Monday, December 31, 2007

Year in Review

I decided to look back at what I thought was important enough to blog about this past year.

I started off in January by blogging about our search for a shiny new trash can. I am happy to report that at Sams on Friday, I found an almost 13 gallon shiny trash can with an attached lid that I think will be too heavy for Grace to push over. It's not as "stylish" as the ones at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, but it's also not $200, and I can use regular trash bags with it. It's been working great!

In February, I was 28 weeks pregnant. We did a ton of traveling, out to Colorado for Nan's funeral, and also to Ohio. I failed my glucose tolerance test, and I was weary of being pregnant. But someone on the WTM board had an inspirational post on being 28 weeks pregnant that got me through the next few months.

March brought evidence that Anna can be a real stinker. This trend has continued as she has grown older.

In April I stressed about my upcoming delivery, so it was good that Caleb distracted me with this custom designed crest.

On May 1, Grace Elizabeth was born. Here is her birth story, in case you happened to miss it the first time around.

June was filled with posts like this one , where I moan about things like mastitis and not getting enough sleep. I'm glad that month is over!

In July, Anna was back to her old tricks, with a black eye and a microwave "incident" . Also, we grew Dan's Chia Shrek, which certainly turned out to be . . . something.

Our beloved Pathfinder bit the dust in August, and I wrote a touching eulogy for it. To be honest though, we haven't really missed it. (Now that I say that, I better prepare for a huge snowstorm, where its 4 wheel drive would have been priceless, LOL.)

A memorable part of September was the stye in my eye. Later I read some posts on the Well Trained Mind board that said breast milk is the best thing to take these painful things away. Hmmm. Well, it was too late for me, but it was so painful I would have definitely tried anything, had I known about this potential remedy. I'll have to leave some milk in my freezer for such a time, LOL.

In October, Nathan had a tick bite under his eye. Thankfully there have been no signs of Lyme's disease, and in fact, I had forgotten all about the incident until I read about it my archives!

I bought new shoes in November, and I am happy to report that I just thinking yesterday how comfortable they are. Yay for taking things back!

Well, that's what struck me as I skimmed back through the year. That is what I like about blogging--I can remember all these little things that seemed so important at the time, but in reality were not too big in the whole scheme of things!

Friday, December 28, 2007

After Christmas

We've had a wonderful week of vacation, with no school at all. The boys have mainly been downstairs, playing with their new Bionicles and Transformers. Anna has been playing daily with an adorable tea set from Aunt Melinda and Uncle Dan. The boys got several new books, including a different Star Wars cookbook ("Darth Malt") and a visual dictionary of all 6 episodes. That last one has been pored over by all the boys at one time or another! A while ago I found a $1.00 Star Wars coloring book at Books-A-million, in their bargain stack, which I gave to Caleb. It's turn came yesterday, although the boys didn't color much in it. Instead, they traced the pictures onto paper, presumably to color those. How thrifty! All I know is that this activity has also kept them all very quiet, LOL.

Nathan starts Upward basketball next Thursday, so I have been making him (and everyone else) go outside and practice basketball, as well as run laps for awhile each afternoon. Conditioning, you know.

We had our house appraised yesterday, and I'm glad that's over! We got it as clean as possible, and the man was supposed to come between 10:30 and 11:00. He finally got here right around 11:00, and I was so worried that I wasn't going to be able to keep the house clean any longer! The boys were watching Jonathan's new Lone Ranger video (from the $1 bins at Target, woohoo!), but I knew that was going to soon be over. And I was sort of following around after Anna, picking up whatever she got out. This appraisal is for us to refinance to a 30 year loan, and we're going to need it, since I don't see how we could ever put the house on the market and try to show it with all these kids, LOL.

Last night we ate dinner at Chick-Fil-A and headed over to Walmart for a few things. While there, Bob spotted at $19 mini-trampoline, so we bought that. I guess it's a late Christmas gift, but we figured they could bounce around in the basement and work off excess energy on rainy days. As a funny aside, my parents have a mini-trampoline as well, and this is how the boys refer to them, as in: "Which Grandma and Grandpa are you talking about?" "The ones with the trampoline in the basement." On some visits, the trampoline isn't even out, so you'd think that wouldn't be the thing they remember most, but who knows how their little minds work. Anyhow, now we have one of our own.

As for me, I am spending my post-Christmas vacation up to my ears in reptiles (well, now that I can let the house go again, LOL). I would just like to say that before I started this research, I thought I didn't care much for reptiles. Now I know that I thoroughly despise them, and that they are totally and completely nasty, with the possible exception of geckoes, which are small and fairly cute, as far as reptiles go (not far, LOL). Yuck. Every single book I got out of the library has tons of pictures of these horrible creatures killing their victims in all sorts of gruesome ways, I guess because the experts tell us that in order to keep kids' attention nowdays, things have to be gross or something. And now I am seeing them when I close my eyes, and dreaming of them at night. Ewwwww! I will be so very glad when my 2 teaching weeks are over!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas From Our Family to Yours!!!!

We had a beautiful candlelight service last night at church, followed by a night of wrapping presents and frosting our birthday cake for Jesus for Bob and me.

In the morning, we woke up, had breakfast, and then we opened stockings. After a quick nursing break, we opened presents. We all got such wonderful things! We ate our big meal at 1:00, and after another nursing break, we all went on a walk to the playground/football playing field. The weather was beautiful today! When we were in Colorado, we liked to go on Christmas hikes with our neighbors, Bill and Pam. I want to start that tradition up again! The boys are playing happily and quietly downstairs. Bob and Anna are napping. It's so nice and quiet! After we eat leftovers or something, we will have our birthday party for Jesus. After all, his birth is the reason we have anything to celebrate on this day or any day!

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! II Cor. 9:15

One last thing--we are also celebrating a new member being added to our family! My cousin James got engaged to Sarah yesterday!! Congratulations! What a wonderful time of year to become engaged, and we are so excited for you!!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Preparations Wrap-Up

We cut out sugar cookies on Thursday. Nathan made the dough in our big mixer, and it turned out great (and a little puffy because he added a little too much baking powder due to a doubling miscalculation, LOL). We used our regular Christmas cookie cutters, but we also opened a box that I had bought many, many years ago while we were still in Colorado. It was a set of cutters to make a Nativity scene. Those cookies we decided to decorate before baking with an egg glaze that I had read about on The Pioneer Woman Cooks. We painted the glaze on, and it was really easy. Unfortunately, the cookies puffed up a lot, and so you can't really tell what was supposed to be colored on the final product, so it was not a rousing success.

We decorated the other cookies on Friday afternoon with our regular powdered sugar glaze. In the decorating process, you can really tell that all my older kids are boys, not girls. The frosting technique is "pile it on and add tons of every kind of sprinkles"--no detail work, LOL. Finally I finished whatever it was I was doing in the kitchen and decorated a few cookies myself. I did a teddy bear first, and I carefully spread yellow frosting on the head, arms, and legs before putting red frosting on the tummy and adding eyes and a mouth. "Hey! You made Winnie the Pooh!" was the surprised cry of the boys. Using more than one color had not really occured to them. Then Jonathan asked if he could put sprinkles on my cookies. I told him no because I really don't like sprinkles. "WHAT?! You don't like sprinkles?!" Everyone was astounded, LOL. AFter that, the boys were a little more artistic, but when we pick out cookies to eat, I noticed that people like to pick Jonathan's. And why not? Pound for pound, he is the king of putting the most frosting and sprinkles on! Artistry only goes so far, LOL.


Sunday afternoon Bob's sister Ann, her husband Wally, and their daughter Christi came up to visit from Richmond for the night. We had such a fun time with them. Ann and Wally played cards with the older boys, while Christi read lots of books to the little ones. Ann, Christi, and I stayed up too late talking, but it was such a nice break to just sit around and chat. Christi is getting married soon, so she was full of wedding plans to talk about, and I was full of marriage advice, LOL. This morning, Nathan made pancakes for breakfast, and then we sat around and sang boisterous Christmas carols, such as in the picture. We sure were loud! I mean, festive!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Lost Evidences of a Past Me

We've been busy cleaning the past 2 days. Bob's oldest sister Ann and her family are coming Sunday afternoon to spend the night, and then we have an appraiser coming on Thursday because we're refinancing our house. Yesterday we spent a good deal of time on the upstairs, and this morning we worked on the basement.

After we got the main part of the basement done, I went to straighten out what we call the playroom down there--the only unfinished part of the basement, the part where the water heater and furnace are. It's a good size room, though, so we have carpet down in the middle of it, and that's where the boys play Lincoln logs and army men. I rarely make them clean it up, so they love it, LOL. We also use it for storage, and we have boxes along one wall.

After I shuffled around some tubs of clothes, I noticed that some of the boxes on the floor had *gasp* water marks on them. Hmmm, I thought. How odd. These are book boxes-that can't be good. And it wasn't. The box that had the most damage was filled with notebooks sitting upright, so most of them had terrible mold and had to be tossed without a second thought. It was really hard though. There were some old high school yearbooks, and also ones from my international school in Okinawa. There were lots of notebooks from high school and college classes. These may seem like a no-brainer that I should have tossed years ago, but you know, it was always sort of comforting to have those papers downstairs. Like I may not remember how to solve a differential equation now, but look what I used to be able to do! It's like another beautiful language! This was me, before my brain atrophied and wasted away from having all these children! Also, I had a lot of school projects saved, from my state report ("Utah") in 5th grade all the way up to my senior project in college ("Transcriptional Regulation of the Human Apolipoprotein A1 Gene").

