Saturday, February 27, 2016

Wacky Weather

      It is the end of February, and winter is edging towards its end.  It has been a strange winter.  Strange and mostly warm.  My memory of November and December has faded somewhat, but I know we didn't have substantial snow.  January was also quite warm.  A few weeks ago, we finally got enough snow for the kids to play in.

          And they enjoyed it.  And then within a week, the temperatures soared and the kids and I ran around outside with temperatures in the 60's.

         In a way, it seems surprising that spring is approaching as we didn't have much of a winter. But March is in a few days.  We are looking forward to pleasant temperatures and time to play outside.  I will say that in a way, winter is nice because I don't feel obligated to run the kids around much.  Also, when the weather is nice, the little ones want to be outside. That is a great thing, but it means I have to make sure they are SAFE outside.  I'm thankful for bigger children who can watch little children now.

Naomi and Daniel's Pizza

    NOT only does Naomi make an incredibly yummy pizza, she lets Daniel "help" her make the pizza.  Which means that not only does she make dinner for the hordes, she also keeps her toddler brother busy. Win win win win win for this mom. Thank you, Naomi!

(P.S.  Pizza Angel is the name of a silly song from Veggietales, for those not "in the know.")

This post fixed by Naomi Inc. (C) 2016 Naomi Inc.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Our (Almost) New Car

          Yesterday was an adventure. We bought a 2015 Mazda 3!

          Kevin has been considering our car situation for some time.  We have 2 legal drivers (Naomi is still working towards her license) and 3 vehicles -- a minivan, a Civic, and a giant 15 passenger van that a woman named Laraba drives reluctantly.

So in some ways, buying another vehicle seemed RIDICULOUS.  However, all 3 of our fleet are fairly old. The Mazda is a 2000, the Civic a 2003, and the 15 passenger van a 2006.  Naomi will be driving at some point, as will Lydia, Isaac, Joseph...well, you get the picture.

        So Kevin was looking around, studying Consumer Reports, considering, analyzing, praying, and he finally settled on wanting a Mazda 3, preferably in red.

       He's kept an eye on the used car ads and the one in the picture showed up.  It is 15 months old with 18,000 miles on it.  After some negotiation, we and the sellers were content with a price so we bought it yesterday.

     That sounds simple but it had its complicated aspects. The sellers are moving to Central America as missionaries, SOON. So we needed to get the car this week.  The money to buy the car was floating in electronic limbo as transfers from here to there and back again take time.  We were planning to buy the car on Thursday, but yesterday morning we noticed that a snowstorm is predicted to show up on Thursday. The sellers live 3 hours away from us, and driving around in a windy snowstorm didn't sound appealing to any of us.

    So Kevin got on the phone and was able to get a short term loan from our credit union to pay for the car. We also borrowed money from 2 of our older kids :-).  Then we drove 1.5 hours and met the sellers and Kevin checked it out and we paid them and they signed over the title and we brought it home to the stable.

   Today Kevin is coping with all the fun stuff associated with insurance and license plates and titles and all that.

  And this morning, the money was where it should be, so he went to the bank and paid off the loan.  Yes, we had a one day loan.  Yes, that is short term, for sure.  We're thankful our credit union has that option without any penalties for early payment.  We will pay all of $3 or $4 for the loan.  We paid back our kids as well :-).

   So yes, new car. And actually, having a 4th car is useful right now as Kevin's mom's only vehicle is in the shop so one of our cars is with her.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Musings on TV and Netflix

I'm 46 years old, which means I grew up with color television, but with only 3 networks plus PBS.  AND, in the early years of my life, there were no VCR's so if I wanted to watch something, I had to watch it RIGHT THEN.

When I was 8 years old, my family moved to South America for 3 years. We lived in the jungle, and there was no TV at all. I admit I had quite a bit of withdrawal as I was a big fan of Batman and other shows of the late 70's, but of course I adjusted.

