Thursday, October 31, 2013

Oct. 31--Halloween

The girls woke up this morning saying, "It's here!  It's finally here!  It's Chuck E. Cheese Day!!!"  We've never done trick-or-treating with the kids, but when we lived in Colorado, we started going to Chuck E. Cheese with the L's every Halloween.  The tradition continues--although Nathan did point out to me yesterday, "You know, Mom, Chuck E. Cheese isn't really that much fun.  I used to think it was the second best day of the year after Christmas!"  Ah, yes, my son . . . you are growing older, LOL.  I told him now he could have fun watching his younger siblings have fun, especially Drew and Micah!  He and Luke were lots of help in walking around with them.  Micah was quite entranced by all the games, as well as by the screens on the wall by where we ate dinner.  I couldn't even get him to look at the camera!
Nathan did say his Mario Kart score has improved since he started driving.  Ha!  When Faith was playing this game, Amy P. said Grace was crouching on the floor, holding down the accelerator for her.  Teamwork!  It's good to see such cooperation.
Drew was also enthralled by all the lights and sounds.  He ate a ton of stuff, and then he crawled around for awhile, pushing whatever buttons he could find.  I'm reading a fascinating book (that I will post about once I finish) about our societal lack of (intestinal) microbes and how that is affecting our allergy rates and rates of autoimmune disorders, so I didn't worry at all about him being exposed to tons of stuff everywhere!  (Like I would have been worried anyway, LOL--I've never been called a germaphobe.) 

So everyone had fun, we came home with the usual assortment of cheap candy and knick-knacks "bought" with our tickets, and now the little over-stimulated ones are all in bed.  I'm looking forward to the time when all the kids are old enough to play games all by themselves, and Bob and I can just hang out at the table the whole time, chatting with our friends!  At least I wasn't heavily pregnant this year, making a thousand trips to the bathroom, like last year!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Oct. 30--Work Day

This morning Nathan and Luke had their online history class, and the rest of us did school and got the house back together from Tuesday.  When we come home Tuesday around 5:15, everything just gets dumped everywhere, and there is mad chaos as we try to get Nathan and Luke off to CAP, everyone else fed, and Micah and Drew down as early as possible since they are absolutely fried from the long Rivendell day.  Hey--I am too!  And totally exhausted, so nothing gets really set back to rights until Wednesday morning.

In the afternoon, Christine came by to pick up the boys to take them to the church so they could help our church administrator, Brian, with yard work.  The church is on a largish piece of property, with a lot of trees and bushes, so there was plenty to do!  The boys were absolutely thrilled to be using Brian's equipment.  He also has a landscaping business, so he has lots of cool stuff.  For example, the boys did not rake.  No, they used these cool backpack leafblower things, as well as one big powerful thing that was different but also blew leaves (in an even cooler fashion).  Obviously, I didn't get all the details, but much fun was had, and Luke even said he thought they should go help Mr. S. every Wednesday afternoon!  Plus, they got Dr. Peppers at the end, so that was just icing on the cake.
Christine and I had to work out this complicated way to get the boys where they needed to be, because even the big van is no longer big enough for all of us!  She came over to our house, left Elena to play with the girls, and took all 8 boys in our big van.  She dropped off 7 of them, then took Isaac to meet someone for a Boy Scout thing.  Then she came back to our house, dropped off the big van, and took Elena plus our girls back to her house to play.  Then I went back in the big van with Drew and Micah to pick up the boys, dropping the McC boys off at the their house and picking up our girls.  We can no longer take the McC boys in the big van with all of us--we only have 2 open seats, even without Bob being there!  We're not moving up to a 15 passenger van though.  There's no storage in the back at all!

After dinner, baths, and putting down Micah and Drew, Bob and I went out to buy new shoes for me.  I've had the same pair of running shoes (which I don't actually run in, of course, although I do a lot of walking, LOL) since November 8, 2007.  That means I have walked in them through 3 pregnancies!  They have been very faithful and comfortable shoes, but alas, they are finally giving out.  I bought another pair of Asics, also with purple and white.  The only difference is that while the old pair was a size 8, the new pair is an 8 1/2.  So now my feet, which were size 7 or 7 1/2 up until I started having kids, are now officially at least a whole size bigger.  Oh well. May this pair last another 6 years--I hate shopping!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Oct. 29--Dwarves

Nathan and Luke had a party at Civil Air Patrol tonight.  Usually there are 4 Tuesdays in a month, and each Tuesday has a different theme--aerospace education, emergency services, character development, and physical training.  When there is a 5th Tuesday, like this week, the squadron does something special--like a Halloween dress-up party! 

Our younger kids love to dress up, but in general, the older ones don't, really.  We're not the particularly creative type either.  We participate in things like CAP, where there are uniforms, so we DON'T have to be creative with clothes! 

But Nathan and Luke needed costumes.  They wanted to do something "Lord of the Rings" themed, because they are hoping to be able to dress up and go to the midnight premiere of the new Hobbit movies when it opens.  We shall see . . .  They decided to be dwarves, so we hit the party store on Sunday to try to put together an outfit.  We got these lovely wig/beards, which were so realistic and natural looking!  LOL  I spent plenty of time last night braiding them, which was interesting.  The feel of synthetic "hair" in a cheap wig is unique!  Fortunately my Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim gave Luke the "Official Guide" to the making of the Hobbit last year for Christmas, so we had lots of pictures to go by.  The costumes turned out fine, and they had a good time.  Take a good look:  hopefully you will never see so much hair in the house again, real or artificial!
Here is a picture with Helena, my friend Lynnea's oldest daughter, who is also in CAP.  We carpool on Tuesday nights, which is SUCH a blessing!  Helena was an elf, which fit right in with the LOTR theme.  So it was a fun time, but I can't say the boys were sorry to come home and take off the costumes (and the hot wigs)!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Oct. 28

I only have a few minutes for blogging--it's late, and we have Rivendell/TNT tomorrow!  I spent too much time tonight making desserts and braiding dwarf hair for Nathan and Luke.  Hopefully there will be pictures tomorrow, although I can already sense reluctance, especially on Luke's part, LOL.

My day started off with breakfast in bed, courtesy of Caleb and Jonathan!  They made me pancakes, and then they made pancakes for everyone else too.  I'm definitely living the life of ease around here!

Our big point of stress today was a computer problem we actually noticed yesterday but didn't have any time to worry about.  On one of our laptops we have 3 "users".  Well, yesterday morning when we started it up, we couldn't log on under the name we usually do.  It gave a message like "This user profile can not be loaded", and then it would log us back out.  So right there I was stymied.  It's hopeless!  Fortunately, Nathan has been doing a lot with computers lately.  He's on the "Cyberpatriot team" for CAP, which has to do with internet security, and he usually has been the one who solves our computer issues lately (before we always had to call my brother Dan, which is always a good option, and definitely still our back-up plan, LOL).  I thought Nathan could just make us a new account, but that didn't work in so far as we still couldn't access the documents on the computer. We couldn't even do that from the administrator account.  It was frustrating.  While I was taking the girls to gymnastics and running errands, it came to me that we needed to google the phrase that was coming up and see what advice we got.  When I got back home after picking up the girls, Nathan came outside to tell me he had fixed the problem.  He googled it and found the solution!  Hey--great minds and all that.  I am very thankful to have someone here as our personal IT guy!  Now we must keep training them, so we always have someone on hand . . .

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Oct. 27

So it was another Sunday, and today proved we are definitely under attack on Sunday mornings!  We decided to try something different, and so Bob didn't take any kids to Sunday School except Drew.  Drew is teething or growing or something, and he's been waking up in the middle of the night again, as well as early, and he's been really crabby.  So he was ready to go early, and I was ready to have him gone!  I handed him and the diaper bag off to Bob at 9:00, and they drove away to church.

The rest of us got ready, and it wasn't too stressful.  I did have to run down to the basement to find a bigger pair of pants for Micah, who also appears to be growing, and Grace had a small meltdown over tights, but things were resolved in a timely manner, and everyone was ready to go, with shoes and jackets on, at 10:15.  As we were preparing to walk out the door, I went to get the big van keys . . . and realized with a sinking feeling, that both sets were in the end pocket of the diaper bag . . . which was of course with Bob and Drew . . . who were already at church.  Sigh.  What can you do?  It's almost funny!