Some things weren't so bad off, and I left them out to dry while I think about what to do with them. I suspect that I'll have to throw many of them away too, but I guess I'm just sort of giving myself some time to get used to the idea. And some of the books I really want to salvage, like my vertebrate zoology lab manual, which I am sure will come in handy when the boys need to dissect things, especially if we just order the kits to do ourselves. I had also saved a great deal of stuff from my high school English classes that I was planning on using with the boys. I had a really great teacher most years in high school, and I think my grasp of grammar is pretty good because of him, compared to what I've heard a lot of other people talk about. We also had these killer cummulative vocab tests each week, and I have a lot of the lists, which I was planning on using. I have all that stuff sort of spread out everywhere, so we'll see what happens.

It was so discouraging though. I don't really save that much "stuff"--knick-knacks and things. But books are really important to me, and I felt such a sense of loss as I threw all these notebooks away. It's almost a loss of identity because those things are pretty much all the kids could page through that identified and proved the academic life I had before I had kids.

You may be wondering why I wasn't more concerned about the water and where it came from. The air conditioner empties water by where these boxes are. So I am positive that the boxes got wet back in the summer, which is why the mold in the boxes was so bad now.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

School Update

Yesterday, because of Nathan's late night, we took a day off of school and had a game day. We played Rummikub, Clue, Pictionary, and Ginnykub. Luke was not at all sure about Pictionary, because, as he said, "I am not a good drawer". I assured him that you didn't have to be an expert artist--you just had to be able to get the main idea across--so he reluctantly tried it. We all had a great time! Of course, it helped that we didn't play teams. We just rolled the die to make our way around the board, drawing whatever category we landed on. And after awhile we did away with the timer too--no pressure! It was fun to see their thought processes in their drawings. This is a great thing about big families--there are always plenty of people aroudn to paly games!

On a normal December day, however, we are sort of doing "school lite". This means that I get out their Latin sentences to translate, math, and English the night before, and they do those in the morning. Then usually (but not always) we do memory work and Latin later, as well as maybe mental math or math facts review. That's about it for formal school, though, and it allows us to run errands in the mornings if we need to , or spend the whole afternoon baking, or whatever we need to do. And I don't get too worried about seeing their vocab leaking out their ears as I sit and watch them, LOL. We are also reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever out loud, and since we are studying the Civil War in history, I got out a ton of Civil War books from the library. Sometimes I read them aloud, but often the boys just pick them up on their own and read them. January we'll pick back up with a heavier load. The break is so nice though. Let's not talk about starting back up again, LOL.

The boys had their last day of co-op last Tuesday, and it was the grand finale to a little fine arts unit. They had an art show, with pieces they had worked on the previous 2 weeks matted and displayed for the parents to look at. Also, one of the moms does pottery, so she brought in her wheel and did a demonstration, complete with spiritual application. It was really neat. It is exactly for things like this that I am glad we do this co-op! I am all for the fine arts, but they really are not my forte, or even a high priority just on my own, so it is a good thing the boys can get exposure in another setting, with people who actually have lots of talents in these areas!

When TnT starts back again the second week in January, they will be doing a unit on reptiles. And I am teaching the 3rd and 4th graders. Ack! I guess I'd better get cracking! Amazingly, I keep finding better things to do with my time, other than plan lessons for reptiles. The lady who is teaching the second 2 weeks of the unit is doing dinosaurs, so it is up to me to overview reptiles. I had thought I would actually start with a quick run-down of animal classification as a whole, so the kids can understand why reptiles are reptiles, and how they differ from, say frogs. That won't take up an hour and 15 minutes though, not to mention the second week! Also, one of the boys in the 4th grade class has some learning issues, and he is going to be a real challenge. I need some kinds of hand-on activities, more than just worksheets or listening to me talk, because I know he will not be able to sit still or even be capable of doing much writing. But I'm drawing a blank for activities. Hmmm.

So that's what we're up to school-wise!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Nathan's Amazing Technicolor Christmas Rash

Well, here is what Nathan looked like when he and Bob got back from Bethesda and after his shot of benedryl! There was hardly a spot on his poor body that wasn't raised and red! We were impressed with Nathan's wish to celebrate Christmas so completely by decorating himself in seasonal colors, LOL. Very festive!
He took his first doses of prednisone and liquid benedryl last night too, and when he woke up this morning, the mysterious rash was all gone. But he has to take the prednisone for 4 days. We will certainly keep on top of that, because we do NOT want this crazy thing to come back, like it did yesterday!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Nathan's Mysterious Skin Ailment

**Update below**

After care group was finished last night, Nathan came up and showed me a hive that had mysteriously popped up under his left eye and was really itchy. I immediately gave him a chewable children's benedryl pill (with Caleb's food issues, we have these around all over the place!). Then I asked to look at more of him to see if there were any more hives. Well, there were some on his back as well. When he went upstairs about an hour later to go to bed, I had him take 2 tsp. of Zyrtec, another antihistimine. By the time he was actually in bed, the bumps on his back were smaller, and he said he wasn't itchy anymore, so I assumed the whole thing would pass. We had tried to figure out what could possibly have caused this reaction, but we came up totally blank. He hasn't eaten any new foods, I haven't used any new detergents, etc.

This monring when he woke up, his back looked better, although there were still small bumps on it. He also had some on his legs, but his face looked just fine. I told him to take another dose of Zyrtec, and Nathan promptly got distracted and forgot all about doing that.

At 4:00, his face started to get more and more red. This first picture is from about 5:00. His shoulders were also starting to get worse, as well as his arms, and he had hives/rash on his buttocks too. At 6:00 I told him to take another dose of Zyrtec (and realized that he hadn't taken one this morning). I started making plans to take him in to the doctor tomorrow.



By 7:00, his face was much, much worse, and his arms were like one giant hive all over. He was incredibly itchy and hot all over. We decided Bob would take him to the ER at Bethesda, so they left about 7:15 for that trek. This picture was taken right before they left.


They are almost there now, so we'll see what the doctor says. Hopefully they can give him some sort of steroid or something. Bob did come up with one new thing Nathan had this weekend. Bob was TDY to Texas last week, and he brought home a stalk of sugar cane for the boys. They sell this at Walmart down there! We had read Swiss Family Robinson this past summer, and that was one thing they were always snacking on, so Bob thought we'd give it a go. Luke allowed that he would eat it, but only if he were starving. Nathan thought it was okay and chewed on quite a bit of it. Still though--that was Friday afternoon and Saturday, and the hives didn't start until Sunday night. Weird.

**Update: They left Bethesda about 10:45. The docs gave Nathan a benedryl shot after determining that it was, believe it or not, an allergic reaction. Wow! How enlightening! Unfortunately they had no idea what could have caused it either. They sent him home with benedryl and prednisone to take over the course of the next few days, which will hopefully do the trick. The shot has so far helped Nathan's body not be so "3-D", but Bob said it was still pretty red and bumpy. Poor guy!

Christmas Party Weekend

We had the most social weekend I think we have ever had! It started off Friday night, where we had a Christmas party at Bible study. The kids (there are 15 kids for 4 families) acted out the Christmas story,complete with costumes. A few years ago, for AWANA at Halloween, the kids all had to be Bible characters. So I cut up an ugly brown sheet into tunic things that the kids wear over Dad's t-shirts, along with belts and headscarves (also out of the sheet). Voila! Your generic Bible character costume! These 4 costumes stood us in good stead once again. Nathan was Joseph, Luke was a shepherd and a wise man, and Caleb and JOnathan were shepherds. In a surprise casting move, I was the Angel of the Lord (sans costume, LOL). It was a lot of fun. Then we socialized over snacks for a long time, not leaving until after 10:00.

Saturday we had our first party at 3:00. The German family down the street had a neighborhood German Christmas tea, with all sorts of German foods and drinks. Some of the food I really liked, and some, well, not so much. It was fun though, and I drank 2 cups of tea, as well as a few tiny sips of some sort of mulled wine that is "the smell of Christmas" to Oliver and Ellie. Everyone thought it was really great stuff, but boy, I do not have any sort of taste for wine, because I really didn't like it. I guess that's a good thing, as you're not really supposed to drink while nursing, eh?

I left about 4:30 and rushed home to finish tidying it up. Saturday night my ladies' Bible study was having a Christmas progressive dinner, and the kids were all going to be at our house, eating pizza! They started coming at 6:00, and of course I was nowhere ready for them. I still had to make my spinach strawberry salad, and as we were getting ready to leave, I remembered that I had also said I would take tacquitoes. Whoops! So I took the box of them frozen to heat there. How classy!

