Monday, February 27, 2006

Prayer Request

Please pray for my best friend Amy and her family tomorrow. Her dad, Don, is undergoing open-heart surgery (a quadruple by-pass, I believe) starting at 7:00 in the morning. He is really nervous about it, and I know Amy would appreciate everyone's prayers. Thanks!

Happy Birthday, Luke!

Finally, today is the actual day! I woke up to go to the bathroom at 3:25 last night, which is right around the time he was born, so I was quite on top of celebrating! Luke was lobbying for no school for him today, but I told him we just had an almost 2 week break, and we will be taking another break when the baby is born, so he was out of luck. He pointed out that we did Latin and math a few days while we were in Ohio, but I wasn't swayed. We did have strawberries with our cereal this morning, and for lunch I made his favorite of grilled cheese sandwiches (grilled turkey for Caleb). We even had apple juice with lunch, with pretty much never happens. After lunch we watched the video of his birth. The boys have never seen any of our birth videos, so I thought it would be good preparation for the upcoming birth. Luke's video is the best one we have. The hospital at Wright-Pat wouldn't even let you take a video of the actual birth, so for Caleb and Jonathan, we really don't have much video at all. The boys were very interested, especially as I started pushing. I'm not a "loud" birther, by any stretch of the imagination, but they could see me pushing (the camera was by my shoulder) and making little whimpering noises as Luke's head crowned, and they were pretty riveted. Nathan's conclusion: "I am SO glad I am a boy!" I told them that hopefully their wives will have babies, so they need to watch these videos to see what they need to be doing--which is, of course, whatever their wives tell them to do! Bob was a great example, rubbing my back, sitting behind me while I pushed to prop me up, and so on. I actually got a little nervous watching it. Maybe it's not a good ideas for someone within a few week of delivering to watch her own birth tapes! Umm, wait . . . that doesn't look like fun! Oh well. I'm obviously not yet at that totally uncomfortable point where you are willing to go through anything just to get that baby out! Another few weeks . . .

As I said in Luke's birthday post from last year, he had some complications when he was born from aspirating meconium during the birth. It was hard to see him on the video with all the wires and tubes coming out of his tiny little body, but it reminds us of how thankful we are that God spared him and granted him health. He certainly doesn't have any problems now from that whole situation! He's such a special addition to our family. He's so loving with the little boys, and frankly Nathan would never be able to find anything or spell much without Luke around to help! He has a similar personality to mine, which can be frustrating, but at least I know where he's coming from. He is still so painfully shy, but hopefully he will grow past that, as I pretty much have. He's a lot of fun, and he's turning into a very formidable checkers player! I guess he gets that from Papa and from Bob's dad--certainly NOT from me, anyways.

Tonight we'll have sausage roll, broccoli, and probably pears for dinner, and then Bob, Nathan, and Luke will go off to Bible Study Fellowship. Bob is planning on stopping for frosties at Wendy's afterwards. There was only a very small piece of cake left from Friday, but I did have some leftover pieces that I didn't use to make the cake, as well as some leftover frosting. I'll probably frost those pieces so we can have cake again tomorrow night and finish up the ice cream. That's what everyone is pushing for anyhow. Just one piece of cake a few days before your actual birthday is not enough, apparently!

Okay, here is a picture of Luke's B-2 Stealth cake. The weird indentations on the top (if you can even see them) are from the candles, since we didn't think to take a digital picture of the cake before singing. Yay, it finally uploaded, but we had to really make it a much smaller file, so the picture quality is not great. I think the problem might be our dial-up connection. We don't get broadband in our little area, so to improve that, we would have to do a cable thing. Maybe we will at some point, but it hasn't been a big priority. So I guess in the meantime you all are stuck with fuzzy pictures! Sorry!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Picture Help Needed

