Friday, October 30, 2015

Costume Party

We had a costume party this week.  2 families came over.  It was a lot of fun.  3 moms, 18 kids.

I am not great at throwing parties.  Preparing for them stresses me out. I like the actual parties, but the preparing, not so much.

When our older girls asked me if we could have a costume party, they assured me they would do most of the work. And they did.  All the baking and most of the cooking, costume preparation, etc.  They made list and checked them twice. They did an excellent job.  

Monday, October 26, 2015

Sweet Potato Harvest

We are blessed with soil that is good for sweet potatoes.  This is 3/4ths of our harvest.  We're delighted that stupid little critters didn't chew on the sweet potatoes much, so we have a wonderful harvest.  

Kevin does most of the planting and tilling and all that.  The kids do most of the harvesting. We had a great many green beans this year, a good tomato crop, and some zucchini.  

I love fresh produce, but I have to admit that fall is its own special time as we finish the harvest and Kevin puts the garden "to bed" for the winter.  It means a little less work around here and also a season of enjoying the hard work on the garden through the summer.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Little Break for Mom

I spent Friday and Saturday nights in a Red Roof Inn about 20 miles from home. I spent most of Saturday in my room, watching football and movies, journaling, praying, reading fun books, reading challenging books, and reading the Bible.

Kevin and the older kids nobly held down the fort at home.

It was a really good thing for me to spend some time by myself and process life.  It was a really ODD thing for me to sleep until 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. I can't remember the last time I did that. I am a totally nutty morning person so I usually like to get up early, but yesterday I enjoyed lazing around in bed.

One book I've been reading is on perfectionism.  I am not a perfectionist in all areas of life, but I definitely have some perfectionistic tendencies.

I'm realizing that while hard work and diligence are good,my internal drive tips over to being bad when I can't relax and be satisfied with "good enough" in some areas of life.

I was thinking today about how stressed I am about a stupid dental bill. The dental bill in question should be paid by our dental insurance, but there has been some mix up and I need to make phone calls and get it sorted out. I HATE calling insurance companies and doctor's offices, because I usually have to survive a phone tree and then try to straighten out what is going on while keeping tabs on our children.  Sometimes I end up with multiple calls back and forth.  (I've already made 2 calls about this dental bill, and it hasn't been resolved.)

It is reasonable to be a little annoyed, but it shouldn't hang over me like a black cloud. I've generally been very focused on getting necessary things done in a timely manner. I rarely procrastinate.  That is a fine thing in general, but the reality is that this dental bill may take some time to sort out. I can't just call any old time, because if there is screaming and yelling from kids in the background, the call is impossible. So I may need to wait until Tuesday afternoon to call, because tomorrow is busy.

That is not a big deal. But inside, I feel internal pressure to get the stupid thing taken care of ASAP.  I need to be peaceful if it takes a while.

I'm also realizing that the whole "have faith in God" thing means having faith that He'll carry us through even when things don't go all that well. There are times in life when life is rough.  God doesn't promise us an easy life.  Actually, if you read the Bible, it is clear many people will have quite a hard life.  My life has been comparatively easy, but we have definitely had our hard seasons.

I do feel rejuvenated after being away for 36 hours or so.  I'm thankful that Kevin saw the need and arranged for a break for me.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

I'm 46!

Yesterday was my birthday. I'm 46!

            Sweet cards from my children and my parents.  Kevin gave me an awesome card later in the day.  It was  heartfelt and touching.

    Kevin also bought me 2 sets of Tom Baker Doctor Who videos.  I love Tom Baker Doctor Who.  A few months ago, I got rid of most of our VHS tapes of Doctor Who in a fit.  I've become something of a DVD snob and I knew I could get the DVD's at the library if I wanted to.  But having our own at home is far better, especially since some library DVD's have grubby fingerprints if they've been in circulation for a while. So I have a dream of collecting all the Tom Baker Doctor Who's on DVD.