The reason both sets were in there is because yesterday morning I gave a set to Jonathan to open up the van so people could start getting buckled while I made sure everything we needed was in the diaper bag.  By the time I came out (literally not more than 2 minutes later) and asked Jonathan for the keys, he looked blankly at me and couldn't find them.  After a fruitless search for a few minutes, I ran back inside to get the other set of keys, since we were later than I had wanted to be, and I didn't want to miss Caleb McC's race.  Of course, as soon as we got to the meet, Jonathan announced that the keys were in fact in a DIFFERENT pocket then the one (?!) he had checked, so I put that set in the diaper bag as well.  And then I completely forgot about big van keys and never gave them another thought!

So Bob had to come back and rescue us after his Sunday School class was over, and we ended up at church around the same time as we have been lately--significantly late.  At least this time Bob took Micah to the nursery!  We'll see what tactics Satan uses to frustrate me and make us late again next Sunday . . .

After church, Nathan and Luke mowed the L's yard, and then I took them to a store to try to put together dwarf costumes for a Civil Air Patrol social event on Tuesday.  That was a lot of fun!  Then I took Nathan and Anna to get basketball shoes.  We got Nathan's shoes at Sports Authority, and I was going to take Anna to Payless, but the one near us closed at some point without me ever noticing.  Oops!  This necessitated a trip to the mall.

I don't think Anna has ever been to the mall that she remembers, anyway.  I avoid the place like the plague, and if I do have to go (Bob and I went right after Christmas last year, and I think that was the last time), then I certainly don't bring the kids!  Blech.  So anyhow, the mall was a totally new experience for Anna.  To say she was completely enthralled would be a total understatement, LOL.  And the shoe store!!  We have been so incredibly blessed to receive hand-me-downs from very good friends, including shoes, so I have very rarely even had to buy her new shoes.  She has definitely never been in a shoe store (and this is only Payless we are talking about, LOL).  We found basketball shoes for her in short order, but she had to look at each individual pair of shoes in her size, as well as the sizes above and below, just to oooh and aww over them all!  She kept saying, "There are SO many shoes here!  It's amazing!"  After we got home, she told anyone who would listen (and even those who really weren't all that interested) about all the wonderful pairs of shoes she had seen.  It was so funny!  She has always had a thing for shoes . . . I must be a sad disappointment for her!  I think she will grow up to be one of those women with a closet full of shoes, unlike me, who has only a few pairs of shoes, and I regularly only wear about 4 of them!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Oct. 26--Sports Saturday

Nathan had a cross country meet this morning.  It was the home meet for his team, so Bob worked as a finish marshal.  The rest of us got there a little before Nathan's race.  It was a lot windier and colder than I was expecting!  I made everyone wear hoodies, long pants, and socks, so I thought I was doing pretty well, but it turned out that I should have had them wear their heavy winter coats and gloves!  Poor Drew only had on a baseball cap for his bald little head (well, he had it on once he accepted his fate and left it alone).  He was definitely not enjoying the wind. 

We had an interesting time right when we got there.  Parking was in a huge field, and there really were no other cars coming in when we got there.  In fact, there was a race going on right then, and runners were coming around the far end of the field.  We recognized Caleb McC in second place (he ran an earlier race than Nathan because he's 14), and the boys saw Daniel and Joel far away who were cheering Caleb on.  Daniel and Joel started running back toward the finish area, which was a good distance away.  I was strapping Drew into the backpack and getting him on my back, so I didn't see anything.  Jonathan took off running after Daniel and Joel--right into a car that was driving out from a few rows closer.  Luke had a good view, although he was back by me, so not close enough too do anything.  The lady wasn't speeding or anything, but Jonathan had not looked at all where he was going--he just was running.  If she had been just a split second later, she would have definitely hit him.  Jonathan was just fine--not hurt at all--but really shaken up.  He was crying and saying he was sorry.  The lady looked like she had seen a ghost, and she was apologizing.  I'm sure she will have nightmares, poor thing!  Jonathan actually have another brush with death when he got fished out of a hot tub (by a total stranger, since Bob and I didn't even know he was near the hot tub at all) at a hotel near Yellowstone back in 2007, on our way back from my cousin's wedding in Utah.  His guardian angel has had quite a job with him--the Lord must have a special purpose for him!  I will say that we went over parking lot rules again with everyone ("Even fields are parking lots!"), and Jonathan stuck close to me and held my hand during all the walking around during the actual race. 

So Nathan had a good race.  His time wasn't as fast as his last meet, but the course was hillier, and it was pretty windy too.  At least it wasn't raining!
The kids and I came home before the awards ceremony at the meet so that Luke could get ready for his football game.  Fortunately, he was picked up by his teammate's mom, so I didn't have to worry about getting him to the game while I was trying to get everyone lunch.  Drew desperately needed a nap, and no one else was all that excited about going out in the cold and wind, so Nathan stayed home with them, and Bob and I went on a date to the game!  We didn't get there until the end of the 3rd quarter, and the score was tied at 0-0.  But we got there, and things started happening!  The other team scored, but Luke's team blocked the extra point.  Then Luke led his team down the field, and they scored, but they didn't convert their extra point either.  Then there was a flub with the kickoff, and the other team scooped up the ball and ran it in for a touchdown.  That was demoralizing, but Luke's team again blocked their PAT, and then they marched back up the field and scored again.  Luke even had a beautiful pass on the drive.  Then Luke passed for the extra point conversion, so they won by one point!  It was very exciting!  This was the last regular season game, so now they are headed to the play-offs at 6-1.  This is so amazing, considering how few players they have had, especially these last few games.  Today they again had only 11 players, but this time no one was injured, so they ended up with 11!

So it was an exciting day, and when Bob and I came home, I gave Drew and Micah a bath.  Micah kept saying, "Pee" in the tub, so I thought he needed to go.  After I got him out, he looked uncomfortable, so I put him on the potty, and he peed!  (Note to new moms of boys:  I put my boys on the big potty facing backwards.  This way they can hold onto the tank, so they feel more secure, and also it spreads their legs so that everything is pointing in the right direction:  down.  When they sit facing frontwards, it is easy for boys to just sort of spray out.)  So that was VERY exciting, since he has previously been VERY resistant to the idea of even sitting on the potty, and he certainly has never produced anything!  There were celebratory M&Ms for all, and everyone is hoping he repeats his successes tomorrow!  It was a big day for everyone!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Oct. 25

Today we cleaned.  That is because tonight I hosted a spaghetti dinner for the moms in our elementary co-op tonight, and, like my friend Anja says, we only really clean when someone is coming over!  Not that we're living in filth or anything, but my house is not normally one that looks like it belong in a magazine or anything.  It's the kind of house where people come over and say, "I feel so . . . comfortable . . . here", or "Your house looks so . . . lived-in . . ." Tonight I heard someone one say, "It looks good in here considering there are 9 kids running around!"  which is the same sort of compliment as "You look great for having 9 kids", LOL.  But it's good to have people over because it forces us to get the couch cleaned, and shred papers and clean under things and so on!  Luke especially gets motivated by people coming over, and then he marshals the troops and really stays on top of everyone.  I had to run to Walmart and Sams this afternoon, and when I came back, the place (well, main floor, anyway) was spotless!

We had a small group for the meeting--only 13 of us moms.  Usually we have this fall pasta dinner on a Sunday evening, and people always complain because it makes Sunday a long day, there's AWANA and evening church, and so on, but it turns out that a lot more people come on a Sunday night than on a Friday night!  I made a big pot of spaghetti sauce, as well as noodles, and everyone else brought bread, salads, desserts, or drinks. We had tons left over.  Cooking for 13 is only 2 more than I normally cook for--I could have just made the whole meal!  But it was nice to have a small group--more chance for individual conversation.  It was a really nice time!  The kids are happy because there was a lot of left-over dessert, which people left here, so they are looking forward to great eating tomorrow, after the cross-country meet and football game!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Oct. 24

 We got our big couch back when we lived in Ohio.  We were discussing it last night, and there was some question about exactly when, so I looked in my scrapbooks.  It appears we got it around the beginning on March, 2003, right before we went on a trip down to FL for a TDY of Bob's, where we stayed with the L's, who were stationed there at the time.  And now I remember leaving for that trip, and having some new friends of ours house-sit, but for some reason, the middle section (which is a hide-a-bed) was not delivered, so the cough had a huge gap in it while the Andersons were there!

Anyhow, this couch has served us very faithfully.  We knew we needed a bigger couch, but back then it was just the 6 of us--good thing we went REALLY big, because we still all fit on there, with room to spare!

