Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Wow, it's hard to believe another year is over. Surely, I can't possibly be aging at the same rate as calendar years are turning?

Just for fun, and because I have no inspirational new-year's-resolutions to share, let's revisit this past year's most viewed blog posts, as well as my own favorites. 

January 
 - what a month! I blogged on hating, abortion (warning: graphic), and public "education".

February 
 - my personal favorite was a video the kids made. I also blogged more on public schools.

March 
 - to change things up, I criticized a popular homeschool curriculum, and wrote about the best thrift store find of 2010.

April 
 - another busy month! I reposted "The Gender Wars are Over", expressed my disgust at homos pushing their agenda in public schools, explained why I do not support our troops, lamented the sad state of our tax system, and - on a happier note - announced my pregnancy with Anna.

May 
 - I was in the throes of severe morning sickness, and blogging less. My personal favorite was this cookie jar.

June  

July  
- not blogging much for summer break, but I did give my 2 cents on the employment crisis.

August  
- this month featured my husband again being exonerated, a warning against "Christian businessmen", and vaccines.

September 
 - I blogged about my favorite bread recipes, and this year's best freecycle find.

October  
- A lengthy Q & A, and my thoughts on sharing.

November  
- Solomon stirred up an unexpected debate with his post, while I blogged about TSA molesting travelers for their "protection".

December  
- Anna's birth announcement was the highlight of the year, and her birth story was nothing short of miraculous.


Surprisingly, I did NOT make Babble's list of Top 50 Mommy Bloggers. Not even in the "controversial" category. Although personally, I think that category is pretty boring and not very true to its name. And if I have to be short-haired broad blogging on the New York Times website about such topics as "a complex and unconventional family" that "took five adults to bring two little children [...] into the world" using reproductive technology to make it to #1, I hope I never get on that list.

And as for my new-year's-resolutions? Hm, let's see - in 2011, I resolve to...
  • get through an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 diaper changes without once loosing my lunch (number depends on how soon Becky will be completely out of diapers).
  • wash ca. 1,000 loads of laundry without 1) disintegrating any ball point pens in the dryer and ruining a complete load; 2) loosing more than half of our socks to - wait, where DO they all go? 3) more than 50% of my laundry consisting of clean clothes that got put in the dirty hamper by mistake.
  • spend no more than 6 hours per day in the kitchen, and no more than 2 hours per day running errands.
  • have enough brain power left at the end of the day to be able to tell my toothbrush apart from everyone else's (and to have the energy left to want to brush my teeth).
  • cook and serve a total of 7,665 healthy, balanced, nutritious, and tasty meal servings for our family, and then watch at least one person at each meal picking over their food slowly because they don't like it. It's statistics, folks - with seven people eating, there will always be someone who doesn't like some part of any meal. Including Anna eating solids for the second half of 2011 brings the total to 8,212 servings. I won't even try to include all the food I cook for various church functions in this statistic.
  • not fall asleep every day from the boredom of listening to another child learning to read simple blends and sounding out hundreds of consonant-vowel-consonant words like tan, ten, tin, ton. Rinse and repeat ad nauseam.
  • not quit my full-time, unpaid, indentured servitude as laundress, cook, maid, teacher, cab driver, nurse, secretary, purchasing agent, entertainer, judge, jury, and executioner. 
AND
  • produce about 60 gallons of milk while accomplishing all of the above, and feed them to baby Anna any time she likes, day or night. 
Happy New Year to all you hard-working moms out there. Nobody will ever know or understand your labor of love, day in, day out, 365 days a year, year after year, but God does.

"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." - Galatians 6:9

    Sunday, December 26, 2010

    Our Christmas

    We had a quiet Christmas. I started coming down with a bad cold midday on Christmas Eve, the first telltale sign being a very sore throat. I have had the misfortune of having my tonsils removed when I was 11 years old, too young to have had a say about these matters (not like I would have known anything about the issue at that age). The reason why they were taken out was because I often got sore throats. For good measure, they also removed my adenoids at that time for no reason whatsoever, other than the fact that it helped the surgeon make his car payments that month. Now, instead of just my tonsils becoming sore, my whole entire throat gets sore. It takes so much longer to recover from. It's kind of like going to the doctor with recurring headaches, and the treatment he suggests is to have your head removed. Never mind trying to find the underlying cause of the infection... Tonsils are actually part of the lymphatic system. Just like swollen lymph nodes are a sign of illness, and not the illness itself, swollen, sore tonsils mean that the body is fighting some kind of bug. Simply removing them does nothing to fix the problem. It's like busting out the "maintenance required" light in my van instead of getting the oil changed and resetting the light. Anyway, I'm way off on a tangent here.

