Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Week

  Kevin has 2 weeks of vacation!  That is truly awesome.  He doesn't go back until January 3rd.

  We're trying to take daily naps.  Both of us are tired and there is something about crawling into the sheets for an hour after lunch that is really relaxing.  Not that I am always able to sleep. Yesterday, Daniel was upset and kept yelling, which kept me awake.  Kevin was downstairs dealing with it but still, the noise kept me awake.

  Rose is always in her room during nap time, resting/playing. She can't be allowed to roam at will.


            She is so cute, though!  In the midst of toddler destruction, she continues to completely charm us.

           I admit I was not entirely charmed when she pried up a heating grate and threw a bunch of Tinker Toys into the bowels of the heating ducts.  I fished them out, groaning at the dirt and cobwebs.  Then she did it again an hour later.  Tinker Toys are now UP.

             Naomi turned 17 this week. I know it is totally a cliche but...where did the time go?  I remember her as a newborn and it has been 17 years!

               Naomi got her PSAT scores back in the last week or so.  She took it partially as practice for the ACT and SAT.  She scored about average in math, which isn't surprising as she is only in geometry so is behind.  Her verbal scores were through the roof. Her writing and editing and grammar skills are better than many people twice her age.  She still isn't entirely sure what she wants to do with her life, but being able to communicate in writing is a valuable skill and she has it in spades.


                  We managed a family picture.  It is really good. Even Rose is smiling, when often she is not too keen on pictures.  It depends on her mood.

            Yesterday, I took 5 of our children to my work's annual Christmas Eve party for families, though it was on the 23rd because today (Christmas Eve) is a Saturday.  Naomi and Lydia have aged out of getting a present, and I decided I didn't want to deal with a crazy toddler while standing in line for Santa  Then Isaac felt sick and didn't go -- which was fortunate as he threw up while we were gone!  
         Kevin's mom graciously came along to help me wrangle Sarah and Daniel. We started out with a tasty breakfast, including skim chocolate milk.  Skim?  It just seems wrong to combine skim milk with chocolate, but the kids didn't seem to mind.  Then we got in line for Santa.  We don't "do" Santa as a family.  I joke that the kids know from the womb that he is pretend, because I used to tell my pregnant belly "Santa isn't real!"  But the Santa picture is part of getting the presents, plus it is always nice to get a good picture of the kids.  I had to chuckle a bit at what the kids were wearing. They had clothes on, and shoes.  That's about all we can hope for.  Most of the other families had their kids dressed up nicely with matching outfits.  With 9 kids, I'm just happy when I can get them dressed and out the door on time. Which I did.

  Tomorrow is Christmas.  Kevin's mom is coming over.  We'll open presents.  I hope for a quiet and relaxing day.  Did I just write that?  It won't be quiet with all those new presents?  I hope we have a wonderful, blessed family day.

     And of course, why do we celebrate Christmas?  Because God in his infinite mercy became flesh, Immanuel, God With Us.  Thank you, Father God. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Thank you, Holy Spirit.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Feeling Thankful

There are so many things we can take for granted.

But then I read about the Syrian crisis and realize how blessed we are.

So right now I'm thankful for:

1.  A warm home.
2.  A roof that doesn't leak.
3.  Available medical care.
4.  Plenty of food.
5.  Warm blankets and clothes.
6. Cars that work.
7.  Living in a place where no army is attacking our home.
8.  Jesus
9.  The freedom to worship the Lord openly.
10. Kevin and I are quite healthy.
11.  Healthy children.
12.  Kevin is employed and paid enough to care well for our family.
13.  God grants us wisdom when we ask for it, and I ask a lot!
14.  Kevin and I have a strong and enduring marriage.
15.  Married 20 years this June!  Wow!
16.  I get 2 weeks off from teaching the kids :-).
17. Homeschooling.  It is wearing at times but I am so thankful we can teach our kids legally at home.  In some countries,  it is illegal and kids have been snatched by the government when parents have tried to homeschool.
18.  The Holy Spirit, who dwells in those who follow Jesus Christ.
19.  My Kindle.  E-books are awesome.
20.  Our extended family.  They are a blessing to us.

There are just 20 blessings off the top of my head.  Yes, we are very blessed. Thank you, Lord.

Of course, many people are struggling with famine and war and injury and illness.  What do we do about them?

I'm praying for the people of Aleppo.

We are donating to Partners International, a wonderful Christian relief organization.

We are praying for wisdom in how we use our money, remembering we are stewards.  Our primary responsibility during this season of life is our large family.  Not only do we need to care for them now, but we'll be launching them, one by one, into adulthood and are thankful we can help contribute to post high school training expenses.  I'm thankful for James 1, which tells us the Lord grants us wisdom. We need wisdom.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Adulting Fuel

Kevin found a local coffee store that roasts and sells coffee.  He took a few kids and had a combined field trip/coffee purchase experience.  This is what he bought -- Adulting Fuel.

