Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Card from Us!

Yet again we are too "lazy" to mail out Christmas cards...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A pukey sort of week...

We had a good week, overall. By the title you can probably guess there's a big BUT coming. It was a good week, but we did have to deal with illness bearing down on the family. Our week got off to a good start with a visit from my sister. I only wish she could have visited for longer! It felt like we had just said hello and it was already time to hug goodbye. :( Ah, I'll take what I can get. Mitch and I didn't really celebrate our 4,000 day of marriage, but we did mark it off--I on the blog and with a picture, and Mitch by writing me a very special letter. I bought a ham, and Carrie did a wonderful job of cooking it for us, so we had a feast that night too. After Carrie left, time sort of began to close in on me and I realized that Christmas was only a week away! There are too many things to do. It's a perfect recipe for getting sick, wouldn't you say? We were visited by the vomit/diarrhea virus this week. I should say "are being visited" for I'm sure it hasn't passed through everyone yet. It is a slow-moving virus. It may have started last week (oh how I hope it did) and already moved through me and Josh. Time will tell. Malachi was the first to get noticeably sick this week. He began throwing up in the early afternoon on Wednesday. By Wed night, he had thrown up some 10 times and was refusing to nurse. He had ceased having wet diapers, so I began to be worried and off to the E.R. we went. There I fed him 3 oz of pumped milk, which he promptly refunded within 5 min. You know that in the E.R. if your condition is not serious, they only come to visit once every hour. So after many hours of waiting we used Malachi as a pin cushion--3 pokes in one arm produced a vein that gave blood and then blew out when she tried to flush it. 3 pokes in the other arm and a lot of digging around produced nothing. Finally a charge nurse, another nurse, and a pediatric nurse got a good vein in his foot on the first try. (Note the frustration in my voice--sympathetic for the nurses who were honestly trying to do their best yet frustrated for my sick little boy). A couple more hours of iv fluids, 2 more oz of pumped milk, and we were on our way (nearly 6 hours after arriving). He still threw up on Thursday, but we saw the doctor who said, "He looks like a million bucks!" (I love her) and sent us on our way. Friday morning brought diarrhea that absolutely no diaper can hold--not even mine. Oh if only I had a plain old prefold! It is Saturday night and he still has diarrhea--going through several outfits today--but he is eating well again and generally happy. We added bananas and rice cereal throughout the day to help his gut get back on the right track. Friday night was Zeke's turn to throw up. He was up periodically throughout the night, mostly dry-heaving, giving his deposit to the empty ice cream pail beside our bed. Mitch's mom and step-dad arrived today for a week-long visit. We are so happy to have some help, but feel really guilty about sharing our "present." Sigh. Brighter days are ahead! Needless to say, viruses care not for long to-do lists and thus I have not accomplished much of what I needed to do over this break. But now help is here, so hopefully next week will be better!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Monday, Dec. 17th, 2007 is our...

4,000 Day of Marriage!


How do we know? We used the calculator here: http://www.easysurf.cc/ndate2.htm

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Thoughts of Bananas and Monkeys


Chiquita Banana has some cute new stickers out there. Zeke loves bananas just for the stickers. He will come and ask me for a banana, and I know that he really just wants the sticker. But no, I can't just peel the sticker off the banana, he has to eat the banana too. My favorite sticker ever says, "Put sticker on forehead. Smile." It has gotten so bad that now when I go to the grocery store and pick out a bunch of bananas I will search for great stickers too. If the sticker I want is not on the bananas I want, I will quickly look around to see if anyone is watching...and then I will take the sticker off and add it to the bananas I want! (yeah, I heard you gasp) =D It's my own little secret. Until now. I found the *perfect* sticker, and it required a picture and subsequently a confession. :) In case you can't read the sticker on Zeke's forehead, it says "100% Perfection." I know that Chiquita made that sticker just for Zeke. It just didn't happen to make it onto the right set of bananas! So I helped them out with that one. (wink, wink)
Oh, look! Malachi just woke up from his nap. Isn't he cute? He just loves his brother Zeke. Zeke always makes him giggle.

Uh-oh. Malachi doesn't seem to care for the bear growl Zeke is doing.

Oh no, I think he's gonna blow...

Oh! It is okay, buddy, mommy will comfort you when she stops laughing her fool head off...

Believe it or not, this series of shots was quite repeatable. As soon as I got him calmed down, Zeke would come back over and growl and we started all over again. By the second time through I had enough sense to hand the camera to Mitch. After catching it two more times on film, my heart finally got the best of me and I made Zeke stop. (Which may come back to haunt me later). It was so cute and so funny. You can't see them yet, but Malachi has his first two teeth now--just got them this week (ouch).

I went to the Y tonight with Kristin. It was Women and Girls night with free childcare!!! We had lots of fun. We found that we are perfectly matched for raquetball--neither of us is any good. We laughed and swung and sometimes we got in a decent hit (which was usually not returned by the opponent).

Tomorrow will be a busy day. I'm looking forward to my sister Carrie flying in for a quick visit (she leaves again Tuesday am). Monday is a very special day, and I hope I get over here to post about it! If I don't, I'll have a good excuse why not. =)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Global Warming

I had to come back and post a sound off:


Global Warming is a myth!


So there. You now have my opinion on the matter. I truly hope that evangelicals will walk away from this issue and recognize it for the scam that it is. Here are some links for you:
http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=c9554887-802a-23ad-4303-68f67ebd151c

http://www.christianworldviewnetwork.com/article.php/1836/David_Noebel

http://www.christianworldviewnetwork.com/article.php/2415/David_Barton (this one is specifically for evangelicals)

http://www.christianworldviewnetwork.com/article.php/1605/Rev_Dr_David_M_Berman_ThD

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7299668110171032533

Not Slowing Down!

Well, life does not seem to be slowing down any at all here. Our heads are spinning and we're trying hard to grasp hold of our priorities. But things are going well!

I've been busy taking diaper orders when I can. I'd say I'm making somewhere around 5 diapers per week. I wish it were more like 10, but I do what I can! Malachi really needs some new diapers in size LARGE. He had a checkup last week and he weighed in at 20 lbs 10 oz! That's just barely ahead of Zeke who weighed 20 lbs 4 oz when he was 6 months old. Malachi was also really long at 28". I have to try to go find some size 12 mo sleepers for him. He's just not old enough to be in the "shirt and pants" type outfits designed for babies who are upright and moving around more often. So we don't have much here that fits him (where did Zeke's stuff go??? Ah, he was the wrong season).

Mitch likes working for Sal, and I love to hear him praying at the supper table. He asks God to bless Sal and to help him to do a good job and in turn make Sal profitable. What an excellent example for our children!!! :) (and I'm not just saying that since I know that once in a while Steph G reads my blog, lol) The hours are long, but he has had a few days that were on the short side. The busyness of our lives is starting to wear on him a little bit, so I'm desperately searching for ideas on how to calm things down at home some. He has several projects he wants to do, so it's a little overwhelming. It's easy for the "grass is greener" feelings to crop up. He says I am so much busier now with homeschooling added to our lives. Yes, I am busy, but I don't see that it limits my availability to him any--I have always been busy with one thing or another. Getting around to the "Love and Respect" issues, I pointed out that he is much more available to me (even though he is working much longer hours) than he ever was before. I admire how much he has changed--how much he is helping with the kids and around the house.

The kids are doing great in school. At the beginning of the year, reading was Caleb's least favorite subject--right next to handwriting. Now it is at the top of the list next to math (that's my boy!). Wow, does he have some great critical thinking skills in arithmetic! I'm not saying he's a math genius or anything, but it does come easy to him, and that's a good thing. His reading has grown in leaps and bounds, and it is not uncommon for me to find him on the couch actually reading a book, not just looking at the pictures. Within a couple months he will be reading chapter books (less pictures), and I am so excited for him.

Eden has made great strides in her ability to stay focused and be more responsible for independent work. While this is still an area where she really needs to work on, she has already come a long way. She has always been a daydreamer, full of imagination and creativity. I love to see her apply it to writing and drawing. She has A's in all of her subjects, but arithmetic is the hardest for her.

 Micah suffers most from boredom and from being the firstborn. Poor kid! He is very smart and very analytical. I am positive that kid was made to work in some branch of the law (lawyer, law enforcement, judge, etc). He obviously loves it. He is taken well to independent learning. So well, in fact, that it messes with my whole "need to control everything" personality. He has A's and B's in his work, and I'm struggling with my own perfectionist attitudes. (Note to self: take a deep breath. It IS ok to get a B.) As I'm working through my own life learning who I am in Christ, I am also stretching to let Christ, not me, also define Micah. Now do you see what I mean in saying "Poor kid"? It must be because he is firstborn that I put so much pressure on him!

Zeke and Josh are going through their days just happy to be here. Josh seems to be over his naughty streak. =S Or else his parents have just wisened up and become more cautious!

