Sunday, April 27, 2014


I love it when I have a coherent idea for a blog post, but today I don't. So I'm going to ramble. I am doing?  Well, in some ways, great.  I'm 32 weeks pregnant tomorrow. Baby Girl is very active. Baby Girl also has not a smidgen of a name yet.  Ha.  We'll figure one out for her.

On the other hand, I'm having bunches of contractions, don't feel well a fair amount of the time, and am not sleeping great.  Ah, the joys of late pregnancy!  I do get frustrated by it.  I am, praise God, pretty healthy and I've not had preeclampsia or rocketing blood sugars or any other really serious problems with pregnancy.  I was on partial bed rest with Lydia's pregnancy due to preterm contractions, but she was born full term.

The Lord reminded me of a book I read (and reviewed on this blog) many months ago. The book review is here:

Ok, so this guy was climbing one day, messed up by not communicating with his partner, and fell 100 feet onto rock.  He survived, which was a bona fide miracle. But oh, he was messed up. And he is still messed up, though he lives a very active life now.

I have felt so frustrated with my physical weakness and my need to have other people in the family (Kevin and the big kids, primarily) do "my jobs".  But Craig DeMartino was incapacitated for more than a year and even now has physical problems I hope I'll never deal with. So I need to be patient with my life and my limitations.  It is all in a good cause. I'm nurturing a sweet little girl who needs 6 or 7 more weeks in the womb.

The weather has mostly been nice.  I love spring.

We got some new furniture for our big girls' room.  They've been using a dresser I had as a young teen, so I got it 30 years ago and I think it was used then.  It was functional but not beautiful.  Kevin's grandmother died back at Thanksgiving, and we got 2 dressers from her house that are now in our big girls' room.  This will give them much more space for their clothes, and the furniture is much nicer.  Naomi and Lydia used to share all their clothes, but now they need different sized pants.

Daniel, our toddler, likes scaring the living daylights out of me.  He is pretty good on stairs now so of course he is "upping the ante" to make stair climbing more interesting.  He usually goes up stairs on hands and feet.  Yesterday, he was trying to climb the stairs like a normal person, which is to say -- legs only. He was wobbling and it really freaked me out. He didn't fall!

Sarah, our 3 year old, had THREE accidents yesterday after a full month of being completely dry during the day.  Silly girl.  So on top of changing all the sheets on the beds, we had smelly towels and her clothes to wash.  AND, I had let the kids do some painting in our sun room and several of them got their clothes dirty with (washable) paint.  The laundry was truly scary yesterday but we've gotten through most of it.  Well, it is washed. It still needs to be folded and put away.

I have been getting kids into the eye doctor. Isaac went last week and his eyes are fairly stable. He had amblyopia and lost most of his vision in his left eye, but it came back after he diligently patched the good eye for more than a year. We are so thankful.  When he was first diagnosed, he had no depth perception and now he is close to normal in his depth perception.

I also went to the eye doctor. I was near sighted from age 13 to age 39, and then old age "caught up with me" and my eyes shifted.  So now, believe it or not, I'm close to 20/20 in both eyes. I wear glasses when I drive at night, but mostly I am good without glasses.

There is some irony there. 10 years ago or so, Kevin had LASIK surgery and I would have gotten it as well, but I just kept either being pregnant or nursing a baby and they don't do LASIK during those times. And then my eyes rather miraculously got close to perfect.  We are thankful for the thousands of dollars saved!

I met with our homeschool assessor this week. It was very encouraging.  She is a wonderful lady and we had good talks about the strengths and weaknesses of the children. She was particularly impressed with the writing skills of our 2 big girls.  Not only are they creative, but they are good editors of their own work.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

We dyed eggs a few days ago.

Naomi ran the show, mostly, with help from Lydia. We did it in our sun room, where I don't mind if there is mess on the floor.  The kids had fun.

We decided Daniel and dye were not a wondrous combination, so he was firmly excluded from the fun in the sun room. He was inclined to be indignant, but various older sibs did silly things, like having him sit in a laundry basket with his pillow pets.  He thought that was fun.

Kevin's wonderful mom came over for Easter dinner today, and brought a multitude of plastic eggs and other small toys.  The Easter weather was amazing, so we were able to have an outdoor hunt.  Here they are, in mid stride, on their way out into the yard.

She put a few "special eggs" in particular places.  Here, the kids are picking up (one per kid) an egg with a light up chick inside of it. 

Of course, all this family fun with eggs and candy and trinkets is just a celebration of the Real Celebration. Today is the most important Christian day of the year for me.  Easter!  Easter, when Jesus rose from the dead!

I think since I grew up in a Christian home, sometimes I have a hard time remembering how amazing it is that Jesus was killed and conquered death.  But it is amazing. Amazing that He came to earth. Amazing that He was willing to die an awful death to pay the penalty for the sins of the world. Amazing that He overcame death to rise again. 

Many people  have discounted the claims of the Resurrection of Christ because it involved a miracle outside the bounds of normal human experience.

