Friday, October 30, 2009

Radio Silence

Luke was scrolling down my blog today, and he noted that I had not been posting very much lately. He's correct, and it's going to get worse before it gets any better at all! The next 3 weeks are going to be crazy for me. They are my 3 weeks to teach at our big co-op, so I am furiously trying to get my lessons in order for that. For the first week, we're going to talk about hieroglyphics, numbers, papyrus, scribes, and anything else about writing that I can think of. Right now I'm working on making cartouches of everyone's names. I'm making all the letters, then cutting them apart and putting them in baggies so they can glue the pictures that make up their names onto a brown construction paper cartouche. Even though I borrowed a stencil for the hieroglyphs themselves, this is still time-consuming, and I have other activities to prepare. And that's only for the first week!

For the second week, I'm going to talk about some of their false gods, particularly the ones relating to the 10 plagues of Moses. I'm also going to talk about a few of the famous pharoahs, and we have to make some necklaces and arm bands for them to wear at the 5th week activity. The 5th week is what I am doing all the chicken mummifying and cardboard painting, so thatis also taking up some time!

In the middle of all this, I still have to tutor at Classical Conversations, and since I volunteered to teach tin whistle to the 3/4 and 5/6 graders, I have that as well to prepare for! I think I must have been impaired when I signed up for that, LOL. It has been fun, even though I don't think we're going to get anything really approaching harmony. Some kids really do work at home (this would not be mine, however, LOL), and they sound really good, and then there are those who could be really good, but don't put in the effort required, and then there are those with learning disabilities. Definitely a challenge, and the prepared lessons move at a snail's pace, so that's why I am doing so much of my own stuff.

We have 2 more weeks of Upward soccer. Nathan has already started practices for his junior high homeschool basketball team, and Luke will start his Upward basketball practices soon as well. We are going out to Chuck E. Cheese tomorrow night for our annual non-Halloween celebration with our Bible study. Sunday night we have our monthly church growth group at our house, so things have to be picked up and decent around here! Caleb's birthday is next Thursday, so I have a cake to make for that (he has requested an F-22).

In the middle of all this is the on-going uncertainty of a potential overseas move. Talk about radio silence! It seems that AFPC just becomes a ghost town in September, after the summer cycle is over and done. No one is there! Bob's assignment guy is supposed to be back Nov. 16, so I guess we will know more about a report date, etc. then. In the meantime, the people in Guam are thinking we're coming. Carolyn, my friend over there, talked to the vice wing commander's wife at a function, who told her they were expecting us! Bob continues to sort of be hot and cold about the whole thing. Just the other day he told me he was sending in a resume to a guy from church! But I think we are leaning towards going, unless something really miraculous and clearly from God drops in our lap soon. Of course, that leads to its own set of busyness! I have been deluttering right and left, and trying to get things organized. If this all happens, then it looks like we will try to drive back to Ohio right after Thanksgiving in 2 vans, with Bob pulling a trailer behind the Honda filled with stuff to leave at my parents' house. Then he would drive back here with my dad, and they would work on painting, repairing some drywall, putting the trim around the hardwood, etc., without the distraction of lots of other people around. I think we could stay away for maybe 10 days or so, since the boys will have basketball. We're thinking, based on what the AFPC guy said way back in August, that Bob will probably have a report date in January. Since we have so many commitments here, the kids and I would most likely follow the end of March, when those are all winding down. I am just not thinking about a 25 hour plane trip with 7 kids by myself, so kindly do not remind me of this, LOL.

So that's where we are now, and if you are wondering why I'm not posting much in the next few weeks, just think "Ancient Egypt"!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wonder Fix?

