Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bad News and Good News

Bad news first, and it was BAD.  Late afternoon, one of our outdoor cats was hit and killed by a car.   A friend around the corner saw him on the road and called us.  Lydia bravely went to make sure it was indeed Sunny, and it was. Poor girl.  Sunny was a favorite and the older 5 kids were all very sad, as was I.  There was plenty of weeping and wailing.  Sunny did tend to cross the road often, but we have a quiet road and until today, he was lucky.

The good news, and it is GREAT news, is that some friends of ours had a healthy baby boy yesterday. They lost their first child, a precious little girl, a little more than a year ago. She was stillborn at 38 weeks due to a Trisomy 13 chromosomal disorder. We are so thankful for the blessing of this healthy baby boy, though the last couple of weeks have been emotional as we remember the end of the last pregnancy and all the sorrow associated with A's birth.

Speaking of pregnancy, I am nearing the halfway mark!  Monday is 20 weeks and I have an ultrasound that day.  Our biggest hope and prayer is that the ultrasound will show a healthy baby.  We're hoping also to find out the gender of the baby.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


When Kevin and I got married (16+ years ago), I was a lousy cook. Lousy.  I am not quite sure how I survived 8 years of living on my own.  Did I just eat cereal a lot?  I didn't eat out much, since I was poor.  I do remember cooking corn and slicing up bread for dinner when I was a graduate student.  Oh, I could make chili and spaghetti sauce too.  But my repertoire was very limited.  I think I ate quite a bit of Rice-A-Roni, too.  You get the picture.

When Kevin and I were married, I realized I now had a man in my life who did not want to eat in the (lousy) way I was used to eating.  Fortunately, Kevin is a fine cook.  The first 2 years of our marriage, when both of us were working, Kevin did the cooking and I washed the dishes.  That made us both happy.

When we moved down to Ohio, with Naomi on the way, I got serious about learning to cook. I would say now I am a decent cook, maybe even a good one. Yes, I would say I am good.

But ... I am not ADVENTUROUS.  I tend to cook the same things over and over and over.  That is especially true right now, as I'm feeling super busy with life and don't want to do something new and exciting that might, or might not, turn out.

The last month, Kevin has been home quite a bit what with Christmas vacation, snow days, and illness.  So he's been cooking -- adventurously. He's also getting our big girls involved.  He has purchased one book from America's Test Kitchen, a cooking organization that approaches cooking from a scientific perspective.

I'm keen on our kids learning how to cook well, since I did not cook well until I was about 30 years of age.  That really was ... odd...because my mother is a fantastic cook. It was just something that fell by the wayside while I was growing up. I learned how to clean the house and do laundry and many important skills, but didn't learn how to cook.

Here are some of our exciting meals this month:

Lamb and mushrooms. I think the lamb meal was spurred after Kevin had a wonderful meal of lamb at a Chinese restaurant one evening.  (Lamb at a Chinese restaurant?  Yep, sounds odd, but it was great!)

Apple pastry.  Kevin and Naomi made this together. Oh, it was good. It was exquisite.  It was ambrosia.

This is the apple pastry when it was done.

Apple oven pancake.  A few days ago, Kevin couldn't sleep well because he was feeling so sock so...he got up early and made us this apple pancake recipe.  Also very very good.

I didn't get a picture of the calzones that Kevin and Lydia made together for dinner last weekend. It was also very tasty.

Last, but definitely not least, Naomi superintended individual pizza making with the children.  The older 6 kids each made their own small pizza.  It was a roaring success.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Winter...In Spades

January can be a tough month.  Christmas is over, and the dark, cold days of winter are upon us without much celebration to break life up.

