We have had 2 birthdays in the last week, and with Miriam's ascension to teenhood, we now have five teenagers in the house since Naomi is still a year off from the big 2-0.
Right at this moment, our kids are 19, 17, 15, 14, 13, 11, 8, 6, and 4.
But Isaac will turn 16 in a few days so we're just about to have another change in ages. Then no more birthdays until May for us!
Someone asked on Facebook how my "vacation" has been. She put the vacation in quotes because, no doubt, she realized that with a houseful of kids, I am not just sitting back and putting my feet up. BUT, this year has been actually relatively mellow. Rose, while still a terror at times, is way easier than she was even a year ago. So I've gotten naps most days. I've been able to take walks. I'm writing Star Wars fanfiction and reading Pride and Prejudice fanfiction. It's been very pleasant.
A friend of mine who lives out of state just had her third child yesterday. He has Down Syndrome (they knew he did from prenatal testing) and was born 9 weeks early. He is in the NICU and I am praying for him fervently, and for his mother who had to have an emergency C-section to deliver him.
So they are obviously having a very hard, challenging, agonizing Christmas season. They adore this little man and God has a good plan for his life in spite of his early challenges.
We had a good day yesterday. This season tends to be hectic, but thanks to Kevin, I've felt more peaceful than usual.
He, bless his heart, took care of purchasing most of the gifts for the children. He also filled the stockings.
My mom made the stockings. Aren't they cute??
So Christmas is celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, of course. Realistically, it is natural for children to be excited about presents and I understand that. They got lots of video games (courtesy of Kevin's careful analysis of good games out there) plus a whole bunch of plushies made by Lydia and Angela. More about that in another blog post.
Post present picture. So blessed by our family!!
I've been thinking quite a bit about infants. We lost our last baby to miscarriage this summer, of course, and with the hysterectomy I am obviously totally and completely done having children. Since I am 49, that is entirely reasonable.
Having said that, I've been thinking about little ones. They are so small and so helpless and so WEAK! And yet Jesus,
Who, being in very nature  God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing, taking the very nature  of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!
The cross part was horrible enough, and such a gift to us. But the baby part! To go from being God in heaven to a helpless little person on earth, one dependent on the care of a Jewish teenage girl!
Yes, I am thankful for Jesus, and his willingness to lay aside Heavenly glory to save us. To save me.
Sigh. So we've had one of our tiresome illnesses. Kevin and I in particular have been sick for almost 2 weeks now. When I say sick, I don't mean really sick. Not smallpox sick :-). Or even flu sick. No, it is just a cold. The kids of course are taking their sweet time passing it around. I think they all have had it now except for Isaac and Joseph, who are on round one of it since they missed the first 2 weeks while they were in Hawaii.
I have been really achy, which is an interesting combination of minor illness and working hard on my core strength after the surgery. Yep, I'm still not quite back to normal. My chiropractor says I am improving, but I have a pretty sore neck and am applying heat to it often.
Today is better than yesterday, and yesterday was better than a few days ago, so that's good.
Kevin is working 3 days this week than gets nearly 2 weeks off for Christmas. That's exciting!
There was a recent comment about my career, or lack thereof :-).
On February 14th (Valentine's Day!), 1997, I turned in the final paperwork for my Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan.
Obviously, I still remember the date. My defense was exactly a month earlier, on January 14th, 1997. I haven't forgotten that date either.
I was very driven academically as a teen and 20 something. I fully intended to be a single career woman until God intervened and brought Kevin into my life. He was in graduate school with me. He became a Christian in late 1996, started attending our church within weeks, we began courting, and we were married June 1997.
So, quite the romantic whirlwind :-).
Kevin is younger than I am and thanks to co-oping as an undergraduate, he was 3 years behind me in graduate school. So while he finished up, I worked as a staff member at the University of Michigan in the Materials Science Department. It was a great job for me. I got teach a little, fix instruments (not always my easiest thing, I admit), and help with the labs.
Kevin finished his degree in September of 1999. I was pregnant with our eldest at the time, and we moved down to Ohio so Kevin could begin working at Wright Patterson Air Force base. He was part of a program where the Air Force paid for his Ph.D., and he was obligated to work for them for 15 years!
We had already decided that I would be a stay at home mother to Naomi. That was a decision based on a number of things. We could do it; Kevin made enough to support us. We knew that even as DINKs (Double Income, No Kids) that with both of us working full time, life was busy. Add a kid to the mix, and we would get super busy.
And I wanted to be at home with our baby. Kevin wanted me at home with our baby. I am not someone who trusts easily, and I really wanted to be the one providing primary care for our little one(s).
Given that I did have a Ph.D. in engineering, it seemed reasonable to look for some part time work. For a few years (through the births of our first three children), I taught the occasional engineering class at a local university. Then in 2003, Kevin heard that there might be an opening at the base where he works. I went in and interviewed and got a job with a contractor on a very part time basis. The original plan was one day a week. I've been there 15 years now (15 years!) and now I work 4 to 5 hours a week!
It's a crazy situation and I feel very blessed. I keep a foot in my field but I'm home with the children almost all the time. I bring in a little income, which is helpful with 9 kids. My job has been very patient with me with frequent absences for new babies, and I was gone for 2 months earlier this year because of the hysterectomy.