Grace has started what has become a big annoyance. We have a small CD player in the kitchen, and a few weeks ago she figured out what button was the "play" button, and she started pushing it when she wanted to hear music. That didn't really bother me, so I didn't say anything. Next she moved on to changing out the CD in the player. Soon enough I noticed that, strangely enough, all the CDs in the kitchen were developing terrible skipping problems! They were getting filthy dirty, and several of them developed permanent scratches. Now the CDs we are talking about are mainly kids' ones, and at first they were ones I didn't really care about--a Little People animal one that is a favorite of hers, but which drives the boys bananas, a free Disney one with 7 songs (sung by "Goofy" and "Mickey") that came in a diapers box . . . etc. But then, as I would move over other CDs, like some kids hymns ones, she would work her magic on those as well. I told her not to move the CDs around anymore, but she would be "helpful" in other ways, like by making sure to put away any CDs that anyone had left out for just a minute! It was getting to the point that any time we turned on a CD, we were all ready to leap out of our chairs around the kitchen and family room to run in and skip to the next song when it would get stuck, which would happen about 5-6 times a CD! I was getting very frustrated, plus I was worried about something happening to an actual disk I cared about, like a Latin one or something.

A few weekends ago, Bob and the kids were working outside on the deck, and they brought the CD player outside. I noticed that Grace had switched a CD while out there, and the next day I discovered that one of the kids hymns ones was actually missing. It didn't take a genius to figure out that she must have dropped in outside somewhere, probably through the slats of the deck. Grrrrr. I was very annoyed at that.

Today it all came to a head. CDs were skipping everywhere. The boys were working outside. Lo and behold, they came in to tell me that they had found the missing CD! It had fallen through the deck (I should be a detective), landing in the roof of the shed under there. I didn't think it was rescuable, but Bob managed to reach it. It was, if you can imgine, pretty scratched up though. I wasn't willing to just give up without a fair try, so I googled "repair CD scratches". A number of sites recommended rubbing with Brasso, which we don't have, but several sites also suggested trying toothpaste. Well, that is something we have a good deal of, so I got a tube of toothpaste and several Q-tips, and I started rubbing (out from the center only, of course; never around!). I rubbed all the problem CDs, and I have been trying them out the whole evening. To my amazement, the toothpaste really helped tremendously! The animal CD was the worst, and it still skipped 3 times, but that is a HUGE improvement over its previous performance! A few of the other CDs still had a few trouble spots, but most of the time they were able to correct themselves! No more leaping up to skip the player to the next song! Now Grace is under strict orders to never touch CDs under any circumstance (at least until she gets better about keeping her hands clean, LOL). I'm sure tons of people already knew about this little hint, but I wanted to pass it on for those who were in the dark, like me. Don't just toss your skipping CDs! Try toothpaste first! It can't hurt!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sickness Again

I think this sickness is never completely going to leave! Luke and Faith both ran fevers today. Nathan is still coughing, and it's been at least 2 weeks since he started. He is not running a fever or seeming sick in any other way than the hacking sound he makes every so often, but still, I think we're all ready for that to go away!

No one has really been all that sick, but it just keeps coming back. Bob is teaching children's church tomorrow, so that means I'll be home during church with Luke and Faith. I'll probably keep Grace home too. She is better, although she is still a bit snuffly, and I know she has sinus congestion. She keeps pointing to her cheek and telling me it hurts, but she's not running a fever anymore, or having gunky green snot, so she doesn't have a sinus infection (yet). Nathan is also having sinus congestion. He asked me the other day how one knew if one had a cavity, because his tooth really hurt on the right side of his mouth up on top. I told him I thought it was sinus pressure, and it would go away soon. I asked him yesterday how it was feeling. He said better except when he did this: and he threw his head violently forward: or when he hit his pillow like this: and he threw his head violently backwards. LOL! So my prescription was "don't do that".

Anyhow, Bob stayed home last week, and I stayed home the week before, so it's been awhile since we were in church together as a family! I'm ready for us all to be better. Amazingly, I haven't gotten this bug. I pray that continues because not only do I have my Classical Conversations duties, which now include teaching tin whistle to the 3rd-6th grades, but also it's coming up on my turn to teach at our other co-op in another week. I'll teach on Ancient Egypt for 2 weeks, and then we'll have the 5th week activity, where I am in the "mummy room". So this would not be a good time for me to be sick!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mummifying--The Final Steps

Way, way back on Aug. 25, I posted about starting to mummify King Cluck. Well, I continued to faithfully change his salt/baking powder/baking soda/spice mixture until, after 4 weeks or so, the salt no longer got wet. By that time he was residing comfortably in his gallon ziploc freezer bag on top of the dryer, and I had started a second chicken mummy. That one is going to the demo one, the one which isn't wrapped, so everyone can see what a mummy looks like under the wrapping. Well, that mummy ("Am-Hen-Otep") is also finished, and I figured I had better get busy wrapping King Cluck, or he wouldn't actually be dry for the big 5th week presentation on Nov. 17!