This particular January has had spells of being awe inspiringly cold.  This was the temperature this morning -- about -1 degree Fahrenheit.  Argggh!
We are SO thankful for a warm house, and thankful too that we didn't have any necessary errands today. I may run off this afternoon to get glasses for Daniel, but it isn't urgent.
Kevin has been sick all week, poor guy.  Several of us are slightly sick with the same thing, but no one else is as bad as Kevin. It is some respiratory cold thing...resulting in drainage and headaches.  I am fairly sure it isn't the flu. At least we hope not.  Some friends of ours have the flu and they've been battling fevers as well.
So, it has been a moderately quiet week, I guess.  For me, it has been tiring and stressful because we're out of routine. Kevin has not slept well at night and that means naps during the day, which means I try to keep 8 kids quiet while he sleeps.  Of course, it is tiring and stressful for Kevin to be so sick. 
Today he felt somewhat better so he went to work.  We're thankful for sick leave as he's needed it this week.
God bless, stay warm, and stay healthy. I'm off to take a nap.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

First Aid Lesson

Our eldest daughter has long been interested in "things medical".  She decided to work towards a First Aid badge for American Heritage Girls.

Today she laid out many supplies, and then gave a first aid demonstration to her siblings.

Here, she is demonstrating what to do for an injured patient.  To be honest, I can't quite remember what was going on in this picture, but the kids thought it was fun that Isaac had his feet lifted high. :-)

I thought it was a successful demonstration.  The children learned a fair amount for a first time through, and enjoyed being "patients".

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Movie Review: the Ironman Trilogy

  Kevin and I watched Iron Man 3 over the course of 2 evenings.  (I can't stay up late, though I do have more energy than I did first trimester. Still, this pregnant mama gets tired.)

 We've watched the first 2 of the trilogy as well, so this will be a quick review of the whole series.

  Let me say that first of all, we've mostly enjoyed the Avengers movies.  In GENERAL, the main characters are noble people attempting to help others.  The violence is massive, but it is more "bloodless" than some.  Let me put it another way.  Lots of people die.  Lots.  Some die unpleasantly. But all in all, blood and gore are not the major selling points.  When people die, there is a reason beyond trying to titillate the audience.

  So let's see, the Avengers movies include the Iron Man movies, a Hulk movie, Captain America, and 2 Thor movies. 

  Iron Man is our least favorite character but we liked him best in the 3rd movie.

  I'm HUGE into worldview.  I'm HUGE into analyzing the behavior of people and evaluating whether our "heroes" are really worth emulating or admiring.

  In the first Iron Man movie, Tony  Stark is a genius billionaire with the moral compass of a lamprey, except that is probably insulting to the lamprey.  His company cheerfully produces weapons of war and sells them without a thought to the victims of the weapons. He's also an immoral jerk.  In a very early scene, he brags about seducing 12 out of 13 of the year's Playboy (or magazine equivalent -- I can't remember) models. There is also at least one flashback scene of him taking a random woman home to his very expensive penthouse.  Now I don't think there is actually a scene of them rolling around in bed, but the clear indication is that the man is all about sexual conquest and personal pleasure and he doesn't care at all about the needs and cares of others.

 That changes fairly early in Iron Man.  He is captured by bad guys, various difficult things happen, and he becomes a (moderately) changed man in the form of the superhero Iron Man.  He apparently develops a conscience and starts serving and helping others.

  Iron Man 2, then, is a disappointment.  He decides he is going to die soon and reverts back to being a jerk for most of the movie.  It is really annoying, tiresome, and irritating.  Finally, in the last 20 minutes of the film, he pulls himself back together.  And at the very end, he pledges commitment to Pepper Potts, the intelligent female assistant who has "had his back" the whole time. (Why Pepper goes for him is another question, as she has first hand knowledge of his general jerkiness.)

  Iron Man has a major role in the Avengers movie, and nobly and simply, saves the world.

 Iron Man 3 opens with a flashback scene where Tony Stark (pre Iron Man) is being a jerk again, and manages to cause serious problems for his future by seducing one scientist and being a mean bully to another. 

  Back in the present, Tony is struggling with post traumatic stress disorder after the events of the Avengers.  Tony Stark is a much more likeable character in this movie.  He is still committed to Pepper Potts (though they are having relationship problems, of course -- gotta have relationship problems to help with the plot) and he still wants to serve humanity. Lots of things happen, he does a bunch of noble stuff, and saves -- America -- at least, if not the world.