What is Adulting?

Adulting (v): to do grown up things and hold responsibilities such as, a 9-5 job, a mortgage/rent, a car payment, or anything else that makes one think of grown ups.

English keeps changing :-).  Gotta love those new words that keep entering the langugage.  I like this word.

So yes, I'm 47 and definitely an adult. A middle aged adult, even.  I've been doing this "adulting" thing for a long time.

And 47 is a reasonable time to have a midlife crisis.

I am NOT having a midlife crisis, but I at least understand it better than I used to understand the concept.

I have always been a very driven, conscientious person. I'm not particularly ambitious on a grand scale, but I always wanted to do my job and do it well (perfectly.)

So I pursued academics with vigor. I strove to be an excellent wife once I was married, and a devoted mother once we had children.

My faith has always been important to me. I definitely incline towards the legalistic side of faith, and God's biggest message to me in the last few years has been about grace.  My Father in Heaven loves me ALL the time.  Jesus died for my sins. I should strive to serve and follow the Lord at all times, but that doesn't mean I can't relax and enjoy myself on occasion.

The truth is that my sins are forgiven because Jesus died for me.  I am going to Heaven, not because I'm anywhere close to perfect, but because His blood covers my sins.  I am loved because I am God's child, not because of my performance.  I want to obey the Lord and serve Him and others, but because I love Him, not because I'm afraid of His punishment.

I've been mellowing the last few years.  I am more able to relax and spend time doing things I enjoy.  I am not carrying as heavy a load about my responsibility for my children's lives.  I am still a committed, devoted mother, but I'm grasping that I can't control their lives or their futures.  I need to support them and encourage them as they mature to adulthood, but I can't try to control their specific educational and career and relationship paths.  

Kevin has an acquaintance at work who was one of the rare people to really be negative about our very large family. The reason is interesting -- he himself was one of a large family and at some point both his parents just freaked out and lost it.  Both became alcoholics (presumably due to stress?) and abdicated their responsibility to their children.

I am horrified by that and, I admit it, can at least grasp the problem. Of course, this isn't only a problem for parents of large families.  Life can be very challenging for everyone. People lose jobs, and relatives.  People lose houses to wildfires and earthquakes.  Children, be it 1 or 9, are a lot of work and can cause great stress.  Sometimes we just want to escape into something to get away from it all.  Alcohol is an obvious temptation to some (not to me -- alcohol isn't remotely my thing.)  But I can imagine diving headlong into something academic because frankly, that is way easier to deal with than the 9350th tantrum by a toddler I've dealt with.  But I stick with my job for now, and do something about the tantrum even if it isn't the best job I have ever done.

I'm embracing like never before that "something is way better than nothing."  By that I mean that when I can't do something perfectly, it is still better to do something.  If I can't read 5 books to my 4 year old, I can read one.  If I can't spend 30 minutes a day working with our 6 yo on reading, I can spend 10 minutes 3 times a week.  That kind of thing.  In my youth (before children), I could and did work myself to the bone studying. I did VERY well because I spent so much time at it.  My life doesn't allow for infinite time devoted towards every important thing.  I need to balance the needs and wants, and I need to pay attention to my own health and sanity.

This season of life is quite challenging, with a darling and rambunctious toddler and a beautiful eldest daughter who is stepping firmly towards adulthood -- and everyone in between.  I keep praying for wisdom and stamina, and am also acknowledging my personal weakness like never before.  I'm not God and I never have been. I am a very important person in the lives of my family but I'm not God in their lives.  That's not my job, and I'm glad.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Littles Wear Me Out

I think the Lord knew what he was doing when he decided that the 40's were about the end of the child bearing years for most women.  If I were a decade older, I might just fall over from exhaustion.

So yeah, they've been busy.

I keep hauling Rose's bed into the family room so the kids can jump on it.

Daniel, balancing precariously.

Still balanced precariously.

And Rose...looking peaceful and adorable.  And of course, she is always adorable. But definitely not always peaceful.

She has had quite a week.

She fell off furniture 4 times one day.

3 days ago, she fell off the top of a BUNK BED.  I kid you not.  A bunk bed. Fell.  I was very worried but she was totally fine. I guess she bounced?  I was right there trying to hang up Christmas lights. She has climbed on the bunk bed many a time and never bounced off, until then.

In other random news, I don't have to do jury duty!  I was on tap to go in this week and next.  Last Friday, I called an automated number and was told no one had to go in. This week -- this is awesome -- THIS week I called and people with last names starting with A through G have to go in, and everyone else can stay home.  Good time to be a K.  I wouldn't mind tremendously doing jury duty but it is easier to avoid the hassle of child care and all that.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Miscellaneous Rambling and Pictures

Kevin mowed our back field.  Yes, we have a tractor!

