Sunday, February 22, 2015

Introducing Silver and Pinky

  Please meet our new twin laptops, Silver and Pinky.  Yes, those are their names.  Silver makes some sense because the computers are, well, silver.  But Pinky?  Pinky?  As Naomi says, it isn't pink!  What a ridiculous name?  That's what you get, though, when we're tired and need to name a computer and we're thinking about My Little Pony.  Pinky is named after Pinkie Pie, one of the ponies.  And we didn't even spell Pinky right!

Anyhoo, we have 2 more computers in the house which is awesome.  We have an incredible number of computers -- 4 desktops, and now 4 laptops.  However, one laptop is ancient and very slow, and another laptop is dying a slow and painless death.  So really we have 4 desktops and 2 laptops.  Oh, and a Mac, but we mostly use that to run videos.

Sometimes all these computers seem ridiculous, but I am VERY happy to have these new laptops because there are mornings when I am frantically juggling kids on computers.  They do a fair amount of their school online -- not the majority, but a fair amount.

Kevin found a good deal on Silver and Pinky. They are touch screen and were being cleared out.  They still cost us (together) more than $1000 so hopefully they'll work well and live long.

Welcome, Silver and Pinky.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Dancing Between the Raindrops

  I remember a fairy tale from long ago in which a non magical young man impressed a group of evil wizard types by claiming he could "dance between the raindrops."  The evil wizards couldn't handle water (I guess like the Wicked Witch of the West) and presumed the young man must really be able to avoid rain, when in fact he was just a normal human and was fine with rain falling on him.

  Ok, I realize that is rather random.  I just liked the title I came up with, and wanted to explain.  It seems more inspiring than "Going to Michigan".

 But yes, we went to Michigan this week.  And we were dancing between our own raindrops...specifically the raindrops of illness and bad weather.  We have been sick mostly non stop since mid December.  We've had a fair amount of bad weather and Western Michigan has had even more thanks to lake effect snow.  Kevin took a week of vacation and we organized and coordinated and prayed and managed to go to Michigan, though one day late to avoid bad weather.

  My brother, his wife, and their 1 year old son met us at my parents.  We've not previously met little A.  He is 13 months and incredibly cute.  He is an only child who spends most of his time at home with his parents or nanny (plus one sweet, elderly dog) so I wasn't sure how he would handle a horde of unknown cousins.  Answer...JUST fine. He did great.  He is a very cute little boy and we praise God for him.

  After my brother and family went home, Kevin, Rose, and I ran off to Holidome for a little time away.  Rose is still nursing, so leaving her with my parents wasn't a good option.  The older 8 did spend 2 nights and a day with the grandparents.  We had a nice time away, though Rose was a bit of a challenge as she didn't find sleeping in a weird hotel room to be an easy experience.  But it was good. The older kids loved their time with the grandparents, including a trip to Pizza Hut one evening, and a trip to the Air Zoo (a sort of indoor amusement park thing with rides) the full day we were away.

  We woke up on Wednesday to discover a nasty weather system was bearing down, once again, on southwestern Michigan. So we checked out of the hotel hastily, collected our kids, and barreled on home. It was a fairly miserable trip as the winds kept getting stronger, and strong winds are not fun when driving a 15 passenger van. Kevin did the driving, I did lots of praying.  The children mostly did VERY well except for the last 30 minutes, when both Sarah and Rose started falling apart.  We had one detour due to an accident, plus 30 minutes midway through the trip where we were in a major traffic jam due to another accident.  It was tedious, but I kept reminding myself that dealing with a traffic jam was far better than being in an accident. It was bitterly cold and even a minor accident could have been really scary in that we'd have chilled quickly and obviously have small children.

So...good trip, glad to be home, we're thankful for the opportunity to spend time with family.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Sitting Rose

  And...she's sitting up by herself.

  I am guessing most parents are quite obsessive about "milestones" with their first child. I was.  I remember wondering if Naomi was Ok and was a little stressed that she was not walking at a year of age.

  MANY children later, I have gotten totally mellow about milestones. I know why they are there.  It helps parents and doctors determine if there is something wrong with a baby.  I know that early intervention is helpful for some disabilities so doctors have checklists to ascertain whether a baby might have a hidden disability.

 But I don't worry about my kids being late now.

  As an example, I will confess here, publicly, that Rose still doesn't roll over easily.  She is about 8 months old, and doesn't roll over from front to back easily!  She has done it a couple of times, but she makes it look hard.

  But I know exactly why.  Our sweet, adorable, precious child is being deprived of that most important of experiences (insert sarcastic eye roll) -- TUMMY TIME.

  She's just not on her stomach much. Which means she doesn't have practice being on her tummy and yes, her neck and arm muscles are probably not as strong as they could be. She also doesn't get to practice rolling.

