Monday, January 31, 2011


With less than 11 weeks to go before the new baby arrives (according to my "guess date"), I have some goals.  I love it when the count comes down to the wire.  I love making lists.  Getting things done helps the time pass quickly and productively!


This week:
Finish up a diaper order for a local friend.  See--I do sew cloth diapers still.  :)  Only I should have finished it like last summer.  But it will be ok.  Only 6 more to go.
Get caught up on grading school work.
Remember to take vitamins every day.
Take more pictures.
Finish at least one book.

Next week:
Read the library book I have.
Get my taxes ready.
See the doctor again.  Take a list of items to discuss with her.  Ask her to check hemoglobin again to see if the dosage/type of iron I'm taking is sufficient.

The next 2 months:
Read some more books.  I posted my reading list a few weeks ago.  I haven't made a significant amount of progress on it.  In fact, I had to return one library book without cracking it open because someone else had requested it.  Man!  I'm hung up on John Piper's Desiring God.  It's really good, but it requires a certain amount of concentration.  I had hoped to devour it, unfortunately I'm reading painfully slow.  It doesn't help that my iPod touch competes for reading time when I sit down to relax.  ::blush::

Sew some more diapers.  For my little man.  He can't really wear Tirzah's pink ones now can he??  I sold Malachi's.  So it's either sew some new ones or use disposables.  Ok, he *could* wear the pink ones and I could just make some boyish covers, but I'm not going to do that.  And who would want to with all these piles of adorable fabrics here???  I think this boy is going to get some newborn fitteds and covers, one-size pockets, and possibly some small and medium fitteds and covers.  I hope to get the rest of the family in on this project.  I normally don't let them "help" me, but maybe they will be interested???

Do some scrapbooking.  All of my children except Malachi and Tirzah have a baby book that goes from birth to 1 year.  I would LOVE to get Malachi and Tirzah's done.  In an ideal world I would also do 2006-2010 family albums since the last one I completed was in 2005.  I have all the supplies I need.  I just need to make the time.  But I can only do one thing at a time--I can't do both scrapbooking and sewing.  So...  Which one to do first?  Probably the diapers, because that will save us money in the long run.

Finish the baby blanket I'm crocheting and possibly make another one because we're not loving the colors of this one.  It turned out really dark and I would like something a little more "baby blue".  ::sigh::  I would compromise with making a smaller blanket next.  I won't complain about needing to shop for yarn, though!  :)

Wrap up the school year nice and tight for Micah, Eden, and Caleb.  We will still do some special units after the baby is born, but as far as their traditional curriculum goes, they will be "done" by the end of March.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

And the Winner Is...


Thank you to everyone who participated in the Life Application Study Bible giveaway. I'm especially grateful that you shared your resolutions with me.  I'm so excited that you have peeked into my corner of the blogging world to see a glimpse of what's going on in our crazy lives.  I think this giveaway stuff could get very addictive...

Friday, January 28, 2011


A counselor encouraged me recently to take a minimum of 15 min each day to intentionally focus only on positives in my day.  She suggested this would be a great time to share with Mitch.  I have to admit that at first it seemed difficult.  Maybe I was having a bad day.  But should it be difficult to think about positives?

I am reading John Piper's Desiring God.  I'm only on page 49, so I'm not very far in.  So far the book has been entirely about giving God praise.  Piper quotes C. S. Lewis:
"I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation."
Ah!  That is a fantastic morsel to chew on!!  Just like these:

A gift from Mitch at Christmas time.  I meant to blog about this earlier this month and it completely slipped my mind ("As slippery as your mind is...").  The iPod was great, but this is the gift that brought tears to my eyes.  He knows me.  He went to a local candy store in the mall--the kind that is all fancy with lots of glass jar display cases that make kids and adults alike just drool.  He bought 3 flavors of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans that he knew I would like:  buttered popcorn, caramel popcorn, and piƱa colada. 

Giving praise completes the enjoyment.  Sure I forgot to blog about it, but I definitely did not withhold my joy and praise from Mitch. 

Why do we withhold from our Maker?  Remember today to give praise to your Creator for His wonderful gifts!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

28 Weeks Pregnant

Somebody super-sized me!!  :)

I am officially in the 3rd trimester.  It's the final stretch.  Unfortunately, it's just as long as the first stretch, which was long.  Still, when I post every two weeks like this, it seems like the weeks are zipping by, doesn't it??  Before I know it he will be here and be growing all too fast.  :)

I was reading one of those pregnancy tracker things (they are a dime a dozen on the internet these longer any need for the "What to Expect" books!) and it said that baby is most active between 24 to 28 weeks.  WOW has that ever been true!  I read another one recently that said to expect a larger weight gain around 28 weeks.  Let's hope that one is NOT true.  I already had my "growth spurt" and I'm done with that stuff.  :)  At 24 weeks I was already up 30 lbs.  At 27.5 weeks I had thankfully only gained an additional 3.5 lbs.  I'd like to keep it between 1/2 and 1 pound per week from here on out.  That will still leave me weighing more than I ever have in my life.  And boy do I feel it! 

{We are considering purchasing a used}

Since I have been using My Fitness Pal, I have been able to see where my diet is much more out of balance than I ever cared to admit.  I am WAY over in refined sugars and that really just bugs me.  I continue to struggle with a craving and desire to consume whatever, whenever I want.  Someone kindly told me yesterday, "You look good, though."  I appreciate that comment and it does help my self esteem.  However my reply was, "That's a part of the problem--I look good, I feel ok, so I have less guilt when I reach for a candy bar.  I think that it will be ok if I have it."  And it IS ok to have a candy bar or a piece of cake or a cup of ice cream...but in moderation...and I have not been moderating myself as well this pregnancy as I have at other times in my life.  Why the change?  I don't know, but I am fighting to wrestle it back down to something much more appropriate.

I have been able to increase my water intake.  But I really should cut out fluids after 6 pm.  Last night I went potty when I brushed my teeth around 9:30, then again at 10:30, then again at 11 pm, then again at 12ish, and one MORE time in the middle of the night.  I was like "GOOD GRIEF KID STAY OFF MY BLADDER!!"   It was like every time I turned over he took it as a cue to stretch and kick.  They also said that the baby would be very active at bedtime.  They were right.  I'm hoping this isn't a continuing trend after birth.