I got crazy and bought a helium tank so we could blow up helium balloons.  So much fun.

We have a new computer!  This brings our "fleet" up to 7 computers.  The entry room has 4, obviously.

3 sweet girls.

Lydia, our cat whisperer.  (The weather was lovely yesterday, when this was taken.)

Isaac plays so well with Daniel.  Sarah was tired.

                In more serious news, Ohio State University was the site of an apparent terrorist attack a few days ago.  The attack took place outside Watts Hall, which is where Kevin spent much time when he was in Ceramic Engineering at OSU, 25 years ago.  I'm so thankful that the injured students will apparently be Ok, physically at least.  As for the attacker -- I am very thankful a security officer shot him before he could harm anyone else. But oh, how sad. How sad to be 18 and so deluded as to think that God wanted him to harm and kill.  (This is assuming the attacker was in fact motivated by ISIS beliefs, which seems likely.)

                  There has been substantial discussion lately about the election and the reality that Clinton won the popular vote but lost the election.  I agree, it is nuts.  I really think the electoral college needs to go.  But reality is, the election took place under the "rules" of the electoral college. The campaign was waged with the idea that swing states was where it was all at.  If popular vote was the method by which the president was chosen, then the campaigning would have been carried out differently by all candidates.  I do think it is unfair that voters in large states effectively have less influence than those in small states.  But to look at this election NOW and say the electors should change their votes doesn't make sense either.  The methodology of the electoral college effects voting patterns and campaigning.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving Picture

We had Kevin's mother and our niece over for Thanksgiving dinner. Here is the clan.  Is it totally obvious that our almost 14 year old son is taller than both of us?  He has grown inches this year.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

This Week

  Kevin and I went away to a marriage conference Friday evening and all day Saturday.  Kevin's mom graciously stayed with the children.

  It was a first.  19+ years of marriage, and we've never gone to a marriage seminar.  It was good.  I don't think there were any earth shattering revelations but the messages were good and thought provoking.  As Kevin said, it was good just getting away and focusing on our marriage.  We have a lot on our plate with Kevin's job and 9 kids to care for.  Sometimes our marriage ends up on the back burner.  Partly that is a busy life, but we have to WORK to keep our marriage strong.  The natural tendency is to let the urgent overwhelm the important.  We are fighting that by setting aside time for each other.

  Not surprisingly, Mommy and Daddy's disappearance for more than 24 hours (we stayed in a hotel overnight) meant Rose was a little stressed when we got home. She had a fine time with Grandma and her older sibs, but she missed Mommy.

 This week she and the next 2 kids have been clingier than usual.  I've done a lot of sitting with them reading books and cuddling them.

 This does not come very easily to me.  I think most people who get PhD's are project oriented people.  One has to either be a genius, or driven, to get a PhD.  I am definitely not a genius so yeah, I'm project oriented. I love getting stuff done, getting projects finished.  Cuddling little kids and reading books doesn't naturally appeal to my sense of "getting things done."

  But really, being physically and emotionally available for my children (older and younger) is way more important than organizing our closets, even though the latter makes me feel accomplished.  The house is kind of a mess right now and there are projects not getting done. Just like I have to focus on my marriage, I NEED to focus on my relationships with the children.

  I feel like this is one of the things the Lord has taught me over and over in the last 20 years.  Work on the relationships and don't worry so much about the projects.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Election

I definitely don't do politics much in this blog, and I promise it will stay that way.

I didn't stay up late on Tuesday night. I have Littles who wake up early, and I thought it was a foregone conclusion that Clinton would win.

Like many Americans who woke up on Wednesday morning, and opened Facebook (or a news source), my mouth gaped open as I read that Trump is our new president elect.

Wow, I totally didn't see that one coming.

And I was happy. Yes, I voted for Trump.

I am not a very "political" creature. I don't know much about trade deals and the economy.  I am a smart person and I could figure it out, but I realize that I don't have any way of influencing these kinds of things (except for the occasional election, when realistically 1 vote doesn't matter much anyway) and I am super busy raising and educating my children.  So I don't read a lot about politics.

When I voted for Trump, it was basically an "anti Clinton" vote. I don't like Trump's personality. He is a jerk.  He has not treated at least his first 2 wives well. He had an affair.  He has said some rotten stuff.

But Clinton pushes my one litmus test button (mixed metaphor, perhaps?) and that is the issue of abortion.  I am ardently pro life. And Clinton is not just a pro abortion person, but a fanatically pro abortion person. I think even many pro abortion people quail at partial birth abortion, but Clinton was very open that she thinks this procedure (which is a few inches from infanticide) is a wonderful right for women.

