Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Update on the family

Tonight, I realized that because I have been so busy lately I have not taken any photos in the last couple of weeks.

Instead, here is a video clip of a very impressive storm we had recently. What you can't see in the clip (because it doesn't show you the whole 360 degree view) is that some part of the sky was illuminated by lightning the whole time. It looked like a gigantic strobe light was on. This went on for several hours. The paper the next day said that there were more than 1700 recorded lightning strikes per hour! The storm knocked down a bunch of power lines, trees, etc. so it led to a few days of power outages and blocked roads. Thankfully, I didn't notice any of that because we mostly stay home during the week anyway, and our power was still on. As I was outside watching the storm, I kept wondering how there can be people who do not believe in God, and are not scared of His magnificent powers. I wasn't scared of the storm one bit, but I think I would have been if I were not a believer. It was VERY impressive.

So, with no pictures to go along with this post, here is a brief summary on what we have been up to:

My husband is in town all week this week, which is rare. Usually, when he is home it means that I will get terribly behind on housework because I hang out with him instead, but he has been busy working around town so that is not an issue this time. Please pray for his ear, which was injured during the shooting outing last week. A tiny piece of rock that must have bounced off after being struck by a bullet hit him in the ear. I didn't clean the wound right away so now the area it is somewhat infected and very painful, but improving.

I have another prenatal tomorrow afternoon. This one is especially exciting because my midwife who now lives in Mexico but who has agreed to fly to Phoenix for my birth will be here as well as the midwife that I have been seeing for the prenatals. I didn't think I would get to see her before the birth. (She is originally from Arizona, but moved to Mexico earlier this year to train local midwives in a remote region.) At my last prenatal, it was discovered that the baby was neither vertex nor breech, but rather laying sideways with the shoulder engaged. While I am not afraid to deliver either of the first two ways, sideways just isn't an option. I have gone to the chiropractor a couple of times since that prenatal, and I am almost certain that the baby is now completely vertex and facing my spine - perfect position for birth. I'll know for sure after the appointment tomorrow.

We are in week #6 of school, and it is going much better than I had anticipated. The boys are all enjoying learning. Miriam can be a bit of a distraction, as she insists on staying in our school room the whole entire time that I am in there. She tries to climb into the boys' laps and color their worksheets with them, play with their manipulatives, cut/glue their craft projects, etc. They have an endless amount of patience for her, and find it very amusing.

For years, I have done some freelance work from home as a translator, mostly specializing in the medical field. There is a big agency in Chicago that I work for most of the time, but I have not done much work for them lately because their turnaround times are pretty short and I am exhausted from being pregnant and busy mothering the other four. Although translating pays pretty well (especially considering that I can do it anytime day or night from home since it is all computer-based), I don't do it for the money. My husband has told me many times that he neither needs nor wants me to be working more than I already have to at home. But I really, really enjoy the fact that I get to use my brain on a more advanced level than that required to teach my young children. I also love reading about and learning the latest scientific findings in medicine. It has done little to increase my faith in the medical establishment to read about their botched drug trials, patients dying from terrible side-effects or human error, and a whole bunch of other information that is not usually reported in the mainstream news. Anyway, last week I was contacted by another very big agency in New York who needed someone for medical translations from German into English and vice versa. They sent me an already translated text that needed to be edited. My rate for editing is $30/hour, and they quoted the job at 6 hours. I accepted their quote, but as it turned out it only took me a little under 3 hours to complete, so I actually made $60/hour on that particular project! I am hoping that they will be sending me more work in the future, since their turnaround times are much more reasonable. I only work at night after the kids are in bed or sometimes during their nap, so my translating doesn't affect them at all.

Solomon, who is turning 7 this month, is a very avid swimmer now. While we were in the pool today I noticed that he got a lot of freckles this summer. He still has all baby teeth, and none of them are even loose, which he is not happy about at all. He has been getting his big molars in the back though, so maybe the baby teeth will start falling out soon. I can't believe how fast he is growing up! Seems like yesterday he was a grouchy baby from teething. His favorite subjects in school (he is in 3rd grade) are history, science, and what he calls "verbal math" - which means I sit down and go over the particular math chapter for the day with him, and he gives me all the answers verbally rather than having to write the problems and answers in his notebook. He spends most of his free time sitting outside reading biographies and other non-fiction (he is currently all into George Washington and Christopher Columbus) or pondering scientific questions that he can bombard me with later. Today, he wanted to know whether the absence of cold is warm or hot, because warm would still have to contain some cold in order not to be hot, but how hot is the absolute absence of cold? Which led him to ask what the hottest temperature in the universe was. Which led to the question of why is space cold. Then he wanted to know what would happen if we pumped air from the earth through the atmosphere into space. And on and on. I was just trying to relax in the pool but instead left feeling somewhat inept. He also flooded both bathrooms today carrying out several water-based science experiments with magnets that he had read about earlier.

Isaac is 5 1/2 and in 1st grade. He is getting very good and fast at reading, and is also starting to enjoy it more and more. I think once he gets to the point where he feels confident to pick up any of his children's books and start reading it his reading skills will skyrocket. Right now, he seems to think he can only read his first grade readers, when he could actually read pretty much any simple book. One of his favorite subjects is penmanship because he writes very neatly, especially for a boy, and neater than Solomon, which makes him very proud. I think his favorite part of being in first grade is that he no longer has to take naps. Isaac is the one responsible for caring for our dog, which means he feeds and waters her and plays with her, which really suits his personality. He loves anything that has to do with being outdoors, being active, and interacting with animals. Thankfully, he hasn't tried to convince me to buy him a horse lately. Of all our kids, he gets the most attention when we are out and about because he is very outgoing and charismatic.

