Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Random Things I'm Thankful For Right Now

*Nathan is home!  He came home Friday, and it's been wonderful having him around again.  He told my mom he wanted to "sleep in and eat Mom's cooking", as well as play board games.  I think we've met all his goals!  So far games of skip-bo, Scrabble, Pandemic, and Monopoly have been played.  The McC's came over this afternoon to play street hockey too.

Nathan is doing really well in all areas at school.  It's nice to see that he is where he is supposed to be!  He's also going to a good church that a friend recommended.  He had 2 really great roommates for the first few months--their room was one of only 2 in their company that didn't have to have a sign saying no one could enter except for official corps business or academic reasons, since all 3 of them had good GPAs at mid-terms.  Now he's with a new roommate, so hopefully that will go well too.  It's good to see him so settled in and thriving down there!
Last week we were trying to figure out how we were going to get him home when a friend of ours in our Friday night Bible study asked if he could fly down there and pick Nathan up.  We were so happy the weather held and everything worked out!  Nathan got to fly home in this cute little plane, avoiding all the traffic on I-81.  It's only a 1 and a half hour by airplane!
*We have orthodontia!  Grace got her expander in on Monday.  She is having a hard time learning how to eat with it in, and it is definitely hurting her, but the results will be worth it.  You can see the 2 teeth that are so much higher in her mouth--just like Luke and Jonathan had.  She has gotten a lot more self-conscious about her smile lately, so I'm glad she has options to open up the traffic wreck that is her mouth!  There are other teeth backed up in the gums that have no place to go.  It's always neat to see teeth shift around, and others come in, once the expander has widened the jaw.  A miracle of modern orthodontics!
*Verity is learning tons of new things!  Most importantly, she finally learned how to turn herself around and slide down the stairs on her tummy.  She actually started doing this the beginning of November, but it's still such a nice relief not to worry about her if she goes upstairs!  She's super fast both at climbing stairs, and at sliding back down them.  Instead of going down on step at a time, she now knows she can lift her feet up and just slide down.  Much faster!  She is also super-fast at scrambling up onto a chair and then onto the table, where she wreaks havoc like Godzilla.  If you turn your back for one second, she's up there!

Her other important new skill is finally(!!) being able to drink out of a regular hard-spout sippy cup.  Yay!  We can now use all the sippy cups we've accumulated over the years!  I'm trying to have her drink more milk and less bottle, so this helps.  She is still her happy, smiley self, so I'm so thankful for that!
*We have a new dresser on the main floor!  This is minor, but wow!  The drawers slide in and out!  It's so nice-looking!  Our old dresser was anciently old--Bob picked it up off the side of the road when he was stationed in Alabama before we even met, which was in 1991.  It had a cushy life in the room with the crib until Elizabeth L started putting Theodore's clothes in a (nice) dresser on their main floor several years ago.  It was so convenient!  Why had I never thought of that before?!  So we moved the old dresser into our family room and put Micah's clothes, and then Drew's clothes too, in it (and eventually the fish tank on it).  It was really nice, except that drawer tracts were all broken, so it was a constant struggle to get the drawers in and out.  But then a few weeks ago Bob and I made a trip to that wonderful store, Ikea, and voila!  A lovely new dresser that will hopefully last at least as many years as our old one!  Did I mention the drawers slide in and out so smoothly?!  I could stand there all day and slide them!
I am of course thankful for many more things, such as my wonderful family, my supportive friends, and most of all salvation through Christ, but these are some of the other lesser-known things I'm thankful for!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Library of Congress Field Trip

We took a Rivendell field trip to the Library of Congress this morning.  This is a place we had never been before, and I wasn't really sure what to expect.  Emily, our field-trip coodinator extraordinaire, set up a tour for us.  We divided into 2 groups:  junior high and high schoolers were one, and everyone under 6th grade were another.  All together, we had 24 kids, 6 kids, and 1 grandma.  The tours each did a part for 45 minutes, and then we switched, so we each got a complete tour.  I went with the younger kids, and I had a fantastic time--mainly because Luke stayed home and watched my 4 youngest, plus Christine's youngest.  So we could have had 6 more kids along!  I was thrilled to not be carrying a diaper bag, pushing a stroller, and trying to keep hungry, tired, crabby toddlers from being loud and running around.
We started out in the great hall, which was amazing, architecturally.  I LOVED all the intricate details and all the light.  I could have stayed for a lot longer, reading the names of all the great thinkers and writers up on the (extremely high) ceiling. The room was just so stunning.