Christmas is a little hard for me this year. I have been wrestling with some of my own disappointments, and I'm trying to let go of that. We are working on getting the tree set up, and I'm sure that doing a little decorating will help snap me back to reality. We are surrounded with love from friends and family, and that helps so much too. It is wonderful to be here!

That's all for now...it's time to start the school day!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Winter Storms


Wow, who prayed for snow? In our 11th year here, I don't remember ever having so much snow this early in the season. Be careful how you read that--we are typically fortunate to have this much snow--it's just that I usually look for it after Christmas. Some years the ground has been bare as late as February 1st! Two storms this week have left us with a generous amount of snow cover. Note that the piles in front of our house are not drifts--we usually shovel the driveway into piles and let the kids have fun shaping them into forts and sledding hills. Papa is really looking forward to getting out his sleds (snowmobiles). I've had my own fun shoveling the driveway (who needs a workout?). Poor Mitch has to be out driving in it. :( The kids love it. So does the dog--I love to watch her run back and forth in it, her big ears flopping everywhere! :)

Friday, November 30, 2007

More Pictures

I had a wonderful birthday! Holly & Matt came to babysit, and Mitch took me to Mexican Village. They give you a free meal on your birthday there. I was soooo hungry and soooo excited to be going out to eat (my first time out to eat with Mitch since early August), that I was actually salivating as I read the menu! LOL Isn't it nice for a meal to be so exciting? I think sometimes we are too spoiled here in America. It was worth waiting for. Both of us ate way more than we should have, and there was NOTHING left over. =)

I finally have some pictures of Micah and Josh, as promised. Took them this morning! I just don't know what we are going to do with Josh. The kid has the hand of God on him, that's for sure. On Sunday we left for church, got about a mile away, and Micah pointed out that Josh wasn't buckled in his car seat. On Wednesday Mitch took the kids to the pool at the Y (except Malachi, who was with me). He got in the pool room, turned to set the towels down on the bench, and by the time he turned back around Josh had already jumped in. This is not strange--normally Josh has on a life jacket, and can jump in the water just fine. He goes completely under with no problems and the jacket bobs him back up. He is not afraid of the water and loves going under. Only this time he didn't have his vest on! Mitch immediately reached in (the lifeguard on duty must not have noticed, as she didn't move) and pulled Josh back out. It is so funny to hear Mitch describe how Josh looked...thankfully no rescue breathing necessary (especially since it had only been 5 days since Mitch had practiced the Heimlich). Then last night while we were gone, Josh decided to take the baby gate out and ski down the stairs with it--he was leaning against the gate (we took our permanently installed one down when we were selling the house) and it gave way. Oh man! I will talk with Mitch about getting the permanent one back up this weekend. Yeah, now we've got our hands really full!!



No worse for the wear, in spite of nearly choking, drowning, and breaking his neck.





For the record, it is 68 degrees in my house. WHY IN THE WORLD Micah think he needs to wear his winter jacket to the table is beyond me!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Some Pictures

I thought it would be fun to post some pictures. Josh and Micah didn't really have any "good" ones, so maybe I'll try again to catch them on film, lol.


Zeke and Caleb all dressed up for church. (Same day both Micah and Eden managed to get out of here in jeans...=P)



Malachi, my really BIG boy, is looking an awful lot like his mom at 6 months with that cute button nose.



Eden enjoying some valuable "girl time" with Megan Bondy. =)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

We have had a very full two weeks, including a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration. I'm looking forward to getting back to "normal" on Monday. Last weekend we added a furry person to our family. Her name is Lady and we adopted her from the Humane Society on a recommendation from Mitch's sister Holly. She is a coon hound who was surrendered because her owners wanted to hunt with her and she was too scared (a coon hound afraid of 'coons!). It turns out that we couldn't have asked for a better dog. Micah came to Mitch a couple days after we got her and said, "Remember dad when I was 6, you promised me that when I was 10 we could get a dog, and we did!" Wow, the blessing of keeping your word (and the reminder of why Jesus said in Matthew 5 not to make vows)! We are working on some potty training issues, but other than that she is about as perfect as they come. My only regret is that it is an inconvenience to our friends who have allergies.


We had a great Thanksgiving. The Bondy's came to visit on Tuesday--just for the afternoon/evening. It was great as always to see them. On Thursday we enjoyed dinner at Paul and Marilyn's (Mitch's dad and stepmom). It was just us and Grandma Theis. Grandma had a great time with the kids. Her memory is failing fast, but she still brightened at the sight of them. We got to hear her "mom voice" a couple times when she told Micah and Caleb to settle down. =) And of course there was her "grandma voice" as she cooed at the baby. Marilyn made a delicious meal. On Friday I managed to drag myself out to Joann Fabrics and bring home some fun new fabrics at fantastic deals. Friday evening we had our small group Bible study and another "feast" including turkey and ham. It was a fun evening. Mitch prepared the lesson and we all dug into our Bibles to find verses defining who we are in Christ.
Mitch is learning the new FedEx route and this will be his last week riding along with someone. Next week he will be flying solo! He is filling his head with visions of becoming a contractor (owning his own route)...so perhaps that is where life will take us next. December promises to be a very busy month, so Sal has reorganized the route to make it a little simpler (sigh of relief).

I hope to get back on track with diapers this week. My production slowed down drastically over the past two weeks. Holly is on board now and equipped to take over the cutting out of diapers for me. I let her start out with her sister Mindy's diapers--good training, huh? =) "It's just family." LOL She did an excellent job, and I only hope that she continues to improve her efficiency so that it doesn't take too much of her time. I am anxious to see if the business grows over the next few weeks (especially if I can get my tush into the sewing room and put together everything she cuts out).

I will turn 29 (again) this week. I am enjoying celebrating my "golden birthday" for the rest of my life. =) I tried to get Mitch to call a sitter so we can go out, but he hasn't yet. I guess we need to procrastinate a bit more...

We about lost Josh last night. He went to bed with Micah, and Micah looked over and noticed Josh was acting funny. He was not making any noises, just had his hand on his throat. Micah called for Mitch (I was out with the dog), and Mitch had to do the Heimlich to dislodge a small rock that had gotten stuck! He had clearly been choking, but could not breathe or cough whatsoever. By the time I got back inside, everything seemed to be back to normal except Mitch was cuddling with Josh and informed me that I had "missed the action." It was very scary for all involved. I stand in awe of our God who protected Josh and has given him to us for another day! I see Josh putting stuff in his mouth all the time, and I never say anything to him. I figure I'm fighting a losing battle. You can bet I won't be so casual from now on!

We have been rearranging our home again (with Mitch home, it was inevitable). We decided to convert a bedroom into a "family closet" to make laundry day easier. So all the kids' clothes are now in one place. It actually looks and works pretty good. I love going into their bedrooms and not finding 3 days' worth of clothes on the floor! I do not prefer to hang clothes, but I'm getting over it. Mitch and I are keeping our own clothes in our room still. As we have time, we will continue to organize the kids closets now (which are largely empty), adding shelves to store toys.

We retrieved all our boxes from storage (at a friend's house) a couple weeks ago. The first thing I did was try to find my winter/warm clothing. I was disappointed to find only two boxes--one with nightgowns and the other with maternity clothes. Nope, neither was going to do it! I finally gave up and went to Saver's and bought some used jeans (3 pair for $11!!). They are really cute too. This week I made my way about unpacking the rest of all the boxes. Many were books. We have two huge bookcases (thank you, Carrie!), and it is so nice to put the books out on them now. I felt incredible after emptying so many boxes. I stood in my office and looked around--it's beginning to look a lot more like a real office. As I did, I spied a stack of boxes that have been there since Mitch left for Texas. Feeling motivated to get it ALL organized, I tackled the stack. Lo and behold, on the bottom there were the two missing boxes of winter clothes. Dude! I could have EASILY reached them THE WHOLE TIME!!! Grrrrr... Oh well, at least my "new" jeans are cute AND cheap. =)

I have been gleaning nuggets of info from "The Week" magazine and have been dying to blog about them. One in particular I just can't resist anymore and that is what I will have to leave off with. A new study showed that people are inclined to believe rumors or gossip, even when their own eyes reveal the "truth" to them--they will continue to believe the lies. Strangely enough, the scientists who conducted the study are a bunch of evolutionists.

Hahahahahahahaha.......................... So now we know why each time they come up with some new "evidence" that did NOT support their theories, they modify the theory (instead of throwing it out like a good mathematician would) to fit the evidence. Ptttttbbbbbbbbb =P

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Lookie what I got!!