I can't tell what position the baby is in on my own.  I have never been able to distinguish between body parts.  But I'm hoping and praying that he decides head-down is the most comfy spot to be in.  I am on week 4 of the Hypnobabies Home Study Course, taking it a couple weeks at a time since I started early.  I love it so far.  Mitch practiced using the "relax" cue a couple nights ago when I had some bad leg cramps.  They caught me off guard at a time when it was difficult to relax.  After unsuccessfully trying to help myself, I told Mitch to put his hand on my shoulder and tell me to relax.  Because I have been listening to the tracks that go along with this cue, instructing my sub-conscious to respond a certain way, it worked--my body instantly released the endorphins needed to release the cramping in my leg muscles.  Whew--what a relief!!

I was feeling pretty tired the past couple weeks, but this week has been better.  Perhaps it was low hemoglobin or the virus the kids had or a combination of both.  I was certainly not looking forward to the prospect of spending the next 10-12 weeks on that downward slope of fatigue.  I know it will come, but it started way too early.  I would be comatose by the time April rolled around!  Bottom line is I'm feeling a little more normal this week.  It is still hard to bend over (and will get harder).  With lots of kids, there is a lot of stuff on the floor that requires reaching to.  I try to squat more often than bend, but that takes longer.  :)  Going up the stairs once feels like I went up them five times, and that's not likely to get much better.  It goes with the territory.  I'm getting the kids to help me as much as possible--carry laundry up the stairs, clean up the floor, get things from the crawl space, etc.  Even Tirzah likes to help me switch the laundry over.  :)

Last Saturday Eden helped me get the tubs of clothing out of the crawl space and organize things.  We put away clothes that were too small or that friends have given us to save until someone is in that size.  When people call to ask me if I need something, my new mantra is "I am not turning away clothes!"  I know that other large families have different ways of dealing with this, but as long as I have space to store my tubs, I'm happy to have the clothes.  I got out my baby boy clothes too and took an inventory.  I'm hoping there's a tub missing somewhere, because I was certainly expecting to find more than I did.  On my garage sale shopping list are boys size 3-6 mo summer items.  Apparently the last 3 boys wore nothing but sleepers when they were in size 3-6 mo, because that's about all I have.  ;)  Of course, they were also that size during the fall/winter not during the summer.

Ok, I need to get moving.  It is 9:30 a.m. and Caleb has not done his breakfast dishes yet.  If Daddy were home...he would be in trouble.  I wish I were keeping up and writing every day.  I guess I have to write when the inspiration hits me!  I definitely need to take more pictures.  :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

1 year post-surgery

Well, it has been a year since I had my spleen and gallbladder removed.  If you were reading back then, then you know most of the story.  If not, you can check the archives for late December 2009 and January 2010 for details.  I had my spleen removed because I have hereditary spherocytosis.  I had been able to live with it my entire life until something finally put me into a hemolytic crisis.  My spleen began lynching red blood cells and swelled to 3 times its normal size.  The removal of these cells put my liver into overdrive and caused my bilirubin levels to rise.  It also produced a significant, round, black gall stone.  My potassium levels were dangerously low and other bloodwork numbers were off as well.  My hemoglobin dropped to 8.4.  Within weeks of surgery my hemoglobin improved dramatically.  At the doctor for my first prenatal visit, around 10 weeks pregnant/8 months post-surgery, my hemoglobin level was the highest I recall it ever being--13.9.  That was certainly something to celebrate!  I had my blood drawn again last week when I had my 1-hour glucose tolerance test to check for gestational diabetes.  The good news is I'm not diabetic--my blood sugar level was 111.  The bad news was that my hemoglobin is low again.  I was disappointed by this.  It was 10.2.  That is no better than it was at the same time during my last pregnancy.  Bummer!

But let's look at this for a minute.  Last year when my hgb levels were so low, they immediately put me on iron supplements.  It is a standard treatment.  However my iron levels were not low at that time, therefore the supplement did nothing to improve my hgb (something else dramatic was going on).  It is VERY NORMAL for pregnant women in their third trimesters to have a low hemoglobin due to low iron levels.  According to my research, the baby's demand for iron is highest at this time because it is crucial to brain development.  So I am a completely normal pregnant woman.  And I have high hopes that an iron supplement WILL help in this case.  Since I have been tracking the food that I eat (using, I can see that my diet is consistently very low in iron.  This all adds up and makes a lot sense why my numbers came back as they did.  I have also been feeling more tired and run down the past couple weeks, and this certainly helps explain it.  I have started taking an iron supplement now, and in about 6 weeks I will begin taking alfalfa supplements.  These will give my body the boost it needs and [hopefully] will make sure that I don't hemorrhage or have low hgb after the birth of our baby.  :)

The scars on my belly from the surgery (there are 6) are stretching nicely as my belly grows.  I worried that they may not stretch and instead would tug at the skin and be uncomfortable or make stretch marks, but so far so good.  The longest scar where they removed my spleen is about 2 inches long.  I'm still amazed at the whole episode and the surgery.  I catch myself thinking every now and then, "at least I won't have to do THAT again!"  What a relief to have it over and done with! 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Book Review: Coming Back Stronger

As you wait for Super Bowl Sunday, February 6, 2011, to roll around, you might want to consider picking up a copy of Coming Back Stronger: Unleashing the Hidden Power of Adversity by Drew Brees with Chris Fabry.  This memoir has made the New York Times best seller list, and it's easy to see why.

I have to admit I'm not a football fan.  I picked this book for review quite by accident.  I meant to click for more info and clicked instead to have the book shipped to me.  :)  It was a funny mistake.  I thought to myself, "Well, it will just increase my stamina."  When it arrived and I noticed for the first time Chris Fabry's name on the front, I began to be more optimistic.  Micah (my 13 year old) picked it up first and began reading it.  Before long he was reassuring me that I would enjoy the book.