We went to Jenny's house for the appetizers/main course, and that was a great time. After we ate, we did the white elephant gift exchange game, where you can take presents away from people. I kept opening the "good" presents, which were promptly stolen, so I ended up opening 3 presents (out of only 12). After the presents, we all came and retrieved our kids before heading to the L's house for dessert. While at the L's house, we played a fun Mad-Libs version of "Twas the Night Before Christmas", and we also sang Christmas carols around the piano. Once again, we didn't leave until after 10:00. Hmmm. I wonder if these late nights might have any impact on children? Oh, I'm sure not, LOL.

Sunday we went to church, and then rushed home to have a quick sandwich and nurse Grace before heading over to another neighbor's house for yet another Christmas party. This neighbor, Doctor Joe, is an older man, and each year he invites all the neighborhood kids to listen to him tell Christmas stories that he has made up. They are nice fairy-tale like stories, each one centered around a Christmas tree of a different color. It's a good time for the kids, and afterwards he and Stella always put on a huge spread of food.

After stuffing ourselves again, we went home and again straightened up because at 6:00 our care group from church was meeting at our house. We only meet every third Sunday, but this was the lucky weekend! So once again I nursed quickly, whipped up a quick pan of gingerbread for dessert, and then welcomed people here. And once again I was nowhere near ready for them when they came! We had a good study, but after everyone left and we got the kids down, I was so very glad to be done with all our socializing. Our calendar for this next week is blessedly completely blank! Ahhhhhhhhhh.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Born Good?

Last night I was getting ready to give Anna and Grace a bath. I told Anna to go upstairs and get ready for her bath. She immediately said, "NO! Uh uh! Why?!" And then she scampered happily up the stairs because she really loves baths, LOL. You can't tell me those words aren't hard-wired as a default response pretty deeply into their little beings! The trick is over-riding the automatic programmed response and replacing it with "Yes, Mommy!". We're still working on that . . .

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

An Early Christmas Present

This time of year there are always discussions in the paper, on message boards and so on about what kind of gifts women hate to get. The general thought seems to be that women don't like practical gifts; however, this is NOT me. Bring on the practical gifts!!

I have wanted for a long time a collapsible rolling file cart from Office Depot. You may wonder why that particular item has caused such yearning in me. I wanted it for the library. We check out many, many books at a time, and I have always carried them in a big Land's End tote bag. Recently we have also had to branch out into 2 small auxiliary tote bags that the boys carry because we were just plum out of room in the big bag, and my arm was about to fall off from hauling it around. A long time ago I read a thread on the Well Trained Mind board where many people recommended this rolling crate thing, and it sounded like a great idea to me.

So last night Nathan and I prepared to go to the library when he called me out to the garage to "look at something". There, in the front seat and with a red bow on, was this cart! I was so excited! Bob decided he should go ahead and give it to me so that I could actually use it, instead of just waiting for Christmas. It was so nice! I just wheeled my heavy load right in! I know everyone was looking jealously at it--or looking at it anyways, LOL. They were probably thinking, "Why does any lady need to get out so many books?!"

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Now we can move on to other parts of Christmas. . .

The chocolates are all done! Yay! Every year I am always a little surprised when I reach the point that I am sick of chocolate, and yet every year, that point is reached, LOL. Last night I made a peppermint bark to use up the rest of the dark chocolate, and I still haven't even tasted it. I am just not interested. Blech.

We bought 10 pounds of milk chocolate, 5 pounds of dark chocolate, and 2 pounds of white chocolate. We used it all except for about 1 pound of the milk chocolate. We'll have to make something yummy with it--in February maybe, LOL.

The biggest difference this year was that Nathan was really my partner, not just my helper. He did some of everything--painting the molds, filling them, rolling out other fillings, etc. It was really fun to work with him, and it was so nice not to have to do it all! I guess this is why people have children! LOL! And of course we had some really great discussions while working about Pearl Harbor, current events, etc.

The thing about not doing it all myself was that I had to let go of some of my anal perfectionism. This was really hard to do. I can still remember the lady at Marway's Cake and Candy Supply Store in Colorado Springs, where I took the candy-making classes, talking about how you want people to realize your gifts were "hand-crafted, not home-made" or something to that effect, because of their great quality. And let's face it--a 10 year old boy who doesn't normally pay tons of attention to detail is going to be sloppier and less careful than someone like, well, me, who always got charater qualities such as "neatness" and "diligence" at award banquets in school. (Yes, I went to a Christian school obviously, LOL). But I managed to let it go fairly gracefully and not rush back to correct everything I thought wasn't quite good enough. So the bottoms of the chocolates aren't quite as smooth as they should be, and sometimes they are a bit swirled because the chocolate started to set before the mat got put in the freezer. They still taste great! And I think things like this will help Nathan pay more attention to details. He did greatly improve over the course of the week.

By the time the boys are all in high school, I'll just sit back and let them make tons of chocolates. Then I'll rake in the money. I knew there was a reason we had so many kids! LOL!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Finally--SNOW!!!


When we woke up yesterday, we were surprised to see snow on the ground! Jonathan has been asking oh, I don't know, probably at least once a day when it was going to snow. I told the boys not to get too excited because I was sure it wouldn't stick around, but it did! We got about 2 inches, enough to make 4 boys very happy!

The boys had a "school date" over at the L's house while Anna and I were at the dentist, and as we were coming home, they were excitedly talking about playing in the snow. Their friends, the 4 McC boys, were coming to our house at 4:00 while their mom had a doctor's appointment, and they really wanted to play outside with the McCs. I sort of stammered around because, I tell you, it is hard enough dealing with 4 boys, snow suits, gloves, boots, hats, etc. I really can't fathom doing it for 8 boys between the ages of 3 and 10! Finally I told them they could play outside after lunch, but that we would probably all stay inside to play at 4:00.

After lunch, Christine called to say that her doctor apointment had been rescheduled. She didn't want to impose, but her husband, Craig was home (he had been going to accompany her to the appointment). Her boys were really looking forward to playing with ours, and would I mind if Craig brought their boys over and took them all sledding or something? Oh my!!!! I was so excited, not to mention my boys!

We began the long process of finding which boots and gloves fit which boy this year and suiting up, and the boys went outside at 2:30. The McCs came about 3:30, after their piano lessons, and they all disappeared to the hill at the end of our cul-de-sac. I kept sticking my head outside every so often to hear squeals of delight emmanating from the bottom of the hill, but I didn't see them again until after 5:00. They were red-cheeked, sopping wet, and cold, but they had a wonderful time! Between both our families, we had 7 sleds. Jonathan and Joel (the 2 youngest) had tried riding down by themselves, but they were a little scared. Then they found our 2-person sled, and they rode down together the rest of the time. The older boys had tales of thrilling rides, near-misses, and spectacular crashes. I was so thankful Craig was there to prevent any fatalities or extreme boyish foolishness!

Meanwhile, I had sat in my warm, quiet kitchen, painting chocolate molds and listening to Christmas carols. We were all happy, LOL.

After dinner, Nathan cleaned up and collapsed on the couch. "I'm not moving from here until bedtime! My legs feel like spaghetti!" Ahhh--nice words for a mom to hear. They all slept like rocks last night!

Anna "Graytooth"

Right before we left for Thanksgiving, I happened to notice that one of Anna's top front teeth was gray. "Hmmmmmm, that's odd," I thought, and then I pretty much forgot all about it since I was busy packing. But while I was relaxing in Ohio, I noticed it again and mentioned it to Mom, jsut to make sure I wasn't imagining things, LOL. She agreed, and I made an appointment with the dentist for yesterday.

In the meantime I did some Googling, and I discovered it was from trauma to the tooth. Well, that's easy--she is always falling. Sometimes it's an accident, and sometimes it's her own fault--espcially when she wails dramatically and collapses in a heap on the floor but tragically misjudges the distance from the coffee table or whatever and bumps her face. Yes, it's a hard life she leads. Anyhow, as far as narrowing down when this particular incident might have occured--well, I had no clue. I can vaguely remember several times over the last few months where we've had to get an ice cube because she fell and her mouth was bleeding. I never noticed anything after the fact, and she certainly has never seemed bothered by anything in her mouth after the blood stops!

So Elizabeth watched the other 5 (huge "thank you"!!) while Anna and I went off to the dentist. She has a cold and didn't sleep well, so she was a real bear when I woke her up. I was worried that she would be totally uncooperative, but thankfully she was fine. She even let them take an x-ray with no hassle! As it turns out, this particular fall, whenever it occured, knocked the tooth backwards, out of alignment. There's no infection in the roots, and since we don't know when it happened, the dentist said it may still heal itself, since baby teeth have immature roots that can heal. We are to go back in a month for her to check on it again.

Anna waited until we got back to the comfortabel environment of the L's house to be grumpy again and throw a tantrum as we were ready to leave, LOL. See, it's not that I am a great parent, it's just that my kids are naturally very wary of strangers, so they keep quiet around them and are generally cooperative, all the while watching suspiciously. Then, when they know there's no threat from strangers, they feel free to act out all the bad behaviors of their sin natures!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Arts and Crafts Weekend

Nathan really enthusiastically jumps into things. Right now it's Christmas. Friday after Anna's well-baby appointment, we stopped by the cake and candy supply shop to get stuff to make chocolates. He was ready as soon as we got home to dig right in and get messy. We got our Christmas tree up Friday night, which meant he started thinking about what presents he could make for everyone in the family. This led his thoughts to the clay that we bought at the teacher supply shop when we were back in Ohio, so he got that out Saturday morning and started "sculpting". And of course, whenever one boy starts something like that, all the other ones join in, so yesterday was "clay day".

