Sunday, May 31, 2015

Rosie Ate a Marble

  Yesterday morning, our sweet Miss Squishy found a stainless steel marble, popped it in her mouth, and swallowed it.  Witness: her eldest sister.

  I nearly freaked as I thought said marble was magnetic.  Furthermore, Sarah had brought down a bunch of stainless steel marbles (I had TRIED to keep them upstairs in one of the bedrooms) and there was a chance she had eaten more than 1.  2 or more magnetized items are very dangerous as they can block off the intestines.

 So I had Rose loaded up in the car, to take her to the ER, when Kevin figured out the marbles were not magnetized.  They do stick to magnetized objects, but are not actually permanently magnetic.

 So a quick google search later, we decided we could wait it out. The marble(s) is/are small and round and should go right through her.

  I am going to check and make sure it does.

  The joys of motherhood.

  She has been happy and smiley most of the last 36 hours (since the great Marble Event) so it doesn't seem to be bothering her at all.

  I'm very glad she's Ok.

Friday, May 29, 2015

This Week

Friday here.  I'm tired.  Rose looks happy in the picture, and she was, but she's been a little cranky. I know she's had the resident illness, though not too badly.

Kevin went in to work every day this week and worked hard, but was super tired when he got home. We hope he's turned a corner.

Naomi and Lydia have both been feeling sick. Lydia also smashed her toe against a chair.  We have buddy taped it to another toe to provide support.

Isaac was tearing around the house recklessly a few days ago and fell hard on his left arm.  I was afraid it might be broken but he is much better, so I think he is Ok.

But let's just think about that, shall we?  Naomi and Lydia and Kevin, sick.  Lydia and Isaac, injured.  

Me, last woman standing.  (To be clear, Kevin and the big kids have been contributing to the household work, but not as much as usual.)

So yes, I'm tired because the kids are still needy and indeed needier than usual (thanks to illness) so I've been very busy.

But that's Ok.

In the interests of staying sane, I made it a supremely light week for school.

Yesterday, Lydia pulled out this:

She made this mailbox a few years ago.  I kept threatening to throw it out, and she kept saying she'd use it again, and she did!

So it has a little rectangular hole on one end, and the middle kids spent much of yesterday writing notes to each other, putting it in the mailbox, and having it delivered on the hour.

Many of the letters were wonderfully creative, like this one:

I believe several notes preceded this one, so I'm not sure who the enemy is, what they are doing, etc.  But I thought the letter was wonderful. OFFICIAL school BUT the children are writing letters and drawing maps and generally practicing literary skills. Sounds like a win win to me!

In other exciting news, I found an online driver's ed course on sale, and bought it, and Naomi is working on it.  Our girl is almost 15 and a half, so almost old enough to get her temps.  Wow.  The time has flown by.  We need to find a driver's ed course for the driving portion soon. Ohio requires that students get ...12 hours, I think, of instruction from an official driver's ed instructor.

I'm tired.  Oh, I said that already.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Guest Post on Work by Naomi

Our eldest daughter wrote this wonderful report on work and serving others.  It is so awesome, I want to share it.  It is inspiring to ME on days when kid care is challenging and not much fun.

Report on Work and Service

By Naomi

Topic: Why is it good for me to work and serve others?


Work isn't fun. Most people would agree with that statement. Dissatisfaction with work or a job is a common complaint. Many worn-out and busy people wish that the house would just clean itself, the food would cook itself, the job would do itself, and the kids would take care of themselves, leaving them free to do more interesting things.

But, people that never work are often quite unhappy, such as those who have enough money that they don't need to work. Although work isn't fun, your life can feel pointless if you never do any of it. What do you accomplish by watching TV or reading comic books all day? Nothing. Work gives you a sense of fulfillment; you're accomplishing something good.

All work has both positive sides and negative sides, and while you shouldn't do a job simply because you like it, it's worthwhile to make a list of all the positive things about the job and make an effort to focus on them. This will be good for your emotional health and help you to feel better about a job, even if it has a ton of negative things. On the flip side, focusing on the negative things will make you feel more depressed about the work, which could lead you to perform poorly, quit the job or just complain all the time to your family or friends.

