Tuesday, October 16, 2018

(Trying Not to Be) Crabby

But I am.

Crabby I mean :-).

But I'm trying not to be.

So mostly things are going Ok, even fine.

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.

It's all...fine. Just challenging.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

6 weeks since surgery

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.

We're back in the swing of things with school. 

So yes, I am happy.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Health Update

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.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Pictures


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.


Beautiful sunset.


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.




Saturday, September 22, 2018

Tired but Thankful

I keep improving, and I am thankful.

Still tired, still weak, but thankful.

No sign of any bacterial infection.

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?

Yes, thankful.

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.


Sunday, September 16, 2018

Improving

I am getting better day by day.  Praise the Lord!

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.


Saturday, September 8, 2018

Catheter OUT!!!

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.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Post Surgery Update

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.

To Him be the Glory.


Saturday, August 25, 2018

Complications

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.)

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Cat (Briefly) Came Back


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.

Sigh.

I guess he's decided we aren't his people anymore :-(.

At least he is healthy and fed, right?

Kids Coming and Going

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.


Saturday, August 4, 2018

Trip to Michigan

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.

Lydia worked a lot this week as well.



Friday, July 20, 2018

How Do People Do Get Away From Home Frequently?

So this is just a "people are so different" post.

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.

Moderately.

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.

So yeah.

Perhaps in a few years, when Rose is safer, I'll do more.

We'll see.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

That Weight Thing

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.


People and Projects

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.


Monday, July 2, 2018

(Not So) Lazy Days of Summer




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.


21st Anniversary


Aren't we cute?

21 years of marriage as of the end of June!

Hard to believe in many ways.  

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.

:-)

Happy anniversary to us!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Teens and Jobs

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.

Rose is 4!


And just like that, Rose is 4!  For the first time, our youngest child is 4 years old.  


She got many presents she liked, including this nice plushie.


She also got little Kirbys and octonauts from my parents and us, respectively. They are a great hit.

For all that Rose is still a ball of fire, she is maturing. I can let her be on the front porch and play by herself for a few minutes and she doesn't run for the hills.

She's a sweetheart and always has been, but it is nice she is maturing.

We love her so much, our precious Rosie.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

"If There is a God..."

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.

Wow.

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.

Full stop.

Ok....

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.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Decluttering Frenzy

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.




Monday, June 11, 2018

Ramblings on Abortion

I don't usually discuss politics or topics like abortion on this blog.  But I'm going to right now.

To back up a bit, I signed up for Kindle Unlimited a few months ago. For $10 a month, I have access to a bazillion Kindle books. Not ALL Kindle books, mind you, but hundreds of thousands.

So its been really really fun. I can search on a topic, then select for Kindle Unlimited, and I'm off to the races.  Sometimes I read one chapter of a book and give up. Sometimes I really love a book. Right now I'm reading a bunch of medical memoirs.

I read part of a book yesterday about a woman whose daughter was born at 24 weeks 3 days gestation and was under a pound.  UNDER A POUND at birth.

And she lived and thrived, incredibly enough.  The mother had 2 other living children and had had eclampsia with both of them. It was eclampsia that resulted in the 24 weeker having to be born abruptly.  The woman also had a stillbirth at 27 weeks due to eclampsia, a miscarriage at 12 weeks, and an abortion at like 8 weeks.

So...here's the thing. She was very blase about the abortion, It was after her second child was born at 30 weeks and he had medical needs and the 'time wasn't right'. She called it a medical abortion because she knew she had a history of medical problems with pregnancy and her son was having lots of therapy at the time.

I'm very pro life.

I will say that I believe that abortion in the case of imminent death of the mother is a reasonable moral reason for an abortion. For example, almost all pro lifers agree that abortion in the case of an ectopic pregnancy is morally Ok.  In that case, the baby implants in a tube or some other non viable place.  Mom's life is at great risk as baby grows and causes a rupture of a tube.  Baby cannot live where he or she implanted.

So yes, I can see a 'medical' abortion in a case like an ectopic pregnancy. That was not the case with this situation.  Yes, Mom had a bad history of problems during pregnancy and yes, the timing wasn't right. There were no signs Mom is a Christian or in any way a pro-lifer.