Nathan's next thoughts turned to sewing, so Saturday afternoon he asked me to get out the sewing machine and show him how to use it because he wanted to make "something" for me. I was busy dealing with a mountain of laundry, plus clay all over the place, so I really was not in the mood, but eventually he prevailed. He spent a good deal of time practicing sewing straight lines, and then he and Bob went off to Walmart to find some fabric. They came back with a soft and fuzzy red throw--everything else was "not thick enough" for their purposes. Eventually it came to light that Nathan wanted to make Bob and me new Christmas stockings.

This morning we did not got to church because Anna was running a fever (I think from her shots), Grace was really congested and coughing, and I had a sore throat. We decided the better part of valor was staying home and not exposing the church to us! So Nathan and Bob got to work on the stocking project, using an existing stocking as a general pattern. Nathan did all the sewing, and I must say, he turned out a very nice looking stocking! I was most impressed! I'll have to take a picture and post it. The blanket was just the right sort of material needed. Nathan sewed up a second stocking, and then he moved on to painting the clay pieces from yesterday while the other boys took their turns on the sewing machine. Who would have thought such a non-crafty person such as myself would turn out boys interested in sewing?! The other boys also did their painting, although Caleb came back for even more sewing.

Tomorrow we are supposed to start the chocolate making, and I am hoping I feel better for it. It was great having Bob here this weekend to do all this crafty stuff with them. I don't really feel like doing that stuff even when I'm feeling great, LOL. I am such a slacker mom because the mess is so not worth it to me. But obviously it is worth it to the boys, so I'm glad they had fun. I suppose it is wholly appropriate that December be "craft month". Can I get it all out of the way for the whole year in one month?! Just kidding . . . sort of.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Dress Up Night







While we were at Grandma's house, she brought out a box of stuff she had brought back from Aunt Claire's. A big box of things that used to be Nana's--clothes, shoes, hats, purses, and jewelry.

I don't think I need to tell you how much fun the kids had trying these things on!




Nathan commented again on how thrilled he was to have been born a boy, rather than a girl. "High heels hurt! Why would you ever wear these things?!"









Anna of course loved the shoes best of all. In a few years, when Grace, Anna, and their cousin Emily are all at Grandma's, they are going to have such a ball dressing up! The jewelry alone is every girl's dream!

Home Again!

The kids and I made it back safely Wednesday night. We had a bit of excitement in that shortly after we pulled out of Amy's driveway, I noticed a new orange warning light on the dashboard. This did not give me a good feeling. I pulled over and discovered it was the "low tire pressure" warning light. I called Bob, who told me to check all the tire pressures. They were all between 30 and 32 ppi, so Bob told me it was probably just that we needed to put a little more air in the tires, and since the van had been outside in the cold the night before, the tires were a little low. So I drove cautiously on, with an anxious eye on the light. When we reached Columbus, the light did go out, so Bob was right, but it made me nervous!

The girls did better on the return trip, and we were able to finish our book on CD. We got back home at 7:00, where Bob had pizza waiting for us. It was good to be home and sleeping in our own beds again!

Today Anna had her 18 month well-baby appointment. She is 22 pounds, 12 ounces, and 31 1/2 inches long. In case you are interested, that is a fairly average height, but she is between the 10th and 25th percentile in weight. Huh. And she is our chunky one! She got shots today too. For some reason the shot clinic was extremely slow, and we had to wait 45 minutes. This was a bit of a trial. Everyone was pretty well-behaved, but Grace was so ready for a nap, and Caleb and Jonathan were getting antsy by the time we finally were called back. People in the waiting area kept telling me how well-behaved they all were, but I was just waiting for some little thing to set everyone off into big temper tantrums, LOL. Fortunately that never came, whew!

Now we are trying to clean up the main floor so we can start putting Christmas decorations out. Wow--can it really be that time already?! At least I got all the suitcases unpacked yesterday.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving in Ohio

We made it here safely on Monday! Anna had a snack and a nap in the morning, then we stopped for lunch, and she was great. But then we got back in the car again, and well, let's just say she thought we should have been done by then, LOL. She did take another nap, but she was not a great afternoon traveler. The last hour (it took us almost exactly 9 hours) she and Grace tag-teamed crying and wailing. (Caleb: "WHEN will the crying STOP?!") Moving Anna to the very back row was definitely a great move for me, LOL--it's not quite as loud up in the front. We only were able to listen to one CD from our current book on tape, A Wind in the Door, but we did listen to lots of Christmas music. Amazingly, Veggietales Christmas CDs did not soothe the savage beasts, however.

Tuesday Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim arrived here, and we have been having such a wonderful time visiting with them. The boys have enjoyed playing lots of games with them, and also doing Sudoku with Uncle Jim. Anna and Grace have appreciated having extra hands to hold them!

We cooked most of the day Wednesday to prepare for our big feast on Thursday. We had 21 people here, and we had 4 countries represented--USA, Korea, Turkey, and China. This meant we had some delicious international food to go along with the turkey, potaotes, and green beans, etc. It was all yummy, and we have enjoyed eating leftovers and not having to cook again since then!

Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim head back to Utah tomorrow, and we will spend Tuesday with Amy before heading back to Virginia Wednesday. Bob is ready for us to be back, and it will be nice to get back into our regular routine. But this has been a wonderfully relaxing visit with much-loved family!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Happy (Early) Thanksgiving!

We have already started celebrating Thanksgiving here at our house. Since the kids and I are heading to Ohio tomorrow to visit with my parents and my Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim, who are flying in all the way from Utah, we had our big meal together with Bob Friday night. It was good, but the problem with having "Thanksgiving" on a day other than the 4th Thursday of November is that there are other things going on, so you can't just focus on the preparation of food. As a result, I would have to say that it was not by any means my finest work in the kitchen, LOL. I overcooked the sweet potatoes because I turned off the oven and then sort of forgot all about them. They were still good, but the biggest problem I had was the mashed potatoes. I cooked them, drained them, and then set them down on the counter to cool for a minute or 2 before mashing them. Well, an hour or so later I remembered them. Let's just say that I have never really experienced true "gluey" potatoes before Friday, and I will not be forgetting the potatoes again any time soon, LOL. With plenty of gravy they were tolerable, although Luke did not finish his.

One thing we had going on Friday besides cooking was Grace's 6 month well-baby appointment. News flash: She is very light. Yes, she weighs all of 13 pounds, 1 ounce, which the doctor was not very pleased with. It didn't help that I totally forgot about making a 4 month well-baby appointment, so all he could see was that since July, she has only gained 1 pound, LOL. Actually, since in the past month she has gotten 2 teeth and started crawling, I would say she lost a little, but the fact is, she is never going to be big. Luke was also very light. At his 6 month appt. he was 14 pounds, but I started him on solid food at 4 1/2 months because he was not a good nurser, and I thought this would help him gain lots of weight. Well, he is almost 9 years old, he is a good eater, and he weighs 52 pounds, which is still below the 5th percentile in weight! I can definitely see Grace following this track, since she looks so much like him. As you can see by the picture, she obviously looks healthy, and she is very active. Her new thing is pulling herself to standing. I'm not concerned about her, which is the nice thing about having 6 kids, LOL. Actually, all our kids are between the 5th and 10th percentile in weight except Nathan, who has plumped up to near the 50th. So I think we can assume that none of our kids are going to be huge! I do think it is somewhat ironic in this age of childhood obesity that when a family is full of skinny but healthy kids, well, that's suspicious too! I guess I could call them all inside in the afternoons so they can play video games in front of the TV while eating doughnuts and chips . . . except we don't actually have any video games and I never buy doughnuts. Hmmm. I guess they'll just have to stay skinny! In the meantime we're really going to ramp up Grace's solid food--turkey, dressing, and mashed potatoes it is on Thursday, with pumpkin pie for dessert! LOL!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Week in Review

so, what have we been doing this past week? What has been so important that I neglected to post for an entire week? Let's see . . .

Friday: We did some school, but the main part of our day was going to the commissary. When we went the last time, about 6 weeks ago, I realized that they had totally reorganized all the rows. I hate that!! I make up my lists in order to minimize the risks of me forgetting something, and it was of no use! So this time I took my mom's advice and looked up the Ft. Myer commisssary online, where I found a list of the aisle and what is in all of them. This helped me tremendously as I made out my list, and overall it was a good trip. Although it is tiring to bring everyone, it is also very encouraging, as all sorts of people, especially older retirees, love to stop and chat and say nice things about our caravan of 2 carts and a stroller, as well as 4 boys orbiting and me with a front pack.

Saturday: Bob spent the day up on the 40 foot ladder, finishing replaing the rotten trim, as well as cleaning out the gutters. After he was done, we all rushed around to get ready to go to the church where there was going to be a dinner for people who worked in the children's ministry. When we got there, there were only 2 cars in the parking lot, which was a source of some confusion. Inside were the kids of the pastor and one elder, along with a teenager who was babysitting. They were heating up food, which was very confusing for me, as I was sure that this dinner included food for the kids. Then we realized the adults had gone to someone else's house for the dinner . . . I was very agitated, wondering how I could have gotten so many details about this event wrong. I am totally mortified to say that it took me until we got home and I reread an email of church announcements to realize that (duh) we had the wrong date. So! Moving on . . .

