Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Drama Continues...

I like our lives to be orderly and in control.  9 kids makes that impossible.  9 kids plus multiple things breaking plus illness makes it triple impossible.  The sooner I am peaceful with being out of control, the better!

Seriously, I know God uses these moments to help me realize I am not in control and I need to depend on Him -- not our organization, our strength, our money, etc.  In a painful way, it is good.

Anyway, here is a litany of our woes:

Our computers have been acting up, especially our main computer and laptop.  Kevin has spent countless hours battling them into submission.  Late last night as I nursed Rose, he announced that he thought he had figured out the problem with the main computer.  He tried to explain it but I wouldn't understand it when I was most alert and it was 1:30 a.m. so I was not alert.

Our vacuum cleaner and microwave broke in the last few days.  The microwave on Christmas.  Kevin went out and bought a new one on Dec. 26th and installed it.  He was able to dissect the vacuum cleaner and connect to sides of a broken switch with the result that the vacuum IS working now -- it turns on whenever it is plugged in instead of a switch turning it off and on.

We probably have yet another illness making the rounds.  Daniel threw up a few nights ago, then Lydia got unhappily ill in the same way last night.

The very GOOD news is that I am feeling a whole lot better. I have turned a real corner -- breathing is Ok, cough minimal, more energy.  I can now shoulder more of the parenting load, which is good as Kevin is feeling terrible now :-(.

I had such hopes of getting a lot done with organization and cleaning and preparing for homeschooling next year.  I may get time this coming week but I realized this morning that while the organizing bug was upon ME, it wasn't fair to the kids to suddenly get all excited about cleaning and organizing and deculttering because THEY aren't feeling well now, many of them anyway.

We have a birthday today, had another one a week ago, and have yet one more on New Year's Eve.  Then the next family birthday is Daniel's, in May. We're heavy on birthdays towards the end of the year.  I'll post some pictures of our birthday celebrations when the main computer is accessible. Kevin is still toiling away on it.

I wonder what Daniel will be like at age 3.  He has calmed down just a bit and does fewer crazy things these days.  He has been really safe on the stairs.  Well, safe in the sense that he doesn't fall down them. I don't like watching him go down the stairs as he often carries items downstairs, and sometimes he JUMPS instead of steps.  Silly boy.

Sarah is in a phase herself.  She screams a lot.  There are certain traumatic events that happen repeatedly; for example, this morning she experienced the horror of being the LAST girl to leave her bedroom. Yes, her 2 older sisters LEFT HER BEHIND.  Naturally, she had to deal with it be screaming at the top of her lungs and waking up her father.  Because you know, you have to let it out.


Another sort of funny thing is the effect Rose has on Sarah. Sarah loves Rose. Loves, loves, loves, loves, LOVES Rose.  So that's good. But ... I was trying to come up with an analogy and was failing, and then Kevin and Naomi suggested that Rose is like a shot of caffeine or adrenaline to Sarah. Sarah gets weird around Rose.  She starts making high pitched squeals, she wants to kiss Rose's head, and pull on her arms and legs (fairly gently) and jump up and down, and get in Rose's personal space.  I have never seen anything quite like it before and we have many children!  Interesting that we still have new dynamics between our offspring at this stage in the game.

So, we don't have total control around here but life is interesting, and that is a blessing.

Please pray for us that we'd get over this illness or these illnesses.

And please continue to pray for my dear friend S. and her children, as they mourn the death of husband and father D.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Have I mentioned...

that our dishwasher is broken?

Yep, it went out about a week ago.

We called immediately to have a repairman come out (we have an extended warranty.)

We had to wait until Tuesday morning of this week (yesterday.)

As I totally expected, the repairman came (with his female coworker -- which was unusual as most repairmen seem to be male) and poked around for a while, only to announce that he didn't have the necessary part to fix it.

So it is being ordered.  And we still don't have  dishwasher.

It is not HUGE in the grand scheme of things, but with 11 people the dishes pile up quickly.

In the interests of helping me have a good attitude, I will note that my mother in law is having a problem with her drains so that her dishwasher and shower and clothes washer are all problematic right now.  That puts our little dishwasher issue in perspective.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Illness and Sorrow

I wait here for the baby to wake up. She's been sleeping 9 to 10 hours a night, bless her!  If she isn't up in 20 minutes, I'll get her up as the hordes will come down at 7 a.m. and I need to nurse her before then.

It has been a tough week. We've been sick.  I lost my voice entirely 2 days ago.  I had basically NOTHING all day.  That is not easy as mom of 9!  Fortunately, I have my big girls who can help run things. Fortunately, our older 6 children can read well so I could write notes.  Sarah, age 4, found Silent Mom the hardest as she cannot read yet.  She just kept asking the same questions, over and over, louder and louder. WHY isn't Mom answering?  It bewildered her.

Lydia did an amazing job of interpreting my waving arms and pointing when I was nursing Rose and couldn't write a note.  It was funny.

Yesterday my voice was sort of back, but if I talked too much, I started coughing. So I was still pretty quiet.  School has been out this week, but the kids have done some puzzles, some reading, some educational videos.

We've also learned more about grief. Last night, the 4 older girls and I went to the visitation for my friend's husband.  There were hundreds of people who came.  He was loved and admired by many in the community. His parents were there.  They've lost a son.  His brother was there.  His wife and children, now a widow and orphans.  It was hard.  It was sad.  It was wonderful to see the outpouring of love, but how we wish he was still here.

His wife wrote a wonderful blog post about her journey:

I have more to say but the bambino is waking.  May God bless you all. Give your loved ones an extra hug today. Let's not forget to appreciate the people in our lives.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Heartbroken for a Friend

Yesterday morning brought shattering news.  A dear friend lost her husband unexpectedly when he passed away during the night.  He was my age.

Now S. is a widow with 3 heartbroken children to care for.  The children range from age 8 to 12.  The girls are close friends with our girls.

I've been praying for them so much over the last 24 hours.  It reminds me again that life goes on day to day and then something happens and we realize that so many of the problems in life are quite trivial.  It reminds me to hug my husband and my children more, and not get so uptight about the little stuff.

Please pray for S. and her family.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Cuteness Personified

My mother made this matching blanket sleeper and hat for Rose.  And she made another one in yellow.  AND she made a Christmas stocking for Rose to go along with the other 10 she's made for the rest of the family.  Yes, I am GRATEFUL for a generous mother who sews!

Isn't Rose just the cutest thing?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Our Sweet Baby

  Our darling Rose has outgrown this little reclined seat and now is sleeping in pack and plays and cribs in various places in the house. I moved this seat out of our room, which means (sob) that she's really gotten (sort of) big since she was born.  But on the good side, we have room for the gifts flowing in from  Amazon and other online stores this week. Christmas is less than 2 weeks away, and we have 3 kid birthdays in the next 3 weeks as well!

Rose continues to be very popular.  She loves her big sisters and brothers too.  Naomi, Lydia, and Isaac are particularly good with her.

Sarah is BANANAS about Rose, and BANANAS is the operative word.  Sarah has been "blessing us" with a high pitched squealing lately.  It is very loud and a bit much in a family that is already heavy on the noise.  We finally figured out that she's trying to imitate Rose's high pitched squealing. But Sarah is louder.  All in all, the volume of sheer exuberance around here is intense sometimes.  But I am very thankful and delighted that everyone loves our little lady.  She surely is lovable.   