The Truck


Well, first off, here's a cool story about our new vehicle. Mitch's step-mom Marilyn spied a 12-passenger van at a small car lot almost in the middle of nowhere. She stopped in to inquire, and they had several 8-passenger vehicles. So that night she came over to watch our kids and sent Mitch and I and his dad out to check it out. We get out of the car, and the first vehicle that caught my eye was a Suburban (Mitch had previously said 'no' to this model of vehicle). This particular one was familiar to me--it has a Bush/Cheney sticker on one side of the rear and a "24" on the other. My kids have ridden to and from school many times in that vehicle, thanks to generous neighbors who live nearby and helped us out. :) I began to feel excited. Somehow the lot salesman managed to squeeze out of us our price range ($5,000 max) before we could squeeze the asking price out of him ($5,500). I couldn't help but mutter a barely audible "of course." We climbed in for a test drive as I quickly phoned home to get the home phone number from our friends. I put Mitch on the phone, and we soon discovered that they still owned the vehicle (we guessed it was a trade-in). They were good friends with the dealers and they were just selling it for them. He told us, "Take it home for a few days, drive it around and see what you think!" He also informed us that someone had talked him down to $4500, then never got back to him...but we could even pay him whatever the insurance co was giving us for our van ($3500). We talked and agreed to the $4500. The KBB value is $6600... The kids like it. It is kind of tricky to get in and out, but they are getting the hang of it. I have decided that it's not a van or a car, and 'suburban' is too many syllables, so it is "the truck." We can all fit into it (for now, hehe). I think the Bush/Cheney sticker adds to the value, but someone told me the 24 negates that. :) Hmmm....(Tara ought to laugh over that one)...sorry, I couldn't resist! The deal isn't totally finalized yet, but we are planning to meet on Tuesday to make it official.



We were out joy riding last night, just me and the kids, and I met a friend in Sam's club. She was carrying her baby in a carrier, and I commented that I need one of those for my fat baby who wants to be carried constantly lately. I like her. She uses cloth diapers too. She makes these carriers, which are a modified version of the mei tei carriers, and sells them online. We chatted for a bit, then I went on. Before I knew it, she came running up behind me--she had taken her carrier off and was rolling it up. She handed it to me and said, "Take this one and use it for a while and see what you think!" Wow, that is confidence in your product! I did not know how to put it on, and the baby was sleeping. So I asked her to show me how using Josh (he's pretty little anyways). Josh loved it, and so did I. It felt awesome, with no pulling or straining on my back, shoulders, or neck. It is so much different than the carriers that you buy in the store. But that's not the end of the story. I came home and checked out Jill's website, www.babiesbeyondborders.com, which she recently redid. If you go, take time to read the "about us" page and see how she is having these carriers made. Just this morning I was reading a story in the Crown College (where Mitch graduated from) magazine about a ministry that teaches women in other countries to sew to make money for their families. This ministry/work is saving them from a life of slavery. It is not a sweat shop. This is so cool and now my mind is racing--what if we could get in on something like this!?! Anyways...here is me with Malachi in the carrier:

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Long time, no post

I have been staying very busy here. Funny, I thought that would change when Mitch came home. =S

Homeschool is going really well, and the kids are getting done every day by 2:00 (almost). Amazing!

I have been trying to squeeze in at least 2 hours a day at "work" on diapers. It's great how a little activity keeps my business really hopping.

I caught a cold somewhere, and my voice took a turn in the wrong direction. :( So no choir for me yet. I can't wait until I can get back there...I'm tempted to just go sit and listen. I have a seen a speech therapist twice now, and she's given me some great tools to use to relax and strengthen my vocal cords.

The weather is really turning cold here now. Mitch went with his dad tonight to retrieve the rest of our stuff that had been in storage at a friend's house. What are we going to do with all this stuff?! Now our basement and entryway are full of boxes, and we have small group here on Friday night---AAAAACCCCKKK. (I'm trying not to feel overwhelmed, but it's not working too well.) Bad news is when they went to get our stuff, they only found one box of clothes. This means my winter stuff is still m.i.a. Brrrrrrrrrr.

We have not bought new wheels yet. It's funny how I don't feel a real "urgency" to the situation. Each time we find a van that we want to look at, it sells before we even have a chance. It will come.

Mitch is really enjoying his new job with FedEx. He has been riding along with one guy for the past couple of days. He really enjoys his company and shares many funny stories with me. Next week he will be down near the cities, in Shakopee, all week for training.

I'd better zip off and get some beauty rest...my voice desperately needs it!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Update

I am too overwhelmed to begin. I'm so far behind!!! I want to blog so much, but just don't have time. =S

Well...Mitch's homecoming first. It was so fun the night he came home. He misled me to believe that he was an hour further away than he actually was. So the kids and I were hanging out, and the doorbell rang. I didn't hear it, but they answered. They came running and said, "Mom, someone rang the doorbell and left two pirate costumes and a race car!" I went upstairs to check it out (who is the generous neighbor?), and of course it was their daddy. He said, "How rude of my kids to just take the stuff and run!" LOL Of course, that's what he expected them to do. He got up and made breakfast on Sunday morning. It was sooooo nice to not have to do it all myself. We were still late to Sunday School, though. =P It has felt so strange to have him home. First off, he had this really, really LONG hair. He looked strange. In a way it felt like he had never left. I get so confused trying to put everything together. Today I shaved his head, and he looks much more like himself. But there's this huge memory gap there--yes, he was really gone.

He has really gotten the kids into shape as far as homeschooling goes. They are doing excellent for him. I can't believe it. Well, yes I can. He is a wonderful teacher, there's no doubt. The kids were all done with their work by 1 pm today!! I am hoping that I can learn some of his secrets. He has set up a discipline and rewards system. There are three basic rules: 1) I must respect authority. 2) I must respect others. 3) I must do what I am told. He made a chart with a bunch of boxes for each kid. They get a "strike" when the break a rule, and one strike equals 5 min. Next, he got a membership to the YMCA (more details to follow). The kids are like fish--they love to swim. But each strike they receive means they have to sit on the side of the pool for 5 min before they can swim. For now, this is huge motivation (obviously, since they got their work done so fast). So far it's working well.

Mitch really wanted a gym membership so that he can work on getting in shape. (Though Steph G assures me that the FedEx job will certainly be quite an exercise for him!) He wanted a family membership so we could spend time together. He also knows that exercise will help him battle depression. We researched the Y and the scholarship program. He went down and applied this week and was accepted. We are SO grateful for this--our family membership is only costing us $15/month!!!! God has met another important need for our family.

I've really got to run, but a couple more things:

The van situation is good. We have a reasonable offer from our insurance company. We are not liable for the accident, though the other ins. may try to paste us with 10% or something stupid like that. We were traveling down a 4-lane highway--Mitch in the van with 4 kids and me following in the car with 2. We were in the left-hand lane. Traffic in the right hand lane was backed up (it typically is), but our lane was mostly empty. We were headed towards a green light (but did not get to the light)--so cars way in front of us were moving, and there was no reason for us to be slowing. We were traveling under the posted speed limit. Suddenly a car darted out from behind a stop sign to make a left turn across our lane of traffic. The traffic in the lane next to her was stopped, and she did not check carefully to see how quickly we were moving. I was far enough behind Mitch to stop reasonably, and I also saw her dart. He had almost no reaction time, though, and could not avoid t-boning her even though he slammed on the brakes. She was not seriously injured, though they did have to cut her door off and transported her to the hospital. I didn't even think. I threw my car into park and bolted for the van to start unloading kids. People jumped out of their cars and came to help. Many were reassuring--I could hear one on the phone with 911 describing the scene. Another said to me, "someone's already on the way!" They helped me carry kids, and I stuffed them all into the back seat of the car. They were crying, but ok. Josh bit his tongue and it was bleeding a small bit. Since this happened on the way home from church, there was a church family who saw the accident and stopped to assist us. We called a couple other families who were still at church and they came too to help us get everyone home. Mitch was even able to drive the van home. The insurance co says it is a total loss--yay--and we have been looking at vans all week. We know that God will provide the right vehicle for us. Maybe it will even be something a little larger. It has all been a big hassle, but we are so thankful for God's protection. I am amazed that it was not me who was driving the van (normally it would have been), and so thankful that Micah was not sitting up front as he had been doing all the weeks that Mitch was gone.

Eden is a "new woman" in her words. Daddy's coming home gift to her was letting her get her ears pierced. =) (I love how she's got a grip on her Daddy's hand--this is the girl who screamed through a flu shot recently!)





Malachi had his first rice cereal recently. While he did really well as far as being able to eat it, I don't think his tummy has tolerated it well. I am not sure if it's related, but he always seems to do a bit of back-arching and screaming later after eating. =S I haven't had time to do much research. But he's still really cute....


Sunday, October 28, 2007

He's Home!

I'm so glad my hubby is home!!! =) =) =)

I want to blog all about it later (and post pictures), but right now I'm gonna go hug him again. It feels sooooooo nice!!! =)

His homecoming has not been without incident. Today on the way home from church a driver pulled out in front of Mitch (making a left turn across our lane of traffic), who was driving the van with the 4 youngest kids inside. I was following behind with Micah and Eden in the car. He could not avoid hitting her, with a force that very likely has totaled the van. Our family is ok! We thank God for His protection. It could have been a much, much different story.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

On the Road Again!