Step 1: Dust off all the salt possible with a damp paper towel. Dry thoroughly with another paper towel. Here you can see what mummified flesh looks like, since I'm sure this has been a burning question in your mind.

Sterp 2: Rub with teriyaki marinade . . . just kidding! This is actually scented oil I made by filling a jar up with spices, adding oil, and letting it sit for over a week. I told the kids this was the sort of thing the ladies who went to Jesus' tomb on Easter morning would have been carrying, and they were wanting to prepare his body by rubbing oil on it. Of course, he would not have been a mummy, LOL.

Step 3: Fill cavity with cloth strips, and then dip other cloth strips in glue/water mixture. Wrap those around the chicken. You wrap the legs and wings first, separately, and then you wrap the whole thing up.

And finally, you display the finished product: a throw pillow! No, kidding again. This is actually King Cluck himself, all ready for his journey to the next world. In person, you would not really be tempted at all to lay your weary head down on him. He is quite smelly, not in an absolutely terrible way, but not in a good way either. In fact, Bob just walked in and suggested we move him out to the garage while his wrappings dry. And I will never be able to enjoy the smell of cinnamon and cloves in quite the same way that I did before.

So just another few weeks, and then I will be able to dislodge permanently both chicken mummies from the house. I am looking forward to that day, believe it or not. We need to make a little coffin and sarcophagus for King Cluck first though. We already have one shoe box picked out.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Date Night!

Bob and I went out to Chili's last night on a real bonafide date! We had their "3 for $20" deal, where we got an appetizer, 2 entrees, and dessert for $20. Can't beat that! We had a lot of fun. The best part was that we just left. Nathan and Luke watched the kids--no babysitter! It was wonderful! I started heating up leftover spaghetti sauce before we left, and they reheated some noodles to go with it. They served everyone dinner (Faith had already eaten), and then they all went downstairs and watched a video. Faith was poopy once, but Luke was a super stud and changed that. We were gone a little over 2 hours because we also had to pick up Bob's van from a shop. We had taken the big van in for an estimate on the damage from when Bob was rear-ended a few weeks ago. Bob had stopped by the shop after work, paid and picked up the key, and he drove it home, leaving his van there. So after we ate, we drove over there to pick up his van. But when we got home, everything was quiet and normal--just what we wanted to see! I foresee more date nights on a more regular basis in our future. THIS is the nice part of parenting--having kids who are older and responsible!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

20 and Counting

One of the books I've recently read during my nursing times was The Duggars: 20 and Counting. My friend Carri recommended it as a light read when we were visiting their farm back in June. I finally got around to requesting it from the library, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it! They seem like such a genuinely nice family! Disclaimer: I have never actually watched any of their shows on Discovery, but I do read articles about them in magazines and newspapers, so I felt like I was already familiar with them and their beliefs. I am not a huge Bill Gotherd fan, that's for sure, and I know they follow his teachings pretty faithfully, but there was no attempt to convince anyone they are right or even any putting down of those who might have looser standards for modesty or whatever. Really, there was no preaching in the book at all, but they were so open and sincere about their faith. I loved it!

I always enjoy hearing how couples met, so I was glad they started with that part of their story. I knew they had lived in small houses before they built their big new house because they were commited to never going into debt, but I didn't really know exactly HOW small the houses were, or how very long they lived in them before finally moving. Their first house they had children in was a 900 square foot one with 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom next to a busy road with their used car lot in the front yard! They lived there until after their 5th child was born. Wow. I think I would have gone crazy. And then they moved up to . . . a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house. Woo! That's really spreading out! But they were committed to not going into debt, so they saved up until they could pay cash, and then they had to save up to be able to fix it up. They lived there until their 15th child was born, at which point they could finally move into the big house they live in now, most of which they built themselves. Amazing!