Since I was 44 when Rose was born, I'll be 62 when she graduates from high school. That's a reasonable retirement age. All this is to say I doubt I'll ever work full time. I'm homeschooling the horde, of course, so I have plenty to keep me busy at home.
9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
This is one of my main verses these days.
One of the odd things about having a big family is that we have spent literally 19 years taking care of small people who can't, for example, rummage around and find food if necessary.
It frankly requires stamina and perseverance to keep feeding these kids over and over and over :-).
It requires stamina to teach the younger children necessary chores so they can develop a good work ethic and the skills they will need to survive life.
It requires faithfulness to teach the 7th kid to read, and the 8th, and the 9th.
I'm not hero. I'm just a mom who loves her kids like crazy. But I'm also a selfish person at heart, and an introvert. My idea of a good time is to be on the beach at St. Croix with my wonderful husband.
Which is why we've been going there once a year!
But the rest of the time, I have to persevere and persevere and persevere. I must not grow weary of doing good.
I would take a bullet for any one of my children. I would. But in a way, in a way, a one time heroic act would be easier than being faithful every single day to mediate disputes and read Bible stories and talk to them about their scientific and spiritual questions, to try to focus and understand when they babble away about obscure computer games!
That's why I need, desperately, the Holy Spirit of God in my life. By myself, I could not do this. I want to, believe me. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. But through the Holy Spirit and prayer, I am able to faithfully fulfill my tasks day after day, week after week, year after year. Thank you, Lord.
The 3 littles and I did quite a bit of schoolwork this week. Sarah and Daniel are both learning to read. Sarah is 8 and is not yet fluent, but thankfully I have years of experience and I can see she is progressing very well. I am confident she isn't dyslexic. Every week she reads a little bit better. Daniel is an early bird in reading compared to his older brothers.
We are death on microwaves! Yet another one bit the dust. We bought a replacement in stainless steel, to match our refrigerator.
We went to the annual party of the company I work for. I was recognized for 15 years of service. Time flies. Hard to believe I've been there 15 years already!
We are approaching a new milestone in our lives, when our eldest works towards launching from our home.
She will get her associate's degree this spring. After that, we're not sure. She's not sure. It seems likely she will get a full time job and then work towards moving out of our home.
It's quite a stage to be in as a parent. Part of me wants to fold her close and keep her here because I love her dearly. But of course the rational part wants her to fly as God intends her to do.
Brick and mortar college (which is to say, a college with a dorm a significant way from the parents' home) is a natural transition for many young adults. Both Kevin and I went 'away' to school, and lived in dorms for at least a year. In some ways, its a cocoon. On one hand, the student has to learn to manage her own schedule without parental supervision. On the other hand, meals appear at regular intervals, so the food part is taken care of.
College is very expensive, isn't it? Since we are blessed with 9 children in less than 15 years, we cannot afford to send all our kids to 4 year brick and mortar schools. They could hypothetically get scholarships and maybe some of them will. We can afford to send our kids to local public colleges and have them live at home, too, and some of them may do that.
It's just not simple. We are praying for the Lord's wisdom and asking Him to guide our steps, and, more importantly, our children's steps. As they mature to adulthood, they will have to make more and more decisions on their own.
One thing we will not do is go into debt for our children's college education. I've been reading horror stories about parents with tons of educational debt on their shoulders going into retirement. What a nightmare. Given that our kids were born late, we will be in our early 60's when Rose graduates from high school. We just can't make it work to send our kids to Harvard.
Not that Harvard would touch our kids with a ten foot pole.
I have strong, strong views about college and truthfully, I think community colleges are often a better route the first couple of years. In big schools like U of M and Ohio State, profs are focused more on research than teaching.
I'm not going to fully get on the soapbox about THAT. My point is that this is a hard time, but a good time. Our goal is for our kids to become functioning adults. It is hard for me because I love having a big family at home but I also know that this next step for Naomi is an important one. And after her, Lydia, and after her Isaac, and down the line.
And someday, if we live long enough, we'll be empty nesters.
My parents very kindly have paid for a trip for our older boys, Isaac and Joseph, to Hawaii for TWO WHOLE WEEKS.
They left yesterday and made it without any problems. They are staying on the Big Island of Hawaii.
In a week or so, my brother will join them; he lives on Oahu permanently.
Neither boy had ever been on a plane until yesterday! And neither could remember an ocean. Kevin and I took our 3 young children to Florida back in 2003 but Isaac of course doesn't remember that. He was a baby.
So this is a big and exciting deal. We are good parents, but I have to admit we haven't given our kids many exciting vacations in recent history. We're just too tired and it is too expensive.
So yes, this is delightful and wonderful. Thanks Mom and Dad!!
I took Angela and Joseph to 'well child' checkups this week. Doctors recommend that a kid/teen be brought in once a year to check for growth and to get vaccinations if necessary, that kind of thing.
Both these kids have August birthdays but I was in the throes of my ectopic pregnancy/miscarriage then hysterectomy in August, so they didn't happen.
Since Angela and Joseph are growing up, I decided to take them separately because Angela would prefer a female physician and Joseph a male physician.
So a couple of trips this week, on top of working, etc. etc.
One of the interesting facets of having a bunch of kids is that we have more medical appointments than most families with fewer children. I say "most" because of course there are special needs kiddos who require a lot of medical appointments.