If you know something of football, then you know that Drew Brees is quarterback (and you probably also know what the quarterback does) for the New Orleans Saints, who won the Super Bowl in 2010.  You may also know that in 2005 he suffered a devastating shoulder injury (his throwing shoulder) while playing for the San Diego Chargers.  This is the story of his life, with a focus on how adversity brought him to where he is today.  He is careful to give credit to our Creator and talk about how God has blessed and directed his life through it all.

If you are more like me and don't pay much attention to football, then some parts of the book may go over your head.  But not much.  I do enjoy memoirs (I didn't realize how much until I started reading).  There is something "fun" about reading and knowing that this is a real person and this really happened.  Perhaps the turning point for me when I was really sold on reading was after I had finished the prologue, which described in slow motion his 2005 injury.  I was discussing it with Mitch.  Within a few minutes, he had pulled up a youtube video of the play.  I instantly connected.  It was driven home to me how real this was, and it sucked me in to reading the rest of the book.  Micah was right, I was enjoying it!

The book flows seamlessly and is engaging.  It is a light read, and is enjoyable (maybe more enjoyable than watching the Minnesota Vikings play this year!) even to a non-football fan.  If you'd like to sink your teeth into the first chapter (including the foreword by Mark Brunell and the fantastic prologue) for free, there is a pdf provided by Tyndale House Publishers here.

Here is a video of an interview Drew did on Sports Center about the book:

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House book publishers through their blogger program.  I was not required to write a positive review, my thoughts and comments are my own.

Giveaway--Life Application Study Bible

New years bring resolutions.  Many people resolve each year to lose weight, exercise more, get a better job, pay down debt, quit smoking, save money, and so on.  Many Christians resolve to read their Bible more and may even subscribe to a reading plan.  Our church offers a church-wide Bible reading plan.  There's something that joins the body of our local church together just knowing others are reading on the same plan!

Personally, I fail miserably at New Year's Resolutions.  :)  Do most people?  Sometimes long-term change has to come from deep inside and it doesn't always come to areas where I want it to.  As I reflect on 2010, I accomplished several things that I had no idea as I set out that I would accomplish!  For one, I read a TON of books.  (Ok, not literally 2,000 pounds, but many more books than I ever imagined I would read in a year).  Joining blogging programs for various publishers has been one healthy choice I made last year.  My reading level, speed, and comprehension has increased.  It feels good to flex that part of my brain.  I didn't make any formal resolutions for 2011, but I cautiously have a few goals in mind.

Did you make a resolution to read your Bible more?  Even if you didn't, I have a wonderful resource to offer that will certainly encourage you to read!

Tyndale House Publishers has given me a certificate to give away on my blog--for free--for a Life Application Study Bible, Soft Cover, New Living Translation.  The publisher writes:
"Today's #1-selling study Bible—the Life Application Study Bible—is now available in several best-selling personal-size bindings. The Life Application Study Bible is updated and expanded with over 300 new Life Application notes, nearly 350 note revisions, 16 new personality profiles, updated charts, and a Christian Worker's Resource."

The certificate may be redeemed at your local Christian bookstore.  If no bookstore is available, you can order directly from Tyndale (instructions are on the back of the certificate).  Expires May 1, 2011.

(Bloggers who participate in Tyndale's book review program, Tyndale website employees, and their families are not eligible to redeem the certificate.)

To enter to win, leave a comment telling me your favorite New Year's Resolution or past year's accomplishment.  How do you manage to keep your resolutions even after January has faded?  I will draw names from a hat on Saturday, January 29, 2011.

The winner is Tara!  We put all the names in a basket and Caleb drew for me.  I wished I had 6 Bibles to give away because that's how many kids wanted to draw a name from the bowl.  Ahhhh...hopefully there will be more to come!

Friday, January 21, 2011

My Week in Review

I wanted to blog more this week, I really did.  I had plenty to say every day.  I have pictures and video to post.  But sometimes I'm just lazy like that.  ;)

Wednesday was an improvement over Tuesday.  Zeke still doesn't seem interested in doing the level of schoolwork I want him to do.  It's not just that.  It's also his attitude and his responses toward me.  So I will continue to work on him.  In the middle of the night Wednesday, Josh began throwing up.  He threw up several times that night, and Mitch got up every single time.  Thanks to their handy coordination, the throw-up stayed off of the bed/couch/floor and typically ended up in the bucket/toilet or something that could be cleaned easier.  Tirzah was up lots that night too, and I slept with a bucket within reach, but she never threw up.

Thursday morning Josh finally slept and stopped throwing up.  Malachi fell asleep on the couch for a morning nap...which was unusual at best.  Tirzah began having diarrhea.  We braced for impact, but it never seemed to come.  Malachi then took a second afternoon nap, making the day even more strange (if not peaceful), and he also had diarrhea.  Malachi has continued to sleep most of today, and Tirzah's diarrhea hasn't improved except to decrease in frequency.  Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast, Yogurt (the BRAT diet) has been the rule.

Our weather this week has been VERY cold.  I knew it was coming, and I am hoping it will be the coldest week of winter--as in, 'let's get this over with and begin the warm-up already.'  Thursday afternoon some schools in Southwestern Minnesota began closing early do to dangerous windchills.  That trend didn't spread Central MN--boo.

Lily the Black Bear (the same one I posted about getting separated from her cub, Hope, last spring) is reunited with Hope and they are denning together.  During a long separation, it is believed that Lily stopped lactating and went into estrus, thus was able to get pregnant (saw her with a few males).  The researchers have installed a live web cam in her den and we are waiting patiently.  She appears to have gone into labor beginning Thursday evening.  :)  To watch Lily live, go here.  The North American Bear Center has great resources for learning more about bears.  A team of teachers have been developing a curriculum for use in classrooms to educate their students with accurate facts about black bears.  I have found it all to be very amazing.  The kids love watching the web cam, even though it's sometimes very difficult to see what's going on.  Every now and then we are treated to a little more activity.

