Friday, April 29, 2011

Sneak Preview

Just a super quick post... and yet again "just" a life update and nothing interesting like answers to all the good questions in the most recent Q&A, a post about how to feed a family of 12 organic food on a grocery budget of $100 per week, or how to make Nutella at home from scratch in large quantities. The last two are made up, of course - just my own little pipe dreams. :)

You may know that I am re-doing the boys' bedroom this week. It really was not intended as the project that it is turning out to be. The plan was simply to change the bunk bed to a triple bunk, move Solomon in with Isaac and John, and give Miriam and Becky a room together. Our house has four bedrooms, but we keep one as an office/guest room. 

Solomon was sad about leaving the room he has been sharing with Miriam up until now, because he had it decorated with all his space decorations, a lot of which he had made himself. To make the move more desirable, I told him the new boys' room would be decorated in a theme of their choosing. They settled on an outdoor/woods/cabin theme, and so began a project much bigger than I had originally intended. 

Last week, I stained and sealed all the pieces of the wooden bunk bed. This week, I moved the furniture out of the boys' room, and painted it blue and green (sky and grass). Yesterday, my husband built the new triple bunk bed and moved all the mattresses in, and the kids slept the first night together in their new bed. Also yesterday, I started on the murals for the room. In all, there will be three: a bear cave covering the closet door and the room door, a tree on the corner to the right of it, and a bear sleeping on the ground left of it. I will draw other small details all over, such as blades of grass sticking out, dragonflies buzzing around, bear paw prints along the other walls, etc. Today, I got the bear done, but just as I was about to start on the tree, Annie woke up hungry. Now it's too late, plus the boys are in there sleeping so I shouldn't be turning the lights on in their room 

Do you want to see what it looks like so far? 







There is still a lot left to do. Once I am done with all the paint work, I am sewing a rug made to look like a bear skin. Then I need to make curtains, and matching little decorative pillows and day blankets for all the beds. And a few others things like that - I'll share pictures when I am all finished. 

Anyway, just thought I'd share an update. Please forgive me if you have emailed me in the last week, or left a comment, and have still not received a reply from me.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This week's projects

Ready to feel tired out? Here is a list of this week's projects. And yes, since my husband is not going on any out-of-town business trips, I really want to get them ALL done!

  • Finish painting the boys' room - hopefully, today.
  • Buy an overhead projector do murals - we are painting a cave over the room door, and a tree in one corner of the room. How cool is this one? Definitely not talented enough for that, but I love the idea.
  • Assemble the new triple bunk bed
  • Get the girls' summer clothes out
  • Take three kids and myself to dentist for checkups tomorrow
  • Take family for portraits on Friday
  • Sew a ring sling for a new mom
  • Possibly build one or two more 4x4 raised garden beds - not sure, because I'd have to buy more dirt to fill them. Gardening is going GREAT so far this year!!! I am so thrilled!!!
This in addition to the regular daily chores, library trips, unforeseen emergencies, and (of course!) blogging. If my family just quit eating, at least on days that I am trying to get a project done, it would save so much time in grocery shopping, meal prep, and cleanup!!! Ah well.  

Any tips you may have on the painting/murals would be greatly appreciated.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter photos

Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? - Acts 26:8 

Did you all have a nice Easter? For us, so far I think this has been the best year ever. Then again, I think that every year, because it just keeps getting better. Last year this time, we didn't yet have Annie - what was life even like without her??!? 

I hope you are ready for a bit of picture overload, because that's what this post is all about!! :)

We started the day bright and early at 6:30 ~ well, most of us did, anyway! I had prepared a little treasure hunt for each of the kids. Thankfully, after searching for well over a half hour last night, I at long last found the kids' presents. It was getting worrisome toward the end... but thankfully, they turned up. That was my own private little Easter basket hunt, I guess. The boys loved their drawing/activity books, and the girls were thrilled about the dresses. Miriam was so excited when I told her that little girls get a new dress every time for Easter that she wanted to know if another Easter was coming up soon.


We had a delicious breakfast. Sometime soon, I will have to share the recipe for the chocolate chip orange scones. They are a cinch to make, and oh so delicious!


Before we left for church, the kids of course had to pose for pictures. One thing I love about holidays is that it is such a great opportunity to get everyone lined up for family photos.



That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace: - Psalm 144:12 


 Do you like my six little organ pipes??!? God is so good!!!


Me and my absolutely wonderful, amazing, beautiful, precious daughters! We should all be so blessed!


The morning service was wonderful, as usual. My husband preached on Easter, and why and what about it we celebrate. Afterward, before heading home for the big holiday dinner, a sweet friend at church took pictures of us all.