Where has the week gone? At times it has crept so slowly, yet I have been so busy that I couldn't possibly get enough done (much less blogging).

Mitch did not tell his class that he was leaving until Thursday afternoon. He was met with mixed reactions, the worst of which came from his two hardest students. One simply put his head onto his desk and sobbed. :( One of the two didn't even come to school on Friday. :( :( The students said things like: "Now we will get a mean teacher!" or "I finally had a good teacher." or "You are the 3rd teacher to leave me in the middle of the school year." The hardest for him was the blank stare he received from his "favorite" student (yeah, I know you're not supposed to have favorites). The hardest for me was the fact that he never took a single picture of any of them. Arrrggghhh! In fact, he didn't take any pictures while he was down there!

He had to pay over $250 to ship some stuff home because it won't all fit in his car. I hope it's worth it. =P He is so packed in tight that he cannot even lay his seat back. I called him right at midnight to check in and he was stopping at a rest stop. He had no idea if he could get in a nap, though! He has a lot of miles to go, but he is already north of Dallas. He should be home by tomorrow night. I can't wait to watch the kids' reactions. I just can't wait period!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Almost done!

Wow, it's almost over! Mitch says he is glad for the morning to come so he can get through with this last week of school. He has not told his class yet. :( My kids are simply beaming and telling everyone. I can't tell you how much better I feel knowing the end is in sight.

But then, I never want to forget the feelings that I have experienced the past few weeks. The up and down roller coaster of emotions. I hope that doesn't sound strange. I fear that when Mitch comes back we will settle into our new routine and after a while the novelty will wear off. We will get back to that point where we take each other for granted. I know it is inevitable, but perhaps writing it down to recall once in a while will be good. Even though it is painful.

I want to remember the way he held me tight as we fell asleep together the night before he left. How he caught his breath in a cry when we hugged goodbye. How I walked into our empty house (well, it seemed empty without him there) afterwards. How I buried my face into the few shirts he had not taken with him just so I could "smell" him again, and sobbed as I did laundry. How I paced the floor at midnight and cried out to God to make it all be over--NOW! Or the times when I broke down and cried even when the kids were watching. Oh the tears! There were so many times that I just knew the cell phone was going to short out because it was getting wet. He only wrote me one letter while he was gone, and he didn't have any aftershave to scent it up any, but I read it and reread it and smelled it and even slept with it under my pillow! It seems wrong even now to sleep on his side of the bed or to park my van even a smidgen over the middle of the driveway--because I never know when he might show up.

I try to imagine the joy we will feel when he is home. How exciting it will be to feel his arms around us, to hear his voice for REAL, loud and clear. (And how fun to hold him down and shave his head--trust me, we've seen him on webcam and he can sure use a cut)

(small quiet voice) I have some fear and apprehension too. It's hard to go there, but I have talked about it with him at length.

Well, whatever happens, I am excited to move ahead!

On another note, Malachi tried out rice cereal for the first time today. He did awesome. Eden fed him while I took pictures and videoed. He was grabbing the spoon and getting her all messy. =) I realized this weekend that I haven't given him any reflux meds for about 2 weeks now and he's been doing fine. So I guess that's that. He is still spitting up a lot, but doesn't seem to be any fussier without it. He has been rolling over from his back to his tummy. I felt sure that he was too fat to lift that body over, but he's doing it. It's so cute. Now he sleeps on his tummy sometimes. I think he's a bit happier that he's a little more mobile now. He is learning to sit up and can hold his balance for a few seconds on his own. The thing that impresses me is he doesn't seem to slump forward as much any more. He holds his back straighter, and if he startles he's more likely to go backwards or sideways than forwards. I usually say "why do they have to get big so fast?" but in his case I'm a little relieved. Because he's so BIG weight-wise, I'm glad to not have to carry him so much (though I still do quite a bit of carrying). Eden has been helping me out with him a bit more lately, and I've been liking that. I wish I had given her and Micah more responsibility from the start with him. They could have been changing diapers all this time, too. Guess it's time to train my babysitters! =)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Leave it at the Door

In an effort to deal with Micah's behavior, I grabbed my copy of "Creative Correction" by Lisa Welchel and came across this idea. She suggested when a child says something that hurts another sibling, send them outside to hammer a nail in the fence post. Do this for about a week, and then the next week send them out each time to remove a nail. After so long, you may make the point that when we say something hurtful, we may not see the wound, but it does leave a wound. And even though we may apologize, the damage is done and the "scar" will remain. Well, we only have a chain link fence, so I had to compromise with boards to be found in the garage. I didn't bother to take time to look for decent nails, so the kids ended up with bendable galvanized nails. But the effort was there. It hasn't exactly turned out like I thought. I figured it would be fun at first but grow old quickly. It hasn't. In fact, the kids beg to have a break to go hammer some nails, lol. So I can't make Lisa's analogy, but we are making one of our own. Yesterday I stepped outside onto the porch where the kids had been "working." I had previously been oblivious to the mess they were making. You could barely find a place to stand among all the boards and bent nails!! What is so cool is it represents a place where they can beat out their frustrations (when they are not having fun). So I thought, yeah, we want this to be a safe house, so when you come to our house, please "leave it at the door." Get rid of your anger and frustration out there, and be peaceful in here.

So they are working out a little frustration, getting exercise, and possibly even getting some experience hammering nails...though Papa (Mitch's dad) doubts that since we are using the bad nails. =) A collaboration of ideas led to the making of a cross, though Eden tries to claim full ownership. Caleb brought me a board that had about 20 nails in it and he wanted to tell me what each one was for as if each was a gear on a dashboard. I had to wave him off on that one, lol. Eden smashed her knuckle on her left hand and didn't even cry...Micah told her too bad it was not her writing hand so that she could get out of writing. (Which tells you that his critical thinking wasn't working so well or he would have realized most people use their writing hand to hold the hammer). E's knuckle had a nice purple bruise when she showed me. Mostly I just get a kick out of looking at the piles of bent nails among the boards, contrasted with all the dead box elder bugs (yuck). I'm probably letting them use the wrong boards (hopefully Mitch doesn't have some project planned), but oh well! Here are some pictures...


Good Country Boy (or girl) Sense

(Don't let this post distract you from reading the more important post just below. This one is more of my typical sound off babbling.)

So I loved the class I attended last night. Russ has written a book and we started taking it apart bit by bit. I am finally really getting a grasp on why I didn't get a grasp on Einstein's theory of special relativity when I was in school (where I had arguably more time and focus to spend trying to understand such things). As Russ says, it defies "good country boy sense." I am eating it up now! The main topic of the class is establishing a case for geocentricity, but also for debunking the big bang and other evolutionary topics. "Geocentricity" in plain sense is the earth at the center of the universe, motionless (ie: not even rotating on its axis), and the universe revolving around the earth. "Heliocentricity" is what Copernicus tried to prove--which is the sun is the center of the universe (or at least the center of our solar system). There are some other popular viewpoints, of which one is that any object in the universe can be the center therefore there is no center of the universe. In fact, the data that we have collected supports all of these viewpoints and NONE CAN BE PROVEN. Ha--thought you learned in school that Copernicus finally "enlightened" all of us with the "correct" model of the universe, huh? Nope. It cannot be proven any more than the earth is the center of the universe. The Michelson-Morely experiment attempted to establish a proof about light, yet the results caused all sorts of problems--the data suggested that the earth was not in motion (which M&M had assumed it was). This caused panic in the physics world, and enter the savior, Albert Einstein. Einstein's theory of special relativity goes ahead and assumes that everything is in motion (which cannot be proven, I mentioned) and from there he makes 9 postulates. It's all a bunch of nonesense. I love it! With Russ explaining things to us, it all made so much more sense than it ever had (too bad it wasn't for a real grade). We also got quite a bit of trivia about Einstein's personal life, and this "savior" left much much much to be desired.

A sigh of satisfaction...ahhhhhhhh. I don't feel stupid now for sitting there looking at my physics professor in college thinking that special relativity was bogus. It is! I was such a good girl and tried to give the right answers. After all, Einstein was really smart, right? And if we want to be smart, we should at least pretend to understand him right? Because we certainly don't want to argue or disagree with him. Ha! What a bunch of manure! =) (I feel a little vindicated...thanks for listening).

Monday, October 15, 2007

Mitch is coming home!

Mitch put in his resignation and it was accepted by the district. His last day is the 26th. Sal and Steph G have offered him a job driving a FedEx truck, and he has accepted.

deep breath...


But the battle is not over. I am thrilled and relieved beyond measure to have him heading home. In fact, every inch of my house reflects this (translation: it's a mess). Yet in my desire to have everything in perfect, reliable, predictable order, I am biting my fingernails and praying everything will fall into place. (God, can I really trust You?). Mitch is in the midst of a struggle too. He admits to feeling defeated and like a failure for "giving up." He most certainly is not, but knowing that doesn't take the immediate feeling away. He also feels like he is betraying his students. (Yes, in spite of everything, he loves them. Isn't that something?). So on one hand I am rejoicing, and on the other we are mellow.