When we returned back to the States in 1981, we went back to TV with 3 networks plus PBS.  But when I was in my late teens, I bought a VCR.  With my own money. It was a huge purchase for me and for the time, as VCR's were fairly new. For some reason, I really liked being able to record and watch something later.

As the years went by, cable became available and by age 24, I had cable and was watching a host of TV shows.  But then a roommate said she couldn't afford cable, and I couldn't afford it alone on a graduate student salary, so we dropped it.  When Kevin and I got married, we decided to stick with our "no cable" plan.  

Fast forward many years, to 2015.  At that point, we watched regular TV only a few times a year.  We watched DVD's fairly often and we had Amazon Prime, which included some streamed shows.

Then we decided to try Netflix and have had it for close to a year now.

I find myself really liking it.  There are a host of shows, including some old ones.  In particular, I have watched almost every episode of "Emergency", a show from the 1970's featuring paramedics and hospital staff rescuing people.

Kevin enjoys weird kung fu movies, and Netflix has plenty.

So it has been fun.

But it also doesn't dominate our lives like TV used to in my youth. And I think the reason is that when we watch something, we do so intentionally.

When I was a child, teen, and young adult, I would get bored and switch on the tube. Then I'd channel flip and try to find something I liked.  Sometimes I got caught up in a TV show that wasn't particularly interesting and waste time that could have been used for something better.

And, pre VCR, I tended to organize my life around the shows I DID like, because it was watch it live or not at all.

Now, I'm crazy busy and I don't have a lot of time to watch shows.  But when I do, I choose the time and I choose the show.  I watch on my terms, and with my values.

And the values are important too.  15 years away from TV (from age 26 to 42 or so) made me realize how much of what I used to watch had dubious moral values.  

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

I am extremely visual and I'm affected strongly by what I watch. So I'm careful in what I watch now, much more careful than I used to be.  I'm aware that too much exposure to casual violence, or casual sex, or rotten language, will affect me.

I know that everyone is different, and every Christian has to decide what is Ok for him or her to watch.  I'm not judging others, I'm just aware that my viewing habits in my early 20's did make sin seem normal.  And I would say that the viewing climate of today is far worse than 20 years ago, in that casual sex is considered even more "right" than it was, that violence and lying and sin are even more pervasive and "normal" than they were.

I don't want to be numbed to those things.

All this is a good reminder to me to continue to be cautious in what I watch, and to be careful to oversee what our children watch.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Working on Clothes

With 9 kids, we obviously have a great many clothes in our house. AND, the sweet children keep growing, so they outgrow clothes at a fantastic pace.

Last week, I went through all the clothes of our 7 younger children.  I pulled out clothes that were too small.  I moved clothes that had ended up in the wrong drawers.  I donated clothing that I knew the children would never wear.

I pulled out all the clothes that were too small for Rose and put them in the donate pile.  I pulled out all the clothes that Daniel has outgrown that are very "male" and put them in the donate pile.

It is a pleasure to get rid of those clothes as we have many tubs of stored clothes, and removing some makes our storage room tidier and easier to navigate.

I tend to go in spurts on jobs like these.  I don't know what normal people do -- maybe they plan one day a month to work on clothes?  I wait for the desire to seize me, and I run with it.

I also looked through my clothing, but I've been quite diligent and really don't have many clothes to discard. I saw a meme on Facebook suggesting that for Lent, we should pick one item of clothing from our closet each day of Lent and donate it to charity. I thought, "I wonder how many clothes I have in my closet, total?"  So I counted. Answer, 30.  I literally have 30 garments in my closet. So...I don't think I'll give them all up for Lent :-).  Of course, I have way more clothes than that since I have a dresser and a blanket chest.  But I think compared to most American women, I don't have many clothes. Because, ya know, I dislike clothes shopping so much.