I often struggle with having a good attitude about such things, because I don't enjoy leaving home for doctor appointments. We drive somewhere, sit in a waiting room, sit in an office, see doctor, go home. It takes time and effort.
But, I remind myself often, we are so blessed because a.) I can be a stay at home parents so can easily make time to take kids to the doctor and b.) we have good health insurance and c.) we have access to good medical care! What a blessing.
Angela and Joseph had very mellow appointments, but most profound area of interest being that both are growing like weeds.
Joseph is 90 lbs and almost 5 ft. 8 inches tall!
Angela is 80 lbs and has sprouted to almost 5 ft. 2 inches tall!
Angela is taller than her next older sister Miriam. I think Angela may well be quite tall.
So that's that. Healthy kids, skinny kids. Blessed to have access to good medical care.
Kevin had surgery last Friday. He's battled a problem with a tendon in his arm for years now. Whenever he tried to do something with his arm that required repetitive motion or a lot of strength, he was in danger of dealing with significant pain.
So the surgeon cut a sheath surrounding the tendon and opened it up and it is healing.
We were all ready for a really rough recovery given what a challenge my own surgery was. SO FAR he is doing well. Really well. I mean, he is in a little pain but he can move his fingers and thumbs and he is sleeping and all that.
So we are thankful.
He can't move his wrist for a full month so he needs a brace (the bandages came off Monday.)
I had a birthday recently. I am NOT 29. That was totally Kevin's idea of a joke, but I assure you that I was not a child bride! I am actually 49 years of age and we've been married 21 years now. It was a nice, calm, relaxed day.
Kevin made a chiminea fire last night, to the delight of the children. It was a very nice day and evening, with temps in the low 60's and upper 50's. Today and tomorrow it is cold and very very very wet. Like, two solid days of rain wet.
I did a science experiment with the kids with red cabbage PH indicator. I think I was more impressed than they were at how well it worked. The bleach (a base) turned yellow. The acids were red. The neutrals were the color of the cabbage indicator, which is dark purple.
This is me, tired, obviously with kid curling up with me. I'm doing pretty well but still get tired. But I don't have tiny babies needing me so mostly I sleep well at night. Last night, Sarah had a nosebleed and I was up dealing with it, so I'm tired today.
The PROBLEM is that after weeks of being weak, my brain went from semi somnolent to mostly awake.
I was very much in crisis/survival mode for weeks and weeks. This last week I have felt better though I still crash if I try to do too much.
And guess what, I am tempted to do too much. BECAUSE...
There is a lot to do!!
My wonderful husband and kids did a fabulous job keeping the house running during my convalescence. But if there weren't things falling to the wayside, I wouldn't be needed, right?
There are medical and dental appointments to make, forms to fill out, corners to organize. We have winter clothes to either buy or unearth from the basement. Missing clothes are ... somewhere.
Kevin's mom spent a long time working on matching our SOCKS yesterday. We had SO MANY unmatched. Huge blessing but it just shows that a few things fell along the wayside.
Thank you, Kevin's Mom!!!
In addition, we've had emotional upheaval due to some MAJOR challenges at church. I have lot of emotions about the whole situation but mostly at this point I'm just sad.
We're leaving our church and finding a new one now.
So yes, lots going on. I feel out of control because there are a bunch of projects that need done and I don't have time and I still hurt if I do too much and I have to keep prioritizing...
God is with me all the time. My natural tendency is to put people over projects. Projects aren't that important unless they affect people. Well, it got cold so we do need warm clothes for the kids. The mess can wait. Right?
And I have strong teens who can help. And younger kids who can help. It's just someone (me) needs to direct them. Which is tiring in its own way.
I know I've been talking a lot about surgery but it is my blog so I can do what I want. Right?
So 6 weeks ago today I was in surgery having my uterus removed.
People said 6 weeks was kind of the point where I'd be mostly healed. And thankfully they are right! Even in the last few days I've felt a substantial increase in energy, praise the Lord.
I still have some incision pain but I haven't needed meds for a couple of days, so that's good.
I will go to Labcorp for the LAST TIME I HOPE today to see if my HCG levels from the pregnancy are below 5. It's one of those things my OB/GYN has been tracking to make sure my body got rid of everything from the pregnancy. I guess pregnancy remnants can get stuck in odd places? That sounds so unscientific and non medical. Sorry.
Anyway, I should be below 5 HCG today which is where she wants me to be.
I've done a lot more around the house the last week. Kevin and the kids did a marvelous job of keeping the house running and I'm tremendously grateful to and proud of them. Having said that, a few things fell by the wayside during our crisis mode, which is understandable. I'm working on getting bathrooms cleaned up and toys organized.
I went to see my OB/GYN yesterday for a follow up since it has been about a month since I had surgery.
She was very pleased with my progress. We had a nice talk, which was kind of her since I know she is very busy. She agreed with me that my situation with the pregnancy had indeed been very dangerous and she was so thankful that she 'caught' the problem in ultrasounds.
I am so so thankful and happy too.
My pain is down and I'm usually taking ibuprofin once and tylenol once a day, usually toward the end of the day when I get tired.
Speaking of tired, I still get really tired off and on. It's a weird sort of tired -- not a "I want to sleep" necessarily (though there is some of that) but a bone deep weariness and weakness.
I'm assuming it is that my body is still working hard to repair itself. I'm gradually doing more in the house but I have to pay attention to my own signals.