  Now lest you think I am a neglectful or evil or lazy mom, let me explain.  The reality is that my sweet girl, like her siblings before her, is a MAJOR spitter upper.  The kid just spews a lot after eating. We have her on a fairly tight schedule. She eats, she plays, she goes to sleep.  After eating, she is prone to spewing for a good hour (maybe even longer) after eating. If she is on her stomach during that time, she WILL throw up. By the time peak danger is past, she is getting tired.  She doesn't like tummy time. Combo of tired and tummy time is much wailing and gnashing of her 2 teeth. And when she wails, she manages to upchuck even if it has been more than an hour since she ate.

  So I just don't do it much.  And the result is that she hasn't practiced rolling very much

  I know she is fine. She can sit up, she stands strong and tall if we balance her, and so on.

  I respect the doctors and their desire to make sure she is fine. But as her mother, I realize that the skill of rolling isn't that important in and of itself.  The important thing is to know she doesn't have a hidden disability and I know she doesn't.

  So she's good. At some point, she'll roll easily and may even start rolling around the room.  I am thankful, right now, to have a sweet little girl who just sits still and looks with wide and loving eyes at the world around her.  Take your time, sweet thing.  Take your time on rolling all over, on crawling, no walking. I like that you aren't mobile yet :-).

Pizza Chef

Have I mentioned that our eldest daughter Naomi makes an amazing pizza?  She is our local Pizza Chef!

Kevin and Isaac have some issues with dairy so one pizza has cheese, one does not.  She's been experimenting with extra toppings. She's not tried anchovies yet, but she has tried green pepper, turkey, ham, olives, mushrooms -- the usual suspects.

Lydia, our 2nd child, is also growing into QUITE the cook. As I type, she is plotting to make an exciting brunch for the family.

I've mentioned before that I didn't learn to cook until I was married.  I am SO pleased our children are learning this most important skill as children.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Nothing Is Quite as Fun as Outmoded Technology

  Last weekend, Kevin and the big girls worked to clear out his grandmother's house.  Grandma L. died in November of 2013, unfortunately without a will, and it took quite a while to get the legal tangle sorted out.  The house now is ready to be sold, but it needed to be completely emptied.  Kevin's mom had already done most of the work but a final push was needed to get rid of all those hard to sort items.

  Said items are now in our barn, and K's mom can go through them at her leisure. And the house can be sold.

  We found 2 ancient telephones at the house, and brought them home to show the children. They were ecstatic.  They thought those phones were the best thing ever.  We actually plugged them in and got a dial tone but we couldn't phone anyone (we use an internet phone, and maybe that is why?)

  After 24 hours, the joy degenerated to fighting, and we removed them from toy circulation.

But we thought it was cute that they were excited about the ancient and clunky phones.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

I Know It is Not PC, but Yes, the Twos Can be Terrible

I know classy moms have renamed The Terrible Twos, the Terrific Twos.

Yes, it is great that 2 year olds are exploring their worlds, and learning boundaries, and testing the limits, and moving beyond the placid acceptance of babyhood.

But groan and moan, life with a 2 year old can be pretty hard.

This morning is a FINE example.  Yesterday (Saturday) was rather crazy.  Kevin and I headed over to his grandmother's house in the morning; she died 15 months ago and there was a legal wrangle due to there being no will, which has been sorted out legally, and the house needs emptied.  We offered to help K's mom by moving the unsorted stuff into our barn so the house can be put on the market.

So we went with Rose, and Kevin worked and I nursed her and we discussed how to transport items.

Then we came home in time for lunch. I worked on various items and Kevin made another trip to his grandmother's house for more items; we crossed paths at 3:30 p.m., when he got back and I took Naomi and Lydia to a friend's birthday party. We got home at 6 p.m., I fed Rose, and then Kevin and I went out on a date.

So it was a good and productive day, but somehow in the middle of all that, Daniel's schedule got totally out of whack. I am HUGE into schedules and I'm rather obsessive about naps.  IF Daniel naps (and he rarely does, these days) it needs to be an early nap.  If he falls asleep at 4 p.m. or so, I talk to him and turn on lights and slightly annoy him so he doesn't sleep too long. I don't know what happened last night, but I suspect he slept way too long with the result that our precious boy woke up at 4 a.m. this morning, and has been up since.

We don't cosleep so when a child is up at night, he or she is UP (unless illness is a factor.)  So Daniel has been UP.  So I've been UP, because no way can I turn our crazy boy loose in the house and go back to bed.

So I'm really really tired right now.  Not the way I wanted to start a Sunday but hey, at least no one is actively sick.

Today, his schedule tightens down again. NO LATE NAPS.

That is just a microcosm of life with this boy. He is incredibly, adorably, amazingly cute. He is smart and healthy and exciting.  But he is adversarial with me.  I am the one he is around the most, and he is testing the boundaries of life, learning what is allowed and what is not.

He is usually quite angelic with Kevin. He adores his daddy and I am very very glad.  But it is somewhat hilarious that he cozies up to Kevin and usually behaves himself, whereas I deal with all day, every day negativity and "no no no" and all that.  Kevin is stricter than I am, but I know that it isn't just that I'm a "softy".  Daniel is totally unreasonable with me (which is normal for a toddler) -- for example, if I offer something tasty to eat he'll usually just say "NO!" for the sheer joy of disagreeing with me.