I was struck, though, with her passionate commitment to the life of the child born at 24 weeks (who was conceived at a 'convenient time' and was very much wanted) with the child who was discarded without much concern, apparently, when Mom didn't want to be pregnant.

She struggled and fought for one child, and didn't for the other.

Yes, there were different factors; 24 weeker was by a different husband and they wanted a baby together.

The situation was challenging. I never had really hard pregnancies and I'm so sad that she did.  And I can understand that the pregnancy that resulted in abortion was at a bad time and it was hard for her.

But people, this was a person.  A person who was killed because of poor timing.  Mom decided to have sex with her husband and conceived a baby.

My basic belief is that women, as the only gender capable of conceiving, do have a responsibility for the child conceived.  Yes, the male has responsibilities too. But, and it is hard to put this into words gently without coming across as a jerk, women do have extra responsibility.  Because we're the ones who get pregnant!  I believe, with all my heart, that if I have sex with my husband and I conceive I have a responsibility to that child. The child didn't make the choice to have sex, I did.

Pro choice for me means I have the choice to have sex and if I conceive, than the choice has been made.

This will seem insane to those who have a different perspective. So why am I bringing it up?  I guess I am just seriously saddened at attitudes like this lady's attitude.

The world seems to think that sex is something we 'deserve' with no strings attached.  Even in marriage, babies are conceived and aborted.

Reality is that sex is a gift, yes, and it is also a responsibility. A gift given by the Creator, for the blessing of a man and woman who are married.  Of course not all sex results in conception. Even I didn't get pregnant every possible time in those early years of marriage, though it seemed like I did :-).


Sex really is sacred. It is not just a physical act.  It is an emotional one, and a spiritual one. Sometimes it results in conception.  And if a baby is conceived, a person has come into being. And that little person deserves life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Not to be casually cast aside, murdered, for being an inconvenience.


Saturday, June 9, 2018

New Refrigerator


You know you are all grown up (and indeed, I am) when a new refrigerator is very exciting!

Our old one wasn't even dead!  It was acting a bit oddly, not maintaining temperatures as expected though often it was too cold as opposed to too warm. Anyway, we decided to go ahead and get a new fridge before the old one died.

It took us 2 or 3 weeks to actually get this baby.  It was SUPPOSED to come in a week ago and we got a last minute email saying oh, sorry, it won't be in for another week. That wasn't a huge deal but if we had been without a working refrigerator, we would have been sad!

We have a big freezer in our garage so we've set this one up so that the lower right hand panel is set for refrigeration. It has the option of being either a freezer or refrigerator. We've had a small fridge in our garage for a long time but we easily put everything into the new refrigerator, so we unplugged the little one. Hopefully we won't need it at all as we have way more space now.

So yes, very exciting!

We're actually in some debt now thanks to the 5th wheel and associated truck.  The 5th wheel has been a lot of fun.  We've enjoyed having a place to get away and the kids get away also.  

I hate being in debt though. HATE IT.  The loan should be paid off by the end of the year.  It's Ok, it really is.  I just strongly prefer NOT to be in debt.  

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Pool is Open!




The pool is open!  It was 66 degrees when we opened it, but thanks to the solar cover and very high temps, it is up to almost 80 already!  The kids were in when it was 66, but that's too cold for me!  

It HAS been hot.  After a very cool spring, we had temps that shot into the 90's for a couple of days. This week will be highs in the 80's until a major cooling over the weekend.


This is my poor toe!  I did something I have never done before; I fell into the pool while trying to roll up the pool cover!  I was teetering on the edge, trying to regain my balance, then realized I was going to fail.  The next thing I knew, I was floundering in the pool.

I got out and laughed hysterically at myself.  It wasn't until later that I realized I'd banged my toe on the concrete as I went over.  Oh well. It looks way worse than it feels.  

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Amazing Underwater Pictures

We bought a camera and an underwater camera case. And then Kevin proceeded to take an amazing number of incredibly beautiful pictures both in the air, and in the waters of St. Croix.