   On a more serious note, what is it like for me to be 46?

  I tend to think  about numbers, being a numbers person.  46 * 2 = 92.  I think given that I am diabetic, it is unlikely that I will live to age 92.  Therefore, I am probably more than halfway through my life.  That is an interesting thought.

  It is natural to fear death and I suppose I do, but in some ways I don't.  I know that Jesus is my Savior and Heaven is my permanent home. I want to live here on earth for a long, long time, as I know I'm an important person in the lives of my husband, my children, and a bunch of other people.  I know I have a lot more work to do here on earth, and also have many fun things to do on earth as well.

 46 is also an age when many women are going through hormonal changes, and I'm not an exception. The last few months I've been struggling with more anxiety than usual, with a little depression thrown in for bad measure.  Yesterday I saw my primary care doctor and discussed how I'm feeling, and we decided to try an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication to see if it helps me feel better.  That wasn't my idea of the most fun thing to do on my birthday, but the doctor had an open appointment so I took it.  

  The older I get, the more I realize how many of life's problems are multifaceted.  I have a melancholy personality.  I have a lot on my plate with 9 children, 3 of whom are under 5 and very very busy.  I like to plan ahead and my older children are moving into a time when they are making more decisions about life and what they want to do as adults.  Our eldest will be driving in a few months! I know, with every iota of my being, that Kevin and I need to coach our kids and release them into adulthood as they move into their late teens.  But it isn't easy for someone like me. I don't like surprises and uncertainty, when of course life is full of surprises and uncertainties.  Especially life with children!

  We're also in a spiritual battle.  I do believe in demonic attack.  I posted a note on my dresser a few days ago:  God loves me.  Satan hates me.

   I can tell, intellectually, that my life is really really good.  I'm thankful for a wonderful Christian counselor whom I am seeing on an irregular basis.  I'm thankful for a wonderful husband and 9 fantastic children. I'm thankful for beloved extended family and friends.  But the reality is that sometimes everything outside can be going quite well, but I'm still sad and stressed. That's where I'm at now, but I'm working on it.  I'm working towards more joy in my spiritual and emotional life.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Fall Festival

I took 6 of the children to our church's fall festival yesterday.  It was, as usual, cold.  For some reason, the fall festival is ALWAYS cold. But this year there was some sun, and no rain, so it was a great day and a great time was had by all.

Isaac and Lydia climbing.

Pumpkin patch.  On Friday, we helped put the pumpkins in the field.  Yesterday, we removed 4 of them and took them home :-).

Rose didn't get to go, but she sure is cute so I threw this picture in.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Love Is Patient

Some mornings are irritating.  This morning was.

I discovered that Daniel was sent to bed last night without a Pull-Up on, which meant of course that he wet the bed.  I took off the allergy cover to throw it in the wash, and...the mattress underneath was disintegrating.  We got the mattress from a relative, and a few months of a small boy and his older sibs jumping on it had torn it apart.

So I dragged the mattress out of the study into our sun room, which meant I had to go through 2 rooms.  Bits of the mattress were, of course, spewing all over.  I worked on cleaning it up and asked the big boys to haul the mattress to the street. They had trouble, so I had to help a bit, but they did much of it themselves.

By this time, Rose was falling apart and the study needed washed.  Isaac very graciously offered to watch Rose in the sun room.  His method was hilarious but effective. He got a big balloon, blew it up, and then released the air with the opening nearly closed. Result, a high pitched, agonizing squeal that drove many of the older siblings crazy. But Rose loved it, so I loved it.

I got the study washed.

Kevin  has the day off and he came down around 9 a.m.  We talked for a while about life and mattresses.  Thankfully, he is able to run off and buy a new one today.

I took 4 girls to our local children's thrift store at about 10 a.m.  Rose needed shoes, because one of the shoes in her only pair of shoes went missing this weekend.  I also wanted to buy fall colored shirts for all 4 girls, as we are having family pictures done by a lovely friend, a professional, this week.