Michelle is really honest in the book. She talks about the exhaustion and the tears, with so many little ones in such a small house. She shares openly about her inverted and sensitive nipples that crack and bleed, which has made nursing very difficult and painful for her. She has talked to many La Leche League volunteers for help, and she has nursed each of her children several months even with the pain. She also shares that her cycles return, even with full-time breastfeeding, at 6-8 weeks, and she's usually pregnant again by the time the baby is 8-9 months. The Well-Trained Mind board has had several vitrolic-filled threads about the Duggars, with people always pompously suggesting that she weans as soon as possible to try to get pregnant, and how that isn't letting God decide the size of the family, but that does not seem to be at all what happens here. Michelle in particular shares a bunch of pretty personal details to try to clear up the nosy misconceptions of people who still won't like them just because of who they are and what they believe.

The book talks about all the businesses they have had, and they were very honest about failures there too. I was very impressed by how the Lord led them into making deals and buying properties, and then how the Lord used those properties later on. Another way the Lord led Jim Bob was to run for state legislature, where he was elected and served for 2 terms. Then Jim Bob felt the Lord telling him to run for the U.S. Senate. There was already an imcumbent Republican, so he didn't even have the support of his party. He lost with only 22% of the vote, and he wondered what had really been accomplished with the run. Some photographer took a picture of Jim Bob and Michelle, along with their 13 kids, as they went to vote. The photo was picked up by the NY Times, which was interesting but nothing to take note of. A little later a freelance writer who had seen the picture called, wanting to write a story about their family. The magazine who had originally been interested decided not to take the story, but eventually Parents magazine ran it. An executive at Discovery Channel saw the Parents article and wanted to do a documentary on the family. So now with all the shows made about them, they have reached maybe even more people than if they had just been sent to D.C. as a congressional family!

I alos got some good hints about how to make things work with a big family. One thing that won't work now, but I am definitley filing away in my "dream house" file is that they have one big room for all their family's clothes, right by their big laundry room (4 washers and 4 dryers). Everything is hung by size, and every night everybody picks out what they will wear the next day and takes it up by their beds. As our boys get older, I can foresee when they are wearing mainly similar sizes. It is already a hassle, and I am somewhat arbitrary about what shirts go on say Caleb's side of the closet versus Jonathan's side. So haivng one big clothes room seems like a great idea! Also, and I don't really think we'll ever be doing this but it is nice, they have a huge (350 sq. ft.) pantry with a roll-up garage door, so they can back their van right up to it and unlaod! THAT sounds convenient!

At the very end of the book, they talk about the upcoming birth of their 18th child, who was born in January 09. They write, "We know it may be difficult to understand how excited we are about another baby's birth, but it's absolutely true. . . When we hold that baby in our arms for tthe first time and admire its unique face and tiny features, we know we'll be filled with the same sense of awe and thankfulness for God's amazing power and grace that has filled our hearts as we've welcomed each one of our children. Each and every child truly is a blessing from God." I know that back when we had maybe 3 or 4 kids, I remember thinking about a family who found out they were expecting #8 and thinking, "Why?" I guess I figured out they already knew basically what their kids would look like, both boy and girl models, so who keep going? But what I have come to realize, and what is hard to explain unless you have lived it, is that you eventually reach a point, believe it or not, when it is not the huge jump to add another child like it is when you are having your second or maybe third. And then you start just looking forward to seeing who it is that God is adding to your family. You get excited to see how the older kids will interact with the new one. You are even more keenly aware of exactly how individual each and every child is because you already have so many very different personalities, with such decided likes and dislikes, and you wonder how each new person will fit, and what their unique gifts and talents will be. I think I am enjoying each baby more and more, as I become more comfortable as a mother, and as I have more and more help from the bigger kids!