Ooooooh...I just checked the website, and a cub has been born!  How exciting!!  This is especially interesting because the litter will be mixed in age with Hope only being a yearling.  Usually a mother would not get pg until her yearling had left--so for Lily she should be having cubs a year from now.  So now we watch together to see how this all happens and works together.

Oh yeah, now back to my week.  For today I had a doctor's appointment scheduled with a 1-hour glucose tolerance test to check for gestational diabetes (I never have it, but they always insist I do it).  The doctor asks us to fast for four hours before the 1-hour GTT test.  Not all doctors do this, but ok.  So I wanted to make sure I got some breakfast and planned to get up early and let Mitch sleep in.  Tirzah planned to get up even earlier.  That was no fun!  At 5:45 a.m. the phone rang with some fun news--Royalton schools are closed today because of the temps.  So how cold was it?  -30 F.  Brrrrr.  What did the St. Cloud schools do?  Well, they had school of course!  The logic never ceases to baffle me.  With nearly every other surrounding school district having at least a 2-hour delay today, they could have at least given it a couple hours to warm up.  Mitch chose to drive the daycare kids and Kathi to school so there would be no waiting at the bus stop.  Kathi wasn't feeling well, so I picked her up just after lunch on my way home from the doctor.

My doctor appointment was good.  The GTT test was awful.  The glucola drink has 50g of sugar in 10oz of fluid.  I don't think I'll be able to drink Pepsi for a couple days.  My sugar intake for the ENTIRE DAY yesterday was only 100g, and here I downed 1/2 that in 5 min.  It is no wonder that I had a headache and felt very sluggish afterward.  Within half an hour I was nearly falling asleep waiting for my blood to be drawn.  I still feel crummy this afternoon.  Blech.  The good news is I only gained 3.6 pounds in 3.5 weeks.  Yay me!  I hope to see numbers continuing to improve like that.  No more huge weight gains, please.  I already weigh as much, if not more, than I did when I delivered other kids and I have another whole trimester to go.  She could hardly find the baby's heartbeat he was moving around so much.  It was in the 130s, but boy he was stubborn.  I really pray this is not foreshadowing.  I am thankful that Mitch ended up being home today because I was able to come home and lay down after the appointment.  I'm still feeling sluggish and have a headache, but I can manage...I'm glad it's Friday and it's almost over!

I know that a huge part of my extra weight gain this time has to do with compulsive snacking.  I have been very bad the past few months with just eating whatever and whenever and really not focusing on self-control.  It's tough to be in my position--I'm not overweight, and I have a high metabolism, and I can also blame weight gain on pregnancy.  However *I* know that there has been padding added in areas that may not come off so easily in the future.  I also know that a high-calorie, high-carb diet will also make the baby weigh more at birth.  Still knowing these things and making right choices for eating do not exactly go hand-in-hand.  I love my ipod touch and decided to see if there was an app where I could track my nutrition with the food guide pyramid.  I didn't find anything free that worked with the pyramid, but I did find what seemed to be a simple calorie counter from  It turns out that it's not "simple" but it is simple to use.  It syncs with the web, so anyone can use it on the web (no ipod required).  It has a huge food database and I rarely have to enter anything new (though I do check).  It tracks calories, carbs, fat, and protein.  These are all useful to know.  I can also look up more detailed info if I need it (such as how many grams of sugar I consumed yesterday).  I can print reports, track weight gain/loss, exercise, keep track of water intake, and more.  See?  Not "just a simple calorie counter."  Mitch asked me to track his diet also.  He likes to do the "starvation diet" and I am trying to convince him he does need to consume SOME calories...probably calories close to 2,000/day.  I don't know how long I'll stick with this.  I am not good at making long-term changes.  That desire to compulsively snack is still there.  For now, writing down what I have eaten is helping me be accountable.  It's sad how fast I get to my caloric limit each day.  :(  It really makes me wonder how far over I was going before I started recording!  Drinking that glucose drink today has not helped curb my cravings any at all.  In fact, it has made it worse.  I think if I can get through the weekend without falling off the wagon, I'll be doing better.  I'm pushing water and trying to stay balanced.  I'm not going to try cutting calories to make up for the if I'm over, that's fine...but I want to keep it as normal as if I hadn't had the drink.

In other news, I was able to snag a pair of maternity jeans at Goodwill that I recognized as an expensive name brand.  It was on New Year's Day when the clothes were all 1/2 off, so I paid $3.50 for the jeans.  I bought lots of other things that day--mostly all for the kids.  I spent $54 total.  I came home and listed the jeans on ebay.  The auction ended last weekend at $56!  I was thrilled!!!  If I could do that all the time, I would.  And believe me, I try to keep my eyes open for deals.  But it was one of those small blessings that I was able to find them and knew what I was looking at.  God is good.

Keep watching--I have a book review to post and a giveaway to do.  This weekend Mitch and Kathi will be overnight at church for YFU midyear orientation.  I remember this last year with Patrick.  It was our coldest weather/weekend then also.  Nice coincidence.  Just like last year, our temperatures are expected to climb rapidly in the next week.  We may even see some above-freezing temps before the end of January.  Imagine that--some of this snow might begin to melt!

So on that note, in honor of our German exchange students, I leave you with this very fun (and short) video. It's never too late to sharpen up your communication skills:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Quickie Update

I just called Zeke back to my sewing room at 7:35 pm and very quickly asked him some measurement questions.  He answered with absolutely no problems, in a very reasonable time frame.  What is up with that???  The boy must be ADHD.  We may have to try doing schoolwork (or at least part of it) in the evenings.  And I need to research ADHD or ADD a little more...I didn't mean that sarcastically at all...


Oh boy, if someone were to grade my performance each day, today I would have been given an "F" at lunch time and told to just go to bed and try again tomorrow.  Cause I blew it.  Big time.

(Sure wish I could go to bed for the rest of the day...but that's just not how reality works, is it?)