Brain coral

View from our front patio


Christmas tree worms


Turtle!  A big one (like 5 feet across)





Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Hike

Exactly a week ago today, I woke up in our little cottage by the sea. The air conditioning was comfortable, the waves were rippling against the beach, and life was very very good.

The previous few days I had been rather lazy. Kevin was snorkeling more than I was, and I felt like we should tackle something a little more energetic.

So we decided to go for a hike to the Annaly tidal pools.  I have always liked tidal pools, where marine life excitedly deals with changes in water depth, usually without quite as much wave disruption as farther out at sea.

We ate breakfast, filled our water bottle, grabbed a few snacks, and drove off.  We found the trailhead relatively easily.

Now I was just plain stupid.  I was envisioning a ... a really nice trail.  Like, a wide trail, with gravel or, better yet, boardwalk. 

Instead, we were confronted with a really narrow trail, which started through tall grass.  A young man who pointed us in the right direction eyed me dubiously and said, "That's quite a hike."

Why oh why didn't we just turn tail and run right then and there?

But no, we marched off.  And the trail was up hills and down hills, over roots and under branches.  It was hot. Very hot.  It was sticky. Very sticky. 

It was a very tiring walk of 2.7 miles.

One way.


So once we got to the tidal pools, we faced the long hike back.

The tidal pools themselves were, frankly, not that wonderful!  There were some tidal pools and they had fish and crabs, but we saw those right outside our cottage door on the beach!  There was absolutely NO need to torture ourselves so!




The waves crashing on the beach were, admittedly rather neat.  Much higher waves than near our cottage.

Finally, after an hour of exploring (and procrastinating) we started back.


It was really really really tiring. I was really really really tired. I about fell over at more than one point but the reality was, I couldn't just stop!  We had to make it to the car.

My muscles and my brain argued about it but in the end, we made it back.

5.4 miles round trip.  Ugh.

Kevin took me home and I curled up in a fetal position on the bed.

Never again.


Monday, May 14, 2018

St. Croix Airport

A sensible, organized woman would blog starting at the beginning of the week in St. Croix and move forward. But not me.  I'm going to start with our last day on St. Croix and get to the other stuff later.



First, a couple of pictures to show I really was there.  The first pic is from the front patio of our cottage by the sea. The second pic is of me on the patio of the cottage by the sea.

It was awesome.

  But this is a complaining post, I hope in a funny way because I'm aiming for funny.

  We had to check out of our cottage by noon on Saturday.  Our flight didn't leave until 4:10 p.m.  So we didn't head straight to the airport because we aren't nuts.  There is nothing more boring and irritating then sitting in an airport for hours on end!

Instead we walked around Fredericksted, the nearby town, then went for a leisurely drive along one of the coasts, then parked the car near the beach for awhile to enjoy the last whiffs of ocean breezes.

Finally we left, filled the gas tank of the rental car, dropped it off, and were taken by airport shuttle to the airport. We got there around 2:30 p.m.  It is a little airport so that gave us almost 2 hours.  Which should have been more then plenty.

But it wasn't.

First we stood in line for awhile to get to one of those automatic screens which allow you to have your boarding passes generated.  We also paid for one suitcase to be put into the underbelly of the plane. That's the way it worked on American Airlines with our tickets -- we paid $25 per big suitcase.

Then we stood in line for a ridiculous amount of time to hand over our suitcase to the ticket agents.

Then we got into the security line.

Which was insanely long. Just, like, insanely, crazily long.  There were three flights leaving in a short amount of time, which is unusual I guess?

We stood and stood and stood. Time went by. The line inched forward.

After a long long time, we made it to the customs agents. Yes, customs.  We were on St. Croix, an American something. Not a state but a protectorate or something -- anyway, it is an American land area and we are Americans. We still had to go through customs and the customs agent (when we finally got to him) rather sneered at our driver's licenses.  He wanted a passport.  He grudgingly took the licenses, but then spent 5 minutes slowly checking things out to apparently be certain we were legitimate.

Finally, we were released.

Then things got really weird.  The next thing on the agenda was to FIND OUR SUITCASE. The one that we just had paid for to be put into the underbelly of the plane! For reasons I cannot fathom, they make you stand in line to hand it over, then it appears on the other side of customs where you take it again!