The reaction from the kids has been funny. Micah was in the midst of being disciplined, and he decided that dad was a "big ole meanie" and didn't want him to come home. Yet for all that fussing he did, on Sunday he dressed up in his suit and slicked his hair down with some gel. Kristin overheard him say that he dressed up so people would notice and talk to him and then he could tell him that his daddy was coming home. LOL Caleb had a "serious" conversation with Mitch. He was very calm, as if talking to a close friend. He said matter of factly, "Dad I don't want you to quit your job and come home. [pause] I want you to stay at that job so you can make more money. [pause] I want to move to Texas so I can be a cowboy." LOL again! Poor Mitch was so deflated at this one. I said, now Mitch, let's think about this from Caleb's point of view. This whole 'Texas' thing began months ago. It began with talking to the kids about it, and they said, "We don't want to move to Texas," and "Why do we have to move to Texas?" And our answer was so dad can make more money, etc. He had finally accepted this reality and here we go changing it on him all over again. He just needs to know what's up. He too was soon shouting it from the rooftops that daddy is coming home. Zeke understands that daddy is coming home, but that is no more clear than we are moving to Texas. In fact, I don't know how long it will be before he really understands that we won't be moving. Neither he nor Josh have any real concept of time yet, so I guess it will be pretty much when Mitch walks in the door that they realize what we mean.

Anyways, instead of talking about what's supposed to happen, I guess I'll just have to post as it does happen. Mitch talked with Sal today and I guess he'll be doing paperwork on Monday the 29th, here in St. Cloud. They had talked about Mitch trying to get it done while still in Houston. Instead it turned out to be much more complicated than that. Mitch is lamenting that he now owns a few more things than he did when he left for Texas. When he left here, his car was crammed full, so how does he expect to get it all back? We'll see.

Tonight I had the joy and privilege of leaving ALL SIX of my children in the care of our friends the Mickelsens. They actually got Malachi (after much persuasion) to take a bottle. I was completely in another world under the teaching of retired SCSU professor Russ Arndts. I love tickling the deep recesses of my brain every now and then just to make sure I can still think! =) I'm sure God will have a place in heaven for all that part of me too. Hehe.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

No Big News

That's good, right? =S

Mitch spoke with his administrator today and seemed encouraged. According to her, he may resign from his contract with as little as a two-week notice. Now, that said, I am not sure I trust that there are no other implications...but it all seems really good. She offered him a week off to come home, or even a longer leave (1 month or more). She said she would hire him again if he changed his mind and wanted to come back.

Micah is having some pretty wild emotions right now. I'm not sure what I should do with him. One minute he hates me and the next he is friendly again. He knows all the "right" answers, but certainly doesn't display them in action. He bullies his younger siblings, even hitting them when they don't "obey." He hits in retaliation or in anger as well. Before you get all really bent out of shape, though, these are not usually very forceful blows (unless by accident)...it's how they could easily grow that worries me. I think he is still too young (10 years) to be hitting puberty kind of attitudes. Also, I know he gets depressed about things. I am hoping that Mitch's return will be a remedy.  When he is out of our house, he displays excellent manners (for the most part) and self control. When he is home, he tends to let down his guard more and act like a weird animal. (And you wonder why you have dreams about giving birth to animals during pregnancy!!!) Maybe it's all just normal pre-teen stuff. I guess I've never really been here before, especially since I'm a GIRL. Come on, God, why did you give me all these boys??? =)

I will post more details when I feel comfortable doing so. I am quite a bit gun-shy with the way plans keep changing. (Especially since I don't have a crystal ball, lol).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Deep Thinking

Wow, I have been completely unable to gather my thoughts. I have been really doing some deep thinking, and it's fun, but it sure doesn't make good blog material. Mostly I'm still chewing at the fat of that Craig Barnes book. That is mingled with a little of the kids' worldview training, then some of that big atheist-christian debate, and some really good conversations I've been having with Mitch. Mostly it all boils down to how God is trying to reach and teach me.

I'm going to try to find a sitter for the next two Monday nights, preferrably someone who can come to my house and put kids to bed. I've been invited to be a part of a discussion of a book on apologetics called "Geocentricity, Relativity, and the Big Bang." It was written by a retired Chemistry professor from our church, Russ Arndst. I am very excited about the subject, and it would be fun to clear my befuddled mind and think about something else for a while!

Malachi went to the doctor today. He weighed a healthy 18 lbs 7 oz!! I don't remember his length off the top of my head, but he was 97% for length and for height. It was great to see my doctor again. She told me if I can find time I need to see a speech therapist for my voice and she wrote out a referral. While I was there, I read a poem I had seen on the wall before. It really stuck. I had to come home and look it up on the internet. (of course) It has been inaccurately attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, as stated on this site. It is actually not a poem, but it is a passage written in prose. Here is the poem/prose/passage with the real author (and I've probably killed it by hitting the 'enter' button so much):

What is Success?
by Bessie A. Stanley
To laugh often and love much;
to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children;
to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty;
to find the best in others;
to give of one’s self;
to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation;
to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Sorry I have not posted in a few days. There is just not much to say, and then there is too much to say. We have been doing a LOT of talking and praying. I am pretty sure Mitch is going to quit his job and come home. He should be finding out this week about the possibility of a new job here...so we'll see. The kids don't know anything yet.

I had a good weekend. The kids were, by a small surprise, all metered out to various places on Friday night. =) But I didn't enjoy a relaxing evening alone. Instead Kristin came over and we nearly killed ourselves staying up until 4 a.m. Would someone please remind me that I'm not 17??? I want to plan this next time and have a couple of our other friends over and just have a big 'ole slumber party. I'm thinking...November, anyone?

I got to go to Joann Fabrics without all the kids! I have not been back since the last disastrous attempt when Zeke was doing laps around the aisles and Caleb was asking the clerk if she was married yet (because she was getting kinda old...he said). It was much easier to shop, let me tell you. And our favorite clerk asked where her little married buddy was. ;-)


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Random Thoughts

I spent a little time updating my Pampered Cheeks website today. If you would like to see Malachi's diaper stash (and his cute round legs), here ya go: http://www.pamperedcheeks.com/malachi_jude_4_months.htm

I am still jazzed about the selling spree that is going on over there. It's about now that I start to get a little panicky. I think about crazy what ifs such as "what if all my diapers fall apart?" Utter humiliation would follow, of course! But they're not going to fall apart. They have been well tested. Still...the irrational fear of failure is there. I'm looking at 3 white packages sitting beside the computer that will get labeled and mailed tomorrow, and it just amazes me. People want my diapers. I'm even further obsessed. I'll sit and do google searches to see if people talk about me. LOL. Yes, they do. Mostly it's good, too. =) So where do I go from here? My paypal account sure is looking healthy. I need a plan. I've been running a couple around in my mind, but since I threw out my crystal ball (hahaha), I am not sure what is next.

We enjoyed a gorgeous walk out at St. John's University Arboretum today. The temperature was in the 70s and the sun was shining. Micah and Eden both enjoyed recalling facts from school field trips out there. Paul (Mitch's dad) was our tour guide today.

I bought a huge bag of cheap candy at Sam's club yesterday. This morning I stuffed a bunch of pieces into my pockets. As the kids worked diligently, I rewarded them with pieces of candy, but did not allow them to eat it. There were times when I took back pieces of candy (being naughty, for example). At the end of the day I decided I had had more cooperation from them than normal...all for 4 or 5 small pieces of candy which they enjoyed after supper. That was a pretty good deal, I think. Mitch is not allowed to use this kind of reward in his classroom for two reasons: the poverty level and health concerns. I think that is good too.

We listened to most of the big Atheist-Christian debate last night on the radio. Micah understood some of it. I let out a loud whoop at the end when the Atheist declared he was not really an atheist. He said, "We cannot know for sure that there is no God." Well, my friend, if you do not know for sure there is no God, then that makes you an agnostic, not an atheist. Of course, there really is no such thing as an atheist, but that's another long explanation!


Oh yeah, here is a great pic from our walk...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Throwing away my crystal ball...

Well, if I had one I would ditch it. I am giving up on trying to predict the future. (At least until I forget again).

For example, a friend stopped by today and took all my kids on a walk to the park. It looked like rain, but she was ok with that and they went. She asked if I wanted her to take Malachi along. I declined. She asked if he would take a nap for me. "No" I said, "He just woke up from a really long nap." Yeah...I swept the floor, got the diapers out of the drier, and he had managed to fall asleep on the floor. No fussing. Just a peaceful drift off to sleep. Hahaha. Make a monkey out of your mom!

But with this whole life change/move to Texas/selling the house thing, I am totally done trying to guess where the road ahead is going. People ask me questions all the time that I am perfectly incapable and unqualified to answer, yet I try. For example, "So, do you think Mitch will come back?" Or "What are you going to do?" Or "How long do you think it will take?" Or "Will he get a different job?"