I also found Clinton's comments about "the village raising the child" very alarming. She has cited in a book "wonderful" programs (in other countries) where the government has people going into homes from birth on to "help" the parents raise their kids. That makes my skin crawl.  There are countries like Germany where homeschooling is illegal, and in Sweden children have been snatched by the government when their parents tried to homeschool them.  It does happen, and the "government knows best" mentality is unnerving to me.

And then there was the rigging of the primary against Sanders.

And the email server thing. OH MY.  My husband knows a lot about such things, as he has clearances for classified information.  He is outraged Clinton wasn't charged or even disciplined for the private email server.  People have been stripped of rank, and some have been jailed, for much less.

And the Clinton Foundation and its ties to some foreign countries supporting ISIS.  Ugh.

So yeah, Anti Clinton vote here.

It occurred to me far too late, on Wednesday morning after I learned Trump had won, that a lot of people must actually LIKE Trump and his message.

And that told me once again that people are complicated.  I have read a few articles since the election painting all Trump supporters as sexist, racist, homophobes.  People, it is WAY more complicated than that. Most of the evangelical women on my FB feed were anti Clinton because of the pro life issue and (for some) concerns about her views on homeschooling.  And the email server stuff. And the Clinton foundation.

Many many people were apparently stressed and upset about Obamacare premiums and stagnant wages and illegal immigration.

On the other hand, people I know, love, and respect supported Clinton because they believe that her views are kinder and better.  Some are even pro life people, but consider that her abortion views aren't incredibly important.

So yeah, people are complicated.

I do confess to major curiosity about how the media and the polls were SO WRONG.  Everyone showed Clinton winning, and winning handily.

The pro Clinton bias was very overt to the point that we stopped even reading CNN, which focused exclusively on Trump's sins and almost completely ignored Clinton's issues.

Most other news organizations were the same.

Journalists are people too. They tend to be on average liberal, and I think to some degree they stuck their heads in the sand.

But how were the polls wrong?  Again, a good question.  Were, as Trump's campaign manager said, there a bunch of undercover Trump voters who just didn't want to be hassled, so they didn't tell the truth?

Maybe.  Likely even.  I also know polls can be overtly or accidentally designed to give a wrong answer.

Another big question to me is how did Clinton even get the Democratic nomination, much less how did the DNC basically rig it in her favor?  She had SO much baggage.  I think she was a very poor nominee.

At the end of the day, all of this is mostly academic to me. I get up in the morning, and I care for my children, and I pray for our country. And that is what I am doing now.  I don't know what a Trump presidency will be like. I think it has the potential to be way better than a Clinton presidency.  I can't do anything but pray for him and our government, and I will.

I will also do this. I respect people who are sad that Clinton lost.  I was stressed and nervous when I thought Clinton was a shoe in. I understand being nervous about Trump winning. He does seem like a loose cannon in many ways.

In the end, we can't do much but live our lives, love others, and pray.  That's what I'm going to do.

Monday, November 7, 2016

They Grew, They Grew!

I mentioned that I tried to grow bacteria on Agar plates.  In the sun room. Under a heat lamp.  It got way too hot one day and cooked my bacteria.

So I tried AGAIN.  Really, how hard can this be?

This time I put them in the pantry, on the top shelf, with a lava lamp providing some heat.

And this time it worked!

Day 1 or 2

Day 5.  It is kind of "blech" but it worked.

Homeschooling win.  Yes, there is indeed bacteria in many places.

Sunday, November 6, 2016


Kevin bought me a FitBit for my birthday. It tracks my heart rate, how many stairs I've done in a day, and how many steps I've done in a day. It would keep track of my sleeping but I don't like to wear it at night.

I like it.  It is encouraging to have it vibrate when I need to get up and move around.  Also, it shows me that I move around quite a bit.  A "normal" day, where I am just moving around the house, averages about 7500 steps. When I work at it, I can hit 10,000 steps.  I do a lot of stairs too. One day I had 26 stairs (that is just up) in one day!  That was the day I was taking books down to the basement as we were rearranging the bookshelves.

I've been told for a long time that I should be exercising regularly, and of course I should be.  It is boring, that's the truth.  Someone, getting "credit" for brisk walking helps me enjoy it more.

Kevin has his own Fitbit and beats me almost every single day. However, on Friday (2 days ago), he participated in a fast 5K walk and now one of his feet hurts quite a bit. So he's staying off of it. TODAY I might actually beat him :-).

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Ants and Bacteria

We always love our ants.

I have purchased ant farms many times, and we decided to have another round last week.

We bought the ant farm.  We ordered the ants.  Harvesters, which bite.  