Unless you're a millionaire, work is simply necessary. It is good to do work simply because it needs to be done. The house does not, in fact, clean itself. If you don't clean, the house gets dirty. The food doesn't cook itself, so you need to cook, or you'll end up living on restaurant meals or canned corn. Your job won't do itself; you need to do it or you'll get fired. If you have kids, they probably won't take care of themselves, especially if they're young. Not working has serious consequences, especially if you are an adult and own a job or are in college.

Some people argue that kids shouldn't be forced to do any work until they get to college or a real job, that they should just be allowed to enjoy their childhood, but that is poor advice. Besides the obvious fact that doing all the work will wear out the parents, kids who are suddenly thrust into college or a job won't know how to work. After all, they've never done it before. They will probably end up procrastinating and wasting time doing other things, which could lead to being thrown out of college or losing their job. Enjoying a work-free childhood isn't worth being unable to get a job or college degree as an adult. Working some during the kid and teen years prepares a person for the rigors of being a college student or job employee.

Finally, as Christians, God instructs us to serve other people. One of those ways is to do work to help others who need it. Christians should work to serve others, even if they don't really feel like it at the moment. Kids can serve their parents and siblings, adults can help family, friends, or volunteer at a non-profit organization.

So, although you shouldn't be a workaholic and work constantly, some work is good for you, even as a child or teenager. It prepares you for the real world, gives you satisfaction, and is part of obeying God's laws.

A Birthday and an Illness

We celebrated Daniel's 3rd birthday this weekend.

This is from back when he was a new baby.

And this was this weekend. He is of course much bigger, but his face looks quite similar.  He is still very cute. But he didn't wear glasses when he was tiny :-).

I would like to say that his birthday was a nice day, but in fact -- it wasn't. Because we have an illness.  Almost everyone is sick with a cold or something of that ilk.  The 3 littles have all been sick, and that means the 3 littles have all been horribly cranky.  It has been hard around here.  And by hard, I don't mean frightening.  No one is dangerously ill.  No one is dying. No one is going blind.  (I was re-reading By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder, which starts out with Laura's sister Mary going blind.)  So you know, it isn't a huge deal. But the screaming and wailing and fussing are challenging.

I sort of wonder if Rose has an ear infection as she's not been sleeping well for her naps, and she tugged on her ear once while crying.  However, studies show antibiotics don't always even help so we'll see how she does today.  If she is a mess tomorrow, I might take her in. She slept through the night fine,  thankfully. She's not eating all that well, either -- a bit worrisome as she's a small person.  But I'm counting wet diapers and she's got them, so we're Ok.

So that's us.  Sick.  Not badly.  Happy birthday, Daniel.  You are precious!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Checking on the Young Eyeballs

Today was fatiguing. Good, but fatiguing. For everyone.

First off, yesterday Kevin got final, total, complete, utter, final confirmation that he is 100% transferred to a new position at work. For reasons I will not go into, this is very very very very very good news.

It also meant today he got to/had to hit the ground running as he figures out all that he needs to do with his new job.  Among other things, he needs to arrange for meetings with a whole bunch of people.  It is probably a mercy that today was the Friday before Memorial Day, and lots of people were out on vacation, so he was a little less overwhelmed than he theoretically could have been.

This morning, I had an eye appointment 30 minutes away for our 3 youngest children.  I've mentioned before that Sarah, Child #7, has terrible eyes.  Daniel, Child #8, isn't as bad as Sarah but they still both need glasses.

So they had checkups.  And both are stable.  Sarah needs to be monitored carefully as her eyes are so bad that amblyopia is a possibility.  (We've been through the ambloypia journey with Isaac a few years ago.  Not great fun.)  Actually, for reasons that made no sense, Sarah is considered to have amblyopia in both eyes because of her farsightedness and astigmatism. Whatever. We have a good doctor. I trust her.

And said awesome doctor checked Rose.  It seems bewildering and shocking that a baby's eyes can be checked, but they can.  And Rose looks...good!  We are thankful as the previous 3 kids are all quite farsighted.  I had Isaac with me to help with the 3 littles. He WAS helpful, but hasn't had as much training as the big girls have in helping me so I had to do more directing.  My big girls have way more experience with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers than most kids their age!

While I was at the eye appointment, Naomi and Kevin's mom made a quick trip to the allergist for N's allergy shots.  Lydia held down the fort with ONLY 3 siblings.  That must have seemed weird!

