Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Summer Memories

Another thing I've been doing these past few weeks has been scrapbooking (okay, mainly the week Luke and Caleb were gone).  I have an 8 1/2 x 11 scrapbook for each child (except Micah, LOL).  The first page is about their birth, the next 2 pages are pictures of their extended family/good friends who are like family, and then there are 2 pages for their first year and 2 pages for the year they are one.  After that, there are 4 pages for each year.  It used to be a great way to use up pictures from a roll of film that didn't get into the big family scrapbook, but of course now we don't have rolls of film!  This means that I have to actually go on snapfish and pick out pictures for each child and order them, and I'm just not always that good about doing that.  The last time I put any new pages in the boys' scrapbooks was *cough* 2008.  Yeah . . . a little behind, LOL.

I kept up a little better with the girls, but I was still behind.  Now I can say I am totally caught up on the girls' scrapbooks!!  (Waiting for a rousing round of applause . . .)  I also did 2 more years in Jonathan's book, so instead of being stuck back at age 4, he is all the way up to age 6!  I'm working on Caleb's, but I actually had to order some pictures for him, so I haven't finished another year for him--he still stuck at age 6.  It's been so fun for me to actually do something hobby-like again.  There is so much for me to do during the school year, and I always feel slightly guilty for doing something just for fun, because that means I am not doing something that really NEEDS to be done.  So I never take the time to get involved in something like scrapbooking.  I'm glad I took a break from school-related things for a few weeks so I could actually finish some pages!

Anyhow, as I was working on the girls' book, I was struck by how much traveling we used to do.  All the time!  Back to Ohio for sure, but a lot of other places as well.  In 2009 from June to September, we went to Busch Gardens with Ann and Wally, visited Philadelphia with my college friend Phil and Sandra, went to Ohio and saw my brother's family, who were visiting from TX, went to Bob's family reunion in PA, went back to Ohio since my aunt was visiting from Utah, went to White Sulphur Springs for a weekend retreat, spent the next weekend up at Camp Greentop in MD, and then visited Williamsburg with Ann and Wally.  Whoa!  Were we crazy?!  We only had one less child than we do now, but now that seems ridiculously impossible to even attempt so many trips!  I guess our days of wild galivanting about are over--for awhile anyway.  Bob and I were just talking a few days ago about how we'll have to travel all over the country to visit all our kids and their families!  Maybe we'll get an RV.  Driving the big van will be a small stepping stone of preparation, LOL.

But right now it seems that we are starting the phase of life where our kids do the traveling, and we ferry them, but then we come back home and hold down the fort while they are gone.  I love planning trips, but I am getting too old and tired to do the packing!   Also, even though we aren't tied to a traditional school schedule, homeschooling high school is definitely taking up so much more of my time, even during the summer.  I never could have imagined!  But I keep telling myself--eventually this will get easier, as I reteach the same classes, instead of having to always prep new classes.  Next year I will teach chemistry, and that might be my last new class, except for some possible electives (I'm definitely going to teach a one-semester astronomy class, and I may teach a year long anatomy and physiology class sometime).  By the time the girls are coming up on high school, I'll be an expert, Lord willing!  Maybe we'll be able to plan and take some actual vacations then, LOL.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

More Art

I was going to post this picture while Jonathan was away at camp last week, but I didn't get a lot of blogging done then!  Caleb started taking the same art class as Jonathan back in June, and I finally got around to taking a picture of his first picture.  This is not a very good photograph, because the flash is too bright, but it's a copper tea kettle with some peaches.  It's really nice!  I think we're going to frame it and hang it in the kitchen along with Jonathan's pear picture. 

This actually might be Caleb's only picture, at least for a long while.  Their art teacher was pregnant and due in September, so we thought we would have art lessons until the end of August at least.  But unexpectedly, she developed preeclampsia last week, and the baby was born at 32 weeks on Wednesday.  We are praising the Lord that she seems to have recovered now, and hopefully the little baby boy will not have to spend too much time in the hospital either.  He was tiny--2 pounds, 1 ounce!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Different Pictures

Last week I resolved to not work on biology or memory work at all, and we also did no school whatsoever.  Instead, I worked on a few things of my own!  One thing I actually got accomplished was the Rivendell yearbook for this past year.  I had grand ideas of using Photoshop for a few pictures, and indeed I started playing around with it.  But then I realized that was actually stressing me out, since it was taking forever, and I wasn't quite getting the effect I was looking for.  And I definitely didn't have forever to finish this little project, so . . . I put all those creative thoughts out of my brain, and just tried to get it done.