Are you ready for my #1 most favorite picture of the day? It was snapped by my friend while I was busy "staging" everyone for a family photo (hey, you try getting eight people to all look reasonably good at the same time!). 


Isn't it so precious how they are just adoring their baby sister, entirely unsolicited? And Solomon has his arm around Isaac's shoulders? It is so wonderful to see our children love each other, and delight in new siblings as much as we parents do.


Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD. - Psalm 128:3-4

There it is, at long last - a family photo with all of us in it! No, honey, this is NOT in lieu of going to the portrait studio! :)

After that, we headed home, and took a few more snapshots of sweet Annie. What a precious angel she is! Words will never describe how utterly in love her Dad and I are with her.



*** CAUTION ***
*** ABSOLUTELY CUTE OVERBITE ALERT! ***




These pictures make me want to kiss my computer screen, seriously! She is THAT cute!!!

We had our traditional German Easter lunch, which was loved by all. The kids love holidays because those are pretty much the only days of the year that they each get their own bottle of soda. Good stuff!



But you know the absolute best part of the day? Solomon, who is only 9 years old, won his first person to the Lord today! He has been out soulwinning with my husband or myself many, many times, so he knew all the verses to use very well. And you will never guess who it was - little J from down the street. Remember, the boy who supposedly was not ministered to properly by our children because Miriam told him public school is bad? He comes over to play pretty much daily, and the kids have shared the gospel with him several times before. I was so proud of Solomon!!! His Dad is taking him out for some gelato after soulwinning this afternoon to celebrate.

The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice. - Proverbs 23:24-25
To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever. - Psalm 30:12

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter/Resurrection Sunday

Those of my dear readers who do not celebrate Easter/Resurrection Sunday may prefer to just skip this post. I have read all the arguments, and respectfully disagree. That is not the point of this post.

Our family does not always do something special for Easter. I guess we probably average every other year - the years that I am not in the throes of morning sickness! Every other spring, I am well and full of energy. Every other spring, I am sick and miserable from suffering severe morning sickness. This is one of the "good" years. 

Still, nothing much or too fancy, but  I thought I'd share. Really, I am just looking for an excuse to sit and blog when there is SO MUCH prep work left to do for tomorrow.

Menu

Breakfast

Chocolate croissants
Fresh strawberries
Freshly squeezed orange juice

Lunch

Smoked pork tenderloin baked in puff pastry
Garlic and nutmeg mashed potatoes
Steamed asparagus and steamed carrots
Fresh lemonade
Izzy sodas

Dessert

Lemon bars
Chocolate milk

As far as gifts, I got each of the three girls a matching dress. They will also be wearing these to our Mother-Daughter Tea next month. Each of the boys is getting a different book. My husband is getting - well, I can't say, he might read this yet tonight! I will hide each gift in a different spot, and do a little treasure hunt for each of them. Nothing big, maybe just three or four clues each. The only problem right now is that I put all the gifts in a bag and hid it somewhere, and I have no clue where I put it!!! Maybe that will be the extent of the treasure hunt - find the bag that Mom hid!

Do you want to see my to-do list for tonight? It is super long because I am trying to get everything done tonight so as to have a relaxing morning. Haha! Any pastors' wives reading here who have had a relaxing Sunday morning that they can remember? 

In no particular order, I still need to:

- make the church bulletin
- take a shower
- hang a bunch of clean laundry
- finish picking up the house
- hide the gifts and treasure hunt clues
- do as much food prep as possible - make the dessert, wrap the roast, peel and cut the potatoes, etc.
- mop the floors, if I can (this might not get done because I will not work past midnight)

Alright, I can only procrastinate for so long. I am hoping to share pictures of it all within the next few days. What are your family's plans for Easter/Resurrection Sunday?

Whatever happened to Mother?

Recently, what has really stood out to me in my life as a mother and homemaker is the lack of knowledge and skills we have been passed down by the previous generation or two. I am talking about actual, nitty-gritty practical stuff - everything from how to sew, garden, cook, etc. to how to raise children, organize our time most efficiently, etc. More importantly, I am talking about spiritual wisdom passed down to us by previous generations of godly parents.

I mean, our "foremothers" a hundred years and more ago did not have many of the modern conveniences we enjoy. Think running water and electricity. Air-conditioning. Appliances that only require us to load and start them. In addition to lacking these tools, they had a much greater workload of growing and preserving their own food, tending animals, sewing their own clothes, and generally making many of their own supplies.  They did all that while looking feminine. Birth control was largely unavailable, and even against the law. Reading through the "Little House" series was both fascinating and impressive. 

