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!



Sunday, April 1, 2018

Happy Easter!

He is Risen!

We aren't going to church today.  We usually don't on Easter.  I know that sounds pretty lame but it is always a crazy busy day at church and years of having a huge family has taken its toll on me.  I don't like having to keep track of everyone when there are limited seats in the sanctuary and all.

And Kevin's mom and our niece are coming for Easter lunch today at noon.  Our niece has to get back to college up north this afternoon and reasonably doesn't want to drive in the dark. AND it is supposed to snow tonight!  Will spring ever really come?  It has been a long winter.

I took the 3 youngest to our church's Easter egg hunt/bouncy hut spectacular yesterday.  We started out with listening to a wonderful description of the Easter story using Resurrection Eggs. Each egg has a symbol (like a tiny palm leaf, a cross made of nails, coins to represent Christ's betrayal by Judas) and one of the ladies from church did a lovely job telling the story.

Then we went on the egg hunt. Rose and Daniel and Sarah all gathered many eggs. Rose went quietly nuts near the end and I was keeping track of all 3 kids in a busy crowd and each egg hunt was in a different place so it was stressful. Four of the big kids were there helping with the event itself. They were able to help sometimes.

Suffice it to say I was very glad when I got everyone safely home, but it was a lovely time and I'm thankful for our church's willingness to have such a community event which ties into the gospel.

I've been saved since I was a teenager so maybe at some level, the Easter story seems old news sometimes. But this morning I was reading through enduringword.com, which is a wonderful website which includes historical and theological insight into passages.  I was reading about the Last Supper in the Gospel of Luke.  And once again I was struck with amazement that Christ, the Son of the Living God, my Lord and my Savior, humbled himself and died for me, for my sins.

I was reading a movie review a couple of weeks ago on screenit.com.  I really like this site, to the point that I actually pay for the privilege of using it.  The reviews are very detailed about various issues that might be a problem. The reviewer of a new movie on the Apostle Paul commented briefly that he didn't understand how a man like Saul of Tarsus (who became Paul after his conversion) could truly be forgiven for his many sins.  We tend to forget that Saul was basically a terrorist.  He went around dragging innocents to jail for being Christians. He killed.  He murdered.  This reviewer said he just didn't get that aspect of Christianity, that a truly evil man could truly be forgiven.

And I realized that I am Saul of Tarsus. I am.  No, I'm not a mass murderer.  I'm a "pretty nice person." But GOD IS PERFECT.  And I never was, am not, never will be perfect on Earth. I will sin. I will fail. I will be selfish and fearful and self centered.

But Jesus loves me anyway.  He loves me SO MUCH that he was willing to die a truly horrific death to be the sacrifice for my sins.

We are all sinners, and we are saved by grace and grace alone.  Thank you, Lord Jesus.

Happy Easter.  He ROSE!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Funeral

Kevin and I drove up to Michigan on Friday night so we could attend my uncle Bill's funeral on Saturday morning.  We were originally planning to drive up early in the morning but there were threats of an ice storm so we went up early.

Kevin's mom kindly came over and spent about 24 hours with the kids.

The funeral was beautiful in its own way.  My aunt said that at the end, the only thing working well for my uncle was his pacemaker. He was so ready to go home, so ready.

It was a Lutheran funeral full of liturgy and hymns.  My dad gave a lovely eulogy.  Communion was served and I got confused about what to do. I've been to 3 Lutheran Churches now in my lifetime (attended 2 for some time) and each one did communion differently :-). Those Lutherans!  No really, it was lovely.

Funerals are strange things in some ways because we're all grieving a loss but we also see relatives and friends we've not seen in forever.  I met a friend of mine I'd not seen in more than 20 years. She used to attend the same church as I did back in my graduate school days, before Kevin and I were married.  She got married to a fine fellow and moved in ACROSS THE STREET from my aunt and uncle. Just one of those weird "it's a small world" things.  She and her family have been loyal friends to my aunt and uncle, and vice versa.

I got to see one brother, the one who lives in Chicago. The other lives in Hawaii so getting back for the funeral wasn't feasible.

After the funeral and lunch, Kevin and I went to visit another aunt and uncle who live in the Ann Arbor area. I used to live with them for the first couple of years of graduate school, but I haven't seen much of them in the last 20 years.  Kids and kids and more kids, and married life, and work, have not resulted in much traveling on our part.  It was wonderful to spend a couple of hours with them and my brother, who was there also.

Their house is gorgeous.  It is funny to me how different life is without small kids.  Our house must be practical, for our own sanity.  No figurines, so breakable objects at high level, and so on.  It was fun seeing the house and the changes they've made since I lived there, but I'm thankful I'm not trying to maintain that level of decorating with kids racing around like rhinos around here.

We got back late, after driving through a snowstorm.  The kids mostly did fine though there were things that didn't happen that should have.  Rose was pretty crabby.  She is very attached to me. I don't know if that is partly because she is the youngest and the "baby" of the family?  The other kids, by this time, had at least 1, usually 2, younger siblings!


Monday, March 12, 2018

Uncle Bill

Each of my parents has one sister, and each sister is married.

My aunt on my mom's side lost her husband, my Uncle Bill, last week. The funeral will be this week and Kevin and I are going up for it.