Bringing my 9, 8, 4, and 1 year old girls to this thrift store, alone, was a mistake. Rose was tired and (I discovered later) had a messy but not smelly diaper.  She put up with about 5 minutes of searching for clothing, then fell apart.  She thrashed. She whined. She howled. She was, bluntly, horrible. Horribly behaved, I mean. In her essence, she was and is always wonderful and I love her dearly.

So we made it as quick as we could, and I did not get everything I wanted. But my patience had run out and I needed to get everyone home.

And did.  And we had lunch. And Rose is in bed.  And I'm going to take a little break and relax as well.

Through all this, I kept my cool -- entirely because God is good and gives me strength. This week, I've been working with one child in particular on this verse:

1 Corinthians 13:4New International Version (NIV)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Miss Sarah Reads

I have commented (maybe ranted?) before about how important it is (I think) to be patient when teaching a child to read.

Our public schools try to teach every child to read at age 5 or 6, roughly. Every child.

I think that is a mistake.  Some unusual children can read a bit at age 3, and many really aren't ready to read well 'til age 9 or 10. I know 10 seems ridiculously late, but I have heard some kids REALLY don't read well 'til then, but are able to quickly move through levels of reading once they are ready.  Of course there are genuine learning disabilities, like dyslexia.  BUT, I believe many young ones, especially boys, get burned out about reading because they are pushed too hard, too soon.

Sarah is our 5th daughter, and so far our girls have been ready to read earlier than our boys. That is apparently common as the average boy matures about a year later than the average girl in the early childhood years.

Sarah, like her sisters before her, showed interest in letters and numbers and words from a young age.  She has recognized her name for several months, and also could "read" the words Mom, Dad, and (oddly enough) pig.

But she really wasn't reading, which is to say she wasn't sounding out words by blending letter sounds together.  She just memorized the shape of the letters and could pick her name and her parents titles out of a list of words.

Kevin stayed home on Monday, feeling sick.  It was an exhausting and difficult day. But at one point, I sat down and wrote out the word "CAT", as I had a number of times before. And this time, Sarah sounded out the word.  And read it.

So, in my mind, she's reading!  Our sweet girl is reading!

I have to admit that once my kids get over that hump, I feel much better.  It really is a HUGE step to be able to blend sounds together and come up with a word.  She is not reading well, of course. It is just one step.  But it is a big step.

I'm happy.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Bill Nye Pro Abortion Rant

Bill Nye is a tall, lanky guy who, in the past, made a bunch of science videos, complete with frenetic music and a fair amount of ardent evolutionary propaganda.  I had the kids watch a couple of them, but didn't like them all that much partly because they were over the top loud, with lots of sudden visual shifts, and partly because he was so ardently evolutionist.  At least once, I caught a weird scientific error about planetary orbits.

In the past couple of weeks, Nye posted a video that supposedly "debunked" pro life arguments using "science."  Our eldest child came across it first. She chuckled her way through it, then showed it to our next 2 children. All 3 had fun pointing out the truly stunning logical fallacies.  Wow.  I had a hard time watching it because it enraged me so much, which just goes to show that sometimes my kids are more mature than I am :-).

There is a pro life conservative blogger named Matt Walsh who wrote a rebuttal, which is fairly good.  It is here, with both the Nye commentary and Walsh's point by point discussion.

I will say that while I agree with Walsh most of the time, I don't prefer his use of sarcasm as I don't think it leads to open, constructive discussion. However, in the case of this Nye diatribe, sarcasm is very tempting. Nye really makes no sense, while being extremely condescending and pretentious.

Walsh did miss one very obvious issue, and that is this stellar quote from Nye:

Sorry, you guys. I know it was written, or your interpretation of a book written 5,000 years ago, 50 centuries ago, makes you think that when a man and a woman have sexual intercourse they always have a baby. That’s wrong, and so to pass laws based on that belief is inconsistent with nature. I mean it’s hard not to get frustrated with this, everybody.

