Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Where I've been hiding

What? You didn't miss me?? Well, I have been hiding. Behind the pages of a well-loved story. Currently I find myself stuck with Frodo and Sam on the stairs of Cirith Ungol in The Two Towers, but I finished reading The Fellowship of the Ring over the weekend. This is my third or fourth time through the series. I don't know why I love them so much and find it easy to devour them in such a short period of time. This is even a borrowed set...I'm thinking I should replace the set with a new one to the lender. :)
I haven't been feeling the greatest. Somehow curling up on the couch and losing myself in the familiar pages helps me to forget.

One day shortly after I had taken my prenatal vitamins I felt my stomach lurch. Mitch was in the kitchen with me and a gate was up to keep babies out. I knew I wasn't going to make it out of the kitchen. I grabbed an animal cracker and choked it down as I willed my body not to give in to the nausea. I jumped the gate, and darted for the bathroom. Yet another gate and a child-proof door knob cover stood in my way. I managed to lose the animal cracker but not the vitamins. Upon returning to the kitchen I got to hear a stunned Caleb ask his daddy, "Why does Mommy keep taking the vitamins if they make her sick?" It was a funny question and Mitch didn't really know how to answer. I said, "because my fingernails look so good now!" And they do...see? Even my Dad would be proud. :)

Still no Pepsi for me, and my red water bottle is my best friend. It's always best with ice in it. Choking down lukewarm water is just no fun. If only the bottle were blue...now that would be something!

The secret is safe so far. I'm not showing yet. At least not until I put on yoga pants and let my tummy muscles relax! Ha!

Tonight we went to see Mitch's Grandma who lives in the assisted living facilities near here. It was a pleasure to bring all the kids in there and receive the smiles of all the residents. We brought Grandma a bag of homemade chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. We asked her if she wanted to share. She was emphatic--NO. :) When we left she said "I can't promise I'll remember all your names." I said, "That's ok--just don't forget there are cookies!" She asked us what she owed us for the cookies. Mitch said a hug is all. I said after all the cookies and caramel rolls she's given us over the years we are quite indebited.


After a brief and gracious "Indian Summer", Minnesota seems to have finally realized autumn is here. The weather has turned cooler and it has been raining a lot more. Our lawn is giving out one more burst of green and the grass is growing tall and thick. The days are noticeably shorter. Minnesota is so generous with it's long summer days. On July 4th it's barely dark enough for fireworks by 10 pm. We pay for it in December though! Already it's pretty dark out by 7:30 pm, earlier if the sky is overcast.

Oh yeah, I also wanted to brag that I am the queen of writing blog posts in my head and never getting them on the computer. Yep. Interesting and funny ones, too. You'd better keep reading. I might actually post a couple of them one of these days!

It's time for me to go catch up with Frodo and Sam. Micah will be joining us tonight. He loves to read along and then watch that part on the movies. I like the movies less and less each time I read the books. But it can't be helped. No cinema could really do it justice. Watching the movies did give me a starting point to understand the language and get some of the characters straight. It is a beautiful story.

But there is a real story that is much more beautiful...found in the Bible.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My New Life

Wow, it's been a busy September! I thought I would give a summary of our new schedule and how it's all working out.

Mitch was officially home full time on September 1st. That was our first day of school. Labor day is one of our paid days off in our daycare policy, so we didn't have daycare that day. We dove right in with daycare on September 2nd, adding a few kids to the point that we have 4 here full time and 1 school-ager just in the mornings. Next month we'll add 2 more. It doesn't sound so bad, does it?

Mitch's day sometimes begins at 3:30 am. One family *sometimes* drops off that early. We usually know the night beforehand and a phone call at 3:30 wakes him up to let him know they are 5 min away. So far they always go back to sleep easily. His day begins again at 6 am when the next family arrives. This family has a 7-week old little boy and a 5-year old little girl. The little girl was here years ago when she was only about a year old. She's a beautiful little girl with LOTS of spirit. Ahem. She moves all the time. On the bright side, her parents say they love having her here--we apparently wear her out. I can see that. :) She typically falls back asleep and needs to be woken for breakfast at 8 (doesn't always go over so well). The baby usually fusses through the morning until about 8 when he dozes off for a morning nap.