I tried very hard (and not so patiently) for 2 hours to do school with Zeke and Josh this morning.  I pulled out some concept cards to work on with Zeke as Josh sat working on his cursive writing page.  The very first measurement cards Zeke and I had ever done together were 12 inches = 1 foot, 3 feet = 1 yard, 36 inches = 1 yard.  Not so hard to memorize, right?  Huh.  We are *supposed* to have moved on to also know how many days in a week, months in a year, seconds in a minute, minutes in an hour, hours in a day, cups in a pint, pints in a quart, quarts in a gallon, and so on.  But today?  Still stuck on 3 feet in a yard, not 36.  I wanted to put my head through the wall.

I looked over at Josh's pitiful attempt to write a cursive "vi".  Yes, I understand this is hard to learn the connection between those two letters.  However his attempt was hardly better than Malachi's would have been.  Why is he still not getting it after months and months of practice???  I erased his work, told him to start again and moved on with Zeke.

"How many days are in a week?"  Zeke repeated the question to me slowly, wrinkled his nose, paused, then said, "What did you want to know?"  I repeat the question (maybe not so kindly), and get another non-answer.  I finally hand him a stack of cards with the days of the week on them.  I say, "Read each day, lay it down, and count them up."  First day Zeke reads, "September."  Oh you've got to be kidding me!  "S-u makes what sound, Zeke?"  No answer.  "Josh, what does S-u say?"  Josh looks at the card and says, "Su, Sunday!"  Thanks, Josh.  Zeke says, "Josh, you need to work on your own work."  Zeke proceeds with Monday thru Friday with no problems, then hangs up on Saturday.  I get "September" from him again.  I guess he really thought September should be in there somewhere.  I tell him to sound out the word.  He whines, "It's too hard!!"  We have spent weeks working on breaking down words into syllables and the phonics involved makes 'Saturday' an easy word.  Again I pass the card to Josh, assuming he can at least sound out "Sat".  Josh does with little trouble, "Sa, Sat, Sat-u, Saturday!"  Zeke rolls his eyes and grabs the card, figures out there are 7 days in a week and we move on.  I was looking for a 3-second answer to my question (How many days are in a week) and it ended up being a 10-minute ordeal.

At this rate we might finish 1st grade in a few years.  My patience was pretty much gone at this point.  Josh's letter v's have not improved.  I ask Micah to come and help him.  Micah berates him with bossy and angry words.  This is not going to work.  I excuse Micah (with some not so kind words) to do other chores.  Micah's anger spills over to the little kids--who are trying to play.  I fill Josh's page with vi's for him to just trace...forget getting him to write it on his own.  He does and moves on to 'bi' with similar disastrous results.  This is not something new we are learning to write.  The only difference is the lines are a bit smaller--but otherwise he should be able to do this so that it reasonably looks like a 'bi'.  It doesn't.  Erase, try again.

I turn to Zeke, who has started working on a worksheet.  We discuss syllables and we count out syllables for lots of different words.  He has a great handle on it.  He turns to his page, which has two words, and a box under the words.  He is supposed to read each word, and write the number of syllables in the box.  I tell him the instructions twice and he still wrinkles his nose as if he doesn't understand.  (Remember I have no patience left).  He finally figures it out and moves on.  At the bottom of the sheet are 4 pictures.  He needs to write the word that goes with each picture (king, ring, car, star).  Easy.  Or should be.  "King" he gets no problem, turns out it's part of the password he uses to log into webkinz, so of course he knows that one!  He moves on to "car".  Again, he gets it.  Well, at first he asked me and he got an angry glare, then he figured it out on his own.  He moves on to "ring" and writes "rege".  I think that was the last straw for me.

None of this was going smoothly.  Zeke and Josh were goofing off, talking, laughing, dropping/breaking pencils, moving around, etc, constantly through all of this.  (Remember 2 hours here...)  Not to mention attitude from Micah going on in the background, and still keeping an eye on 4 other little kids not doing schoolwork.  I collected  their papers, and said in exasperation, "Nevermind.  Just go play and forget about it."  I put their stuff down and stomped away to my bedroom to have a little cry.  (All while feeling guilty because the preschoolers must be adequately supervised at all times...and you can guess that this did not qualify as "adequate").  To make matters worse, they did go play.  They didn't seem to have an iota of remorse about not finishing their schoolwork.  Grrrr.

I gathered myself, talked on the phone with Kristin (vented, rather), and calmed down eventually.  Then I sat down and picked up one of my Ginger Plowman books, "Don't Make Me Count to Three!"  I was thinking possibly this would help.  Chapter 1:

"If I have to answer one more insignificant question, wipe one more runny nose, or bandage one more boo-boo today, I'm going to pull out my hair...and maybe also the hair of whoever is standing close by!"

This could be good.  But as I kept reading I ended up just feeling worse.  Hot tears filled my eyes and threatened to spill onto my cheeks again.  What can an author with only a 5 yo and 3 yo have to say to me in my situation?  I read on and Ginger says, "Moms, we need to be reminded of the awesome responsibility that God has given us.  When we respond to the high calling of motherhood with passion, the rewards are far greater than we could ever gain outside of that calling."  Pile on the guilt.  I still kept reading.  She quoted what Thomas Edison, Abe Lincoln, and George Washington had to say about their incredible mothers.  Nothing that describes me.  Go ahead and make that big letter "F" permanent, because I see it in my future from now on!

I know this is not true.  I know that I will keep reading this book, and it will have insight for me to learn from.  I know we will have better days.  That I will have more patience.  That Zeke will eventually remember there are 3 feet in a yard and 7 days in a week.  That Josh will figure out some form of written communication.  That all the problems that seem so large this morning will have a solution.  It's just sometimes so hard to see beyond here and now.  But God HAS called me to something bigger.  And no, it's not being a mom.  Being a mom is great and all, but.

[6] And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
(Philippians 1:6 ESV)
[28] And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. [29] For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. [30] And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
(Romans 8:28-30 ESV)

My sanctification.  God is working on me.  To conform me to the image of His Son.  He loves me too much to leave me as I am.  He may not be working on the areas I want him to work on, but He is working.  Today is a great day for a video like this one:

I've posted it before, but it's always a good reminder. I'm off...deep do some real talking (not yelling and complaining) to Zeke and Josh about their schoolwork. Keep praying for me!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Found on Mitch's camera card

I found some pictures and some video on Mitch's camera.