  So yes, Kevin and I both liked the 3rd movie quite a bit.  HOWEVER, there is one plot point to discuss and that is his whole relationship with Pepper Potts. I would say that Tony Stark's commitment to one woman is better than him bedding hundreds of women for the fun of it. But the reality is that his romance with Pepper has a problem -- they are sharing a house and a bed and sex but they aren't married.

 That is, of course, VERY common in the world we live in. American culture has largely accepted people living together, and having sex together, outside a marital relationship.  In movies, it is more common than not for handsome men and beautiful women to be living together.  So, why aren't they  married?  I would guess partly it is to provide plot tension.  In Iron Man 3, Pepper has another guy pursuing her and the fact that she is just Tony's live in girlfriend gives that pursuit a bit more spice (I guess.) 

  As  a Christian, I believe that sexual expression is meant exclusively for marriage. Sex is a beautiful gift from the Lord, no question at all.  But I think it is a lot like fire.  Fire is wonderful in the right place, very destructive in the wrong place.

  It is a sad truth that in superhero movies and action flicks, out of wedlock sex is portrayed exclusively as positive.  No woman ever gets pregnant when she doesn't want to, no one picks up nasty diseases, there is no expression of anguish and pain when a person gives him or herself physically to another person, and then is rejected or abandoned.  Nope, it is all just sexy and "fun".

  Now you can say, legitimately, that Iron Man is a movie and more than that, not a realistic movie.  And you are, of course, right.  As an adult, I think I can watch movies like that without it affecting MY worldview.  However, I don't watch many movies. I think if I filled my mind with movies where people are sleeping around all the time, complete with sex scenes, it would likely be a problem.  I also think we need to be cautious about what our impressionable teens watch.  Our older children are not ready for Iron Man.  We have let them watch Captain America -- he is really the most noble of the lot and we love that movie.  We've let them watch the Avengers, which has NO implication of sexual misconduct.  We even let the older 2 girls watch the Hulk movie, though there is a scene where the main male and female characters fall into bed and are only stopped from sex by fears that the male lead will transform into the Hulk (um yeah, that would be...awkward.)  We very specifically discussed that scene.

  The reality is that as our children grow and mature and eventually move out of the house, they will watch more movies and at some point, the movies they watch will be their decision, not ours.  We've not guarded them from every movie out there, obviously.  We TALK about movies a lot.  Our parenting style where media is concerned is to be quite restrictive (compared to most parents) but when we do allow movies (or TV shows) we talk about problem themes.  We likely aren't getting it all perfectly right. Well, we aren't, because we're not perfect. We ARE being intentional, not just letting the chips fall where they may.  And I think that is good.

 Well, this turned out to be more than a movie review, there is some parenting philosophy mixed in.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

My Poor Left Wrist

It's better, lots better, but still not 100%.  Typing is possible, but still hurts.  So I'm having a harder time blogging and emailing. Mostly I need to take it easily to let it heal but...that's hard.  I need that hand working well!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Treatise on Toys

Our kids have lots of toys!  I've learned a lot in 14+ years as parent about toys.

 This is a dollhouse, given to us by a friend.  It is a charming thing, and we have many fun accessories which we store in a bin when the kids aren't playing with the dollhouse.  We had the dollhouse in our basement and no one had touched it in months.  Yesterday, I asked Naomi and Isaac to haul everything up to the entry room. Surprise, surprise, the new location made the TOY seem new, and several children have spent happy hours playing with the dollhouse since then.  Sometimes,  the best thing to do with an old toy is to move it to a new location. 

This is one of the best toys we have EVER purchased -- a marble toy.  This toy has many separate parts, which can be connected in a variety of ways. Then the child puts a marble at the top and down it goes, down down down, in a fascinating, fun, hypnotic way.

  We bought it...oh, maybe 12 years ago?  A long time ago.  Let me comment briefly on the "many parts" issue.  We have many building toys with copious numbers of parts.  In my early days as a parent, I would let the children take sections of a toy and cart them off to a different room. It just seemed easier, plus the children were being creative. For example, I seem to remember Lydia pretending that colored wooden blocks were fruit and veggies, and she would carry pieces off to her room for pretend meals.