I roll out of bed around 7 am, just in time to meet my favorite not-quite-2-year old little girl at the door. She is SO sweet. I love her and I love her mom. Super cute with big blue eyes and straight blonde hair. And if the 3:30 am family did not arrive at the unnatural hour, they will be in by 7:40 am. Everyone goes straight to the table for breakfast, which Mitch and one kid makes. I made a menu for the entire month of September, and that's posted on the wall. We participate in the Child & Adult Care Food Program, so each of our meals has to include certain components from each of the food groups, and we are subject to unannounced home visits at any time to make sure we are in compliance. In return, we are reimbursed a portion of our food costs. It's a fantastic program! What burns my cookies is that daycare children under this program eat BETTER and MORE than kids in the public school do!

By the time breakfast is done and cleaned up, Mitch takes the kids to the basement for a while to play and read books. They also listen to music and play games together. They're not there for long when it's time to come back upstairs for snack. While they're down there I try to get odd-ball things done like paperwork, bills, etc. Usually the baby wakes up during this time and I have to feed him (which can sometimes take upwards of 1/2 hour). After snack they head outside for play time. This gives me another 1/2 hour of "free time" before I need to start making lunch. I usually have a kid helper for that. Kids come back in for lunch and that takes us up to 1 pm. As we are cleaning up from lunch we have kids settle down for quiet time. Everyone younger than Zeke takes a nap (hopefully that includes the baby). Zeke & 5 yo read books quietly until I am ready to start preschool with them. We spend about 1-1.5 hours in the afternoon on preschool activities. I'm very impressed with how fast Zeke is picking it up! :) I knew he was ready for school.

We have another snack at 3 pm, and right after that kids start leaving (well, one left at 1 pm). Everyone is gone by 3:45. How did we manage to work that one out? All throughout the day our older kids are working on school work. They do as much as they can on their own. During some times we are able to do lessons with them. For example, when they are downstairs playing, or sometimes they will go outside with Mitch and the kids to do a lesson. While I'm doing preschool with Zeke and 5 yo, they also cram in some lessons. We're not real good at this part yet, though. We keep coming up short. By 4 pm, we usually have books all over the place and are working hard with the kids to play catch up. Micah is a very good self worker (like his Momma). He works hard and gets his work done. He is having some issues with honesty though. So we have to keep checking ("inspect what you expect" is something my good friend Laura K says). Caleb is good too. He needs a list to check off so he doesn't forget anything, but otherwise he is driven to get his work done. He's easily motivated. Eden on the other hand is very flighty and spacey. She would rather get up for drinks of water then need to make several bathroom trips, singing and dancing all the way. Not forgetting to stop and check the mirror a few times. (Maybe like her Momma a little too? Ouch. LOL). She needs lots of motivation and encouragement and is really stretching her Daddy's teaching abilities!

One or the other of us makes supper with a kid's help sometime around 6 or 7 pm, we eat, clean up, do dessert, and head to bed fairly late--around 8:30 or 9 pm.

Notice that in this very full schedule there is no time for me to actually go sew. I'll get to that in a minute.

Mitch is still working outside the home some. He works at the group home every other weekend. He pulls two long days to total up about 24 hours. He does enjoy working with his boys!

This is not a well-oiled tight ship. But we're getting there. It's MUCH easier with two people here all the time. In fact, I have NO idea how in the world I ever did daycare largely on my own before. I had Josh and another little boy, both about the same age, from the time Josh was 2 weeks old, plus toddlers and preschoolers all day. Crazy. In my new life, the dishes are done after each meal and the counter and table are clean between meals (except for the occasional schoolwork going on there). Toys stay pretty well cleaned up between times. The floor gets vacuumed somewhat regularly, and Mitch swears he swept the kitchen floor 3 times today alone!

