Sunday, September 20, 2020

Parental Visit

 My parents came to visit for a few days this week!

They live in Michigan and my dad says his car pretty much just knows the way here.  He doesn't even have to steer.  :-)

My parents don't have cats anymore as lifestyle doesn't really permit it. But my dad loves cats so he visited the kittens in the sun room. They swarmed him. They were particularly fond of his shoelaces.

We went to Pearl's Fen together.

And had fun. The weather has cooled off which is actually really nice.  It is very pleasant outside and the bugs have either died or are hiding.

Yesterday we had a fine brunch at home (my mother provided muffins, sticky buns, and omelets) and then they headed home. We had a great visit. I am thankful they are still very healthy.


 I was born a cheapskate. Seriously.  Or frugal, if you prefer that word.  I truly believe people are born with money personalities and mine is, save save save.

Of course, if you look at my pictures, you will see that we spend plenty.  We have a lot of stuff and we take exotic vacations once a year to St. Croix.  And then there are the nine kids, who of course require a lot of money so we can care for them well.


 But Kevin and I both are fairly cautious with spending.

These last years have been easier financially for a variety of reason. Kevin keeps getting raises. Hooray!  We paid off our house, which was so fun.  Interestingly, as soon as we paid off our house, we found ourselves saving rapidly to replace three cars. We had been running them into the ground and it was time to replace them.

Now I am making real money writing.  No idea how long this will last or even whether it will, but we do have extra money right now.  

Oh, I actually got paid by Amazon for the first time. There is a 2 month delay in sending royalties, so it wasn't until the end of August that I got paid for June.

I have worked a little for many years, but very little. So I am making more right now.  I do feel more mellow about spending money.

I have been recently analyzing my new spending habits.

I am spending more on the children.  I am buying them throw away toys more often to encourage them to do various tasks.  I am tired, what can I say?

I am buying more books that the kids want.

I am buying more clothing from Amazon. A responsible mother who wanted to save money would go to Once Upon a Child (which is an awesome place) BUT 6 of the kids are too big for Once Upon a Child. Also, if I can stay home, I want to. So yes, I have been buying a bunch of clothes for the children on Amazon.  It is nice.

And I am buying clothes for ME from Amazon too. Also nice.  I don't buy many clothes for myself, not really because I am cheap (though that is a factor) but because I hate, with a deep and abiding loathing, going to clothing stores and trying things on. It is so boring.  So so so so boring.

Yes, I am whining.  I am such a turkey, really.  All these nice stores with all these nice clothes and I am whiny about trying things on.

But yeah for Amazon. Just a few clicks from the comfort of my home and I can order things!

I am definitely relaxing in my purchasing.  It feels freeing to not be as concerned about mortgage payments and food and clothing and all those vital needs.  We have never been poor at all, but we have been aware of the great responsibility of caring for the offspring, of planning for the future.  

Here is a funny and/or pathetic thing. When I was younger, I had a pretty arrogant view about retirement.  My thought was that as Christians, we should be willing to work as long as is necessary and therefore retirement shouldn't really be a priority.  (Thankfully for both of us, Kevin never had that view.)

So I will say that a Christian should never retire from being a Christian. Clearly we all need to serve the Lord as He directs us until the end of our days.

BUT, one does not need to work a paying job in order to work for God, clearly.  In fact, once a Christian has retired, he/she will probably have more time for ministry.

Also, and this is really really really important, our bodies wear out with time!

Obviously some incredible people with good health and/or incredible wills work very very long.  Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who just passed away, was 87 years old and still serving as a Supreme Court Justice. And not a healthy one!!  She was battling cancer for YEARS.  

But normal people just get worn out.  Some jobs require a great deal of physical strength and with time, the body just isn't having it. Even a white collar job requires energy to come and go, to attend meetings and type lots of reports and emails.  Eventually, if a man or woman lives long enough, he or she will not be able to work.

So yes, saving for retirement is a wise thing, definitely.  

Hmmm, I got off track.

So yes, more money is rolling in because at the moment, my books are selling.  We don't know how long this will last.  I would need to keep writing new books to keep making a lot of money.  Book sales go down with time based on three months of data from my own books.