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hitting a Wall on Homeschooling

This was a week when homeschooling just felt like too much.  I decided last weekend that we wouldn't do "normal" school so I could catch up on schoolwork, deal with some organizational requirements, and battle some paperwork.

Kevin was home on Monday and observed one of our kids having a "math meltdown".  I was working with this child individually as I knew some extra work was needed.  Kevin had some very helpful input into the situation. Sometimes as the children's primary homeschool teacher, I am too close to the situation to really see what needs done.

So Kevin's conclusion is that this kid needs a more "public school approach" to math.  I am a math "person" and it drove me NUTS in public school that we were drilled and drilled and drilled on stuff I knew COLD.  I was so bored much of the time. So in teaching our children, I've gone with a relatively low drill approach as I don't want the kids to be bored.

This has worked well with several children who are gifted in math. The child in question is NOT gifted in math.  And drill is necessary.  Another insight from Kevin is that the child needed instruction in a variety of skills because combining them all was too much. So we practiced erasing.  Seriously!  Because sometimes the error was erased plus other parts of the problem.  We practiced writing numbers in columns.  We had this child speak out loud what was going on in the head while doing problems.  The end result was that after a few days of work, there was great improvement.  So that is encouraging.  I'm sure more work will need to be done, more REVIEW will need to be done, but at least this kid is feeling encouraged and is able to do subtraction with borrowing consistently.

  Earlier today I was working around the house and had Isaac bring a bunch of K'nex to the main table.  4 kids gathered around and worked vigorously on putting together K'nex structures.  It was great  -- fun and educational. I love that!

  I am not sure what next week will bring in terms of homeschooling. I think I'll go with some formal school but not as much as usual. The following week we'll definitely be "off" as we celebrate 2 birthdays and Christmas.

One More Reason to Love My Kindle

I do LOVE my Kindle.  Dozens of good books in one small electronic device?  It is like heaven to someone who loves to read as much as I do.

I started using a special feature a few weeks ago, and have been having much fun with it.  If I carefully tap the screen and highlight a word, it'll pop up with a definition from some online dictionary.

I enjoy some of Georgette Heyer's romances and have read them over and over again.  In spite of my large vocabulary, she uses many esoteric and unusual words for which I don't know the meaning.  I have gathered from context what they PROBABLY mean, but I'm having much fun using the online dictionary when I run into a weird word.  Interestingly, the dictionary doesn't know some of the words either!  She definitely used a wide range of words and many of them were common during the period she is writing about (usually the Napoleonic War period) and aren't in common usage now.

So that's fun.  Love the Kindle.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Cogitations on Food

  There is a series of mystery books written by Rex Stout about a fictional detective named Nero Wolfe. The books were written for literally decades and then a new writer started writing them, so there have been Nero Wolfe's written off and on since the 1930's!

  Wolfe is an extremely eccentric, very overweight detective who loves orchids and food, and hates work and leaving his house. The books are written from the first person perspective of Archie Goodwin, Wolfe's trusty assistant who runs around collecting the clues to take home to Wolfe, who is a genius and figures out the mystery.

  A series of TV movies were made based on Stout mysteries and Kevin and I purchased the whole set. They are mostly very funny and lighthearted. (I should add there are some adult themes in the books and movies so I wouldn't just let a child watch all of them.)

  One of the recurring characters is Fritz, Wolfe's gourmet cook. Wolfe eats all the time and eats well, and Fritz is a foreign cook who spends most of his time in the kitchen whipping up delicacies.

  Usually when we watch a show, I whisper to Kevin, "I want a Fritz!"

  Because wow, having someone to COOK around here would be awesome!

  Well, I do have people that cook. I cook. Kevin cooks.  Kevin is doing a cooking class with our 2 older girls and THEY cook. They cook WAY better than I did at their age.  Ok, honest truth. I could hardly cook when I got MARRIED at age 27.  I've learned.

 Switching gears, there was a Facebook post from a friend who lives in Michigan whom I admire.  She is (in every good way) a health food nut.  She posted a picture of a child smoking a cigarette, along with a paragraph on the lines of "Yes, this is a horrifying image but WHY do so many parents give their kids refined sugar when it is more addictive than cocaine and just as bad as smoking."

  The paragraph was a forward so she didn't actually write those words.  I didn't delve into the whole "more addictive than cocaine" thing because that seems unlikely and I just want to focus on the main message, which is that lots of sugar is bad and parents shouldn't let their kids eat much of it.

 Well, let me talk about WHY good, caring, loving parents give their kids quite a bit of sugar.  Because I am a good, loving, caring mother who feeds her kids sugary breakfast cereal and lets them eat candy and cookies.

  Time.  It is All.  About.  Time.

  We have a money budget and the reality is that I have a time budget as well.

  9 kids. Homeschooling the older 6.  Nursing a baby.  Keeping a toddler from harming himself.  Dealing with a cranky 4 year old.  Staying emotionally connected to my husband and kids.  Running errands.  Dealing with paperwork.   Grading.  Preparing.  Working a few hours a week.

That is the reality.  Do I feel really good about the fact that my kids eat sugary cereal?  Well, I don't.  But when I think about the various options in my life, I am not finding the time to change our breakfast habits such that we never eat sugary cereal.  I COULD do it, but I'd have to drop something else.

 Lots of people say and believe that food is more important than almost anything in the sense that it has a huge effect on our health.  I agree it is really important. But the reality is that while we can keep cigarettes and cocaine out of the house, we do need to eat early and often around here.  The kids need fed!  And sometimes sugary cereal is what works. Now as I've recovered from Rose's birth, I am finding time to do different things SOME days.  We occasionally have muffins, fruit, french toast, and oatmeal. But often, we have sugary cereal.

I tend to be an all or nothing person but as I've gotten older, I have realized more and more that sometimes life will not be perfect in some area.  We have to give up our ideals at times (in non moral areas) because we don't have enough time or energy or money to do something "right".

So for now, I'm going to reluctantly keep serving such cereals some days.  Maybe as the kids get older and I am not so busy with the baby, and we have more cooks and bakers, we can improve breakfast even more.

A quick caveat -- I know that  obesity in kids is a serious issue and if our kids were dangerously overweight, we'd make necessary drastic changes.  We've spawned a race of skinny kids.  Almost all are on the thin side of normal.  We also avoid fast food most of the time and eat moderately healthy lunches and dinners most days.  I think we are doing ...Ok, where food is concerned.  We could be doing better.  I pray that with time we WILL do better. But I'm also not going to wrap myself in guilt because we're not eating as healthily as would be ideal.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pictures of a Random Nature

I don't like new computer programs. I like to figure something out and use it forever.  But we got a new camera and the new camera doesn't work with Zoom Browser, our old photo manipulation program.

After some struggle, we found ACDSee.  I'm figuring out how to export photos properly and voila, here are a few random pictures.

What can I say.  She's cute, and has a handsome Daddy.

I'm part of a cleaning/decluttering book on Facebook and I take occasional pictures to encourage myself.  Here's the kitchen -- not perfect, but not horrible either.

This was taken on one of the rare days when Daniel was being pretty calm.  I don't know if he was sick or something, but THAT day he actually sat and quietly played with toys for a while instead of tearing around the house.  It was nice.  It didn't last.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Trip Down Memory Lane: Houses and Sleeping Arrangements

Rose is 5+ months and has been sleeping in a little room between the master bedroom and our master bathroom.