    We opened presents that afternoon. The kids played while my husband made the customary hot dogs, and we all went to bed early. By Christmas Day, I woke up with all the symptoms of a severe sinus infection. With some help from the rest of the family, I was still able to make the ham dinner. Unfortunately, I was losing my sense of smell and taste at this point. For all I knew, I might as well have been eating shoe leather, since I could not taste hardly at all. Worst of all, even though only one of the other kids had caught a much milder version of this cold earlier in the week, baby Anna started stuffing up yesterday, too. Thankfully, not badly enough to hinder her nursing, but the extra mucous does seem to make her throw up more. Also, she wants to nurse and nurse for comfort, to the point where she gets so full of milk she throws up even more. It is so sad to listen to her snore through her clogged little nostrils. :(

    Today, I felt awful upon waking, and stayed in bed late while my husband fed and dressed the kids. I felt better once I got up, and my sore throat is gone now, along with my voice. Still no sense of taste or smell at all - it is so weird and boring. My face and upper jaw hurt from the sinus infection, but at least no more headaches, either. My ears also feel plugged up, so it's hard for me to hear clearly (not necessarily a bad thing). 

    Okay, enough whining. I sound like a big baby. Please do pray for Anna, though. She seems to not mind her stuffy nose, but I just feel so bad for her. She is sleeping soundly right now, which I'm sure is doing her a world of good. Thankfully, the lemons on our tree are ripe now. I have juiced probably a dozen of them in the last few days, and enjoyed the juice in some warm water, or with honey, which seems to be helping a lot. 

    There is so much to be thankful for. We still had a very nice Christmas. Anna, of course, was my favorite gift this year. My husband and I had agreed not to spend money on each other. He recorded Miriam's voice to change the directions on my GPS unit to hers, and it is so cute! It took him hours to do, but I'm sure I will enjoy it more and more as she gets older. I gave him some homemade truffles. Solomon bought me a very nice recipe binder out of his own money, and wrote a sweet love note inside the back cover. Isaac put together a little box with things for me and the baby, like a little hat, hair pins, etc. My favorite part of that gift was the crazy way he wrapped it!

    My husband's younger sister and her husband also came to visit with us today. We exchanged gifts with them, and since we outnumber them 8 to 2, we really made out! :) It was a lot of fun getting to spend time with them.


    Here is a photo I took on Christmas Eve, right before the kids unwrapped their presents. If you click on it, and then click on it again, you can see it much larger.



    Did you notice Becky's black eye? She was running into the living room, slipped, and hit her cheek on the coffee table. We put ice on it, but it still gave her a black eye, which she has been proudly showing off. She is such a ham!! It's under her left eye (right side as you look at it).

    Wednesday, December 22, 2010

    Adjusting

    To life with six kids, that is. It's been interesting, but good. Anna is starting to like the car seat more. I have only taken her out by myself three times, but she stopped crying and fell asleep within a few minutes' drive each time. She seems to like listening to this particular violin/piano instrumental CD. Maybe it's because her Dad plays the piano at home a lot, and she recognizes it. 


    She eats like a little piggy, and sleeps the rest of the time. There really is never a stretch for more than maybe 10 minutes that she is awake. BUT she usually wakes up if she is not being held, so she has been spending much time being carried in a sling, or in the arms of her Dad or older brothers. In the mornings, she has been staying asleep in our bed on her own after I nurse her. Today was the longest yet, almost 2 hours. 

