Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Some Christmas Pictures

Here are some pictures from our Christmas this year:




 {Our very special nativity from Germany}

 {So thankful for these cloth bags for wrapping presents!}


 {Just like her big brother!}

{Little Mommy taking care of baby Jesus...put him in, take him out...}

 {Could Eden take a picture where I *don't* look as big as the Christmas tree??? 33 weeks pregnant}

 {Christmas dinner...not my choice, but definitely theirs!! Happy Josh and Malachi}

 {Cheese balls = Mercy's new love}

 {Zeke demonstrates that his new Bible really is waterproof!}

{Playing Pit with Mitch's Aunt Debbie and Uncle Jeff}

 {Jeff is a natural...he painted Tirzah's nails!}
{We were so excited to receive packages from Patrick and Kathi in Germany...always so cool.}

 {Patrick sent lots of handmade wool socks, as well as wool sock yarn for me. So exciting! We laughed at how nearly every person's socks matched what they were wearing that day.}
{Baby's first gift!}

{Kathi sent sweet little gifts...literally...lots and lots of delicious chocolate. German chocolate is the best in the world!}

{Mercy says, "It's chocolate!"}

 {On Sunday I made a ham and we had a beautiful Christmas dinner.}

There's more to the story, but I have to fight to get computer time these days. I'm off for now. 
Wishing you a Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 22, 2014

32 Weeks Pregnant

Well, now I'm almost 33 weeks pregnant, but here are some stats from last week when I was too busy to update:

I saw the doctor on Wednesday when I was 32 weeks right on the dot:
Weight: 165.4 (4.4 lbs gained in 4 weeks, 40 lbs total so far)
Blood Pressure: 117/73 
Baby's Heart Rate: 156 (crazy girl)
Fundal height: 33.5 cm (this is an imprecise science. I *should* be measuring about 32 cm, but it can change based on baby's size, fluid levels, and even baby's position. The doctor is not concerned. But there is that "Hmmm...we might need to expect a baby sooner rather than later.")
Other: I see the doctor again at 34 weeks, then starting at 36 weeks I go every week. This always feels like things start to speed up and while the waiting in between can still feel like 4 weeks (especially at the end), I know it will never slow down from here! I scheduled all my appointments to make sure I got convenient times. I scheduled all the way to 40 weeks "just for giggles." Who knows? Maybe I'll need that appointment! I never thought I would in any pregnancy, but then I did when I was pregnant with Mercy. :)

I have quite a few things that need to get done before the baby arrives, but I feel like I need to get through Christmas first. I also know that we have a little experience, so there's not *that* much that needs to be done. Mostly I need to wash the baby clothes and organize them into the dresser, and get the carseat cleaned up and ready to go. 

And totally not baby related--this was a birthday/Christmas present for me--a couple weeks ago we got to double date with the Emersons and went to the cities for the Michael W. Smith-Amy Grant Christmas Concert. I have been a fan of Smitty and Amy since I was a little girl, so this was a dream come true. It was so much fun hanging out with our friends and I think I enjoyed the conversations most of all. There were many fun things that happened on that night!

Mercy Helps with the Laundry

A week ago I was sitting folding laundry while Mercy was eating at the table. Most of the other kids were off playing, so it was fairly quiet. As I held up a piece of her clothing to fold it, Mercy pointed and said, "Mercy's, Mercy's!" Then I grabbed the next piece from the basket. She said, "Obi's!" I grinned and said, "Yes! Good job!" This continued through the entire load that I was folding. She only got a couple wrong. She was able to identify the entire family's laundry. It was nothing short of amazing. I use dots inside the labels of tags to help me identify whose are whose--especially on the shirts that Zeke, Josh, and Malachi wear--they are so close in size it can be hard to remember what pile to put them in. Mercy nailed it! A little while later we caught a bit of it on video (until she got overwhelmed by the attention). Micah posted it to facebook. I've never tried embedding a video from facebook, but until I can get the video uploaded to youtube, I'll take the lazy route and see if this works:

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Update (Thanksgiving, Birthday, Mercy)

 I am a bad blogger. Sorry for that! I have been working on Tirzah's album of her first year of life and it has been so nice to go back and read my blog to remember all that happened that year. I know that I will regret these dry days of not much blogging! Oh well...