But this poor, faithful couch was starting to look a bit . .  grimy.  Too many dirty hands and feet have been on it, and too many babies have spit up after nursing on it!  Over the past 10 years, we've spot-cleaned, but it was clear something more drastic needed to happen.  Actually, Bob has pushed for the most drastic step of all--getting a new couch--but I think we should wait a few more years, until the littlest mess-makers are older.  Why ruin a new couch?! 

So Bob called Chem-Dry, and they came out and cleaned our couch this morning.  That meant that last night, we had to take it apart and clean under it.  The last time we took it apart was almost 4 years ago, when we got new carpet in the family room, back when we thought we were PCSing to Guam and would have to sell.  There was quite a treasure trove under there this time!
We found a grand total of 108 writing utensils.  No wonder it seems like I am always buying pens and pencils at WalMart!  Our couch has been eating them!  It is really impossible to get between the 2 sections above without disconnecting the couch, and well, who has time for that, LOL, so that is why that area is particularly bad.  I even found my long-lost purple mechanical pencil with the 0.5 lead that I loved!  There were lots of other puzzle pieces, coins, magnets, lego pieces, and other random junk.  It's a good idea to clean out from under your couch every 4 years!  I'll make a note of that . . .

Chem-Dry did an excellent job, and the couch looks a good 10 years younger!  Maybe it will last until the younger kid is 5 or so after all! 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Oct. 23--Random Thoughts

1.  Nathan got his Forsus Appliance put in today.  He now has 2 slinkies in his mouth!  If he is a bit grumpy, you'll know why, LOL.  He has been taking motrin, and he says it doesn't so much hurt right now, as feel like his jaws don't fit right.  It's hard to chew, and the springs are in the way.  We had ice cream tonight, but it was a small consolation.  We're hoping this thing works quickly!

2.  We definitely need a new mattress.  I have been very deliberately and faithfully sleeping on my right side only for the past 2 weeks, and now my right hip is hurting!  I do not relish searching for a new mattress, that is for sure.  Sigh.  Why can't things last forever?!  I loved our mattress for years!  Makes us look forward to heaven . . .

3.  Luke and I are agreed that bananas just aren't our favorite fruit.  He thinks they are "slimy".  I don't mind the taste, but only if they are just barely ripe--they still need to have a hint of green on them.  Even then, if I don't have peanut butter (or nutella!) on it, then by the time I'm almost done eating a banana, it makes me gag.  But the rest of the family usually loves bananas, so I buy humongous quantities.  Until they all of a sudden go on a banana strike.  We had 2 full bunches of bananas turn splotchy this past weekend.  Even Drew, who was gobbling down bananas, started just smooshing them all over his high chair tray instead of easting them.  For Rivendell on Tuesday, I made a banana snack cake in my giant "casserole dish" (a 17 1/2 by 11 1/2 buffet serving pan from Sams) using 7 bananas.  I was glad to use them up!  Today I gave Drew chunks of banana while he was sitting on the kitchen floor (as a distraction from him hanging on my legs and pulling down my pants while I cooked dinner), and he did eat all of that.  So maybe he was just protesting being in his high chair while eating bananas, LOL.

4.  Bob took Jonathan, the 3 girls, and Micah swimming tonight.  Every so often we join our local rec center for a month.  It's $84 for a month-long family membership, so that is certainly worth it for us! 

5.  Grace has finally mastered riding her bike without training wheels!  Faith just picked it up while we were at White Sulphur Springs for the Wright-Pat retreat in September, and Grace really wanted to learn, seeing as how she is older than Faith, but she just was a bit too timid and wouldn't ride her bike fast enough to stay upright!  But this weekend Bob helped her a lot, and she finally got the hang of it!  So most afternoons now she and Faith are outside, riding their bikes around the cul-de-sac.  Yay, Grace!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Oct. 22

Bob and I went on a hot date to pick up Nathan, Luke, and my friend Lynnea's oldest daughter Helena from Civil Air Patrol tonight.  You may be thinking, "But don't you have a 16 year old son?  Shouldn't he be getting his driver's license, so you don't have to do all this running around?"  Why yes, we do!  And yes, he should! 

A few years ago, when 16 year olds we knew didn't not immediately get their licenses, I just couldn't understand it.  What could possibly take so long?  Just make it a priority!  Ha--NOW I understand.  It is really, really hard to fit in a ton of extra driving time.  There.  That's really and honestly the truth. 

Nathan registered for the online class late this summer, and he started doing all the modules.  That counts as the "classroom" portion of driver's ed.  He's done 4 of the 7 modules, so he's coming along there, but the program times the pages, so each page stays up these arbitrary (long) times, like 15 or 30 minutes, depending on how long they think it will take you to read and absorb whatever concept is there.  But it's not exactly rocket science, especially if you in fact already have your learner's permit, as Nathan does, so he will read the page, then go off and do something else while waiting for the time to be done, and then forget to go back for awhile.  So it has taken awhile to get this far.

Once he finishes that, then we can send in the printed off pages showing he completed each module, along with proof that we homeschool and some other forms that either Bob or I will fill out, and the DMV will send back something that says he or I can be an approved driving instructor for Nathan.  Then we will have to do about 12 hours of formal in-the-car driving, like the kind I did in the car with the little "student driver" sign on the top.  I'm looking ahead, and I'm just not seeing where this kind of time is going to fit in!  It doesn't seem like much, but each session is supposed to consist of 50 minutes of him observing me driving, and then 50 minutes of him driving (at least 50 miles).  Umm . . . I don't have 100 minutes to toodle around town right now, much less times 7!!  But I most likely have more time than Bob would. 

Along with this formal driving training, Nathan has to drive 45 hours with us, including 15 hours of nighttime driving.  You can start that as soon as you get your permit, which Nathan got back in February, so we are doing well in that area, especially since we drove to Ohio as well as to White Sulphur Springs a few times this summer. 

This is really once again an area where the oldest kid is at a complete disadvantage.  We should have had Nathan doing the computer coursework as soon as he got his permit--or even before!  Then we could have done the formal part during the summer, as well as worked on his 45 hours of practice.  I predict that Luke will get his license in a quicker manner, simply because we will know what we are doing!  Nathan technically could get his license mid-November--as soon as he has held his permit for 9 months--but he won't be anywhere near done with all the requirements.  I am hoping he gets it before basketball season ends in March, since he is going to coach Caleb and Jonathan's team, as well as ref games for the house league he used to play for!  It would be lovely if he could get himself there!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Oct. 21--Becoming a Family of 11