And speaking of that, I was a true heroine today. Kevin took me to lunch (that didn't require any heroics) and then to Kohl's to search for pants that fit.  I don't have many pairs of pants right now that fit. Like 3 or 4 pairs.  So I gritted my teeth and went searching. I think I tried on 30 pairs of pants and found 2 that fit me the way I like.  From this, you will gather that I am picky. Yes, I am picky.  I like my pants to go all the way up to my natural waist, and that is SO not the normal style of jeans and pants in this day and age. I'm also long waisted, so even pants that are supposed to be "mid rise" are often lower than that on me. I just hate the feel of pants like that.  I also don't like pant legs that cling to me, I like them loose.  That is also atypical.  So yeah, 2 pairs of pants that fit. That's actually a major win for me.

I'll finish with this picture of our basement room.  The table on the right has the horrible pile of clothes that were removed from our dressers and closets, and which need to be put away in tubs or put in the donate pile.  At the end of the room are 5 tubs with items ready to be donated.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

This Week

Hmmm, I haven't posted in more than a week!

It has been a busy week and a sad one, in many ways.  Kevin's mother lost a very dear, close friend on Saturday, rather unexpectedly. The death of a loved one is so hard.

We finally got some winter weather, including snow.  Today it is cold and windy, but I hope when it warms a bit the kids can go out and play in it.  A few weeks ago, we had a cold snowy day and our middle kids stayed out so long that one was crying from the cold when she got in.  That is the kind of thing that worries me.  Sometimes they don't have enough sense to come in from the cold when they are having tons of fun :-).

I went to the doctor on Monday morning for a diabetes check.  The news wasn't good, as my A1c hopped from 5.6 to 6.1 over the course of 6 months. This was NOT a huge surprise, as I've been lax about my eating lately. But, good wake-up call.  I need to start eating better. I really should start exercising.  I think I am quite active as I spend the day going up and down stairs and carrying little people about, but I know aerobic is better.  The last 2 nights, I've managed to eat a few nuts in the middle of the night and my fasting levels (which have been a little high) have been down near 100.  I appear to be experiencing the infamous "dawn effect", where my body decides to pump glucose in my bloodstream to make sure I don't go too low, or something.  I forget the medical details.  Anyway, my fasting blood sugar has been high lately.

Diabetes stinks.  It really does.  I am experiencing no long term effects from it and that is what is so...challenging about diabetes.  Someone like me could run high for likely a decade or more before the nasty side effects started catching up with me. But the long term side effects are devastating: blindness, kidney failure, amputation because of poor circulation, fun stuff like that.  I am an engineer and cautious, so I've done really well since I was diagnosed at age 34.  The last 6 months I've been tired and just threw caution to the wind, and I jumped up.  But I'm taking caution back from the winds now :-)

We are MOSTLY healthy now. I still have a little cough and my side hurts from coughing so much, but I am 95% functional.  I am thankful for that.

Rose figured out how to climb out of her pack and play.  This was alarming as she WAS sleeping in our entry room, which has 2 computers in it.  We had visions of our sweet girl climbing out of her pack and play at night, then climbing on desks and falling off of desks or hurling laptops on the floor -- there were so many glorious possibilities!  It was clear the entry room was no longer safe for her.

Which left us with the conundrum -- where to put her?  The study, which is baby proofed, was Daniel's bedroom.  But we decided desperate times called for desperate measures, so we moved Daniel up to the crib in the boys' room (where Rose naps during the day.)  We lowered the side so he could climb in and out easily.  Amazingly, the first 3 days have gone beautifully.  Daniel is thrilled to be in with the big boys, and HE hasn't climbed out and wrecked havoc after bed.  So that is great news.

The big boys are now staying up in the living room or basement until 9 p.m. or later, whereas they used to hang out in their room for an hour or more with the lights on.  But the lights need off so Daniel can sleep.

The sleeping arrangements are somewhat humorous, and a part of the life of a large family.  I've been watching a show called "Fixer Upper" on Netflix, which is about families seeking new homes.  It is cute that most of them have 1 or 2 kids, and they ALL want each child to have his/her own room.  Needless to say, a family of 9 has no such desire.  We now have 3 boys in one room at night, 3 girls in another room at night, our eldest 2 in another bedroom, and the toddler in a child proofed room by herself.  And Kevin and I have the master bedroom.