She's getting old enough that she is close to outgrowing her little inclined seat. She's also very happy to sleep in a crib or pack and play for naps during the day.

I've been thinking and pondering and cogitating about sleeping arrangements for our family.

Today I was thinking about sleeping arrangements over the last 15 years.  15 years ago RIGHT NOW, I was 8 months pregnant with our first child.  We had just moved down to Ohio from Michigan and were rattling around in a 1700 square foot house plus full basement. Just Kevin, me, and a sweet baby in the womb.  We had 4 bedrooms in that first house, and we were in one, the nursery was set up in the second room, and the 2 upstairs bedrooms (it was a Cape Cod) were mostly empty.

Fast forward 5 years and we had 4 children and I was pregnant with the 5th while we looked for a bigger home.  Our Cape Cod was certainly  mammoth by African or Central American standards, but we were feeling a little tight -- especially as we planned on homeschooling so we knew lots of people would be home most of the time.

We found our current home, a foreclosure, and it is HUGE.  3500 square feet PLUS a big basement. We only have 4 official bedrooms, but they are all big.  Right now we have our 2 oldest girls in one room, our 2 older boys in another room, our 3 middle girls in a 3rd room, Kevin and I share the master bedroom, our baby girl is (as I mentioned) in a weird room between our room and the bathroom.  And what about DANIEL?  Well, he is sleeping in a pack and play in the study on the main floor.  THAT is because our boy is a nut.  We have plans to put him in the big boys room and have even had him spend a night or 2 there, but he can climb out of the crib without a problem. And some days...some days, our boy carries out what I call The Reign of Terror.  Bless his little heart, he just wants to destroy things or climb on things or pour water on things or an exciting combination of all 3.  Our big boys have a number of treasures, some of them breakable, and I just don't trust Daniel in that room alone (and he would be alone as he goes to bed earlier than the big boys.) So for now, he sleeps in the study, with doors that won't open for him (they have safety knobs) and nothing dangerous that he can get to.

Rose is kind of a problem.  The long term plan might be for her to move in with the 3 "middle" girls.  Naomi and Lydia stay up quite late and it will be a while before Miriam can stay up that late.  But right now, Rose needs quiet for her early evening naps and late evening feedings.  A crib in the middle girls' room just doesn't work great.

BUT, the middle girls' room has a walk in closet and that may be the answer!  I have a pack in play in that closet now, and she naps there most of the time. So far she hasn't slept there through the night.  Occasionally, the middle girls' room is busy and then she naps in the boys' room.

I think it is funny. I know some families where people just sleep wherever -- chairs, sofas, floor.  NOTHING wrong with that, but Kevin and I have always been pretty obsessive about having the kids sleep in THEIR BEDS.  And Rose does sleep in her ... beds. She kind of has 3 right now.

I also shake my head at myself, because Abe Lincoln grew up in a tiny log cabin with a father, stepmother, 2 siblings, and 2 stepsiblings, and they made it work.  Here I am feeling cramped for sleeping space in a near mansion.

And that does help me find perspective. There are times I kind of wish we had another bedroom. But that is silly. God has provided so richly that we can afford this very large house. I'm grateful for that, and we'll make the closet work.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

We Have Ourselves a 4 Year Old

Our sweet Sarah turned 4 during the last week.

Naomi is our local cake chef.  Sarah asked for a castle cake. Ok, so we were sick and busy and didn't get all the required items to make the castle cake.  Then when Naomi made the cake, it split in the middle.  So we said it was a castle that was knocked over by an earthquake, and the moat moved to the middle of the castle.  It tasted just fine :-).

Doctor Visits

I took the 3 youngest kids to the pediatrician on Thursday.  I asked for a weight check for Rose. She is 5 months and my milk supply has been a problem for the previous 5 kids. I only made it 3+ months with Daniel.

So she's doing fine!  She's about 12 and a half pounds, which puts her in the 5th percentile of weight for babies her age, but she's staying on her curve.  She started little and staying little.  She's such a happy little person.  We're so thankful for her.

Daniel and Sarah are also doing well.  Daniel looks huge to me because he is so much bigger than Rose, but actually he is exactly average in terms of his weight.  He is fairly tall for his age, too. Sarah is also tall and thin.  Most of our kids are.

I asked the pediatrician about Daniel's way of running. He has a way of running that looked to me like one leg is hurting him. He staggers sometimes.  He obligingly ran up and down a corridor at the doctor's office, and the pediatrician laughingly said he is fine -- he just hasn't decided whether he wants to gallop, run, or skip so he sometimes combines all three with humorous results.

On Friday morning, I took the 3 youngest to our eye doctor.  Sarah and Daniel are both in glasses because they are farsighted.  Sarah in particular has very bad eyes.  She has an astigmatism and her eyes cross without her glasses.  Both children are maintaining their prescriptions and everything looks fine.

We first were alerted to eye problems a couple of years ago when it turned out Isaac had amblyopia.  Sarah is at risk of amblyopia and I'm thankful for a great doctor who is monitoring her carefully.

The doctor took 5 seconds to look at Rose.  She'll do a thorough check in 6 months but for now, she said her eyes don't look horribly farsighted.  We'll be pleased if she doesn't need glasses as the previous 3 kids are farsighted. But if she is...well, we're adept at dealing with littles on glasses.

Many people have asked me how a tiny one can be checked for vision problems.  Apparently one way is that the doctor can actually measure the curvature of the baby's eye using an instrument. She also has some flash cards and all babies will glance at one specific card if their eyes are Ok.  I don't know all the details.

Now that we've been through this, I recommend all parents of babies have their little one's eyes checked when they are still very young.  Here in Ohio, that check is free through a state program.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review of Daddy Longlegs by Jean Webster

Somehow I ran across the title Daddy Longlegs, and found it was free on Kindle. It is a novel that was written around a century ago, so obviously is from a different era.

The basic plot is that an orphan girl named Jerusha is, at age 17, unexpectedly blessed by an unknown benefactor of her orphanage so that she is able to go to college.  The benefactor's only stipulation is that she write him a monthly letter about her progress.  She catches a glimpse of him as he leaves the orphanage the day she learns of his gift, and she sees that he is tall so she nicknames him Daddy Longlegs.  Except for the first brief chapter which explains the gift and the orphanage and a little about Jerusha's childhood in the orphanage, the rest of the book is in the form of letters to her Daddy Longlegs.  He never writes back personally though does send her occasional gifts and directives from his secretary.

Spoilers ahead.

I am guessing this is one of those books that most people really like.  It got good reviews on Amazon.   I enjoyed reading it but I tend to analyze things a lot and there are many issues with the book.

The first has to do with spiritual issues.  The main character is raised in an orphanage where apparently she was taught a form of Christianity that she disliked.  In her letters, she takes many swipes at Christianity and clergymen and churches.  I guess that's fine in the sense that many people do have problems with being raised with a wrong picture of the Lord.  But Jerusha learns to analyze and evaluate in college, but never seems to focus any of that training on religion.

The most unhealthy quote about God is when she disparages a minister and says that she, personally, will believe in God as she wants Him to be -- kind, generous, loving, and patient.  Now God is all those things, but God is a great deal more and it is very dangerous for someone to decide based on personal wisdom what God is like.  People are free not to believe in Him and many do.  Jerusha apparently decides that she believes in God, but will create Him in her own image.  The truth is that we are all humans limited by our brains and our experiences and if we just base our view on God on how we FEEL about things, we'll probably get into trouble.