Last year I used blurb.com, which I was happy with, once I got it all figured out.  The only downside is that when you are dealing with a lot of pictures, you can't do the book online.  You have to download their software and just work on one computer.  That is fine when it's just me, but the plan is that next year I pass this off to the boys, so they can put "yearbook staff" or whatever down for extracurricular activities!  So we need something where people can work from different computers.  That led me to Shutterfly.  It was . . . okay.  Blurb was a better fit for yearbooks, I think.  Or maybe I just didn't spend enough time on Shutterfly.  I finally was able to manipulate the sizes of pictures and text boxes, but it wasn't that easy or intuitive, and it was often not exactly what I wanted.  It was okay, though.  And some of the layouts looked fine there on the side, but when I picked them for my page, the layout would have weird elements show up, like a giant brown picture frame around one picture that totally distracted from everything else, or a piece of "scotch tape" at the top of pictures.  Weird!  There was no way I could figure out to get rid of the extra stuff, so I never picked those layouts, even though they were good ones.  My biggest issue with Shutterfly is that loading my book one time made my desk top freeze up, and after that, I could never load the crazy thing on there!  It was really inconvenient because that's where all my pictures are.  I had to put them all on a portable hard drive (yes, yes, something I would have done at some point anyway--I just didn't want to have to do it right then!) and use a laptop. 

But the book is done, thanks to some last-minute help with the verbiage from Isaac and Caleb McC.  I totally should have done thing back in June, when Nathan and Luke were around!  It's hard to write captions about events where you were not present, LOL.  But Isaac and Caleb came through, and now we're just waiting to see the final product.  I love having all the memories of the co-op year in a book!  It's so fun to look back through last year's book, and we didn't even really know we were going to do a yearbook, so there weren't as many pictures to choose from!

Saturday, July 14, 2012


 We were really busy this past week.  We had a playdate on Monday, the girls had a birthday party on Tuesday, we got pictures taken on Wednesday, and Jonathan had his art class, and Thursday we had my friend Kimberly and her kids over so she and I could do our Hebrews Bible study, and Jonathan had an orthodontist appointment later on.  Friday we left at 8:00 to drive to WSS, and we didn't get home until after 5:30!  Whew--what a week!

I usually get (professional) pictures taken of my babies around their 1 year birthday.  Micah's birthday was back in April, so that obviously came and went, LOL.  I wanted to get the girls' pictures taken as well, and one thing that was really holding me back was that I could not figure out what to have them all wear that would be somewhat matching.  And I didn't want to go out and buy white shirts for everyone, for example.  But then I remembered that my friend Lynnea had pictures taken of her girls in all patriotic clothes (hers matched though, LOL), so I dug through their tubs and found these things.  Grace did not like her dress, but I told her she only had to wear it until after the pictures!
Although you can't tell here, none of the girls were particularly co-operative.  Anna has this weird tendancy to freeze and clench up when the camera is on her.  I almost didn't get an individual picture of her because all the shots have her with this weird one-shoulder-up-grimace-on-her-face pose.  Grace smiled in her individual shots, but not a real smile with her eyes, you know?  And Faith was just a bit grumpy (again, you can't tell here, but definitely in her individual shots), so her picture has her not really smiling, but not really frowning.  She had a good hair day though--she looks so much like Shirley Temple in her individual picture!
And Micah--Micah was not cooperative at all.  The lady started with him, and he would not crack a smile.  She was doing all these tricks with stuffed animals and whatnot, and he just sat there in a little rocking chair looking at her like, "You are so weird, lady."  Again, not frowning or crying--just no smile whatsoever.  Totally serious.  But then the lady hit upon the idea of bubbles.  He liked the bubbles!  So for the rest of the time, Jonathan was on bubble duty, blowing a steady stream of bubbles and catching some of them on the wand so Micah could pop them himself.  Then we got smiles like the one above!  Of course, when trying to get all 4 kids to smile with the bubbles, they were all invariably looking at different bubbles, totally distracted, so that was not as good, LOL.

Oh well, it's over.  Next summer I am planning on bringing in the new baby, plus everyone else for a group shot.  Yippee--can't wait.  Ha!

Back Up to 7!

We picked up Luke and Caleb from White Sulphur Springs yesterday!  They had a grand time at Camp Caleb.  The theme this year was "junkyard", with their key verse being II Cor. 5: 17 ("if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation . . .").  Caleb was full of tales about not one but 2 people who injured their ankles during the week (one sprained, one broken--yikes!), so I was glad he and Luke were both safe and sound!  They weer both glad to be home and sleeping in their own beds last night, and it was good to have them back.

We saw Nathan as well, since we stayed for lunch.  He is done with the outdoors camping week (AO), but now he is staying at WSS for 2 more weeks to work on boys' support staff.  I was worried about how and when he'd do his laundry, since all the stuff he wore for the week of AO is desperately in need of washing.  But then I decided he is 15 years old, and I'm sure he'll figure it out!  Nathan reported having a great time on AO, and the older guy (who worked on staff the years I did, although not on my particular staffs) said he was a great servant-leader and a lot of fun to have along.  There was some story that was evidently hilarious about Nathan, who got dehydrated on a hike and did or said something funny relating to a tent.  But alas, we don't yet have the full story on that, since Nathan ushered us quickly out onto the porch so we could take the above picture (funny--he wasn't so interested in the picture until Dale started telling the story . . .). 

