Friday, July 30, 2010

Weird things the kids said

I wish I had the time or memory to write down all the weird things our kids say. Solomon and Isaac are the two who are always tying in strange and obscure facts into any conversation that is going on, while John is the type who says funny things because he uses some big words for being so little.

Today, I told the kids to listen to the next three chapters of Ezekiel on the computer (mp3 format) while I finished up the laundry we had been working on. Solomon (8) then informed me that they had only listened to two chapters the day before, because they had also listened to Job chapter 41. They were pretending to be undersea in a submarine, so they thought the story of Leviathan would add a nice realistic touch. I know few Christians who could off the top of their head give the exact chapter that leviathan is mentioned in (I couldn't have, I just knew it was toward the end of the book of Job), which was the first thing that surprised me. Then again, these kids have been in church since they were conceived, and it is amazing how much information even their tiny baby brains have retained since then.

Then Solomon added: "Yeah, our submarine was stuck in the Bathypelagic Zone." "The WHAT?" I asked, and he repeated it. I didn't know what that was, so he informed me that "it's the zone in the ocean between the Twilight Zone and the Continental Slope." I asked him which of his books he had learned that from (The Incredible Journey to the Depths of the Ocean), so I could look it up and see if he was right, and to get the spelling of this zone that I had never heard about before in my life. Of course, he was right on, and I'm sure he could have enlightened me about the correct spelling of it, as well.

Then Isaac (7) chimed in and informed me about a certain type of animal that lives in almost all zones of the ocean, but I have since forgotten what animal he said that was (even though he told me twice).

Later the same day, Isaac and John (5) were folding a load of whites (towels and underwear). John usually does the smaller items handed to him by whichever older brother he is working with. Isaac was getting frustrated because John was refusing to fold Miriam's underwear. John defended himself and told me "I think it is vulgar for a boy to fold girls' underwear." I thought it was too funny (and made Isaac finish the job as to not offend little John).

Earlier this week, there was a similar incident with John. The kids and I had gone to a local library to see a puppet show performance. We were all sitting on the carpet around the puppet theater, waiting for it to start, when John started tugging at my arm hysterically, and with tears shooting from his eyes whispered something I couldn't understand because he was sobbing uncontrollably. I had to ask him several times to repeat what he was saying, until I finally understood what it was. Apparently, the little girl sitting right in front of him (she was maybe 3) was sagging her pants so much he could see her underwear, so he did not want to even look in her direction. In effect, he could not see the stage, and he thought we was going to miss the show. I looked over and the poor little girl was, in fact, showing most of the back of her underwear. She was also very fidgety, and kept getting up and sitting back down, which did not help with her pants slouching down the whole time, and her trying to keep them somewhat pulled up since she had no belt on. I moved John to the other side of me, and he was very careful not to even glace in the girl's direction after that. It was so funny.

Last week, I was serving the kids some homemade applesauce. I make it by simply steaming sliced apples that are neither peeled nor cored until tender, and then putting them through a food mill which gets out most of the skins and seeds. Suddenly, Johnny started choking, and it looked like he was going to throw up. When he finally got a hold of himself, I asked him what was wrong, and he told me he could not eat the applesauce because it had "debris in it". He was referring to a tiny piece of the inside of the core that had ended up in his batch.

That's it for today's comic relief. I love our kids; they are funnier than any TV show could ever be.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The monsoon is here - finally!

Arizona has strange and wonderful weather. Where we live, we have desert climate, which means that it is very hot and dry during the summer. In the winter, we usually get rain once a month or so, and the temperatures are always mild. There are only two times a year we get a lot of rain - in the spring, and when the monsoon season starts.

It had not rained in Tempe since I think March, except for a couple of quick showers in the last week as the humidity kept building up. Today, just as we were getting home from the library, we had the most wonderful thunderstorm right over our subdivision. At the library, it had been sunny and 105 degrees. At home, just a few miles away, it was dark, storming, and 76 degrees.

The kids were so excited they could hardly wait to get home. They LOVE playing in the rain, because it is such a rare treat. I had fun watching them from the (dry) front porch.

The "before" picture







At this point, Isaac had the brilliant idea to add an empty bucket to the fun...



To make for a fairer water fight, they also got a plastic pitcher, and then proceeded to dump load after load over each other.



The "after" picture


"Wait a minute", you may be thinking, "doesn't she have five kids?" I do, but the other two are not water rats like these three are.