Here's the other big issue I had with the book.  While at college, Jerusha meets the young and wealthy uncle of a fellow student.  He and she click and see each other periodically and fall in love.  Jerusha eventually turns down his marriage proposal as he is from a good family and she has never had the courage to tell him that she grew up in an orphanage and isn't from "good stock".  Keep in mind this was written 100 years ago when family line was a bigger deal than it is now.

Jerusha really likes the young man and near the end of the book pours out her sorrow about the breaking off of the relationship to her Daddy Longlegs.  He in turn finally writes her personally saying she should come into town to discuss the situation with him face to face.

It probably is no surprise to the astute reader that the young, wealthy uncle IS Daddy Longlegs.  He had apparently liked the sound of her from her letters and developed a relationship with her without revealing that he was her benefactor.

I guess most people consider that romantic. I think it is creepy.  I would be very unhappy if I was in that situation. She is very open in her letters and talks extensively about the young uncle and her view of him, and he is reading those letters.  At the end, Jerusha is thrilled to discover that Daddy Longlegs and her love are one and the same.  I'd be freaked out that someone would basically deceive me for years like that.

I realize this is from a different era and that may be part of the equation here.  I do think it is good to evaluate the messages in books. One of the messages here seems to be that deception in a close relationship is fine.  I don't like that message.

Bad Back

Oooh, ugh, ouch...

The current virus attacked my back yesterday.  Ouch, ouch, ouch.  Mostly I just ached, but if I moved a certain way it REALLY hurt.  It made me realize how wonderful it is to have a working body. I've had back problems off and on for years, and I realize most of it is tied into poor posture. I can tell this virus is attacking my usual achy spots; interestingly enough, my C-section scar has been sorel for the first time in months.

Today is better than yesterday, so that is encouraging. I'm also so thankful for my big kids who can carry toddlers, change diapers, and make meals.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

When My Brain Isn't Working Well, I'll Write a Post Composed Mostly of Pictures

For why my brain isn't working well, see the last post.

Our sweet girl continues to love this silly little tie. She calls it a scarf.

Before the Great Illness struck, I took some of the kids ice skating.  Naomi, Joseph, Miriam, Angela, and Rose joined me for a local homeschool skating event.  The kids had lots of fun.  Naomi and Lydia took a First Aid course a week ago and that came in VERY handy, because a young female friend of ours cut her finger badly somehow, and Naomi knew what to do.  

I enjoyed myself as the kids I had with me were fairly self sufficient. I got to chat with some other homeschooling mothers, plus spend quality time with Rosy Posy.

Kevin had a birthday this week, so now he is back to being one year younger than me :-).  I'm one year and 3 weeks older than he is.

We had a cat in our sun room for a few days this week.  He injured his leg somehow and needed a few days to recuperate.  He is better now.

Lydia was his primary caretaker. It is a source of constant amazement and joy to me that our kids have such a range of personalities and gifts.  Naomi and Lydia are like night and day in some ways. Naomi is very left brained, Lydia very right brained.  Lydia LOVES animals and little kids, and has a gift with both.  So when Moonbeam needed some extra snuggles, Lydia was glad to oblige.


Actually, the baby isn't sick.  But she is cute!  I'd rather put a picture of her there, looking cute, then a picture of me, looking sick.

 Because yes, I am sick.  And definitely so are Kevin, and Miriam, Isaac, Joseph, and Daniel.  Naomi has an aching back and Lydia has some symptoms as well.

  I'm feeling quite morose about it.  It is some kind of virus which involves fatigue and stuffed up noses and coughs and aching bodies. I'm mostly just aching though several of the children have the other symptoms.  Poor Miriam is the worst and is coughing a bit.

  Back in my pre-child days, I would just rest and relax with a sickness like this.  If I could watch videos and read books and nap when I wanted to, I'd actually be pretty happy.  But since we have sick children, some of them small, Kevin and I are dealing with interrupted nights and general crankiness.

 I am reminding myself again that God doesn't promise life will be a bowl of roses. The kids are so worth any extra fatigue, of course.

  I'm also thankful that SO FAR, Rose isn't sick or at least not very sick.  I am still nursing her and those antibodies are probably helping.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Little Homeschooling Vignette

Last night, I lay in bed with Rose, nursing her.  I was really tired and my back was aching and it was comfortable and relaxing...

And then one of our older children came into the room, with a math book, explaining that the math didn't make sense.  So we discussed it, while I lay in bed with a baby girl nursing.  I just thought it was homeschooling, through and through. Yes, teaching, and learning, can happen everywhere.

Now I will admit that after a few minutes, I chased the child away, and we did more work after I put Rose to bed.  But teaching definitely isn't compartmentalized into hours or places around here :-).

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

More on the Murphys

I keep thinking about Ian and Larissa Murphy, who wrote Eight Twenty Eight.  I reviewed their book in the last blog post.

Eight Twenty Eight, by the way, refers to August 28th, the day they were married. It ALSO refers to Romans 8:28:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to beconformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

I firmly believe that not all things are GOOD, but that God can work all things TOGETHER for good. Some things are just bad, but the Lord can use sorrow and grief and pain to help us grow.

Ok, back to Ian Murphy.  I was pondering that if Ian and Larissa had been married at the time of the accident, her decision to stay with him would have been obvious.  I believe wholeheartedly in those traditional wedding vows of "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health..."

The amazing thing was that they weren't even engaged at the time of the accident, though they were very much headed that way.

But more than that, I've been thinking about how Ian looks and acts (in some ways) like a handicapped CHILD.  Like I said, I saw some video footage of him and he really looks odd and speaks strangely.

BUT he is not a child, he is an adult.  And not only is he an adult, he is an adult who thinks clearly in many ways, and has amazing insights, and yet he isn't able to communicate very well because his body won't cooperate.

It reminds me a little of Stephen Hawking. Hawking is BRILLIANT, there is no doubt about it, but his body doesn't work well at all thanks to ALS (I think that is his disease) and he can't really speak.  But everyone knows he is a genius.  (To be clear, I think he is wrong about many things, but he definitely has an amazing brain.)

How much of this world, this culture, is based on appearance?  Sadly, a lot.  A lot.  Not only looks and speech, but mannerisms.  I am feeling convicted about how easy it is for ME to make a quick judgement about someone's intelligence and character because of the way the person looks and speaks and moves.  God forgive me.  There are those who are great at projecting an image of themselves that really isn't reality.  There are those who are disabled but have so much to offer -- and I'm not talking about intelligence at all, I'm talking about being a blessing just by existing and having a loving spirit.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Book Review: Eight Twenty Eight by Ian and Larissa Murphy

I'm on an email list for Inspired Reads, which provides suggestions for inexpensive religious Kindle books, mostly Christian.

I LOVE Kindle books. Love them, love them, love them.  It is SO nice walking around with my Kindle full of fun books I can read when I'm outside the home, or nursing the baby. The latter is actually a big deal.  Kindles are perfect for one hand operation.