Yet in spite of all this, it seems ladies in ages past were at least as able as we are today to take care of all their responsibilities, while also turning out children that were unlike today's next generation. Clearly, they knew something about being efficient, organized, and/or hard-working that we may be lacking. 

When and where was all that knowledge lost? Why did ladies sometime in the last century decide that knowledge that had been passed down for many generations was suddenly unnecessary and obsolete? 

In Titus 2, the Bible commands "aged women" to "teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." 

It is sad and sobering to look around in my own personal life and mostly find a lack of older ladies that fulfill this command. Feminism may be falling out of fashion nowadays as women are realizing they have been duped and robbed of this world's greatest calling and occupation - but it seems to have greatly affected, even destroyed, the previous generation. 

For instance, I don't think I personally know any ladies in the two generations directly before mine that did not use birth control to some extent. In fact, the only people I know that have as many or more children than we do, are our age - they are peers, and while there are many things I can learn from them, they are not the older, more mature mentors that us younger ladies could benefit from so greatly. The ones who once were where we are today, who can give us perspective, encouragement, and support. There is just not much practical advice about how to keep the home running smoothly with lots of little ones that can be gleaned from people who had just one or two kids, which were babysat in school much of their awake time.

Homeschooling is of course another area that it almost impossible to get advice from older ladies on. Then there are practical homemaking skills, such as cooking and sewing, which were discarded, I'm guessing, in favor of teaching young girls how to correctly apply makeup, or other worthless pursuits. Once, I saw a girl who went to high school put a diaper on a baby backward (velcro tabs closing on the back, rather than tummy). She was generally clueless as to how to handle a baby.

Going into marriage and motherhood so ill-prepared is like starting out deep in debt. You work all day and never get ahead, because you started out so far behind. Sure, girls who do not know how to care for an infant will eventually learn, but it will be a tough and frustrating undertaking. It would have been so much easier to adjust to having a baby if young ladies were already used to caring for them. That is just one small area. Now add to that other responsibilities that a young wife might have, such as cooking, homemaking, keeping the finances, etc. and if she is equally clueless in these areas she will have a very rough go of it. A frazzled, frustrated, and overextended young mother might start feeling the repercussions in her marriage, too.

Today's mothers of older children are often made to feel bad about expecting those children to help babysit and care for younger children, help with chores, or otherwise "earn their keep". After all, it might keep them from hanging out with all their friends at the mall! We all know that anyone under 18 is entitled to pursue nothing but fun in life, right? Thankfully, my own mother had no such qualms. She taught me everything from breadbaking to all sorts of crafts, even though she considered being called a "housewife" extremely offensive. In fact, she is not even a Christian, yet her values were oftentimes more traditional than what Christian mothers today embrace. My brothers and I were expected to help clean the house, do yardwork, take care of younger siblings, and on and on. All that while expecting us to get nothing but good grades, having an early and strict curfew, and generally not allowing us to have any fun. Or so it seemed at the time. 

Over the years, I have made an effort to pass on knowledge that I have gained to younger ladies who did not learn them growing up. But again and again, I find myself amazed at how a girl ever grew to adulthood unable to even cook an egg. The gap of practical skills and knowledge is so great. 

Even greater and more tragic still is the lack of faith exhibited by mothers and fathers who considered having children optional, something to be traded in favor of having more money, or "me time", or whatever else they considered more important. How will they pass on to us the things they were commanded to teach us younger women, when they are lacking the most basic ingredient of Christianity - faith in God?

Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. - Jeremiah 6:16 

Let us who care more about the next generation serve them better by asking God for wisdom, and teaching our own children right. There is no substitute for godly parents who assume responsibility for seeking out the best for their children in every area of life. No pastor, teacher, or daycare worker will ever be able to take our place. Nor is it a job that in this world will ever be recognized for its true value, or appreciated for its efforts. But it is the only right thing to do.

And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. - Isaiah 58:12 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Just another quick update

So many posts I want to write, or have already started, plus the Q & A - and so little time! What is it about spring that makes me so busy? 

Yesterday, I was up from 5:15 am until midnight, and except for the last hour of that at night, I really worked the whole entire time. I finished applying a coat of sealant to the boys' bunk bed, replaced a faucet in the bathroom (which led to other plumbing issues I was incapable of fixing, but there is a plumber at our church who came and bailed me out - I was without water for about 8 hours total), built a 4 ft x 4 ft planter for the front yard and filled it with dirt (lots of it - the planter is 18 in deep), finished washing everyone's bedsheets once the water was back on, did some other gardening, and on and on. The work was not what made the day hard, it was the fact that all the boys yesterday were bouncing off the walls and bursting with ill-applied energy, and that everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. At one point, my cell phone got knocked off the counter (it really was an accident), and the screen on it broke. Part of the problem I think is that we have not been doing any field trips or special outings in several weeks. Doing the same old - same old things everyday apparently drives the kids (and me!) nuts.

