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.