Sunday, September 28, 2014

This Week in Review

 We spent much of the week sick, unfortunately.  Lydia got it the worst and was sick for a full week or more.  She coughed and hacked and had mild asthma attacks. It was no fun at all.  I got sick Monday through Wednesday.  On Wednesday, I came close to losing my voice, which is an alarming experience for a mother of 9.

Most of us are mostly well, now.  Kevin is, I think, largely over it. He is working hard at his new job and didn't really have time to be sick, so he soldiered through the illness.


The most common statement about Rose lately is, "She's cute!". And indeed, she is. She smiles and gurgles and carries in a delightful baby way.  She is up most nights once, though falls back to sleep quite easily. She goes to bed in the evening at around 8:30 p.m., which I truly appreciate.

 Unfortunately, her little tummy broke out in an eczema rash about 2 weeks ago. I initially thought she might be allergic to chocolate, but now I think not. I don't know what she is reacting to.  It might be something in my diet, or maybe it is some pollen drifting around.  If the eczema clears up with the first hard freeze, I'll go with environmental. I removed chocolate from my diet and apparently that wasn't the answer, so now I'm avoiding wheat for a week or so to see if that might be the culprit. I'm already off dairy, which has been an allergen for most of our babies.

Another cute Rose picture. Yes, she can sit in her bouncer now.

Sarah loves Rose but we really have to watch them together because Sarah can get quite aggressively loving.  She doesn't know her own strength and while she hasn't hurt Rose, we know she might accidentally do so. But she does love her.

Kevin has been faithfully working out and he and 2 of our middle girls showed off their muscles a couple of days ago :-).

In the background of that picture is a Tigers baseball game. The Detroit Tigers have had a VERY up and down year, but today -- the last day of the season -- they clinched the Central Division of the American League.  That was truly exciting, and something of a surprise as they had streaks this year when all they could do (it seemed) was lose.  It'll be interesting to see how the post season goes.  If they have a winning streak, they could go all the way. And if they hit a skid, they could be 3 games and out.  But for now, we're enjoying their championship of the division.

New Family Picture

Last Saturday, my dear friend Cheryl, and her sister, came over and took pictures of our crew.  Cheryl and her sister are professional photographers and they did a GREAT job.  You can see one of our family pics at the top of our blog.  The kids did great and a fine time was had by all.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Partners in Crime

  Our first 6 kids had such a beautiful pattern:  2 girls, 2 boys, 2 girls, with roughly 18 months between each consecutive child.

 After our 6th child was born, we had (for us) a long gap of 3 years before another girl was born, our sweet Sarah. I really expected her to be our little caboose, all alone at the end of the family. But 18 months after Sarah was born, our little Daniel came along.

  So now we have 2 little ones, ages 2 and 3, who are of different genders.  Now of course our older girls play with our boys, but in general Naomi and Lydia spend lots of time together (and share a room), our older boys hang out together (and share a room), and so do Miriam and Angela (who share a room with Sarah)

 I was not sure what to expect from Sarah and Daniel in terms of being "buddies".

Well, they are buddies.  Just in the last week, they've started actually playing together more.  We have a rather messy sun room and we dragged an outdoor slide in there.  They played on that for hours this week.  They also spent some time clambering around an old diaper changing table (which I moved onto its side for safety sake.)  The final glorious moment was when Sarah started chopping off Daniel's hair.  After I screamed in anguish, she stopped. Then I found some tufts of her own hair falling off her own head.  ARRGHGGHHH!  Not too much damage done, but wow -- don't DO that, kid!  Oddly enough, I don't remember any other kids chopping off their hair, but maybe I've just blocked it out.

Our little Rose is 2 years younger than Daniel. At the moment, she is too little play though everyone loves her.  It'll be interesting to see how the dynamics change when she is old enough to play.

Book Review: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi

  I picked this book up cheap on my Kindle and oh, what a wonderful book it is!