The good thing about days like that is that they end, and that the next day is usually better! I even slept in until 6:30! :) So much left to do this week/month still, but I like work, just not chaos. The main projects at the top of my to-do list now are painting/decorating the boys' room, making a special lunch for Easter/Resurrection Sunday (a German meal - smoked pork tenderloin bakes in puff pastry), planning our church's Mother-Daughter-Tea, and keeping all my plants alive. U-pick peaches at our favorite organic orchard should be ripe in just a couple more weeks, which means lots and lots of making jelly, and canning fruit. In fact, I am thinking about heading down there today to pick some veggies and give the kids that outing that we all need to break out of our routine and reconnect, rather than just dole out chores and school work. 

My own gardening is going surprisingly well so far this year. Maybe it's because we have been having a very mild (i.e. cool) spring. The boys are great about helping with the watering, and keeping Becky from "harvesting" our seedlings before they have a chance to grow up. (She's killed a couple... )

Anyway, just wanted to pop in and give a quick update. I'm hoping to get a chance to blog more after bedtime tonight. 

P.S. For those who have asked, I have not heard or read an update on the little girl that drowned. I believe she is alive but in critical condition. Please also pray for another young lady that we used to go to church with when we lived in California. Her, her 4-year old son, and the baby's Dad were in an accident on Highway 1 in California. Basically, they came around a bend on this very curvy coastal highway too fast, didn't make the curve, and went flying off the freeway and down a 100 ft drop. They landed on the beach below - the car was actually in the water. The mom and little boy are both in very serious condition, but I believe both are expected to survive. The little boy had both lungs punctured, and I think he broke several vertebrates. Last I heard, he was unable to move any part of his lower body. Please pray for this family.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

This 'n That

  • Right now, I am guessing that the answers to the latest "Q&A" will keep me busy until next year this time.
  • Applying just one coat of stain to all the pieces of the boys' new bunk bed took four hours. FOUR HOURS. I still have to do one coat of sealant. Not to mention paint the room. I feel like crying just thinking about how much work is left on this project.
  • I did, however, finally manage to switch the boys' clothes from winter to summer. You know, because it's only 90+ degrees outside. Hopefully, the simple fact the boys now have no pants or long-sleeved shirts left will bring on another cold front. Also today, I retired all my maternity clothes. I'm about 2 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight, but I could really stand to lose another 20. Ha!  
  • A child in our subdivision nearly drowned today in the bathtub. As of right now, they do not know if she will live or die, or how serious her injuries are. There were about 5 squad cars, 3 news trucks, lots and lots of firefighters, a helicopter etc. on the street when I got home. The entire house was roped off in police tape. A lady from our church and I just knocked on the door of that house while out soulwinning last month. I cannot imagine the horror of having to go through something like that. Please pray for the little girl, and the entire family. 
  • Becky no longer cries when I wash her hair. She went from screaming through it, to laughing and enjoying it, overnight. Go figure. 
  • An old, grumpy, short-haired woman at a business today observed me as I was leaving with the kids. I was carrying Anna, holding Becky's hand in anticipation of leaving the door and crossing the parking lot. and telling Miriam to hold one of her brothers' hands. The kids were not rowdy at all - just smiling. Well-dressed, hair fixed, faces clean. We don't always make a graceful exit, but this time, we did. She looked at me and said, in a snarl: "Well you sure have your hands full!" I turned around, smiled really big, and said what I always say: "Wow, I have never heard that before!" That answer can really go both ways - a joke, or a dig. Her face turned from sour to disgusted, as she said: "Yeah, I'm sure! In fact, you have more than your hands full!" I bit my tongue and resisted telling her that her hands were empty, or that she looked bitter and mad, or that I'd rather be me than her any day. It's her loss, not mine. I have six little lambs peacefully sleeping under our roof tonight, and one of them will be snuggled in my arms in just a little while. She has neither!
  • Reactions like that are really rare these days. Almost always, the kids get complimented when we are out and about, and people tell me what a beautiful family I have.  Last week, a lady waited at the end of an aisle for me to round the corner. She kept standing there, waiting, and counting as one child after another came walking around the corner behind me. It was evident that she was a bit shocked, but she was really nice about it. She even called her mom to tell her about me going to the store with six kids, all of which were mine!
  • As usual, I snuck out of bed early this morning after feeding Anna. She woke up some time later, managed to worm her way all the way to my husband until her face was right in front of his, and then she kept yelling "Hey! Hey!" until he woke and opened his eyes to find her staring at him wide-eyed. She immediately rewarded him with a smile. When he closed his eyed again, she cried, demanding to be picked up. He told me about it later, and I thought it was just so precious. She has yelled "Hey!" at me before when she can see me, but I am not looking at her. Babies are so smart!
Off to bed I go! 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Catching my breath