And then this, from my FB post:

The ants for our ant farm arrived today. I cooled them off in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to make them sluggish before popping them in the ant farm and firmly closing the lid. I put the ant farm in our boys' room, as our 12 year old son is the most enthusiastic about ants. As I put our 2 year old to bed tonight, I was interrupted by piercing shrieks from our 4 yo son. Who, in spite of stern admonitions not to, had messed with the ant farm and opened the lid partway, whereupon 4 ants swarmed out. 2 of them promptly bit him. ARGHGHGHGGHGHHGGHGHGHHH! It was supposed to be this wonderful scientific experience and we had stray ants in the house. Biting ants. I killed 4. Hope that's all of them. Ant farm relocated now.

The good news is that the remaining ants did their job and started tunneling. Even better news -- no other ants have escaped. We have them up on a top cabinet in our dining room so they are out of reach from at least our toddler and preschooler.

I'm also growing bacteria, or trying to.  I bought agar plates and swabbed some spots.  Well, I tried with just one plate.  I kept it in our laundry room but it was too cool to grow properly, as it is supposed to be kept between 84 and 100 degrees.

So I dug out our chicken lamp, used to keep baby chicks warm.  This worked well except today the sun room got warm and that, with the heat lamp, shot the temperature up to 115 degrees! So maybe I killed all the bacteria. This is harder than it looks.

Improving our Entry Room

We have names for most of the rooms in our house. Some aren't amazingly applicable.  We call a room between our kitchen and family room "the breakfast room" though we don't eat breakfast there.

A tiny room between the master bedroom and bathroom is the "sewing room" which is Kevin's idea of a joke. Because I'm not good at sewing.  I actually have used the sewing machine in that room 2 or 3 times in 11 years.  Is that enough for that to be a good name?

Anyway...entry room.  It's the room directly in from the garage, so a fine enough name.  It is more aptly called a computer room, as we have 3 computers in there.

Until a few days ago, 1 computer was on a normal desk, one computer was on a tall, gangly, old computer desk, and the last was on a weird little baby desk.  It was tall enough for an adult, but small in size with an awkward rod such that sitting comfortably was difficult.

We also had a big bookcase in there until recently, but that went downstairs, along with an identical bookcase that was in our main hall.

That was rather a job.  I had to unload a bazillion books. Good news is that I could think about which books I really wanted to keep. I got rid of over 100 books from our bookshelves, which was a major accomplishment.

Back to the entry room:



Kevin bought plywood, painted it with some clever substance, and installed them on L brackets.  Now we have a wonderful space for our computers, and way more leg room.

We moved the old, semi decrepit computer desk into the family room one evening after the little ones were in bed.  I predicted, correctly, that they would be enthralled with it. Yes indeed, it was their own private jungle gym for several hours one morning. I finally got nervous that someone was going to fall and crack his or her head open so...

I flipped it over.  And the kids thought THAT was great too.

The desk was hauled out by strong people and now we have our family room available again.  Here, Rose and "Pikwin" (Penguin) are taking a "nap".

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Birthday and Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

              My birthday was last week. I was expecting a rather dreary day because we had sick kids (more about that later) but actually, it was a lovely day. Kevin and the children were very sweet, and I got a FitBit!  Kevin got one a few weeks ago and is finding it inspiring in getting more exercise.  I hit 10,000 steps yesterday for the first time. I don't think I'll achieve that every day, but it is a goal to strive for.  Kevin's mom came over and watched kids so we could run off and have a quick birthday dinner at Five Guys Burgers and Fries.  Their food is SO good.

  We've had an illness wending its way through the family for close to a month now.  It has been tummy problems, mostly. Well, last week Rose broke out in a horrible rash, as you can see from the picture above.  It is all the way up her arms and legs.  I thought maybe it was poison ivy since we spent the early part of the week outside in the beautiful weather.  I took her to the pediatrician and they said no, it is enterovirus or hand, foot, and mouth disease. She has a truly terrible case of it.  She was miserable, poor sweet, for a couple of days. She does seem to be on the mend now, which is great.

  No one else has gotten the horrible rash but Daniel and Joseph are both sick now.  I think everyone else is through the illness (mostly). I hope.


Oh, I forgot to show my CAKE.  Lydia made it from scratch and decorated it.  She did a fabulous job!  We discovered at the last minute that SOMEONE (a small child, no doubt) had destroyed our "7" candle, so Kevin put on the ubiquitous 29 candle.  I am, of course, not 29.  If I were 29, then I would have had Naomi when I was 13.  Which would not have been good :-). 

I am, in fact, 47.  I hope with age I am gaining wisdom. I think I am.  I pray so much for wisdom and God keeps speaking, for which I am thankful.  

As an added aside, I had my first child was I was 30.  How many women have their first child at 30 and end up with 9 kids??  We are very blessed.  Our children are truly fantastic.  I sometimes get worn out by the day to day minutiae of life, but when I really think about these kids, they blow me away.  Each is such an individual personality, each has specific traits, each has certain strengths and certain weaknesses.  We're like our own little micro civilization. That's of course true of every family, not just ours.  I am so thankful to experience this life.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Glorious October

The weather has been AMAZING.