Monday: This was Veterans' Day, so we didn't do formal school, since it was a holiday. But it didn't totally seem like a holiday, since Bob spent the day at work doing his assignments for this class he's taking. He says he just doesn't concentrate well at home, if you can imagine, LOL. Nathan spent the morning leading a cooking demonstration class and making ginger snaps with the other boys. Bob's sister Ann had given the boys these really cute aprons in the summer, and they look so cute when they all wear them to cook. I took a picture and meant to post it, but somehow, it just didn't happen. Since it didn't fell like a holiday, after dinner, the boys and I went to the library with our huge pile of over due books (no fines here in Loudoun County, yay!). When we drove up and saw that the place was dark and deserted, we realized that in fact, it WAS a holiday. Oops!

Tuesday: This is our co-op day, and it was the last day of the pioneers unit. The moms brought in a group called Tin Cup Adventures for the day, and the kids had an absolute ball. They watched an introductory video first, and then they got to explore 6 hands-on stations. There was a gold rush station, where they could pan in big tubs for fool's gold. They could visit the "Ma and Pa" station, where they could "shave" using a shaving brush to get the lather on, and a flat thing to scrape it off. They could also send shirts through a wringer to do laundry. There was also a kitchen station, where they ground corn and coffee, pumped water, and kneaded, rolled out, and played around with dough. I was at a clothing station, with samples of pioneer clothes. The kids carded wool at my station, and after we pulled it into a string, I helped them tie it around their wrists for a bracelet. The kids really enjoyed a toy station, with toys like pioneer kids would have played with. I think Caleb spent most of his time at this station! There was also a Native American station, with lots of things to touch and a tee-pee to go inside, and a hand-craft station, where the kids made beaded necklaces. It was really well-done, and it was so much fun. After that was all done, we had a pioneer meal, with dishes like beef stew, beans, applesauce, cornbread, beef jerky, and ginger snaps. Hmmm, which one did we contribute?!

Wednesday: After doing school, we did a bunch of errands. The weather was really warm yesterday, in the mid 60s. Today it is cooler and rainy, so I am so glad we got it all done yesterday! In the evening I was able to go to the monthly homeschool support group meeting. A lady with 10 kids was the speaker, and she was speaking on the topic of basically having siblings get along with each other. She made some really good points, such as emphasize serving together to improve sibling relationships. Then they can develop and use their spiritual gifts, and it gives a place for another sibling to challenge them outside of a conflict at home with each other. Also, she said that a child's spiritual gift can be their greatest weakness as well, if they are not using the gift properly (such as leadership improperly used is arrogance or lording over others). And of course, selfishness is the root of most problems--I don't think that is news to anyone! It was a good, encouraging evening for me.

Today: A completely regular day of school, with no errands or anything! Yay! I am finding that the more kids I have, the more I would just rather stay at home. We have a lot of fun together, and I'd rather not get everyone all packed up, work out the nursing, etc. Tonight Nathan has evaluations for Upwards basketball. He is the only one playing again this year, which is fine with me. Next year he and Luke will be in the same age group, and I think Luke will play then.

Tomorrow: Grace has her 6-month well-baby appointment. I didn't call early enough, so it is more of a "6 1/2 month well-baby appointment" but oh well. She fell down some stairs last Sunday, and so she still has a bump on her head from that. I was hoping it would go away by tomorrow, but it is still there, so we'll see what the doc says about that. Also, she is just very small. I think she is about 13 pounds. My others have all been small (well, Anna was over 15 pounds), but I think they were all at least 14 pounds. She eats well, but I think she has Luke's high metabolism, which is not a bad thing overall. Hopefully the doctor will not say anything negative about that. We'll see. She is obviously active and healthy, and she doesn't even look too skinny--but when you pick her up, she is as light as a feather!

On the horizon, looming ever closer: Sunday our church small group meets over here for our monthly meeting. This means the house, including the basement really needs to be cleaner than it currently is. Monday, the kids and I leave for a week in Ohio. My Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim are coming from Utah for Thanksgiving, and we are so excited to see them!! Bob will stay here and finish up all the homework, papers, etc. from this class. Much of the work is due Dec. 2, which is right around the corner! In the meantime, I am trying to get organized and set things aside (without making the house messy) for packing. So far, I am not being that successful. Mainly I am wandering around, wringing my hands and making lists, LOL.

So there you have it--all the reasons why I haven't been blogging. But maybe I'll be more consistent now. Yesterday afternoon, the boys and I assembled a new desk chair! It is so much nicer than the old (and I mean really old, antique) chair we have used for the past very many years. Its cushions have long been smooshed into nothingness, and it is just plain uncomfortable now. But this new chair is soft and pooshy, and it has wheels and goes up and down! It is so nice to sit in comfort at the computer! I was literally standing or kneeling on my knees at the computer for the past week or so because the old chair has gotten so intolerable.

Off to make dinner!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Virginia is For Girls

It turns out there is something in the water. You know that we never had girls until we moved here, when we had 2 girls in quick succession. Now my friend Johanna has found out that she is expecting her first girl after having 3 boys. She and her family moved up here last summer. Hmmmmm.

With that in mind, I would just like to say that for anyone wishing for a girl (Jenna? Amy?), we are offering a very good deal on our basement "second honeymoon guest suite". We serve lots of water. LOL!!!

Shoe Crime and Punishment

I bought a new pair of shoes last week. While we were at White Sulphur Springs, my faithful pair of New Balance running shoes that I wear all the time (and bought about 3 years ago) sprung a hole in the side. I was a little embarrassed at how ratty that looked, so last Monday I went back to Kohls to find a replacement pair. I went in the evening without kids, but I always feel like I am "on the clock", especially with Grace, so I was in and out of there in a flash. I saw a likely candidate, found it in my size, verified that it did indeed fit and that my feet have not expanded anymore from these last 2 pregnancies, paid, and went home. I thought the shoes felt a little stiff in the store, but to be honest, I didn't pay much attention.

Over the course of the next few days, I discovered that the shoes really were stiff. And uncomfortable. And hard. And I hated putting them on. The difference, which I did note briefly in the store, was that they were cross-trainers, as opposed to running shoes. Who knew cross-trainers were so darn uncomfortable?! I began to dread having to put them. I had conversations with myself about how the next time I bought shoes (in another 2-3 years, presumably), I would be VERY careful in the store. I would learn my lesson, that's for sure. And in the meantime, I would just have to grin and bear it. For just another 2-3 years.

But wait! Finally it dawned on me that we live in AMERICA! Buying the wrong pair of shoes is not a life sentence around here! I looked at the bottom of the shoes, which I had worn around for a week, and praise the Lord, I had avoided all dog poop, gum, etc. I wiped them down with a paper towel (I have potential rejection issues when returning items so I am very careful, LOL), put them back in their box, and took them back to Kohls. The lady was surprised that they were not comfortable. "But I have New Balance shoes as well, and I like them a lot--they are very comfortable!" she said. "Yes, me too. These are not the same. Don't buy cross-trainers!" I answered. And then we all trooped over to the shoes departmen and found a pair of running shoes in my size (and in good old Dayton Christian colors as well, purple and white, LOL). I walked around the department just long enough to make Anna and Grace very crabby, and then we bought them and went home. My feet are happy once again. I'm sure these next 2-3 years will just fly by, now that I am not counting down the days until I can justify buying more comfortable shoes!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Happy Birthday Caleb!!

Today Caleb is 6 years old! We brought a cake to Bible study Friday to celebrate. Although this cake may resemble the lego clone trooper cake I made for Nathan in June, it is actually quite different, for this is a PILOT clone trooper, of course. I'm sure you noted that. Caleb was so funny while I decorated the cake Friday afternoon. He is such a little encourager, and he kept saying, "Thank you for making my cake, Mommy, so that I didn't have to", as if when I am tired of making cakes, the kids are on their own, LOL!

Today is his actual birthday, so he got to pick lunch (hot dogs, corn, baked beans, and pears), as well as dinner. For dinner he chose tuna pockets, pierogies, and a crunchy tossed salad with chow mein noodles. I thought that was kind of a funny meal, since tuna pockets are something I usually make when it's 4:30, I'm tired, and I realize we have to eat in 45 minutes, LOL. Nothing fancy or special there! I must say I was glad he didn't pick an elaborate meal, so I should just count my blessings. Still, I hope he doesn't come home from college wishing for my tuna pockets over all my other meals!

This has been a big year for Caleb. He started riding his bike without training wheels, he became a big brother once again, he learned to read (he's doing really well now, yay!), he lost his first tooth. He's definitely not a little boy anymore! He has really taken an interest in cooking, so Nathan has been giving him "lessons" whenever he makes something. Caleb loves to carry Grace around when she gets fussy, so he is a huge help there. He is also her designated "car steward", and he has responsibility for putting in her pacifier, giving her toys, and otherwise keeping her occupied in the car. He really is doing a great job at this!