 {Kathi and Tirzah enjoying the snow}
 {Bubble bath!}
 {Mitch making an apple pie}

Caleb's Birthday Pics

Caleb had a great birthday! The lucky duck got to have a couple friends over. :)

{Chase, Josh, Chi}
{Practicing to blow them out}
{Zeke, Eva, Ben, Tirzah}
{Ben, Tirzah, Caleb}
{Steph, Caleb, Mitch}

{Holly, Tirzah, Kyle...Tirzah finally conked out!}

Missing:  Micah and Kathi are at Blizzard with the church youth group this weekend.  We sure do miss them!

Important note:  No one needed to go to the E.R. this year.  We managed to keep the box cutters away from Malachi.  :)

Friday, January 14, 2011

26 weeks pregnant

I'm gonna sneak this one in real quick on Caleb's birthday.  I meant to do it earlier this week (since I'm closer now to 27 weeks)...but oh well. 

Higher and bigger looks like the theme this week!  :)  The baby is very active and his kicks are very strong.  Mitch and some of the kids have been able to feel him moving.  I am positive he is still flipping all the time.  I am now starting to feel a little more tired.  I have a fever blister, so it could be just a passing virus.  I am also having some difficulty getting out of bed and out of the car.  I don't enjoy sitting on the couch so much because I know it is terrible for the baby's positioning.  Thankfully I have a couple very comfortable office chairs to sit in.  I love to sit on the exercise ball while I'm folding laundry.  I need to exercise some and I desperately need to improve my diet.  I am not sleeping as deeply as before and I am having lots and lots of weird pregnancy dreams.  Since I am loving the Hypnobabies program, I am strongly considering purchasing a sleep track to listen to and help me sleep.

Regarding 10 Year-Olds

I remember my 10th birthday almost better than any other birthday I had.  I remember waiting anxiously for the day when I would turn 10.  Like a preschooler who holds up fingers to show how many years old they are, I couldn't wait to be able to hold up ALL 10 fingers when someone asked me how old I was.  :)  Never mind that I was probably too old to be holding up fingers.  But do you know what it's like to hold up 9 fingers when the pinky is the one you try to leave down?  Yeah, not so easy.  (It never occurred to me to leave the thumb down, seriously.)  Holding up all 10 was going to be a breeze.  I also remember feeling like it was the last birthday that I could ask for a toy for a present.  And I asked for a baby doll.  Ten years old was also the year that Janet came into my life.  One of the best gifts God could have ever given me.

I wanted to share some pictures with you from my 10th birthday.  Click to zoom and see them better.

Today Caleb is 10 years old.  I can't believe we have similar haircuts (except mine was a little longer in back)!! Maybe that was the funniest thing about looking back at my pictures.  I added a picture of Mitch, and I am not sure how old he is but he doesn't look 10 years.  :)  But you can get the idea that Caleb is a good blend of both of us!  We all have the same nose.  :)  I swear I could have been born into Mitch's family...LOL.

You may know Caleb is our child with the HUGE imagination.  He is very funny at times and at other times he is "out to lunch".  :)  The other day he said to me, "Mom, I really like my new pillow [case] you got me, but it leaves cow licks in my hair."  LOL  Today he said, "No, not cow licks, pillow licks." 

More to come as we celebrate later...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Home School News

I thought I would like to update what the next few months of homeschooling here looks like.  I had to make some tough decisions.  Thankfully Switched-On Schoolhouse is flexible and adaptable and VERY easy to use.  That made part of my decisions easier.  I love it!

Last year we started Eden on Switched-On Schoolhouse in March.  We had the 5th grade curriculum, and she was finishing up her year of A Beka 5th grade.  So we scrapped the rest of her A Beka school work, and set her to work on the computer.  I scheduled her work across a full 180 days, but I did go through and shorten some units.  By my calculations, she was set to finish just before Christmas.  During the summer we didn't work as many weeks as I had planned, so I asked her if she wanted me to extend her school year or if she wanted me to regenerate the calendar so that she would still finish at Christmas, even though it would mean more work per day for her.  She voted for finishing at Christmas.  I planned to start her on 6th grade as soon as our holiday break was over.  Micah and Caleb started their school years later in April without quite finishing their A Beka curricula also--only they started in the next grades up, Micah in 7th and Caleb in 4th.  Their course work was also spread out over 180 days, which put them at finishing late January/early February.  The fallacy of my plan hadn't quite hit me yet.  This meant that Caleb and Micah were promoted, and essentially Eden was not.  When the new school year started after summer break, all of Eden's friends were in 6th grade, however she felt she was only in 5th grade.  :(  This was hard to hear!  I assured her that no matter what curriculum she was doing, she was technically in 6th grade.  Also, I regenerated Caleb and Micah's work to be finished later in March, so while Eden was stepping up her schedule and doing more work per day (sometimes as many as 7 assignments), the boys were sailing through with some very easy days (sometimes as little as 3 assignments).

Here's where it starts to get REALLY sticky.  I don't want them to be on these disconnected schedules any more.  I want them to be closer to the same--for my own sanity.  Micah and Caleb will now finish their school years on March 18.  This is looking like really good timing for me as I prepare for the birth of our next child.  So what do I do with Eden?  I saw a note on the SOS yahoo group that one mom has a child who likes to do one subject at a time, spending 6 weeks on that subject.  I talked about this with Eden.  Out of the 5 subjects SOS offers, the two most important are Language and Arithmetic.  We decided to give this a try--if it wasn't working after a couple days, we could modify.  Well, in three days she only completed two days' worth of assignments.  Doing 7 lessons of math per day is just too hard for anyone!  I came up with a new plan.  Each unit includes an optional "alternate test" that the parent can assign if necessary.  I went through and assigned the alternate test at the beginning of every unit.  Now Eden takes the unit test first.  I analyze the test and determine which lessons she most needs to study, delete all the others, and regenerate the subject.  Now things are getting much more reasonable.  She can finish a unit in only a day or two.  She has scored in the high 80s on almost all of the alternate tests, so I know her math is good.  Listening to her groans tells me that I have also chosen the right lessons for her to work on.  :)  We have just enough time to finish the math and then to move on and finish the language.  Determining what language lessons to do is not quite as easy as math.  Assessing the alternate test may not tell me exactly which lessons she needs to study.  Thankfully there are free placement tests online, and I plan to use those to figure out where her weaknesses are.  She should finish with these close enough to when Micah and Caleb are finishing their work.  Even if we don't do any Bible, Science, or History, I feel confident she will be able to go on to 7th grade.  If 7th grade is too hard in any of those subjects, I can always assign the 6th grade subjects in place of them.  But I know that in the core subjects she is moving forward.  She will have LOTS of reinforcement of her Science and History in the high school years.  All I need to do is make sure she has a great foundation from elementary school.