We've been doing casual school with the kids for the last 2 weeks, except of course for Naomi and Lydia who are full time in college. Well, Lydia has 10 credits, but that's really full time for her considering she's never had 4 classes at once (one is a 1 credit class) and she's also helping a lot at home.
But the other kids are doing school more casually. I've been having them do math and writing and reading the last couple of weeks. Isaac has finished a Chemistry DVD set.
Teaching is fatiguing for me because of course I have to focus. It is interesting how it isn't just physical activity that wears me out, but mental as well. I've been working with Daniel and Sarah on reading. Daniel, to my surprise, is reading. Did I already mention that recently? He's only 6. My older boys couldn't read at age 6. But he is taking to it very well. He blends with ease.
Sarah is close to reading fluently but she's not there yet. She has very poor eyesight and I do wonder if eye strain sometimes makes it hard to read for awhile. I mean, she has really good glasses so maybe she is fine? My dad was an early and voracious reader in spite of truly terrible eyesight.
So all in all I am very very happy with my progress.
This week I watched a 3 part documentary on Amazon Prime called "Why are We Fat?". I thought it was excellent. One thing the documentary discussed (with backup from doctors and researchers) is that digestive 'gut biome' is important. There are important bacteris in our digestive tract that help us.
I was on several antibiotics after surgery which no doubt wiped out much of my healthy biome. So I've been eating yogurt and taking probiotics. I was 'off' digestively for weeks but I feel like I'm getting close to normal.
Two weeks from now I am supposed to be back to mostly normal strength. Now I still can't lift things or vacuum or do a lot except walk.
But I'm making good progress. Praise the Lord. And thank you, Dr. K., for your excellent care of me.
One of the last swims of the year. We're done now. The pool isn't closed yet but it is cooling fast.
We paid someone to put gutters on their barn, which necessitated moving the 5th wheel. It's nearer the house now. The gutter people did their work in like 90 minutes. Amazing. We'll move the 5th wheel back soon. "We" will. Kevin will.
We are doing a little school but not full load since I'm still not 100%. Not close to 100%, but way better. Anyway, in their spare time they are playing chess. Miriam is trying to teach Daniel how to play chess in this picture. I'm dubious that he is able to understand the rules but oh well, they had fun.
No sign of a yeast infection -- and yeast infections are relatively common for someone who has been on a bunch of antibiotics. Have I mentioned I am allergic to anti fungals so if I get a yeast infection I'm in trouble?
This week we started school up again in a gentle way. The kids did math, writing, and reading. Joseph loves coding so he spent a lot of time coding.
The older girls are full time in college so they are coming and going. Lydia has a babysitting gig on Friday mornings. Naomi's job ends this week. She has been working 3 full days a week since school started. It's an internship so the last day is the 30th of September.
Rose has been acting up a bit more, probably because I'm not as available to squelch her negative behavior. She's been calmer of late and is totally adorable all the time, but her big things lately are water and pens. She loves to make water messes in the bathroom and she drew all over a couch in the basement with a pen.
One advantage of being an old hand at mothering a 4 year old is being fairly mellow. Yes, she is being disciplined, but time helps a lot too. None of my older kids write on couches :-).
Daniel is learning how to read. This is kind of a big deal because his older brothers were not able to blend words until age 7 or so. He is just over 6 and is taking to it like a duck to water. I haven't pushed him at all but he just gets it.
The important data point here is that kids vary. Sarah is doing much better in reading these days but she wasn't as early a reader as Daniel.
Kids are different.
Kevin and the older kids have carried a heavy load these last weeks and I am so grateful to them. I am still not doing much. I still sit a lot. But I'm better able to keep the household running from the couch as I'm more alert and I can indeed move around for a few minutes without trouble. Right after surgery, I was in constant pain and had that STUPID CATHETER!!
So yes, I am thankful. The Lord truly has watched over me and I'm grateful to be alive and healing.
That's not to say I'm ready to start doing gymnastics. I can't do gymnastics at the best of times and this is NOT the best of times.
My OB's office called a few days ago and said testing showed I had a urinary tract infection. I wasn't having the normal symptoms but once I started taking antibiotics, my pain levels dropped significantly. So yeah again for my OB, who has been watching over me carefully.
I do have a recommendation for people wanting to lose weight -- have unexpected, major surgery. No, not really. But I have lost like 7 lbs in the last few weeks. I lost an organ, for one thing. How much does a uterus weigh? No idea. My appetite is diminished as well.
Not really the right way to do it, obviously :-).
So Kevin and the kids are keeping the household moving along, with help from Kevin's mom. I still spend most of my time sitting on the couch but I'm moving around better. Yesterday I walked 1500 steps, which is actually up quite a bit from a week previous.
I am a couch potato right now.
I'm enjoying Kindle Unlimited because I can keep checking out random books to keep me occupied. I have also been watching Leverage episodes. Fun show.
I also re-read Craig DeMartino's book After the Fall. I've mentioned it before on this blog I think. DeMartino fell 100 feet off a cliff back in 2002, I think. He wrecked himself. His survival is a miracle. It is really helpful to read about someone who experienced a really serious serious death defying experience to make me more mellow about my own pain and weakness. Plus the book is encouraging and fun to read. He lost a leg, among other things. I have my legs.