There were just so many details to notice!  All these little carved cherubs (called some other word--possibly Italian?--I should look that up, but who has time?--something like "putti") have little details concerning their occupations carved up there with them.
Behind this staircase there was a little display of some actual medieval illuminated, hand-copied books.  So amazing!  The colors were so vivid!  They had some Bibles in another case.  They didn't have the beautiful illustrations, but whoa, was the print small.  It gave me a hand cramp to look at it and imagine copying it by hand!
Then we got to see the actual Guttenburg Bible, one of only 3 that survive which are printed on vellum rather than paper.  We had just listened to a Peace Hill Press book about Johannes Guttenburg on CD on our trip down to visit Nathan, so we were all up on his life, and all his financial difficulties.
Next we peeked into the main reading room.  There is a huge and glorious dome for the ceiling, so the room is flooded with natural light.  What a wonderful place to do research!
They have all these statues of wise men ringing the upper balcony.  Right next to our viewing area were Isaac Newton and Moses himself.  I'm sure it looked just like him!
After a quick walk-through of Thomas Jefferson's library, of which 1/3 are the original books he himself owned, we traded guides with the older kids.  The new guide did a hands-on demonstration of early American printing tools and the process they used.  It was really interesting, and I think it wasn't too terribly much different from what Guttenburg himself used.  Jonathan thought that was the most interesting part of the tour, followed closely by the Jefferson library.
Then we met back up in the great hall to take some group pictures.
Here are the Rivendell teachers, except for Christine (and Siri).  We're under a mosaic of "Minerva", the Roman goddess of wisdom, which we thought was appropriate, lol.
  And here is some of us with some of the McC kids.  After much consternation on my part about how to get downtown, where to park, etc., Bob came up with a genius plan.  He went in to work late after driving us downtown and dropping us off.  Then he drove on to work and worked a few hours.  When we were done, he drove back over and picked us up, and then we dropped him back off, so he can take the bus home tonight.  Yay--no maneuvering the big van around downtown for me, and (most importantly), no need to park!  It worked out really nicely.  The weather was perfect, the tour guides were interesting and nice, and it was a lovely time!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Visit With Nathan

 A week ago we were visiting with Nathan!  Bob took Friday off from work, so we were able to get there in the afternoon.  It was so great to see him (and his bag of laundry)!  We were all milling around outside his dorm, waiting for him to sign out and come down, when 3 upperclass cadets came out the door.  One saw us and came over to ask us if we were Nathan's family.  Haha--I wonder how on earth he guessed?  It turned out to be Nathan's first sergeant.

We went back to the hotel, and it was so nice just to relax with ALL of us.  Bob took the little kids swimming, and the rest of us just caught up.  Nathan is doing great in all areas, which is wonderful news.  It is especially heartening for me to hear that he is doing really well academically, since, well, that was what I spent the last 18 years preparing him for.  Whew!

We talked about where to go out to eat, but a table for 12 in a college town on a Friday night seemed like a bridge too far, especially when the youngest ones were pretty crabby from the car ride and lots of snacks.  So Bob and I went to Little Caesar's and brought back 6 pizzas.  While we were waiting for them all to be ready, we were reminded again how different it is down there, compared to in Northern VA.  People were so friendly, chatting with us as we waited!  Way different.

