Sunday, April 30, 2017

A few glimpses into our life

I apologize to my regular readers for the longer and more frequent blogging absences. Life in a large family moves at astonishing speed. I blink my eyes and ***whoosh*** an entire month has passed. Our days are full, blessed, and busy. Here are a few things in no particular order to give you an idea of what we've been up to:

- "No spend April" is almost over, and has gone marvelously well. I sold several unused items on Craigslist, which covered most of what I needed to spend on fresh produce and dairy this month, which wasn't much to begin with. I had a few gift cards left from my birthday, and others from the past year that I had not gotten around to use, which covered some other necessary expenses like gas and doctor's visits, and also provided 'free' weekly dates for my husband and I. Some things I needed I was miraculously blessed with, even though the giver did not know I needed them. For example, I wanted to buy a very specific supplement, but decided to use up the one I already had in stock instead, and buy the better one next month. The next day someone gave me the exact item, even though they had no way of knowing that I had been tossing back and forth the idea of making an exception and buying it.

In fact, this month went so well, and I depleted so few of my food stores (I have four freezers and a giant pantry), that I have decided to extend the spending freeze for the time being. I have so much stuff to use up yet! For instance, I have been buying almond milk ready, when I have plenty of almonds in stock that should be used to make my own. There are many other examples like it. Making do with what I have, and using up the stores, will cut down on pantry clutter and get me to move along inventory before it expires.

Chloe adores her big brothers, and they love her right back.

I will continue to make exceptions for regular bills and essential expenses such as medical/mechanical needs, gas, fresh goods such as dairy and produce, etc. but am continuing to see how long I can get by without buying many of the everyday items I can use up creatively.

This will help offset the taxes we just paid, as well as some unexpected medical expenses we have had this month that were exempted from the 'no spend' challenge.

- Speaking of medical needs... just the topic of 'staying on top of everyone's health in a large family' makes my head spin and could become its own blog series. 

For years, I had been taking the kids to a family dentist about an hour's drive away. She was a good dentist, and worth the drive, but I eventually stopped going to her because her hygienist kept harassing me about not giving the kids fluoride. For a couple of years after that, I went to a 'naturopathic' dentist that did not give me grief about the fluoride, but was instead doing a terrible job as a dentist, doing fillings that fell out, missing some issues and overtreating others, pushing xylitol, etc. I became so annoyed with her that I had not taken the kids back to her in a couple of years, while looking for a new dentist I could trust for treatment, without being bullied into things I did not agree with.

The entire office staff was amazed at Miriam's ability to get Chloe to sleep while I was at the dentist.

Long story short, I really liked the pediatric dentist that did the tongue tie revisions on Chloe and Solomon. I have been taking all the kids there for cleanings and checkups in the last couple of months. The good news was that I seem to have figured out the secret to not getting any more cavities, as only two of the eight kids needed to go back for some dental work on old cavities I had been keeping an eye on since the last dentist (who was inept at filling them so I didn't bother, thinking the kids would lose those teeth eventually anyway). I am working on a separate blog post with what I have learned in that regard. 

This dentist was the first to point out to me that Solomon (age 15) still has his baby canine teeth up top. An x-ray revealed that his adult canines are indeed there, buried deep in the gums out of sight. Instead of growing straight down (south), they are coming in at a 45 degree angle, heading at his front incisors in a southwest/southeast direction towards the midline from both sides. What is the big deal with that? Well, there is a real possibility that these canines putting pressure on the roots of the front teeth will cause said roots to dissolve, resulting in the loss of his four front teeth AND the canines.

I took Solomon to an ortho who took a really cool 3D x-ray image of his mouth/face, which confirmed the dentist's findings. The options are to:

1. do nothing, hope the adult canines stop moving and the baby ones don't fall out, while risking the loss of 6 teeth and subsequently need implants for life, or

2. extract the baby canines, expose the adult canines through laser cutting of the gums, and most likely need  braces to get them to come down to where they need to be as they are likely to continue on their diagonal path rather than straight down. 

Besides the issue of the eye-popping cost associated with this second option, it is also a highly invasive, painful, and prolonged treatment (12-18 months). I have been talking to others who have retained baby teeth as adults and even seniors, to gauge how these teeth might perform, but from my findings those who still have their baby teeth did not have permanent teeth to replace them with, which is not the case for Solomon. 

If you have any advice or insight to share in this area, please do so in the comments below! We are most likely going to proceed with the second option (extraction and exposure for now, and go back for braces in two months if the permanent teeth continue on their current trajectory), unless we learn of a better alternative. 