I'm all for creativity, but when I let some pieces wander off -- well, before I know it, the pieces are spread throughout the house and no one can really build anything.  So I stopped many years ago. The rule now is that a building toy needs to stay in one particular room unless ALL of it moves.  So we have bins or containers for individual building toys (like Lincoln Logs, Legos, wooden blocks, etc.) and if a child wants to play with a building toy in another room, she needs to carry them ALL, in their bin, to another room to play.

So, marble toy. Sarah, in particular, has really enjoyed it.  One issue (of course) is that marbles are choking hazards, so when we have a toddler we have to keep the marble toy in a room where he isn't habitually playing.

All these toys in our house can be something of an organizational headache.  I don't want a mess, but I do want our kids to have fun, intellectually stimulating toys to play with.  There is a balance.  I don't want so many toys that we get lost in the mess, but I don't want to limit the children too much.

I haven't gotten to the perfect place, but as I get older and we have more children and more stuff, I am more and more putting things away for a season, then bringing them out so they are fresh and new.

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Blissful Moment

 Daniel, happily sucking a tag of one of his pillow pets.  He has 3 pillow pets here, all warm from just coming out of the dryer.  Ahhhhhh.....

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Walking Wounded

We're a pathetic bunch right now.  Hard on the heels of a fairly long illness for the whole family, both Kevin and I have managed to damage ourselves.  Kevin hurt his back while carrying a derelict water heater upstairs, then re-aggravated it bringing up a new king size mattress to our bedroom.  I somehow, mysteriously, injured my left wrist 2 days ago.  I was just roughhousing with a son but really did not DO anything--I suspect a lingering virus is partially responsible for the pain.  I have kept the wrist wrapped most of the time and it is improving slowly.  I am very right handed but still- not having a good left hand is tough. Our big kids have helped us a lot.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Baby News

My brother and his wife had their baby boy, praise the Lord!  He was a healthy 8 lb, 6 oz and the delivery, though strenuous, went well.  We are so thankful for this precious gift of a child for my brother and his wife!

Today I had an OB appointment, and we heard the heartbeat again, and we've decided to finally tell the world -- yes, we are expecting Baby #9.  I am 16 weeks along, and the baby is due in late June.

It has been a HARD few months, honestly.  The first trimester is always so difficult for me.  While I am not dreadfully sick, I do feel nauseous much of the time for weeks and weeks.  I'm also super tired, hormonal, and emotional. I am now over the nausea and am thankful for that.

  Lots of people think lots of things when newly pregnant.  I'm going to be totally honest here -- I was not really excited when I first learned I was pregnant again. I am SO old to be having babies (age 44 now) and I am SO busy with the 8 I have, and the first trimester is SO hard.  I also had a rough delivery with our 8th child, and I'm feeling some trepidation about C-section #6.

  But this is what kept coming to mind. The Lord gave us this child. The Lord loves us and has good plans for our lives.  His ways are not my ways, and his thoughts are not my thoughts.  I don't expect the end of this pregnancy to be easy, nor will the first couple of months of Baby's life be easy as Kevin and I deal with interrupted nights again. But the Lord will carry us through, as He has before. This child is a blessing.

Daniel and me.  And hidden behind Daniel, is little Baby #9.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Ramblings on a Sunday

This will be very stream of consciousness.

The weather people were SO excited about today, predicting a major winter storm.  Then apparently the temps shifted and now they are saying we'll mostly have rain today, shifting over to snow this evening.  Then we plunge into the deep freeze (they say) -- coldest temperatures in 20 years.

My sister-in-law is supposed to be induced tomorrow if the baby doesn't come before then. We are looking forward to pictures of the new cousin!

I was at the pediatrician's office on Thursday with Lydia.  She was having an asthma attack, which we prefer to pneumonia.  We have a family history of asthma (or to use modern parlance -- reactive airway disease) during respiratory illnesses. 