Wow, the last few days have been a WHIRLWIND. Taking care of the chicks, as well as keeping my sprouting vegetables alive, has been a challenge. Living things take so much nurturing! Until my seeds started sprouting, I had seriously been dreaming about them growing almost every night. The chicks seem happy and content - the only challenge has been keeping their water dish reasonably clean.







We got a package this weekend all the way from the UK! Lo and behold, there were trump cards in there!!! Growing up in Germany, my brothers and I used to play trump cards all the time, but apparently, they are not very common here because my husband had never even heard of them before. Solomon and Isaac are loving playing with the cards. The package was filled with lots more cool goodies, and information about Liverpool. Thank you, Megan!!! We also got cards from several others last week, but I have not yet updated the map in the sidebar.





Saturday morning, Solomon had his first piano recital ever. He did really well. He has been taking piano lessons for about a year and a half now, but my husband was teaching him on and off before that, too. His teacher is such a sweet, talented, and patient lady. She has a daughter Solomon's age, and they enjoy playing together. The recital was very lovely. 






Also on Saturday, my husband picked up the boys' new triple bunk bed. It does not come fully assembled. The wood is sanded, but not finished. I spent several hours today staining the wood a walnut color. Tomorrow, I am hoping to finish staining, and then applying a coat of clear sealant. Lots of work, but it is fun and relaxing - at least until the baby starts fussing. Before we can move the bunk bed in, I will have to paint the walls in the room because the bed will be too large to work around. The boys decided on a "camping/log cabin/woods" theme, and we found a book at the library with tons and tons of great ideas that I think I will be able to pull off. I am really not that handy, but the directions are very detailed. 

Later on Saturday, a family of 7 who was vising from out of state came over for dinner. The kids had lots of fun playing together. Sunday was busy as usual. In the afternoon, I took a meal to a family in our church that just had their first baby. Then, there were two baptisms after the evening service, which made for a late evening.

Today has been another busy day, but the boys were so helpful. They now do all the laundry that gets folded (about half of our total laundry), while I do all the things that get hung. Isaac is in charge of taking care of the dog and helping with the chicks, while Solomon is responsible for keeping our little vegetable seedlings well watered. It's work to stay on top of them and make sure the work gets done right, but they are helping a lot. 

For dinner, we had the best steaks EVER. Seriously, I have never had a steak as good as these were. I think it was tenderloin steak? Some cut from the quarter of beef we bought from a local ranch. The kids were grubbing it like crazy, and I had to finally tell them "no more" and instead offer them more of the side dishes just so I could save some steak for my husband. On the side, I made oven-baked potato wedges, arugula salad, and fresh lemonade. I am almost done juicing the last of our lemon crop, and then freezing the juice. We will have fresh lemonade all year this year! Ever since my husband and the boys started kickboxing a few weeks ago, they have been eating so much it's not even funny. I'll just barely have the kitchen cleaned after one meal, and they will all come asking for food and telling me how starved they are. Just for an afternoon snack today, they polished off a whole box of cereal and a half gallon of milk.

Well, I better go. There is still some stuff left to do tonight, and I am hoping to finish staining the bunk bed outside in the fresh morning air early tomorrow before the kids wake up, and before it starts heating up. Have a great week, everyone!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Uncle!

Wow, so many questions! I never knew this many people cared about my opinion. Hopefully you all are a patient bunch because I think it might take me at least a week to answer them.

Today was one of THOSE days. I let the little girls skip their naps because I had to take all six kids to Solomon's piano lesson. Becky napped in the car for a half hour or so, but by the early evening, both her and Miriam were really emotional and cranky. 