Then we were herded over to another line where our suitcase and various carry-ons were sent through a conveyor belt to CHECK FOR FRUIT AND VEGETABLES.

Yes, there is great fear that someone will carry fruits and vegetables to the main land and release some invasive insect species.  I realize that's a potential issue but why didn't they take care of this after taking our suitcase?  Why did we have to pick it back up and walk it through ourselves?

Time was really getting on now. People around us were stressed because everyone was running late.

We got into the really serious security line now, the one where we remove shoes and belts and things are checked for explosives.  We dropped off our suitcase again now at another place.  (It did make it to Dayton with us, which surprised me a bit.)

The security line was really slow. The frazzled airport personnel were pulling people out of line who were running really late for an even earlier flight.

Finally, finally, we got to the security conveyor belt.  We didn't have to take off our shoes and belts because we are officially TSA pre-check approved for some reason.  I don't know why but probably it is because Kevin works for the government?

I have never, in all my life, been through a security line where they were so fussy.  We were supposed to take all food out of our backpacks. Why, just why?  So we're frantically pulling things out and putting them in bins. We are now officially late for the plane, but so is half the plane so the plane is waiting.

We get through the sensor which checks our bodies for dangerous substances.  (I had to go through three times as my sunglasses were setting it off -- took me awhile to figure that out.)

We got to the other side and waited for my belly pack, our two carry-ons, and Kevin's backpack to go through the x-ray conveyor thingie.

And then, just when we thought we were finally home free and could get on the plane, Kevin's bag was flagged as dangerous!

So I gathered my stuff and went out into the waiting area.  The plane is now totally boarding.  Kevin was patted down for dangerous weaponry, then told to sit down. Because something in his bag had caused a major ALERT on their security screens.  Like a red screen, with an ALERT on it.

Can you guess what it was?

Wait for it.

Granola bars.

Yes, indeed, granola bars.

MY granola bars, to be specific.

So Kevin sat and waited for a long time and finally an agent or two or three had him carefully extract a granola bar and OPEN it, and they looked at it and said...

"Ok, you're fine.  You can go."

We were the last people on the plane. THE LAST.

The St. Croix airport security line is a nightmare.


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day!

Kevin and I are just back from a week long trip to St. Croix.  Kevin's mom and my parents helped watch the kids while we were gone.

I'll post details of the trip later but today I got to see the kids for the first time in more than a week.

And I realized again -- I always know this, but yeah, need the reminder -- that being a mother is a huge blessing. I am not perhaps a "natural mother" in the sense that I didn't gravitate to young children when I was an older teen and young adult.  I didn't even want to get married or have children until I was 26 :-). 

22 years later, I'm a mom to 9.  God has a huge sense of humor, I think!

So Happy Mother's Day to you moms out there. It is not an easy job, but most things in life aren't easy.  It is a noble job, a purposeful job.  Being single would have been purposeful as well, but the Lord had this plan for my life, that I would marry in my late 20's, give up my potentially high powered career, and serve as wife and mother to my family.

I could not be more blessed.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Verne Troyer

I have only met one 'celebrity' in my entire life, and that was before he was a celebrity.

Namely, Verne Troyer, the midget who played Mini-Me in the Austin Powers movies. I've never seen any of them because I believe they are quite risque and I avoid movies like that.  And they just aren't my kind of movie anyway, I think.  I dislike far more movies than I like.

ANYWAY, we went to high school together.  We graduated in the same class.  He died last week, at age 49.

To my knowledge, I never exchanged a word with Verne Troyer, which is weird and sad because it was a small class of only 93 students.  I was a super awkward geeky teen and Verne was incredibly popular and outgoing. He was an amazing guy.  He wasn't a particularly strong student so we didn't share any classes, I think.  But yes, he was homecoming king and everyone liked him. He was very short, like 2 foot 9 inches tall.

I admire him for going on to make a life for himself in spite of a pretty serious disability of being very tiny in a world which wasn't set up well for him.  Sadly, he struggled with alcoholism.  Death cause is currently not being released publicly, and I don't need to know of course.