Okay. I tried to post a picture of Luke's B-2 cake. The pictures are on the computer, I clicked on the "picture" button where you create the post, I browsed and selected the one I wanted, it said it was uploading the picture to Blogger . . . and then nothing ever happened. Although the screen said "Done" on the bottom, the actual screen never changed, and it continued to say that it was uploading my image. In fact, it still says that, many minutes later. Nothing ever appeared on my post. So what am I doing wrong?! I need to figure this out before the baby comes, so we can put pictures on here!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Savory Criss-Cross Pastry ("Sausage Roll")

Here's the recipe--it is just so easy that I can't keep it to myself! I got it many years ago off of a puff pastry box. Originally it just called for one of the two sheets in each box, but I use both sheets, doubling the recipe, and even then I don't usually have left-overs.

Savory Criss-Cross Pastry

1 package Pepperidge Farm Frozen Puff pastry Sheets (2 sheets)
3 eggs
1 Tbsp water
1 lb. pork sausage
2 cups Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped

Thaw pastry sheet at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375. Mix 1 egg and 1 Tbsp. water and set aside. Mix sausage, stuffing, remaining 2 eggs, onion, and celery thoroughly (I usually use my hands). Unfold pastry on lightly floured surface. Each sheet creates 3 sections. Do not separate sections. On one sheet, cut 9 strips in the two outer sections, about 1 inch apart. Spoon half of the sausage mixture down center of pastry. Starting at one end, fold pastry strips over sausage mixture, alternating sides, to cover mixture. Place on baking sheet. (I actually do all of that on my baking sheet so I don't have to move the thing, and I don't flour my surface either--what a rebel I am!) Do the same thing with the other pastry sheet and the rest of the sausage mixture. Place on same baking sheet. Brush with egg mixture. Bake 35 minutes or until golden. Slice and serve warm.

Pregnancy Woes

I just haven't been very faithful about blogging lately. I'm going to blame it all on pregnancy--I feel big and uncomfortable, my back and pelvis are starting to get achy--you know the drill. Four weeks to go, and I'm not motivated to get anything done, not even blogging! Frankly, napping and reading brainless books are about all that appeal to me right now. Could someone just make the world go away please?! LOL!

There have been some postive developments around here. We have purchased a new refrigerator from Lowes, and we even got 10% off, thanks to Bob's good memory and lack of hesitation to speak up about bad service. When our garbage disposal broke back in December, we bought our new one at Lowes, and there was some problem with the register. It wouldn't print out a receipt, and the cashier wasn't too worried about it or helpful, so Bob asked to speak to the manager. His name was Danny, and after getting everything straightened out, he told Bob that the next time he needed something at Lowes, that he (Danny) would give him 10% off. So Bob called Lowes on Thursday, and Danny was on duty. Bob reminded him of what he had said, and Danny came through with the discount. Thank you, Lord! So we didn't end up with the cheapest model after all. Actually, we haven't ended up with anything yet--the one we picked out is of course out of stock. We should get it maybe Wednesday. It will be a nice change of pace to not have to step out to the garage every time you want ice or butter!

We celebrated Luke's 7th birthday at Bible study on Friday, although the actual day is Monday. He wanted a bomber for his cake, so I made a B-2 stealth cake. It turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself, and there were lots of jokes about how you couldn't even see it. LOL! Monday, Luke has requested for his special dinner what we call "sausage roll"--it is puff pastry filled with a sausage/dressing mixture. It's good, and a real favorite of the boys'. He has had several celebrations of his birthday already, since we also went out to Olive Garden with my parents while we were home to celebrate there! I think he takes after his aunt by knowing how to stretch out a birthday!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Wrapping Up

Well, we're back home again. Bob flew back to Ohio on Saturday and spent most of the day at the base auto hobby shop. He replaced the oxygen sensor and the brake pads, and he changed the oil. The "check engine" light is still on, but we think the problem is fixed. We're not taking it back to the dealer just to have them charge us another $100 to turn it off!