           I have mellowed in my older age, so I'm letting the kids play a lot outside right now.  Fresh air and running around are good for them, and soon winter will strike and we'll be indoors more.  
I used to be a bit crabby about October, I think because I disliked winter so much.  I like winter more now, and I LOVE fall with the colors and the cooler temperatures and the death of many bugs.  It has been a great week.

Rose adores being outside.  She particularly likes our trees!  She is a real life tree hugger.

           Our house really looks good.  I mean, it isn't fancy, but it is huge and in decent shape. We are very thankful for it.

             We're also thankful for good health.  Kevin and I were both shook up when a message came through our homeschooling group this week; a lady whom I didn't know (but whose parents are acquaintances) died in childbirth this week while giving birth to her 8th child.  It was one of those freaky complications that happens VERY rarely, but it broke our hearts.  I am SO sad for that family.  The baby lived and is fine, but now the father has 8 children to care for, most of whom are heartbroken.  And the baby is a newborn and needs lots of care.

       We are thankful we could send some funds to help them but that is just a drop in the bucket.  No one gets over something this tragic quickly.  Really, they'll find ultimate healing in heaven and not before, but I do hope the anguish will fade over time.  I pray right now that God will step in every day, every moment, to help them step forward in grieving, in living, in dealing with the funeral and finances and newborn care.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

October Birthday

  I will be 47 in a week or so.

  I've been thinking about mid life crises :-).  I'm about that age, I think.

  Over the last few months, I read Ecclesiastes.  It is a strange book of the Bible, probably written by King Solomon, filled with verses like this:

Ecclesiastes 1:2New International Version (NIV)
“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”

That's cheery!

I am not a theologian so I'm just going to mention the one big thing I "got" from Ecclesiastes this time around.

From Chapter 2:24-25

24 A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God,25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 

  These verses follow a long diatribe about how Solomon tried to find joy and pleasure in doing "stuff" -- planting vineyards, building palaces, etc.  But ultimately, from an earthly perspective, it was all meaningless because eventually Solomon would die and everything he had accomplished on earth would be in the care of his successor. And Solomon, being gloomy, said his successor might well be  fool.  That turned out to be true, by the way -- the son who succeeded him made many poor decisions.


  The big thing for me is taking time to enjoy and take pleasure in what is going on RIGHT now in my life.

  Our culture encourages people to have goals.  Goals are good. They are.

 But being dominated by goals CAN make someone constantly look to the future and not be satisfied in the present.

  When I was younger, I was constantly looking to the future and impatiently waiting to succeed in some area.  Get an A in the class.  Finish my undergraduate degree.  Get the PhD.  Get pregnant.  Get through the pregnancy.  Have the baby sleep through the night.  Pay off the debt.  And so on.

  The problem with being so goal oriented is that I was constantly impatient and not satisfied with what was happening at that moment in my life.  Also, and this might have been more serious, there were seasons of my life (my PhD years in particular) when I put academics above relationships, which wasn't healthy.

  During this season of life, I am working to enjoy the present.  I want to take pleasure in the craziness of toddlerhood -- even though sometimes Rose's antics wear me out.  But this is a precious time in her life.

  I want to enjoy books I read for fun and walks on our "property".  I want to relish what is right around me, what is happening right now.

  I don't really have any big goals right now that involve completing a specific task or accomplishing something specific.  I want to focus more on daily work and finding meaning and pleasure in those things. I want to focus even more on relationships with my husband, children and friends.

  This means working against the voice in my head that says I am not accomplishing "enough" -- whatever enough is!  I've felt pushed to do more for as long as I can remember.  I did accomplish many things from a worldly perspective, but I constantly felt like the finish line was ahead of me and I could never quite get there.

  So for now, I'm going to try to find satisfaction in my daily toil.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

10 Blessings

I am thankful for:

1.  Our family's generally good health.
2.  Comfortable, warm, stable beds.
3.  Running water
4.  Jesus!  He should have been first but I am just writing this as they come to me.
5.  Jesus loves us so much, in spite of our sins and failures.  Thank you, Lord!
6.  Rose sleeps all night.
7.  We've figured out how to stop Sarah's nosebleeds in 10 minutes or less.
8.  Naomi has a driver's license and is a good driver.
9.  God's wisdom.  I need wisdom from Him and He gives it (James 1!)
10.  Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds

These aren't the top ten blessings, necessarily.  Stream of consciousness.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Car Accident

Wednesday marked an end of an era.  In my almost 47 years of life, I had never been in a car accident.  And then...

  I caused an accident!  ME!  I'm a careful driver, with at that point a perfect record (yes, I had a couple of tickets 20+ years ago).   And there was that time I banged into a car in the parking lot with the big van when I was still getting used to its turning radius.  But other than that, I've been great!

Really, I've been great. I'm careful, I'm cautious, I don't speed.