When Bob and I got married, we didn't set out to have a big family.  I was still in college, and just a few months after we got married, I had a blood clot in my right arm that resulted in me being hospitalized for over a week while doctors tried to dissolve it.  After that, I was put on Coumadin, a potent teratogenic drug, so I was on birth control pills, so I would not become pregnant while on the Coumadin.  (Ironically, now that I am off the Coumadin, no doctor will ever put me back on the Pill, because of its increased potential for clotting!)  I had surgery to remove my right first rib (which was constricting the vein, causing the clotting) 2 years later, right before I graduated from college.
The surgery solved that problem, but combined with our PCS to Colorado a month later, my body pretty much shut down.  I had always just expected that I would be able to get pregnant whenever I wanted to, in this case, now that I had graduated, so it was a bit of a shock that it wasn't happening, and I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do with myself.  Bob was stationed at Cheyenne Mountain, and he was working this weird schedule of all 3 shifts, a different shift each week, with an 8 day work week.  Since he rarely had regular weekends off, and I wasn't working, we got to do a lot of fun things like camping when it wasn't very crowded, and it was a good time for our marriage.  I did worry that maybe we would never be able to have kids, though, since I was really having no cycles whatsoever.
Anyhow, a little over a year later, Bob was selected to be the aide for a vice admiral, the deputy CINC of Space Command.  With that new job came a more regular schedule--and lo and behold, I got pregnant a month later. 
After Nathan was born, we weren't too serious about any kind of birth control, since we had so much trouble getting pregnant, so it was a surprise when I found out I was pregnant with Luke right after Nathan had his 1 year birthday!  I figured my body had sort of been shocked back into working or something. 
After Luke was born, I stopped nursing the earliest with him (6 months) because he was so small.  I also was not really interested in becoming pregnant again right then, so we used birth control if we thought about it, LOL.  There is an over 2 1/2 year gap between Luke and Caleb, so something worked. 
I got pregnant with Caleb right after we moved to Ohio.  He had all the allergies, so I stopped nursing him at 9 months because I just couldn't deal with the "no dairy, wheat, eggs, or nuts" cooking rule for myself too.  And I got pregnant later that month!
A month after Jonathan turned 1, we moved to Virginia.  The first year after moving is always hard, when you are trying to get established, and it was definitely hard with 4 little boys running around.  I was tired and emotionally drained, and I was absolutely not interested in being pregnant.  I was definitely thinking at that point that babies were just coming all the time, whenever I wanted them, and I did NOT want one.  I remember telling Bob, "Don't even touch me!" 
But a little while later, things settled down, and I started thinking that maybe it would be nice to have another one.  So we stopped using any birth control . . . but no pregnancy happened.  In fact, it kept on not happening.  I eventually started charting my temperature and fertility signs each morning, and I discovered that I was having there really long (greater than 40 day) cycles, with only a very small (less than 2 day) fertile window.  I guess babies weren't just happening whenever I felt like it!  Not being able to get pregnant made me realize that I really did want another baby very much.  We were very happy to find out in July 2005 that we were expecting again--and we definitely didn't take it for granted!
After Anna was born, I was completely and totally shocked to discover that I was pregnant again, and that I had gotten pregnant when Anna was about 4 months old!  I know people can get pregnant nursing, but that had never been my experience.  I was always fertile right around the time I stopped nursing!  At that point, Bob and I both really realized that we were totally not in control of this area, much as we might like to think we were.  Clearly God was giving us children when he thought we needed them, to force us to depend on him and look to him. 
After Grace was born, we just sort of gave up on any birth control.  We were lazy about it to begin with, and God had shown himself to be faithful.  Since her, I have only gotten pregnant as I was nursing less/the previous baby is around a year old, so that definitely IS my body's pattern--God just reached down and sent Grace to us as a special gift!
The question people always ask (or at least think, even if they are too polite to ask, LOL) is, "Are you done now?"  And we always say, "Who knows?"  (or if you're talking to Bob, "We'll see what the Lord has in mind!")  I'm 40 now, and life is really busy now that we have high schoolers (although that conversely makes it easier to have babies, since I know what I am doing there, and have help so I can actually enjoy the babies more!)  Before I had never really been able to see "being done", but now I am easing into the idea.  At some point, it will be nice to get rid of all the tubs of children's clothes and shoes down in the basement--we'll have so much ROOM down there then!  But we're not going to do anything drastic, that's for sure. 
And for those who think that they really DO have this area under control, then I'm sure the Lord will use some other area to remind you that he is higher than your plans, and you don't have all the control in life that you think you do!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Oct. 20--Sundays

Today was Sunday, and I made it through the day.  I even debuted my new Bible cover, which Bob bought for me from CBD!  My old one we bought back when I graduated from college, and Bob bought me my NIV study Bible.  It has served me faithfully these past 18 years, but it was starting to split, so it was time to say goodbye.  I knew I wanted one that had handles like a purse because my old one didn't--it had a handle along the spine of the Bible.  When people went to pick up my Bible, but it wasn't zipped up, then everything fell out all over the place.  Hopefully that won't happen anymore.  I love this new cover!  I think it's so pretty!

Otherwise, though, and I'll just be really honest here--Sundays are really hard days, and I always feel the most defeated and like the biggest failure on Sunday mornings.  It's especially hard on days when we're transitioning seasons, like right now.  Everyone is clamoring for long-sleeve church shirts, black shoes, tights, and so on, and that is when I remember that I actually threw away a few pairs of black girls church shoes at the end of last winter because they were falling apart, and no one can find things that fit.  The girls ended up wearing long-sleeved dresses with their summer sandals/flip flops because that was all we could find.  Oh well, we have never made any claims about style. 

Since we merged churches a few weeks ago, we've started up a Sunday school program, now that we have classrooms.  Bob is volunteering this month in the 5th/6th grade class, so he has to be there at 9:15.  Usually he takes the 4 older boys as well as the girls, just leaving me Micah and Drew, which is what happened today.  And everything seemed to be going fine--Micah didn't even have a meltdown during breakfast or getting dressed, which has been one frequent source of stress and lateness.  St 10:05, both boys were dressed and ready to go, so I thought we were in surprisingly good shape--maybe we won't be late, like we always are!  Then I asked Micah to get me his shoes.  "Here it is!" he happily said.  "Where's the other one?"  "I dunno!" 

I wasn't too worried because the one shoe was in a pile in front of these shoe shelves we have, so surely the other one wasn't far off.  I searched and searched, growing more and more frantic and harried, but the other shoe was absolutely nowhere to be found.  At 10:25 I had to declare defeat and go downstairs to the basement to find him another pair of shoes by digging around in my big "box o' boy shoes".  Fortunately I was able to eventually find him a pair of shoes even the same size, which begs the question of "why did I even have 2 pairs of size 7 1/2 tennis shoes?"  Most likely, I had one pair at one time, lost it for awhile, and had to buy a second one, but then found the first one.  Sigh. 

So we head off to church at 10:30, for a service that starts at . . . 10:30.  Significantly late again!Getting to church, I still have to get Micah and Drew signed in and dropped off at the nursery.  Micah skipped merrily down the hall, talking about seeing his little friend Amara, but as soon as we got down to his door, he wouldn't go in, and he pitched a huge fit, disturbing the tenuous peace of the nursery.  I sat down in a classroom down the hallway to wait him out, because last Sunday I went over to the sanctuary, but then they paged me to come back, although by the time I made it back, he had settled down.  Once again, he settled down after about 5 minutes of loud crying right by the door, so I then went to the service, which was well underway, and totally full.  So I sat outside for a few minutes, until all the kids were dismissed for children's church, and Bob found me and showed me where they were sitting.  I kept thinking, "I should have just stayed home.  I detest Sunday mornings."  But the sermon was good, as always, and it reminded me that I go to church to stay grounded in my faith, "keeping myself in God's love", as it says in Jude 21 (we're going through Jude right now).  It's a discipline.  It was a good reminder.  So I'll keep on slogging through Sunday mornings, and if you see me, you can say things like, "Hey, at least you made it here!" because that is literally how I feel. 

I keep telling myself--eventually Sundays will be easier.  In the meantime, I have taken myself off the nursery roster because I really couldn't deal with another thing making me feel like a giant fail on Sunday mornings, and there my being late was actually affecting others.  You know, I used to never be late.  Never.  Or unorganized.  Sigh.

All this reminds me of something I shared on Facebook a few weeks ago.  It's really good--read the whole thing, even though this lady is obviously gifted in completely different ways than me, LOL.  Here's an excerpt:

As I look back at my life I can see that almost every time that there was something that I felt good at, or capable of, or confident in, God would give me a wonderful opportunity to lay it down. There is a way of looking at it that says, “God just keeps not letting me be happy! He just makes the conditions perfect for me to be miserable! He knew that I need a certain amount of alone time every day and He keeps not giving it to me!”
But this is the way that I see it. Those things that I consider part of my personality – loving to decorate, loving to cook, wanting things to be beautiful and organized and perfectly crafty and satisfying. I believe in these things. But I believe in them as things that I can use to honor my Creator. Back in the days when I wasn’t being challenged, these things came naturally, and I believed in them because I could cobble together reasons that they were good. But they primarily came from my own strength. I could be that way without really any pushback. So God brought the push back. He made it take more than the capacity I think I have to do these things. He said to me, “I know you like it, and you think you believe it. Now I’d like to see you do it without yourself.” God isn’t interested in my strength. He is interested in my obedience in weakness. Do you hear that? God said enough with my hobbies and my preferences. Lets see about her obedience and her faith . . . Anything that I felt capable of doing,  God will both make it seem impossible and simultaneously ask me to do it. And there I am – in the sweetest place you can ever be – relying on Him. Walking in faith. Living in joy.
This broken feeling is only broken if it stays there. If it stops in self-pity. If it wallows in grief about the lost emotions of our journaling days. But this is richer. When we seek His joy instead of our own, when we lay our best on His altar, and we have nothing left for ourselves, that is when we are truly accomplishing His purpose in our lives.
We are not broken. We are being healed. We are not alone. We are in His hands. We are not overwhelmed. We have a champion. We are not stupid. We are being made wise. We are not weak. For He is not weak. We are not hopeless.  For we are His.