So I recommend the book, even if you don't have a big family. I appreciated some of their child-rearing and other tips as well. It's always fun to read about a family that makes ours sound like a small one!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Potty-Training Update

I thought I should also give an update on Grace's potty-training adventures, for those who may possibly be interested. I would say she has regressed, rather than gone forward. She will still pee (mostly) on the potty, but she will not poop on it. She also will not pee on a big potty, like when we go out, after one flushed automatically while she was still on it. She was terrified! Amy P. did give the helpful hint at Bible study that if you cover the red "eye" with a post-it note, then it won't flush until you take that note off, and now I have some post-it notes in the diaper bag, but I'm afraid the whole thing has set her back quite a ways! So this makes it challenging. For example, she peed before we left for Classical Conversations Thursday morning at 8:45. She was still dry when we done there, at noon, but she wouldn't go on the big potty. We eat lunch there, and I knew she couldn't hold it indefinitely , so of course I was not surprised when we finally did get home, after 1:00, that her pull-up was wet. (I put her in one deliberately, realizing something like this would probably happen.) I know people will say to just carry a little potty in the car, but that's not really feasible, especially on CC mornings, when I already have a ton of stuff to carry out, and we're really rushed. Also, it would be a hassle to deal with everyone else while I take Grace out to the car to go potty. So I'm just not going to go there. Eventually she'll get over it and go on the big potty.

Basically, since she is still having so much trouble with pooping on the little potty, I'm just not going to worry about the whole thing right now. I'll put her in pull-ups if she wants that (which she usually does), and then she will most often go potty on her own, but I'm just not going to worry about the pooping thing. Cleaning up a poopy pull-up is not much worse than changing a poopy diaper, and it's a whole lot better than cleaning up poopy underwear (which I have done my fair share of over the past weeks!). I figure we'll revisit the whole underwear thing in a few weeks. In the meantime, whenever ANYONE in the house goes poopy on the potty, they must come out and announce it in a magnificent manner, while everyone else goes wild with cheering. Then the lucky big girl or boy receives several M&Ms (or Skittles in Caleb's case) for their efforts. This new initiative has made Grace think about the benefits of pooping on the potty, but so far she hasn't cracked, LOL. So we'll see how much longer it takes for her to go potty on a big potty, and to poop in her little potty. I will keep you updated!

Another week, another update . . .

Wow, it's been over a week since I last posted! I guess I'm on the 'once a week" plan now. Where does the time go?! Last week was a usual week, with the only bit of drama being a somewhat mild bug going around the house. People are snuffly and coughing (Nathan, Luke, Jonathan, Anna, and Faith), but nothing too bad. Anna also has been running a fever the last 2 days, but only at night after she goes to bed. She's fine during the day, but when I go in to take her potty before I go to bed, around 11:15, I discover that not only is she hot and feverish, she has also wet the bed! This has happened the last 2 nights, so tonight I finally was wise and put her in a pull-up. It's so out-of-character for her that I am sure the sickness is to blame.

The girls and I stayed home from church today, which I think was a wise move. Our church had its annual church picnic at a local park this afternoon, and we decided we would all still go to that, since we figured there would be less chance of passing anything along outside, as opposed to in a nursery setting. The weather was so gorgeous--low 70's and sunny--so it was a perfect day for a picnic! It was a lot of fun, and I'm glad we all went. I got to visit with a lot of people, the boys played all manner of games (football, baseball, volleyball, etc.), and the girls mainly hung out around me and ate a lot of desserts, LOL. We took 2 vans, so I brought them back around 5:00. On the way home, Anna was very whiny, and almost as soon as we walked in the door, she fell asleep on the couch. When she woke up a little while later, it was obvious her fever had come back up, and she was very, very snuffly, so in hindsight it probably was not good to spend the whole afternoon outside at the picnic. Oh well. Motrin and a bath restored her good temper, and all 3 girls were in bed by 7:45. Hopefully a good night's sleep will help her kick this bug.

Bob has tomorrow off. We're hoping the good weather holds, because he has several outside things he would like to accomplish. I'm thinking we may just take the whole week off of school, except for the 2 co-ops, because on Thursday we have a donation pick-up scheduled, and I really want to finish up some decluttering I've been working on. Some cleaning would be nice too. So now you know what we'll be doing when you don't hear from me for another week!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Week in Review