We left Sunday morning to drive to Bob's hometown in PA. We had a nice visit with his parents. His brother Paul and his family came over too. It was great to see them again, since it has been several months. One of Bob's brother-in-laws also came over, bringing lots of big Christmas gifts for the boys. All the new things kept them occupied. We went back over there Monday morning. Luke and Nathan enjoyed playing checkers and Chinese checkers with Bob's dad. It was a beautiful day, and we drove out to the cemetary with Bob's parents to see the grave of Frank and Marsha, Bob's oldest siblings that died in a car accident when they were almost 5 and 3. I had never been there--it was moving for me. I wrote more about that whole situation in this post from last August . After that, we went out to eat at Old Country Buffet and then left for home. We had a good drive, and we were able to finish listening to From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsberg. It always amazes me how much more quickly a drive goes when you are listening to a good book!

We did not have such good feelings when we got home--we quickly discovered that our refrigerator had died sometime over the weekend. Fortunately, it hadn't been such a long time that all the food was smelly, but we had to throw tons of stuff away. All I could think about as I tossed out frozen vegetables, meat, etc., was all that time in the commissary and all that money that was wasted. And being 35 weeks along and emotional, it was pretty hard for me, which in turn upset the boys. Luke started crying too. Actually it could have been much worse. I don't keep all that much meat in my inside freezer; most of the meat plus almost all of the chicken and ground beef and other meals that I had cooked in preparation for the baby were outside in my big freezer. And at least we have an extra fridge out in the garage. But still . . . it's hard to throw stuff away.

So now we are trying to find a new refrigerator. Caleb, Jonathan and I spent the morning yesterday out at Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowes, etc. doing some scouting while Nathan and Luke were at co-op. Of course we discovered that refrigerators are expensive, and since we hadn't planned on replacing ours anytime soon, it is not easy to spend a lot of money on it. It looks like we are going to buy a cheap one and hope that we aren't here for too much longer. In the meantime, we are thankful that we have one right out in our garage, and we're not like pioneers, who would have had to go to the cold cellar out by the creek to get their cold stuff.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Science Fair

Dad and I had a great time judging the Dayton Christian Middle School science fair on Thursday. The 8th grade students all have to do a project, so there were 84 projects to be judged. Dad and I judged 5 of them, and to be honest, we were a little disappointed at the quality of them. None of them were really superior projects that we would expect to do well at the county level, not to mention higher levels. I wish I could have walked around to take a look at the other projects so I would have a better feel for the quality overall. Having done a science fair project in 8th grade myself under Mr. Belue, and having received a superior at the state science fair that year, I can certainly say that Mr. Belue really teaches and stresses the scientific method, so maybe we just got a bad batch.

The main problem we encountered was that the projects did not yield any kind of objective data, so there were no real results to graph or whatever. For example, one girl's question was whether fabric softener or dryer sheets were more effective for eliminating static cling on clothes. She washed clothes using fabric softener, and then she also did some loads just using dryer sheets. But she couldn't measure the amount of static left on the clothes, so she didn't have any real results--just her opinion that "both products made the clothes smell nice, but the dryer sheets got rid of a little more static". I asked her if she had tried different types of dryer sheets and softeners, and she said that she had. In fact, some worked better than others, she felt, but this wasn't stated anywhere on her project, and certainly not in any meaningful chart or anything.

Another girl did a project comparing the stain removal properties of Resolve and rubbing alcohol on carpet. She used 5 different things to make stains, but all she could do was take pictures to show how the products did--there was no quantitative way to measure her results. I questioned why she picked rubbing alcohol, of all things, to compare, and she didn't have any good reason. In my notes I suggested using water as a control, and then also trying dish detergent, vinegar, other cleaning products, etc. It seems like in her research she would have come up with better substances to test and compare!

The other 3 weren't all that much better, although at least they did have some results. It seemed like people just wanted to do an experiment that they could finish in an afternoon or so, without really going any deeper or, in some cases, thinking about why their project would even be useful. One girl's question asked if adding substances like salt, sugar, or baking soda to boiling water would raise the temperature of the water. She was sort of tongue-tied when I asked why that might be important or useful.