I got to the end of my day feeling like a supreme loser, because of all the things I had to get done today, I didn't even finish half. Then I thought of all the things I DID do (a whole long list of them), and I felt a little better - but not much, because all the other stuff is still waiting for me, plus more. Motherhood feels like bailing water from a sinking ship all day, every day. You never get ahead, but if you stop, you drown. I mean, how many times in a day, week, month, year do I wash the same dishes, fold the same laundry, sweep the same messes, and say the same things? Then I look at my sweet children, and they instantly make all the boring, mundane chores seem worthwhile. I mean, who else would I rather be working for? Every job I have ever had was boring and repetitive at times. At least this one is truly worthwhile!

I read a quote recently I really liked: "There are no perfect moms, but there are a million ways to be a great mom." Isn't that so true? Each little act of love and kindness, each time we stop what we are doing to kiss that little face, or help that older child, each time we go out of our way, above and beyond the "minimum" - they are all like little bricks building a "house", the word that the Bible often uses referring to families. I want a huge, big, splendid mansion of a family, no matter the cost. There are always shortcuts, cop-outs, and plenty of people that have no aspirations beyond mediocrity to pull us back, but I truly strive to be the best mom I can be, rather than just being content to be "average". Sure, I fail every day, but I'd still rather set high goals that I can aim for. It is such an encouragement to read about other mothers with the same desire, and to learn from them. What did ladies ever do before the internet??

One of the things we did today was to buy 8 baby chicks, and get them all set up. We have had chickens before, but we bought them when they were already laying. I figured this would be more fun for the kids. The thought crossed my mind that I was glad I'm not "Octomom" - even taking care of the 8 chicks in addition to the six kids kept me on my toes today. What if they were little newborns all needing to be fed, changed, bathed, rocked, and loved - all at the same time???!?

Solomon got to stay up late, and he so badly wanted to play a board game. My brain said no, but in my heart I knew these years are so few, and fleeting. I let him pick whatever game he wanted (Ticket to Ride - Märklin edition). He lost, which was sad for me because I'm pathetic like that, but I think he still enjoyed the special time. Oh, firstborn children are so special - they get to endure all our mess-ups, but they have also been with us from the very beginning of this parenting journey. We couldn't have asked for better children. They truly are life's greatest blessing.

Most of my housework gets done at night after the kids are in bed. Tonight, I still have to mop the floors and juice more lemons. The bathrooms could stand being cleaned, too, but I am not kidding myself. My husband is working late tonight, the kids are sleeping, so I really should make the most of this time. I am tired, but I never sleep well when my husband is driving home at night. 

Well, I better go. This was supposed to be a quick post, and here I just spent 20 minutes sitting around writing. Have a wonderful rest of the week everyone!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Another Q&A

I have received numerous questions lately, which I am trying to put together in another Q&A post. Sadly, I have a way of "misplacing" a lot of the questions that I get. If you would like to ask a question, or if you have asked in the past and I have never yet answered it, please leave a comment below.

Monday, April 11, 2011

If you give a mom a trailer...

It all started yesterday (Sunday) afternoon. I ran to Sam's Club to buy their last (display) model of a "Gorilla" brand commercial shelving unit. Great stuff if you can find it!!! We already owned one just like it, and when I went to buy a second one, I was told they were being discontinued. Since I bought the display one, they sold it to me for only $40!!

While at the store, I spotted a wooden playhouse like we wanted for the backyard. The kids had made some money selling lemonade, and we were also going to have a yard sale this weekend to sell off some of their old stuff for some extra fun money. I went to see how much it cost just so I'd know how long we needed to save up for. It was $250, but they had none left on the shelves beneath the display model. I didn't give it another thought, since I was busy dealing with the big, metal shelving unit.

After church last night, we went out for pizza at Whole Foods, and I forgot my phone there. I have never left my phone at any store before, but yesterday I first forgot it at Sam's Club (they ran it out to me on the way out), and then at Whole Foods at night. The store was already closed by the time I realized, but when I called them they said my phone had been found, and placed in the safe (???). My plan was to get it sometime today. 

My first thought upon waking up today was "I bet you Sam's Club would sell the display model of the playhouse, and maybe they'd reduce the price like they did with the shelving unit." It's funny how us moms must just be processing all this information even in our sleep, because I had forgotten all about even having looked at the playhouse. 

I ran over to Whole Foods to get my phone back, and since Sam's was only a couple of miles from there I thought I should swing by and try my luck. Indeed, the display model was the last one left. A manager was called to assist me, and he said they could reduce the price by 20% to $200. I asked him if that was as low as he could go, because it was more than our kids could afford or my husband was willing to pay. He asked me if it was broken or messed up at all, and I said that I thought it wasn't, but that I hadn't really looked at it all that much. He said "Well, lets just go see." When we got there, he pointed to some scuffs on the painted trim, and then told me he could knock the price down to $175 because of that. Still, we were not planning on buying a playhouse just yet, and that was still a lot of money even though it was a great deal. I asked him "How about $150, or $160?", and after thinking for a minute he agreed to sell it for $160.02!! That is almost 40% less than the original price. Plus, it was already assembled, saving me at least 2 days of work. 