Anyway, I was watching a short medical segment while we were in the waiting room. The expert panel was trotting out the recommendations about "screen time", saying children in the USA are watching WAY too many screens.  I totally agree about that but my engineering mind is wondering, where's the data?  I hate it when someone says "pediatricians recommend..." but then don't say WHY.  I can guess why -- too much sitting around, rising rates of obesity, not spending enough time with others.  I can guess all that.  But how do they come up with the specific numbers in recommending how many hours of screen time to allow?

The cynical part of me wonders if they pick a number knowing most parents will go over that, but hoping the number will keep things down a bit.  The "no screens at all for kids under 2" strikes me as one of those things.  In our family, our little ones haven't been interested in videos until about age 18 months.  Daniel now enjoys watching videos and yes, I let him watch 30 to 60 minutes of videos a day, usually Veggietales.

One thing I definitely am unhappy about is that apparently many parents have no controls at ALL about how much their children are online, watching videos, using Iphones, etc.  They also have no controls about content.  Considering the truly horrible things out on the internet, every parent has a responsibility to keep close tabs on what their kids are watching and with whom they are interacting.  We talk quite a bit about internet safety with our oldest children, the only ones online chatting with friends.

Zigging over to talking about, that kid is busy!  A friend commented on one of my Facebook posts that she lets her son (who is a few months younger than Daniel) wander freely through their house. I HAVE had toddlers like that.  Daniel is just impossibly busy. He loves to climb on tables.  He loves to find full cups of water and pour them on things.  He loves to swish toothbrushes in the toilet (seriously -- I caught him doing that yesterday, and had to throw away Angela's 'favorite' toothbrush, which distressed Angela greatly.)  He is one busy boy and usually need to be confined to 2 rooms that can be shut off with doors and a child gate.  If he is out of those rooms or the study (which is child proofed), he has to have someone responsible watching him.

I think our kids are getting better, thankfully. This has been a yucky illness.  We still have the hacking cough emanating from some children but they are all better.

I had an interesting talk with Lydia last night. She is not a lot like me.  She is very creative and right brained, an animal lover and truly phenomenal with young children.  We specifically talked about animals. She would really like an indoor pet right now. We have a host of outdoor cats and of course our famous chickens, but no indoor pets.

I have zero desire for an indoor pet right now.  We have indoor toddlers and that is enough. Even an indoor cat needs a litter box, and a litter box and Daniel is a frightening combination.

Our talk about animals morphed into a discussion about personalities and living styles.  I am someone that CRAVES order. Our house is not immaculate.  It would be hard for a family with 8 kids to have a truly immaculate house.  But it is in decent shape. The floors are never piled high with stuff.  The beds can be slept on.  Our dining room table gets cleared off completely before every meal.  I'm not bragging, just saying that I cannot function in chaos.

There are others out there with way more tolerance for disorder.  I think there is a place where disorder becomes hazardous, but there can be plenty of disorder in a perfectly operational home.  I wonder sometimes if my need for order is stressful to those who would prefer more disorder. I try to be somewhat accommodating with the less structured people in the family; for example, while I insist our big girls work on keeping their floor clear, I do let them pile stuff up on their bookshelf and dressers.  The jumbled mess bothers me, but I try to be mellow about it.

I guess a big part of parenting is majoring on the majors and minoring on the minors.  However, it IS our house.  Both Kevin and I are engineers and need some degree of tidiness and order to function well.  So our house does reflect our personalities and I think that is appropriate since we are paying for it :-).

Friday, January 3, 2014


Yes, we celebrated 3 birthdays and Christmas in less than 2 weeks. Amazing :-).

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Quick Update

Happy 2014, everyone!

I will try to post family pictures from our Christmas and 3 birthdays soon. Yes, we had 3 birthdays in the last 2 weeks!  The next family birthday isn't until May.

Kevin's mom, sister, and niece came over last night.  K's sister and niece live in TX, though our niece is going to college in northern Ohio this coming fall.

We have an illness rampaging through the house. It is a respiratory illness and Daniel is on croup medicine. He was totally miserable 2 days ago, but is improving.  Last night he slept through the night with no problems, and we were thankful!

More later...