Speaking of legs, Rose has nice legs. I've been saying that to her years, "You have such nice legs, Rose." It's just a thing I say to my sweet girl. Six months ago she would respond with "No!!!!!!" Because she was like that.
Now she is agreeable, "Yes, I have nice legs."
She's just more agreeable these days. She is no longer The Terror. Yes, she still gets into stuff but she has mellowed so much. It couldn't have happened at a better time with a weary and weak Mama.
In the midst of weakness, I appreciate our good weather and mourn over the Carolinas, which are being devastated by Hurricane Florence.
Last but not least, I just realized I had a bunch of comments waiting for moderation. I used to get email alerts about comments and then I didn't. I just approved 6 or 7 comments. So if you've been leaving comments, I apologize. I'm a putz not to have checked earlier. And thanks for reading my blog.
I got my catheter out yesterday. My bladder is working the way it is supposed to.
I AM SO HAPPY!
Yes, catheters are awesome because they enable people with bladder injuries to let their body heal up. Plus sometimes people can't pee because of blockages and stuff and oh, catheters save their lives literally.
BUT I HATE CATHETERS!
I had one for 10 days and yesterday when mine was removed I was very very happy.
I slept incredibly well last night since I didn't have to deal with the stupid tube and irritation and bag and stuff.
So yes, things are improving.
I am still so incredibly tired. My pain is down and I'm not taking as many pain meds. I'm done with my antibiotic and almost done with some other random med.
But I am still incredibly tired and can't do much.
But my catheter is out. And I am improving. I am happy.
I am home and doing as well as can be expected. Which is to say that I am in pain and I'm tired. And yes, I have a catheter.
But I am so so so thankful that the operation went well.
It was on Wednesday and today is Sunday. Last Tuesday, I started bleeding. We were all on hyper alert but the OB said as long as I didn't start bleeding more, I could wait. And I didn't bleed more.
So we hopped up early on Wednesday morning and went in to Kettering Hospital. They got me all prepped, my OB came by and we talked, a urologist came by and we talked, and generally we were READY.
And then the cool drugs. I find anesthesia very odd. The anesthesiologist came by with a syringe in his hand and said Ok, here we go, and he put it in my IV and in 3 seconds I was in complete deep, dreamless darkness.
The OB said that when they opened me up and started working, my uterus just started falling to pieces. There was lots of blood gushing but since she was right there she was able to get it stopped quickly. I didn't even need a transfusion. But she said there is NO WAY I could have miscarried safely. It was a genuine ectopic miscarriage in the C-section scar and my uterus was a disaster. So she saved my life, she really did. I am so thankful that she consulted with experts at another hospital when the first couple of ultrasounds looked weird. I'm so thankful that the expert at Miami Valley sounded the alarm at the last ultrasound. He said it was likely I would bleed out if I started miscarrying on my own. He was right.
The urologist was a wonderful Christian man and he worked hard on my bladder, which was indeed stuck to my uterus with scar tissue. My bladder did open up so I've got a catheter in now. The younger kids are quite fascinated by Mom walking around with a bag of pee all the time now :-). It should come out this Friday.
I truly HATE catheters but I'm doing Ok with it so far. I had a similar problem when Daniel was born. The C-section wasn't nearly as invasive but I had a catheter for a week AND a newborn baby who needed frequent nursing. I don't know how I survived it.
So this time around, I can just rest. Kevin and big kids are running the house. It is not easy for any of us with me in pain and everyone stressed. But all in all, we are grateful for God's mercies.
I have been drawn to Job so often these last few weeks. Getting pregnant at age 48 was a huge surprise but we have a history of extreme fertility. An ectopic pregnancy was a surprise. But why not me? I mean, yes, it happened. God didn't prevent it. But bad things happen to Christians. I had a lot of scarring in there so was at higher risk for this than a normal woman, though it was still a VERY rare complication.
I said good-bye to my uterus on Tuesday, which is kind of corny. But I said, "Good job, uterus. You carried 9 kids full term. You did a great job but your work is done."
And that's pretty accurate. For all that I was super high risk, I have 9 healthy kids.
And I will get through this operation and will be back to near normal in a couple of months.
I am very grateful for my medical care, that God spared me so I can live to be a good wife and mom.
I see I haven't posted in a couple of weeks, but life has been very complicated.
I got pregnant. That was a huge surprise given that I am 48 years old. HUGE.
I mean yes, we are fertile as all get out. We WERE fertile as all get out, but Rose is 4! So yes, we thought we were past pregnancy.
I had a lot of bleeding one day. I was sure I had miscarried. Two follow up ultrasounds showed a growing sac, but no baby.
A week ago Thursday, I went in and there was a tiny little baby with a tiny little heartbeat. Kevin and I were flabbergasted. The doctors were very concerned. The baby was implanted right near my C section scar and I was looking at a complicated and potentially dangerous pregnancy.
Two days ago, I went in for another ultrasound and the baby had died. I mourned, of course. A lot. But I wasn't surprised. This pregnancy had been fragile from the start.
But the ultrasound doc was very concerned about the state of my uterus. I went in to see my normal OB yesterday and the answer is clear -- because of the placement of the gestational sac and the thinning uterus, I'm going to need a hysterectomy. It is scheduled for next Wednesday.