I am just sad for him and his family. Of course, people in their late 40's die all the time but someone my age, from MY CLASS in high school just passed on.  I read somewhere that he had been baptized recently so I hope and pray he is at peace in Heaven with the Lord.

As long as I'm name dropping, I'm actually distantly related to Tom Selleck, who has lived long and prospered :-).  He is my mother's second cousin.  He spent early years in Detroit, I believe, which is why he played a Tigers fan in Magnum P.I.

I read up on Selleck recently and it sounds like he is a good guy, very committed to his wife of decades, and to their daughter.  It's always good to read about a celebrity marriage that lasts. His previous marriage failed and he said he was spending 90 hour weeks working on Magnum P.I., so sounds like he sort of blamed himself.  Which is realistic, really -- it is hard for a marriage to do well when one partner is gone all the time.

Rest in peace, Verne Troyer.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

More Fifth Wheel Excitement


The fifth wheel is in the barn now :-).

So there is a story behind that, not a very interesting one perhaps, but it is MY blog.

Since the previous owners bought the 5th wheel in California, we (meaning Kevin) had to take the RV to a local motor vehicle bureau to have the VIN number officially scanned by some official personage.

Moving the RV is a PAIN.  But Kevin had the morning off so he decided to do it, with the added motivation that the weather is crazy cold for mid April -- lows will be in the high 20's tonight, with blowing. So to prevent the water pipes from freezing, Kevin decided to see if it would fit in the barn.

And it does.  Barely.  It has about an inch spare on top where it almost hits the lights in the barn.

Before it got in the barn, we had a near fiasco.  Kevin got stuck on the hill near the barn, in the grass. Really stuck. Horribly stuck. We've had SO much rain and the truck's tires got mired in mud.

By God's grace, our neighbor not only has a very powerful truck, he also happened to be home!  He drove over and pulled us out.

So far the 5th wheel has been a big hit. One night Kevin and I spent a couple of hours in there, watching an old Doctor Who.  Last night, the four older kids went out to play a game, and tonight the 2 middle girls went out for a couple of hours to spend time together.

We still don't have the plumbing working but we do have electricity working perfectly.  When the weather is decent, we'll get the plumbing sorted out.

There have been plenty of memes about spring this year.  Which is proving very elusive.  We're all ready for consistently warm temperatures.

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Long Winter



Yep, winter will not loose its icy grip!

5th Wheel!





We are buying a 5th wheel and a truck to pull it!

I know my loyal readers mostly find this coming out of nowhere, because it kind of is.

So for as long as I can remember, I have liked the concept of a "tiny house" -- a little place which is super efficient.

But we got married and had 9 children, so a tiny house isn't practical for us.  AND they are expensive.

A couple of months ago, Kevin commented that we could probably buy a travel trailer or 5th wheel for a reasonable amount of money.  We started looking around.  A local family (not someone we know) has a 5th wheel in great shape for not too much.  So after prayer, we've decided to buy it.  AND he is selling a 2001 diesel truck to haul it, also for not too much money.

We do have to take out a loan and I hate debt but this is a really nice setup.  We did look around thoroughly at other travel trailer and 5th wheel options  and decided this is a good fit. It has a bunk room in the back and will sleep 9 people without too much trouble.

So what is the plan? The initial plan is to park the 5th wheel near our barn while we figure out all the details of caring for it. The most complex is the plumbing. There are issues involving the bathroom that are still entirely confusing to us.  Kevin is a brilliant guy regarding such things, but it'll still take awhile to get that all sorted out satisfactorily.

He already put in the requisite electrical connection so we can plug in the 5th wheel.

Our idea is that it will be a retreat. Kevin and I can get away from the kids occasionally, leaving the older ones in charge.  

Our kids can get away from the noise occasionally, or they can go into the 5th wheel and MAKE noise, leaving the house a little quieter.

So all this should happen in the next couple of weeks. As a SORT of amusing aside, the truck got hit by a falling branch during a windstorm last week, the day after we agreed to buy it.  We hadn't yet, so the owners knocked off some money.

I'm excited!