Mercy is cute, isn't she? She had her appointment with the pediatric gastroenterologist. The very good news is that she has gained a little more weight now. I plotted it out on a growth chart and it looks like she is on the upswing. He felt comfortable taking a wait-and-see approach. If she falls back off her curve, he will do some more tests, but for now he felt like it was ok to call it "toddler diarrhea" or better--high motility. She has not had frequent episodes of diarrhea since we switched to whole milk and increased fat in her diet.

Why were we not doing whole milk in the first place? Well because of the high incidence of childhood obesity in America, the Child and Adult Food Care Program now recommends that lower fat milk be served. For children over 2 years old, unless medically recommended by a doctor or dietician, only skim or 1% fat milk may be served in child care programs and schools. So there is this feeling that skim and 1% milks are "healthier" and that's what our family drinks. Unfortunately for Mercy, that was not true. Since she was under the 50% already at 12 months, there were no obesity concerns and I should have given her whole fat milk. :(  Thanks government for being so confusing!!

This is Mercy's favorite sweatshirt. If I don't put it away fast enough, she will rescue it as soon as it comes out of the laundry. She loves the pockets on the front, and with her exploding vocabulary she can even say, "Pockets." It's adorable.

Thanksgiving was a little lonely for us this year. On Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Obadiah spent the morning throwing up. It wasn't just once but it was several times, followed by an uncharacteristic morning nap. He was sick. I cleaned bathrooms, washed toothbrushes, and removed the communal water bottles from our fridge, hopelessly wanting to curb the virus. On Wednesday night, Mitch was balled up on the couch under a blanket complaining that his stomach felt horrible. We canceled our guests for Thanksgiving. By the next morning Mitch wasn't really feeling any better, but he wasn't having any symptoms either. I decided since everyone else was well I might as well cook--after all, if I was going to come down with it eventually, I would never get my thawed turkey baked!

Once we got out the tablecloth, Micah exclaimed, "Now it really feels like Thanksgiving!" Yes, we found it was possible to celebrate even though things felt different with no guests. We enjoyed reading our tablecloth and adding new words of thankfulness to it. 

 The food was great, even if I did make a little less than normal!

 My birthday was on Saturday after Thanksgiving. I had made a cheesecake for Thanksgiving per tradition, so I was happy. I also had not gotten the dreaded stomach virus (no one else had), and even though Mitch wasn't feeling 100%, we headed out to eat at my favorite Mexican restaurant. It was delicious. Mitch surprised me by ordering me a virgin pina colada...yummmmm! I also won 3 of 4 hands of gin rummy. Man! What a day!

Mitch and I enjoy shopping at thrift stores, so we made a couple stops on the way home. I didn't buy this shirt, but it sure was hilarious!!

While we were gone, I texted Eden to let her know she could bake a cake if she wanted to. I had my cheesecake, and I was having fried ice cream, so I felt like I had my birthday dessert. But I knew she had her eyes on the lemon cake mix in the pantry, so I thought, "Why not?" She was ecstatic. An hour or so later I got a text message from her saying that she didn't have enough frosting, what should she do? I told her to leave it and I'd make some when we got home. A little after that I got a message saying that the cake was ruined. She was heartbroken. I told her it's just cake...don't worry about it. I came home to find that the cake had accidently been dropped--upside down--on the floor. I told her to stick it in the freezer (or maybe in the garage?) and we would deal with it after it was nice and cold. We mixed up some lemon frosting from scratch (well, the first batch of that Eden tried using granulated sugar instead of confectioner's sugar, hahahahaha, it just couldn't get any funnier). Eden was at her breaking point, and I was just thinking it was so funny. In the end, the cake was saved and was delicious. :)

