Thursday, February 27, 2014


I'm feeling frustrated tonight because of my physical limitations. I want to be able to help friends, to take the kids to exciting places, to have the stamina to keep up with the house and schoolwork to the level I desire.

There is a passage in the Bible, in one of the letters to the Corinthians (I think) where Paul asks God to take away a "thorn" that was plaguing him.  Commentators don't know what the thorn was, but God responded with "My strength is made perfect in weakness."

It is hard for me to accept that. Wouldn't it be better for everyone if I stayed strong throughout the pregnancy?  If I never had preterm contractions?  If I could do the polka the day before I deliver?  (Well, NO on the latter.  I HATE the polka.)

But I am me...44 years old, almost 24 weeks pregnant, in good shape physically but not up for any marathons or even exhausting field trips.

I need to cling to the truth that this baby is a big part of God's "job" for me right now, and I'll need to lay aside other desires for a season.  I will be more dependent on others, mostly family members. I will need to say no to some good things.  That is life right now.

It is Ok.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


"Compartmentalizing" -- that's a long word.  If it even IS a word :-).

But that's the word that comes to mind when I think about a  key cornerstone of my cleaning/housekeeping/organizing routine.

Our house is, as I've said before, in decent shape most of the time. It isn't pristine. There are very tidy people out there, and they would be unhappy in our house. There are objects on almost all horizontal surfaces, especially surfaces high up away from the reach of small children.  There is dust in corners and on objects.  No, it is not pristine.

But, it is very livable.  The floors are clear.  The sofas and tables and chairs are clear.  Our dining room table is cleared off completely several times a day.  The kids do lots of work on that table, but we always put everything elsewhere (if not AWAY) before meals.  Our master bedroom is (to pat myself on the back) really in VERY nice shape. I find it an oasis of calm and want it to stay that way, so both Kevin and I work to keep it in good shape.

Back to compartmentalizing...I have found that keeping all of a particular kind of mess or clutter or whatever in ONE area is key.  Take the kitchen, which is often a trouble spot.  We try to keep up with putting items away in the dishwasher, putting away clean dishes, etc.  Truth is, the kitchen often is a mess much of the day, though. BUT.  But, but, but!  I work hard to compartmentalize the mess. Dirty dishes go on one counter.  Clean dishes are only to the right of the sink.  I constantly move "non kitchen" items off the counters when they (mysteriously) appear on the counters.  Our fruit bowl stays in one area, as does our egg bucket. 

It really makes a big difference to have the mess separated into component parts. I can tell one child, "Put away all the clean dishes on the counter" and the child usually can do that job.  But if there are dirty and clean mixed together, the kid will have trouble.  In the same way, a young child can be trained to put away dishes in the dishwasher, but struggles if there is a huge mass of different objects on the counter.

This compartmentalizing is repeated throughout the house.  I have said before, but I'll say again, that we work hard to keep building toys together in a particular room.  So our Lincoln logs are in one room, our Tinker toys in another.  I periodically stick all of one building toy in a box and hide it in the basement, then bring it out in a few months.

It took me a long time to learn this trick of compartmentalizing, which is why I share it in the hopes that it might help others.  I used to let the kids haul building toys everywhere, and it made for a fine mess.

23 weeks tomorrow

Tomorrow, I'll be 23 weeks along in this pregnancy.  I am feeling fairly well right now.  I'm definitely getting bigger and gaining weight, but I'm not too bulbous.  I'm over the nausea and can eat a respectable amount without feeling sick.  The baby kicks and squirms, and I have the delight of feeling that, but she isn't so big that she is sticking her feet in my ribs. Yet.

It is a bit surreal knowing that in less than 4 months, we'll have a newborn baby in our home.  Yes, we've done it 8 times before, but every time is its own little miracle.  It is hard to believe that a tiny human being is growing and maturing in my womb right this moment, but she is.

I've been praying often for a good delivery, and I'd appreciate similar prayers if you have time.  My last delivery was a roughish C-section and while I am not TOO nervous this time around, it is on my mind. I pray that everything goes well, the baby is healthy, and that I recover well. I'm also praying that nursing goes well...I've had milk supply issues with the last 5 kids, though not at birth.  Daniel was weaned at around 3 months as I ran out of milk.  As I'm older and even busier than last time, I am not sure how long I'll make it with this precious little person.

