Friday, November 27, 2015


  Many years ago, Kevin and I started cutting hair for our family.  I remember well the first time I cut Kevin's hair.  He keeps it short and it is relatively uncomplicated, so he bought a trimmer set (from Sam's, I think) and told me to go to it.  Since we are both engineers, I of course wanted to do it right.  I was pretty nervous, and remember wailing, "I just don't want to screw it up!"

  And I did fine.

  So since then, he cuts part of his hair and I cut part of his hair and he hasn't gone to a hair place.

  From Kevin, it was logical to move on to the boys.  They keep their hair pretty short at this stage of their lives, so Kevin cuts their hair short every month or so.

  But girls are harder, right?  Still, we've graduated to cutting their hair at least some of the time. Kevin turns out to be really good at it.  Lydia was recently complimented by someone at her physical therapy at how nicely her hair looks on her.

  Kevin cut hair for 4 girls the same day Lydia had her finger surgery.

  Here is Angela before and after:

  Tell me that's not cute!

  Here is the group photo post pics:

  Such a lovely bunch!

  Rose conked out in the study during the hair cuts.

  Daniel usually sleeps in here and that is his pile of "cows".  He calls all this stuffed pillow pets and animals "cows".

Sky Pics And...Rose

This picture doesn't do the evening sky justice, but it is still a nice pic.  It looked like we had alien spaceships floating around up there, or something :-).

And this was this morning, as the dawn sun reflected off the clouds.

And this is my life.  Rose climbing into things, slipping, crying, falling out, climbing out, etc.  Maybe she'll be a mountain climber when she grows up.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Book Review (sort of): the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

This is only sort of a book review because I only skimmed this book, which has taken the decluttering/organizing world by storm here in this country. I waited for weeks and weeks to borrow the digital version from the local library.

The author is Japanese and I'm guessing this was originally aimed at a Japanese audience.  It therefore has an interesting flavor, because she throws in matter of fact comments about life that don't correlate well with American life.  The most...interesting, I will even say disturbing to me, was the section about household gods and talismans and family alters.  Japan is a largely non-Christian country, so the spiritual outlook is very different from my own.

So...basically this book wasn't amazingly helpful to me. The author has an interesting way of looking at possessions -- specifically, she recommends only keeping items that "bring you joy."  That is to say, she seems to be encouraging people to tap into the "feeling" side of their brains, maybe the right side, and items that "spark joy" are kept. Everything else is discarded.  She thinks of possessions as being animate, to the point that she verbally thanks her purse and wallet each evening for their hard work for her.  Which is weird to me.

The basic THOUGHT has value to me.  Why hang onto items that are still "useful" but I don't really enjoy anymore? But her whole LIFE and personality (and worldview and religious view) are very different from mine. I know some Christian Americans have read her book, took what was useful, and really ran with what she had to say.  Her method has transformed many lives, and provided they aren't being pulled astray spiritually, I think that is totally cool

And I am writing from the perspective that Christianity is true and ancestor worship is a false religion, just to be clear.

The thing that blew me away the most made some sense but not to me.  She recommends that people literally pull out every item of clothing they have and pile it on a bed and go through each garment one by one.  Every garment that "brings joy" is kept.  Every garment that does not bring joy, is discarded.

I like the idea of an "go for broke" analysis of clothing, but WHO has TIME for that kind of thing?  She is a single woman.  I am a mother going bonkers chasing 3 preschoolers and teaching 6 older kids. I do not have 6 hours, or even 3, to devote to a job like that.

Her book section was even scarier. She recommended pulling every single book off the shelves of every bookshelf.  All of them. And then touching each one (the touching part is important for some reason) and deciding if a book "sparks joy." Her recommendation is that most people get rid of almost all their books. She says a really great reader might have 30 or 40 books that they might read again, and everything else should be discarded.