Ok, back to our regularly scheduled blog post.  I recently purchased  Eight Twenty Eight, by Ian and Larissa Murphy.  It's the true story of the Murphys.  A very brief synopsis is as follows:

Boy meets girl in college.  Boy is Christian, girl becomes Christian.
Boy and girl fall madly in love with each other.
Boy starts working extra jobs to earn money for engagement ring so that he can propose.
Boy is on his way to an extra job one day, when he has a massive, horrific car accident and sustains a catastrophic brain injury.

That obviously has all the makings of a tragedy, and in many ways it IS a tragedy. But God sustained Ian's life and Larissa's love for him, in spite of the fact that Ian really wasn't the same person after the accident. He was in a coma for 7 months and even now is severely disabled.  But he has gotten back speech, and his brain works fairly well, and 3 or so years after the accident he proposed, and they did indeed get married.

It's a thought provoking book, an interesting book, a challenging book. I'm sure most people would think "What would I do?" in a situation like that.  Larissa's devotion to Ian is, in many ways, startling.  He isn't able to work and indeed he can't even walk without support. She has to support them both financially and do the vast majority of the household work too.  Ian is a kind and loving and devoted husband, and he and she share a vibrant faith in God's goodness, but it still is challenging.  Larissa is open about that in the book, about the sorrow and the frustration.  Ian has short term memory loss and while he can read and indeed can impart significant spiritual truths, he mostly lives in the present and doesn't seem to struggle emotionally as much as his wife.  Or maybe he does, but since she is the primary author her struggle comes out more clearly.

This morning, I looked them up online.  They have a blog and I also found a fairly recent video which showed footage of their wedding (which went viral a couple of years ago) plus more recent information.

I admit that after watching the video, Larissa's choice seems even more amazing because Ian really struggles with a lot of things.  In the book, his speech is of course written down.  In person, he talks, but it is very garbled and hard to follow.  I'm sure his wife and other family members and caretakers have learned to understand him well (just as I can understand our toddler because I am around him so much) but it must make it hard for him to interact with strangers.  He also just looks odd. I LOVE that he and she are open about what he is like because we live in a culture which is WAY too focused on looks and intelligence.  Ian is very limited in some ways, but he is a human being, made in the image of Christ, and he is as valuable as any other person.  Maybe more so...Jesus said a lot about the first being last, and the last being first.  Ian may be first in heaven, who knows.

One thing that occurred to me rather strongly was whether marital intimacy would work out and the answer seems to be YES, that part works out just fine, thank you very much. :-)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

These Are the Days of Computers

  We use computers all the time.  ALL the time.  And lately, I've felt like we could use at least one more computer to facilitate homeschooling.  The older 6 children all have some schoolwork that has to be done on a computer. We have 4 desktops and 2 laptops, but one desktop is ancient, as is one laptop.  Some of the homeschooling programs are memory and internet intensive.

  So we looked at the budget, and thought things over, and Kevin decided to buy the parts to build a new computer.

  Kevin is a "computer guy".  He is really good at figuring out how to put computers together, plus he can battle them into submission when they refuse to work.  I pity the computer that goes up against Kevin!

  I'm not like that at all.  Computers are mostly black boxes to me. I just want them to work, and I get frustrated and bewildered when they don't work.

  Naomi takes after Kevin.  From an early age, she showed an interest in computers.  A lot of it is mindset; for example, when I am learning how to use a new computer program, I'm just annoyed with the whole process. I  want to learn what I need to know, and am not interested in understanding all the subtle nuances of a program. Naomi, like Kevin, is interested in the whole picture.  She is my "go to girl" when I have a problem with a computer program and Kevin isn't around. I OFTEN ask her to fix things for her siblings and me because I just can't do it :-).  I'm so thankful for her (not just because of her computer prowess, of course, but I do appreciate her computer savvy.)

 So this week, Kevin and Naomi spent hours and hours putting the new computer together.  I cringe when I see a computer open with all those naked electronic parts hanging out.  It looks so bewildering and complicated.  But Naomi, with Kevin coaching her, dove right in.

  Last night, Kevin spent hours battling the new computer to get it functioning properly.  He was moving hard drives around in a process he described as follows:

Imagine that you have a chicken, and you get a new chicken.  You like the brain of the old chicken, so you move the brain of the old chicken into the new chicken.  The old brain isn't sure about the new body, and sometimes gets cranky.

As analogies go, I'm not sure it is great but it surely is funny!  Kevin had to battle the computer because of the need to deal with drivers and settings and stuff I don't understand.  It took hours, but
he finally got it working.  Now we need to find a home for the new computer.

  So one computer is exciting enough, but to our surprise we are now the proud owners of an older Mac computer!  A neighbor asked if we could use one that she no longer needs.  Kevin decided yes, it would be very useful for the kids to have access to an Apple computer so they could learn about a different operating system. We need a home for that Mac too. We need to acquire some furniture :-).

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Liebster Blog Award

My daughter, Naomi, nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award! 

"The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. So, what is a Liebster?  The meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. Isn't that sweet? Blogging is about building a community and it's a great way to connect with other bloggers and help spread the word about newer bloggers/blogs."
1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you plus create 11 questions for the people you’ve tagged to answer.
3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
4. Go to their page and tell them.
5. No tag backs!
Okay, so... eleven things about me...

1. What's your favorite color?
2. Do you like blogging?
3. What's your favorite book?
4. What's your favorite game?
5. Got siblings?
6. Got pets?
7. Got Jesus?
8. Got milk?
9. Do you like winter or summer better?
10. Do you like writing?
11. How many languages can you speak?

I will answer the questions anyway.  Fun!  The rest of the requirements I likely won't get to.  So call me a wimp, I don't care.

1.  Favorite color is blue.
2.  Yes, I do like blogging. It is creative and I also like being able to go back and look at our family life over the last few years.  
3.  My favorite book.  That is hard.  Hmmmmm.... well, I will say The Bible, but that isn't usually amazingly RELAXING to read. So if I was stuck on a desert island with one book, the Bible would be it.  But if I could have another book to read for fun, I'd probably pick Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
4.  Game.  Hmmm....  That is hard to answer.  If we are including computer games, I would say Portal 2.  If card games, I would say cribbage.
5.  Yes, 2 younger brothers.  I don't see a lot of them because they live a "fur piece" away, and our family does not travel well :-).
6.  Bunch of cats.  Used to have chickens but gave them away. Good decision as our lives are less complicated.
7.  Yes, yes, yes!!!  Jesus is the Lord of my life and I'm so grateful to Him for saving me!
8.  I don't drink milk.  I'm allergic to dairy.
9.  I like...oh, I cannot believe I am going to say this!  I like winter better.  I can't believe I just typed that. I used to be a total hot weather person but I hate the chiggers in summer, and I'm less able to enjoy heat.  I like spring and fall better than both winter and summer.  Summer is Ok, though.
10.  I love writing.
11.  One.  That would be English.  I know a smattering of Spanish but I'm pathetic.

Little Daddy

 Kevin doesn't travel a lot for work, but 11 years ago he went to Kiev, Ukraine for more than a week. While there, he bought this matrioshka doll.  No clue how to spell it.  You know, those dolls that nest inside one another.

Daniel currently loves them.  We don't let him play with them or the pieces would be lost, but he and Kevin sometimes look at them together.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Halfway to 90

I forgot to mention that I had a birthday recently, and I hit the big 4-5.