I posted a question about possible names on Facebook, and friends came up with a host of options. I'm going to make a list and probably in 3 months we'll figure out a name. We obviously don't leap into the whole "name" thing :-).  My friends came up with many good options, so we'll figure out one we like.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Random Thoughts on a Thursday

A few short days ago, this was the view out from our porch.  Snow, snow, and more snow. It was beautiful. It sparkled.  It glittered.  It reflected the light.  It was cold.

 And then it warmed up.  And we got some rain.  This is RIGHT is 60 degrees!  And the snow has been melting busily.  2 of our kids are enjoying their last time on a snow pile next to our driveway.

Changing the subject entirely, I finally found a homemade playdough recipe that I really like.  I've made several colors of playdough and our younger kids love it.  The only expensive ingredient is cream of tartar.  I think it is cheaper than the storebought kind, and I actually like it better.  I admit that one of the pleasures of the last week has been kneading the playdough after its been mixed up. It is nice and warm from the boiling water added to the flour, salt, cream of tartar, and oil.  Ah, feels nice...

Daniel is a such a sweet little imp.  It amazes me how much a child grows in one short age 8 months, he was rolling but not crawling. Now he climbs on everything and is incredibly busy.

I am not a pack rat.  Nevertheless, we've lived in our current hours for 8+ years, and inevitably there are objects in our home that we no longer need. And with 10, going on 11, members in the house hold -- we need all the space we can get.

A particular trouble spot is our so called "secret room". It's not really secret, but we like to give our rooms names and often they aren't applicable. (As a fine example, we have a room with 2 computers in it that we call the "breakfast room" -- the only time anyone eats breakfast in that room is when he or she has been banished from our dining room table for causing problems.)  Anyway, I'm aware the secret room needs decluttering and organizing, but its a huge job to do it all, and I'm tired.  But it occurred to me a few days ago that I could at least tackle a box at a time.  So today I dragged out 3 boxes with VHS tapes.  Yep, VHS.  Pathetic.  I looked through and decided that almost all the VHS tapes can go from 2 of the boxes. 

But wait, what about THIS box?  This, my dear friends, houses our collection of old Doctor Who VHS tapes.  I really prefer DVDs to VHS, but Tom Baker Doctor Who DVD's are expensive.  So we're keeping these VHS tapes.  We love these VHS tapes.  We relish these tapes.

The only other vaguely unusual thing we've been doing this week is watching the Olympics.  I've been recording the Olympics on primetime NBC on our DVR, and we watch them sporadically, when we have time. This way we can fast forward through all the commercials and most of the human interest stories.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Giant Egg and Outdoor Cats

  Our chickens have had a recent uptick in egg production. Some were undoubtedly NOT laying before, and now are getting back into their normal routine. The result has been some incredibly large eggs; that's because when a chicken is starting to lay regularly again, she may produce some double yolk eggs.  You can see how enormous the one on the far left side is.  Poor chicken, pushing that thing out!  They don't seem to mind :-).

  Our outdoor cats have mostly done well this very cold and snowy winter. We have little Tupperware "huts" set up on the front porch, lined with blankets, and they pile in there on cold nights.  Of course we lost Sunny a couple of weeks ago, but that could have happened any time of year.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ice Skating

Our monthly homeschool roller skating parties recently ended.  Our kids love skating, so that was a disappointment, but there were problems with the rink where we had been going.

A fellow homeschool mother graciously put some time in to get inexpensive skating rates at a nearby ice skating rink, and Tuesday I took our 8 kids there.  This was their first time on ice skates, so I didn't know what to expect. I made them all wear helmets, just in case they slipped and hit their heads.

But they didn't.  They took to ice skating like ducks to water.

Miriam sensibly hung onto a cone when she first went onto the ice.

The rink is sometimes used as a hockey arena, so for the first 30 minutes I commandeered the "Home" team enclosure.  The 2 littles enjoyed climbing up and around the seats, and it was easy to keep them in sight.

But a dear friend was down at the other end of the rink on the bleachers, where hot air was blown down for the comfort of the spectators. So I moved down there after a while.