Becky gave the rain a quick try, but that was all she wanted.

Eek!


Watching the other kids, deep in thought.

She was not about to close her eyes when I snapped the picture. This is simply the look she gave me every time she looked my way. I think it says "Why would anyone think that this is fun?"


John did not even so much as get one drop of water on him. He HATES water that is coming at him, be it a shower, sprinklers, squirt guns, rain, or whatever else. Instead, he decided to play in the flooded planter that separates our front porch from the front lawn (using that term very loosely...).




To celebrate such wintry, cold, dark weather, we made the most delicious cinnamon rolls for a special treat. I didn't break out the hot chocolate only because the kitchen was already a disaster zone after making the cinnamon rolls, but the kids sure asked for some.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tired

I'm so very tired tonight. My day started when I woke up around 5 am after a short night, because that's when it gets light around here. At about half past eight, Solomon and I headed out to his piano lesson, which kept me out until mid-morning. I was already starting to get tired at this point, and tried lying down for a quick nap. The kids were being very boisterous, though, which seems to have been a pattern this week. Not sure if it has to do with them going camping last week, but I'll blame it on that and chalk it up as another reason why I don't like camping.

I did what I always do when they won't be content to play nicely - I proceeded to assign chores. Only, when I took one look inside their bedrooms, I became so upset at the condition they were in that I gave up the idea of napping, and instead armed myself with lots of garbage bags and the vacuum. The boys helped me all the rest of the morning and the whole afternoon, and by the end of it both boys' bedrooms were spotlessly clean, closets and all, but I had moved about 95% of their toys out.

Basically, all I left in Isaac and John's room was a bookshelf with some books, their bunk bed, and the hutch where they keep their jammies. Solomon was allowed to keep a little bit of extra stuff in his room, just because he is pretty good about keeping it nice as long as I keep reminding him. The rest of their stuff is being stored in the shed (to be pulled out individually as a treat, i.e. "You may play with the train set today"), or being sold or donated.

Because dealing with all this left me with no time or inclination to cook, the kids ate cereal for lunch, and I bought some pizza at Whole Foods on the way to church for dinner.

Of course, the girls made sure to trash every other room in the house during the time that I was working on their brothers' rooms. I wonder what mess they will get into while I am cleaning those other rooms tomorrow. It can be frustrating sometimes. Trying to keep a house with 5 children in it tidy, I often feel like I am trying to carry water in a sieve.

We stayed at church late, and now that everyone is tucked in for the night, I still have so much to get done. Falling asleep at the computer is not one of those things.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Our church camping trip

Last week went by in a whirlwind of activities.

Our church camping trip was from Thursday morning until Saturday afternoon, so I spent the week leading up to that getting ready and packing up. I precooked as many meals as I could since the camp we went to had neither electricity nor running water.

A good friend of mine was coming with her two little kids from California to come camping with us. She arrived here on Tuesday evening, after having driven all the way from Northern California by herself because her husband could not get the time off from work to come along. I don't think I could have handled a drive like that by myself in one day!

Our plan was to head out to the campsite early Thursday morning, so with the last minute packing, I only got 4 hours of sleep that night. I am glad we got there by mid-morning though, as it gave us a chance to get the tents and everything set up, cook lunch (nachos baked in aluminum foil), and get dinner started which was going to take hours to cook (Hungarian goulash cooked in a kettle over the open fire). Just as we were getting done with all that, it started pouring rain for several hours. Thankfully, the fire was going strong enough that it was not put out by the rain, and it saved me having to keep adding water to the goulash as it cooked :)

The rain let up a little just in time for dinner, which was absolutely delicious. I love Hungarian goulash cooked in a kettle over the open fire, and have only had it a couple of times since moving to the US.

It started pouring again as soon as the evening preaching service started, and it rained through most of the night and the first half of Friday. On Friday, it was not raining during breakfast (pancakes, bacon, and eggs), but rained the whole time up until lunch. I was in the tent with the girls because Becky was napping and Miriam didn't want to be out in the rain, but my husband and the boys were all out playing volleyball in the rain for hours with everyone else.