When I was expecting Caleb and we went in for the 20 week ultrasound, I was a bit disappointed that it appeared to be another boy. I mean, I already had 2 of them--why did we need another one?! Also, we knew several families with 2 boys and then 2 girls, so somehow I had just assumed that we would follow that path as well. I am so glad we had Caleb instead of a girl! He's such a special part of our family, and I can't imagine not having his dimpled smile to look at each day!

(For the record, let me state that was the only time I was disappointed at an ultrasound, and it didn't last long. When I got pregnant with Jonathan, I wanted it to be another boy, since they would be pretty close in age. Plus, I just figured God wanted me to be a mom to boys, and I was fine with that! Of course, once I was all settled and content with having all boys, I started having girls . . . LOL!)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Differences

People are always asking me if I have noticed a difference between boys and girls. Now that Anna is 18 months old, I can say that yes, I have noticed some differences.

1. Attention to details. So this morning as I was feeding Grace, Anna was piddling around in the kitchen. Everyone else was at soccer, so it was pretty quiet. Finally I got up and noticed that she was under the table. She had gotten into the left-over birthday cake (we took a cake for Caleb's birthday to Bible study last night) that was on the counter, found a bowl, put a piece of cake into the bowl, and hunkered under the table to eat it. The boys would never have bothered with a bowl. Also, Anna always picks the pink princess bowl if given the opportunity.

2. Drama queen. When Anna has a temper tantrum, she is such a drama queen. She wails loud, noisy tears, and then, as if an invisible hand is pulling her, she heads off into the bathroom to sulk and cry in lonely solitude. Ahh, the pathos.

3. Shoes. Anna has always been deeply attracted to shoes. When we were in Colorado last February for Nana's funeral, we stopped by the play area at the Chapel Hills Mall. Anna was crawling around, and I was trying to keep an eye on the 4 boys, when I noticed that Anna was deeply fascinated by another lady's suede boots. So she crawled closer and started LICKING them. Bleh!! Now she just puts on whatever shoes she can find. In fact, if you come over to visit us and take your shoes off, I can pretty much guarantee that she will end up trying them on. She has taken a particular fancy to a strappy pair of black sandals that I bought to go with a formal I had to wear a few times for balls and dining outs when we were stationed at the Air Force Academy. I now see those crazy sandals all over the house because Anna has worn them around. I'm not sure where she gets this love of shoes, since I am no Imelda Marcos or anything remotely close. I pretty much wear about 3 pairs of shoes regularly.

There you have it so far. I'm sure more points will be forthcoming.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Chuck E. Cheese

As is our tradition, we spent Halloween evening at Chuck E. Cheese with the other 3 families in our Bible study. We started doing this back in Colorado with the L's, and the boys totally look forward to this night each year. I mean it is a real highlight of the year, LOL.

This year we had a really nice time. Last year the place was so crowded, and there were a lot more people wearing costumes, especially ones that were more on the gory side. This year was back to how it normally has been--some kids in costumes, but of the cute variety, and not that crowded.

There were a lot of Muslim women there with all their kids, probably looking for a place to get away from it all like us. Fortunately Anna exhibited none of her hysteria at women who cover, so there were no diplomatic incidences, LOL. Now the giant Chuck E. Cheese who walks around greeting people was a whole different matter. Anna was abjectly terrified of him as soon as she could tell he was walking over to our table. She leaped out of the high chair and into Bob's arms. Before that time, she had been tolerant of the mechanized Chuck E. there on the stage who "sings", but after the real one came walking around, she kept a wary eye on the one on-stage, and if he moved his paw too suddenly, she burst into loud noisy tears.

Anna was also not a fan of the rides that bounce around (such as the car we are all standing on and around). We finally did find a ride she enjoyed however--the little merry-go-round--and that is where she spent all the tokens allotted to her.

Grace was marvelously cooperative, riding around in the frontpack that Bob carried. She napped a little and otherwise just looked around in interest. I didn't have to nurse the whole time we were there!

The boys played all the games they could, maximizing token use for maximum ticket gain. But we didn't trade the tickets in for any of the lovely junk offered. I guess we're saving up for something big, LOL. They really had fun though. I am looking forward to the day when all the kids will be old enough to run around playing games by themselves so that I can just sit at the table and visit. Just another 4 years or so, at minimum!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cedarville Dinner

Last night, there was a dinner in downtown D.C. for Cedarville alumni, parents, and people interested in attending. This is the first alumni event we have heard of around here, and it was a free dinner, so we decided to go. One of my friends at our homeschool co-op, Jill, is also a Cedarville grad (91) who happens to have 5 boys. I was so excited that she was able to go as well--in fact, she rode with Bob and me! Bob was a real trooper. He drove us downtown in all the traffic, and then he dropped us off in front of the restaurant, since we were a little late, and he dealt with the parking issue all by himself. The parking garage was full, so he found some street parking that didn't even have a meter, thus saving us $4 an hour. Yay!

I had looked at the list of attendees online and didn't think I was going to know anyone, so imagine my surprise when someone I knew named Mike sat down at our table! (Hint for Amy: He should have never given up Julie, LOL) Too funny. We sat at a table with the families of 2 prospective students. One seemed pretty set on Cedarville and wants to major in electrical engineering. The other one wants to major in international business/global economics, and she was keeping her options open. She had many great and glorious plans for the future, LOL. Ahhh, to be young and dreaming big again . . . But I digress. No one was interested in hearing about a biology/math double major, so I pretty much just talked with Jill and Bob.

The restaurant was named Clyde's, and it was pretty good! We were expecting a buffet, but no--it was a sit-down dinner . . . salad and bread, chicken, mashed potatoes, and sauteed pepper strips, and cheesecake for dessert. I kept gobbling up each course as if I wasn't going to have time to finish. Jill laughed at me, and I realized I was eating so quickly because well, that's what I have to do at home. Someone always needs me, and I never have to time to just sit and eat a leisurely meal. I wonder if I'll ever lose this habit?!

The only bad part of the room we were in (well, the whole restaurant, I think) was the acoustics. It was so loud!!!! We were all shouting across the table, which you can imagine cut down on conversation except with those immediately beside you! Bob got involved in a deep theological conversation with the man next to him, who is a pastor. I really enjoyed talking to Jill and getting to know her better. No one else at the table was interested in swapping stories about homeschooling lots of kids, LOL.

After dinner, Dr. Bill Brown, the president of Cedarville, talked for awhile. He went through the mission and vision statements of Cedarville. I really appreciate their focus on developing Christians with a solidly Biblical worldview, and also their committment to the inerrancy and supremacy of Scripture. I enjoyed hearing about the new projects that are going on a Cedarville such as the building of a new Center for Biblical and Theological Studies, and also the beginning of a pharmacy program. I think I would have really enjoyed majoring in something like that. Well, I'm not going back--I must be firm on that! LOL

We finally ducked out at 9:40, although the evening had still not ended. Ed was back here holding the fort by himself since Elizabeth was in Colorado with Anthony who had knee surgery yesterday. We didn't want to leave Ed there too late, especially since the boys and Amanda, Jessica, and Zachary were all still up! Grace was surprisingly cooperative--he put her down 2 hours after we left, and she just slept until we got back. I was so worried since she has pretty much firmly decided that bottles are absolutely not for her. Anna went down with no problems, and everyone else had a ball in the basement playing and watching videos. We are so very thankful for good friends who are willing to watch all our kids! What a tremendous blessing!!! So it was really a fun evening, and both Jill and I are hopeful that there will be more alumni association things happening here--maybe even in northern Virginia, so we can skip the killer trip into the city and all the parking woes!

Monday, October 29, 2007

White Sulphur Springs

We had another great time at White Sulphur Springs, this time with the National Capital Region OCF groups. Four of the five families in our Bible study came, so that was really fun. For our 4 families, we had 15 kids! Pretty impressive!



Here is the obligatory "family in the wagon" shot. I'm sure you'll be seeing something similar with your Christmas cards.


Grace enjoyed riding around in the frontpack. It was cooler, but although it poured rain while we were driving up, God was merciful, and it was not rainy the rest of the weekend. The boys had a wonderful time outside during the free time Saturday afternoon. Nathan and Luke rode horses again (without Bob OR me!), they all did the rock-climbing wall, and they also canoed with Zachary.


Here are the intrepid wilderness explorers in their canoe. Like a well-oiled machine they were, LOL. Jonathan was the point man in front, but he greatly disliked the rocking of the canoe, and also anytime the canoe came anywhere close to anything else. So he gave up his position and came ashore to play on the playground after awhile.

Caleb's Excitement

We made it home safely after a wonderful weekend at White Sulphur Springs. I'll have to post more on that later! We did have some excitement last night, however. At about 2:00, Jonathan came into our room and told us that Caleb needed us. We ran down the hall, thinking that he was probably going to throw up or something. When we got there, he was really having a hard time breathing. He was coughing and sort of gasping, along with the crying, which was not helping matters at all. I got his two inhalers, flo-vent and albuterol, and he took them, but after a little while, he was still really struggling, so Bob took him to ER at Bethesda. By the time he got there, Caleb had settled down and was breathing much easier.