  Nabeel Qureshi grew up in the United States in a devout Muslim family.  His cultural heritage sprang from Pakistan, but his family came over to the US when he was quite young, and his father was in the U.S. military.

 His parents were (and are) very devout Muslims, and they raised Nabeel and his sister to follow Islam with every fiber of their being.  There are no doubt "cultural Muslims" even as there are cultural Christians, but the Qureshi family was the real deal. They loved Islam and it was the center of their life spiritually and culturally.

  Nabeel was totally convinced that Islam is true, and his encounter with Christians in his teens only solidified that belief.  He had been taught Islamic apologetics from a young age, and none of the Christians he challenged could come up with reasonable responses to his questions about Jesus, the resurrection, and the Bible.

  But when  Nabeel entered college, he met a vibrant, enthusiastic Christian named David Wood.  These 2 hit it off, and over the course of 4 years they studied together, loved each other as brothers, and debated religious questions ferociously.  Both loved to debate, both were able to love each other while disagreeing fiercely about many issues.

 And over those years, Nabeel's trust in Islam was broken down.  I learned a great deal about Islam while reading this book. One chief tenet of Islam is that Jesus WAS a prophet of God (Allah) but that later Christians (in particular, the Apostle Paul) hijacked Jesus' message and changed it from directing people towards God to making Jesus himself an object of worship. So Islam reveres Jesus, but totally denies that He is God.  They also deny that He died on the cross and rose from the dead.

Nabeel and David studied these issues and Nabeel came to surprised realization that the historical evidence is in favor of Jesus' death and resurrection.  He also discovered that Jesus DID claim to be God (which Islam denies) so either was a lunatic, a liar, or really God.  He was NOT a godly man pointing people towards the Lord, He claimed to BE the Lord.

  Nabeel learned that the Bible has been studied with great care and that it has not experienced major changes over the centuries, which is what Muslims are taught.  In actual fact (and I knew this), Biblical scholars do their very best to study Biblical fragments from very long ago.  The evidence is that the Bible has NOT been changed through the centuries.

At some point, Nabeel (who was still completely committed to Islam), started studying the life of Muhammed and the history of the Koran.  Nabeel was devastated to discover that most of the stories about Muhammed he had been taught all his life were "air brushed".  When he delved into original source material, he found some truly disturbing things.  The biggest was a well documented event when Muhammed told his soldiers that Allah said they were allowed (even encouraged) to rape women just captured in battle, and then sell them into slavery.  Nabeel, whose Islamic heritage centered around a belief that Muhammed and Islam are peace loving and caring towards the oppressed, was rightfully horrified.

He also discovered some fascinating things about the Koran.  Muslims are taught that the Koran is exactly as Muhammed dictated it to his people, and that it has not changed at all since Muhammed lived.  They contrast this to the Bible, which Muslims claim has been irreparably changed through the years.  But when Nabeel delved into source material, he discovered a very different story. In actual fact, none of Muhammed's sayings were written down while Muhammed was alive. That in itself isn't too surprising in an oral society, but the source material indicated that various people quoted Muhammed's sayings in different ways, even while Muhammed was alive.  After Muhammed died, there were various wars and many of the people quoting Muhammed's "words from Allah" were killed.  So one of the leaders of Islam directed an individual to write down Koranic sayings.  The man in question had trouble finding people who knew the Koranic sayings. Sometimes, one person only would remember a saying.  After the Koran would put into writing, there were those arguing that bits were left out and other bits were added in.  At some point, leadership decided on an "official Koran" and destroyed all possible deviant texts.

Nabeel concluded that yes, the Koran had been changed.  At some point, leadership decided what was in and what was out, but there was no legitimate discussion about what was included and what was not.  So he felt much less certain about the Koran.