Then I was chasing the 2 littles in an unenclosed space. They thought the bleachers were great but it was pretty wearing for me as sometimes they  headed in opposite directions!

At some point, we took a break and ate some snacks out in a foyer area.

After 2 hours I was very tired, and Daniel was even more tired, so we went home.  It was a ton of fun and our kids loved it.  I am hoping we can do this regularly, though realistically I may need to find someone to watch our 2 little ones while I go because as the pregnancy progresses, I will need to be more cautious about stressful situations.

I've had preterm contractions with all of my pregnancies except Naomi, and the danger time will start fairly soon. So I need to be cautious. I've never had a preterm birth, though I was in the hospital overnight with our 2nd child at 30 weeks as I had regular contractions that weren't stopping.  It is a strange thing...hard to know if it is really something to worry about, since I have never started dilating, or whether it is just an overactive uterus.  But a preterm birth would be a bad thing for the baby so we always err on the side of caution.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

This Week in Pictures

The long, snowy, cold winter continues.  We have had more snow this year!  Here in Southern Ohio, it is rare to have more than a couple of storms but we've had many.  And wow, COLD.  We've been down in negative digits several times this winter.  I'm so thankful for a warm house.  A couple of friends have propane furnaces and there is a major propane shortage, to the point that these friends don't have adequate heat. That is hard!

It is an odd thing, but I don't do very many science experiments with the children.  Odd because I have a PhD in science and engineering!  The REASON is that doing messy experiments with toddlers and preschoolers around is not easy.  They get into things so QUICKLY.

Lydia is one of our more right brained, artistic kids. To my surprise, she is great at running experiments out of her Apologia science book.  I do my best to make sure we have the appropriate items and she runs with it. As you can see, she had an admiring audience for this experiment involving eggs and salt water.

Finally, with enough salt in the water, the egg floated!

We have these building mats in our basement, usually.  Last week, I asked the big kids to haul the mats up to our family room to entertain the 2 littles. It worked hour or so. I guess that made it a success.

Here is our little shorn lamb after a haircut.  Her hair was getting long and was all too often tangled.  So I decided to trim her hair.  I chose a moment which was comparatively calm, but within a minute chaos erupted. The result was that I was cutting her hair while keeping track of Daniel and being distracted by noise.  Yep, you are right. That isn't the best way to cut hair. I kept discovering I had cut one side shorter than the other and needing to "even" it up...well, in the end, she looks pretty cute though her hair is a little shorter than I originally intended.

A totally precious Daddy-Daniel moment.  Daniel is sucking on the tag of his pillow pet while watching his father play a game.

Naomi is also good at experiments.  Here she is making soda pop from a soda pop kit. The results were less than stellar, but I think the kids had fun making it.

I do the bulk of the formal homeschooling, though Kevin of course provides much moral support, the finances, and much practical teaching.  However, he has currently started a formal course with our big girls in the area of COOKING. He found an organization that approaches cooking from a scientific standpoint, and he and the big girls are working through the book together.  I think when they are done, the big girls (and certainly Kevin) will know more about cooking than I do. Which makes me think I should be taking the course with the girls, but I'm often kid wrangling while they work with Kevin.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Our Little Man

Sometimes Daniel's totally silly sisters stick a fake mustache on his face.  He didn't like it.

Our little man is about 20 months old now.  With the news that the latest baby is a girl, he is the only boy in the last 5/9ths of the birth order.  So our family is as follows:  2 girls first, then 2 boys, then 3 girls, than a boy, then a girl.

I admit I felt a little disappointed, for Daniel's sake, that this one is a girl.  Now don't get me wrong. I adore girls and adore HER.  She is a blessing and I know Daniel will enjoy having 2 sisters relatively close in age.

Thinking it over, I have found the early years easier with my girls.  I love all of them (I keep saying that) but it is true that potty training has been harder with the boys, and they tend to be more daring.  Daniel is so rambunctious it is scary sometimes. The last couple of days, the "climbing" bug has hit him hard.  He hasn't gotten hurt by the grace of God, but it IS the grace of God.  His big siblings found him balancing on a table in our study, and yesterday he climbed onto a chair, and then onto the arm of the chair, and fell off.  I was there to grab his shirt and cushion the fall, but he didn't like it.