I'm driving back up to WSS tomorrow to take Jonathan for his week of Camp Caleb, so hopefully I'll see Nathan again and get more of the story!  And that means we'll be back down to 6 kids here at home, although at least I won't have all 3 of my older boys gone!  Yeah--not making that scheduling mistake again, LOL. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

And Then There Were Five . . .

We're down to just 5 kids this week--the younger 5.  Nathan is away at AO, and after that is done, he'll be working on support staff at WSS for 2 more weeks, so he won't be home for awhile.  Luke and Caleb are at different Camp Calebs, and we'll pick them up Friday.  We'll at least get to see Nathan for lunch when we pick up Luke and Caleb, so that will be nice. 

It's definitely a step back to not have any older kids at home to help!  I have gotten so used to being able to leave Micah at home napping when I drop off other kids!  It is easy to forget that stage of life, when you are needed by so many people without bigger kids to help with the burden, so this is a good reminder. 

Another thing that is different this week is that we are eating less food.  A lot less.  Wow--leftovers.  A blast from the past!

One more thing that is different is that house is a lot more peaceful.  I don't want anyone to get the false impression from my last post that we live in some happyland where all is loving and peaceful!  Luke and Caleb have always been my ones that butt heads the most, but it has really reached a breaking point the last several weeks.  I don't know if it's the heat, the lack of structure of the regular schoolyear, too many computer games, or what, but they have been at each other constantly.  There's pleny of blame to go around!  Both parties take offense too easily, poke at each other's known weak spots, are too interested in the other's business and not their own, and are just generally annoying to each other.  Add in Nathan's occasional irritable and tempermental teenage attitude, and you can get an idea of what it's been like around here lately! I am not sure exactly what I need to do differently, but I know heart attitudes need to change.  I have been praying that the Lord will speak to each of them during this week away at camp, in particular about their relationships with each other.  I have told them many times that they can only control their actions and their responses, and in fact they are accountable to God for those things.  I've been trying to think of some kind o project that Luke and Caleb would need to do together, but I've drawn a blank.  Anyone have any other ideas?  In general, though, people need to focus on honoring others, and that's just not been happening lately.

So that's where we're at right now.  I have a long list of things to (hopefully) do this week, and I am slowly making some progress.  It's cooler (and we have electricity--not taking that for granted!!), so that has made life a lot more pleasant! 

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Walmart Kindness

Nathan and Luke had orthodontic appointments this afternoon, so we all went there, and then we all headed over to Walmart to get some last-minute needed items for AO/Camp Caleb, since Nathan, Luke, and Caleb all leave for their week of camp at WSS this weekend.  We were in line at a "20 items or less" checkout behind an older woman who kept looking back at us.  One time she even looked intently at our cart, and I thought she was counting to make sure we were under 20 items!  But as she was checking out, she turned back to me, handed me a $20 bill and told me to go buy the kids a treat at McDonalds (there's one right past the checkout in our Walmart), since they were all so well-behaved!  That was an unexpected surprise!

I was tempted to just go on home, LOL, since I really didn't want to deal with waiting in line at McDonalds, but I decided to stop anyway.  Hey--a special memory!  We never do stuff like that!  So I stopped the cart right outside, told everyone to wait there, and I stood in line for awhile.  I got 7 ice cream cones, a dollar fry thing for milk-allergic Micah, and a chocolate milkshake for me (and the baby, of course, LOL).  This took forever, but everyone was patient.  When I finally got the last ice cream cone out to the last person, a grandma who was there with her daughter and 2 granddaughters (twins!) came up to tell me how well-behaved the kids were!  She said they all listened so well, and that no one started eating their cones until all the kids had gotten theirs.  That was not actually my instruction, as I am not a fan of ice cream dripping all over, LOL, but hey, that is polite.   Then the daughter started talking, and she said she had 5 kids (the twins were the youngest), and she always had so many stares, etc. when she had everyone with her at stores.  I told her that the only reason we were even at McDonalds was because of a kind lady who had given us money for a treat, and she was astounded!  I think it encouraged her--I know it encouraged me!  I have to remember all these little things, so I can do them when I am a grandma, out shopping all by myself, and I see moms with big families!

Monday, July 02, 2012

Long, Hot Weekend

So Friday night I was on the computer, looking through a zillion pictures of a zillion kids wearing uniforms on the VA CAP encampment website.  I found one lone picture where I could identify Nathan, posted it on Facebook, and read some updates.  A friend of mine from church posted that her husband was laughing at her for taking all the plants off the deck, and she also posted a weather map picture of a line of storms heading our way.  I vaguely remembered Tim P. saying something about severe thunderstorms at Bible study, and Bob had indeed gone out on the deck and closed our patio umbrella when we got home.