    The other kids are doing well. The only one that has been acting up more than usual is Becky, which I expected, as she was already going through a rough phase. She is very excited about the baby and doesn't seem jealous. She simply figured out that while I am sitting down nursing Anna is a prime time to steal the chocolate out of her siblings' advent calendars, unravel a roll of toilet paper, squirt a new tube of toothpase all over the floor, and get into all kinds of other mischief. 

    Miriam is all over the baby. She is so cute and mothering. She got asked to be the flower girl at the wedding of a couple in our church. They are getting married in January, and she has asked me probably a hundred times every day how much longer it will be until the wedding (literally). She is SO excited.  It's all she can think and talk about anymore. Note to self: next time, don't announce such monumental events to little kids until the day before. 

    The boys have been doing some school work here and there, mostly during the girls' nap time. They also spend hours every day reading or playing outside. Their Dad and Grandma bought them some "Hardy Boys" books, which they love. My husband has also been taking them to the office or out working with him a lot. 

    We will be celebrating Christmas with "just" the eight of us, as we have no relatives living in town. My husband's younger sister and her husband will be with us the day after Christmas, though, so that will be fun. We are opening the presents on Christmas Eve after our traditional dinner of hot dogs, and having the usual ham dinner on Christmas Day. It's so childish, but I get excited just like the kids every time the mailman drops off another package at our house. I still have three gifts to finish for the kids - hopefully, the baby will cooperate. There are also more packages to wrap, which is not easy with a baby in arms.

    My husband's mom - she must have read the "Cat in the Hat" books several dozen times while she was here because the kids kept asking her to do so.

     Grandma with all three girls

     The matching dresses were Christmas gifts from her to the girls.

    Our church is celebrating its 5th anniversary this Christmas Day. We have special things planned for the next day, Sunday, our anniversary service. Being married to a pastor, particularly the pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church, is not always sweetness and light. There have been many struggles that nobody would ever know about or understand unless they have been in the same situation, and beside all else, it's just plain hard work - for both of us. Last Sunday, one of the key men in our church, who has been with us for over 4 years, preached during the evening service, and his words really encouraged me. At the end, he and the church presented my husband with an exceptionally well-made photo book that chronicles the last 5 years of our church's existence, as well as a very generous gift. It was so nice! 

    Hope everyone is enjoying this last week of Christmas!

    Saturday, December 18, 2010

    Whew!

    Okay, so having 6 kids is A LOT harder than having 5. Or maybe I got spoiled because there was a bigger-than-usual gap between the last two babies, Becky and Anna, and Becky was starting to get really easy to handle. Or maybe I'm just not 20 anymore, as I have been told recently. :)

    In spite of my husband and mother-in-law helping me pretty much around the clock since Anna's birth, in spite of the fact that she is an "easy baby", and in spite of mountains of disposable dishes, I still feel stretched to my limits, and then some. But then, seems like that is how I have felt with the addition of every one of the other kids, too. 

    The main thing I find hard to deal with, other than the increased workload, is the NOISE LEVEL. Our boys have two volumes: "off", and "loud", and the only time they are "off" is when they are sleeping. They also only know to close doors by slamming them. The girls are not much quieter. 

    The other hard thing is the mental energy that I spend just trying to juggle the needs and cares of all the individual kids. My mind is now being pulled in yet one more direction. It really feels like a circus act.

    Anyway, I'll post more soon, once I find a bit of a groove. Sorry, no pictures either tonight, too tired for that.

    Tuesday, December 14, 2010

    Anna's birth story

    Given the nature of this post, reader discretion is advised. Details may be sketchy and/or inaccurate, as I was obviously in the throes of labor - this is how I remember it to the best of my ability.

    ~~~~~~~~~

    Anna was born early on Wednesday morning, December 8th. The weekend before that, I started having regular, timeable contractions about every 10-20 minutes. They lasted about 30 to 45 seconds each, and were not painful at all.

    That same Saturday morning, Miriam woke up with a fever. She said her head hurt, and later threw up a couple of times. It never fails that some or all of us get sick just a few days before the arrival of a new baby. Midwives have told me this happens a lot and ensures that everyone's immunities to the current bug making the rounds is high by the time baby comes. So in spite of the contractions, I "knew" the baby's arrival was still days away. Miriam got better within the next day and a half after I started letting her drink as much Reed's Ginger Ale as she wanted. The stuff is a miracle cure - it stops vomiting immediately, and brings down a fever faster than tylenol - no joke! She also got a red rash on her torso a day later, so my guess is that she had some sort of virus.