I'll leave with this -- I usually don't remember my dreams, but 3 nights ago I had a dream in which we visited a lakeside "cottage" which was more like a mansion, and which had NINE bedrooms plus a master bedroom. The 9 bedrooms were tiny, with little more than a bed and a dresser.  There were toilets (hooked up) in regular spaces along the hallway where the bedrooms were. So at some level, does my subconscious want more bedrooms and more bathrooms?  Maybe :-).

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Cuddling with My Littles (and More Thoughts on Lexapro)

I've always been a very goal oriented person. I like accomplishing tasks.  I think that is one reason why I did so well academically -- there were specific tasks, with specific end points.  I could work hard and study and be DONE.

That goal oriented perspective carried over into my mothering, not surprisingly.  I think with my first few kids, I had more time and spent more time sitting on a couch reading and cuddling. I think.  It's been a while.

But lately I've felt very busy, and with housework and cooking and homeschooling, finding time to just hang and cuddle with the little ones has been difficult.  Because it doesn't feel particularly productive.

BUT, the Lord has shown me that time to cuddle with my young ones is a vitally important part of our lives.  Ever since I went on Lexapro, I've been more relaxed about "tasks" and I'm noticing more opportunities to just hang out with the children.  So, when Rose comes up to me while I'm grading papers, I'm better able to set aside the papers and hold her for 20 seconds.  That's about the limit for her, as she is then off on new adventures.  Sarah and Daniel are also coming to me, desiring a lap and a cuddle, or wanting to show me some little project they are working on.  And I'm accommodating.

I read a truly wonderful post this week about depression medication.  I so wish I'd saved the link, but I didn't.  The author is a Christian man who went on an anti depressant a few years ago.  He said that it really changed him.  He felt badly about that at some level, that a drug could actually make him a better human being.  But the reality was that when on the drug, he was able to sleep better and not berate himself for constant mistakes.  He was able to be more patient with his family and people around him.

I feel like Lexapro has definitely changed me for the better.  I have been anxious for a very long time, to the point that it felt normal.  Well, it wasn't normal.

One interesting point is that I could have presumably gone on Lexapro 20 years ago (or an equivalent) and saved myself decades of anxiety. But I'm glad I didn't.  Lexapro and some anti depressants are supposed to be safe in early pregnancy, but I would not have felt safe taking those drugs during the first trimester.  And I was pregnant 13 times in the last 17 years (4 pregnancies ended in miscarriage.)  So you know, this is for the best.  I was a fully functional human being during those years.  I don't NEED the meds, though I certainly am enjoying life with less anxiety.

Christians certainly have different views on medication; my view is that meds can be an important piece of the puzzle, along with prayer, working through emotional problems, lifestyle changes, and so on.

The older I get, the more I see that while some things are black and white, others are not.  It is easy to think there is "one answer" to a problem, but many problems have  multiple facets and need to be approached from several directions.  My anxiety is a good example. Partly it is my melancholy, first born, compulsive personality that it is at fault. But part of it apparently brain chemistry. I'm thankful for Lexapro.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Cute Pics

I don't feel too inspired about writing an interesting blog post, so this will mostly be pictures. I'm on the mend.  I still have a cough, but it is better.  Unfortunately, I have a pretty nasty pain on one side of my rib cage when I cough hard.  Not fun.

 I am not doing normal school for the beginning of this week.  I have been too sick to prep and grade old work, so I'm catching up on grading now and we'll start up again when I'm well enough.

The play area in the sun room continues to be a hit with the little ones.

Computer time, with big sister Naomi holding Rose.

Rose upside down. I assure you, she is grinning happily.

3 littles wrapped up in blankets on the floor. You can just see Daniel's foot sticking out. So cute!

Rose being mellow. The child is on the move most of the time and rarely will sit quietly in MY lap, but she'll sit on Naomi's lap and Lydia's lap. Go figure!