 We of course had 2 hotel rooms.  The older 4 boys were in one, and the rest of us were in the other.  That meant the boys could really sleep in, although the little kids were pretty tired and slept fairly late as well.  After breakfast, more swimming, college football, and leftover pizza for lunch, our big outing was to a rugby game.  It was raining at this point, but everyone was still game to watch.  Verity had fallen asleep in the van, so I stayed with her while everyone braved the damp and cold--for awhile anyway.  Kids kept drifting back to the van, and then back out to the sidelines.  Fortunately it stopped raining at halftime, and Verity woke up, so we could all go out to watch.  The was another man there, and he was letting his 2 kids just splash around in these huge big puddles.  They were maybe a little younger than Micah and Drew, who were eyeing them *very* enviously.  The kids were absolutely sopping wet, and I made sure Micah and Drew stayed far away, since we didn't have a ton of extra clothes--plus it was freezing!
 Once again, Saturday evening we knew we'd be in trouble if we had to wait in a crowded place for a table, so we chose the path of least resistance and went to the nearest Chick-Fil-A.
 I'm not sure why Micah is flashing a gang sign here, because he actually loves Chick-Fil-A, lol. It was good for the kids to have the playground to run around in, especially with all the rain.

Sunday we got up and ate breakfast.  Bob took the younger kids swimming again so I could get the room packed up.  We had the best of intentions of getting to Nathan's church early, but . . . yeah.  As so often happens here at home, it was like herding cats (with luggage) to get everyone out the door, so we were late.  I know--shocking surprise!  Sigh.  We talked about how easy it will be when Bob and I go to visit Verity at college . . . of course, she also won't have the cheering crowd greeting her!
 After church we ate at a little Chinese restaurant before heading back to campus.  We got to see Nathan's (incredibly crowded) room, and then we walked around some with him.  Everyone agreed it is a beautiful campus, and Anna is ready to go there herself!
 It was really good for Micah, Drew, and Verity to see Nathan again.  On Thursday before we left, Micah said, "We're going to pick up Nathan and bring him back home to live with us?"  Nooo . . . I think it was good for Micah to actually see Nathan's room, and that he is really *living* there.  Everyone really misses their oldest brother!  I also think maybe it wasn't bad that it worked out for this to be the first weekend we could get down there.  Nathan's settled in now, and so it wasn't anywhere near as hard to say goodbye as it was when we left him in August, and he was not looking forward at all to going back! As he said in a letter to the girls, "Each day is a little better than the one before."  
We were able to get a picture with ALL the kids before we left, which made me really happy!  I can't take those for granted anymore.  And now we look forward to having Nathan home for Thanksgiving in a week!  Hooray!

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Happy Birthday, Caleb!

Caleb turned 14 today!  We baked cookies and mini apple pies today, but we didn't bake a cake, so we just celebrated with ice cream!  We've been having the "week of Caleb" as far as meals go--he couldn't figure out one favorite for his birthday dinner, so he picked all the dinners this week.  He got a WSS t-shirt as well as a fleece vest.  We were going to get him a WSS water bottle to replace the one he dropped and shattered on his way to cross-country practice, but sadly they were out, and they said they weren't going to order any more until next summer.  So we just had to get a regular nalgene from amazon to get him through basketball and rugby seasons.  We also gave him a Lego Star Wars set I found at Costco (it's so convenient to shop for a birthday right after everyone rolls out all the new Christmas toys!).

I've discovered that Caleb is my least-photographed child.  I searched back to find another picture, but he has managed to slip out of most other kid ones.  I'm making it my mission to take more pictures of him this year!  He is thrilled to have grown several inches, as well as developed a deeper voice this past year, so I need to document that!
I did find this picture of him at a cross-country meet.  He and Jonathan both ran cross-country for the first time this fall.  We had heard several other people with asthma say that running had helped them not be so reactive.  Caleb's asthma has been pretty well-controlled the past few years, but it does seem to have a bit of an exercise trigger.  He was pretty wheezy at the beginning of the season, so he was using his puffers a lot, but we were sort of stumbling along in the dark as far as how to use them effectively, since they had always just been rescue inhalers that he didn't need too often.  Eventually his flovent one ran out, and I had to make an appointment to get a new prescription.  I'm so glad we went in!  The doctor was very helpful, as far as what he should be doing during seasons with lots of running.  He's supposed to use albuterol 20 minutes before running, since that helps open up the airway.  Then he take flovent daily--2 puffs, twice a day, actually--, which works more long-term to protect the airway so it's not so reactive.  It was good to have a definitive plan laid out for him!  I don't think running is Caleb's absolute favorite thing to do by a long shot, but he had a good season.  He improved a lot, and he had a good time.  Now it's on to basketball!