 This past weekend I finally had enough energy to tackle decorating our house for Christmas. I still need to take some pictures of that. We don't really have enough room to put up a tree right now, but it was nice to get out the nativity set and hang some lights around the house. It wasn't until we did this that Tirzah realized that Christmas is almost here. That was so cute. I suggested that we wait until the week of Christmas to put up the tree. That week we will only do 2 days of school (if even that), so I can rearrange furniture and have room for the tree and not need to worry about room to do school work on the board.

We also went to the barn of a church family for caroling on Sunday afternoon. It was SO much fun, and beautiful. It's fun to get into the "Christmas Spirit."

I'm 31 weeks pregnant, and the rapid weight gain I was experiencing finally seems to be curbed. I've gained less than 2 lbs in the past 2 weeks IN SPITE OF ALL THE CHEESECAKE I ATE! Yaaaaay!! I might just make it another 9 weeks after all. :)

Hmmm...let's see...what else to update about? I suppose I can go kid by kid, that would be fun. :)
Micah is finishing up his first semester of college. He has taken 13 credits this semester. He's done a good job with managing his coursework and being independent. I've been very hands-off. I have no idea when anything is due or what his homework even is. I suppose I could be more proactive, but I have two goals 1) I want him to be responsible for it himself--this is his chance to fly (or fall--though that would be sad because it would be the end of PSEO for him, it is a good time to learn) and 2) I have quite enough other things to take care of than to micromanage his college classes. If he's ready for college, then he's ready and can do it himself. I think he's done a great job. We'll see for sure when grades come back. :) He has his first round of finals--ever--next week. He has had a few moments of stress but he seems to be handling them ok. One of his classes is called Diversity and Social Justice. He has a very liberal-minded teacher who also happens to be...um...well...on a high horse over sexism. I personally would struggle in this environment. When I think of social justice I think of many many more important things to talk about than sexism. I've enjoyed hearing Micah's side of things as he talks it out. I was quite surprised when he signed up for another of this professor's classes next semester. I've actually not worried about the influence liberal professors might have on his beliefs--in fact, I've been more worried that Micah would be so closed-minded that it might affect his grade (he is very black and white) or that he would speak too harshly in class. It sounds like he's balanced it well.  He has nearly extinguished his savings/earnings from working earlier this year, so he's now finally admitting he needs a job. I'm really hoping for something that is only about 10-15 hours per week. He was working up to 30 hours before and there's no way he can do that and college plus his remaining homeschool classes (well, maybe some boys can but probably not this one--I'd have to listen to all his complaining!).

Eden is becoming a babysitter in high demand. She is making a little bit of money to squirrel away--not much, but it helps to have a bit of spending money. She is an excellent babysitter. She has a deeper well of patience than I did when I became a parent. ;) I'm not sure if she was just teasing me or not, but we were recently discussing job situations where the wife might work while the husband stays home and Eden said, "Maybe I should be a math teacher!" ::love:: Eden is slowly getting some driving practice in with Mitch. It's so much harder since our roads have been ice-covered for the past month. She has to learn sometime I guess! She has her sights set on PSEO next fall. I think she's going to do well. We have also talked about the possibility of a trip to Germany next summer.

Caleb is going to be 14 next month! I can hardly believe it. I guess I can talk about him a little more then. ;) In the  meantime I just learned this morning that what Caleb would REALLY like for Christmas is a pair of "team speak" headphones (a headphone/microphone combo for the computer so that gamers can talk to each other) that actually work...he was thinking something in the $100 range.  hahahahaha. Talk about needing a job! I've already got a good present for him, and it's not that. ;) I hope he's not disappointed! Caleb is experiencing a little bit of stress as he needs to write a final paper for the Elegant Essay (IEW) class we are taking this semester. Since most of his schoolwork is super easy for him, he's having a tough time with this particular assignment and the deadline (today). Whoops! When Caleb was 2 years old, we affectionately would say that he was our defiant/compliant child. When he's good, he's really, really, amazingly good. When he's bad, he's bad. It's so hard to see that look of defiance come across the face of your amazingly compliant child! But it happens to all of them...lol. 12 years later, this is still very true. We have another teenager on our hands. (And please don't quote Paul Tripp on me...or the Rainey's...we've read the books and we still do it wrong!)