What will we do when the school year is done?  Well, I do have to get in a full 180 days.  We did lots of work over the summer, so there's not many required days left.  I have a special Earth Science curriculum from New Leaf Press called The Earth, Its Structure & Its Changes.  It looks like it is going to be perfect for our time together and I can do it with all three children at one time (even though Micah is technically 7th grade).  It just arrived yesterday and already they can't leave the student book alone--it's very attractive!  My friend Devona is toying with the idea of organizing a "science fair" with our children and also Kristin's boys.  I think this is a great idea--as long as she is doing the coaching.  :)  My kids could learn a lot through this.  I also am going to focus on writing with the kids--improving their writing skills most likely through writing weekly book reports.  And I want them to get ample time practicing typing.  They are supposed to be practicing Mavis Beacon typing every day currently, but we are slacking in discipline.  When the regular school stuff fades away, there will be plenty of time and focus to give to typing!  We will take standardized tests in late April or early May as well, but I'm not sure how I'll coordinate that this year--in the past couple years Mitch has been home to administer them.  He doesn't get a spring break this year, so it may be harder to find a good time for the tests (or I suppose he can use some of his personal days if he has them left by then).  We have been giving the Iowa Basic Standards, and it would be good to continue to track their progress.  My other option is to switch and do the Peabody, which someone else would have to administer (we would have to pay them) and it would be faster.  Finally, there will also be domestic training--lots of help around the house and with the new baby.  ::grin::

Why don't I just have Eden continue her 6th grade curriculum during this time?  Mostly because she has already worked harder and faster than Micah and Caleb.  I think it would be unfair to have her continue with a heavier course load than they have unless there were some other reason why she needed to.  This is a delicate balance--she HAS worked hard and she has gotten good grades and I don't want her "reward" to be just piling on more work while the boys get to have fun.  Now if it were Micah, it would be a different story...hahahahaha....

How about the little boys--Zeke and Josh?

They are plugging away with their current curricula and are on a more normal schedule.  I have not been strict about their lessons at all.  Instead of focusing on finishing every little worksheet and taking every single assessment, I am focusing on broader goals.  Fluent reading for Zeke and quick adding/subtracting of basic facts up to the 10s family (he will use this to add 2-digit numbers without carrying).  We are also introducing or reinforcing other basic topics such as counting money, counting by 2's 5's and 10's, reading thermometers, telling time, remembering right and left, etc.  Josh is easy.  I feel like I'm holding him back or letting him teach himself.  Seriously if I left Zeke alone and focused only on Josh, Josh would be at Zeke's level of reading and arithmetic in only a few weeks.  He is very close.  They do a lot of reading together already.  I can often set them to race when doing flashcards to encourage Zeke to be a little more focused.  We plan on plugging along even after the baby is born.  The older kids are being trained to help the little boys with their schoolwork, so they can help when I am not available. This plan will leave us weak in the area of spelling.  I am toying with the idea of choosing a completely separate spelling curriculum for ALL the kids.  But that will come later.

So that's the plan for the next few months!

My Current Reading List

Being awake in the middle of the night and unable to fall immediately back to sleep often gives the opportunity for one to think.  I know that can be a bad thing.  Last night it gave me the opportunity to think up a couple blog post topics.  I had been feeling dry the past couple days, along with not having time to write, and that combination means a dead blog.  :)  First, I would like to share that I've gone through the library buffet line and piled high my plate of books to read.  Some are for book reviews and some were just recommended.  Some may take a 'renew' to get finished.  Here are my reading goals:

Currently reading:

Coming Back Stronger by Drew Brees with Chris Fabry.  Yeah, a football book.  :)  I clicked to review this book on accident (I thought I was clicking to see more information and there was no confirm screen...oops!).  Micah read it first and promised me I would like it, even though football really doesn't interest me in the least.  I think I do enjoy memoirs, and this book has so far proven to be a light-read and a page-turner.

Up next for review:

Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist by John Piper.  An oldie that has been revised, and also one I have not managed to read yet.  I'm looking forward to cracking this one open and hope I can devour it in a couple days.

Couples Who Pray by Squire Rushnell, Louise DuArt.  We have tried with limited success to pray together as a couple throughout our 14 years of marriage.  We have never become "regulars."  I'm not holding my breath that this will change us, but the book does claim to be entertaining and says it will only take 5 minutes per day.  It could be the most important 5 minutes in our marriage, and I'm curious to hear what they have to say!

The Earth, Its Structure & Its Changes by Tom DeRosa, Carolyn Reeves.  This is an Earth Science curriculum for grades 3 through 6.  I jumped at the chance to review this curriculum, and I'll have more on why in my next blog post.  Short story is that we always skim the "geology" unit when it comes to science, because it always seems to come in the middle of the winter when there is absolutely NO opportunity to get out and explore the earth hands-on.  I have created some "space" in our school year to be able to do these more hands-on type activities and have my eyes wide open to fill the time with curricula just like this.

For personal growth:

Preparing Your Daughter for Every Woman's Battle by Shannon Ethridge.  The first half of this book is for the mother to read alone.  The second half is written so that mother and daughter read it together.  I hope to zoom through my part and get to the part where Eden and I can read together by the end of January.

Wise Words for Moms by Ginger Plowman.  This is not a book, but a pamphlet sort of like a wall calendar only not so many pages.  This is going to be a handy little tool in my future as I work hard on using scripture to correct my children.  I purchased it used on Amazon for only a couple bucks.