Things that are not going so well:
Laundry (I don't like my family closet and having to hang the laundry as much as other people seem to like theirs. Mine is always a mess with clothes and hangers on the floor. I used to be so good at laundry!! )
Attitudes (It's hard to be together 24/7. Me and Mitch. Me and the kids. Mitch and the kids. Etc.)
Schoolwork (the kids get behind often. I thought this was true last year too--I seem to be able to handle 2 kids, but not 3. I guess it's a lot like learning to juggle, something Mitch and I both can do.)
Dividing responsibilities (we did this to some extent before we began daycare, but now we realize that our lines need to be much more clear about who is doing what)
Sewing time

OK, so I don't get any time to sew--at least not on a predictable basis--during the daycare day. When I do go sew during daylight hours I feel guilty for doing so (afterall there's laundry to catch up on, or kids that need help with schoolwork). When I go sew in the evenings after kids are in bed, then I do it while Mitch is having "down time" and I feel jealous. I also feel utterly exhausted. Walking in to my sewing room makes me feel nauseous. And that's a terrible thing!! Up to this point I haven't had a break more than a couple days here and there since March. I don't want to reach burnout. I love Pampered Cheeks and I really, really love all my customers. So I could use some prayer for strength to get through this bump in the road.

That brings me up to my last topic, which is a rather big one, and rewarding to you for making it this far! :) I have a little help feeling exhausted and nauseous and that would be because baby #7 is on the way. I am 9 weeks along today. I am aching and yearning for week 12 to come and I can feel like I'm over the hump of "awake sickness". Mitch and I are thrilled that God has blessed us with another baby. We haven't told the rest of the kids yet. For now we are enjoying winks and nods and laying very cryptic hints around. If they don't know by the time I make it to my 20-week ultrasound (which should be in early December), we'll tell them then as an early Christmas present. I think it is kind of funny to keep it a secret from them. The other day we were on our way to church and Eden says, "Mom, if you have another baby, are you going to find out what you are having or are you going to do that thing again where you don't tell us until it's born." I said to her, "Eden, if it is a boy you are going to be disappointed whether you find out at the ultrasound, or at birth!" She said, "I don't like to wait, though." And I said, "Well, maybe I won't tell you that I'm pregnant at all." She said, "Oh, I'd KNOW." Mitch and I just winked and snickered. Oh, and for the record, I will most definitely try to find out what I'm having this time. I need new diapers!! :)

I am trying to be healthier this pg. I wasn't going to be. I was just going to be business as usual. Then I thought about the kidney stones I had last time. And how not-fun pushing out a 9-lb baby was. So I decided to see if I could go one day without Pepsi. I told myself that the carbonation causes heartburn. I told myself that the after-burps are gross and make me feel sick to my stomach. So far I'm on day 5 with absolutely no Pepsi or other pop. I did it cold-turkey!! I didn't even have any when Mitch and I went out to eat on Saturday. I have been drinking about 64 oz of water every day and peeing more than I ever have in my life. I haven't even been doing lemonade. I have cut back on my sugar/candy intake too. Instead of reaching for a handful of chocolate chips, I reach for a handful of grapes. I asked the kids tonight what they think a long-term goal for me should be. It was funny to hear their responses. Finally I said, "Maybe I should just try to make it the rest of the way through today." That brought laughs and groans all around. :)

So let's hope and pray that in a couple more weeks we'll have more of the kinks in our schedule worked out, that I'll have energy returning, and that all of us will get used to the new life. The older I get the more set in my ways I become. I don't like change. Well, at least I'm less flexible that I used to be. I went to my local Joann Fabrics store recently and they were remodeling. I didn't realize that meant they would rearrange the entire store (not sure what else it could mean). I was so upset I nearly turned around and left. I had an instant headache and thought I might throw up. I guess I overreacted a little. So hopefully we'll get used to it all soon. I'm also anxious to see how our new budget will work out. I know God has a plan. But it's interesting how His plan is unfolding to say the least. From how it looks now, we will be doing just fine. About the middle of October. :)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