Zeke is doing fairly well in school. He is the child who teaching me patience right now. There is no question that homeschool is the best learning environment for him. He would drown in public school. There are some things that I'm just waiting for to click--one day a lightbulb will go on in his brain and all that stuff we've stored up over the years will suddenly make sense. Thankfully we have plenty of time to stop and review, back up, move forward, and go at a pace that works best for him. On the whole we are moving forward at a steady pace, albeit in chunks, and waiting for the day when it will all fall together. The thing I love most about Zeke is how friendly he is. He is very outgoing.

Josh is also doing well in school. His academic work is typically easy for him, which tends to make him an "easy" kid for me. We work more on heart issues. ;) Josh is very creative (compared to his brothers) and seems to enjoy writing and drawing. He and Zeke both crave social events where they can hang out with friends and do fun things. They see their older siblings going out to youth group events and other things, and they are just burning with impatience. They always want to have friends over or be with friends. Thankfully they do have friends in the neighborhood. They spend hours outside, even in the cold, playing with their friends and running all over. Recently they went in together and purchased a set of walkie-talkies that go up to a 12-mile radius using their allowance money. They've had SO much fun! (Just to clarify, they're not allowed to actually go even a mile from home, lol).

Malachi is humming right along in his schoolwork too.  It takes him about 2 hours to complete his checklist for the day, which is really good. He is amazing at reading, and it seems like he is going to be a good speller too. He, Zeke, and Josh are an inseparable trio most of the time. I mean, I get a fair amount of wrestling that turns into fights to be sure. But every night you will find them huddled up together. They seem to forget their offenses much more quickly than I do. I'm so glad these boys love to play outside, because I'd go crazy with the noise level inside that they make. I have noticed that these three trouble makers do far less work around the house than their older sibling trio, so I recently instituted a ticket system where I hand out tickets good for 5-minutes of screen time each. They are suddenly able to clean their room without help! They stay on top of their school work much better too. And even better, I'm not pestered for screen time for hours on end. They spend their tickets, then either ask for ways to earn more or they run off to play and they're content with that. Win-win.

Tirzah is taking a slower pace to her kindergarten work. I've really enjoyed just sitting back and letting her determine how much work we get done. Some days she will (of her own desire) sit and work through several math pages at one time. She just nails a concept and goes with it. Other days, she doesn't even touch it. She loves to color, draw, and write. A while back she told me that she didn't really want to learn how to read, she just wanted to learn how to write. LOL. Ok, we'll go with that. ;) She is learning how to read, but she's kind of slow at blending letters. It doesn't quite click for her yet. I know that if I don't push, one day it will make perfect sense and her reading will take off. So for now I try to do just enough to still keep it fun. She would much rather come and ask me what a letter says than for me to tell her what letter to learn. She is very, very close!! She is reading 3-letter words with 'a' and 'i' such as "big." She loves to memorize, too. Speaking of big, she's getting so big I can hardly believe it. Yesterday she went out with the boys to play with the neighborhood kids. I wanted to tell her she was too little to go out and needed to stay inside with us. She and Malachi have matching walkie-talkies (older models that my dad gave us) that they can talk to Zeke and Josh on. She loves to hang out with "her boys."