Let it be official: I don't know.

I thought for sure we'd be in Texas by now one way or another. Will he come home? I have no idea, but depending on the day or the time of day, sometimes the answer is "yes" and sometimes it is "no definitely not." The point is, I try to make judgements about the future based on our emotional experiences, and it's not going well. Let's hope that the decisions that we do make are not based on emotional responses, but are made according to what we feel God is saying to us. Pray that they are!

Demand exceeds Production

Alright...somebody must think this is funny. Update the previous numbers to include 3 more diapers. 5 diapers in 2 days and all I have produced is 3 diapers. Ummmm....Kristin....can you come back to help??? (LOL...she's actually on her way over) At this rate I will be out of inventory soon. Ahhhh, I love it, it's almost as good as a nice cold bubbling Pepsi! =)

Pampered Cheeks

Wow! Sales have really been up at my store. I decided that I would take a couple of custom orders. Got those done...made a couple diapers to stock in my store...that was all fun. Then I decided that maybe I could find time at the end of each day to sew just ONE pocket diaper. After all, it doesn't take much time and something is better than nothing. I shouldn't have said that out loud, I guess. In 24 hours I got 4 requests for custom orders. Not to mention that of the 3 diapers I made in 2 days (Kristin helped, so I exceeded my production plans, lol), 2 of the 3 diapers have sold already! I know it's a really small business, but when demand exceeds production, I will be in trouble. Heh--whoever is leaking the word that I'm back on the job....thanks. I love all the attention! =)

Yesterday was a better day. Not because the kids were better kids or anything had changed. I just managed a little better. I think Mitch did ok too. And trust me, his class was just the same as always. There is no explanation for the renewed strength but it must have come from God. So the glory and thanks be to Him!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Poem I Wrote

I had a tough day. It began with an early morning call from my baby boy, and escalated when the two older boys were fighting over who was going to make oatmeal. It culminated with me yelling and finally making a last minute decision to skip church. Which subsequently led Zeke to cry the rest of the day because we missed church. I was exhausted. I thought about dragging the kids through the rain into the van, then out of the van into church, then into each of their classrooms, then in exhaustion to settle into my own room...only to be interrupted halfway through to feed the baby...then again halfway through the service...and then wrestle with all of them while trying to enjoy a potluck and answer a dozen questions about how Mitch is doing. I was also angry. Yeah, the kids had some part to do with it. But mostly it's just a combination of everything. A person can only take so much, you know? I cried in the shower. I cried into my pillow. I cried while I nursed the baby. I cried while I begged the kids to do what they were told. I cried on the couch. I cried on the deck. I cried to more than one friend who called to see why I wasn't at church. I stared at the computer and cried. While I cried on the phone to a no-doubt frustrated Mitch, Mitch replied, "I don't know what you want from me. You don't like any of the solutions I have to offer." Humph. Since I am not a quick thinker, I just sat there silently until he decided he needed to go. I then composed the following poem. I know a poem won't magically make things all better. It may not ease his frustration or give him insight. But I hope it does. It's probably a little too pink (if you know Emerson Eggerichs, you know what that means). I tried, anyways! I don't know why I'm sharing it--it is kinda personal--but whether my transparency will help you to know how to pray or if it may be some kind of aid in your own family...for what it's worth, here it is.

What I Really Want from You

I don’t want a solution
Just a shoulder
I want you to sympathize with me
To understand
This is hard for me
I want to know you would save me if you could
I know you can’t
But would you if you could?

I want you to validate the job that I am doing
Not take it away from me
I want you to tell me
That you don’t know how I do it
That you admire me
That there is no better woman to care for your kids

I need to know
That you believe in me
Trust me
See how strong I am
Even though I am weak

I need you to pray for me
And remind me that I can trust God
I need to hear it from YOU
Not just from a book

I need to know that you miss me
That you want to hold me
Run your fingers through my hair
Or even rub my sore neck for me

I want you to make the most of this time
To find yourself again
To dream
To pursue a dream
Not just get by

DREAM!
Desire
Passion
Set a goal
Pursue it
Change the world
Or risk failure

But please don’t make excuses
That hurt me
And disable you

Because if you are not hopeful,
Then what do we have to look forward to?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Half a Person

I just remembered that this is one of the blogs that got lost in the dark recesses of my mind. =) It is so hard to go places that Mitch and I always went together (like church) or to talk to people who are used to seeing us/being with us together. I always feel like "half a person." I miss him so much.

Yesterday was ok. We have to work on getting our work done independently. Micah and Eden that is. So I'm coming up with a grading system to be able to keep track of their independent work that isn't really graded. We got caught up on the lessons that had been left unfinished...hopefully I'll see some improvement. If I weren't so distracted, I could probably do this a little better!! =) We took a walk. There are lots of fields around here with wild grasses growing in them. We found some thistles that had bunches of different butterflies and moths. Since Micah just finished a science unit on insects, we were quite enthralled. Of course, butterflies are beautiful all on their own...but we had fun trying to identify each.

I watched "The Ultimate Gift" last night. It was incredible. I found myself totally caught up in the story. Well done!! It made me miss Mitch even more, though. Really, I'm glad that I have these feelings for him. Not glad for the circumstances, but reassured that the desire for him is there.

Friday, September 28, 2007

"Momsense"

A gold mine here by Anita Renfroe!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

God doesn't need me

We had an interesting conversation in Bible class today. We were talking about polytheism (yes, at the grade 1 level!). There is only one true God. This put in my mind the song by Phillips Craig and Dean, "You Are God Alone." The first stanza says, "You are not a god created by human hands, You are not a god dependent on any mortal man, You are not a god in need of anything we can give, and by Your plan, that's just the way it is. You are God alone from before time began..." I pulled up the youtube video of the song and played it for the kiddos. In order to take Micah and Eden a little bit deeper (beyond the grade 1 level, you know), I pointed out the line that essentially states God doesn't need us. At that point, Micah was being belligerent and distracting. It is so frustrating. So I look at Micah and I say to him, "Micah, God doesn't need you to listen to me, God doesn't need you to obey, and God doesn't need you to learn about Him." That got his attention! I went on to say that God did not need to create us nor save us nor use us. BUT God loves us. He wants us to have a relationship with Him. Not because He's lonely. Not because He needs us. But because He wants us. And we can please Him. Now, not to ignore what Eden was doing here in all of this. She was a little taken aback. This was a blow and I think she felt sad. I can sympathize. I sure hadn't really thought about it before. But it is easy to get into a mode where I think that God needs me. Once I humbly admit that He doesn't, I can finally get into a place where I understand what my role is.

Craig Barnes says, "Our mission of service to God can never, never begin by thinking we have something to offer...We begin with the confession that whether we're a success or an outcast, we need mercy. Otherwise what we call Christian mission will actually be a disguise for remaining powerful...If we want to convert the world around us into a more holy place, we have to begin by allowing ourselves to be converted into lepers. Then we can join the voices of those who cry for mercy...(Luke 17:14)...If the first lesson on mission is to turn toward our suffering, the second is to then turn back to Jesus Christ in thanksgiving. All Christian mission is about gratitude for what Jesus has done in our own lives." One key premise to his book is that conversion is not a one-time event. It is on-going. Christ is using the events in our lives to reach us for Himself constantly. It is losing our lives so that we may gain a new life, and abundantly. And he guarantees it will not be the life we expected.

At another part of the book, he describes the journey the Hebrew people made from Egypt to the Promised Land, and all the rabbit-trailing they did "betwixt and between." He likened it to marriage and also to the Christian walk. He says, "The challenge to people of faith is to learn how to follow. Central to that task is giving up the expectation of knowing where we are going. Jesus delivered his most severe warnings on the cost of discipleship after he had already set his face toward Jerusalem...'Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.' One of the most frustrating things about Jesus is that He just won't settle down. He is constantly moving us away from the places where we would prefer to stay, like Galilee, and moving us closer to Jerusalem, where we do not want to go...We journey between the security of the pseudo-life we abandoned and the uncertainty of life waiting for us in Jerusalem. Along the way the gospel starts to change our lives...Sometimes we get to a place in life that feels so right...Well, we had best take a picture, because the chances are great that Jesus will invite us to experience more abandonment. That's because Jesus will not settle for our watered-down dreams that accept life the way it is. He keeps pushing us toward a promise that we cannot yet see...salvation will become clear there. That's how it changes our lives."



Knowing that restores the mystery and wonder to this long, difficult, unpredictable valley in my life.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Who Did It?

Alright. Someone with 8 kids looked at my house on Monday. So which one of my cyber friends came to visit? =) There aren't many people out there with 8 kids. They said our house was too small. Go figure! Well, I agree--if I had the money and 8 kids or more, I would certainly rather have a bigger kitchen and dining room. That's the biggest drawback to our house. It's perfect for a family with 4 or 5 kids. Or some teenagers.