That isn't generally a "landmark" birthday but for some reason it does seem like a big deal to be halfway to 90.  I have always thought that 45 is middle age (even when I was a child) but 90 seems genuinely old. I might not make it to 90, so I might well be more than halfway through my life.

That's an odd thought.

Another odd thing is that I have a little baby.  I have friends my age who have grandchildren.  My best friend when I was a young child was born 2 weeks before me, had a baby in her teens, and has been a grandmother for at least 10 years.  I find it amazing that I'm 45 and have a tiny one.  God has such gloriously different plans for different people.

I've had some good talks with the children about God's plans for our lives, and how sometimes life is just plain challenging.  It is interesting to think about "what ifs".  What if we hadn't been able to have children, and we both were working full time?  Kevin has coworkers in just that situation -- they are both PhD level engineers, and they were not able to have children. I still chuckle inwardly about a little vignette from a few years ago which clearly showed the contrast in our lives.  Kevin went out to the parking lot after work and slid smoothly behind the wheel of his rusty, elderly Nissan Sentra (which I brought into the marriage.)  At the same time, his female coworker (the one who wasn't able to have kids) slid behind the wheel of her husband's Jaguar, which she had borrowed for the day.  They just have WAY more disposable income because they have 2 large incomes and no children to spend it on.

 Having said that, we have it far easier than MANY people and we are grateful.  Kevin earns a good salary, plenty for our large family to live on. But we have less than we would, obviously, if I worked full time.  Or if we'd only had 2 kids and they were going to school outside our home, I'd probably be working more hours than my current 4 or 5 hours a week, and we'd have a larger income.

 I wouldn't trade even one of our children for all the tea in China. I wouldn't trade these years of toddler tantrums and homeschooling and the care of infants for all the tea in China.  I feel stressed some days, but also incredibly, incredibly blessed.

We all need purpose in life.  Certainly plenty of people without kids have PLENTY of purpose.  God's plans for some is that they stay single or are married and childless.  But what would be the joy in making lots of money, maybe retire early, if we just sat around goofing off?

I'm so glad for our large family and for God's splendid purpose for our lives.  Yes, sometimes I'm tired, but that's cool.  God will give us the strength to do His will for us. Whatever that is.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Cherish These Days??

I've had not one, but 2, ladies tell me recently to "cherish these days"; they were both referring to the days when our children are young.  Both of these women have children who are either out of the home, or on the cusp of finishing high school.  I do appreciate those words of wisdom from women farther down the path.  They know what it is like to have lived through the early years and they know these are precious times.


Honestly, Daniel is close to driving me stark, raving mad.  I adore him.  I ADORE him. But there are times when I don't like him very much.

What is there to like about a child who seems to be on a constant quest to make messes, the bigger the better?  Daniel loves to dump water and potting soil wherever he can; so far he hasn't combined the two, but only because there is no water in our sun room where the potted plants are.

What is there to like when Daniel and Sarah fight like antagonistic cats and dogs when we put them in our toy room together?  A couple of weeks ago, they usually played nicely. Now they play fine for a few minutes, and then start fighting over toys and occasionally hitting each other!  (We are not putting them together regularly now, I assure you.)

What is there to like when Daniel says "NO" to everything? I realize it is developmentally appropriate and it is even a little funny, but it gets wearing too.

What is there to like when Sarah draws all over her siblings' plush toys, and the computer table, and herself?  She used to draw on PAPER.  P...a...p...e...r.  How hard is it for her to understand that we draw on paper, not on people, places, and things?  Well, she KNOWS.  She knows.  She just chooses to disobey our rules.  (She is currently banned from pencils, pens, and markers.)

All this is to say, I don't particularly enjoy Sarah and Daniel much of the time right now. Rose is awesome.  She is 4+ months and smiles and coos and sleeps moderately well and is easy.  But the 2 next kids are a handful.  2 handfuls.

I was talking about pregnancy and kids with some of our older children.  One of them commented that "everything I say about pregnancy makes it sound like it is not much fun."  Hmmm....

Well, my pregnancies aren't very easy, though they aren't all that hard.  And having 9 kids isn't easy either.  So -- the simple answer to WHY we have 9 kids is that we strongly felt the Lord wanted us to let Him decide on our family size.

Take Rose.  Well, don't take Rose. When I first learned I was pregnant with Rose, I was super intimidated.  We already had 8 kids, I was homeschooling the older 6,  I was 44 years old, and I felt overwhelmed.  At the time, I really was not too happy. Honest truth.

Now, if someone actually tried to take Rose from us, and I had a scimitar handy, I'd stab the person through the heart.  Ok, that was graphic but it describes the depth of love I have for our little lady, and indeed for all our kids. I would die for each one of our children, and I would seriously KILL for our kids, if they were threatened by someone nefarious.

So back to Daniel and Sarah. I adore both of them.  And I don't need to enjoy them right now.  Kevin and I have a big responsibility to love and care for and train and teach our children. There is nothing in the Bible that says life will be easy, and it doesn't say kids will always be a boatload of fun.  Love is a decision and I love our kids both because I just LOVE them fiercely, and because I choose to.

So cherish these days?  Some days I will cherish, some days I will merely survive. And that's Ok.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

You Don't Really Know...

One of my favorite books of all time is Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.

I tend to be picky about TV/movie adaptations of favorite books, so I am pleased that I like not one, but THREE different adaptations of Pride and Prejudice. The most recent was released a few years ago and stars Keira Knightley.

In that movie, the character of Jane Bennet is played by actress Rosamund Pike.  Jane is an incredibly sweet character -- nice, kind, generous, always looking for the best in everyone.  Pike does a great job of playing her character.

Without consciously thinking about it, I projected the Jane Bennet character on the actress Rosamund Pike. That is to say, I had a general feeling that Pike is probably a nice person. Of course, I knew and indeed know NOTHING about her personal life. If I had consciously thought about it, I would have thought "all I know is she is a good actress. She could be a total jerk.  She could be the next Mother Theresa. I have no idea."  But I wasn't thinking.

So this week, I discovered that Pike is playing the lead female character in the movie Gone Girl.  I would hate to spoil the plot though I personally think all Christians should think LONG and hard about watching that movie. I have not, and you could not pay me enough to watch it.  Focus on the Family gave it a very poor rating...suffice it to say that it is violent and ugly and has some really nasty sexual stuff.  Pike's character is evil. I have read a plot summary of the book and it gives me the cold shudders.

 I felt shocked that Rosamund Pike would play this character.  And of course, that is silly.  Most Hollywood actresses will play most things.  Rosamund Pike is NOT Jane Bennett.  She just played her. And now she is playing a part that involves murder and infidelity and ugliness.  As a Christian, I would not play that part (if I was an actress -- and I am as far away from being a decent actress as one can get.)  But she obviously was fine with playing the part, which means ... well, it means she isn't Jane Bennett. No surprise there.

That made me think of Robin Williams, God rest his soul.  I saw more than one person on Facebook say "Oh, I love Robin Williams!" when he died.  Truth is, we didn't love Robin Williams.  We loved his acting.  Most people (including me) didn't  KNOW him.  We know his persona.  We know that he was a brilliant comedian and actor. And indeed he was.  But obviously under that tremendous comedic skill was a man with very major problems that resulted in his tragic suicide.