    I had taken on a translating assignment that I was working on that weekend (an article from a medical journal), so getting that done and off my desk before baby came was fine with me, anyway. I did finish it up a couple of days before the deadline, just to be safe.

    Contractions continued to be every 10 to12 minutes all Monday, with increasing intensity. In the evening, I ran a couple of errands, and other than having to stop whenever another contraction came and holding on to the cart, it was fine. I found some things I wanted to get the kids as Christmas gifts, but could not buy them because they were with me.

    During the night from Monday to Tuesday, contractions kept me awake from 3 until 7 am. My mother-in-law is a flight attendant, but had the week off and was waiting "on call" to fly out in case I went into labor, to be an extra set of hands around the house. Around 4:30 am our time, I texted her that I thought she should come out, even though I was not convinced that this was "the real thing". Sure enough, when morning came, the contractions went away for several hours, during which time I slept in. Thankfully, my MIL still came out, as birth was obviously close.

    This was Tuesday. I left grandma at home with the kids while I finished up a few last errands, and went back and bought the gifts for the kids I was unable to get the night before. Then I took a nap in the afternoon. Contractions were still every 10 to 12 minutes at this point, and getting to a point where they were requiring my attention. While I was cooking dinner, Solomon and grandma were sitting at the kitchen counter, playing yahtzee. I closed my eyes during a contractions and just stood there, and Solomon said something like "Oh look, Grandma, mom must be really tired. She is falling asleep standing up." It made me laugh, which hurt because it was right in the middle of a contraction.

    We inflated the birth pool before going to bed, with the hose to fill it all hooked up and ready to go in case my labor reached the "point of no return" that night. We went to bed around 11 pm, at which time the contractions were about 5 or 6 minutes apart.

    During the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, shortly after midnight, my contractions were so strong that they woke me up. By about 2 am, they were about 3 or 4 minutes apart, and increasingly intense. I woke my husband and asked him to start filling the tub. At 2:34 am, I called my midwife and told her that I wasn't sure whether this was the real thing, but that my contractions were regular every few minutes, and becoming pretty painful. She said she'd come over right away. Both her and her assistant arrived within a half hour.

    Other than the contractions, I still had none of the other symptoms of active labor, which is what made me so doubtful (i.e. water breaking, mucous plug, etc.). I asked my midwife to check my dilation when she first arrived, and I was at a 3-4 cm. I got in the tub at this point. I don't think the contractions ever got closer than 3 to 5 minutes apart, and while they were very painful/intense, I have had worse. They were relatively manageable with lots of moaning and some slight pressure on this certain spot on my lower back. Later on, I did start throwing up after contractions, but in between them, I felt pretty good, other than being cold (neither the room nor the water was cold) and tired from the lack of sleep in the previous days. 

    I don't remember the exact times that it took me to dilate. I think an hour later (around 4:30 am) I was at 7 cm, and did not progress past that in the next 20 or 30 minutes. At that point, the midwife and her assistant relocated to just outside the room I was laboring in, to give me and my husband some privacy/quiet. By this point, I was starting to feel this urgent need to deliver the baby, while also feeling exhausted and like I was going nowhere. However, I did fall asleep between contractions, while in the tub, with my chin resting on my husband's hand on the edge of the tub. 

    I'm guessing that it was about 45 minutes or so later when I suddenly felt wide awake. With the next couple of contractions, I felt "pushy", but did not feel like I was fully dilated for some reason. Pushing felt different than it normally did - like I was pushing against something, and also more painful. I asked my midwife to check me and make sure I was dilated, and other than a cervical lip, she confirmed that I was. 

    Still, I could not get comfortable pushing. I decided that maybe I needed to use the bathroom, because even a bladder that is *almost* empty can get in the way of a baby's head coming down. Normally, I would have just gone in the tub at this point (sorry if this is too much information, but this is actually important to the story), but simply could not. So I dragged my wet, shivering self to the bathroom, which was only about 5 ft from where the tub was set up in the guest room. Still not able to pee, and still skeptical that I was fully dilated, my midwife wanted to check me on the bed rather than in the tub, which is easier and more accurate. 