It will be quite a process. I'm full of scar tissue after 6 C sections. My bladder is adhered to my uterus and will need to be separated. I will probably wake up from anesthesia with a bladder injury and a catheter for at least a week or so. (That happened with C section #5.)
I will be in the hospital for 2 days, with a 6 week recovery.
Now I am taking it easily until Wednesday. If the miscarriage starts and I start hemorrhaging, I'll need to have an earlier hysterectomy. So far so good. Kevin and the older kids are going to carry most of the load of our home for those days.
The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
(From Job. This is the verse the Lord keeps bringing to mind.)
A year ago (?) we acquired 3 male kittens, brothers, from a friend who had a pregnant cat dumped on her doorstep.
This is Zane. He disappeared a couple of months ago. This last week I found him down the road in someone else's driveway. He was not terribly thin but he was wet. I scooped him up gladly and brought him home.
We stuck him in our sun room where he enjoyed a night inside getting reacquainted with one of his brothers.
The next day, we let him out and he promptly ran back to the neighbor's down the road.
I guess he's decided we aren't his people anymore :-(.
Naomi is working full time now during the week. She has a (short term) job at the base. It took the government months to get all the electronic paperwork done so she could work. This coming week will be her last full time week because the week after, she starts back to college full time.
So far it has been rather a dull job, unfortunately. It takes a long time to jump through the hoops for security training and all that. But Naomi is meeting people and getting a feel for working on the base so that is awesome. And they are paying her pretty well.
Lydia has been doing child care on Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the summer, plus usually babysitting another family on Wednesday night, plus working at Burger King a few hours a week. She is quitting her BK job this week as college starts next week and she hasn't really enjoyed it that much. She far prefers child care.
Both girls will, by the end of the summer, have earned a fair amount of money. Both are saving most of it, which is great. One of the challenges of living under one's parents' roof is that the basics are paid for. We encourage our children not to spend all that they make, and so far the kids have fallen firmly in with that idea. Reality is, adults don't have hundreds of dollars to spend on frivolous items every month. Better to get into the habit of saving most of one's money when one is young.
So the 2 big kids have been gone a lot. They help a great deal and are very reliable so it has been interesting carrying most of the child care load this summer. BUT Isaac and Joseph are maturing and have been very helpful. Plus Lydia and Naomi are here Saturday evenings to watch the youngers so Kevin and I can go out on a date, which we love.
Life is changing. Our kids are growing up. I'm doing a lot of praying that the Lord guides them and that I will open my fingers and let them fly, while also providing any guidance they desire.
I took the seven younger children to Michigan last week to visit my parents and spend time with my brother and his family.
My brother Jeff has one son who is a little older than Rose. I sadly haven't seen him since he was 1 so it was great to see him.
As an only child, it had to be a bit odd to suddenly be dumped in with a horde of cousins, but Arlo did wonderfully. He is a very intelligent, verbal little boy and he got along well with the children, especially Sarah. Sarah was crazy about him.
Various kids and adults. My mother's flower beds are AMAZING. She is a terrific gardener. I didn't get that gene.
Some of our kids played Settlers of Catan a lot.
Numerous kids watching a video on my tablet :-).
It was a very nice weekend though tiring. Driving to and from Michigan isn't too arduous but 7 kids is always a lot of work. Thankfully the older children with me did a fabulous job helping me.
Naomi started her job this week on base. Most of the week was a dead bore as she had to do all kinds of in processing, but finally at the end of the week she got a laptop and a program to work on.
I have a relative in CA who is a little older than I am, though her youngest is 13. Which is no surprise. Only crazy ladies have 3 kids in their 40's!
(That's me, CRAZY. But oh, how blessed. I LOVE MY KIDS!)
So anyway, she has a blog and they are gone a LOT. Like they just got back from a several week drive around the country, and they are moving from CA to FL soon. And today's blog post was about how she and her 2 younger daughters (3 are grown, and her one son was away at camp) drove THREE HOURS to visit a friend.
I know that's not really a long way. It's just that if she is visiting people, and she does ALL the time, she isn't home keeping her house in order.
And she obviously isn't bug eyed stressed about it. Nor is there any sign her house is a mess! She obviously manages to keep her home and family in order in spite of being 10 times busier than I am.
I'm an introvert and a homebody. Trips are stressful. It is so much work getting stuff packed, so much work having kids whining about being the car for hours, and so on.
I mean, I love relatives and friends, but we hardly ever go anywhere.
I have another local friend who travels a lot as well. She loves to travel and doesn't do well being home all the time.
Big point here is that people are different, and that is fine. We are all blessed with different strengths.
Considering that we have 9 children and homeschool, our house is moderately clean and tidy and organized.
I have a low threshold of stress with running around with the kids, even locally. A trip to a splash park is fun but a few hours wipes me out.
It is what it is. I am who I am. I am a good mother. I'm not like other mothers, I know that.
The kids get love, attention, books read to them, prayers over them, and food served at regular intervals.
AND not very many field trips, or trips.
I'm tired. Physically to some degree, mentally more. When I'm out and about with the Horde, it is EXHAUSTING.
Perhaps in a few years, when Rose is safer, I'll do more.
I said a few months ago that I would try to lose some weight.
So it hasn't happened.
So let me just say that yes, losing weight is very hard. I spent most of my life losing weight very easily and maintaining a low weight with almost zero effort. Yep, fast metabolism and lots of anxiety. It was nice. I knew it was nice (not the anxiety part, but the effortless skinny person part). Now I know how nice it was!