The doctor said it was croup brought on by our turning on our heat, but I am not at all sure about that explanation. He was coughing a sort of barky-like cough, but it was different from a croupy cough, I thought. plus it just came on so suddenly. Anyhow, they put some some of a mist in his face for him to breathe for awhile, but after that, his airways were still constricted so they gave him another steroid, which he drank in apple juice. Weird. That did the trick, which again makes me think it was more asthma-related, and so they came home about 4:00. I had already hunted up our cool-mist humidifier and got that going, so he went right off to sleep.

Today he has been okay, although he did tell me that he felt wheezy again at lunchtime, so he took his inhalers again. I really have no idea what triggered all this, but we're so glad he's okay.

This is actually the second incident in the past few weeks that has been odd. I think about 2 weeks ago, I cut up a fresh pineapple for us to have with dinner. We have pineapple fairly regularly, a few times a month at least. The last few times we've had it, Caleb would say something about it tickling his mouth so he would stop eating it. But this time he took a piece while I was cutting it, and as soon as he had eaten it, he started crying about how his throat hurt, and it was obvious he was having a reaction. He chewed up his benedryl and felt better soon, but this is the first food that he has become allergic too after having eaten it for awhile, which was very upsetting for him. He cried when he realized he wouldn't be able to eat fresh pineapple anymore, poor guy. For everything else, his allergies were apparent at such a young age that he has never even had cheese, ice cream, etc., so he doesn't care at all that he can't have them! Canned pineapple seems to be fine--he's never had any problems with that.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Socialization for Mom

I haven't been on the computer much lately, but my conversational tank sure is full! The weather has been really, really nice lately (not so today, since it's rainy), and we've been taking full advantage of that. I guess it started last Tuesday. This month is my month to be the "floater' at our homescool co-op. That means I am just sort of there, floating around, helping any teacher who needs help. Usually this translates to watching a class for a few minutes while a pregnant teacher uses the restroom, or taking a bunch of 4 or 5 year olds to the potty. The rest of the time I hang out at the nursery, talking with Lisa, my good friend. It's really nice! After yesterday, I still have 2 more times!

Last Tuesday, Lisa and I decided that we needed to have a playdate so her oldest son (8) could play with my boys. She has 3 other kids, but the middle 2 are girls, and the baby is just 10 months, so not much physically active play potential yet! They came over last Wednesday, and the boys played street hockey and football while Lisa and I talked inside and let the girls play.

Saturday, after the game, we went out to Chick-Fil-A with Neissy and her kids. Leo is on Nathan's soccer team, and Elianna is a few months younger than Anna. They homeschool also, and go to our church as well, and it was so nice to sit and talk with her while the kids played in the play area. Her husband was out of town for the day, so she was looking for something different to do. Last year, when we had only gone to the church maybe 2 or 3 times, she invited us over to their townhouse for a playdate one afternoon. This was so amazing to me. We had been going to our other church over 2 years, but no one had ever invited us over for anything! I'm sure they were intimidated by our big family, and it didn't bother me much, but it was really nice when she asked! They live in a small townhouse, but everyone had a wonderful time playing, and I really enjoyed talking to her and getting to know her. She is originally from Guatemala, and is one of the genuinely nicest people I know. We had already set up a playdate for them to come over to our house Monday afternoon, so they also came then. The weather was still beautiful, and the boys played lots of football outside, getting extremely hot and sweaty.

Yesterday was co-op again, with more conversation with Lisa. We are supposed to go to the park with our pastor's wife and their 3 kids tomorrow, although it is supposed to rain. Tomorrow is my evening ladies' Bible study. We are starting Idols of the Heart by Elise Fitzpatrick. I read this book a few years ago by myself, and I am really looking forward to studying it with this group of ladies. There are only 5 of us, and we have really gotten close this past year. Then on Friday, we are off to White Sulphur Springs again, this time for the National Capital Region OCF retreat! We are very excited about that, especially since 3 of the other couples in our Friday night Bible study are also coming! This will be the McC family's first time there, so we are hoping they like it as much as we do! I just checked the weather forecast, and it is supposed to rain all weekend, but I am still really excited about the retreat and am anticipating such a fun time!

So you can see with all this company and conversation time, I am feeling very content and haven't needed the computer to make me feel connected to the outside world, LOL. This means I owe some of you emails (Johanna, LOL), and I promise I will respond. But right now I have to nurse, and then start dinner. Today was a sssslllllloooooooowwwww day of school. Maybe the gloomy weather?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

On Being #5 and #6

Here are the girls, all nice and clean in their jammies after a bath. Anna is modeling a 2-piece snap-together green pair with a bear twirling a basketball, a size 18 month hand-me-down from all the boys. Grace is wearing a "My First Christmas" sleeper that is size 3-6 months, a hand-me-down from good friends. She's almost out of it now, so there is no way she'll be posing for pictures in it on Dec. 25! That's life at the bottom of the pecking order!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Look What I Can Do!

Grace learned how to push to sitting today! She's been close, but today she finally put it all together and also managed not to fall right over as soon as she got up there. Wow, this has been a busy week for her!

So . . . did you notice anything different about me? Anything, say, FASTER? Like we've joined the 21st century? Yes! We have FiOS now, instead of our dial-up connection! I can view videos now! I have pretty much used our slow connection as an excuse for anything computer-related, but that will no longer fly. I will have to get on the ball and figure out Snapfish. I will have to figure out Photobucket or something so I can post more pictures at a time. Hmmm. Maybe my new excuse will be that I'm just to busy. Or lazy, LOL.

The only bad thing about not using our dial-up AOL is that now I no longer have any of my favorites. I thought I'd be able to get them from aol.com, but it seems like we had an old version of AOL on our computer, and so the favorites didn't transfer from there. Now if I had been a good girl and always updated the sidebar of my blog, I wouldn't have any problems. However, I was terrible at that, so now there are lots of blogs that I check that I can't get to easily. I guess I will have to somehow switch the phone cord back around sometime, go back to AOL, and . . . write them all down? There must be a better way! Oh, we have a new email address as well, although the AOL one will still work for a little while. The new one is that same as the old one, except it is "verizon.net" at the end. So send me an email and see if it works!

Monday, October 15, 2007

First Child/ Big Family

Yesterday our church had its monthly fellowship dinner after the main service. I was standing in the back of the line talking to a young, single lawyer who is really nice. Nathan came up too, and Tim talked to him for a little bit, asking him what it was like being the oldest, and just making nice conversation. After Nathan wandered off, Tim said something about Nathan having a lot of responsibility. I said that I guessed he did, and that he was going to make a great father. Then Tim said that he had a friend who was the oldest in a big family, and now the friend doesn't want to have any children of his own. He was implying that too much responsibility turns kids off from having their own children. I said that Nathan had a lot of fun as well, and that as of now, he definitely wants to have a big family himself. In fact, we always tease him that he really needs to make sure he mentions that fact to any girls he is interested in in the future! I also said that one woman told me once to always delegate a job to the youngest child who can handle it. That way, you are not always calling on the oldest, who might get resentful. I thought that was excellent advice, and I have tried to follow that. I think we spread the load around pretty well, actually.

The conversation really made me think, though. If one of my kids grew up and did not want to have children based on their experiences in our family, I would feel like a very big failure indeed. Right now, the kids really enjoy being in a fairly large family. They are always feeling sorry for kids who "only have one brother"--who on earth do they play with?! What do they do all day?! Also, they are always pestering us to have more kids. They really love the babies, and how the girls light up around their big brothers. They enjoy other people's kids, like their sweet little cousin Emily.

As far as the oldest having too much responsibility, it probably helps that Nathan and Luke are so close in age, so there isn't one child who is tons older and able to do tons more. Whatever Nathan can do, Luke can do as well, so that sort of stuff gets split up pretty evenly, I would say. And the younger boys have jobs as well, and they also help out a lot with Anna and Grace as far as getting things for them, entertaining them, etc. In fact, Caleb has been such a huge help with Grace by sitting next to her in the car and always getting toys for her and putting her pacifier in. He is so proud of the job he does and how he can get Grace to quiet down if she's fussing.

Nathan, as the oldest, really enjoys being able to teach the younger kids stuff that he knows how to do. This afternoon he asked me when he and Caleb could do some baking, since Caleb wanted him to teach him how to cook. So I said they could make cookies right then, and Nathan patiently showed him all the measuring cups, what vegetable shortening was, how to tell what temperature the oven needs to be on, etc. They both had a great time, and it was good practice for Caleb in reading. Well, actually all 3 of them had fun, since Jonathan wasn't about to be left out of something involving chocolate chips, LOL. It was sweet to watch.

Nathan, and all the boys, are hopeful that they will get to be daddies someday, and they have a great example to follow in Bob. He spends lots of time with them and plays lots of games and does lots of projects. He is very involved, and they think fatherhood is definitely something fun and desirable. (And of course they are glad they don't have to go through childbirth, LOL) So right now I don't think they are overwhelmed by responsibility and younger children. The conversation made me aware of the issue, however, and it is something to keep a a finger on, just to make sure resentment doesn't creep in. The boys all know that the Lord is the one who gives children, and that they are all tremendous blessings from Him. With that attitude, I think it is hard to be too resentful for too long.