At this point, Nabeel was experiencing major emotional turmoil.  His entire identity centered around being Islamic. His parents would be totally devastated if he became a Christian. He told his friend, David Wood, that he just could not be sure about Jesus and that he didn't know what to do.  David encouraged Nabeel to pray for visions and dreams, and that is what Nabeel did.  He prayed, and God answered with 1 vision and 3 very clear dreams.  All 4 pointed Nabeel towards Christianity.

And after a period of mourning, Nabeel gave his life to Christ.

The fallout was, as expected, extremely painful.  His parents WERE totally devastated and angry.  Nabeel wondered if his mother would even survive his conversion to Christianity (she did), which resulted in tremendous guilt. While his parents continued to love him, there were many painful interactions with his family after his conversion which grieved Nabeel tremendously.

But, the Lord told him that "It isn't all about you."  There are millions of Muslims (and non-Muslims) who don't know the love of Jesus.  Nabeel was led to start a ministry reaching out to those who don't know Christ.

So, great book, interesting book, informative book. And the author writes amusingly too.  All in all, a 5 star book.

A Horrible Plague Has Struck...

Way back in my teens, I played a text adventure called "Hammurubi", which was vaguely based on a Babylonian king from way back when (way, way, way back when.)

It was of course a simple game, because that was a long time ago.  The point was to be a good ruler and help your people multiply and be healthy, so the player had to manage resources well.

Every once in a while, the random calculator in the game would hit the following "bad event":  "A horrible plague has struck, and half your people have died."

I guess it is a symptom of my warped sense of humor that I found that amusing. In one turn, the game firmly wiped out half the population.

Which, oddly enough, reminds me of the "Frozen" movie.  In that movie, it was an important plot point that the parents of Elsa and Anna die.  So early on, the parents leave on a diplomatic trip somewhere, by sea, and their ship sinks in a storm.  End of parents.  In less than 30 seconds :-).

Anyhoo, we've got a very mild illness (not a horrible plague) and about half the people have it, including me. It is just a cold, as far as I can tell.  Lydia had some asthma symptoms yesterday, which are normal for her during respiratory illnesses.  Miriam's nose is running enthusiastically. I'm a little sick, though feel better today than I did yesterday.

So far, praise God, Rose is healthy. I'm still breastfeeding her and I hope my antibodies are helping her fight this off.  Illnesses in little ones are so challenging and miserable that I really hope she doesn't get sick.

Speaking of breastfeeding, Rose is 3 months old and yes, I'm still exclusively breastfeeding her. That really is an accomplishment.  I've been drinking a great deal and eating like crazy.

This week, she broke out in eczema on her front. Ugh, that means, almost certainly, she is allergic to something I've been eating.  My best guess is chocolate, or almonds, or peanut butter.  I have been eating lots of Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate with Almonds, and also Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups.

I dropped those items from my diet and her eczema cleared up most of the way.  Yesterday, I added back plain dark chocolate and we'll see how she does.

Besides the fact that I LIKE chocolate, dark chocolate is an easy source of calories when I'm running around being busy. I've had so much trouble with milk supply issues that I've been working hard to eat enough.  Just in the few days I dropped chocolate, I lost 2 lbs and dropped below 150 lbs.  As I've said before, losing weight is not a problem for me so while I feel a little weird being 15 lbs over my normal weight, I'm firmly working on maintaining my weight, not losing weight. I hope this plain dark chocolate can come to rescue so I don't lose my milk supply.

But regardless, I'm very happy I made it 3 months with Rose.  I ran out of milk before that with Daniel.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Muppets and Musings

Do those look like Muppets?  They should!

My wonderfully talented brother came to visit this weekend, and he is a gifted balloon artist.  Our kids were enchanted as he put on a show and showed off his balloons.

My mom and dad came as well.  It was a riot here yesterday with 9 excited children, 2 grandparents, an uncle, and of course Kevin and me. There was one humorous moment when 11 of us were jammed into our family room, with kids loudly chattering about balloons and throwing them around.  Chaotic is a good word to describe it, but it was fun.