We all got home a little after noon. Then a few hours later, Kevin's mom came over again and whisked our big girls off to Kevin's grandmother's house, which needs to go on the market.  The big girls helped wash windows, vacuum carpet, clean the garage, and generally help.

Kevin's mom very graciously bought us pizza for dinner, which was a huge hit.

So now the 2 littlest people are in bed, and Sarah is on her way. I'm fried.  But it was a good day.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Visual Clutter

Kevin and I had a talk this week that led to an epiphany.

And that is, that I don't do well with visual clutter.

I am a super super super visual person.

This week, we focused on making our family room much more inviting.

 We spend much time in the family room.  It is warm, friendly, and home to our main computer.

This picture below is NOT the family room.  It is our entry room and its a mess.  But I don't spend a lot of time in it, so it doesn't bother me a lot.

We moved a bookshelf out of this room, our entry room. Then I moved the sock basket and blanket basket off the family room hearth over to the wall next to the entry room computer.  Then I moved the library box behind the green chair in the family room.  That leaves a mostly clear fireplace area.

Then Kevin and I worked to clear our mantle, which had way too much clutter.  Now it just has a globe, 3 pictures, and our famous elephant fan.

This bookshelf in the family room used to have bins of little kid books on the lower shelves.  Rose is at the age where she thinks it is the world's greatest thing to strew books all over, occasionally ripping out pages for a little light stress relief.  So the family room often was covered in books.

We foiled her by moving a bunch of books onto these lower shelves, and wedging them in so tightly she can't actually pull them out.  Yet. As she grows stronger, so will the challenge.

And voila, our family room.  It won't, of course, always stay THIS clean. But having the socks, and blankets, and mantle junk out of the room has made the room much more peaceful.  Hiding the library books behind the green chair is also a big help.

I know many people are more auditory, or kinesthetic-tactile, than visual.  I'm guessing maybe less visual people aren't as bothered by clutter?  Just a guess.

I would also guess that being mom to 9 kids raises my stress level about clutter.  I already have moving targets to keep track of. When there are random THINGS constantly intruding on my peripheral vision, I get very stressed.

So this is good.

I've worked on the living room as well, and have removed a few corner items that were functional but ugly and/or cluttery.

I hope this will reduce my overall stress level and make it easier to keep the house reasonably tidy.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

And Then A Miracle Occurred

My mother has the proverbial "green thumb."

When I was in junior high, my folks bought a home on ten acres of land. Over the course of many years, my mother (and father) transformed part of it into a 1+ acre garden. That is a LOT of garden.

I didn't realize it at the time, but my mom's diligent gardening brought in tons and tons of produce, and helped us eat during a time when our overall family income wasn't high (and they had 3 hungry kids to feed.)

Somehow I missed the green thumb.  I've never liked gardening at all. I don't like bugs, I don't like dirt, and I don't like heat, and sweat, and bees buzzing around my head.

  Kevin IS a gardener.  But with a full time job and 9 kids and a wife and a host of other outside tasks, he has focused his gardening on the vegetable garden.

  Which left our front flower beds (usually) a wasteland.  It is really hard to convey how BAD they were.  They were full of tall grass and weeds.  There were (and are) a few flowers, but weeding wasn't happening and the flowers were often crowded out.

  Why didn't I do something about this sad state of affairs?

  I didn't prioritize it. Simple answer.  Another, more complicated answer, is that last summer I was having a baby.  And 3 summers ago I was having a baby.  And until recently, I couldn't easily go outside to work on the garden because the kids didn't do all that well by themselves inside. (All of that is a distant memory as our big girls can hold the fort by themselves now.)

  But in the last couple of weeks I weed the front flower beds.

  It really didn't even take THAT long.

  So (flourish of trumpets), here is the main flower bed.

  Yep, it looks more or less ghastly.  At least we can see my ornamental birds. They used to be surrounded in a thicket of grass.

Think of it as a blank piece of paper, on which an (inexpert) artist might eventually create...something. Not a masterpiece, but something.

But here, here, HERE is my tour de force, my piece de resistance, my treasure, my source of pride!

Admit it.  That looks...Ok.  That looks sort of nice.   I am very proud of it.  And for me, this is a miracle.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Totally Annoyed By...

a commercial I keep seeing while watching the Detroit Tigers online.