More Grace

I guess we were too busy watching Grace learn to crawl that we didn't pay any attention to the rest of her . . . like her mouth! I happened to notice today, when she was gnawing on my finger, that she most definitely has her first tooth, one on her bottom left side. In fact, by the size of it, I would say it came through probably on Friday or so. She has been pretty nippy lately when nursing, but I just never ran my finger inside her mouth. She had a big week!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Grace is Crawling!


When my other friends aren't regular with their posting, it's because of big things--like Beverly, who through absolutely no fault of their own, had to move to their third house in 2 years in Las Vegas. Or like Johanna, whose husband just got back from Iraq. Me--well, my only excuse is that people were sick around here last week. Caleb, Bob, and Nathan were the ones that caught some unnamed bug. Nathan is the only one still sick, although he is just really hoarse, and I think that is a whole 'nother thing, not the original virus, which involved an upset tummy and fever.

Grace has been keeping us busy watching her this past week. I think I can safely say that she officially started crawling on Monday, and she has gained confidence through the week. Go, Grace! She still is a bit tentative, and sometimes she stops like, "Wait a minute--what happens next again?!", but she is definitely improving, and definitely getting to where she wants to go. She is so happy about it, she actually smiled for a picture!

Along those same lines, I think I will start her on solid foods sometime in the next week or two. With added movement comes the need for added colories, at least for my high-metabolism babies. Plus, she'll be 6 months old on Nov. 1, and I like to have started solid foods by the time the well-baby check-up comes up. Then I don't have to justify my timetable or anything--I can just say "yes' when the doctor asks if the baby has started solids . . . even if it was just the day before! Of course, since I haven't even called about making the appointment, I have plenty of time, LOL, but I might as well bite the bullet and start.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Cox Farm

Yesterday our homeschool co-op went to the Fall Festival at Cox Farm. This is an annual event for the group. We have only gone one other time, 2 years ago, when I was pregnant with Anna. It was expensive and very, very hot. That made it a no-brainer to skip last year, with me again being pregnant and having an infant! Well, this year the co-op leaders said there was enough money in the coffers, due to fundraising, that TnT would pay for everyone to go. Since it is $8 a person for all over 2, this is a significant amount of money--$40 for our family alone! The boys had such a good time when we went last time, and they were so hopeful that we would go this year, since we didn't have to pay, so I decided we would go. I'll be honest though--I was dreading it. As soon as I saw the weather forecast and realized it was going to be humid and in the 90's. Oh man--heat and crowds. My 2 least favorite things!

As you can see from the picture, we made it and survived, but boy was it hot. So very hot. I thought I was going to melt. I pushed the stoller from one shady spot to another as much as I could. Grace did not want to be in the stroller, but I could not fathom putting her in the front pack, so I just tried to keep her distracted by tossing toys at her and keeping moving. I had the double stroller so Anna could ride too. That's another thing about Cox Farm--it's really not made for strollers. It is a bit hilly, and there is gravel and wood chips all over the place so it's not muddy. That is a good thing, except it sure is hard to push a stroller around, especially a great big double one!

So what did we do . . . As soon as we got there, I had to nurse, so Nathan and Luke went on the hay ride with the other co-op kids. Caleb and Jonathan weren't interested, so they stayed with me until I was done, and then they played on and in a hay bale maze until the older boys were back. Cox Farm has a bunch of big slides that they have built up on hillsides. They are neat ones, with turns and bumps and different themes. Nathan and Luke rode all of them, Caleb rode most of them, and Jonathan rode a few of them. He was less enthusiastic after he went really fast down one slide and sort of turned all over during the ride. Luke was a great big brother and took Anna down several of them. She loved them, of course. There are also several of these hay bale mazes for the kids to go through, and there are some big wooden trains to climb on. Those were Caleb and Jonathan's favorites. Nathan and Luke love the big rope swings there, ones where you swing out over a big foam pit and drop in. They did those several times each.

They have animals to see too, including some baby piglets born Sept. 25. They were so cute, but that mama pig was one large lady. Whew! There is also an enclosure where you can go in and feed the goats. I remember when we went 2 years ago how neither Luke nor Caleb liked that, so I can only imagine how hysterical Anna would have been had we attempted that. We just observed the goats from behind the fence, and she was okay with that, LOL.

One of the big draws of the place, at least according to Nathan, is that they have free apple cider and apples from their orchards there, all you can eat and drink! The fresh cool apple cider was indeed restorative and delicious. Anna loved both the cider and having her own apple to munch. It didn't take long before she was a sticky mess. Everyone had 2 apples over the course of our time there, and many cups of cider.

We got there at 10:00, and we had packed a picnic lunch, which we ate about 12:00 (fortunately we found a table in the shade--that is where the picture up top was taken). After we were done there, we headed back to the cider place for a few more cups, and then I nursed one more time. We left about 1:15, all of us being very ready to get cool. As soon as we got home, the boys jumped in the shower, and I gave the girls a bath. Everyone was so sweaty and filthy! I was so glad when I finally got a chance to take a shower. Even so, I think the sun was just too much. I had such a headache the rest of the day. What a wimp! It was only a little over 3 hours, but I guess I just can't take the heat. Actually, I just can't take the heat, the stroller-pushing, the keeping track of 5 little people in a big crowd, the nursing . . . I'm thinking next year TnT will have to pay ME for us to go, LOL! The boys will be so disappointed.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Happy Columbus Day!

Today we celebrated Columbus Day with the traditional feast, after having decorated with the blow-up lawn ornaments of the Nina, Pinta, and the Santa Maria from Sams.

Just kidding! We actually celebrated by having Bob go up and down a really big ladder all day, dealing with some trim that was having issues. Just like climbing the rigging on a ship sailing to the new world! LOL It was scary way up there, but he was a real trooper. My job was to steady the ladder at the bottom and pray diligently that angels would keep it up, since I don't think I could catch him if he fell. As you can see from the picture, sometimes Nathan did my important job. It was stressful, and I needed the break. LOL!

Bob also borrowed a really long tree trimmer from Ed, and he spent yesterday afternoon lopping branches off the big tree in our front yard. What an improvement! It was touching the house by our bedroom window, but not anymore!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

File this under "gross"

A few days ago, Nathan got this little black mark under his right eye. I looked at it, but it seemed like a scab or something, and it didn't come right off, so I told him not to pick at it. It looked a little different yesterday, more like a skin tag or something, and I told him I'd call and take him in to see the doctor next week. This morning when he got up, he brushed at it, and it came off. That is when, in his words, he "noticed it had legs". Excuse me while I cringe--EWWWWWWW! Oh my goodness! Bob looked at it and killed it, but he wasn't aware that this thing had come off of Nathan's face, so it was no big deal to him (until I filled him in later, LOL).

So to recap--Nathan had what must be some sort of tick under his eye for several days. Yuck. Yuck, yuck, yuck. Nathan actually has already had Lyme's disease, a few months after we first moved here in 2004. We were fortunate that neighbors at a picnic pointed out the weird red mark on the back of his neck. When we lifted up his shirt, we were highly alarmed to find a picture-perfect red bulls-eye on his back. He started on antibiotics right away, so he didn't have any long-term effects, praise the Lord. So I guess we will be on the look-out for rashes, bulls-eyes, fever, aching joints, etc. Ewww.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Anna, Stinker

This is Anna. She's 18 months. A little darling, yes? That's what I keep telling myself, LOL. I need the reminder. She has been quite a stinker lately. Literally. When I went in to get her this morning, I knew right away that she had pooped from the pungent odor wafting about the room. When I got over to the crib and saw her little tushie staring up at me, I realized she had taken off her diaper thereby getting poop all over the crib, which is why it smelled so much more . . . strongly. Well, I hit the roof. I hauled her up and into the tub, and I grumbled at her the whole time. Maybe it made an impression, LOL. I'm thinking not.

Everyone always would tell me, "Oh, 4 boys . . . I feel sorry for you! They must keep you on your toes!" or something to that effect. And they did keep me busy. BUT . . . I must say that they were never quite as much . . . trouble . . . as Anna is. None of the boys EVER took a diaper off themselves. Ever! I doubt it even crossed their minds. Mom put it on, so it must stay on, or something like that. They didn't constantly unload the diaper bag and try to lose my keys and cell phone. They didn't move the stool all over the kitchen, open the bag of muffins, and take bites out of every single muffin. They didn't help themselves to water by pressing the water dispenser lever on the fridge (and to think I thought we would never need a lock!). They never took all the kleenex out of a box or wet wipes out of a tub! She's just a well, a stinker.

I think a lot of it stems from the fact that I am nursing a lot more and doing a lot more school than when the others were babies, so it is harder to keep a close eye on her always. She's also quieter and sneakier than the boys were (are, LOL), so there usually isn't any big crash or anything to alert me that she is getting into something. Obviously I need to keep a closer rein, but it's just hard when I am tied to the couch nursing. Ideas? I could gate off the kitchen if I got a huge gate, but that would disrupt schooling, as the boys would have to be clamoring over it all the time. And that still doesn't solve the diaper problem, LOL. We'll see if that reoccurs. I'm hoping not. Call me an optimist.