The rain let up a bit around lunch (we had chili) and for a few hours in the afternoon, so we headed to a nearby lake to join others from our church who had gone there to go kayaking, but I could tell the weather wasn't going to hold. The minute we arrived at the lake and unloaded, we were hit by torrential rains. My husband and another pastor who had joined us on the camping trip decided that since they were going to get wet one way or another, they might as well go kayaking and swimming in the lake in the pouring rain, while the kids and I watched from the van and munched on kettle corn.

Thankfully, it was not raining nearly as badly at our camp site, and very soon the rain stopped completely for the whole rest of the evening. After dinner (hot dogs and baked beans) we heard more preaching, and then all sat around the main campfire late into the night. I had brought along cookie dough to bake in castiron pans over the coals as a special treat, since Saturday was my husband's birthday, and we all ate those around the campfire that night.

It rained some more through the night from Friday to Saturday, but it did not rain at all the whole day Saturday. I tried a new recipe for breakfast that day, and it was unbelievably good. Basically, I sauteed onions, bell peppers, garlic, and corn in a big cast iron dutch oven over the fire. Then I added sliced smoked sausage until it was nicely cooked and browned, and last of all added diced baked potatoes. I seasoned everything with salt, pepper, and paprika and cooked it some more until the potatoes were warmed through. Then we moved it off the fire and sprinkled lots of grated cheese on top, which immediately melted. It was so good!!! If you like camp cooking, you will love this recipe.

After breakfast, we packed up the tent which had by then had a chance to dry out, since we didn't know if it was going to start raining again (it never did). There was more preaching, and we stayed at the campsite until the early afternoon. We thought we would go back to the lake to give the kids a chance to play in the water since we had been rained out the day before, and we were also going to barbecue cheeseburgers for a late lunch there. As it turned out, the lake was very crowded that day and two of our kids and one of my friend's kids had fallen asleep on the drive there and it seemed smarter to just head on home the rest of the 2 1/2 hour drive while everyone was happy and quiet.

We got back home around 5 pm on Saturday, but other than unloading the perishables, we left all the camping gear in the van because we were all tired and knew there was a baptism at our house on Sunday morning. I had left the house in presentable condition before we left camping, and didn't want to trash it all by unloading, and then having to clean the place all over again. Instead, we were all so tired from the camping trip that we had dinner and went to bed early.

Sunday morning we had a new record attendance of 59 in the morning service, and most of those came over to our house afterward for the baptism. With that many people walking from the front door, through the house, out the back door to the yard to watch the baptism in our pool (and all back again), and given the fact that the temperature outside was something around 115 degrees, the house got really hot really fast and didn't cool back down for several hours in the afternoon, which took away all my motivation to carry anything from the hot, sunny outdoors into my house that was also too hot. Or maybe that was just my excuse! Instead, I napped for several hours, as all the lack of sleep from the previous week was still catching up to me.

This morning, my husband helped me unload the van and get much of our gear organized, although I still have to finish putting everything away and put away the rest of the laundry that has not stopped running since we got back. Right now, I'm just going to fix lunch and nap some more :)

Camping is really NOT my idea of a fun vacation at all, which has a lot to do with the fact that it just takes a lot of planning and packing with 5 kids in tow (and pregnant - try traipsing to an outhouse in the dark, with cold rains coming down, four times every night). But the rest of my family LOVES it, especially the kids. The trip got a lot better once the rain let up about halfway through it, so I had fun, in spite of how much work and dirt it involved. But yes, I'm very glad to be back home! :) I do feel for my friend and the other families who drove out here just to go camping with us, who today are still on their way back home (we had people coming from California, New Mexico, and all the way from Mississippi).

I only took a few pictures because I didn't want to drag my nice camera out in the rain, but have not yet had time to transfer them to the computer. I'll add some once I do, and maybe more pictures that others from our church took.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lake Pleasant

Thursday of last week, we went to Lake Pleasant for the morning. We left the house before 8 am, at which time the temperature at home was already about 105 degrees.


Thankfully, at the lake it was only 93 when we arrived there shortly after 9 am. I had given my husband a jet ski rental as a combined gift for Father's Day and his birthday (and paid about 60% less than the price on the website thanks to Groupon).

Neither me nor the kids had ever been on a jet ski before, unlike my husband, who grew up with sailboats, seadoos, water skis, dirt bikes, quads, and ever other imaginable outdoor fun toy. But he had also never been on a seadoo again since we got married almost ten years ago. Something about getting married young and having lots of kids just made that impossible... :) I knew he would enjoy this gift.