But of course, she's not homeschooling a passel of kids. I do adore books and have quite a few favorites I keep, but the vast majority of books in our home are for homeschooling, for the kids.  She says not to declutter "other people's stuff" but really the books ARE "my stuff" since I am the one assigning them to the children.  But while I do go through and discard books on occasion, I'm certainly not getting rid of most of them!

So again, there are some thoughts in this book that are useful, but we are worlds apart in terms of lifestyle and mostly her method just doesn't correlate well with my personality, my religious beliefs, my lifestyle, and my family situation.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Lydia's surgery, Part 2

          Back in July, Lydia had surgery on her left hand ring finger.  She broke her finger when she was 6 years old and we missed it (one of the bigger "parenting fails" of our life) and it healed incorrectly, with bits of bone in the wrong places.  It was bent, but had a good grip.

            We saw two orthopedic surgeons back when she was 7. The second, Dr. Foad, said that with her grip being strong, and no pain, she could just leave it as is. Which we did.  But in the last year it started hurting more when she was playing the piano. We had another appointment with Dr. Foad, and the x-rays showed more misalignment.  Given the pain and the information from the x-rays, we decided on surgery.

         The first surgery successfully straightened out the finger.  However, while the bone was healing, scar tissue adhered the tendons to the finger bones with the result that she couldn't bend her finger much, even after extensive physical therapy.  The surgeon said we'd need to go back in and separate the tendon from the bone. While he was in there, he said he'd remove the plate and screws that were initially used to keep the finger bones in the right place.

      So yesterday, off we went for Surgery Part 2.  It wasn't as involved as the first round, and everything went smoothly.  I took her as Kevin has been sick for 2 weeks now and didn't feel up to going.

     I'm thankful all went well and we pray that follow up physical therapy will, this time, result in a fully functional finger. We'll be hitting PT hard, with 2 appointments a week for the foreseeable future.  


And now, for some adorable pics.  I made playdough.  I sort of like playdough, sort of don't. It is creative and messy, which is good for little ones.  It is messy, which is hard on our sun room.  But it was worth keeping the littles happily busy a couple of days ago.

Rose just LOVES her Lydia!

Rose is cute.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sweet Interaction with Sarah

  I was gone a lot this week. I worked more than usual, and had a few appointments.  Thursday evening, I left to take Naomi to an appointment at around 4:30 p.m. and got back at 6:30 p.m.

  When I put Sarah, our 4 year old, to bed that night she asked, "Mom, are you going away tonight?"
  "No, honey," I said, "I'm just going downstairs to spend time with Daddy."
   "Ok," she said, with quivering lip.  And then she started crying.
   "What's wrong, sweetheart?"  I asked, "Did something bad happen?"
    "No, I just MISSED you," she sobbed.

   So, while I'm not happy she was unhappy, it was encouraging that yes, this girl loves me and wants me around.  She's been in a PHASE lately, which is normal for her age. She and Daniel have been fighting over toys.   It is tiring.

 But she loves me, and I love her.  So we're good.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Keep On Keeping On

  I was reading an Elisabeth Elliott devotional this week.  The gist of this devotional is that often a great challenge to a godly life is the need to do mundane tasks over and over again.

  I have read many missionary biographies, and the people who amaze me did, well, amazing things!  Elisabeth Elliott's first husband, Jim, tried to reach the Waoroni tribe in Ecuador.  He and his 4 companions were speared to death.  Elisabeth and Rachel Saint (sister of one of the martyrs) later went into the Waoroni tribe that was responsible for the deaths of the missionaries, and shared the gospel. That is an amazing story.

  Amy Carmichael reached out to children caught up in temple prostitution in India, and gave dozens of such children safe homes.

  Gladys Alward successfully shepherded dozens of children through war torn China during World War II.

  Eric Liddell won a gold medal in the 400 meters in 1924 (see Chariots of Fire if you haven't, great movie!) and then went to China as a missionary. He perished in a Japanese internment camp during WWII, due to a brain tumor.