So there is hope.  And there is even hope in the rest of Sunday.  This afternoon there was a ladies tea at church, and it was so wonderful to just sit and visit with friends.  I had a lovely time!  Then I came home and did some more cleaning.  I wasn't as productive as I was yesterday, but I did throw out one thing I thought I should memorialize here:
This pair of size 3 tennis shoes was worn by all 6 boys!  Now the Velcro doesn't really stay down anymore, and they're just done.  When I was downstairs rooting through the shoe box, I found the size 4 pair of tennis shoes for Drew, so I brought those up.  I officially retired these to the trash can, but I did take a picture first!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Oct. 19

Nathan and Luke took the PSAT this morning.  I was so thankful Christine McC took them, along with Isaac and Caleb!  They both reported that it went "fine".  This is the big year for Nathan--his junior year--but he said that since he had taken it last year, he wasn't nervous, and he knew what to expect.  Luke was nervous, but he said it wasn't as hard as he thought.  They had both worked through the little booklet the school gives when you register, as well as the PSAT review book we have.  Nathan also had his exam from last year, which they returned to him after he got his scores, so he could look at the problems he missed.  That was helpful too. 

This is actually the first event in a "year of testing" for Nathan. He'll take the SAT for the second time Nov. 2, then the ACT sometime this winter.  Then he will take the AP US government and microeconomics exams in early May, as well as the SAT II subject test in chemistry.  In June he'll take the SAT II tests for math II and US history.  Then hopefully he'll be done.  Depending on his SAT/ACT scores, he might have to take those again next fall.

As soon as Bob picked the boys up (late, since I told him it got out half an hour later than it did--whoops!), Nathan changed into his fatigues, and Bob dropped him off at an all-day Civil Air Patrol squadron day.  Nathan had a great time there.  H even taught a group of senior members (those are people out of college who volunteer with CAP) how to drill!

Luke came home, changed into his football uniform, and left half an hour later for his football game.  Bob went to the game, where Luke's team, at just 11 players (down to 10 by the end of the game), won handily.  Luke was quarterback, and he even passed for a touchdown! 

I took Anna and Micah and picked up Nathan around 5:30.  But before that, I had been busy myself.  I installed the other carseat for Drew in the big van, and then I started working in the basement, which is an absolute morass of disorganization.  I found 3 bags full of little girls shoes, from size infant to 4!  They were so cute though . . . but I forced myself to be ruthless and cull the lot, LOL.
Caleb, Anna, and I built this set of shelves to begin organizing all my tubs of clothes.  I have tubs for pretty much all sizes and seasons, boy and girl.  But the tubs are all stacked precariously on each other, so getting the appropriate one out is like a tetris puzzle.  Each set of shelves can only hold 10 tubs, so I need at least one more set of shelves, if not 2.  But it's a start!  Anna and I also went through a ton of toys that had been banished to the basement.  We now have 3 black garbage bags full of toys and clothes to donate, and 2 white kitchen trash bags of trash.  Yay!
The discouraging thing is that there is always so much more to do, and I had to sort of leave things in disarray down there, so it doesn't even look like we did anything!  I'm not sure when I'll be able to do more either--tomorrow is a busy day as well, and I never have really long periods of time to devote to a project, if you can imagine, LOL.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Oct. 18--Box Tops

I am the Box Tops For Education coordinator for our elementary co-op.  A few years ago, the lady that had set it all up was finished with the co-op, so the leaders were looking for someone to take it on.  No one stepped up, so I said I would do it, since I felt like we contributed huge amounts of Box Tops, and I didn't want those to go to waste, LOL. 

It took several phone calls to the BTFE headquarters to even be able to figure out what the lady had registered our co-op as (she didn't really remember), and get me on there as the coordinator.  The previous lady had missed a submission in March her last year, and when you miss one submission, your account goes inactive, plus the church where the co-op meets (and is under financially) had moved, so that was another wrinkle.  I think this is starting my third year.  We've been slowly increasing our yearly total of money--we made about $250 last year, which may not sound particularly impressive, except that it means 2,500 box tops! 

To participate in BTFE, your co-op (or school) has to have at least 40 elementary aged students, and there has to be some tax number associated with the group--it can't just be a group of families.  That is where it was really helpful that we are under this church's financial umbrella--the check comes in to the church, and they give it our treasurer.

People hand me (or mail me them, even from Florida--thank you, Johanna!!) box tops all through the year, but there are 2 main submission deadlines, one in the fall, and one in the spring.  I need to submit at least one thing both times to stay active.  I really prefer to only submit once in the fall and once in the spring because we pay for shipping, and it's better to just have the 2 shipments.  I did make an extra submission in June because I had noticed that for some reason I had collected a lot of box tops that were expiring in June, and I didn't want those to go to waste. 

So a week or so before the deadline (Nov. 1 this year), I start bundling the box tops.  Usually I go over to my friend Lynnea's house, and we visit while trimming and sorting, but I have been over to her house twice in the past few weeks, neither time with box tops, so the boys and I just did it here at home.  We trim the excess cardboard off around the box tops, because, like I said, we pay for shipping, so we want the box tops to be as light as possible!  I have been mentioning this at the moms meetings, and I have noticed that people really are doing tons better about trimming before they give me a baggie of box tops, so that is tremendously helpful. 

I also have to check the expiration date.  BT4E won't accept expired ones, so I have to be careful, especially since it is so easy to overlook the tiny date!  Usually a box of cereal or whatever will have a box top with an expiration date of about 2 years out--I'm even seeing some with 2017 expiration dates right now.  I did have to throw maybe about 10 expired box tops away out of this batch. 

After trimming and checking the expiration date, I sort them into piles of 50, and put each pile of 50 into a ziploc baggie.  I have to have a separate baggie for any "bonus" certificates, which are the ones worth more than one box top.  Some wonderful person had 2 certificates from Harris Teeter worth 40 box tops each!  We had a total of $14.40 in bonus certificates this time, which is an all-time record!  So far we are up to $110 in individual boxtops (so that means counting 1,110 individual box tops, for those of you rusty in math, LOL), but I'll send out one last reminder email to our co-op, reminding people to bring in any they have been collecting.  We usually have a slightly higher total in the fall, which makes sense because the time period is shorter between the fall and spring collection date (usually the beginning of March, so only 4 months away).

So if you clip box tops for your school, now you know what happens to them!  I honestly can't imagine dealing with thousands upon thousands of those little things.  By the time I am finished, I am seeing them in my sleep, and we don't really make all that much money from them!  I do think it is worth it though.  And we are indeed the biggest contributors, LOL.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Oct. 17

At lunchtime I had a chiropractic appointment.  I've still been having a lot of pain in my left hip.  I know we need a new mattress (and I mainly sleep on my left side, although lately I have been determinately trying to sleep on my right side), but I was worried maybe I was getting arthritis.  He put that fear to rest, saying the pain was too high and not deep enough to be joint pain.  He worked on my hip for awhile, and while it definitely hurt then, it is feeling better now. 

Caleb has been thinking about possible careers recently, and since he is really a hands-on, "my love language is touch" kind of person, I had mentioned to him physical therapy or chiropractic as options.  So today I asked my doctor what he majored in, and what his path was to become a chiropractor.  His reply was very interesting.  He majored in kinesiology, and he went on to take physical therapy classes.  He thought he would become a physical therapist, but he ended up wanting to go a different direction, so he went to chiropractic school.  He said he still uses a lot of the physical therapy that he learned, and that also his dad was an engineer, so he was used to thinking of the body as a physical system, with levers, pulleys, etc.  This was so interesting because when people ask me about him, I usually describe him as a mix of a chiropractor and a physical therapist.  He has always given me exercises to strengthen areas, like my shoulders, that I have problems with, and he doesn't just adjust your spine.  Like today, for example, when he worked on the muscles in my hip that were out of whack.  For my particular problems, especially my shoulder problems, I really feel the Lord led me to the right person 5 years ago!

After my chiropractic visit, I headed over to Walmart to pick up a few things, like a set of metal shelves that will solve the organization problem in our basement storage room!!  Haha, how's that for high expectations?  Hopefully it will help anyway.  I have tubs and tubs of clothes, both boy and girl, all sizes, but because they are just stacked on top of each other in precarious piles, they are not as useful as they could be.  I think we will actually need more than one set of shelves, LOL.

