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, 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 "" 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.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Girls

Grace is sitting in a doll stroller that I bought at a garage sale last weekend. Christa had a picture of her 3 girls, with her baby in a doll stroller, on her blog, so I shamelessly stole the idea. Her picture is cuter, LOL, not the least because it was taken outside in Hawaii. But I digress. It's a good thing I took the picture when I did, because now Grace has a big gash by her left eye. She was on the floor in the middle of the family room, and she inched herself over to the bookshelf, where she proceded to slam her head into it. Ow! She was not very happy about it either, if you can imagine.

While Grace was being tended to, Anna got busy and quiet. She pulled out an entire tub of wet wipes in an incident scarily reminiscent of the Great Kleenex Box Mess she made back in March. Hmmm. I'm just going to say that something is in the air today, because it's sort of been an off day. It is now 2:30, and Nathan is still not done with his schoolwork. The Distraction Fairy spent the morning here, I'm afraid.

We did have an interesting conversation during school time. Today we were praying for the Bahamas in Operation World, and I read that they have a 55% illegitimacy rate. Luke wanted to know what that meant, so I said that people were acting like they were married, without actually being married, and they were having babies. "How is that even possible?!" he wanted to know. Nathan, being the older and wiser of the 2, told him it was from "kissing and sleeping together". I had to correct that misapprehension, and so said that kissing and the act of sleeping don't actually create babies. So then Nathan asked the big question: "So how DOES the sperm get to the egg?" Good thing I was a biology major, LOL. I gave a breezy technical answer, which was met with stunned silence. Then Luke said, "Dad did THAT to YOU?!" Well, our secret is out! LOL! No wonder everyone is having trouble concentrating, with such new and disturbing news floating around!