But in many ways, we are surrounded by miracles.  The universe itself, the Earth itself, the formation of a baby human in the womb of her mother -- all require(d) a complex set of steps and things being "just so" to occur.  So yes, I am a scientist who definitely believes in miracles because I know there is One True God who sometimes breaks the fabric of normal life to do something amazing.  And the most amazing thing was Jesus.

God bless you this Easter!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Thoughts on Frozen

 I will freely admit we are a little weird about movies. We hardly ever go to the movie theater.  It's expensive to go, and we like watching movies at home, where we have our own large screen TV plus cheap popcorn and a remote so we can pause our movie whenever we like.

What is perhaps even weirder is that we haven't rented a movie for many years.  Our local library purchases many copies of popular movies, so we are able to borrow a movie for a week at a time from the library.

BUT, the popular movies have long waiting lists.  Thus, while the Disney movie Frozen has been out for months, we just got it this week.  Our kids were very excited to see it last night, and thankfully enjoyed it thoroughly.

Kevin and I watched part of it and frankly, found it rather depressing.  The 2 main characters, sisters, are estranged for years because of the elder's unwanted, magical power.  Their parents, no doubt with the best intentions, did some odd things which fostered the estrangement and both girls are very unhappy. 

We gave up too soon, apparently, as Lydia said it got more fun and exciting right after we stopped watching.  I read a plot synopsis after we watched part of it, and it did mostly look good.

Ok, so here is one really awesome plot point (warning: spoilers ahead...)

 Near the beginning of the movie, a beautiful princess meets a handsome young prince.  They attend a party together, sing together, dance together, and fall in love.  The princess decides she wants to marry the prince, but is stymied when her older sister (the Queen) refuses permission because she has only known the prince for a few hours.

Well, the refusal part is unusual, but the idea of "boy meets girl and they fall in love and get married and live happily ever after" is a standard plot device in MANY a Disney movie.  Quite a few times, the prince who falls in love with the princess has never actually talked to her!  Sleeping Beauty, for example, is unconscious when the prince falls in love with her. I think the prince in Snow White hears her singing once, but he falls in love when she is too is zonked out after eating a poisoned apple.  Cinderella and her prince spend a few hours dancing in a ball room but again, that's not much time to develop a real relationship.

I say "in love" but of course it isn't love.  It is ridiculous to say that someone has true, deep romantic, selfless love towards someone they have barely met.

Which brings us back to Frozen.  When Kevin and I quit watching, he made the comment that the whole bit with the prince was very unnerving.  The last thing we want our kids thinking is that a handsome young man (or beautiful young woman) is worthy of devotion after a brief time together.

In Frozen, the prince turns out to be an evil, conniving, selfish, murderous wretch!  I love it!  The sweet, enthusiastic, optimistic princess discovers that he's been manipulating her in the hopes of gaining the throne.

In a culture which focuses intensely on good looks and charisma and chemistry, this is a welcome message -- that we need to dig deeper into the hearts of someone who might potentially be marriage material. We need to know the person, we need to be aware that sometimes there are underlying issues that need uncovered. The prince in Frozen is a silly extreme, of course, but I really appreciate that the writers didn't go with the tired old "fall in love at first" sight theme.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

April Snow

I was having trouble downloading pictures yesterday, so I couldn't show what we woke up to -- SNOW!  Probably 2 inches?  It did mostly melt but last night it dropped back down into the 20's, so it is cold!

I am feeling pleased with myself for NOT packing away the winter coats quite yet.  Good call.

Temperatures are supposed to be back up into the 60's very soon.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pregnancy Update

2 weeks ago, I was measuring a little small so today I had an ultrasound. I am 30 weeks along.

Everything looks great.  The baby is measuring just a couple of days small and all the body parts are there.  She's a beauty!  She's head down, which doesn't matter a LOT since it will be a C-section, but I understand that hip dysplasia is less common if the baby is head down, so it is good news. And it explains why I feel a lot of pressure sometimes. This little gal is already pushing down hard on me :-).

I've had a pretty good couple of weeks. Truthfully,  I've not felt great off and on. But I've not had regular contractions and am very thankful.

So, probably 9 short weeks to go before she is born!  9 weeks really isn't very long.  We're close to being ready for her as I've washed clothing and found baby blankets and set up her little sleepy area.  I found pacifiers a couple of days ago.  Yes, we are close to being ready, at least with material things.   Life is always bananas after a baby arrives because of sleep deprivation and recovery from surgery,  but it'll be a good kind of bananas.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Houston, We Have a Reader!

  Our sweet 6 year old has made tremendous progress in reading in the last couple of months, and is now a moderately fluent reader.

  I'm not a reading teacher and indeed have never had any instruction on how to teach a child to read, except for the homeschooling books I've pored over.  I've thus far successfully taught 6 kids to read, and that is one of my greatest homeschooling accomplishments.

  Angela went from sounding out each word painfully, to sounding out some words painfully, to now reading simple books easily and quickly.  She is still a long way from a GREAT reader, but she's gotten to the fluency stage where she doesn't have to think through every word. I love it!