I also spent quite a bit of time looking at carseats.  All our convertible seats are really old (one of them expired Dec. 2009 *cough*), so Drew needs a new one.  I've actually been looking at them for the past few months, but what on earth is up with these humongously puffy throne-like carseats?!  They are all ginormous!  That may work if you only have one precious snowflake, and therefore you can devote the entire back of your vehicle to one carseat, but I have 5, count them 5, kids in carseats, so seats the size of Lazyboys are simply not going to work!  Sams and Costco only sell one type of carseat, and it is too huge, so that left me spending a good 20 minutes at Walmart, measuring carseat width, and then trying to find the appropriate box underneath.  I finally found one that wasn't too huge, although it was the only one of its kind.  I really wanted 2, one for the big van, and one for the minivan, but at least would be a start.  I headed up to the cashier--where I found out that carseat had been recalled, and they weren't allowed to sell it to me!  Stymied again!  All that time for naught!  Actually not--I was standing in line, when a lady opened up a new register and called me over.  I walked over and noticed right away a folded $10 bill on the floor by the conveyer belt.  So I came out $10 ahead, LOL.

I drove home, nursed and did some school with the younger ones, and then I headed out again, since I really was ready to be done with carseats.  This time I went to Babies R Us, which I normally avoid like the plague because it's just too much.  Too . . . I don't even know what.  I mean, they sell $300 carseats!!  Who spends that kind of money on a carseat?!  But there I found a moderately wide Evenflo carseat on sale for $85, so I went ahead and bought 2.  Yay!  I even got one installed this afternoon, at which point Luke came out to remind me that Nathan's cross country practice start time had moved up to 5:00, because of darkness, and it was then 5:15.  Whoops!  Oh well.  Nathan ran on his own this afternoon!

While I was wrestling with the installation (I've never actually used the LATCH clips before today, so I had to learn about them--I've always just used the seatbelts because I'm so much more comfortable with them, and I think I can get them a lot tighter), I was thinking about the weird discrepancies our society has about children and safety.  We are SOOO wrapped up in safety for little kids.  I keep waiting for carseats that have their own airbags, plus little parachutes for if they ever get ejected.  But really, are these humongous carseats actually making a humongous difference in safety?  I mean, putting kid in seatbelts, and then in *any* carseat, as opposed to just having them float around the backseat, led to a *huge* decrease in fatalities.  But now I don't think the differences are that big, and mainly the carseat manufacturers are counting on the paranoid new parent readers of parenting magazines to buy whatever the latest "super-duper-DUPER" safe carseat. 

Even as kids get older, there is still like a badge of honor on message boards for how long you had your child rear-facing (up to 4 or 5 YEARS!!), and I have personally read people talk about how their *13* year old kid is still in a BOOSTER SEAT because they aren't 80 pounds or whatever.  Wow.  But at least they're safe!

But then your little snowflake reaches the teenage years (still in a booster, of course, since that is so safe), and all of a sudden, society assumes they are going to engage in very risky behavior, especially sexual, and the only things you can possibly do are dangerous, risky things like give them untested vaccines like Gardisil, where the bad side effects have about the chance of happening as the bad things they are supposed to prevent in the first place.  How is that safe?!  It's just so weird.  But then again, we have a trampoline and we let our kids play tackle football, so we're probably not really safety conscious (obsessed?) people, LOL. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Oct. 16--Teeth

This week and next are full of teeth appointments.  Caleb and the 3 girls all had dentists appointments this morning, and Jonathan and Luke had orthodontist appointments this afternoon.  Nathan has his dentist cleaning Friday, and he has a big orthodontist appointment next Wednesday afternoon, when he gets a "forsus appliance" installed.  Then Luke and Jonathan finally have their dentist cleanings next Thursday afternoon. 

So no one had any cavities this morning, plus the office was showing good movies--Cars and Little Mermaid--so it was a good morning!  The dentist asked if Caleb had been to see the orthodontist.  I said no, and she said he had some minor bite issues, but no big problems, so we could either take him in or not.  Umm . . . no hard choice there!  I think we'll just go ahead and save the thousands of dollars for one of the other kids who will definitely need it!  So far he is our only one with a wide jaw and beautiful teeth!  We have high hopes for Anna too.  Caleb may have hit the allergy jackpot, but God, in His providence, saw fit to at least bless him with no teeth troubles!

Which brings us to Grace, our next even numbered child.  Luke and Jonathan have both had massive teeth issues due to a very small jaw, and Grace is following in their footsteps!  The dentist told me today she was noticing "crowding".  Yes, it is already noticeable in our 6 year old, so that's a bad sign, LOL.  Luke is finally nearing the end of his "phase 2" of braces, which will be around 3 years long by the time he is actually done.  Jonathan doesn't have braces right now--his phase 1 braces and expander have been off for a few months--but he will start phase 2 in a little while, once he loses all his baby teeth.  Oh yes, our orthodontist must indeed rejoice when he considers our large, narrow-jawed family!

It's too soon to tell how Faith's mouth will end up, but she does have her one dental issue--her lovely gray tooth, right in the front.  It's been dead for quite some time, but it has never gotten infected, so the dentist just x-rays it when we come in to check on it.  She thinks it will be coming out soon, though.

Nathan and Luke had their online history class this morning, so I went ahead and took Micah and Drew with us to the dentist.  They both played nicely, so I even got some reading in!  I should be taking Micah in, I guess, but I've found that my kids tend to respond better to dentists when they start closer to 3.  At least they understand more about what is going on.  He'll turn 3 in April, so when the kids have their next appointments, I'll schedule him in there too.  Hopefully he will be in a more cooperative phase, LOL.  Adding one more person will make going to the dentist take even more time/days!  Whee!  The younger kids did no school today, with all my running around.  Oh well.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Oct. 15

Today was another day of TNT/Rivendell.  This means I get lunches ready for everyone, get the middle 5 over to TNT by 9:20, then race back home to start teaching chemistry at 9:45.  Well, that's the ideal, anyway.  I did get home by 9:45, but Micah had just woken up when I left to take the kids.  I wanted him to eat breakfast and get dressed while I was gone, but instead he wrapped himself up in his blue fuzzy blanket, laid in front of the door out to the garage, and cried until I got home, instead of cooperating with Nathan and Luke to get anything productive done.  Sigh.  So when I got home, I had to get him dressed and get his breakfast before starting class, so it was more like 10:00 before we started.  But that was actually okay because we weren't doing a lab or anything fun--we were just reviewing for their first exam, which they will take this week.

So I finished around 11:20, and Christine immediately started teaching economics.  I changed Micah's incredibly stinky diaper, put Drew down for a nap, and then Micah and I ran over to the grocery store to buy some "Maria cookies", which Luke needed for Spanish class today.  I had meant to buy those earlier, but . .  well, yeah, it didn't happen, LOL.  We came home, and Micah started his lunch, while I nursed Drew and finished getting his and my lunch together.  Then Micah, Drew, and I drove over to TNT to pick up the middle 5, plus the middle 2 McC boys, at 12:30. 

TNT just started a unit on South America, which our friend Neissy (who teaches Spanish III for us) is leading.  She is absolutely amazing!  Each week is going to be like a 5th week activity!  This week they focused on the ancient civilizations of South and Central America, and they had all sorts of activities in various rooms.  Everyone raved about it!

We helped Megan, our literature teacher, clean up her room, since she was teaching over at TNT this unit.  Then we rushed over to the new church building for Rivendell.  We got there around 1:00, and the kids played outside until 1:45.  Again, we were blessed with absolutely gorgeous weather!  And once again, we had some internet connection problems, but we managed to get through the day!  Megan taught literature at 1:45, while Michele taught the 5th/6th grade literature class.  Then at 3:00 Neissy taught Spanish II, while Christine taught the young writers for about 30 minutes, and then I taught memory work. 

Drew hasn't been napping in the afternoons at the church, so he stays awake by having maximum snackage and lots of attention.  He's standing fairly well, but his feet are still firmly planted, and even Caleb McC could not entice him to walk a step!
We finished up, got the church cleaned up, and we left a little after 5:00.  Then we drove over to Costco, where we picked up Bob, who had dropped off the Sienna for some work on the tires.  Then we rushed home, where Bob grilled hamburgers really quickly while I nursed again.  We had to hurry because Bob left to take Nathan and Luke to Civil Air Patrol at 6:20.  Bob just stayed out there and ran errands, so while he was gone, I caught up on email and Facebook, gave Micah and Drew a bath (bathing 2 little boys is SUCH a breeze, compared to girls, with their long hair and conditioner--a BREEZE!), and got the younger 5 put to bed.  When Bob got back with Nathan and Luke at 9:30, he and I immediately turned around and drove back to Costco to pick up the minivan, since the tire guys had just left the keys in the glove box.