I wonder sometimes how I come across in this blog.  I've had people very kindly refer to me as Super Mom.  I know I am not.  I project a persona on this blog. I try to be very honest, but reality is that the blog is just a part of who I am. I never deliberately lie or deceive, but I only tell about SOME parts of our lives.  I don't have time to cover all of my life and indeed much of it is boring :-).

If there is one thing I could say about me it is this:  I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior. That is a quote from John Newton, who wrote Amazing Grace hundreds of years ago.  That may sound like false modesty on my part but it is not.  I fail in a hundred ways every day. I get cranky with my kids. I get obsessive about messes.  I have my lazy moments.  I give into anxiety. But Jesus is my Lord and my Savior.  So I'm in pretty good shape.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fire Station Field Trip

Field trips.  From an educational perspective, I love them.  I love the concept of hands on learning. I love going out into the world and actually seeing and touching and learning.

Practically...field trips are hard.  9 kids under 15.  Great big helpers in the form of my 2 oldest girls, but with a baby in tow and an insane toddler, field trips are hard.  I'm also slightly freaked out with finding new places so there is always low level stress that I'm going to get lost.  I do have intentions of getting a GPS of some kind in the near future, but right now I'm dependent on mapquest.

We visited a fire station a few years ago and it was strenuous.  However, our big girls needed to talk to a firefighter/paramedic for part of their Emergency Preparedness badge for American Heritage Girls (AHG) so I girded up my loins (figuratively speaking) and arranged to go on a field trip to a local fire station.

And really, it was awesome. The fire station in question is only about 7 minutes drive from us, and the 2 firefighter/paramedics who hosted us were incredibly friendly and helpful.

One of the first things they did was to take us into their TV room and then turn on the emergency lights/sound alerts.  The whole station is rigged up with these, so when a call comes in the lights go red and a voice tells them that they need to run off to a fire or medical emergency. Incidentally, only 15% of calls are fires nowadays; the vast majority of calls are for medical issues.

 The firefighters work 1 full 24 hour shift, then have 2 full days off.  During their 24 hours ON they often get almost no sleep. I joked that it was like having a little baby and they agreed, except of course they keep up this grueling schedule for years on end.  But they do have 2 days to recover each time unless they get called back in for a larger emergency.

They took us up this training tower.  It goes up several stories and has an outdoor balcony. They can and do flood it with smoke and do training exercises where they go in through the balcony (via a ladder) in full gear, and creep around in the smoke looking for a hidden dummy.  Have I mentioned I don't like heights?  At all? And you can see the stairs are those wonderful mesh horrors where you can look down between your feet and see the floor a LONG way below.  It really was not my favorite thing to go up those stairs, but the 8 older kids were going up so I needed to go with them. Do I get a medal?  My big girls' AHG troop leader came with her kids and kindly looked after Rose so I WAS able to go up the tower.  It would have been impossible without her.

The firefighters very kindly let us feel the hose.  Here Naomi is helping Daniel. He loves water.

It wasn't a huge hose but it still had quite a bit of power.  I've read that the really big hoses need a couple of STRONG men holding them because if they break loose, they can hurt people thrashing around (the hoses can hurt people, I mean.)

This is the big fire truck. It has a host of equipment for various situations.  In between chasing kids, I thought a lot about the logistics of a fire station like this.  They have to keep the vehicles stocked at all time. They need to keep good track of their staffing so they aren't spending too much BUT they also have enough people to do what needs done.  The personnel explained that they work in conjunction with departments within about a 30 mile radius, so if there is an emergency in a nearby town, they can and will be called.

The big rig has an appallingly tall ladder.  I think they said 110 feet long.  Ugh.  We talked a fair amount about fear of heights. The staff said everyone has their "thing" -- some don't like heights, others don't like blood, or small spaces, etc.  They have to learn to overcome their particular fears and stressors to do their jobs well.  Training tends to weed out people who just can't cut this job, which is a challenging one.

Daniel was more or less a nut through most of the field trip, so the big girls and I spent a fair amount of time chasing him.

We also got to walk through the "ambulance" -- the smaller vehicle they send on medical runs.  It is, of course, scrupulously neat and clean, and has a host of medical supplies for a variety of purposes.  Kevin actually visited this fire station 7 years ago when he had some worrisome symptoms which signaled a possible stroke.  It turned out to be nothing to worry about, but having a local place like this fire station IS reassuring when something scary happens physically.

So...thoughts.  Profound thoughts.

I truly admire firefighters/paramedics. They are on the front lines of emergency preparedness.  They deal with WAY more than fires. They are there for car crashes and heart attacks and yes, fires.  They have to stay physically strong so they can carry people up and down ladders.

There is no way I could physically do their job.  There are a few women who staff this station (though our 2 hosts were men) and they learn to compensate plus, hey, they are strong women!

I don't think I could mentally/emotionally do this job either. Sometimes, these folks are the heroes.  They go to the heart attack victim's house and pull him or her back from the dead using CPR and an AED. They treat asthma attack victims or deal with serious head trauma.  They pull people from burning buildings.  That is amazing and awesome.

Sometimes, they can't save someone. And that's where the job has to get tough. I wonder how they do it?  How do they deal with a situation where they go and it is too late to save someone?  I have a sweet online friend (who will no doubt read this blog entry) who lost her husband more than a year ago due to an epileptic seizure.  It is heart breaking that the medical emergency personnel couldn't save him, but they couldn't.  Sometimes the seizure is catastrophic,  sometimes the heart attack is too severe, sometimes the fire is too entrenched and someone dies of smoke inhalation or burns.

So I think this job requires more than just physical strength and expertise.  It requires a special type of mind and soul. I hope and pray these folks still have compassion for those they help.  I am sure they do -- you don't go into firefighting/paramedic work for the money. The hours are lousy and the pay isn't amazing.   I would guess, though, that fire station personnel need to separate enough from a tragic situation so that they CAN do their jobs.  Maybe it is a natural part of who they are, maybe it is part of their training, maybe it is a combination.

Anyway, amazing field trip.  Thought provoking.  I'm thankful for these folks.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Nosebleeds and Eating Problems

2 nights ago, in the evening, I had a gusher of a nosebleed.  I don't get them often at all.  In fact, the vast majority of my nosebleeds are when I am pregnant and I AM NOT PREGNANT :-).

But...I can tell I'm having pretty severe allergies to something out in the environment, so I'm dealing with drainage and dried up nasal passages.  So that's the source of the problem.

That evening, I spent a good hour waiting for my nosebleed to stop.  Then in the middle of the night, it started up again and I spent another hour dealing with it.  Ugh.  Not the best night's sleep.

I love how the Lord uses the printed word to help me deal with bad attitudes. I was not happy about the nosebleed, or drainage that causes stomach upset, and a bad night's sleep.  Not too fun.

But right before the nosebleed, I was reading a book from the library that I picked up randomly.  It is about a young woman in her 20's who got sick with a virus that attacked her heart.  After 4 miserable years of heart problems, and literally months in the hospital, she had a heart transplant. Then she dealt with rejection though they managed to quell the rejection to the point that her new heart "took."  
Then she started climbing mountains, I guess, but I haven't gotten to that point yet in the book.

Point is, this lady got really really sick in spite of living a healthy lifestyle.  She was young, happily married, a sportswoman, and ate carefully.  You'd think she'd be healthy and she wasn't.

So here I am, 45 next week, and really very healthy.  Nosebleeds and allergies?  Pshaw.  Not a big deal.  