I called my husband to ask him if we could buy the playhouse, and he agreed to cover the remaining balance on it for the kids since I had asked him not to give me anything for my birthday this year, and because he is just a nice guy and a pushover when it comes to me asking him for anything. 

My next problem was getting it home. Thankfully, my good friend "L" from church is always so happy to help, and she has a real "can do" attitude when it comes to getting stuff done. Six months pregnant and with a 1-year old in tow, she picked up a trailer at U-Haul, and hitched it behind her truck (that the playhouse would not have fit in). 

Just as she was doing that I remembered that last week, someone on Freecycle had given us a Tuggy sandbox, which I was supposed to pick up this afternoon. With all my seats folded down, it would have fit in the back of the van, but it would have been a lot of trouble, and messy. The lady giving us the sandbox didn't live too far from where my friend was getting the trailer, so I asked her if she would mind too much picking that up, too, while we had the trailer. My friend was super-cool with that idea, and met me at the house of the lady with the sandbox to pick that up first.

We then headed back to Sam's Club, where we loaded up the playhouse in one piece. Well, we didn't load it up ourselves, we just watched the employees do it. This one guy kept saying "You can't do it! You can't do it!" and it really was quite the joke. It just barely fit on the trailer, and I was very much hoping (and praying!) that we would be able to get it back to the house in one piece - we were about 12 miles from home.

Right across from Sam's Club was a place that sold landscaping rock, sand, dirt etc. by the ton, so "L" suggested we stop there to have them dump some sand on the empty half of the trailer, which would be much cheaper than buying sand at a home improvement store. It was a brilliant idea, so we stopped for that next. We bought the sand based on what amount looked "right", and I about died when I heard it was 900 lbs!!! The fact that it had been raining and the sand was wet didn't help, but still.

Finally on our way home, five hours had passed since I had first left the house that morning. Only three of the kids were with me, because the other three were still sleeping or in their PJs when I left. It was now past lunchtime! 

We first unloaded the sandbox from the truck. Then, before we could unload the playhouse, I had to get all 900 lbs of sand off the back of the trailer. We borrowed a wheelbarrow from a neighbor, and I started shoveling. My husband was having a crazy busy day with business calls and such, and was not able to help almost at all, except with lifting which I would not let my pregnant friend do. It actually wasn't bad at all. 

The sand and sandbox unloaded, my husband and I carefully took the playhouse off the trailer and set it up in the yard. It had made it through all that long, bumpy ride unscathed! The kids were so thrilled! The house is set up in the shade of a large tree, which will help keep it cooler on sunny days. They filled a toy bin with plastic dishes, cookware, and play foods that they are going to keep in the house for pretend play.

So much work for one day, but it would have been so much more if I actually had to haul AND assemble the house. So glad that we also stopped for the sand while we had the trailer - at $13 for the whole load, it was dirt cheap (no pun intended), and pretty easy to unload.

Last but not least, I managed to make my "how-combative-can-you-get-about-tacos" tacos for dinner. The boys are off at the gym with my husband as I am typing this, and I feel so tired that I am sitting down blogging in the middle of the day rather than doing overdue chores. 

Miriam was so sweet. She asked me: "Mommy, can you not sell the house when we all grow up and get married? That way we can always hang out in there?" What a precious blessing our children are! So very worth all the work and trouble! 

A long day, but a good one. Special thanks to my dear friend L - I could never have done it without her!






Saturday, April 9, 2011

Big Little Felt Universe

Last week, a reader directed me to a felt-food giveaway. I could not believe the absolutely fabulous felt sets in the book they were giving away, "Big Little Felt Universe". The post also linked to one of the patterns that was available for free online - an ice-cream sundae.



I printed the free pattern (enlarged to about 200% from the PDF), and enjoyed making it so much that I went ahead and ordered the book. Yes, it was a really difficult decision to make, which I spent much time agonizing over... :)

Here is my finished product: 


My favorite part of all is the cherry!

There are a total of 12 felt sets in this book. They are:
  • cake
  • camping 
  • sundae
  • plants
  • holidays
  • veggies
  • doctor 
  • grill
  • purse
  • fruits
  • tools
You can see images of all these sets over at Prudent Baby

What I really love about this book is that there are so many projects with "boy appeal". The step-by-step instructions are very easy to follow, and there is a photo to go with each step to make it even easier. 