I'm maintaining, anyway. I'm consistently at 155 lbs. That doesn't just happen, either. I'm exercising and thinking about what I eat and trying not to overeat.
155 lbs is totally reasonable for my height, and I'm mostly at peace. I just don't want to climb higher, and it is taking real effort not to go higher!
We live with so much food around us, don't we? And as we age, our metabolisms slow down.
I keep reading books about people in other countries and times who didn't have enough food. We are so blessed to have food in our cupboards and refrigerator. I never have to worry about my kids starving.
It's a huge blessing. I just need to make sure I am wise about how much blessing I put in my mouth.
This post will include philosophical rambling. You have been warned!
I'm a project oriented person and have been for a very long time. I was a stellar student in high school, undergrad, and graduate school. I could study for tests, finish projects, and meet deadlines with the best of them, though admittedly with tons of anxiety and stress in the mix.
The nice thing about projects and classes and tests is that they have a firm end date. For better or for worse, at some point its all over but the grade.
People are more complicated.
Until death parts us, the people in our lives will be around, sometimes in our homes, sometimes over phone lines, sometimes attached almost exclusively by email.
(I hate phones most of the time. I'm surrounded by noise and people crawling up my legs so when I'm on the phone, I prefer people who can understand the occasional side comments to small children who suddenly, ardently, need my attention. One of my least favorite jobs in life is trying to work through a billing problem on the phone with phone trees and stupid computer voices and kids screaming in the background...)
Ok, digression over.
But from the perspective of eternity, what is more important, people or projects?
Of course people win, hands down.
And yet, and yet, the projects are fairly important as well because they affect the people. If we never mowed the lawn, we'd be surrounded by 5 foot tall grass fields and the kids wouldn't be able to play as easily, and they'd always come in covered with ticks and chiggers. If we didn't keep working on the pool, it would be a swamp.
So it's a balance; on one hand, we need to get a lot of things done in life, but on the other hand, we need to interact with our loved ones consistently. Quality time is good, but quantity time is necessary as well. Our loved ones won't do well with a stray 15 minutes a day.
Dealing with my wonderful children, especially the youngest 3, is quite exhausting. They are 7, 6, and 4 now. I love them. They are fantastic and cute and amazing. But they are also immature, because they are small. They fight, repeatedly. They do things they shouldn't. And Rose, in particular, is like a comet who often is quite content to be away from her sun (me) but sometimes wants to be circling very close to me. When she decides she wants Mommy, it is hard for me to go outside or even change floors in our house without her screaming in dismay.
You get the picture.
Since it is summer and we're not officially doing school, I've been tackling lots of projects around the house. I am decluttering closets and organizing them. I'm organizing our clothing. You get the picture.
These things have value, without a doubt. But I have to remind myself, when knee deep in a project, that if the kids need me, I need to break away. And not 'need me' in the sense of 'child will get injured without me' but in the sense of 'child is feeling lonely or scared or crabby and I need to spend time with said child.'
Not easy. Because when the project is in mid stream, it is hard for me to swim out of it. I just want to get it done!
But I'm maturing and growing as a Christian and a wife and a mother. The project will be still be there when I get back, but the people need me now.
Summer is nice because we aren't doing much school, but there is always other stuff to do of course!
I'm in the midst of a prolonged decluttering and organizing frenzy, and my latest target involves the bathrooms and the laundry room. It is surprising how many odd bottles of this and that are floating around.
We have an extra trash can for a couple of months (long story there) and I'm going to work on filling it!
When shelves and closets are organized and minimized, it is way easier to find things.
Of course, the midst of all this delightful organization, small people need frequent oversight. One of the most important areas of maturation in my life is realizing that relationships are more important than projects. I love getting stuff done. Dealing with Sarah and Daniel fighting for the 34th time in a day is less satisfying. But it is probably more important.
I am so blessed by Kevin. He is truly my best friend. We have a whole lot in common (including a great deal of esoteric knowledge about materials) and he is a loving, faithful, and committed husband and father.
We went to a work picnic on our anniversary itself. For reasons that aren't clear, I didn't feel great that afternoon and evening so we didn't go out for dinner. The next day I felt fine so we went to our favorite Chinese restaurant and then to the THEATER for a MOVIE.
We rarely go to the theater, being cheapskates from way back.
We saw the Star Wars Solo movie, and thankfully, and somewhat surprisingly, enjoyed it. I say surprisingly because we watched The Last Jedi a month ago or so and loathed it.
Thankfully we saw the Last Jedi on a library DVD so didn't waste any money. I've ranted about that movie on fanfiction.com (as part of my ongoing Star Wars fanfiction hobby) so I won't burden you. Suffice to say that we thought it was totally lousy.
Oddly, I didn't work much in high school. I was very shy and already a saver, so I didn't need a lot of money.
I babysat some, and helped our pastor and his wife with housecleaning and organizing their stuff, and for many years I worked 3 weeks or so in the corn fields, detasseling corn.
If you don't know what that is, its enough to say it was hot, miserable, hard work with relatively low pay. I hated it and it showed I'm definitely not someone who should work outside all the time. I'm an indoor girl.