John, who will be 4 in December, is still going through K4 at double speed (I skip every other lesson). While he is very smart and has no problem at all learning a new letter every day and retaining both its name and sound, his attention span is very short. I use lots of different games to keep his attention, and can only teach him for about 10-15 minutes at a time. I was very surprised when he suddenly started sounding out blends like "ta", "te", "ti", "to", "tu" and blends with other consonants with complete ease. Getting kids to blend letters together (rather than sounding them out individually) is one of the hardest things about teaching them to read, and one that takes a lot of time and patience. If he keeps going like this, I will use the Landmark Freedom Baptist Curriculum for K5, which has much more advanced reading than the A Beka kindergarten program. Like Isaac, John has very good fine motor skills as evidenced by his neat writing and the fact that he can cut things out near perfectly. He continues to get changed at least 4 times a day because he loves dressing up as all sorts of things. Not only does he get all his outfits dirty each day, but he also rips a lot of clean laundry out of his closet that then ends up in the dirty hamper. I have no doubt at all that between all the kids, I end up washing a lot more clean than dirty laundry.

Miriam is very sweet and starting to be less stubborn after I won the last few showdowns. She still does not talk hardly at all, which is weird because about a year ago, she could say at least 20 different words. Once she started walking, she pretty much never talked again. She understands just about anything we tell her, though, and she also gestures to tell us what she wants (either that, or she screams). She is also very neat and tidy. Earlier this week, my husband got home from work and laid down on the sofa, his shoes still on. She immediately walked over, pulled his shoes off (with his help), and then carried them to the shoe closet. When I change her clothes, I have to hand her the dirty ones so she can put them in the hamper. She also loves to get on her stepstool and help me with the dishes. Yesterday, as I was loading the dishwasher, she started handing me dishes one by one. She noticed that after taking the first dish from her, I rinsed it under the faucet before putting it in the dishwasher. So before handing me the second dish, she rinsed it herself and handed it to me very proud of herself. It was so cute! Of course it wasn't so cute a few weeks ago when she decided to wash my cell phone. She brought it to me dripping wet, with a huge smile on her face and chattering unintelligibly. She was seriously devastated that I didn't just jump for joy when she had "helped" me so much. The good news is that my phone is still working. The bad news is that the screen stays lit up now all the time, which means that my battery is dead at the end of every day.

That's pretty much it. No big news, just everyday fun stuff. We have only 4 more weeks of school before our "baby break". I am busy trying to assemble all the supplies for the birth, sterilizing and putting away sheets, getting the baby stuff out of the shed and washed, and just generally trying to keep the house as clean and clutter-free as possible. I am also planning activities for our church's new homeschool group, something I am very excited about. Right now, including us, there are 4 homeschooling families in our church.

Hopefully I'll get some pictures on here in the next few days.


  1. Hi, I can see your kids keep you busy (not a surprise). They were so excited on the video. I want to know do they ever fight? My two fight just about everyday, I need to know if mine were the only ones.

  2. Nikki,

    yes, "excited" is definitely an adjective that describes our kids. They are VERY loud and wild when left to do whatever they want.

    I am sure your kids are NOT the only ones who fight! Our kids fight, too, but not much because they are all close in age to the siblings around them, and I also always encouraged them to get along with each other. The two that give me the most trouble are Isaac (#2) and John (#3), but their relationship has been improving. None of the boys ever picks on Miriam, she gets away with whatever she wants. She picks on them if they don't do what she wants. It's kind of funny to watch her boss them around.

  3. First of all, thanks for visiting my blog, I really need to update it.

    Second, I read about Solomon asking you all those science questions, why not let him go with it, you know find out all you can,as much as you can, and then let him put it in a notebook. I know you have your way of schooling them, but it was just a suggestion.

  4. I found this post very interesting in light of the daycare post. You mentioned that you enjoyed doing the work because it gave you something to do that was not child related, that extended your brain. Perhaps, many of the women who send their children to daycare feel the same way: caring for children is not enough for them. I know that's the reason why I enjoy going to work one day a week. It allows me to do something that does not relate to my children and puts me into adult company. Of course, I still don't agree with children in daycare full time from a young age, I am pointing out that there are shades of grey. Shades of grey which you have revealed. You are very lucky because your husband is happy for you to not work and that you are able to do it while your children are sleeping. Not everyone has that luxury
    Speaking purely for myself, I have found going to work one day a week immensely rewarding and I have found that eventhough I am exhausted at the end of a day's teaching, I have renewed energy for my children
    And, on a side note, I am intrigued now as to what you sound like. I have only every heard German accents from people who have learnt English in Australia. I am trying to imagine an American-German accent :D And, what part of Germany are you from? I learnt German at high school (so I am perfectly capable of finding the train station and ordering a coffee but not much else LOL) and went to Germany a few years ago.

  5. Just on what Rose was saying re the notebook. One thing I did with my students was for each student to do a poster. At the top they wrote the title of the subject eg Electricity. Then the page is divided into three with the following subheadings at the top: things I know, things I want to know, things I have learnt. Obviously the first one is filled in quickly, the second one is a work in progress (as they learn more questions are generated) and the final one is completed at the end of the unit. I would actually let the kids add to it during the year because learning is an ongoing thing


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