On the positive side, it was wonderful to see familiar faces, like that of Mr. Minor, my high school chemistry and physics teacher. I can honestly say that he looks the exact same as he did when I graduated from DCHS in 1991! He was one of my favorite teachers, a good teacher as well as a wise and godly man. He always encouraged me to reach my potential academically, but to consider raising godly children to be an even worthier goal. He was delighted to hear that we're expecting #5, and that I am homeschooling them. I must say I never thought I would end up here, but I am sure that his encouragement in high school when I started thinking about my long-term goals played a big part in this. I am sad to report that Mr. Minor is retiring after this year, his 36th year teaching at DC. I guess he's earned a rest though! Mr. Belue also looks the exact same as I remember him from 8th grade. Is there some secret anti-aging thing going on in DC male science teachers?! Mr. Belue was excited to hear that I was teaching Latin--always a nice thing to hear! There were many other familiar faces to visit with. For someone who moves around alot, it was nice to go to a place and have people remember you! Wow!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Happy Belated Valentine's Day!

Well, blogging just hasn't been a big priority lately, but I want everyone to know we're having a great visit! And I also wanted to say that I had a great Valentine's Day too! I was surprised to find a card from the boys when I got up for breakfast on Tuesday. It turns out Grandpa took Nathan and Luke to Meijers on Saturday while I was in Columbus so they could pick one out! Looking back, Nathan was dropping big hints that he had been to Meijers before Monday, specifically in the card section, but my pregnancy-addled brain was NOT picking up on them then! LOL!

The boys and I went off to ladies' Bible study at Faircreek. It was wonderful to see all those women again. I really miss that fellowship in Virginia. Then we drove over to Amy's house to have lunch and play. When we were almost there, my cell phone rang, and it was Mom telling me that I had a delivery of flowers from Bob! What a huge surprise! She put them in water and a vase for me. They're really opening up beautifully--red, pink, and white roses, as well as baby's breath. Funny story--last night Amy was over here while the older boys were at AWANA, and she was pointing to each color rose while Jonathan said the color name. He got red and white just fine, but when it came to pink, he was stumped and finally had to answer "I don't know". LOL--that shows how much pink we have around the house, since I am definitely NOT a "pink" person, but I have a feeling he will be much better acquainted with that particular color by next Valentine's Day, if this baby does indeed turn out to be a girl!

We stayed over at Amy's for the rest of the day so the boys could play with Zachary after he got home from school. He got a new Playmobil castle for Christmas, which was a big hit. It was also nice enough for everyone to play outside for a little while and run off some steam. All 6 boys got along very well, although it did get a little loud at times! Now Caleb and Jonathan ask every day if we are going back over to Aunt Amy's house.

Just 2 more days until Bob flies back in! This afternoon Dad and I are judging the middle school science fair. It's been awhile since I've judged one, so that should be fun. I'm sure I will win the prize for "most pregnant judge"! : )

Monday, February 13, 2006

What can you get for a penny?

Well, at Meijer (a super-Walmart-like store), you can get a horsey-ride! For a penny! It's truly one of the last great bargains of our modern times. The boys always want to ride the little cars, horses, etc. outside of the Walmart back in Virginia, but those cost the kingly ransom of $.50, so I always pass and tell them that when we go to Grandma's house, we can ride the penny horse at Meijer. Today was that day, and everyone had a great ride. Jonathan was thrilled to actually "be" the Lone Ranger (no, that phase hasn't passed yet). Caleb was a little scared, but after Luke and Jonathan had theier turns, he decided it must really be fun after all. I thought Nathan, at the ripely mature age of 8 1/2, might deem himself too old for such amusements, but no--he rode last and enjoyed it just as much as his brothers. I'm glad he isn't too grown-up for horsey rides yet!


I have been wanting to post, but I couldn't get logged in here at my parents' house. I finally realized today that I had the wrong username, so hopefully now the problem is solved . . .