Anyway, as our children have grown, we've prayed for safe and useful opportunities for them to earn money. Lydia and Naomi have both done some babysitting, though more Lydia than Naomi because Lydia loves little kids and is pursuing a possible career with small children.
A couple of months ago, Lydia was hired at Burger King where she worked from 4 to 10 hours a week. Not a lot, obviously, but it was a big step for her. She also got a job babysitting the neighbor children 2 to 3 times a week. So she's actually making quite a bit of money.
Naomi is a computer geek and we really were praying for a good opportunity for her as well. Kevin got her set up with a high school student program on base. Maybe. These kind of programs always involve hoops, many hoops, which she loyally jumped through in the spring with lots of help from Kevin. I think without her father's help, she wouldn't have figured it out because it was not easy to understand the process.
For weeks we heard nothing. I assumed that meant she didn't get the job but Kevin was all too confident it was just a usual government delay.
And he was right. This week she got a job offer. A tentative one. Which required yet more paperwork and a transcript from Clark State which they needed in 3 days and we had a hold on Naomi's account which we had to sort out...
Anyway, Kevin plans to run the transcript to the correct office today, which is the deadline. Of course, SHE can't do it because she's on base and doesn't have an ID.
If all goes well, Naomi, will have a well paying internship for the rest of the summer. Which is like 2 months.
We'll see. May God's will be done.
Also, working for the government is awesome, but it is slow and the paperwork can be quite monumental.
Ok, another commentary on a Kindle Unlimited book I just read.
The book is called Life and Limb, by Jamie Andrew.
Very short synopsis. Jamie Andrew was and is a mountain climbing dude. I love reading about mountain climbing though I have no desire to climb mountains personally. Just keep me down at normal levels were the air is thick and horrible storms aren't likely to catch me out.
So Jamie and another friend (also named Jamie) were in the Alps trying to climb a mountain when a horrible, unexpected snowstorm hit. (It was winter, by the way.) They were trapped for 5 days or so and his friend died. Jamie was finally rescued by helicopter. He was very badly frostbitten and lost his hands and feet.
His attitude is pretty incredible. There were a lot of 'what ifs' about his friend dying, of course. He had to grieve the loss of his appendages. But he got prosthetics and worked hard and is back to climbing mountains.
All that is admirable.
What startled me, and grieved me, was his brief discussion about the existence of God. He said that while he was freezing to death on the mountain, he didn't experience any spiritual epiphany. Ok...well, he was miserable and hypothermic so that is probably not very surprising.
He decided that if there is a God, and he's not sure there is, He is probably a benevolent God who won't mind that he has no faith.
So, if a person is an atheist, he is wrong. There is a God. But at least if he convinces himself that there is no God, it is logical to ignore God. If there is no God, we're all just organisms struggling through life, we're all just individuals who will die forever and ever, and it doesn't matter a lot what one does with one's life.
But agnosticism -- maybe there is a God, maybe there isn't -- is quite common and Jamie Andrew describes himself as an agnostic.
And he decided, on grounds that were hard to follow, that he just wouldn't worry about a God who might exist. If God exists, He's nice (why would he be nice? On what basis have you decided He is nice?) and Jamie can just carry on living his life as he chooses without any concern about what God wants for him.
That is just sad.
Jamie Andrew is not a 'bad' man. I mean, he doesn't kill people, he doesn't sell drugs. But he's a sinner like you and me. And he is living his life ignoring the reality that God has every reason and right to expect something from him.
God is not nice.
I mean, nice just sounds mellow. God isn't very mellow.
Jesus Christ came to earth, born of a virgin, lived, taught, then DIED one of the worst deaths that humans have found to inflict on one another, because WE ARE SINNERS.
Those are not the actions of a mellow, 'nice' God.
The Lord of course has given us all, including Jamie Andrew, the opportunity to make choices. We have free will. Jamie is perfectly free to continue his life ignoring God.
But while he is ignoring God, God is not ignoring him. His sins are many, because all people with the ability to think and move and exist are sinning, and Jamie Andrew doesn't have a savior.
Yet. I pray one day he looks into this whole question of God and does some seeking, and some finding.
Decluttering frenzies hit a couple of times a year.
I don't quite know what triggers them. Often one hits this time of year, when we are taking a break from school. That's logical.
Anyway, yes, decluttering frenzy.
This is the back of our minivan.
There is a lot there. I've also been passing on clothes (that our younger kids have grown out of) to our wonderful neighbors, who have 2 little ones younger than Rose.
This is what we refer to as our "secret room". It may have originally been a tornado shelter but we use it for storage. I don't have a before picture but trust me, this looks GOOD. I managed to cut down our items in here such that I could remove 4 storage tubs this week. Wow. The floor hasn't been this clear in FOREVER.
THIS is a struggle. We have a games cabinet. For years it was tidily locked away with a child proof lock. But now Mister 6 year old son knows how to remove the lock. So day after day, the three littles drag a bunch of stuff out.
I could just stop them from getting in there, but the point is for games to be used. I guess.
Anyway, my solution is to leave the games appropriate for the littles in that cabinet, and move everything else into the basement.
I am definitely moving towards minimalism as I age. I've never been particularly attached to stuff emotionally, but I have been hit with the "we might need it some day" thought process. I still do that to some degree, but mostly I get rid of things we aren't using regularly.
It makes life much easier to handle in a family of 11 people. It really does.