It was a wonderful visit and we are very thankful they came.


Going back in time a BIT, last week was Kevin's first week in a new position at work. He moved to a new building and is doing entirely new things.  It is a challenging job and he feels like he is dealing with a fire hose of new information being hurled at him each day.  We are thankful for the job, very thankful, but also realize we'll need to make some changes to our lives.  Kevin's job was previously somewhat flexible in terms of hours, but the new position requires him to be there early and leave moderately late, and so I'll need to take over some errands that he used to run. That is fine, of course -- we just need to figure it all out.


Miss Rosy Posy continues to grow.  I stepped on a scale with and without her and I think she is a bit over 10 lbs now.  My milk supply is holding up, praise God!

She is starting to smile often.  She is a happy girl. She also usually goes to sleep for the night around 9:30 p.m.  It is hard to put into words how much EASIER that is for me than when she was a newborn and was up until midnight every night.  I am a morning person and most definitely NOT a night person at all.  Now that I have confidence that I can head to bed by 10:30 p.m. or so, I am much better rested and happier.  She usually sleeps through the night, also a gigantic, enormous, stupendous blessing.


Our pastor at church has been preaching through the Ten Commandments.  Today he talked about the last one, "You shall not covet."  He talked about that quite a bit and I pondered what I tend to covet.

I concluded that what I covet MOST is other parents' available, helpful, healthy extended family.  Kevin and I have a wonderful family but only Kevin's mom lives nearby and she is shockingly busy.  She occasionally is able to take our kids to lunch and the like, but in general she doesn't have time to help us out much. (Which is totally fine!  I know how little time she has.)  My family and Kevin's other relatives either live a long away from us, or are suffering from serious health problems.  So as someone once said at a work party, we're a "two man army."  I know many other families where grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. are able to take children to activities, doctor appointments, etc.   I think I desire that option because I do feel guilty sometimes that we have to stay home most of the time.  I just can't run around with 9 kids, one of whom is nursing.  Our big girls help out very very well, but going out is just not easy with a crazy toddler and other busy little people who could run off at a moment's notice.

When I was thinking through the sermon, I considered how important it is to get to the root cause of coveting. I really don't covet fancy cars or designer clothes. That's not me. But this coveting of other family's ability to go out and do exciting things probably pushes an emotional button about me wanting to be a GREAT parent. I really do want to be a great parent. I want to meet our children's needs, of course, but I also want to meet some of their wants. And I do.  But I know some of them would love to do more out in the world, and I have to say no to something as simple as going to a park sometimes because I'm tired, the baby needs to be home to nurse, etc.

But thinking it through carefully, I know that life is not perfect.  I was recently reading a FB entry about a woman (not someone I know personally) who has a new baby and an 11 year old.  Her 11 year old is in a million activities and money is tight, so this mom is trying to decide whether to go back to work full time, which would actually mean 50+ hours away from home because the job would be an hour away.  She wants to be a good mother and feels like the money might be necessary, but if she DID that, she basically wouldn't see her 11 year old and would really barely see her new baby.  

I would say that is a long way from a good situation.  Obviously each family has to decide what is best, but nothing in this world is ever PERFECT.

For that matter, I'm not remotely a "royal watcher" (I think getting weird about the British Royal Family is, well, weird, for an American) but I read that the wife of Prince William (Princess William?  Princess Kate?  Duchess of Cambridge?) is horribly ill with her second pregnancy.  She was horribly ill with the first pregnancy too. Bless her heart, that is hard.  And her little son, who is only a year old, is probably not seeing as much of his mother as he is used to because she is so sick.

Nothing is perfect.  The key is to pray for wisdom and do what we can with our available time, energy, and money 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Only $60 a month...

We don't have personal smartphones.  Kevin has a smartphone through work, and the kids and I have 2 Trakphones we use.  The Trakphones are about $6 a month, as opposed to the $60 per month that a smartphone would be.