There are lots of commercials I hate. This one isn't immoral or disgusting. I've seen worse.

But it annoys me.

Let me describe it.  The first scene is of a phone call between 2 men, one at a desk, one on a college campus.  The man at the desk asks, "So how did the college visit go?"

Scene changes to show the man on campus strolling through a leafy quadrangle with his beautiful teen daughter.

Father says (to man at desk): "Unfortunately, this one is on the short list."

Man behind desk says, "Don't worry, this is what we've been planning for."

Father says, "Thanks."

End of commercial.  It is an Edward Jones commercial, an investment company.

So obviously it is a college visit, and daughter likes college, and dad is stressed because it is expensive.  Edward Jones representative is assuring dad that there is no need to worry, because they've been investing and saving for his daughter's college expenses so everything will be fine.

The whole commercial would be fine except for ONE word, and this is "unfortunately."

The basic idea behind the commercial is one that drives me MAD, and that is that a father is OBLIGATED to pay for the "school of her dreams", regardless of the cost.


To be clear, there is nothing in the world wrong with parents choosing to pay for an expensive college.  My concern is that dad sounds unhappy at the cost and yet obviously feels he has no say in whether his daughter chooses that college or not.

Seriously?  Seriously??  

With college being as expensive as it is, and parents expected to pony up a lot of the money, parents have EVERY right to step in and say "no" to a dream school that is too costly.  I would even say that if there is little expectation of significant financial aid, parents can even say no a college visit to a super expensive school.  Why raise expectations that will almost certainly lead to disappointment?

I realize different parents come to different conclusions on this one.  But I'm a big believer in parents doing what is right for themselves and their families.  Kevin and I are thinking hard about school expenses and we should be able to help with costs, but we're not capable of paying for an expensive place.

Ok, rant for the day.  Done :-).

Sad...and Happy...News

We received news this morning that one of Kevin's older relatives passed away.

She has been ill for many years. The last couple of months were especially difficult as she faced mounting health challenges.

Today, this morning, her struggle here on earth ended. She loved the Lord and is free from her infirmities and dancing on Heaven's streets of gold.  I am happy for her.

And I'm sad for everyone left behind. Her daughter, her brother, her nephews and nieces and all those who loved her.  It is hard to say good-bye to a loved one, even when the person is ready to leave.

So good-bye, dear P.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Godliness With Contentment is Great Gain

1 Timothy 6:6

6But godliness with contentment is great gain.

I'm reading a book that has nothing to do with my particular life circumstances (THANKFULLY!) but the Lord is using it as He often uses random books and information.

It is called Flying Solo by Christian author Denise Hildreth Jones.  This lady is a published author of many fiction books, none of which I have read. But Flying Solo is a diary of the year of her divorce.  She didn't want to be divorced, it broke her heart, and this book lays bare much of the anguish associated with losing her husband to divorce.

She was married for more than a decade, and was in her late 30's when she and her husband divorced. She doesn't explain in any detail why they divorced, nor why they didn't have any children together.  She wanted children but perhaps life choices or infertility barred the way.

Anyway, single, divorced at age 37 or 38. Not what she wanted. She was lonely and grieving and sorrowful.

This is, thankfully, not my life AT ALL.

What keeps coming to mind as I read this book is how easy it is for me to take for granted certain blessings in my life.  AND how easy it is for other people to take for granted certain blessings in THEIR lives.

Our ability to have children was and is a blessing!  I have had acquaintances and friends with infertility challenges.  I never waited long, but I have a glimpse of the sorrow of wanting a child and not having one.  Or haveing one, or 2, or 3 children, and longing for more. But obviously JUST a glimpse.

I am never lonely.  Denise Jones struggled mightily with loneliness the first year of her divorce. She hated being home alone though did have loving dogs.  And dogs and cats and pets ARE great. But they are not the same as a loving husband and children.

On the other hand, there are things that Denise took ENTIRELY for granted that are out of my reach due to family obligations.

Her book is filled with casual references to horseback riding and visiting fancy restaurants, and going on a cruise, and trips to various cities as part of publicity for her books.  She had a remarkably open schedule. She apparently went where she wanted, when she wanted. And never thought twice about it.