My husband had lots of fun taking two kids at a time with him (it was a three-seater). He even let Solomon and Isaac drive the thing, and of course they both brought it up to maximum speed (about 60 mph). John was a bit more reserved and nervous, but still had fun. Miriam hated going at any speed above 12 mph, which suited me well as I didn't mind taking her on slower excursions with me. Becky loved riding the jet ski, and even though my husband was just going to idle around right by the shore with her, she liked it so much that he let her stay on for a few minutes. Of course, she screamed when I took her off and carried her back to shore. She was wearing an infant life jacket that she is used to from swimming in the pool, and my husband was right with her the whole time, so I knew she was safe.



We took turns going on it, but I honestly did not care for the thing at all. I didn't even dare get close to the maximum speed, and only hit 30 mph once for a split second. Other than that, I mostly puttered around in the high teens and low 20s. That was enough excitement for me. Life jacket or not, there is something I really don't like about being out in the middle of a big lake. Honestly, I think driving my car is more fun than the jet ski was.

Instead, I spread a blanket by the shore and sat there with the kids who were not out riding with my husband. We brought some snacks, so they were busily munching. Once the cloud cover left, though, we sat in the air-conditioned van because the temperature quickly rose to 107 degrees, and no shade. We were parked just a few feet farther from the shore from where we had been sitting, so it was still fun to watch the others out on the lake.






This pregnancy more than any before, the heat is making me really sick. So much so, that other than to run errands, I do not go outside all day long. Even just going from an air-conditioned house, to an air-conditioned car, to an air-conditioned store (and back) makes me feel nauseated and tired. I spent the rest of Thursday sitting in our nice cool house and taking it easy. I am starting to get serious cabin fever from having been "stuck" indoors for almost five months now - first, I was too sick to go anywhere, now it's too hot. It may be a bad time to be pregnant in Phoenix this time of year, but it will be nice to have a new baby just in time for Christmas! :)


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pregnancy update

Had another prenatal checkup today. My husband and all kids came along for it, which was nice. In the future, I hope to be able to at least leave some of the kids home with him for appointments though, as it just makes things easier all around. Plus, it gives me some "me" time, or one-on-one time with just one of the kids.

My uterus is now measuring right on for how far along I am. Everything else was perfect, too. My only concern was that I was wondering if I was low on iron, because I am so tired. I asked the midwife to check my hemoglobin, something I don't like because I absolutely DETEST being poked even slightly. My husband joked that it was not as bad as giving birth, but I'm not sure. Giving birth is a lot more natural. Anyway, my hemoglobin was 12.3, which is actually very good (especially for me). I guess I just need to get more sleep. Haha! I am already sleeping 10-12 hours a day and not getting as much work done as I would like to!

Becky was looking on intently, and then stuck out her pudgy little finger to also have it poked. I told her she didn't really want to. Miriam was crying on the drive to the midwife, because all day long she had been excited about taking her baby doll to the midwife with her, but then she forgot her at home because we left right after she woke up from her nap. I felt so bad for her. I would have turned around for it, but it would have made us a half hour late for the appointment to do so. The boys spent most of the time in the front room playing with a train set.

So, nothing exciting. I'm glad to hear that all is going well and I am feeling perfectly healthy (other than being so very tired).

My husband and I are taking the kids to a nearby lake tomorrow for an early celebration of his 29th birthday next week. We are leaving the house right around 7 am, which means it is high time for me to get to bed.

America's unemployment crisis

Seems like I read about the growing unemployment rates in the news every time I go online. Today, I read this piece.

I'm not denying that this really is a serious problem. Our entire economy has been intentionally tampered with by politicians and bankers for decades now to bring this situation about, as it will only increase government control and taxation/extortion.

But I do think that the solution to this problem is not what the news or politicians would have us to believe it is. For example, extending benefits for as long as 99 weeks in some areas (up from the standard 26 weeks, which is already 26 weeks too long) will do nothing to reduce unemployment rates. In fact, it will only further increase them. You see, someone has to pay for giving money out to those not working (willingly or not). Businesses and those currently holding a job will carry this added burden, which is destructive to private enterprises and family finances. More jobs will be lost, and more families will become financially dependent on the government. Of course, this decline will only pick up speed as the economy is going into a complete tail-spin.