In some ways, it was a terrible time for my aunt and uncle.  Bill had a terrible foot infection, resulting in an amputation of part of his leg, which then morphed into additional heart problems and breathing problems and infection.

It took 7 weeks from the point of realizing he needed medical attention for his leg to his death.  Seven really tough difficult weeks.

On the other hand, he was a devout Christian and he was ready to go home. It is very hard for those left behind, of course especially my aunt.  They were married for more than 3 decades.

I'm thankful he is with Jesus, sad for those left behind. 

Losing Weight

I haven't.

And I'm Ok with that. But I did say I'd update on my quest to lose a few pounds.

It's hard!

I don't need to lose weight, just not gain 20 more lbs, but it is interesting how hard it is to lose weight.

Lots of people would agree, of course. We are blessed to live in a culture with lots of food and we don't work as hard physically as many of our ancestors.

So I'm rocking along between 150 and 155 lbs and I'm Ok with that.

My blood sugar A1c popped up to 5.8 last time it was checked, which means I have higher bgs than when I was on metformin.

I've been trying to exercise moderately regularly.  I'm doing better than I did a year ago, for sure.  If I can maintain this weight and keep those blood sugars reasonable, I will be blessed.


Monday, March 5, 2018

Spring and Field Trips


  
We are inkling towards spring.  It was warm last week and hit 70 degrees one way.  That was awesome. And then it got cooler again. Right now it is 41 degrees.

Every year I get too excited about warm weather and put away warm clothing and then it gets cold again. So this year I WILL NOT DO THAT.

We went for a walk in our back 3 acres. It is lovely out there, thanks to Kevin's hard work.  It would be a tangled mess of vegetation if he didn't cut things down every year.

And our new deck is beautiful.  A nice place to eat popcorn.


This morning was not warm but I felt energetic and ambitious so 5 children and I went to the Air Force Museum, which is fairly close.  We had a lovely time but it is HUGE and we went to one of the farthest hangers. I think I wore out the little ones.  We didn't stay too long and were home by lunch. There was lots of fussing and whining as I tried to feed people and deal with a very tired Rose. Then our microwave broke.

But I did take them somewhere fun and educational, so I get kudos for that. Right?



Sunday, March 4, 2018

A Crazy Week

So after being sick off and on the week previous, I had a crazy week last week.

I went to the orthodontist 3 times with Joseph. THREE TIMES.  Things kept coming loose. It was weird.  We also took Isaac in. The ortho, whom we really like, strongly suggests that he have orthodontia because of an overbite and his teeth not lining up properly.

It's only money, right? 

And appointments.

I also had 4 dental appointments on Wednesday.  It was a crazy week with being gone and the house got kind of messy and out of order.

And then we sold the big van!  We got at least 10 inquiries about it, and sold it for a little more than $12,000 to a church in Michigan.  In the last couple of years, we've totally refurbished our car fleet. We should be good for awhile unless we buy another car for the big girls to drive. 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

An Off Week

An off week in more than one way.

I was sick for a few days.  Thankfully it was just headaches and body aches, not the flu.  Praise the Lord. And the kids didn't seem to get it, though Kevin had it as well.  We were both very tired.

I took the week off from school and thought I'd get a lot done.  Which didn't happen. Being sick didn't help.  Caring for Rosy Posy was, as usual, fairly exhausting because she's a high energy girl.

However, we did get a few things done.  I specifically wanted to START working on clothing needs for the summer and sure enough, I started.

I managed to heroically cull some of our DVD's and books.  That doesn't come easily, but I got rid of at least 75 books and maybe 6 videos?

Which helps.


Rose makes me chuckle. She has all these toys she adores so she has now found them a plastic tub so she can haul them ALL around.


And here is her 'submarine'. Please observe the crack so she has air.  We are careful.


Tuesday was WARM.  Like 70 degrees.  We spent hours and hours outside, which was good.

Naomi's college courses are going well.  She is a hard worker and organized.

Lydia is also doing well in her freshman English class.  It has helped a lot that Lydia has her license.  My weeks are much easier now that I don't have to drive her to class. Of course I pray for her and Naomi, that God will keep them safe.


We have made the fairly momentous decision to try and sell our 'big van'.  It is a 15 passenger that has served us well, but now that we have 4 drivers, one of whom is full time in college, we are using it all of once every 3 months.  We almost always take two cars to church as different people go to Sunday school and service.

Given that we are paying insurance on it, and it is worth a fair amount (still) we've decided it is time to pass it on.  For our occasional trips to Michigan, we'll either have to take 2 cars or leave two someones behind; but again, with both Naomi and Lydia being full time in college next year, that's not unrealistic.

Or we can take two cars.

Of course, we have to sell it.  What kind of crazy needs a 15 passenger van???



Saturday, February 17, 2018

Cuteness Overload


She loves this hat and pretty much wears it all the time these days.  Sometimes even to bed!


And sometimes, she just needs to hang out in the corner of the family room eating an apple.


And this is the GREATEST.  She's entered her "attached to multiple objects" stage in life. She has all these stuffed animals she adores, to the point that she can't carry them all at once. So being a sensible little girl, she found a container and carefully stacks them all inside so she can cart them all around at once. Problem solving at its best!

We love our little lady.