Obadiah is the next child determined to make sure I learn my lessons in patience. He has a high-pitched voice and sometimes gets hung up like a broken record, "Mommy, mommy, mom, mommy..." as he tries to get my attention to tell me something. I can be looking him directly in the eyes and he's still saying "mommy." LOL I'm darn near ready to make an official name change. ;) I remember when my younger brother was little and he would do the same to my mom. I would think, "Mom, why don't you just say 'what?' so he will stop?" Yeah, I get it now. Obi is actually going through a really defiant streak and pushes just about every boundary I set. If he gets too mad over a particular boundary, he will "shut down" and it takes divine intervention (or a nap) to get him back.  (Ok, and now here's your opportunity to go all Tedd Tripp on me...).

You had Mercy's big update at the beginning of this novel, but I will say again how her vocabulary has exploded. It is so amazing! Just a little while ago Eden asked her if she wanted to eat lunch, and she replied, "Apple, milk, chip." Eden laughed and said, "Mom, she just ordered her lunch!" I guess this means that potty training is the next huge milestone on the horizon, but I think it will stay far on the horizon for a while. I'm not anxious to get started, and I'm much more patient to wait for summer. I hope she is too. But since she's learning to talk, those words essential for going potty are all words that I'm adding to her vocabulary. She also comes to me when she needs a diaper change. So I'm seeing signs of developing readiness, which is very good. Mercy is quite the acrobat and loves to climb. She can climb onto the counters and can reach as high as the top of the fridge (just barely). While I can't prevent all climbing, I have had to take child proofing measures farther than I have with any other child or daycare child. That's saying something!

And the baby is growing well, kicking, making me uncomfortable, all that. I have a long list of things to do to get ready, but I won't feel the rush until after Christmas I think. Right now it feels like I have many months to go yet. We have no name. I still think Grace will be the middle name. Some of the other names we have discussed are Susanna, Tabitha, Lydia, Miriam, Rachel, and Lily (edited to add: Abigail). Susanna is the top pick of Caleb and Eden. I'm having trouble falling in love with any of these names and I have exhausted every list of Biblical names I can find--people names, places names, virtue names, flower names, plant names, you get the idea. Maybe we just need to see her first? There are lots of names that I like that I feel like I can't use for one reason or another (I have some good excuses). A friend of mine recently commented that she bets I never imagined back when I was having all those boys in a row that we would have a hard time picking out a girl's name. Oh the irony! There are several boys' names that I love!!

Let's see...what else? I am doing daycare, though pretty much part-time and just enough to round out our budget. It's a perfect arrangement and I'm always amazed at how God has provided for us in this area over the past 12 years!  I still sell electronic versions of my diaper pattern online, but I have considered completely closing the business and taking down my website. I didn't feel ready to before, but I do now. I am going to try to make a decision by the end of the year. I feel like it's clutter in the corner collecting cobwebs, even if there are a few people who still buy the patterns and benefit from them. It's clutter in my mind and it's not a money maker after all the website fees. I have had 20 diapers sitting on my table all cut out since June, but that's as far as I've gotten with them. I wanted to finish them and send them to Nicaragua in January, but I am not sure that's going to happen either. With almost 2 weeks off for Christmas it might, but we might have other projects going on instead. I remember the days when I could have whipped 20 diapers out in one week with no problem. ::sigh::

Christmas. We have not made an attempt to do advent devotionals as a family this year yet (boo!). I do get tired of looking at lists of "good things we should do" and feeling like we are failing if we can't manage to complete them. We have: put out decorations, made (and eaten) cookies and treats, done a little shopping, mailed some very important packages to Germany (we missed that last year), and went to caroling in the barn with our church family. I've also been able to make some Christmas presents--yay! This weekend Mitch and I are double-dating our friends the Emersons. We are going to see Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant in concert. Be still my little girl heart.

Well, you must be my mom or dad or sister (Hi!!!) if you have read this far. :) I know this was quite the long update. Really, I mostly wrote it for myself. I have had a bad case of writer's block for a long time now. I'm not sure I can ever get back to writing like I was before. But I will try to do some more documenting of our family events at any rate.