So I am more relaxed about money, but still not a spender.  Our house is full of stuff and I find it a little obnoxious so I only want to buy things that I really want, not add things that are not of much interest.

I have never been huge into experiences and quail with horror at paying, say, $100 to go to a fancy dinner with Kevin.  (We have done it once in our lifetime, on our honeymoon, but only once.)

So I am still cheap. But I'm spending more than I was.  I hope it is a reasonable and healthy shift toward enjoying money but not being wasteful.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Random Pictures of Random Interest


This is funny, I think.  With September, and autumn, upon us, the pool water is cooling down rapidly. There is no one in this house who likes really cold water, so...

Kevin tried heating the water.  He put hoses into the pool and connected them to a pump, purchased, of course, off Amazon.  In this iteration, he put a bucket of water onto a hot plate and turned on the hot plate. Water got hot.  Hoses were connected to a copper coil sitting in the hot water.  So water from pool went through hose though copper tubing into another hose and back into the pool.  

In this iteration, Kevin put copper tubing inside our chiminea, and stoked up the fire.  Again, hose brought water from pool into copper tubing into another hose back into pool.  Oh, there is a pump in series there, because there has to be.

Neither method worked amazingly well.  There is SO much water in the pool that this just was in the noise.  But the copper tubing in the water was better even though the fire was far hotter than the water in the bucket.  BUT heat transfer between copper tubing and water was far better than heat transfer between copper tubing and hot hair.

The kittens are getting enormous. Here, they are suffering a lot, obviously. We are getting them fixed in about two weeks.

Sometimes Kevin has to dress up for a work meeting.  Obviously anything below his waist doesn't matter!

Wednesday, September 2, 2020


 A few years ago, I went on Lexapro, an SSRI.  What is an SSRI?  Well, I am glad you asked. It is a selective seratonin reuptake inhibitor.  Say that ten times fast!

It was honestly LIFE CHANGING.  I have been anxious for as long as I can remember, seriously. I was anxious at the age of four. I remember it.  Lexapro dialed down my anxiety to a reasonable level to the point that I feel distressed when things really are bad, but I don't have this constant underlying agitation.  It seems pretty obvious to me that we have a genetic thing for low seratonin levels.

Unfortunately, I have had an uptick in my anxiety levels.  Ever since I got back from St. Croix, I have been struggling.  I think it is just LIFE.  We have had so much going on and I don't like it.  I don't like lots of doctor appointments. I don't like running off every single day here and there.  I don't like a messy house because I am not around enough.

Good things are spurring on my anxiety too.  We launched another book (see previous post) which is awesome and fun, but it is one more thing on our plates. Isaac is taking 13 credits at a local community college and I have to take him to labs on Thursday afternoons.  I am so proud of him; he is a real self starter and is doing things on his own.  It is awesome.  It is just one more big thing.

Lydia is working full time now so is not around at all during the days Monday through Friday.

Naomi has a lot going on; she is trying to buy a car and is planning to move out soon.

I feel like there are 23 balls in the air that are constantly moving and I am trying to keep them all off the ground.  Our younger 3 have been particularly clingy and/or grumpy and/or combative.  Mom and Dad disappearing for a week to St. Croix was probably a bit unnerving. 

Anyway, I will survive. It is interesting that I can feel my increase in anxiety.  If it doesn't go back down, I may kick up my Lexapro intake a bit (under a doctor's direction -- I see her in a week or so and will discuss it.)  Right now I am at a pretty low dose so I have wiggle room to go up.

I know that I can trust Jesus.  It isn't that I don't trust him.  It isn't that I feel terrible things are going to happen. It is this feeling that there is too much to do and I don't have enough time to do it.  It is stressful.  

I don't really know why I am writing this except I want to encourage people that anxiety is real and sometimes medication helps and sometimes more sleep helps.  Sometimes prayer helps. Often the solution is a bunch of things.

The Banished Uncle

 I wrote another book and published it!

If you are keeping track, I have published 3 books in about 3 months. That is not one a month; it is more like one every six weeks.  If you think that is ridiculous, you are right.  I mean, really, that is FAST!

I am not just writing them as quickly as I can. I'm writing stories and thinking about them and so far I have finished one every six weeks.  I am sure that will change now that school has started up for the kids. Life is way busier and I have less time to write. Which is fine.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Back from St. Croix

 I see I have not posted here in WEEKS!