Heaven at Home and "Don't Make Me Count to Three" by Ginger Plowman.  I don't know if I'll manage to read these all word-for-word, but I do plan to crack them open some time in the next 3 weeks!  If they are good, then I'll buy my own copies.  The reviews are very interesting.  These books should be right along the same lines as Shepherding a Child's Heart.

For fun:

Our whole family has really "gotten into" Donita K. Paul. Lucky for us she has a few books available to read--with one series already being complete--so we don't have to wait for her to write the next one.  Books we have at home now that I want to read for fun are:
The Vanishing Sculptor
I may purchase the ones we don't already own used so that we have them in our own library at home.  Besides, if I prioritize my list above, I don't think I'll get to those last two before they need to be returned to the library.

That's it!  Oh--except I forgot a couple birthing books a friend loaned to me.  Giving Birth and Gentle Birth Choices.  I don't think either book will be a "heavy" read for me, and I have a little more time available before I need to return them.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Book Review: Slave

Most of the people reading my blog probably can tell the difference between a servant and a slave.  It's pretty simple--a servant has more options.  Servants are generally paid for their services and in most cases have some choices about whom they work for.  Slaves, on the other hand, rarely have any choices about who their masters are and are rarely paid for their work.  Why is it then, when the word slave--duolos in Greek--appears in the original New Testament text, it has been translated servant in the King James Bible (and many other English texts)?  What does this change about our viewpoint of these verses?

I just finished reading John MacArthur's new book, Slave:  The Hidden Truth About Your Identity In Christ.   In the final chapter, MacArthur sums up the entire book with one fantastic statement:  "God has expressed the riches of our salvation using the symbolism of slavery."  Reading this book plunged me into yet another "MacArthur induced" paradigm shift, just as reading The Jesus You Can't Ignore did.  :) The book explores the original Greek text, why duolos has been translated as it has, and what it really means translated properly as "slave."  MacArthur leads us on a journey to explore slavery in Rome at the time the New Testament books were being written, and how this has impacted our Christian faith throughout the centuries ever since.  It is packed with great research, quotes, and inspiring stories of saints and martyrs.

Since this is only the second book I have read by MacArthur, I feel that my perspective may be a little narrow.  However, this book (like the previous I read) seemed like it took forever to really get moving.  He very carefully built the foundation for his main point, which meant that from chapter to chapter there was some repetition and overlap.  I don't necessarily view this as a negative point, though and here is why.  For one, I am a busy person.  I would read as much as I could, but inevitably had to put the book down for interruptions (and that was especially so trying to read it over the holidays).  Having the constant repetition was extremely helpful for me to fully understand and grasp what MacArthur was teaching without committing 100% focus to the text.  Another reason why the overlap is good is that the book will lean itself well to a small group study.  Every chapter is rich with scriptural references, and there is much here to study!  In fact, I kept my iPod touch close by at all times with the ESV Bible on it so that I could look up verses that came to mind.  The quoted scripture was wonderful!  There were more than a few wonderful places in the book where I felt that same excitement well up within my soul that I get when I listen to "That's My King" by Dr. S. M. Lockridge. 

The book is not long, only 13 chapters with a preface and appendix.  One other thing I really appreciated about the layout of the book is that footnotes and references were included at the bottom of every page.  I loved being able to glance right to the bottom of the page when I hit a footnote mark.

At one point in reading the book, probably after about the third chapter, I got a feeling that the book sounded a lot like a sermon and I wondered if MacArthur had preached a sermon (or even a series) on the topic.  A quick search on the Grace To You website produced a sermon on 8/26/2010 titled Servant or Slave?.  I highly recommend listening to the sermon--it's a great introduction to the book.

Overall, this was a great book.  I recommend it for personal growth, for pastors and teachers, and for small group studies!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson book publishers through BookSneeze, their blogger program.  I was not required to write a positive review, my thoughts and comments are my own.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Book Review: Passport to the World

I had the great opportunity to review a copy of Passport to the World: Your A to Z Guided Language Tour by Craig Froman. 

To get a sneak peak for yourself, you can either visit by clicking on the link above, or go directly to a .pdf version here.

The book has a great layout and interesting format that will easily capture kids' attention.  This will not be a book that you would need to "assign" to a child to read--I'm almost certain that the child would want to pick it up and read on their own.  The layout includes a consistency of information provided from language to language that allows it to be easily adapted to lessons or any other type of use in your school or homeschool.  The consistent format allows the teacher to easily develop resources for review.  The layout engages readers' attention and keeps them turning pages.  My favorite features were the "Do You Know" section and the "Country Fast Facts" section (because I'm a numbers person).  The photography is excellent and the colors are well-chosen.  I highly recommend this for your school library, personal library, and/or homeschool.  The book also includes a "passport" and stickers in the back to be added to the passport as each language is completed.  This feature makes the book a very nice gift book to give to a child.

The book is organized by language not by country.  This could be a confusing point if you weren't prepared for it.  However the title does say "Your A to Z Guided Language Tour".  :)  The beginning of the book includes a 2-page spread with the "History of Languages" which includes the story of the Tower of Babel from Genesis 11.  Aside from this 2-page spread, I find references to religion to be historical in context and no more than you would expect in a "secular" book.  At the end of the book is a page titled "Breaking the Language Barrier."  I wish this page had been included in the free .pdf.  It is a short description of 10 different organizations where you can help and quotes James 1:27.  Some organizations listed are,,,, and

I received a complimentary copy of this book from New Leaf Publishing Group.  I was not required to write a favorable review.  My thoughts and opinions are my own.  Thank you for the opportunity to share this with you!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Another set of pictures

Welcome to booger dot com.  ;)

We actually thought up a ton of great captions for this picture.  Now I can't remember them.  Figures.  Write your own.  It's begging for some good captions!

The beloved baby.  Tirzah starts laughing and screaming "BABY!" any time she sees these pictures of herself now.

{Josh} The picture of disappointment.  Not really wanting to do school.