We had an uneventful drive out, although our "check engine" light came back on again. Thursday morning Bob and I went over to AutoZone to see what the code was reading. It said we had a faulty oxygen sensor, which is a $100 part. Quite a difference from replacing the whole darned catalytic converter at about $1,000! So we ordered the new part, and Bob will hopefully be able to change that out when he flies back in next Saturday. We have not totally decided that the Honda dealer back in D.C. was out to cheat us, but if it does indeed only turn out to only be an oxygen sensor (which they did not even mention in their estimate), then we will be pretty unhappy with them and certainly never go back! More on this story later.

Amy and I had such a great "Moms' Get-Away" in Columbus Friday and Saturday. We left here around 3:00 and drove straight to the Easton shopping center, one of those ritzy outdoor shopping centers. We wandered around Barnes and Noble, and then we decided we would eat an early dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. I had a delicious burrito (with lots of sour cream and guacamole, my pregnancy cravings). We were done about 6:00, and by then there was a tremendous wait, so we made the right choice there. plus, it gave us enough time to walk off dinner so we could come back later and have dessert! We walked about 2 hours. We really didn't buy anything, but it was fun just to look and talk. We came back and ate dessert at the Cheesecake Factory around 8:30. We got a slice of coffee Heathbar crunch cheesecake, and a slice of Snickers cheesecake. YUM! I personally liked the coffee one better because the Snickers one was not a "chocolate" cheesecake, which I prefer. Still good though! It's a good thing we did all that walking! We went to our hotel and watched the Olympic opening ceremony while calling home to check up on everyone. Saturday we slept in, ate breakfast, and then went back to the shopping center because I really wanted to check out "the Container Store". What a great store! All I need is tons of money and little containers, and I know my life would be perfectly organized! LOL! I did buy a nice big plastic pouring container for the honey nut cheerio bags we buy at Sams. We drove back here around lunchtime, had the soup and salad at Olive Garden for lunch, and then went to Kohls and Once Upon a Child before going home. I found a few cute girl things at Once Upon a Child. It's easier for me to buy used girl clothing, I guess, since I know there is no way we will be getting the use out of girls' clothes that we have gotten out of our boys' clothes! Meanwhile, everyone survived at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Jonathan is calling me his "new mommy" for some reason now. Maybe it's because I now look so rested and relaxed! LOL! Anyhow, it was a great birthday present from Amy to do this with her, and we had a great time.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

"One small step for a man . . ."

. . . Many small steps for first-graders and their tired chaperones!

Today was our space field trip to the Udvar-Hazy museum, and I must say it all went pretty well! We first saw the IMAX film "Space Station". We watched that awhile back (with you guys, Aunt Claire?), so I knew where the loud parts would be. Caleb and Jonathan weren't phased by the noise though; in fact, Jonathan was quite entranced. Maybe there is a new phase coming on (goodbye, Lone Ranger?). Then our big group split up into grade levels, and it was time for the first graders to do the scavenger hunt that Elizabeth and I had worked on. The kids were for the most part pretty interested, and one of the parents even commented that she was learning alot! We found all the things, but the display that caught the kids' interest most was the one where they showed samples of old space food. Well, that and the dead mouse that had been preserved in an old experiment tunnel. A guard pointed that out. The mouse's eye was falling out, so you can imagine the excitement! Then it was our turn for storytime, where a worker read a story about the Apollo 11 moon landing. Since we covered that in class, the kids were on top of all her questions! The kids were then able to touch a real space suit and try on space gloves and boots. Then they designed and colored patches for their own shuttle missions. After we were through there, we went up to the 7th floor observation towere, where we watched planes take off and land at Dulles Airport. After about 15 minutes of that, it was time for everyone to go home! Yay! I was so hungry and tired! Overall, however, it was fun, and it went a lot more smoothly than I thought it might! I did come home and take a nice nap....