1. Tomorrow Caleb and Jonathan have another soccer game at 9:00. Bob is the coach of their team, so at least they will go. Last week they were supposed to have their team pictures taken before the game--at 6:45 A.M.! Well, that's when they were supposed to be there; the pictures were to be taken at 7:00. I wondered how this would work, since it's still dark here at 7:00. Bob pitched the idea to the team that, seeing as how we are living in this digital age, he just take pictures of everyone on our camera, make discs, and then people can get their own prints, buttons, magnets, whatever, at reasonable prices from Sams or Snapfish or wherever, as opposed to the outrageous ones charged by those sports photo businesses. That was a winner of an idea, so they did that at the civilized hour of 8:45, and he handed out the discs at practice on Thursday. We had gotten an email from the league saying they were having a make-up picture day during practice next Thursday night for those teams that couldn't get their pictures done. One of the other team moms heard someone on another team say their pictures hadn't turned out at all because--get this--it was too dark, so they needed to retake them. Yeah, I know--it's hard to see that coming, what with all the uncertainty of when the sun rises each day and whatnot. Anyhow, we were feeling good about that.

2. It was our turn to do the family presentation at the beginning of Classical Conversations on Thursday. We're supposed to do something relating to one of the 8 history timeline cards we memorize each week, so we chose to do a Greek myth, which related to the card "Homer and Greek Mythology". We did "Theseus and the Minotaur", which was very well-received. Nathan was our brave hero Theseus, Caleb was King Aegeus, the king of Athens, Jonathan was an unnamed Athenian sailing to Minos to be a victim of the Minotaur along with Theseus, Anna was Ariadne, King Minos' beautiful daughter who gave Theseus the golden spool of magical thread, and Luke was the Minotaur. We had to get a monster mask from the dollar store from him. Since it had crossed eyes, it was more goofy than scary, so it was perfect.

3. Bob was driving the big van to work on Thursday so that he could pick up the running boards he ordered over lunch. At a stop light, he got rear-ended! I know--it's so hard to see the tiny Ford 350 van. Turn it sideways, and you can hardly tell it's there! LOL! The lady actually told Bob she was late to work, in a hurry, and she looked down for "just a second"! All the things your insurance tells you not to say. Her license plate (in vanity plate-happy VA) was "XLER3". I guess someone took the 8 before she could get there, LOL. There's not too much damage to the big van, although now our backups sensor lights don't work, so there's no beeping when you get close to things. I liked that. This is actually the second time this year Bob has gotten rear-ended. Lucky him!

4. I've been gradually working on potty-training Grace, and she's been doing well. The only fly in the ointment has been that we are gone Tuesdays and Thursdays for co-ops, so there isn't a long chunk of days where we don't go anywhere to really cement everything. Instead, shell do well in underwear for one day, then I'll put her back in a diaper for CC or whatever, and she'll happily go in there. and she's definitely not at the point where she would tell someone else she needs to go. I still have to remind her often to go, or she will have an accident. Today was not a good day, however. She pooped in her panties not long after she got up, she had a pee accident before lunch, and after lunch she pooped in her panties again! What in the world was that all about?! We don't have our Tuesday co-op the day after Columbus Day, so I'm hoping that week will be the week where it all comes together for her. And I'm hoping the pooping thing does not become an issue! (Maybe she and Emily talked about it, Melinda?!)

5. I had mentioned back in July that one thing that made selling our house and PCSing attractive was this military homeowners' assistance program that was in the stimulus package. it was supposed to pay the military person back 90% of the difference between what they bought the house at and what they could sell it for. In an area like ours, that is a significant amount. But then we never heard anything official, and in fact, stuff had even been taken off the official website talking about the program at all! We thought, that's not a good sign . . . . Moving was a lot less attractive. But then yesterday we got a phone call from a friend in CO and an email from E out here saying that things are a go, and it's about to get officially entered in the congressional register. Right now, the deal is for people who have orders by Dec. 09, with a report date no later than 28 Feb. 10, but they could extend that up to 2012 if there are sufficient funds. Hmmm. So we're back to leaning towards going. We haven't actually heard anything from the guy at Andersen (Guam) or the AFPC guy, so we were wondering what was going on, but Bob has been busy, so he hasn't called them either. I told that to Carolyn, the one with 7 kids that is over there already, and she said her husband had been given a request for him to be our sponsor, so she had assumed Bob had gotten the job! How funny that she knows more than we do! Please keep praying that we make the right decisions here, and that the Lord will make His will very clear for us.

Well, that's where we're at! I hope you all had a good week too!