Nye seriously said that. He said that all pro lifers believe that every time a man and woman have sex, they will have a baby.  Huh?  Walsh didn't address that.  I believe that is the "straw man fallacy"--- where you claim your opposition believes something stupid, and then you "debunk it."  Sorry, sweet Mr. Nye, but most of us actually do understand the human reproductive cycle. I assure you, I know that sex does not lead, 100% of the time, to a pregnancy. Honestly, dude. That's just dumb.

But let me address a more fundamental issue.

Nye doesn't say it straight out, but he implies it very heavily-- he, as a "scientist" is a logical, rational human being, as are all scientists. All rational scientists, of course, agree with him about everything.  Those of us in the pro life camp are stupid religious zealots without 2 brain cells to rub together. Therefore, he is right and we are stupid (and wrong.)  

Kevin and I looked up Bill Nye's credentials.  He has a mechanical engineering degree, a bachelor's. So...yes, he studied some science, along with thousands of other engineers and scientists throughout the world.

News flash to Nye, and indeed everyone. Scientists are people.

Scientists are not all 100% rational all the time.

Scientists make mistakes.
Scientists are affected by their world view.  This is to say that their beliefs about God, and humans, and the value of human life, WILL affect their scientific beliefs and the way they interpret data.  

I find it very annoying that one of the favorite arguments of pro evolutionary, pro abortion, pro global warming advocates is that "all scientists" agree with them.

That is obviously not true. Kevin and I are PhD. level scientists, with 10 years of science training in college under each of our belts, and we don't believe in Darwinian macroevolution (though we believe in microevolution), we're pro life, and we're dubious about global manmade climate warming.

One of the current presidential candidates, Ben Carson, is a renowned neurosurgeon who spent years studying the human body, and has done some research along with separating conjoined twins and the like.  I think you could successfully argue he is a bona fide scientist, and he is pro life, doesn't believe in macro evolution, and is dubious about global warming.

The reality is that not all scientists, and not all people, agree about everything.  That is fine, that is normal.  It is reasonable to come to different interpretations about data, and I have no problem with someone honestly coming to a particular viewpoint.

It does bother me a lot when someone pulls the "science card" and dishonestly uses it to try to beat someone over the head with their world view.  Nye did that.  He should be ashamed of himself, but I'm guessing he's carrying his smug superiority into the future and will "bless us" with something else idiotic in the not too distant future.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


So I'm sick.

Sick is interesting when one is a mom of 9.

I'm medium level sick. I'd say I'm ill enough that I am running at about 75% capacity, up from 65% capacity yesterday.  I have a headache and my stomach is upset, but the biggest issue is a severely aching right hip.

Which was MUCH worse yesterday, so I'm on the upswing.  Yesterday, it hurt a lot to climb stairs. Guess what, I climb a lot of stairs on an average day.

I have, occasionally, gotten so sick I couldn't function.  That is bad, very bad, but at least I don't have to struggle mentally with what to do.  The occasions when I was really sick revolved around stomach bugs (which by God's grace, always passed within a few hours) and then there was the hideous Swine Flu attack of 2009, which put me in bed for 3 weeks.

But when I'm sick like THIS, it is a struggle to know what to do and what can just wait 'til another day.  Little kids always need care, of course.  I am super blessed that NOW I have big girls who can care for the little ones if I'm down for the count.  And, I cleverly chose a Saturday to be at my worst, so Kevin was around too.

But really, there is never an end to the work around here, so it is hard for me to rest when I see just one more thing that I COULD force myself to do. Part of being a mother is forcing oneself to push through morning sickness and fatigue, so I'm used to that. But now, when resting might help me recover more quickly -- well, it seems sensible to rest.

So I am.  Kevin and Naomi have covered most of the meals this weekend. I took naps yesterday and today.

I hope by tomorrow I can launch into a busy week at...85% capacity, at least.