One of the realities of children, especially small children, is that they tie you down.  Amy Carmichael went to India as a missionary, but God opened the door for her to start caring for orphaned children and girls presented by their parents to the temple gods.  After a while, Amy realized she couldn't travel freely all over because the children needed more stability.  A proverb in India at the time said that children "tie the feet."

They are very worth being tied down for.  Babies and preschoolers and toddlers and grade school kids and teens are all worth the limitations they impose.  

Life is actually somewhat more free for me now because the olders can watch the youngers, whereas just a few years ago I had to take everyone, everywhere, with me.

But still, every trip out of the house requires some planning, and I can't be gone long.  

I was at a homeschool meeting last night and there was talk of a specific Christian retreat for women.  The idea is that 6 to 8 women go to a Florida beach house and spend time relaxing, worshiping, and rejuvenating. The lady next to me said, "Maybe in 6 years when my youngest is in college."  I said, "I'm so far out from such a possibility that I won't even think about it."

It is so important to be content.  Denise Jones had every reason to grieve, and grieving was appropriate. But I know she also rejoiced about some of the blessings of that season of her life.

For me, the reality of loving husband and children is something I've had for a very long time, and perhaps I DO take everyone for granted at times.  I haven't felt the sting of loneliness, and thankfully haven't experienced the heart rending pain of a marriage failing.

So I need to focus on what I DO have, and not focus on what I don't have.  I need to be content!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Gated Community

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that we needed to put up the gate to keep Rose in the family room. The family room is fairly "baby proofed" and is now blocked off from all the stairs.

  Early on, she wasn't able to negotiate the 1 inch lip at the bottom of the gate, so with the gate open, she was stuck inside the family room.

  A couple of days ago, she struggled and thought and battled and managed to get over that lip.  She then fell hard on her nose and started a nosebleed, poor little lady!  But she did get over it.

 So the next stage commences.  Now we need the gate closed.

  Eventually she'll figure out how to open the gate, and we'll have to bungee it shut for a season.

 After that, she'll figure out how to loosen the bungee cords, and we'll remove the gate and have to watch her very carefully near the stairs.

  Ah, the excitement of babyhood, for all of us.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day

  It always helps if I have reasonable expectations for "special days" like Mother's Day, my birthday, and Christmas.

  Reality is, we've had small children for 15 years now.  Small children are inherently self centered.  They don't pay attention to the calendar.  No switch turns on in their brains which encourages them to behave better on a special occasion for Mom.

  So this afternoon has been...challenging.  Our toddler is being a total terror AT THIS MOMENT.  He keeps saying he is hungry.  Yes, dinner is 10 minutes off, kid.  Yes, you will need to wait.  He keeps whining and fussing and saying OVER and OVER and OVER, "I'm hungry. I'm hungry."  He got lunch and snack mid afternoon, so I know he isn't dying of hunger.  He's just focused.

  It has been a good day, of course.  Any day with my precious husband and 9 wonderful kids IS a good day. Maybe not an easy day, but a good day.

  I was thinking -- if I could have anything today, what would it be?  The first thing that came to mind was that I would like...a  day off.  From mothering.  So I'm actually planning on taking part of a day off this week.  Kevin will be on vacation so I am hoping to leave one afternoon and go to a couple of places and not come back 'til night time.

  I have some introverted tendencies.  I adore my kids.  They are wonderful. But lots of kid interactions can drain me, especially the littles when they are being whiny, disobedient, and obsessive about something.  The older kids can find something to focus on and will leave me alone if I really need time to recharge, but the littles don't.  Of course I don't blame them. They are very needy and that is good and fine.

  So Happy Mother's Day to me, and to all the other moms out there.  Motherhood is one of the greatest blessings in the world and I am very thankful the Lord gave me these precious little (and big) people with whom I share life.


Monday, May 4, 2015

One Nice Thing About Being an Experienced Mom

One of our small children, who does not read, and who shall remain nameless, has been very difficult lately.

We've had tantrums. We've had obsessive focus on ridiculous things.  We've had writhing and screaming (another name for tantrums, I guess.)  In short, said child has been a real pain in the neck.

Don't get me wrong. I love this kid.  To the moon and back.

I also know "this too shall pass."  With our older kids, I sometimes wondered if something was seriously wrong when a child was going through "a phase."

I know better now.  Sometimes a kid is just annoying for a season.  We discipline. We love. We pray.

And then the really difficult phase passes.

The sooner, the better.