The gate above is a fine baby gate that closes off our family room and entry room so we can keep Daniel in a safe place.  The bungie cord is because yes, our boy has figured out how to open the gate!  But he can't get past the bungie cord.  Yet.

Sometimes I wonder how we will be able to keep our little people safe and have concluded partially it has to be prayer that keeps them safe.  Yes, we work diligently to remove danger spots in the home, but with 8 kids roaming and doors opening and shutting...well, Daniel does get loose sometimes. So far, no serious injuries at all.  Again, praise God.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Healthy Baby GIRL

We had our 20 week ultrasound today. The most important thing is that the baby seems healthy. Praise the Lord!  She has arms and legs and fingers and toes and was quite active.  She also cooperated for a peek on gender and yes, it looks like we have another little girl!

We're very thankful!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Book Review: When I Lay My Isaac Down by Carol Kent

Honestly, I didn't read every word of this book.  It was a hard book, though a fabulous one, and I didn't quite have the emotional energy or time to read every word.

Still, it was powerful and it was good and I would recommend it.

When I Lay My Isaac Down describes the devastation of Carol and Gene Kent and their extended family when Carol and Gene's only child, a 25 year old naval lieutenant, is arrested and ultimately convicted of first degree murder.  The situation was tragic beyond belief -- Jason, their son, was married to a woman whose first marriage had been marred by abuse.  Jason's wife brought 2 daughters into the marriage, and Jason became a loving and protective stepfather.   Fairly early in Jason's marriage, the ex-husband started seeking partial custody of the 2 children with no oversight.  Jason and his wife were very fearful of this as they were concerned the children might be abused.  Jason decided it was his personal responsibility to protect his stepdaughters from their father,  drove 6+ hours to a FL shopping mall, and shot the ex-husband to death in a parking lot.

Jason was ultimately convicted of first degree murder without the possibility of parole.  And indeed, while Carol and her family have prayed for a change in that sentence -- it honestly seems like a very logical sentence.  Yes, Jason was fearful for the safety of his daughters...but we can't live in a society where a man takes the law into his own hands and murders a man.  I can imagine a slightly different sentence, but Jason is definitely guilty of premeditated murder.

 The book is very honest about how hard the whole process was and is.  Jason is still in prison, 15 years after the murder.  He'll probably be there the rest of his life.  His parents emptied savings accounts and have made countless sacrifices to support their son.  I totally agree with that.  He is their son.  We are all sinners before God, and He continues to love us just as the Kents continue to love and support their son.

 This murder took the Kents completely by surprise.  I have read many books where a child 'went off the rails' but usually there was SOME build up to it.  Sometimes there was no real understanding about WHY the child made terrible decisions, but usually there were steps in the process.  In Jason's case, the whole thing seems totally bewildering.  How does a supposedly devout Christian man with education and good parenting make a choice like that?  The aftermath should have been totally obvious to Jason -- he went to prison. His new wife and daughters were left with all the fallout.  The wife's thought processes are not described in detail, but I can't imagine how hard it must have been to have her ex-husband shot to death by her current husband.  Can't imagine.  The ex-husband, if he was not a Christian, was condemned to @#!*% for eternity by a man who claims to be a believer.

I know in my head that bad things happen to Christians, ALL THE TIME. All the time. But I guess with parenting, I really hope that praying faithfully for my children, teaching them well, etc. will help them avoid really life destroying decisions on their part.  In the Kents' case, their son made a dreadful, awful decision in spite of the Kents doing most things right.  Of course they weren't perfect, none of us are, but they were (by today's standards) very good parents.  Cancer and auto accidents and other tragedies seem more impersonal.  Jason's decision changed his life irrevocably for the worse, and deeply damaged the lives of his family.  To his credit, he is now ministering to other prisoners and seeking the Lord with all his heart but still -- this wasn't what anyone fathomed for a young man with so much promise.

So yeah, life can be really hard.  People we love can make very poor decisions.  We live in a Fallen WORLD.    Sometimes we just have to cling to Jesus in the middle of the storm, and know that in spite of sorrow for the rest of our days, He will carry us.