Let me first of all say that I have NO problem with people having smartphones. For some families, they are extremely useful and wise to have.  Since we're home most of the time, we've decided smartphones aren't a wise use of resources.

A few days ago, Kevin commented that he makes $60 in a short amount of time at work.  It makes sense for his employer to pay for his smartphone (which costs approximately $60 per month) because Kevin uses it to stay organized and to keep up with work emails while at home.  (To be clear, he keeps that under control and doesn't check his email constantly while at home.)

When we talked about how quickly he makes $60, I thought, "Why do we make such a fuss about $60 a month when he makes so much?"  Because -- you know -- smartphones ARE kind of cool and it would be fun to have one.

Kevin said that the better question is whether we want to spend that $60 per month on a smartphone or on something else. And that IS the question, isn't it?  $60 a month may not sound like that much, but that is $720 per year!  That's a largish extra dollop on our mortgage principal, or a bunch of homeschooling supplies, or a whole slew of Tom Baker Doctor Who DVD's.  :-)

Right now, a smartphone just isn't a wise use of resources.

There is another factor too.  Kevin makes a lot, yes.  But we also have a large outflow!  We pay $2500 to $3000 per month on our mortgage alone (we are paying off the principal as quickly as possible.)  We have $1300 per month allocated for groceries and eating out. We have electric bills and pay hundreds of dollars for gasoline each month.  We have taxes to pay and clothes to buy.

Suddenly, $60 a month starts sounding like a substantial amount of our "extra" each month.

And that is, I think, and important factor to remember.  Much of our income is needed for necessities and we need to be wise with using money for wants.  We have plenty of wants and certainly not enough income to get everything we want.  So we need to prioritize and decide what we want to buy and what we can go without.

We can easily go without smartphones.

Saturday, September 6, 2014


 Rose is closing in on 3 months now. She is more awake during the day (though still has many naps), and usually sleeps fairly well at night. By "fairly well" I mean that she'll fall asleep between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., and wakes up once around 4 a.m. to eat.  My other kids were usually sleeping right through the night at this point, but I'm still quite content with the status quo. She actually slept right through for a couple of days, but now is not. It may be that my milk supply in the evening is not quite what it should be, so she's not getting quite enough milk to get through the night.

She smiles at us a lot.  She is generally happy, though evenings are often her fussy time.  I'm just thankful that her fussy time is earlier in the evening than it used to be.  I find it hard when a baby is cranky at midnight...I am such a morning person that around midnight, I am desperate to get between my sheets.

She's doing great.

This will sound like a non sequiter but it is not...

One of my favorite homeschool authors is Diana Waring, who is a home school pioneer.

This week, tragically, Diana's baby grandson died.  He was born full term but suffered from a medical crisis during labor. He was without oxygen for 10 minutes and while he lived for more than a week after his birth, the damage was too great.  He slipped away, into the arms of Jesus, a few days ago.

I have been pretty freaked out about life sometimes -- I feel SO very busy.  I sometimes despair of caring for everyone as well as I want to .

But reality is, everything is going very well all in all.  We have 9 healthy children.  I am super thankful for that.

May the Lord bring comfort and blessing to the Waring family.

Friday, September 5, 2014

It's Not Easy Being 2

I have a picture of our camera which just exemplifies today.  Daniel is standing next to a door wailing.  That's been today.

Oh, why isn't it posted?  Well, we got a new camera and it is awesome, but I don't remember how to pull pictures off of it.  That's a question for Kevin when he comes home.

 Daniel has his days but today has been a DAY.  Nothing I can do seems to make much difference.  I've tried to cheer him up, but he's just mad much of the time.  Sigh.  The crying is whining crying, not pain crying, so I really don't think he is sick or anything. Also, he is happy when watching a video so obviously isn't in any kind of agony.

Right now he is in the study because the screaming was getting on my nerves.

It isn't easy being 2. is the picture!