Last week I was reading the beginning of the Gospel of Mark. I have read it many times before and this time, the oddest thing jumped out at me.  Namely:

Mark 1: 6-8
Now John was clothed with camel's hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, "There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

Ok, so there is all that awesome stuff about Jesus' coming and how He was far greater than John.

But that's not what jumped out.  It was the "locusts and wild honey" part that did :-).

Um, locusts?  Insects?  No, that does not sound too tasty.  The Israelites in the desert whined about manna but if you ask me, they had it pretty good.  Honey is good, locusts bad. I think.  And talk about limited.  I mean yes, maybe he had the occasional variation in his diet (maybe the random fig?) but it sounds like mostly he was eating bugs dipped in wild honey.

I've been a bit grumpy about my food lately. I'm diabetic, which limits what I can eat.  I've adjusted to that over the last 10 years and there are plenty of things I like that I can eat.  But now some things aren't agreeing with me, like dairy, so I am off all milk products.  AND I think Rose might be allergic to wheat so I'm off wheat as well.

But you know, all those limitations aren't the biggest thing. The truth is, I like to relax when I eat.  I have a bad habit of being hungry and thinking, "Well, I want to eat...but right now the kids are crazy and I don't have time to sit down to eat.  So I'll wait."  And I wait and wait, to the point that sometimes I don't eat enough to maintain my weight.  Right now I'm 15 lbs higher than my "normal" weight -- but I know from experience that if I lose too much weight, I'll lose my milk supply.  Rose and I have made it 4 months and that is better than I did with Daniel, so eating early, often, and consistently is important.

I have found myself munching down oatmeal with both Daniel and Sarah on my lap, in front of the computer, while Daniel and Sarah watch a youtube video of "Let It Go".  I like the song, but I'd WAY rather have the kids all occupied while I sit peacefully at the table to eat my oatmeal, with a good book in front of me.

This reminds me of a section in C. S. Lewis' book, The Screwtape Letters.  This book is a totally fictional account of a higher level demon advising a lower level demon how to tempt a man away from Christ.  (Obviously it is fictional since that's way out there -- but it is a GREAT book. Very thought provoking.) There is a short section where the demon talks about the "subject"'s mother.  In the book, the mother is very picky about food.  She wants things "just so" though she isn't a glutton in the sense we usually think about gluttony. But she is fussy and whiny about her toast being just right, or her food at a restaurant not being too large of a serving.  The demon points out that being hyper picky about food is a form of gluttony, and I think that's a valid perspective though not what we usually think about when we think about gluttony.

ANYWAY, I'm in good shape with food.  I've got a husband bringing in a big enough salary to feed us all, and feed us all well. I have my chocolate from Trader Joe's, my coconut flour from Amazon, and my eggs from Kroger.  I have plenty of times in the day when I can eat, even if it isn't quite the environment I prefer.  And I don't need to eat bugs.  Dipped in wild honey.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Tie and the Rainbows

We found this tie in one of the big boys' drawers, and we thought it would be cute on various kids.  And it is!

Tuesday the weather was pretty crazy.  We had rain off and on all day. I took the children ice skating (all but 3 kids, I should say) and forgot my camera :-(.  They mostly had a good time.  We missed heavy rains while driving, which made me happy. And late afternoon, and early evening, we had rainbows.  I thought the evening one was particularly interesting with clouds in the background.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sometimes Our Fabulous Littles Are Awful

   We're having a "season" with our 3 and 2 year old children. They've been very difficult the last few days.

 But let me back up a bit on that.  I have a dear friend, a mentor, who told me that age 3 was a very challenging age for her daughter.  I think our kids have been challenging at 3, but for some reason I've blocked it out.  I just remember dear D. telling me that.

 Anyhow, Sarah has been pushing things and honestly, I've been letting her get away with disobedience.  I have read that early kids are often disciplined more than later born children.  Most "experts" say or imply that Mom and Dad are too tired and worn out to discipline the young ones as well as they disciplined the older children.  They just kind of "give up" because it is too much trouble to discipline the young ones.  Supposedly.

 I wouldn't use "tired" or "lazy" to describe me and my discipline style.  I feel pretty good physically and not too tired, and I am a very diligent parent and I know how important discipline is for every child, regardless of where he or she falls in the birth order.

   But I am definitely, over the top, distracted.  I've got a baby who needs me, I'm having intense and interesting discussions with my teens on occasion, and I've got an older son struggling with math.  Our preschooler and toddler are cared for well and get lots of attention from siblings and parents.  BUT, I sometimes tell one of the littles not to do something, and he or she waits a minute and disobeys, and I miss it because something else grabbed my attention.

  Sarah, who is a smart little cookie, has been doing something sweet but disobedient. When I'm nursing Rose, Sarah likes to crowd up against us and kiss Rose's head.  I allow that once, but then tell her to go away as she distracts Rose.  But until 2 days ago, Sarah usually disobeyed me and just kept kissing Rose's head, and I just kept saying, "Stop, Sarah!"  Over and over.

 Looking back, I'm appalled at that particular brand of bad parenting.  Nothing reinforces disobedience like repeated instruction and no consequences for disobedience. But like I said, I've been distracted.  And when I'm nursing Rose, the last thing I want to do is to stop nursing and deal with disobedience. Sigh.

 So 2 days ago, I realized I needed to start cracking down on Sarah's disobedience in this area and once I started paying attention, I realized she was disobeying about a host of things. She has a common trait of wanting a toy that someone else has.  She has been snatching toys from Daniel regularly, and having tug of wars over toys.  When I tell her to let go, she disobeys me 100% of the time.

  None of this is to be "down" on Sarah. She is only 3 years old.  The thing is, she is desperate for boundaries. I believe with all my heart that kids really do want their parents to provide a safe and understandable life.  Her will says she wants a toy, RIGHT NOW, and she'll gladly snatch or steal from someone to get it.  But in her heart, she wants a safe place where no one is allowed to snatch HER toys.  So me being careless in this area is bad for her and the whole family.

 I've started giving her one spank when she disobeys me, or I have a big kid remove her to our study (which is a toy room) on occasion (like when I'm nursing Rose and she is disobedient.)

  I don't think it is surprising that since I started disciplining, Sarah's disobedience has escalated.  Various experts would say various thing about that, but my belief is that she is testing to see if I will cave.  Will I really keep following up?  Or will I give in?  So I need to be very consistent and diligent right now, though it IS tiring.

  Daniel is mirroring some of the same behaviors as Sarah, albeit at a less sophisticated level because he is only 2.  He and Sarah have been quarreling a lot the last few days.

 All this is very tiring but I'm praying for wisdom and patience from God, and strength from God as well.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Lunar Eclipse

A lunar eclipse which starts at about 6 a.m. is a gift from the Lord. I LIKE lunar eclipses, they are very cool, but I do NOT want to get everyone up to see one in the middle of the night. So October 8th's "blood moon" at 6 a.m. was wonderful.

Lydia is the only one who got up and stayed up, but I woke up our 3 little girls and our 2 big boys and they peered out the window at the eclipse.

Kevin pointed out that the pictures would be better if the camera was on a tripod, BUT we still got a few neat pictures.  The first, of course, shows the earth's shadow moving across the moon.  The 2nd picture shows the official blood moon lunar eclipse.  I believe the orange color comes from the reflection of dawn onto the moon, but I'm not sure about that.