Friday, October 30, 2015

11 Year Anniversary

I was reminded by Timehop on my phone this morning that today is my 11th anniversary of blogging!  I started on Oct. 30, 2004.  I didn't know how to link articles, post pictures, or really do anything other than type words (not that I do anything all that exciting now, LOL).  

We had 4 boys at the time.  Nathan had just turned 7 a week before we moved to DC the July 4th weekend, and Jonathan had just turned 1.  I was so overwhelmed and busy!  How could I ever consider having any more kids?!  This picture is technically from 2005, but the faces look pretty familiar.  Cute boys!  Hard to believe Nathan is in college now.  Where does the time go?!

I have to laugh when I think that I had 4 kids 7 and under at that point--and now, 11 years later, I still have 4 kids 7 and under--plus 6 older ones.  Ay yi yi.  I didn't even have an inkling about what being busy really was!  Sure I dealt with messes, and it was hard to homeschool with toddlers around.  But they all went to bed around 8:00, and then I was done.  I wasn't staying up for hours trying to dredge my memory for how to use the chi square test to check results of a fruit fly genetic experiment or making up Latin practice sentences using 3rd conjugation verbs (present tense only!) plus selected prepositions and nouns from the vocab lists.  I didn't have to write exams and practice worksheets or search around the internet for alternative labs since I can't get the supplies for many AP labs as written.  Compared to now, there was no mental strain, and I know I got more sleep and exercise than I do now!  I never really dreamed that any stage could be harder than the toddler stage, but it turns out the "high schoolers plus toddlers" stage is 1000x more exhausting.

I'm so glad I started blogging.  It has always mainly been to keep in touch with family and friends, especially in the "pre-Facebook" world (remember that dim, dark epoch of time?).  I didn't realize that a few short years after I started blogging I would become way too busy to keep up with scrapbooking, and this blog has become a scrapbook, especially once I figured out how to post pictures (and got a digital camera in 2006, which was the first step--we are not early adopters of new technology, LOL).  It's really fun for me to look back and reread old posts from way back when.  I only regret now not having enough time to blog, so a lot of the fun little day-to-day things are getting forgotten.  Poor Drew is only going to be remembered for his "Autumn of Accidents", LOL. I need to do another month of everyday blogging, like I did in October 2013.  Maybe when things get easier . . . haha!  I crack myself up!  It is somewhat encouraging to think that in 11 more years, I should NOT have 4 kids 7 and under.  It is incredibly weird, however, to think that I could potentially be a grandma by then.  Well, I'll keep on blogging, and we'll see where we are then!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

"Making Time"

The book I read while Bob and I were on our lovely Colorado trip (was that a month ago?  or just a dream, perhaps?!) was Making Time:  Lillian Moller Gilbreth--A Life Beyond Cheaper by the Dozen" by Jane Lancaster.  I read Cheaper by the Dozen as well as the sequel, Belles on Their Toes, for the first time back when I was in junior high, and I loved the books.  They were so funny!  They definitely made life with a big family seem so totally fun, and I would have told you I wanted 12 kids for sure had you asked me then (although when I was a much more mature high schooler, I realized it would be crazy to have more than say 4, which to me WAS a big family . . .)  Somehow I read about this book a few years ago (amazon reviews, maybe?), and I requested it for a present.  I did receive it, and then it sat on the shelf because I just didn't have time to read it.  The trip to Colorado was a perfect time for some pleasure reading, however, so I took it along and started reading it on the plane.

I was fascinated by it.  I finished it a few weeks back, but I've kept thinking about it, and about Lillian Moller Gilbreth, who is the mom in Cheaper by the Dozen.   We really have a lot in common, and I felt a real kinship with her.  I wish I could have met her!