By the way, here's the latest pic of "the Spitter." I think he looks the most like Zeke. Nice and round and fat. :) Today he was doing a lot of standing on my lap. His fat little thighs have dimples in them. :) He loves to chew on his fingers and subsequently on his blanket. He doesn't really suck on his thumb, but he does get it into his mouth. Hmmmm....




Mitch needs prayer for his class. This is not an academic issue or even a behavior issue. More of a "reason for" the behaviors. He uncovered some baaaaad stuff today. I'm sick to my stomach, and his head is reeling. Talk about despair. If he could come home tonight, I know he would be hugging Micah tight.
I finished the Craig Barnes book. I'd probably share some insights, but I just popped in a LOTR dvd. I decided that I need to "escape" for a while. Gonna go listen to the wisdom of the hobbits. :)

Monday, September 24, 2007

8 x 0 = 24

Well, one of Mitch's kids gave a similar answer on a speed drill recently. It may not have been 24, but it was something equally absurd. It wasn't just that problem, but it was ALL of the problems. Out of 40, he only got 1 right. They were all basic multiplication facts. These are 4th graders. :( I think he said something like only 6 kids in his class had their homework done for today. One parent asked if her child could make it up. Why the need to make it up? Why not just do it in the first place?

Mitch had another frustrating day. So did I, and I can't even blame it on the kids or the weather. I am just so stuck. Worry and doubt chase me endlessly. The only relief is to take it one step, one chunk at a time. That book I'm reading by Craig Barnes, "When God Interrupts," is helping a lot.

We had a showing this morning, and got a call this evening to do one on Wednesday afternoon. When we got home after this morning's showing, the kids come unglued. They must have just been dying to mess the house up! It did get away from me once I let my guard down. =S

My hope remains in the Lord. He sustains me and gives me strength. I may not like it for right now, but I am glad that He is molding and shaping me! The cool thing is, I know He's working on Mitch too.

Well...short post tonight...I stink like baby puke (Malachi sure is a spitter) and I can hear my bed calling me from here! :)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

More Activity

I'm going for a record. My house, show ready, for 4 days in a row! We had a showing yesterday (Friday) am of course, then an open house today and another one tomorrow. Today there was a message on my phone to do a showing on Monday am. For clarification--a showing is where someone who really wants to see our house and is interested in purchasing it schedules a private visit with their realtor/agent. An open house is where a realtor/agent from our realty comes by and has the house open for a couple hours and anyone who wants to can stop by. It may be someone interested in buying the house, a nosy neighbor, people who have nothing better to do, you get the idea. The showings are exciting for me. I agree to the open houses because it helps me keep the house clean, and in general I know about the open houses before I have any idea there will be a showing.

We had a huge blessing today. I left the house with the 3 younger kids, while Paul and Marilyn took the older 3 to the apple orchard. It was warm, so I rolled down the windows. It didn't take me long to realize the button broke to the passenger side window. It was stuck going "down" and so would not come back up. Not good. I called Mitch and asked him what to do. He said to take it somewhere and get it fixed. Duh. So I drove over to Steph and Sal's shop (Fifth Gear) to see if Sal's dad would be in. Lucky Duck--both Sal and Jose were there! Sal took it apart for me and we got a new part and got it all back together. I am so grateful. God definitely worked out the timing of that whole deal.

Every day is difficult to keep going. But what other choice do we have? I never imagined it would be 6 weeks and counting...at least every day brings us one step closer. I keep praying for God to sell the house. I always follow that with a prayer that asks Him to give us what we need, and not what we want. It is still so hard. Mitch had a better but hard day on Friday. He was really tough on the kids. He started off the day by saying "We're going to get back to the basics." No one was allowed to speak about anything at all without raising their hands. Anyone who gets their conduct card full will be sent to the back of the classroom to stand and will not be allowed to work (receiving a zero for the day). I follow that logic--if your misconduct is so disruptive, then you will not be allowed to participate with the class. If you want to participate, then you will follow the rules. If you do not follow the rules, I will not allow you to step on the rights of others who do wish to participate in class. Sounds a lot like the Declaration of Independence, huh? At the end of the day one of his soft-spoken students indicated how much she enjoyed class that day under the new rules. :) Mitch doesn't like being such a big meany. At least he did it without yelling. He told the kids, "If you continue to perform poorly, you will fail the class, and you will return to fourth grade next year." He challenged them that he means what he says and he will endure by saying, "I have bills to pay and I'm not going anywhere." So let's get to work! He has a couple of writing projects that he is going to do with them coming up. He says he wants to get to know the students more and have a launch point for conversations. One of the projects is sort of like the "what do you want to be when you grow up" paper, only with a little more detail. He wants to take that and then use it to impress upon students the need to do well in school to do well in life. He is trying to find a way to light some fires and restart their desires to learn.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Mitch's class

I had a fun phone call today from Mitch. I was confused at first, but then he quickly explained. He had arranged a special lunch for the students in his class whose conduct cards merited a reward: they got to eat outside with him. Somehow this special "picnic" was made fun by calling Minnesota via Mitch's cell phone. They all said "hi" to me, and I talked with my best northern accent. =)

Too bad he didn't know someone more funny to call! LOL. It sounded like he was having a good lunch with them. I can tell that he is trying to come up with his own incentives that are at levels that will be reachable for all students. A discipline system that is based solely on positive reinforcement will not deter all bad behavior, but it may spark a desire to learn in a higher percentage of his students. I just had to post this nugget, so that it doesn't sound like there is nothing good about his job. He did sound happy.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sound Off

I am sooo tired, but can't go to bed without a small rant.

Mitch got the standardized test scores back for his class yesterday. They have the scores, but they also put on there the percentile ranking for each student in each subject area, as compares with the rest of the students taking that test across the nation. It was devastating to hear. Many of his kids ranked in less than 10% in multiple subject areas. I heard him say many times 1% or 2% even. Can you imagine? His class is made up of students that perform worse than 99% of students in the United States in certain areas!

Well, you know how I feel about statistics. (If not, refresh your memory here.) In this case, however, I feel that the numbers are deadening. It is heartbreaking. He read me a lab report that a student wrote. (By the way, he rarely, if ever, shares any names with me.) There was not a single coherent thought in the report. Zero complete sentences. The spelling was horrible (he spelled the words for me) and there were not even any phrases that I could understand. It was gibberish. The saddest part: it was not even an ESL student. :(

Now, this next part is my interpretation from what Mitch told me. I really don't want you to assume that this is exactly how it happened. It is poor journalism at best, and is truly a highly-opinionated "sound off."

To top matters off, Mitch was paid a visit by his assistant principal today. He had just given the class instructions to sharpen their pencils, take out their books, and get ready for class. He turned his back to assist the select students who would be giving the morning announcements (each class takes a turn giving announcements for a week), and in walked to the principal to see the pandemonium that was breaking out behind Mitch's back. It was all in a very short time frame. She criticized Mitch for not providing structure for his class. She spent over an hour and a half today "instructing" Mitch how to manage his classroom. Never mind that he has been a teacher for 7 years!!! And an excellent one at that! She told him how he needed to keep these kids "under his thumb" and that he sometimes needed to "be in their face" telling them what to do. I asked if he even had a chance to defend himself (as my own emotional temperature was rising). He said yes, but was met with plenty of sugar-coated talk, like "well, you need to get a hobby and relax at least twice a week after school." What?!? Even worse, she is going to be stopping by to provide more advice and assistance over the next two weeks. Duh. Here was the real clincher...Mitch began mentioning specific student names and behavior issues. The principal was like "He (or she) is in your class?" "Oh, him too?" "You have an inclusion class?" "Wow. They are feeding off each other." It was like she came in and attacked him, accusing him of some fault, and she really didn't even understand what was going on in there. He had kids fighting today and one kid even kicked him. They carry "conduct cards" and this is supposed to be some sort of incentive. The kids get marks on their cards and if they have marks, then they are not able to participate in privileged clubs such as "the principal's club." Or something like that. This is an ineffective and outdated method of discipline. Positive reinforcement is obviously not the answer for this class of students. They have so many marks on their cards that it doesn't even matter to them any more. Yet his boss's advice was to really drum up the clubs. Right. He mentioned the workbooks to her (or lack of workbooks) and she advised him to copy what he needs. Illegal copies. She says that the school district doesn't get enough money and can't supply all they need. (rolling my eyes). This is ridiculous!!! Can you tell I am angry for him? He mentioned that he will not yell at the students, get in their faces, or anything like that. He said that the children have become desensitized to this form of "management" and it is not beneficial. She responded, "Well, I suppose there are some who use those methods, but there are others who are soft spoken and handle their classes well." Mitch supposes there are maybe 2. I suppose that those teachers have "gifted and talented" students and that no one in this district is ready to accept blame for the problems that are going on.