But Wednesday I got into the left lane and realized I was in the wrong place -- I had wanted to turn left at a road a mile down.

I was distracted by that mistake, and thinking about how to get turned around.  It was wet and misting.  The oncoming car was white without headlights and blended in somewhat to the sky.

But still, it was my fault. I turned left in front of the oncoming other car.  By God's grace (and I mean that, I am praising God!) the other driver was very alert and immediately slammed on his brakes. But the pavement was wet and he slid into the back of the minivan.  

No one was hurt seriously. That's the most important thing. The other driver and his wife were very nice about it.  It was the wife's birthday.  Gah, not the way you want to spend your birthday!  We waited 2 hours to get the whole traffic report processed. I got a pretty whopping citation for failure to yield.  The back of the minivan is something of a mess.  Actually, the dent doesn't bother me much but the broken taillight isn't great (all the lights still work, though.)  We have it at a body shop for an estimate of how much it will cost to fix it.  It is likely the cost to repair is more than the value of the van, as it is 16+ years old.

So yeah, not the best thing in the world. I went to our wonderful chiropractor this morning as my neck and back have been hurting some since the accident, though not too badly. She said my range of motion isn't right so there probably is some minor damage. I felt the minor whiplash when we got hit.

Still, all in all it was, as accidents go, a very benign one.  I feel badly that I messed up, but I've messed up before.  For all that I'm a good driver, I HAVE made mistakes.  I just was fortunate in the past that no one was there to crash into me.

We're pondering the car situation.  We have 4, so being down one car shouldn't be a huge issue. But one is the big van and today it was pouring rain again and I hate driving that beast in the rain. Naomi was supposed to go to work, but her boss cancelled on her. So that made it all easier.

We'll figure it out. We are ridiculously blessed to have 4 cars, and I know it.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Ace, the Raccoons, and new pictures

So sad news first, Ace has disappeared. We live in a rural area and many people have outdoor cats, so we hope he just decided someone else's cat food was preferable to ours.  We haven't seen him in 2 days, and he was hanging around diligently before that, so yeah, looks like he has moved on.  We haven't "found him" in the road, so that's good.

And we have new raccoons, at least 2.  One is kind of small, and one is enormous.  These raccoons are such a pain. A friend visited on Friday and she saw one ducking under our deck as she parked.  So yeah, they are living under our deck.  No surprise there, it is a great place for critters.

Here are some cute pictures from the last week or so.

Kevin took the 3 littles on a lawn tractor ride. They loved it.

Rose is just adorable.

Daniel LOVES his daddy.  

This isn't cute, this is impressive. This, my friends, is baklava!  It took awhile to make but oh, it is delicious. I just ate one small bite as it is not advisable for a diabetic, but everyone else is crazy about it.

And again, Rose is cute.

Alert people may notice I changed the name of my blog to Laraba's Blog.  It used to be Laraba's Homeschool Blog. I'll still talk homeschooling on occasion, but this is a blog about other things so yeah, I changed it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ace the Cat

We have a new cat!

We named him Ace.

Here's the story...

More than a week ago, I tried to take our children to Carriage Hill Metropark.  It is an old fashioned farm with outbuildings and people dressed in period costumes and a lovely visitor center.

But I went on a Monday, and they are closed on Monday.

GRRRRRRRR!  (We went again last Friday, but that's the subject of another post.)

So after that failure, I told the kids we could go to a normal park to play.

At the park was a picnic shelter.  And on the tables were a cat bed, and bowls of food and water. And a cat was hanging around.

So, we came to the obvious conclusion that the cat is a stray and some kind soul was feeding him at the picnic shelter.  He was a very FRIENDLY stray.  He spent quite a bit of time on Lydia's lap.  Lydia is a total cat whisperer.  Most cats LOVE Lydia.

I talked to Kevin about the cat (who was already named Ace by our children.)  While it was nice someone was feeding and watering the cat, winter is coming. Ace had no real shelter at the picnic shelter, and the water would freeze quickly. So, we prayed about it and decided that if possible, we'd bring him home.  He could of course have left, or be difficult about getting into a cat carrier.

So on Saturday, Lydia and the 3 littles joined me to try and catch Ace. It went like a charm.  He was there.  He was very happy to go into the cat carrier. The cat bed was still there but the food and water were gone.  So...I wonder if a park employee got rid of them as they probably attracted raccoons and possums.

So Ace is here now.  It has been something of an adventure for him to meet our other cats, but he's settling in, and so are they.

One thing we don't know is whether he is fixed. He acts like he is fixed because he isn't aggressive with the other cats (though they have been a tad aggressive with him.)  He is so friendly we're guessing he was either lost or dumped by someone.

So yep, new cat. He is a very nice addition to our herd of cats.  We now have 6.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Random Post about Life

I'm just going to ramble today.