    As she did, she still felt that lip of the cervix, and coached me to push with the next contraction while she pushed it to the side. The baby immediately slipped into the birth canal, and was born completely within what I am guessing was less than 60 seconds from when she first checked me. What a relief!

    I leaned back against my husband for a minute, who was supporting me from behind. As I usually do, I asked "Is the baby alright?", because I felt too weak to sit up and check for myself. I got no reply, so I asked again, and again got no reply. The baby had not cried at all, but that is pretty typical for our babies, because they are usually born in the water, which is gentler on them. I figured the midwife had not heard me because she was busy with the baby. So I asked my husband, who assured me that everything was fine. I sat up to take the baby (this was less than a minute after she was born, I'm guessing), and the midwife placed her on my chest and told me that the baby was okay, and coming around. I said something to the baby, in response to which she let out a little whimper, and then just breathed (sounding a little wet/raspy). I figured that her breathing had been what the midwife was concerned about, and that maybe she had needed to be suctioned. I checked to see if it was a boy or a girl, and was not surprised to find I had been right with my prediction all along. 

    Just a minute or so later, my midwife said that she thought the placenta was ready to be pushed out, which surprised me. But sure enough, she was right, and the placenta came out with one big push. 

    At this point, everyone came in to see the baby, John (the birthday boy) got to cut the cord, and we were all just rejoicing in this new little creature. It was shortly after 6 am on Wednesday morning. We spent the day resting. My MIL took the 5 oldest kids out of the house from about 9 am until the early afternoon, during which time my husband, Anna, and I napped, rested, and ate a late lunch. It was a nice first day.

    It was not until the next day, when my midwife came for the 1-day visit, that I learned some more details about the birth that I was (thankfully) entirely unaware of at the time. I have debated with myself whether to include them here, but see no reason not to, as they are part of the birth story.

    When my midwife checked me on the bed after I got out of the tub to use the bathroom, she was no longer able to feel the baby's pulse on the fontanel. Right before getting out of the tub, the baby's heart rate on the doppler had been normal. At this point, she could also see that the baby's head (right on the cervix) was lavender-gray (as opposed to pink, or maybe blanched). Which is why she held the cervical lip to the side and told me to push the baby down. Immediately after the baby came out, she was followed by huge amounts of blood. The baby's cord was also already flat and had stopped pulsing when she was born. All these symptoms indicate that it is likely my placenta had suddenly and completely detached right before the baby was born - a very rare and dangerous condition. Since the cord and placenta are the baby's lifeline, the baby will die in a matter of minutes (my midwife said a maximum of 6 minutes until complete death) if cut off from the placenta before they are born and can breathe on their own. Serious, irreversible brain damage starts occurring about a minute before that. 

    In Anna's case, she came around again very quickly, and she is perfectly fine, leading us to believe that she was probably cut off for no more than a minute or two. Most cases of placental abruption are milder (i.e. partial), and have warning signs like bleeding. In our case, all the bleeding was blocked by the baby's body, hence the gush of blood that followed her. There is no way to predict placental abruption, and for cases such as mine (sudden, complete detachment with no warning signs), there is nothing that can be done. No emergency cesarean could be performed quickly enough to save the baby's life, as there are only a couple of minutes that mean the difference between baby living or dying. Hence, placental abruption is one of the leading causes of stillbirth/neonatal death.

    Inevitably, I know that this might make some question the safety of home birth, but as I said, being at the hospital would have done nothing to get the baby out faster. On the contrary, I believe that having my labor "managed" would likely have interfered with my natural instincts, such as realizing that pushing didn't feel quite right (probably due to the placenta starting to detach), and getting out of the tub when I usually deliver all of our kids in the water. Any drugs that I might have received at the hospital (such as pitocin) would have greatly aggravated the condition. It was just a rare fluke, that thankfully ended well because of God's hand of protection. We are very blessed indeed.

