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.