameter.  We've never had much luck with carrots, but this year Kevin made hills of soft dirt for the carrots to grow in, and the result was a wild success in the carrot department.

 Kevin spent hours yesterday making his famous chicken soup.  He made the noodles by hand, and added sweet potatoes and carrots from our garden. It was GOOD.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Let Them Frost Cakes!

Our big girls had the wonderful opportunity to work with a cake decorator at today's American Heritage Girls meeting.

They both enjoy frosting cakes and this sweet lady does it professionally.

I think they did a great job!  Naomi's turned out a little better, but she has more experience AND her wrist isn't broken, so that wasn't a huge surprise.  Lydia's was lovely too. They both enjoyed learning how to make roses.

Naomi's cake

Lydia's cake

The same lady offered to work with the girls to make a cake for a special American Heritage Girls event in mid November. So that's exciting.

We are grateful to our new cake decorator friend, and to the leader of AHG who arranged for all this to happen.  The girls were able to bring the cakes home and the children demolished almost all of Lydia's for dessert after dinner.  That's one nice thing about a large family -- we can eat lots of cake!

Ginormous Sweet Potato

  Kevin dug up close to 100 lbs of sweet potatoes last week, and he still has 40% of the patch to dig up!

 This is the granddaddy of them all, so far.  Isn't it a whopper?  We made sweet potato bread out of part of it, and ate the rest.  It was good!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Having Children Close Together

  People ask me often, "So, did you grow up in a large family?"

The answer is no.  I am the eldest of 3 children, and the only daughter.  Kevin is also from a relatively small family -- he has one sister.

  So we broke out of the typical family mold in having many children.

  We ALSO are quite different from earlier generations because of the spacing of our family.  It is probably normal for people to think the family they grew up with is typical.  The children in our family were spaced apart quite a bit -- 4 years separate me and my younger brother Jeff, and then there were another 4 years before Darrell appeared on the scene.

  When I first contemplated having children, I vaguely thought we'd have 3 kids, and they would be spaced apart say...4 years.  Because you know, that's normal!  What is with those weird people having kids really close together?

  And then a year into our marriage, we heard God's call to let Him plan our family size.  We had a 9 month wait before we conceived our first, so I really was not expecting a large family.  I was already 30 when we had Naomi -- seriously, how many kids could we have?

  Well obviously we had many!  And the first 6 came at ABOUT 18 month intervals.  When our 6th child was born, Naomi was a few months short of 8.  Then we lost 3 babies to miscarriage, and there was a 3+ year gap between our 6th and 7th child.  I truly thought that Sarah would be our youngest as I was 41...but to our surprise and delight, the Lord blessed us with Daniel. Who is almost exactly 18 months younger than Sarah.

  For most of our childbearing years, we have had 2 small people at the same time.  And honestly, it is a little bit crazy.  Right now, for example, Sarah blesses us with tantrums EVERY SINGLE DAY.  95% of the time, she has a meltdown just when she gets up. I adore her but have to admit that every morning I brace myself when she gets up, because she is going to get really upset about something.  Examples are...she doesn't want to use the potty, she doesn't want to take off her Pull-Up, she can't find the blanket she wants, and I put her milk in the wrong sippy cup.  Yes, earthshattering, traumatic stuff.

 Daniel is not as willful and grumpy, but he is into EVERYTHING.  Everything.  He likes to play with computers and turn them off and on, which is terrible for the computers.   He likes to open the toilet lid and put his hands in the toilet, or worse yet, throw toys INTO the toilet.  (As an aside, I've read that the inside of most toilets are surprisingly clean because of the frequent flushing.)  He climbs up on things, and falls off of them. I am thankful he still sleeps a lot, and sleeps well, because as much as I love him he is also a ton of work.

So here I am, making sure I spend time with my sweet husband, teaching 6 kids, maintaining a house, and trying to keep 2 little people from hurting themselves.  It definitely isn't easy. 

 Of course I adore every one of my child to the moon and back.  And while having kids close together is challenging at times, there are definite advantages too.  Our kids have built in friends, and one of the delights of the last month has been seeing Sarah and Daniel start playing together.  Outside, they climb up slides, and push each other down.  In the study, which is really more of a playroom, they are starting to interact while playing.  Our older children play together all the time. They make up stories and go outside and swing together.  While I love  my brothers, the age difference was quite substantial and I don't remember playing together when we were young nearly as much as our children do.

There are positives to any situation...more space between children allows for a calmer life in many ways, probably. I am content, no -- delighted, by the plan God had for our family.  Life may be hectic and crazy, but it isn't boring, and I am very happy our children get to learn compromise and patience and longsuffering and how to have tons of fun with a bunch of siblings.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Raptor Center

At a nearby park, tucked away along a rather rough, unpaved road, is a rehabilitation center for raptors.  Raptors are...hawks, and eagles, and vultures, that kind of bird. 

Today I loaded the kids up and we went on a field trip.  The raptors are either being rahabbed or are not physically able to live out in the wild.

It was a great trip, really.  We didn't see another soul was just me and 8 kids watching birds under a gray, autumnal sky. 

The birds live in surprisingly spacious cages.  The cages are the wooden structures on the right.

Gotta LOVE those vultures.  Seriously, they are not the most attractive birds in the world, but they have a definite purpose!  It is a GOOD thing that they clean up dead animal debris.

Help me out here.  Bald eagle?  Are their bald eagles in Ohio?