    Other than being more fatigued than usual because of the blood loss, I feel very well. There was no tearing at all, and the afterpains have been manageable with a hot rice pack and some cramp bark tincture. Nursing is going well. Anna is a very easy baby, and already in a predictable pattern of eating and sleeping. I have held/carried her pretty much non-stop since she was born, not because I have to (although it does help keep her asleep), but because I don't want to set her down and miss even one second with her. She has been peacefully asleep on my chest the whole time I spent writing this post.

    My husband has been such a huge help with the kids, around the house, and running any necessary errands. My MIL had to work a trip a few days after the birth, but is coming back again today and staying through the end of the week. 

    I'll leave with some more pictures of our little doll.

     Solomon reading to her out of a "book" that he wrote


     This is what happens with older siblings in the house - baby might end up being pushed in a play shopping cart on a pretend grocery store trip. No worries, Solomon was very careful not to let her fall out. 

     Only set her in the bouncer to take her picture

     She really enjoyed this bath. It was so cute.

     That's me, giving her a bath in the kitchen sink.

     With big brother John

     sisters

    Miriam is all over the baby, asking to hold her constantly. Becky - not so much :)

    Monday, December 13, 2010

    John's 6th Birthday

    Johnny turned six years old this Saturday. It's hard to imagine that my baby boy is growing up so fast! John is a funny little character. He is very sharp, and has always had a big vocabulary for his age, which makes for some hilarious quotes from him.

    Since I had just had the new baby three days earlier, we had a very low-key birthday. John brought his presents to our bedroom so I could watch him opening them from bed. Normally, I make the kids whatever they want for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on their birthday, but since I was not able to cook him the special breakfast he wanted, he took a rain check on that for another time. After breakfast, my husband took all the kids to the park while I rested some more. Then just him and John went to ride kiddie go-karts at a fun park nearby, and do a couple of rounds of airhockey. For lunch, my husband made hot dogs for everyone, as per John's request. The kids played together in the afternoon, and I was able to make tacos for dinner with the help of a friend from church. Overall, a very quiet day. We had cake at church the next day in honor of his birthday, too, which was nice.

    John was the one who got to cut Anna's cord after she was born, since he was the birthday boy. He was pretty excited about that. 

    One of his gifts from us - a race car driver outfit

     Remember when Solomon found the money in the wallet? He bought John a birthday gift with some of it.


    They were slides of pictures from NASA that can be viewed with this little viewer the kids already had. John loved it, as he often pretends to be an astronaut. In fact, he is pretending to be something or other (fireman, doctor, astronaut, cowboy, knight, etc.) pretty much every single day.



     
     Isaac, John, and Solomon. The girls were all still sleeping.

     I sewed him these camo pajamas. They are a little big on him, but I guess that's good since I'm sure he won't want to part with them for quite some time. He does not like giving up outgrown clothes. 

    The other gift from us

    Friday, December 10, 2010

    Oh the love

    Thank you for all the congratulations, well-wishes, and prayers.


    Just thought I'd post a few pictures of the little dumpling while I am sitting around on the sofa all day with her in my arms. What a special time this is! There is nothing like the touch and smell of a newborn baby. Her cheeks feel just like a little peach, so fuzzy and soft. Anna is our smallest baby yet ~ she is like a little doll. And her smell - oh, I always forget how wonderful and sweet the "new baby smell" is.



    Since being born a little more than 48 hours ago, she has been held in someone's arms non-stop, as she should be. :) The kids keep close track of whose turn it is to hold her next, and who has not yet held her. Becky is funny - both yesterday morning and this morning when she woke up, she had forgotten all about the baby. Then she hears her squeal, and I can see the little wheels in her brain turning. Then her face lights up as she remembers about the baby and runs up to my bed. It is so cute!






     

    My milk came in last night. Anna is a good nurser, and other than eating and sleeping, she has not been doing much else. My mother-in-law and my husband have been so helpful around the house and with the kids, there really is nothing left for me to do other than love on little Anna.

    I still have to write up her birth story for those of you interested in it. The midwife came back for the 1-day visit yesterday, and brought Anna the most gorgeous bouquet of flowers (I got some really good chocolate). How sweet is that? We also measured her yesterday, she was 19 3/4 inches long.