So  now we're home for good.  Nathan and Luke are finishing up their assignments for their history class tomorrow, Caleb and Jonathan are working on their creative writing assignment for next week's Rivendell, and I'm going to clean up the kitchen.  Then we'll go to bed (too late, I'm sure), and wake up tomorrow, ready to go again.  Busy, busy!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Oct. 14--Kayaking!

Bob's big summer project this year involved researching and buying some kayaks for us.  He found great deals, but before he bought them, I wanted to know how exactly we were planning on getting 5 kayaks to any body of water, since there is not one out our back door!  Well, Bob is really great at thinking outside the box and engineering solutions no one else has thought of, so he designed this ingenious carrying thing for them that goes on the back of the big van!  He ran his design by the other guys in his office as well, just to get more feedback.
The base is actually a mesh frame that is supposed to be for a motorized wheelchair or something.  That shorter side you see in the picture below is actually a ramp so you could drive the wheelchair off.  So with the bottom and one side already in place, Bob bought long pieces of metal with holes in them (I know there's some name for them but I don't know it, and he's asleep, LOL) to make the rest of the frame.  He puts the kayaks in (all 5 fit, nestled together upright!), and he ties them all in with these racheting tightening orange tie thingies (that's just the technical term--ha!).  The whole contraption works great!
As you can see from the top picture, he bought a variety of sizes--there is one adult one, one "teen" one (that's the slightly darker yellow one on the end), and 3 kid ones.  We figured that would give the greatest amount of flexibility for who he takes. 
This afternoon we went out on the Potomac.  Jonathan, Anna, and Micah went, and I went too, for my very first time!  Bob has taken all the girls, as well as Caleb and Jonathan, out other times, both on the Potomac, as well as on a nearby lake.
It was a gorgeous afternoon for being on the water!  The only little snag was that really we need 2 adult kayaks, LOL.  Bob took the one adult one, and I was in the teen one-but I am really not a teen.  Ha!  So I spent my time feeling VERY unstable, rocking back and forth, watching Anna and Jonathan zip merrily up and down the river.  But I never tipped over!  Micah rode between Bob's legs.  He was not at all sure he really wanted to get in the boat, but once he got out there, he had a grand time.  I told them all that next time I would come, take pictures of them all on the water, and then settle onto one of the park benches overlooking the river and read my book! 

I think we'll be doing a lot more kayaking in the upcoming years!  (I also think we'll be getting another adult kayak, LOL.)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Oct. 13

Today was a busy Sunday!  Bob is helping out in Caleb and Jonathan's Sunday School class this month, so he, Nathan, Caleb, Jonathan, Anna, Grace, and Faith left at 9:15 to head to church, leaving me with just Luke, Micah and Drew.  We had to get Luke to his football team pictures, which were this morning at 10:30.  You would think that would be easy as could be, but Micah pitched a last-minute tantrum, so as always, we were feeling rushed.  But Luke got to the field at the right time, in the steady drizzle.

We then headed off to church (where Micah pitched a tantrum in the nursery, leading me to get called back there on my pager!  But by the time I got back there, he had settled down.)  After church, Bob took Jonathan to get some food for us, and Nathan drove the rest of us over to the football stadium to catch the second half of Luke's game.  They don't usually play on Sundays, but with yesterday being the local high school's homecoming, I guess the fields were full then.

As soon as we walked in, the other team scored, so we had a bad feeling.  We were pleasantly surprised to find out Luke's team was actually winning 18-7!  It was cold and wet in the bleachers, and because we didn't bring the big van, I didn't have Drew's backpack, ergo, or anything, so I just had to carry him, while he whined and fussed about getting down.  Eventually he started wanting Caleb to hold him more than me because Caleb was walking around the sideline, as opposed to just standing in the bleachers, which made Caleb really happy since that doesn't usually happen!

Halfway through the 4th quarter, Luke's team had to punt, and a guy from the other team ran it back into the end zone for a touchdown.  As he was running, one of our guys (our quarterback) ran over to tackle him, and he just got walloped by a blocker with a crushing hit that made a loud sickening crunch as the helmets hit.  Patrick laid there on the ground for awhile, so we knew that wasn't good.  He had actually gotten a big hit last game that made him woozy and took him out of the game.  I was actually surprised he was back this week, but I guess he wasn't showing signs of a concussion this week.  Anyway, the coaches were out there for awhile, and eventually they tried to sit him up.  He was having some trouble breathing, and he was really dizzy when he tried to sit up, so they ended up calling an ambulance.  He'll be out for the rest of the season, I'm sure, meaning Luke will have to fill in for quarterback.  Caleb decided that maybe next fall he will try cross country, instead of football, as he had planned!  (Seventh grade is usually when we start playing football--never before then.)
Luke's team finished up the game with only 10 players this time, but they managed to hold on and win!  One player who has been out for the past 3 games will be back next week, so that will hopefully help.  But they really have no extra people at all.

After the game, we rushed home so Drew could take a little nap, Luke could take a well-deserved shower, and Nathan, Luke, and I could do a little schoolwork.  Then at 4:20, we headed over to my friend Lynnea's house for dinner!  The girls and I try to regularly go over to her house for my girls to play with her younger 2 girls, and for Lynnea and me to visit, but it was fun this time to have all the kids there, and have Bob and her husband Paul around too!  We had so much fun!  She made delicious chili, as well as a pot of ham and bean soup, and cornbread, and she made chicken nuggets for any kids who wanted them.  It was a feast!  For dessert, she made caramel popcorn and this really yummy "oven smores" recipe.  Basically, you put chocolate chips in the bottom of an ovenproof skillet, put marshmallows on top, then broil it for a few minutes.  But you have to really watch it, LOL--we let it go just a bit too long, and the marshmallows caught on fire!  Just like camping!  Lynnea and I scraped off the charred marshmallows, so it was just fine.  Anyway, then you dip graham crackers into the smore skillet--it was so good!  I liked it better than smores, actually, because it was less sticky, and your clothes and hair don't smell like smoke, LOL. 

So we had a really fun evening, and now we are looking forward to a holiday tomorrow!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Oct 12

Today Nathan had to be up and out of here early for a cross-country meet!  We were so thankful that he could catch a ride with the McCs.  He needed a windbreaker, since it was kind of cold and still dampish this morning, so last night I raided the closet and found Bob's vintage set from his Academy days!  What a classic!  Nathan did better this race--20th--and the team was 2nd.  He is enjoying cross-country!

Luke also had to get going in the morning, but not anywhere near as early.  His football team participated in the homecoming parade for the local high school.  Bob dropped him off early, and then he came back and got the girls and Micah so they could watch the parade. 
They came back all excited about the parade--there was a husky close to them, as well as some other dogs, there were lots of floats, AND--they got candy!!  Necklaces too, if you couldn't tell!  So parades are a good thing, now, in their minds.  I'm sure they will be regular attenders in the years to come, LOL.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Oct. 11--Rain, Rain, and More Rain

It has been steadily raining since Thursday morning.  I can tell such a difference when the kids can't go outside!  They are bickery, whiny, and just LOUD!  I kept waiting and waiting to take my shower, hoping that the rain would stop so I could go on a walk.  It never did stop, but finally I decided either I needed to go outside, or else all the kids did, and it seemed like a lot less mess for me to clean up if it was just me, LOL.

So I found an old raincoat, and I found my old pair of tennis shoes up in the closet, since I knew they would get soaked.  I actually love walking outside during precipitation!  I prefer snow, of course, but I don't mind rain.  It's very peaceful and refreshing.  Being out in the rain reminded me of one time when Bob and I were on our honeymoon.  We had space-a hopped over to Germany, and we were in Garmish.  We were hiking on the Zugspitze when all of a sudden we got caught in this torrential downpour.  Bob and I huddled under a big rock, protecting our precious video camera with our jackets, LOL.  We were waiting there when down the trail came these 2 older German ladies, with umbrellas, tromping along, talking, like they weren't in the middle of a deluge at all.  Obviously rain didn't bother them one bit!

As I walked along, I got about 1/3 of my usual distance when I remembered why I had gotten new shoes--this pair had no cushioning left on the left heel, and this hard plastic piece was digging into my heel, making it bleed all over my sock!  I decided to jog, because pitching myself forward made my heel hurt less.  So I was able to stay out about my normal length, which was good, but now my hips are hating me, which is bad. 