First, some details about her that most people, even ones who read the books, don't know about her.  In the books she was mentioned as part of the "motion study" team, always trying to figure out the most efficient way of doing things, and they talked about her visiting factories, but that part of her life was definitely glossed over.  I had no idea that she was such a well-respected academic herself!  She received a master's in literature from UC-Berkeley before she even met her future husband, Frank.  She met him in Boston.  He had never gone to college, but he was interested in workplace efficiency, and Lillian became interested in that as well.  She got her first PhD from Brown in 1915 in industrial psychology (first one ever granted because it was a totally new field), already having 4 children.  She and Frank started a "scientific management principles" consulting business, where they worked on "time and motion studies" to make factories and businesses run most efficiently, and she worked right alongside him.  Because of her psychology background, she was able to help convince workers that these new ways were better for them, and she really pushed for better working conditions and incentives, since she was more interested in the "human element", rather than just the technical benefits of efficiency.  They developed the concept of "ergonomics", really, as well as the discipline of industrial engineering, a subject dear to my heart, since my sister-in-law and niece are both industrial engineers.

Lillian always deflected any praise away from herself and towards her husband, so it wasn't until after Frank died on June 14, 1924, that people started realizing that she was actually the one who had written most of the many books they had published.  She was able to keep running by herself the business they had started, and she also became a professor of industrial engineering at a bunch of prestigious universities.  She was awarded a boatload of awards and impacted our lives in dozens of ways that I don't think anyone really realizes anymore.  For example, she conducted a ton of research to help determine the most efficient way to set up a kitchen (the whole "work triangle concept" came from her), as well as the best standard height for stoves and sinks.  She came up with the idea for shelves in the refrigerator door and the foot-pedal trash can (something I appreciate very much!), and dozens of other things we just accept as common-place now.  She also worked to develop methods for physically-handicapped people to do common tasks.  She kept teaching and consulting until she was 90 years old, and she died when she was 93.

So . . . wow!  All that is amazing, but what I was really interested in was her family life.  She actually bore 13 children--her second child, Mary, died of diphtheria when she was 5, and Lillian also delivered a stillborn child for her 8th child--but there were only really 11 kids, although Frank and Lillian always referred to them as their "dozen".  Now here is where the bias of the author really shines through.  I have no idea about the author at all, except after reading the book, I have the mental image of a feminist spinster who definitely doesn't have any children of her own.  Through the whole book, the author is clearly astounded that anyone would ever *really* choose to have so many kids, even though Lillian herself says in many of her own writings that from a young age, she wanted a "strenuous life", rather than the life of ease she had grown up with.  Lillian was the oldest of 9, so she was used to a big family and for being responsible for a lot of younger kids.  From the get-go, Frank had wanted "6 boys and 6 girls", although Lillian later wrote, "This seemed an easy undertaking to a person who had practically been an only child, but was a little appalling to the oldest of nine".  It seems from her later writings that having a big family was definitely a part of their scientific management experimentation, as they wanted to see if there could possibly be "one best way" to manage a big household and raise a lot of kids.  After Frank died, though, a lot of his more regimented ideas went by the wayside.

Lillian was pregnant within 6 weeks of their marriage, and she continued to have babies pretty much every 15 months.  Now the author gives a few other reasons for Lillian continuing to produce these children, the last of which is "a sheer love of children".  The most insulting reason given is basically, Lillian was just too prudish to ever discuss birth control.  I find it hard to believe that such a strong, intelligent woman working in a man's field, in such an equal partnership with her husband, was just too delicate to ever bring up the subject!   More likely, as the author grudgingly alludes to, she just didn't like birth control and didn't want to use it.  I can relate!  I think that even for someone who was used to a lot of children, and knew what a lot of work they were, Lillian had children because she really did love each and every one of them.  There were several quotes throughout the book that show how much enjoyment Lillian got from her kids, and how much she enjoyed having them around her.  Plus, Lillian said herself that all the children were "planned", and the timing was so that during her "unavoidable delay" of post-partum recovery, which back then meant several weeks of lying in bed, she could proof galleys for whatever book was getting ready to be published, since that was a job she could do in bed.  The weirdest reason given for why Lillian and Frank had so many kids was that they were into "positive eugenics".  The book says, "Rather than calling for forcible sterilization of the less 'fit', they applied their theories to themselves and produced their own large family.  They also wanted to demonstrate by means of their family system that is was possible to rear and educate many healthy children, and do it economically and efficiently, while leaving time for the mother to be professionally active."  I can tell you very honestly that we did not have 10 kids because we thought our genes were somehow superior and because we wanted to demonstrate the superiority of our system of raising them!  Haha!  We were much less deliberate about the whole thing, and here is where we differ greatly--we have all our children because we believe God blessed us with them, in His perfect timing.  And believe me, we are very thankful for His grace as we raise them, since we know for a fact there is nothing remotely superior about any set of 2 sinful parents raising a bunch of little sinners!