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010

    Announcing...

    It's a ........





    GIRL!

    Anna Marie Anderson was born at home this morning, on her exact due date, at 6:16 am, weighing 6 lbs 13 ozs. Mother and baby are well.

    My labor was short, but intense. The midwife and her assistant arrived at our house shortly after 3 am. I will write a more detailed birth story soon.

    Thank you to all who prayed!

    Saturday, December 4, 2010

    Young, beautiful, and talented

    Those are the words that come to mind when I think about our sweet daughters. Not that I am biased or anything. They are also very caring, affectionate, smart, and funny. But the attributes I might love the most are how innocent and carefree they are. Oh, I wish I could bottle it! I wish they would always stay just like this.


    Miriam LOVES riding her bike. Her main concern every day is finding a skirt she feels comfortable in - not so loose that it will get caught in the chain, or too short. It also has to contain pink, purple, or white in some form.

     



    Her license plate reads "Don't get arrested - MIRIAM", but what she told me she meant was "Don't arrest MIRIAM". She is her Daddy's daughter, after all.


    Becky is equally in love with riding her scooter. It is so cute to watch her doing it. The two girls usually ride around in the driveway while I work on school work with the three boys on the front porch on weekdays.

    Doesn't she look sweet enough to eat?

    As much as I would love to keep them my little girls forever, I am equally excited about seeing them grow up into godly young ladies. Their price truly is far above rubies. 

    Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. - Proverbs 31:10

    Thursday, December 2, 2010

    Busy, busy, busy!

    Things around here have been busy, but in a good sort of way. We are making the most of the last few days with "just" five kids, and also enjoying the Christmas season. Nothing exceptionally interesting or exciting, just our blissful little bubble that we live in. Instead of boring you all with a long-winded post, I will instead use bulletpoints and lots of photos and bore you with that! :)

    • We have been enjoying going out to pizza on Sundays for lunch at Whole Foods. Any locals might be interested to know that they are currently running a special for whole pizzas on Sundays, for only $10 each. Their pizzas are HUGE, by the way, and the offer is good for any combination of toppings. Even such yummy ones as bacon, gorgonzola and pear pizza, or pesto sauce with veggies. The meats on their toppings are all uncured, and many of the ingredients are organic. The Whole Foods bistro is one of the very few places we still go out to eat, as almost all other restaurants make us sick now that we have been eating 100% organic at home for well over a year now. It makes for a nice treat, and saves me from having to cook, do dishes, and clean the kitchen. Plus, we can take it to go and have a picnic at the park.





    • A very sweet couple from our church just moved out of the country, which was sad. It also brings the grand total of pregnant ladies in our church down by one, to a total of 5 ~ that's a lot for a church our size, and I'm guessing it has something to do with the preaching! :) There sure are a lot of little kids in our church these days, which is really exciting. Not sure why most other churches make such a fuss about the nursery - probably 1/3 of our congregation is made up of young children, and they never cause any distractions more than the adults do. On the contrary, they learn so much, so young. And it's a joy to hear them all singing with the rest of the congregation!
    • Ah, baking season ~ so many cookies to try, so little time! Growing up, around Christmas time my mother would always bake at least a dozen different cookies, and keep them all in separate tins to be able to make a cookie platter with all various sorts of cookies every day. I have been trying to do the same for my family, but never seem to be able to do that because they eat up whatever I make before I get a chance to make more kinds. I finally had the brilliant idea of baking at night when they were sleeping, and hiding the cookies (brilliant, huh?), and it worked! I am currently aiming to add one or two new types of cookies to the stash each day, and should be done with all the baking in another week or so. These cookies also make nice gifts.