Then the storm struck.  It was a doozy!  Wind, lightening, rain.  Bob went out again to take down our tomato plants, and in the moment he was outside, he got absolutely drenched.  And then the power went out, around 10:30 Friday night.  We had been at Bible study late, so the girls and Micah were all down, but none of the boys were.  They rustled up flashlights, and we headed off to bed. 

We've lived here for almost 8 years (seriously?!), and the longest the power has been out was about 4 hours.  I went to sleep annoyed that whenever the power kicked back on in the middle of the night, our crazy family room ceiling light and fan always turn on (with the fan on high), and so I would have to get up to turn them off.  No problems, however, because when we woke up Saturday morning, a bit sweaty, the power was still off.  Hmmmm.  Our phone/internet was also out, and even our cell phones didn't work at our house.

Bob went out to get bags of ice for our freezers and refrigerators.  We ate breakfast, I worked on some biology, we played a rousing game of Scrabble, we ate sandwiches for lunch, and the kids played outside in the sprinklers.  Our pool was closed, since a huge swath of area was without power.  We ran some errands and went out to Ci-Ci's pizza for dinner, fully expecting the power would be back on when we got home.

But it wasn't.  The C's had moved over to her dad's house, freeing up the basement for us to sleep in, which was good since the temperature up on the second floor was 90 degrees, LOL.  We moved pillows downstairs and set up camp down in the basement--the 4 boys in one room, and the 3 girls and Bob and me in the other.  I read books outloud by flashlight for awhile, and then we settled in for a second night of restless sleep, punctuated by all the noise of 9 family members with no other sounds to mask it. 

Sunday morning we again woke up to no power, but since power had been restored Saturday night at 5:00 to our church building, at least we could escape there for a few hours.  It was still a little warm in the building, though, and I found myself dozing off several times.  Lots of other church members were also still without power, and I felt really sorry for the people out west on wells--no electricity AND no water!  We could certainly be worse off! 

We went to Taco Bell for lunch, and then home so tired, crabby Micah could attempt to take a nap.  He actually slept a good long time in the basement, while everyone else played games and legos.  We were delighted to discover that our cell phones once again worked at our house, so we didn't feel so cut off from the entire world anymore, LOL.  Bob went out and got some more bags of ice to replenish our freezers and fridges.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how cold things still were.  The ice cream in the (big) freezer was melted, but the meat was still frozen solid.  Saturday morning we took out 7 loaves of bread to make room for 2 big bags of ice in the freezer, and that seemed to do the trick in there.  Stuff in the fridge stayed cold enough too.  It may spoil a little faster, but we were still able to have milk for cereal, and lunch meat for sandwiches.

We left around 6:00 to go pick up Nathan, who had taken the CAP van back from encampment.  It turned out they didn't get in until 7:00, as opposed to 6:30, so we ran over to Walmart and bought 2 more big flashlights.  It was so good to see Nathan again, but he has the cold I've been struggling with, as well as a very hoarse voice from all the sounding off.  Then we headed off to Golden Corral for a late dinner.  While we were driving, Christine called to say their power came on around 5:00!  This was very encouraging, although Bob cautioned us not to get our hopes up, LOL. 

After dinner, we were again encouraged because a few more stoplights were working on the main road near our house.  But as we drove north, we noticed big dark tracts of houses, which was not encouraging.  And indeed, when we turned onto our street, everything was still pitch black.  Sigh.  At this point, we were all tired, crabby, and sick of the heat.  It was 92 degrees on the top floor, 85 degrees on the main floor, and in the high 70s in the basement.  We trooped downstairs, at least having our 2 new flashlights as well as all the little ones, and prepared for a 3rd night without air conditioning.  Poor Nathan--home from encampment, but camping out in the basement!

It was really hard to sleep last night.  It was just muggy, and I so wished for some moving air!  We all restlessly slept, and at 2:30, one of the girls got up to go to the bathroom.  As I laid there, awake, I heard something outside the basement window.  Could it be?!  I woke Bob up to tell him I thought the air conditioner compresser was running, a sound more beautiful to my ears than anything else could possibly have been!  He ran upstairs to shut windows, and I ran upstairs to grab a fan.  Ahhhh . . . cool air blowing over me . . . heaven! 

So from our clocks, it looks like the power was finally restored around 2:20 a.m.  I tell you, we have never been more grateful for electricity, or more thankful for the line workers out there working around the clock to restore power!  We are taking it easy today, trying to get the house cleaned up and organized.  I think we are all looking forward to a good, cool night's sleep in our own beds.  Bedtime can't come fast enough!  Maybe a nap will be in order this afternoon, even for me.