I used to run with no problems, but somewhere along the line, my hips rebelled.  I can actually tell you exactly when--when I was pregnant with Grace.  Somehow, in the last trimester of that pregnancy, I really got out of alignment, and after I had her, things just sort of hardened like that.  By the time she was 8 months old, I could not even cross my legs, and I thought I was destined to end up a painfully crooked old lady, even though I was only 34 years old!  That was when I asked a mom at our elementary co-op about her chiropractor, since I had overheard her telling another mom how wonderful he was.  And he has indeed done wonderful things for me!  But he is not a miracle worker.  Apparently, my hips feel like they deserve a break after carrying and birthing 9 babies, and running is where they have drawn the line, LOL.  I can no longer run any distance without my left hip being so sore that I can hardly move.  There go my marathoning dreams . . . ha, ha. 

When I came back to the house, Micah had fallen asleep on the couch, so that right there helped the noise and whininess level go down!  The pain was all worth it!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Oct. 10--Micah's New Bed

I got a toddler bed at a consignment sale on Saturday.  Can you believe we've made it all the way to child #8 without one?!  Everyone else has been perfectly happy in their crib until we move them into an actual bed, usually a little before 3.  When younger siblings have come along before that pint, we've always been able to just move the older one into a different room (and into a different crib--we have 3, LOL), and the baby moves in to the nursery once he or she starts sleeping reliably through the night, which for us is usually around 8 weeks (exception, of course:  Micah). 

But now we are plum out of other rooms for older siblings to move into!  Drew is still sleeping in our closet in a little pack-n-play we're borrowing from the McC's.  Micah and Drew have to become roommates at some point, because that is the only slot left open right now!  The room is not really set up well for a twin bed and a crib, plus we will eventually get bunk beds for them, so I really didn't want to get a twin bed.  When I saw this toddler bed at the sale, I was thrilled!  I even bought a new crib sheet at Target!
Micah wanted to sleep on the bed Saturday night, so I let him, but he starting crying after being in it for about an hour, and I put him back in his crib.  Sunday night he wanted to sleep in the toddler bed again, and he's been fine ever since.  Two nights ago, when I went in to check on him before I went to sleep, he was on the floor next to the bed, but he didn't cry, so I don't know if he rolled out or if he just got out and fell asleep on the floor.  We do actually have one of those toddler bed rails (actually 2, if I remember correctly, LOL), but that's a hassle, and toddler beds aren't far enough off the ground to cause a problem even if he does roll off.  Anyway, Micah likes his new bed and thinks he is a big boy!  Now, if he would just get interested in the big boy potty . . .
Bonus picture of Micah in his nightshirt, looking like a little Dickensian character or something.  I stopped buying summer pajamas for boys awhile ago.  They just wear big t-shirts passed down from their brothers.  Much cheaper!  Micah still loves his blue blanket--no sign of giving that up!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Oct. 9

Today was an interesting day.  We got a new roof!  The roofers showed up at 7:15 this morning, and the whole day was full of pounding and thumping.  Nathan and Luke have their Potter's School online history class Wednesday mornings, so they had to go to the basement to be able to hear! 

Bob is not actually all that happy with the roof.  The shingles look all wavy and don't lie flat, although the guys reassured Bob that they would flatten down in the next few days . . . Okay, we'll see . . .  Also, they installed a ridge vent, and they were supposed to remove all the other attic vents, but they didn't.  So they are supposed to come back Monday and redo the entire back side of the roof.  Whee!

At lunchtime, in the midst of all the commotion, Nathan went for run.  A minute or two after he left, I saw Luke leap up and out the door as well.  Figuring Micah had something to do with it, I got up and went out the door too.  Sure enough, Luke was hobbling/running up the street, chasing Micah, who was going on a run of his own up the absolute middle of the street with no shoes on.  Fortunately, even a not-yet-100% Luke can still catch Micah, although he did not come back willingly, LOL.  I'm just glad Luke saw Micah go!  Nathan didn't realize Micah had followed him at all!

I went to Wegmans in the late afternoon to get some food.  I have needed to go to the commissary for a few weeks now, but I kept putting that off.  Well, that clearly was a bad decision, now that the commissaries are closed.  I needed things that Sams doesn't sell, like cans of refried beans and chopped green chiles.  I made what I would consider a "small" shopping trip, compared to my normal commissary run, but I completed filled up a Wegmans cart to overflowing, such that the cashier couldn't even fit all the bags back into the cart, since they don't have nice brown paper sacks.  He had to call someone with a second cart to help me!  The carts are definitely not designed for big shopping trips--they have a smaller top part, and then the bottom part is fairly biggish, but it has really low sides.  You can't stack stuff very high!  Commissaries have BIG shopping carts.  If this budget thing ever gets resolved (thank you, President Obama, you big selfish jerk) then I will definitely take a picture!   But at least I can make some more meals now.  And ice cream.  I stocked up on ice cream, so we are definitely good. 

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Oct. 8--A New Place to Play

Today for Rivendell we met over at my house for chemistry and literature.  Then we packed up in a hurry (loosing a set of big van keys in the process . . .grrr . . . ) and rushed over to our new church building so we would have room to RUN!  It was so great to see the boys out there playing football again!  The weather was absolutely gorgeous, too.
This picture is from the back of the field, looking toward the road, where I took the picture of the building on Sunday.  The field goes over to my left a ways too, though.  It's big!  So much room to play!
And for the little kids, there is this beautiful little fenced play area.  Actually, we were talking to our assistant pastor today, and he said they were going to move the fence so that an even bigger area is fenced in, and they will hopefully be able to put in more playground equipment.  Yay!  The little kids had a ball on this, though.
This is the fellowship area.  It's where the Spanish church meets on Sunday mornings.  We hadn't planned on using it for classes, but we had all sorts of internet troubles this afternoon, so we had to make do.  We couldn't get an internet connection in any of the classrooms once we turned and went down a hall, so I'll be emailing another assistant pastor to see if he can help us with that.  This building was built in the 60s or 70s, with those thick cinderblock walls, which are great for blocking out noise--and wireless signals, apparently!  Really, the internet problems were the only fly in the ointment this afternoon.
This is the classroom where Grace has her class on Sundays.  It's big and sunny, with lovely windows looking out at that big field.  So peaceful!  There are lots of toys there too, so the younger kids really enjoyed playing there.  Micah and Drew also spent some time in the nursery down the hall, where more toys are.  So many rooms!  We were planning on having memory work here, with the 5/6th grade lit class across the hall, but that is where we ran into our internet problems.  Maybe next week.  It has a real old-fashioned chalkboard!  How fun!  I haven't written on one of those in years and years!
And here is a bonus picture of Grace and Drew!  We had a fun afternoon, but everyone is exhausted now. Bob will be even more tired, because it's 7:45, and he's not even home from work yet.  Long, long day for him!

Monday, October 07, 2013

Oct. 7

I'm getting this post in just under the wire!  Mondays are really busy days, for us, as we prepare for Rivendell on Tuesday.  Mondays are also Anna and Grace's favorite day of the week, because Monday is gymnastics day!  The girls started taking gymnastics at a nearby community center last spring, and then we took the summer off.  They started up again in September, and they absolutely love it.  (I meant to take a picture of them this afternoon but I totally forgot.  Whoops!) 

Remembering to get them to class is always a chore for me.  Today, however, I was on top of things.  I was busy typing up a bunch of notes, homework assignments, etc. right after lunch, but I kept an eye on the clock and told the girls we needed to leave by 2:40.  We managed to get out of the house without upsetting Micah, a feat in and of itself.  Last Monday I took Micah along, since he loves going places, figuring we would have a fun outing at Walmart after dropping the girls off.  Instead, he pitched a royal temper tantrum at the door of the community center because he didn't want to leave (or something?  Not sure really, LOL), so I had to wrestle him out to the van and into his carseat, where I proceeded to take him home and put him down for a nap.  So--him coming along today wasn't an option, LOL.

Anyhow, we left the house at 2:45, and as we came up to turn into the community center parking lot, I wondered why there wasn't a stream of cars coming the other direction from the Catholic school just up the road.  And the parking lot itself seemed very quiet.  Then it dawned on me that the girls' class actually starts at 3:30!  It's only the 5th week of class, LOL.  You would think I would be able to get the starting time right!  So we were *incredibly* on time.  In fact, we had to sit out in the car for 30 minutes, waiting, so I am sure the girls are not going to want to be early ever again!  Of course, I brought my chemistry book, so I had plenty to do . . .