On the flip side, I recognize many of my own faults here. I would not fare much better than any other teacher in this school. At home, with my amazing kids, I am sometimes reduced to yelling as a form of "classroom management." Mitch overheard me criticizing Micah for something he did to Eden. I said to Micah, "That makes twice you have done that. I said to stop." Mitch asked me, "So what's the consequence?" Fair question. I said I didn't have one. I supposed I could take the item away, but that would lead to more yelling from Micah who would tell me just how mean and unloving I am, etc etc. This is just one example, and the big issue is the questioning of my authority and how I dole out consequences. So Mitch says we will have some things to work on when we get back together. =) How I can't wait for that day!! I asked him if he would even have anything left at the end of the day to give to us. If he would be able to come home after dealing with the same stuff (only on a much larger scale) at school all day. He said he thinks it will be a relief in some ways. I hope so!

In other news, my house is clean again. That can only mean one thing: a showing. Yay! We have a showing scheduled for tomorrow morning (Friday). We are also having TWO open houses this weekend on Saturday and on Sunday. I'm not sure what all the hullabaloo is about, but I'll take it! Let's get a move on!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Not Alone

Mitch is not alone. I happened across this commentary by a teacher who tried to teach in a similar situation and quit. In case the link becomes "dead", his name is Matt Roberts, and the story was aired by npr.org.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=13992378

There are two commentaries on there that you can hear by clicking "listen." The one at the top is him explaining why he quit. The one under a picture with his family is him before he quit, while he still has a little hope.

In case you can't get the link to work, and you don't want to look through archives to find it, here is a paraphrase of the story: Matt and his family (wife and 2 kids) were from New Orleans and they decided to return there to teach after Katrina. He had been a teacher for 7 years. He was eventually overwhelmed at the inability to even teach the high school English class he was employed to teach. The discipline system for these kids was ineffective. The kids who had no desire to learn so that they made learning impossible for those who do want to learn. He said that he was no longer angry at the kids for not wanting to learn, not angry at the parents for not teaching their kids right from wrong, and not angry at the administration for not doing their part to follow through with discipline. He said he was "just plain angry." And tired of excuses.

It is sad how he describes his feelings and he sounds so much like Mitch when I talk to him. :*(

Monday, September 17, 2007

Activity?

We have had an exciting past few days as far as the "real estate market" goes. Last Tuesday I got a call from the realtor. He only wanted to schedule an open house for this weekend, but for a brief moment there I was dreading the thought that he wanted to schedule a showing for that day. My house was a wreck! I was relieved, and we planned the open house. Hahaha--not even 10 min later I got a call from his secretary saying that an agent wanted to show our house--in LESS than an HOUR. Yikes!! Not wanting to turn anyone away, I made a desperate attempt to clean the house as quickly as possible and scoot the kids out the door. It certainly wasn't perfect, but it was not terrible. It was definitely a miracle! When we got home after that showing I was a little deflated because the house appeared that no one had come in, and there was no card left from the agent. Our realtor says that he has not heard back from him yet.

On Saturday we had a fun day with lots of people stopping by. A friend brought her two kids over to play and we were all just hanging out. Around 4:30 there was a friendly knock on the door and the person just came on in (of course, that is typical for our house--knock and come in any time you stop by!). Imagine my surprise to see a stranger in the entry way! He asked if we were still doing the open house, and my eyes got very wide. I tried to explain that the open house was on Sunday, and he was obviously embarrassed. I invited him to come on in and look at the house anyways, and I apologized for the mess. (In spite of what I would LIKE to do to keep the house clean all the time, it is truely impossible to really do so). Wouldn't you know it, the kids chose this moment to have a screaming, crying fight over whose turn it was on the xbox. My turn to be embarrassed. The guests were very excited about the deck and about the basement, and I really tried to stay out of their way and give them as much privacy to look as possible (if that is possible with 8 kids in the house--did I mention Malachi woke up at that precise moment and decided he needed to eat as well?). The best thing I could do was encourage them to come back on Sunday during the open house to get a cleaner, and certainly quieter, look. They told me several times (english is their second language), "very nice house." :)

On Sunday my house was properly cleaned and left quietly for the open house. Another guy was filling in for my realtors, someone I did not know, so I left him a short list of things he may not know ("there is a laundry chute in the hallway closet, don't fall in," etc.). He left a note back saying that a couple of groups had come through the house and he had even called his wife to come over to see our "beautiful house." I can't imagine that they wanted to see my decorating (as if there is any), so that made me feel good that we did a good job on construction. :)

Sunday night I thought I was out of the woods so I messed up my sewing room really good again (I did sew some covers for someone online on Saturday--yay!) and made a skirt for Eden and a diaper for Malachi (piggy is growing out of his size small Growing Cheekies). This morning (Monday) started off terribly with a fight over who is really in charge and if a certain child in our family doesn't have to learn if he doesn't want to (ahem...won't mention any names...but he is apparently taking the whole "man of the house" thing much more seriously than he should). In the middle of dealing with this crisis--and thankfully Mitch was needed terribly and available to speak on the phone with said "man of the house"--we got a call from the realtor's secretary setting up another showing for today at 6 pm. So my house is clean again! This time there were definitely people in the house for the showing and they left a card. :)

Mitch is really struggling to hang on there in Texas. I don't care about being polite anymore. I am going to tell it like I've heard it from him. The way they are teaching these kids absolutely sucks. All they care about is test scores. They do not follow a curriculum that makes any sense whatsoever and they do not use their textbooks like they should. Mitch was given a sketch of lessons that he is supposed to teach each day (mind you, with no curriculum, he has to find all that himself) and the order does not even make sense! He is required to keep on track with all the other classes, so he cannot reteach a lesson if the kids did not grasp the concepts. He has an "inclusion" class and has 4 "officially" special-ed students. Two of these 4 scored among the highest on the last math test, so clearly there are some "unofficial" students in his class as well. He gets help for these students for 1 hour 1 day every two weeks. Otherwise, he's on his own with them. One girl was trying to do story problems, but she does not speak English and he had to translate for her (he does NOT know Spanish) because they do not offer translation after 3rd grade. Never mind that Arithmetic concepts should be taught in a certain order and built upon, no, he has to follow the same STUPID schedule that everyone else does. Who cares that his students are unable to learn at that pace! He is "not allowed" to give a failing score to anyone who is labeled "special ed" even if their score is failing. What is the deal here??? He does not have enough workbooks for his students, and he was told that he had to just copy the extra pages he needs. Every single page in the book has a copyright on it and says DO NOT DUPLICATE. Ohhhhhhh....but the school CAN afford to buy cool high tech new equipment like ELMO's and SMART Boards. The teachers all yell at the kids. That is how they CONTROL them. Mitch hates yelling, and this is a tough blow to him. But the kids respond to that and it appears to work. This is NOT ok. Is anyone out there who is listening? Doing something because it appears to work does not mean it is ok. The first week of school the administration sent home letters telling the parents that they needed to sign the forms to OPT OUT OF corporal punishment. Are you kidding me? This is a public school? Yes, the kids themselves are tough. They come from incredibly bad backgrounds. That makes them hard to deal with. But the district is not helpful in turning them around. Not all the kids are bad. Mitch trades with another teacher and takes her "gifted and talented" class to teach them math, science and history. This teacher, who has been there for 7 years, cannot believe the class that Mitch has. So, yeah, let's take all the "bad" kids, and put them together and then give them to the "new guy from up north" and then tie his hands so that he will completely fail but we won't have to deal with any of them. Mitch said tonight (and I hope he doesn't get mad at me for publishing this), "What they are doing to these kids borders on child abuse."

There it's out...that's what's really been going on. I know there are two (or more) sides to every story, but there are some dirty rotten nasty things going on in this district. A lot of bureaucracy and red tape that is not in the best interest of the students. Did I mention that Mitch got YELLED at for showing up the second day of school with no tie? Never mind that no one pointed out the dress code to him in the 3 days of new-teacher training he was required to attend that no one told him about. Yeah, you would think they could have pared down the 3-hours of "how to make a bulletin board" to maybe only 2.5 hours so they could go over "need to know" items. Because teachers fresh out of college haven't spent enough time doing cutesy bulletin boards. Ugh. It makes me sick. Sorry for the rant, but I want this to CHANGE! I want someone who can do SOMETHING to know about what they are doing to these children. It is maddening to hear how they make the children sit on dots on the gym floor with no talking and nothing to do for up to 50 min before school starts. It is maddening to think that the students get NO recess, and that they only have 2 phy-ed days per week. It is maddening to think that the only forms of discipline are to yell at the students or to take their phy-ed away. And maybe if someone gets MAD enough then something could actually change there! Think about it: would you put your child in a public school like that?

Pray for him especially. He is looking for a new job to be completely honest. Maybe this is why our house has not sold. But now with all the recent activity I am starting to get really worried that we will get an offer. Then we will be really confused on what we are supposed to do and where we are supposed to go. I can't imagine funding TWO moves across country.

Pray for the eldest kiddo here too. He obviously needs something I can't give him. :(