  Ida Scudder turned her back on a life of comfort to work as a female doctor in India, at a time when Indian women were woefully underserved.  She started medical schools for women and brought relief to literally thousands.

  And then there's me ... living in comfort in the United States.  My family is my main priority during this season of life.  Since I've had little ones for a very long time, I have changed diapers, and changed diapers, and changed diapers.  I've potty trained, and potty trained, and potty trained again.  I've overseen the washing of 10,000 loads of laundry. I've settled 92, 364 sibling squabbles (give or take 10,000).  I'm now protecting my 9th toddler from hurting herself on a daily basis due to her lack of wisdom.

  You get my drift.  My life is blessedly comfortable.  No war, no famine, no plague. But a fair amount of boredom.  A fair amount of doing the same tasks over and over and OVER again, especially where the little ones are concerned.

 I've long been someone who thrives on routine and even now, I find pleasure in getting certain things done.  Having said that, I've struggled with discontentment lately as I am finding some aspects of parenting tiresome.  I would say, in particular, the tantrums of the preschoolers are especially exasperating right now.  I'm tired of tantrums.  I've DONE tantrums. Sarah, of course, has never been at the age of tantrums before so all this is new and exciting to her :-).

  So this devotional was encouraging.  Yes, life has its boring moments.  Yes, we just have to do the same things, faithfully, over and over and over again.

  And there are some really nice things about this season too, of course.  My big kids now can have exciting and interesting conversations with me.  I'm past the age when I was at home with tinies who couldn't talk much.  WAY past.  And the big kids help a lot with the little ones. We now have built in babysitters.  What BLISS.

 The young ones are also delightful, of course.  Daniel keeps us chuckling with his adorable remarks.  Sarah, whose brain works overtime, has come up with some astounding comments that delight and amuse us.

  And of course, Rose.  Well, Rose is consistently adorable.

 So partly I need to count my blessings, and partly I just need to keep on keeping on.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sun Room

I've mentioned before we are blessed to have a big house.  I keep reading about how American homes have grown in the last 30 years, and of course they have.  Our house is 3500 square feet PLUS a huge basement.

Of course, we actually have plenty of people roaming around, too!  Few families have 11 members.  Still, I am incredibly thankful we have plenty of space to sleep in and play in and work in.

Our sun room is a tiled area off our family room.  It typically goes from semi clean to very messy to semi clean to VERY messy.  I recently cleaned it and rearranged items, and thought it would be fun to post the very quick changes that happen in our sun room.

     This is a "before" picture, obviously. The cardboard "box house" was a huge hit for at least a week.  The kids loved it and played in it constantly. (Thank you, Lana, for the idea from your blog!)  Then they got tired of it, and it just sat there taking up space. So I thought about taking it down, but our eldest son said he still likes to lie in it reading, so we'll keep it for now.

The other end of the sun room. Papers all over the floor.  The table is an "art table" and somehow a lot of stuff ends up on the floor.

I tidied up. I moved the art table to the other end of the room, and...

  the box house and rocking horse into corners and against the other wall.

But as usual, the order did not last for long.  The kids asked for the Lincoln logs to come down, so I put them down.

AND, the chairs. What is with the chairs?  Well, the answer should be obvious to all fans of Miss Rose.  She climbs on them.  And then onto the table. And then stands, precariously, on TOP of the swaying table. So when she is in the sun room, and her siblings aren't occupying the seats,I put them on the floor. Problem solved, but it looks silly.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Our Crazy Squeak

This is a very typical pose for our darling Miss Squeak.  She loves to climb.  She loves loves loves loves loves to climb.  Any time she can, she's UP.  It is strenuous to keep this girl safe. And yes, she HAS fallen off of things, but thus far hasn't hurt herself seriously though she's had her share of bumps.

And just look at those skinny little legs. We feed and feed her, but she is so active she burns much of it off. MAYBE she is 20 lbs now.

She is such a precious little person. We are thankful for her, even as we worry about her, and pray for her, during this stage when her abilities exceed her wisdom.