  So far, my girls have learned to read more easily than my boys.  One of my "soapbox" beliefs is that children develop at different rates.  It is ridiculous and harmful to assume that "every" 5 year old can memorize the sounds of letters, and "every" 6 year old should read a particular level.  A child may not have any problem with reading, but just need more time. But if that child is pushed hard and gets frustrated with reading, it can cause long term problems.

 Of course there ARE genuine reading difficulties like dyslexia and eye issues.  But sometimes a child just needs TIME to intellectually develop so that she or he can read.

  Life gets easier for me as a homeschooling teacher once my kids are reading well, so I'm thankful none of them have been really late readers -- though both of my boys were close to 8 before they were fluent.

  I also have a little break for the first time since I started homeschooling, because Sarah and Angela are more than 3 years apart whereas the first 6 kids had about 18 month spacings.  So for a year I won't need to work on phonics readiness unless Sarah is especially precocious.  So far, she is content to be a happy 3 year old and is not particularly interested in learning letters.

 Back when Naomi and Lydia were small, I did work with them when they were 3 years old, and indeed Lydia actually sounded out words at the age of 3 and Naomi was a very young 4 year old when she started reading a bit.  Sarah, being the 7th child, isn't getting that kind of devoted instruction. And that is fine.  Maybe better.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Don't Even Know What to Say...

about this week.

It feels busy, and has been busy.  4 kids had eye appointments.  All are doing pretty well. We've got 5 in glasses, but at least we have good doctors and good insurance.  I am thankful we caught that our 2 youngest needed glasses at a young age.

I worked parts of 2 afternoons.  I'm still staggering in a couple of times a week and indeed, work has been busy -- but I can't be there every day.  I am definitely slowing down.

Kevin is reading through a book about simplifying our lives, and decided to get rid of a couple of things --a rototiller and a lawn tractor. The lawn tractor was sold today.

I wish we could just pay off our house. I am sure that sounds silly...we're a long way off...but I would just LOVE to have ZERO debt.  We're only 3 years off from paying off the house but I wish we could do it NOW.

That is, by the way, our brilliant college savings plan -- to pay off our house.  The plan is to have it free and clear by the time Naomi is college age. We aren't absolutely sure she will go to college, but want her to have the option.

I've been thinking more about careers and college lately and will try to post some thoughts soon, but not now. I'm tired, and am going to watch a saved Detroit Tigers game while working on dinner.

God bless!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Random Thoughts and Pics

I've been participating in a Facebook Group called "40 Day Declutter".  There are 17 members, and we are encouraging one another to organize and declutter our homes.

I'm really good at "baby steps" where decluttering and organizing are concerned.  This week was super busy and I've been very tired, so I just did a few little things.

This probably looks small and unimportant, but it was a valuable "little thing" to do.  This tub holds kids' videos, 95% or more of which are Veggietales. Most mornings, our 2 youngest watch a Veggietales video on one of our computers. The advantage of doing it at the computer is that it is easier to contain Daniel that way; in the basement, with the fences down, he can roam freely and wreak all kinds of havoc.

So anyway, this bin of DVD's was a MESS.  People kept wandering off with the cases, and there were random DVD's just thrown into the bin or stuck in broken jewel cases from Sam's.  I went through them all, matched what I could, threw out broken jewel cases, exchanged some of the DVD's for less watched DVD's in the basement and voila, big improvement.

Here's another not so small project, and it happened last week but I forgot to mention it.  It was all Kevin's doing as he is the strong, capable guy who does most of the heavy lifting and hard physical work around here.  (And the older kids do the rest of the hard physical work -- I'm wimpy these days.)

So, explanation...way way way back when, 16 years ago, Kevin and I were married. And my parents offered to buy us a table as we didn't have one.  We chose this one, which was unfinished.  Kevin spent hard days in our garage finishing it, and it has served us very well.  It looks huge and it is...but it currently has 2 leaves in it. When we first were married with no children yet, we had it up without the leaves and it was large but not ridiculous.

Ok, so then we had a bunch of kids.  Obviously.  The table is now fairly crowded, and we found that children kept accidentally getting food stuck in the cracks where the leaves are inserted. So last week, Kevin glued it all together and filled in the cracks.  So now the table is essentially permanently huge, and the kids don't have to work to keep food out the cracks.  (They found it hard to be as careful as we wanted them to be, no surprise.)

This is really nice as it means we can distribute children along the table without thinking about where the cracks are.

At some point in the distant, distant future, our home will not be full of children and the table will be ridiculously large, but we will cross that bridge later.

What else happened this week?  Well it was busy and tiring for me, and I often felt rather unwell by the end of the day.  The big girls attended an American Heritage Girls meeting at another troop, which took care of a requirement for their badges.  I went to the dentist and the obstetrician.  We sold a bunch of eggs, which was good as our chickens have been laying furiously.  The children had a pretty good week of school in the middle of it all.  My current plan is to have a hard hitting next week, then a week to pull things together, then I'll have the children's year of work assessed by a certified State of Ohio teacher the following week.

May will include more art, more reading, more writing, and finishing up some math that needs completed.  But we're moving down to a more relaxed mode soon.

The baby keeps being very active.  She doesn't have a name yet, and we've not even discussed a name.  We'll get around to it sometime :-).