A very very very wise friend of mine told me LONG ago that we aren't called to "enjoy" our children.  That has been one of the most useful things I've  learned in my life as a parent.  I love my children.  I adore my children.  Sometimes I enjoy my kids. But I don't always. There are challenging aspects of EVERY relationship in life.  If I expect parenting to be one long ode of joy, I'm going to seriously disappointed.  So I don't.  I relish the good times and pray through the hard times (like when I'm seriously sleep deprived.)

Right now, my dear boy is sitting peacefully on my lap watching Muppet videos. This is a comparatively good time.  Now if only I can get a nap today.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Cute Pictures Of Small Children

Another Sarah Moment

Yesterday I found our sweet Sarah hiding in the corner of the laundry room. And what was she doing?  Well...Lydia had made a cake and had pulled out sprinkles to put on the frosting.  Sarah absconded with a bottle of sprinkles and ate the whole thing, all of them.  She knew she wasn't supposed to, very obviously.  She missed out on the first round of cake as a consequence, and I hope she learned something. I hope.  NO sneaking off with, and eating,  the sprinkles!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Ode to Big Kids

I just want to state that our big girls have been amazing this last week. Lydia was up in the wee hours one morning, helping Sarah as Sarah repeatedly threw up.  I got some extra sleep before taking over at 12:30 a.m.  Lydia OFFERED.  How many 13 year olds would offer to stay up late with their 2 year old sister while she threw up repeatedly?  Not many. Not only did she offer, she did a great job of comforting Sarah in the middle of a difficult time.

Naomi has been my strong arm and back this week.  We think she got the resident stomach illness first but never actually upchucked.  She was feeling mostly Ok this week and did a lot of extra child care, cleaning, cooking, and chores.  There were so many days when normal workers were lying, moaning, in pathetic heaps on bathroom floors and couches.  So I needed extra help with laundry, cooking, and cleaning.

I sometimes have long term memory loss about how I survived stomach flu back when we had little kids. I do remember lying on the floor when Naomi was a baby, feeling absolutely horrendous as I crept to the bathroom every 15 minutes.  Kevin had to come home to help that time.

Anyway, life is definitely easier now that I have big, strong girls.  And Isaac and Joseph, while still only 12 and 10, are able to help a lot too. They can carry trash and move large objects around.  It is awesome.

I Haven't Seen Everything

And you'd think I would have, with 9 kids.  Or at least I should have seen everything a YOUNG child can do.  I admit that where teens are concerned, I'm in moderately new territory but I've had seven 4 year olds already, and yet 4 year old #7 is displaying a truly new behavior.

It started a few weeks ago.  It was the Arsenic Hour, that crazy time right before dinner when everyone is tired and stressed out and I'm working on dinner and it is bananas.

I was, truthfully, tuning out Sarah, our 4 year old daughter. She was chattering away and suddenly she was in full blown meltdown, complete with wracking sobs and heartwrenching tears.  As I hadn't been paying attention, it took me a few minutes to figure out why she was sad.

Ok. The reason. The REASON.

She had watched a My Little Pony episode that afternoon, and in the episode, one of the main ponies initially rejected a small turtle as her pet because he couldn't fly.

Apparently, Sarah latched onto the rejection felt by that little turtle, and her little heart broke.  This, in spite of the fact that at the end of the episode, the pony changed her mind and DID choose the turtle.

It took close to half an hour to talk her down from the ceiling.

Yesterday, the same kind of thing happened.

Sarah was playing a puzzle game called Chuzzle.  She quit the game and lay down on the couch. A few minutes later, she fell apart. She was crying and wailing and sobbing.  I was working on the computer and she wouldn't tell me what was wrong, so I just pulled her into my lap and kept working.

Finally, the reason became clear.  When someone is done with Chuzzle, she hits a Quit button.  A screen comes up saying something like "Are you sure you want to quit?"  There are 2 icons.  The "Yes, I want to quit" icon shows a SAD Chuzzle.  The "No, I don't want to quit" icon shows a Happy Chuzzle.

To quit, you have to push NO, which shows the Sad Chuzzle.

And her little heart was broken, because she made the Sad Chuzzle sad.  It was HER FAULT that the Chuzzle was sad.

Ok, that's just weird.  I held her in my lap and comforted her even as I tried not to laugh hysterically.  At this point, Kevin was up and he talked her through it by making silly sad faces and explaining that the Chuzzle (which wasn't real) was showing a silly kind of sad face.  Did it help?  Maybe?  Sarah spent the next few minutes alternating between sobs and giggling.

I guess this means our girl is very sensitive?  Very empathetic?  I don't know.  It is actually a little disturbing because the poor thing doesn't seem to do well with sad events.  On the other hand, her actual sibs can be crying hard and she isn't really upset.  I guess she's used to wailing here in the house.

It is fascinating when a kid does something new.  It is stretching as a parent.  It is challenging.  It makes me more well rounded as a mother.  It makes me pray even more for the Lord's wisdom.