When we got home, I was thrilled to find birthday messages from both my brother and my Aunt Claire ! Thanks, guys! It hasn't seemed like much of a special day, but I am looking forward to celebrating more completely in Ohio! Tomorrow we are going to drive straight to Young's Dairy, where we'll meet Mom and Dad and also Amy and her boys. Of course, I will get my absolute favorite flavor, chocolate peanut butter. Mmmmmmmmmm. Bob will fly back here Thursday, and then on Friday, Amy and I are going to get away to a hotel in Columbus for a night! We're planning on some shopping, maybe a movie, some scrapbooking, and definitely chocolate! THAT will be my real birthday! And letting me go like that is Bob's real present to me!

Speaking of the trip, Bob took the van in this afternoon. Apparently our catalytic converter will need to be replaced sometime in the future (to the tune of about $1,000). Also, they would be happy to change out our brake pads and rotors for another $500, plus it is about time for our timing belt to be changed (another $1,000). Bob made sure they had turned off the "check engine" light, then thanked them all politely. We hadn't planned on dropping $2500 on the van this afternoon! So it looks like nothing is seriously wrong, and hopefully it will continue doing just fine as we drive tomorrow. Thanks for the prayers! I finished packing last night, so tonight after dinner I'll load up the van. Hopefully we can leave around 9:00 tomorrow morning! Blogging will probably be light for the next couple of days as I relax! : )

Monday, February 06, 2006

Why now?!!

We went to the library this afternoon to drop off all our books and get some new books on tape for the trip Wednesday, and as we drove home, I noticed that the "check engine" light was on in the van. Ack! And since the big field trip is tomorrow until 12:30, that leaves a pretty limited time frame for it to be looked at! We have an appointment at the Honda dealership tomorrow afternoon at 2:00--please pray that there is really nothing wrong!!

We had a good time last night. We ate chili over at the L's house and then watched the first 3 quarters of the Super Bowl there. (Then Jonathan sort of melted down, so we had to come back to put Caleb and him down and watch the rest here!) Everyone here was plenty excited about the Steelers' win, although I am sure that if we were Seahawks fans, we would be mad about the officiating. Whether or not they were acurate calls, there were several that were pretty darn close and could have gone either way, and I'm sure the Seahawks fans feel plenty justified in their anger! We started watching some ice skating during the halftime show, but we did turn back to see a few minutes of the Rolling Stones. We laughed heartily. Has there ever been an uglier group of humanity assembled in one place?! I don't think so! And the way they dance! It was so ridiculous! I can't believe they ever were popular, and it is mind-boggling to think that they still are. At the very least, it is enough to scare one away from a life of smoking, drinking, and chasing women. If that is what you look like after living that way . . . I swear they all look pickled.

Alright, I am going to get busy now and pack. I've done all the laundry, so I'm ready!

Friday, February 03, 2006

A Beautiful Day

The weather today was simply gorgeous! It is sunny and warm--definitely "no jacket" weather, and I was a little too warm in a long sleeve shirt! All that is set to end tomorrow, but it sure makes for a nice February day! We were planning on cleaning bathrooms this afternoon after we got back from Sams and Wal-Mart, but instead I made an executive decision, and we all went outside (except Jonathan who was down for his nap). The boys played football ("Go Steelers" is a common rallying cry around here lately), and I took the opportunity to clean out the minivan. I try to do that before every trip, and it stays that way for about . . . 20 minutes into the trip. Then everything gets all messy, and I never get around to cleaning it again until our next trip! Good thing we travel so often! LOL!