The biggest problem, of course, is that people look to the government for help rather than to God. Innately, human beings want to feel like there is a higher being watching out for them if all else fails. Sadly, in our ungodly time, for many this is the government. Without God's help and blessing in life, nobody can ever have a happy and successful life. Those who are not Christians will never know God's wonderful provision and protection.

Another big problem is the fact that we live in a world of broken families, or no families at all. In the past, if a family was going through hardship, they had a large extended family, and usually a church family, to fall back on for temporary help. In the above referenced article, one of those interviewed said his only family was his dog. That is not normal, or what God intended. If you actually know the people that you are helping (or being helped out by), there is an accountability to make sure that there really is a legitimate need, as well as an incentive to get back on one's feet. There is also the feeling of satisfaction that comes with helping someone down on their luck through no fault of their own.

Instead, the government extorts our money at the barrel of a gun and gives is to many who are undeserving of our help, or who got themselves in a bad situation as a result of the sin they were indulging in. Instead of feeling good about a deed well done, we grow to resent both the government, and those unknown millions taking our money without any gratitude for it.

One major factor that has led to the current employment situation is that the market for workers has been flooded with the cheap labor that women have traditionally been exploited to do ever since entering the work force, which they never should have done. It is only logical that if the number of available workers doubles, wages will go down and jobs will become more scarce.

Add to that the fact that now families everywhere depend on the government to babysit their kids from morning until night in their public schools, which eats up astronomical amounts of our tax money. As family ties are traded for friends at school and affairs between men and women now working together, the moral fibers of our society have been all but dissolved, and sadly Christians are no exception to this rule. As a result, we all get policed and babysat by an increasingly abusive government, and yet live in the midst of violence and death.

Families with both parents working also do not eat nearly as healthy as those who have mom stay home and prepare nutritious, made-from-scratch meals, so now we also need an outrageously oppressive and expensive health care plan to take care of all the unnecessary ills that such a lifestyle brings. Somehow, I just don't think that it is any coincidence that in the last two years, only one of our kids has been sick once (a bad cold), which is about average for us ever since we stopped putting our kids in church nurseries. Our kids are out in public and interacting with others daily, yet there is something very unnatural and unhealthy about sharing close quarters and public restrooms all day with people outside the immediate family, such as in a public school or a daycare setting.

"Women's liberation", "feminism" (which is all about women becoming more masculine), birth control, women entering the work force, skyrocketing divorce rates, birth rates that are below replacement rate and will only lead to more economic problems in the near future, government oppression in every area of our private lives, small disjointed families, and children not being raised by their parents are all interconnected factors contributing to the collapse of the American way of life, which includes our economy.

Instead of men obeying God, wives obeying their husbands, and children obeying their parents (God's line of authority, all tempered by mutual love and respect), we can all be oppressed by a hateful government and live in the midst of chaos and violence. I'm glad that our family has God to watch over and protect us, because things are only bound to become worse as our government gets more and more involved.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Still around

Wow, I can't believe it's been almost two weeks since I last blogged. Especially since there are so many ideas for posts I have, just never enough time to put them all in writing!

It's been busy around here. One nice change is that my husband has been home most nights (as opposed to being gone most nights), which is pretty much the only time of day I ever go on the computer, but not when he's around. So that is one reason why I have been such a slacker blogger.

Right this moment (it's just past 9 pm), he is taking all the kids "night swimming" in our backyard pool, and I stayed inside to get the house straightened up a bit. Sundays are always like a whirlwind - I usually do only essential daily chores and otherwise relax, while the kids play by themselves, which usually involves messes wherever they go.

It'll be close to 10 pm by the time we do story time and I get all the littles in bed. Then I promised to make my husband some more chocolate chip cookies. I baked a double batch for him last night, which was pretty much gone by breakfast time today once the kids figured out the cookie jar had been stocked. While I am doing that, he will finish cleaning up one of our bathrooms, which has been out of commission since yesterday when one of the kids flushed an object down the toilet and clogged it royally. It took my husband a good hour today to get it fixed. He ended up having to take the toilet off the ground completely and snake it from the bottom end up, and even then it was near impossible. As it turned out, the offending object was a bottle of hand sanitizer. My main suspect is Becky, to which my husband simply replied that he'd gladly snake the toilet every day of his life to have her. These girls really do have their Daddy wrapped around their little fingers.

Anyway, just wanted to check in. I am hoping to post more often this week.