    • The kids and I also made gingerbread cookies, and decorated them. This is one of those "breathe deep and ignore the mess" situations for me - icing dripping everywhere, kids eating too much sugar, etc... It was fun, but I was glad when the kitchen was back in order and the kids were sleeping off their sugar highs. I have to put in yet another plug for Whole Foods - they sell natural food colors in the baking aisle in little bottles, but they cost a small fortune, and don't work well. Once, I bought blue, and it literally came out bright pink! BUT if you go to the bakery, the staff may be as nice as the one at my store, and sell you tiny amounts of the food coloring they use for a fraction of the price. It is also 100% plant-based and all-natural, but the big difference is that their colors actually come out the way they are supposed to! I bought 1 ounce each of red, yellow, and blue, for $2 each. Which is more than enough to get us through the next couple of months, and the colors don't keep beyond that, anyway.




    • I managed to get the kids' advent calendars done just in the nick of time, i.e. the night from Nov. 30th to Dec. 1st. This is a German tradition; it's a sort of countdown to Christmas. Each day from Dec. 1 to Dec. 24, the kids get to open a little package on their calendar that contains a small treat. Becky got one for the first time this year, and has been very pleased with it. 
     
    My husband's

    Solomon's - a repeat from a couple of years ago

    Isaac's - 24 little burlap bags, each with a cross-stitched Christmas motif, hung from a cinnamon scented wicker broom. Isaac loves the smell of cinnamon. I can't believe I used to have time to cross-stitch (I made these many years ago).

     
     John's - a wreath hung above his place at the kitchen coutner, from which he gets to cut one little package each day
     
    Miriam's

    The hallway in our house with Solmon's and Miriam's calendars - the kids each also get one ready-bought calendar with little chocolate shapes for each day. Each piece is only 1/12th of an ounce, so there is not a whole lot of sugar involved in these! :)

    Becky's - Isaac actually made this calendar last year for Solomon, and I am just re-purposing it. 


    Mine - Solomon made this one for me. He is such a sweetie, and has a heart of gold. He just couldn't stand the thought that I would be the only one without a calendar.
    • Today, I totally rearranged and organized the office/guest room, which is the room I am planning to have the baby in. It wasn't messy before, but it still looks so much better now. The boys helped me a lot with it. 
    • Speaking of helping, the older kids are seriously starting to be a major asset. Yesterday, we got a whole week's worth of laundry hung/folded and put away in less than one hour! In the past, that would have taken me much longer by myself. Plus, that way they weren't off making messes on the other side of the house while I was working! Also, now when I go on an errand or to an appointment and leave them home with my husband, I can call on my way home and tell them to put the house back in order before I get there, and they actually do it! In the past, getting home after being gone for any length of time was like entering a war-torn zone. I am starting to notice that the kids are getting in a pattern of "don't put it down, put it away", and they also notice stuff that needs to be taken care of as they move through the day (such as picking up dropped things, re-rolling the toilet paper roll for the umpteenth time after Becky had fun unrolling it yet again, etc.). It really has made my life a lot easier. Now if I could just get this through to my husband somehow... :)
    • Becky is getting close to being potty-trained. I think having her in cloth diapers has really helped with that.
    • At night, I am still working on making the kids Christmas gifts. Most all of them will be handmade this year, although I really am hoping to be able to get them a zoo membership as a joint gift for our family, too. We haven't had one in over a year, and it's such a wonderful alternative to more stuff and toys that they absolutely don't need and we don't really have the room or inclination to store. 
    • One of the young guys working at Trader Joe's commented on my "five beautiful children" today. Pointing at my stomach, I said "and another one due any day now!" to which he incredulously replied: "You are pregnant again?". Uhm, yes, 9 months along, but I was flattered that apparently I am not looking as huge as I feel. He then proceeded to ask me if I knew whether this would be the last baby. I laughed, and told him I was only 31 and still had lots of childbearing years left in me. He then asked if I was going to go for 10, and I told him that we would have as many as God would give us, which hopefully would be a lot since my husband and I were both still young. He was not being rude whatsoever, just genuinely curious, and I think that is perfectly normal and acceptable. I am always fascinated by large families, and would like to ask them all sorts of questions.
    That's all I can think of for now. As I said, nothing exciting, just our everyday busy lives with the kids. I know I am going to terribly miss all of this one day.

    I probably won't be posting much over the weekend, because there is always so much going on around here, but lest you start thinking I might have gone into labor, I will do a quick update in the unlikely event that that happens. So unless you read about it here, I have not yet had the baby! :)