It was also very interesting to consider Lillian's daily schedule and how she could accomplish so much.  She had help!  Live-in help!  (And I don't mean her kids, LOL.)  As the book says, "She neither cooked nor cleaned, and although she scheduled much more time with her children than most women who work outside the home usually manage, she had assistance with the children during the hours she spent on her professional work."  I can't imagine not cooking and cleaning.  Just not cleaning would be great!  I actually enjoy cooking, even in the vast quantities I must produce right now.  But I am constantly behind on cleaning, and one of my biggest frustrations is that I can't even get all areas of the house clean enough at once to get an estimate for a cleaning lady to come once a month.  If one just happened to walk in, she would run the other way screaming, or even worse, charge us a fortune, since at least some parts always look like a disaster area!

Ha, that reminded me of another part of the book.  In Cheaper by the Dozen, they describe this great big house in New Jersey that Frank bought for them, and that was where they had the foreign language victrolas in the bathroom, and all the charts, and so on.  I was hoping to see a picture of the house or something, but after all the kids were on their own, Lillian moved to a little apartment--and she had the house torn down!!  She said it was in too bad of a shape to ever be sold.  Well--I guess I can identify with that sentiment too, LOL, although I'm sure that was a drastic step.  Too bad!

As Lillian got older, she did more with simplifying household management.  She started to sound like me though, cautioning against using "sterling silver standards where stainless steel would be more appropriate".  She was not a fan of silver flatware as a wedding gift, because then the bride would feel obligated to get nice china, linen, etc. to go with it.  Her conclusion:  "The homemaker who holds a job has to be especially careful not to cling too hard to a set of standards that dates back to the time when the lady of the house was always at home and moreover had servants to help her."  Amen!  I would consider homeschooling to be a full time job, especially at the high school level!

The last thing that I found particularly interesting was the her kids were never interested in dishing out dirt on their mom (much to the disappointment of the author of this book, I think).  All she could get was that eventually Jane, the youngest, who was only 2 when her dad died, lamented her mom's "physical and emotional distance".  The author of the book says, "Most of the Gilbreth children, however, seem determined to put a positive spin on their upbringing."  I don't think she could ever believe that kids might possibly have enjoyed growing up in a big family.  It is telling, however, that none of her kids had very big families--Martha, who married last because she stayed around and helped raise the youngest kids for her mom, had the biggest family, 4 kids.  Lillian ended up with 30 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren when she died in 1972.  Their family system was more along the lines of the Duggars, with the older kids each being responsible for a younger kid, and it was a big responsibility since the older kid had to get the younger kid all ready for school each day.  I don't think we have as much of a reliance on the older kids to help parent the younger ones.  The older kids are pretty busy with school and extra-curricular stuff at this point anyway.  Honestly, the biggest thing I took away from the book is that I need a cleaning lady!

I really enjoyed reading about her and her family though.  It was all just so interesting, and like I said, I really related to her.  There's a story in this book about a train trip she took to California from Rhode Island to visit her family.  She had 7 kids, ages 11 down to 11 months, and it was a nightmare.  Kids were sick, she was 7 months pregnant, and it was a long trip.  She had planned to get the kids all cleaned up before meeting her parents in Oakland, but her brother met them on the train in Sacramento, and found diapers everywhere, crying children, and just a scene of general chaos.  Lillian was mortified because she was trying to convince her family that "she had made the right choice in marrying her 'strenuous' husband, that she could cope with the children, and that Gilbreth, Inc. was prospering."  That was not the impression she gave, and boy, could I feel for her there, having been in  situations like that before myself!  The book also quotes a letter she wrote to Frank during one of his many business trips, saying, "I know I have made a million mistakes, but anyone would who typed against the clatter I do."  Ha!  I'm right there!  And another time she forgot to enclose something, so she wrote later, "It isn't any wonder I do strange things for I work in the midst of confusion all the time . . . and the children rampaging all over the place and asking a hundred questions a minute."  Good to know my kids aren't unique, and really it did encourage me that such an accomplished and brilliant woman could struggle with the same day-to-day issues that I do!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Brief Breath