1st Haircut

Before:



I gave Malachi his first haircut tonight. How I did it was I started out during a cuddly time. He was happy and content snuggling on my lap, so we moved the snuggle to the bathroom. After the initial cut I realized I'd have much better luck if his fine hair was damp. So we moved to the bathroom sink. I set him on the sink with his feet dangling in the basin since I knew that would be an attraction for him. What ended up happening is I let him sit there for the remainder of the cut playing in the cold water. Yeah, we wasted a little water, but it was well worth it! He looks so much like a little boy now and not so baby-ish. And I knew that I would be cutting off his curls since they are wide, not tight like Zeke's and Josh's, so I was already prepared for that. He does seem to have a little bit of curl left in the back, but it didn't show up well in the picture. There's definitely some body there. He's so cute!

After:



Monday, September 08, 2008

I AM GOING TO SCREAM!!!

Ok, now I'm reading through Obama's quote below and I'm about to lose it. In fact, I'm showing remarkable self control (probably because Mitch is in the room). Hehe.

HE CAN'T THINK OF A NON-RELIGIOUS REASON TO BAN ABORTION?

Seriously, how about our unalienable rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"? Ohhhhh, it's all in the definition--scientifically of course--of what a person is. Grrrrrr...I AM SO ANGRY.

TELL ME, WILL YOU, WHAT LAW PASSED BY GOVERNMENT AND ENFORCED DOES NOT HAVE A MORAL RELIGIOUS BACKGROUND? TRY IT--NAME ONE!!!

Arrrgggh.

(Ok Devona, you were nagging me about not blogging, and now look--I did two yucky political posts in a row! LOL)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Induced-Labor Abortion

This is a heart-wrenching film, maybe even a little over the top. It's a good idea to watch if you are under the misconceived notion that Barak Obama is the right choice for president or that abortion should be legal (aka the woman's right to choose).



The Born Alive Infant Protection Act was passed and signed into law by President Bush on August 5, 2002.

In Illinois, when the bill was trying to be passed through the state legislature it kept coming up against a committee on which Obama was the leader. Dancing around the issue with his two-faced answers (which are STILL typical of him), Obama refused to even bring the bill to vote.

"“What we are doing here is to create one more burden on women, and I can’t support that,” Obama concluded, and voted “no” in committee again."

What?! One more burden on women??? Ummmmm...need I say more?

Oh wait, here is one more quote from Obama:
"If I am opposed to abortion for religious reasons but seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all."

If you want to read more fully, here is an article from Citizen Link Magazine by Focus on the Family: Obama Blocked Born Alive Infant Protection Act

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Daycare, Homeschool, and Josh's Birthday

While we use almost our entire house for daycare (except my sewing room, obviously), the downstairs family room is our main "play area". We have LOTS of books for the kids of all ages.

Toys are organized very neatly so they are easy to clean up and it doesn't look like a disaster area. We simplified our toy stash over the past year and now have the main basics. We have a lot of Fisher Price Little People toys--those are big hits with the preschoolers. But we also have legos, cars, balls, stuffed animals, dress up toys, dolls, a box of toy animals (the plastic variety), and so on.



Our office area is now the school room. It's not big enough as our family grows, but it works great for now...and we can certainly spread out around the house as needed, too.

Lots of books here, too--more of the "educational" or "adult" varieties.

1st day of school pictures...Micah is 11 yo and in 5th grade.

Caleb is 7.5 yo and in 2nd grade

Eden is 9 yo and in 4th grade.

Mitch is doing most of the teaching duties this year.

Zeke is almost 5 yo and in Preschool.

They are using all Abeka curriculum, even Zeke.

Josh is 3 years old now! What a spitfire! We celebrated his birthday on Monday.