This has been a fun little hobby to work on while sitting and nursing the baby for hours each day. For the seriously crafty among my readers, please know that the author also sells some other pdf patterns through her Etsy shop. One of these days, when the kids stop sweet-talking me into giving them every creative thing I ever make, I might actually have time to put some of my creations on Etsy as well.

Great book. I highly recommend it. 


Friday, April 8, 2011

Our week

What a busy week it has been, indeed. Yesterday night when the kids were sleeping and the chores were done for the day, I finally had time to turn my computer on, but I was so tired, I was practically falling asleep while typing, and then the internet was acting up.

I was able to rearrange our bedroom on Monday. Because I was doing it by myself while my husband had taken the three boys to their kickboxing class, I was trying to move furniture without taking any of it apart, or even unloading it. Basically, I was sliding everything across the  floor. Do you know the game "Rush Hour"? Well, it was just like that, except worse. The girls and I were literally barricaded into the bedroom (which is 250 sq ft) for over an hour because the door was blocked by furniture, which was blocked by more furniture, which ... you get the picture!

The boys' bunk bed will hopefully be finished by next weekend. It comes unassembled and unfinshed, so there will be more work with that, plus the decorating. It has been fun trying to think of what to do, and how. Any tips on where I can rent an overhead projector for doing a mural?

Do you remember my post about the Seeds of Change Growing Millions project? Well, I got my seeds this week! How fast was that?!? I was so thrilled to see all these seed packets for wonderful vegetables, medicinal grade herbs, and flowers. We are going to share the extras with other gardening friends and relatives. A lot of the seeds were heirloom quality, meaning that we can preserve our own seeds to use in next year's garden (rather than the typical hybrid seeds that only grow for one generation).

Last week, I had already put out pepper and tomato plants of various kinds, as well as a few culinary herbs.  They all seem to have transferred well, and are thriving. Yesterday, I put out seeds for three types of corn, 4 types of beans, and planted starters for pumpkin, watermelon, and 2 types each of zucchini and cucumber. Today, I wanted to throw out some flower seeds, and get a medicinal herb garden started (something I have been wanting to do for years). I am very determined to have this garden actually yield some produce this year!! I am either going to learn how to grow stuff in the desert, or I will die trying. My gardening skills really are pathetic!





That reminds me of April Fools' Day: Solomon had printed a fake seed packet for a "doughnut tree", and surprised Miriam with it after her nap. She totally fell for it and planted the cheerios/"doughnut seeds". Poor baby! She watered it carefully every day, and it took her days to figure out she had been the victim of a prank. When she did, she just laughed it off, so that was nice.




The kids were pretty goofy that whole day. Isaac had taped a piece of string to a (very real-looking) fake cockroach. They taped the other end of string to the inside of the fridge door. Every time I opened the fridge, I had a cockroach "jumping" at me, and it made me scream in disgust a couple of times.

I think it was John who used a strong rubber band to hold down the button on the water sprayer on the kitchen sink. That way, whenever I would turn the faucet on, I would instead get blasted with the sprayer pointed straight at me. 

My rather corny "pranks" were to serve a lunch of meatloaf and mashed potatoes with gravy (made from vanillla ice-cream and chocolate marshmallow treats), and giving them glasses of juice for breakfast that were really made from jello. I also unraveled some TP in both bathrooms, and wound it back up with a couple of dollar bills hidden in them. It worked as a nice reward for those boys who remembered to wipe the rim when they were done using the bathroom, so I think I might employ this trick on and off all year.





Anna, our little love bug, is four months old today. Oh, what a joy she has been every moment of her life!!! I can honestly say that I love each and every one of our children equally, but there is something especially sweet and innocent about a little baby. As I get older, it seems that I cherish this phase more and more with each new baby. 

Things like sleepless nights, dirty diapers, spit-up, and other typical "baby complaints" rarely ever cross my mind when I look at her. Instead, I could sit for hours just holding my sweet little one, brushing her downy hair and furry ears and back, play with her little fingers, kiss her tiny toes, and tickle her sweet tummy. And as if the way she feels and smells is not enough, she has the most adorable smile to boot. Perfect strangers at the store often get teary-eyed when she breaks into a huge smile at them. Oh, what a little angel!!! Of course, it helps a lot that she has been one of our easiest babies!

This is how I found her in bed yesterday morning - she had pulled the covers all the way up to her face, and was peeking out grinning at me from behind them. It was so sweet and funny! :)



Makes me want to have another child. And another, and another, ...

Well, I better go. Another busy day ahead of us!