First of all, Kevin and I are very excited because on Friday, we sent in our final payment on a big debt!  That was a significant goal in our lives, to get it paid off.  So that makes us happy.

I am taking off the week from "normal" school to work on a variety of projects around the house.  The children will still work on math and they will do some reading, and I hope to organize the papers we've generated thus far.  A fair number of people I know started school after Labor Day, and we started August 1st, so we can take a break.

Naomi and Lydia both have outside the home classes that march on. Naomi's English class at the local community college seems to be going well, though she hasn't gotten her first paper back yet.  She writes very well and has a phenomenal grasp of grammar.  She could seriously be an editor, she is that good.  Having said that, she has never taken an English class so of course she has to learn what her teacher wants and there may be some bumps along the road.  I am sure she will do well with hard work and natural ability.

I just went through the children's winter coat situation. It looks like everyone has a coat. That's good news.  Now I need to figure out whether everyone has snow pants and boots.

Isaac has grown SO MUCH this year.  Like, literally, 6 or 7 inches!  And every time we turn around, he seems to be taller.  He is very close to being as tall as his parents and he is only 13.  Stay tuned, he may surpass us all by inches!

I've had many 5 year olds before, but I don't remember any being as full of questions as this little lady.

I wonder, with some guilt, whether the other 5 yo's had a bazillion questions for me but I was so busy with the latest baby that I brushed them off some of the time. Maybe?

Anyway, Sarah has questions.  She asks about what makes rainbows. She asks about the world and the stars. She asks hard, complicated, challenging theological questions. I'm just going to be honest, that evenings are not my best time. By evening, I'm toast mentally.  And sometimes when I put Sarah to bed (she shares a room with Miriam and Angela), they bombard me with complicated theological questions while I'm reading the Bible to them.  Last night we talked about how God was "sorry he had made Saul king" and how God could be "sorry" when He knew ahead of time what Saul would do.  Wow.  Those are questions that challenge adult theologians. As Kevin said, sometimes it is fine to say "I don't know."  I do have thoughts on that and talked to the kids about them, about how there is the combination of God's knowledge of everything but there is free will as well. It is complicated.

Rose continues to be her own little barrel of monkeys, but maybe she is a LITTLE calmer?  

There are brief minutes when she plays with toys quite nicely.

Her room reflects the need for safety, though.  A mattress.  A tall wardrobe she can't climb.  Toys. That's it.  Her dresser is still out in the hall so she isn't climbing on it at night in her room.

I am working on Apologia Biology as Lydia was having a hard time with it.  My own biology knowledge is abysmal so I decided we'll work through the book together. It is, truthfully, incredibly interesting.  I am realizing that while I feel very busy, I DO have more time. I'm not pregnant, and I don't have a little baby to care for. Kevin's mom, since she has retired, has graciously helped us out with the kids quite a bit so I have more time to read and understand a biology book.

I'm doing more decluttering this week.  It never really ends.  I find the less we have, the easier it is to maintain the house in decent shape. On the other hand, we are effectively running a school here, so we do need quite a few books and other educational materials. We have a very large family so we have many clothes. It is obviously a balance.

It is mid September and our pool is cooling down.  It is now 70, which is colder than most of the kids can stand.  Angela is the notable exception. That girl is like a polar bear. She is incredibly thin and can't have much body fat, but she is very rarely cold.

I took over dumping chlorine in the pool this year.  I was very consistent and we had a great year. We didn't have any major algae blooms. So that was a win.

It has been a great pool year.  We had a very hot summer and the children swam a LOT.  Having said that, caring for the pool is hard work and I am always extra aware of the need to protect the littles when the pool is open.  So in some ways, it'll be nice to close it and cover it for the fall and winter.

Speaking of fall, I'm looking forward to it.  I used to be a hot weather person but now with chiggers driving me insane during the summer, I am more excited about cooler weather when fewer bugs are out there.  So September and October are now perhaps my favorite months of the year.

Happy Fall to you.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Rose Rage

Our Lydia coined the clever phrase "Rose Rage" this week.

We have experienced much Rose Rage.  She doesn't usually have a tantrum. Her cute little face crinkles up in outrage, or she just lies down on the floor in disgust. Like this:

  It is stinkin' hilarious.

  She of course isn't always full of rage. Sometimes, often, she is QUITE HAPPY.

 What could be better than hanging out in Mom and Dad's big bed with Sarah and a giant stuffed penguin?  It doesn't get any better than that.

 And here are our boys, just up in the morning. I have started sleeping in until 7 a.m. most days.  I hear the boys come down (usually the girls are still asleep) and I drag myself out downstairs.  Daniel usually looks like he could use a few more winks in the sack, but he is not going to be left behind by his brothers.

They don't look too lively, do they?

 Well, I wasn't too lively when I snapped this picture either :-).