Kevin and I just returned from a week in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. This is our fourth year that we've gone to the very same Cottages by the Sea. We are not adventurous folks, obviously!

We had a fabulous time. We were originally going to go to St. Croix in May but, quarantine. It was cancelled.  So then St. Croix opened up and we arranged to go in August (obviously.)

We rose insanely early on August 15th, boarded a plane which took us to Atlanta, and were waiting for the St. Croix plane when another couple nearby told us that St. Croix had locked down again due to coronavirus.


We looked at our tablets and sure enough, there had been a surge of cases and so the governor of the US Virgin Islands had ordered the population to go back to stay at home.  Visitors were allowed to check into hotels or cottages by the sea until August 19th, so we were Ok. Grocery stores were open but no tourist attractions.

It turned out to be a wonderful week, and a very quiet one. We went to our cottage and we swam and snorkeled and talked and slept and had a wonderful time. We used the rental car to buy groceries (twice), to drive a little way to snorkel (once), and to get to and from the airport.  When we filled up before leaving, we had used all of about a gallon and a half of gas the whole week!

I love being simple. I love sitting on a patio watching the waves. I love walking down the beach and looking at the little sea creatures and the tidal pools and the water pouring this way and that.

I love snorkeling, except when I am stupid and don't put on enough sunscreen and get badly burned legs.  Yep, that happened.

However, it was still a fabulous week and a very refreshing one.

Where were the kids, you ask?  At home.  Naomi and Lydia were working quite a bit (Lydia has a full time nannying job, hooray!) and so Isaac was pretty much running things, though we gratefully thank Kevin's mom for coming over a few hours a day to help out. Isaac and the other big kids did a fabulous job.  We got home and everyone was alive and the house was not burned down. In fact, the house was in decent shape!

This week we have to hit the ground running as it is a busy busy week, but we both feel refreshed.

Also, there will be pictures soon on this blog. Kevin took thousands, literally.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Finding Balance

So Kevin and I wrote another short book called I Have Been Jaeled.  It is the same story as I am Jael except that it is from Wickham's perspective. It is short and not romantic.  It is, in fact, rather grim because the main character is evil.

I write very quickly because I have 9 children who swirl around me so I have learned to put down words rapidly.

I have a couple of great editors so while a few mistakes have made it through final edits, there aren't an egregious number of them.

Unless, of course, any mistake is egregious.  I respect that position.

So in 2 months I have  published 2 and a third books. I say that because the latest novella is very short and includes some text from my original book I am Jael, so it really is not very long.

I know how to write and make people happy.  I could presumably pump out a book every month or two and make quite a bit of money.

But I shouldn't. Because writing, while a lot of fun, is not my highest priority. My priorities are Jesus and my family. Jesus is pretty much good on His own so my worship of him is for my own benefit. The family needs me rather desperately.

I have read of many women whose primary desire in life when they were young was to marry and have children. They are BORN moms.

I am not that woman.  I am something of an intellectual and I adore projects that I can complete in a timely fashion.  Most projects involving children are life time ones.  Kids just keep growing and changing and while a few things have a finite end point (like potty training), mostly the relationships keep altering and evolving as the years go by.

It is frankly exhausting to me. I do love a good project with a good end point.

So my natural tendency is to focus on projects and neglect the children and Kevin.  I don't usually do so because God keeps giving me firm nudges in the right direction. I do have to be aware of my own tendencies, though. 

Kids are complex beings and often not very appreciative of ones efforts to raise them. In fact, sometimes they get downright crabby about things. 

Rose has been hilariously irritable the last few days.  She is probably a little sick but still, I either have to laugh or cry over it and I choose to laugh. Like, really child??

Anyway, I have to keep jerking myself away from the path of a money making project which will stroke my ego and towards the children, who need an attentive and devoted mother.

Next week we start up school again.  It will be a "soft start" -- I always spend August working up to full strength.  This year I only have six children to teach.

Ha!  That is funny. Only 6 children.  Isaac is still legally homeschooling but he will be full time at Clark State. He is also a self starter so while I will help him as needed, he'll probably be able to do most things on his own.