I had my 32 week appointment this morning. Elizabeth was able to watch the boys, so I didn't have to take them with me. Several people at the doctor's office asked about them though! Everything looks just fine. The doctor did say that my glucose test was fine, although I was "near the cut-off". Well, considering it was right after New Year's, I am just thrilled that I passed! I'm not spilling any sugar in my urine or anything, so I'm not worried. Let's see--I'm measuring right at 32 weeks, I've gained 26 pounds so far (and since I have gained between 30 and 35 pounds with each pregnancy, I am right on target for that!), my blood pressure is 114/70, and . . . I guess that's all. The doctor was asking me how I thought the baby was lying, and I said I could feel a big lump up on top, which I assumed was the bottom, and then most of the movements are down lower. I think the baby is kind of on her (?!) side, facing down. The doctor felt around and said she thought the head was down too. I told her I'd never had any problems with a baby not being down, and she said that it would be a shame to make it to my fifth baby and have to have a c-section for a breech. Then she got a thoughtful look on her face and said, "Although, to be honest, someone with your history would be an excellent candidate to go vaginally with a breech baby. We would probably try that." Ummm . . . thank you, I think! LOL! No, I just laughed and said I hoped it wouldn't come to that! That does not sound like my idea of fun!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Interesting Epiphany

I had an interesting insight during the ladies' retreat I just went on. There were opportunities at all the meals to talk to different ladies, and I was involved in several interesting discussions about homeschooling, parenting, cleaning, schedules, etc. One conversation was with one lady who has 3 kids (ages 7, 4, and 1) and another lady who has 4 kids (12, 11, 8 , and 4). They were talking about how they feel so guilty because they don't feel like they can spend enough time with each child. One lady said every night she went to bed guilty because it seemed like the older ones just didn't get enough of her time. Then they asked me if I ever felt guilty about this, since I have a large family, and as I thought about it, I realized that, well, no, I never have. (And this is note-worthy because I am someone who can make myself feel guilty for plenty of non-realistic things!) Anyhow, as I reflected on this, I realized that this is a direct result of homeschooling. The older boys get individual time with me in the mornings as we do their schoolwork, and Caleb gets his time as well when we practice his reading. Then they find things to occupy themselves in the afternoon, and I can do things with Jonathan if he would like. He's pretty crabby right after naptime, so we snuggle then, and then the boys usually wander around, in and out, while I cook dinner. But I have the whole day to spend with them, and so I don't think anyone feels left out. It was a good feeling--something to not feel guilty over! LOL--we all need more of those! The other ladies were wondering if their older kids resented the fact that they had younger siblings (they didn't have any evidence, just random musings), but I told them I doubted they thought that since we had also talked about how our kids love to play with their siblings and so on. I think we moms are just really good at overanalyzing our families and feeling guilt where there shouldn't be any.

In a different conversation, another mom (with 2 girls, 1 and almost 3) was feeling guilty about telling her older girl to play by herself sometime--she felt like she should be constantly available, and she asked me if I ever felt guilty about this. Again, I had to say no. I did play more with Nathan and Luke when they were little, to "show" them how to imagine and play with things like Little People, but now Nathan and Luke have filled that gap with Caleb and Jonathan, and I LOVE to see them play with each other. It is so precious to see Luke gently move Little People around, making them talk to Jonathan's people, and so on. And the result is that they can all play together OR by themselves, and that is such an important skill to learn. I told her that she NEEDED to teach her girls to play independently (right now they just cling to her all the time), and I suggested roomtime and other things like that, as well as setting a time limit every day where she did play with them, helping them learn "how" to play. She was so relieved to think that maybe she didn't have to be at the girls' absolute beck and call all day long--well, actually she already knew she couldn't be, since there are things she has to do, but she was feeling so guilty about it! I think our culture is so obsessive about doing things "exactly perfect", but we've lost sight of what actually is best for kids as they look towards becoming productive adults. Is it better to grow up in a home full of siblings where you must learn to share and get along with others, or is it better to have someone's attention devoted soley to you? Is it better to learn how to occupy yourself and play imaginatively, or is it better to have someone constantly there to amuse you? Well, it seems to me that out in the world, there are sadly few postions that allow you to be constantly pampered, amused, paid attention to, etc., so it seems like a kid has a much better chance of succeeding in life if he learns that lesson early on, as a welcome member of the family, but NOT the complete center. And no one should feel guilty about that!