When I think about the school year, the mental image I get is of being underwater.  Every August I take a deep breath and dive in.  Now that it's October, I think we're finally getting in somewhat of a routine.  It's not easy, but I'm enjoying everything more than I thought I would back in August, when I was pretty much having panic attacks about starting Rivendell again. The 3 new moms we have this year have been *such* blessings.  It's actually 4 new teachers, because the mom of one mom just moved out here, and she is teaching for us too.  Having this much more coverage has meant Christine and I haven't been so stretched by our teaching responsibilities this year.

I am SO enjoying not having to teach both junior high and high school science. That has been such a burden lifted.  AP biology has still consumed a ton of my time--but I don't feel quite as much like I am fumbling around in the dark as I was the first time I taught it.  I am having to rework all the labs, and I didn't start giving the boys reading questions to help them get through the chapters until later in the year last time, so I've had to come up with those.  I usually work on these things late at night, since it's hard to get anything accomplished when all the littles are still up.  But there is a trade-off, because I'm really tired late at night.  For the last set of reading questions, here is how I numbered them:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 7, 7, 8, 9, 10 . . .  When he started working on them, Luke came downstairs to ask me if Micah or Drew had numbered them!  Ha!  I spaced them really weirdly too.  Maybe I was sleep-typing.  I am really enjoying the group of 3 boys I have.  They're a lot of fun, and they all have similar personalities.  It's an intense class, and we cover a ton of material each week though.  I think we are all looking forward to January, once we get through all the genetics/virus/new technology chapters and start on more population biology and ecology, which is just easier.

Latin is going well too.  It has taken me a ton of time to make up all the extra practice sheets for the kids, because I have to come up with sentences to translate that only use the vocab they have learned so far, and that emphasizes the new concepts they are learning with each new lesson, but I think the sheets are helping.  The kids seem much more confidant than they were last year.  I'm only a week or 2 ahead for making up the practice sheets, so anytime I have to go anywhere to wait (like the orthodontist's office), I bring Latin along and try to come up with more sentences.  Staving off Alzheimer's, I always say. My mental capacities have really been stretched this year though, with Latin and biology.  My poor brain is always so tired--no wonder I can't even count any more!

I'm always thankful when we get through another Tuesday.  It used to be that I could really relax Tuesday nights, but this year not only do Luke and Caleb have CAP Tuesday nights, Jonathan has cross-country practice, and Anna and Grace have gymnastics, so instead I'm driving a bunch of places.  Wednesday night is my relaxing "weekend" night, and I try not to do any school work that night.  Thursday night I'm prepping for lab on Friday, and then the weekend I try to get caught up (ha! never!) on laundry and everything else around the house that has gone to pot during the week, as well as prepare for Latin on Monday and Rivendell on Tuesday.   I guess that's why it feels like being underwater, with no time to come up for air.

Bob and I keep telling ourselves that it's going to get easier.  In 6 more years, Verity will be 7!  Surely there will be less messes then!  Her new trick is unrolling all the toilet paper in the bathroom, so that's super helpful.  She also likes climbing the stool and knocking everything within reach off the counter.  Bonus points if there's liquid in the cup!  I will say Drew has stopped making so many pee messes, so that is a relief.  I guess he's handed off liquid mess-making to Verity.  In fact, I had to actually make a point of cleaning the toilet today, because I didn't have to clean it the past few days while cleaning up a mess.  Yay!  In 6 more years, we will have graduated 3 more boys, so that will be weird.  I'll only be cooking for 8, and the oldest 3 will be girls!  Hopefully I won't be teaching any more new classes at that point either.  I think that is what really is wearing me out.  Six more years--surely I can make it that long!