- Speaking of tongue ties, I am working on a separate blog post on that topic, too. This is knowledge that has all but fallen off the face of the earth during a couple of generations of bottle-feeding. All of our kids except Stephen Jr. have/had posterior tongue ties. My husband and Solomon also have/had anterior ties. The two youngest kids have been laser revised as babies, Solomon had it done about 6 months ago because it was causing him problems, so that leaves kids #2-6 with unadressed tongue ties. Next week, Isaac and John are going in to have their ties released, as they are starting to see the same problems as they approach their teen years that Solomon was having. My husband is going in week after next - his problems from his tight ties being the worst in the family. Like I said, more on all that in a separate post. I am giving kids #4-6 the option of getting a revision if/when they choose to do it, if there are problems. It is very painful and scary to have the procedure done, so I don't want to force it on them.
Keeping on top of scheduling and keeping these appointments, in addition to keeping all the other plates spinning, is a logistical challenge. This week alone, I went to the pediatrician on Monday morning with John (he had been having stabbing pains in his chest which I figured were growing pains, but wanted to make sure it was not his heart or lungs because the pain kept coming back with physical exertion - the doc confirmed growing pains), the dentist on Monday afternoon for some sealants on the big kids' teeth, to the ortho on Tuesday morning for an evaluation, and back to the dentist on Tue afternoon with an unresolved issue from the previous day. Next week, I am scheduled to go to the dentist Mon, Thu, and Fri for dental work on one kid and the tongue tie revisions on the two big boys. Tuesday I have jury duty, which I guess leaves Wednesday for an inevitable emergency, ha! 

If one more person tells me having more kids means less work for mom because they represent more helpers, I just might die laughing.

On a funny side note, Boaz has been pretending 'dentist' by putting plastic baggies on his hands and picking at my teeth with his sharp little fingers.

Coming to get you!

- Solomon is actually 15 1/2 now and with that, old enough to get his learner's permit and is learning to drive. Oh boy, that sure cropped up out of nowhere! I know for a fact he was a toddler on his tricycle just a couple of years ago! Now, by the time I will be done teaching him, I will need to start on the next child down the line, and on and on for at least the next 18 years.

Since we only have one vehicle, he is learning to drive in the big van, which means two things: 1. he will never drive it alone (he'll have to buy his own car for that), and 2. he'll do really well navigating a normal car after learning to drive in a tank. It's like pediatric surgeons who practice on mice to hone their skills - by comparison, a regular car will be a cake walk.

Teen driving statistics are dismal. I encourage any parent to read and learn all they can on the topic, and not to be afraid to not let their teen drive alone until they are much older than required by law before turning them loose on their own. One foolish decision could prove fatal or bring lifelong consequences.

- My family and friends spoiled me for my 38th birthday last month.

 Dinner with my handsome man

 A home spa set up by the girls

I returned the favor by taking them all for pedis for the first time on some birthday money from grandma.

Solomon went to IKEA with friends of the family and bought a whole bunch of things to redecorate my bedroom with, and spent hours more getting it all dialed in at home. He also installed the new headboard and fancy new bedding handmade from organic flax somewhere in the Mediterranean (gifts from friends). I can't even make this stuff up!

Lunch at a Brazilian steak house with a gift card we received for Christmas. We LOVE this place, but it's astronomical, so we have only been when someone treated us.

Boaz and Chloe are up next in early and mid May and with that, Birthday season is winding down in our home for four months except for Steven Sr. and Stephen Jr. in July. I guess that's not much of a winding down, ha!

Boaz is turning 3 next week, or as he says, "I'm turning into 3!" This is the first year he has a concept of being a twin, one of a set, and is starting to ask questions about where his brother is. Ugh. I am not ready for this. I am not sure how to best strike a balance between not keeping his twinship a secret (and possibly giving him the impression we have something to hide, or that he is somehow culpable in his brother's death), yet not making him feel like he is not 'complete' as a person on his own. One night last week, he asked me where his brother was, and then cried himself to sleep saying he was sad and missed 'Jake.' Oh, that broke my heart. :'( The following day, he twice declared that a man in our church, who is an identical twin but almost always comes to church by himself and not with his brother, is his twin. Boaz is the sweetest little boy with a heart of gold. He is a blessing and brings joy to us all every day. I know God has great plans for him.

 Lunching with superheroes

Chloe will be turning 1 year old on a trip my husband and I are taking to Maine in May. We are also bringing along Miriam for an extra set of hands, to hopefully give us time alone here and there as she occupies the baby. 

 Swim season is here

- We only have 4 weeks of homeschooling left for the school year, with the last two of those weeks being a half-load so the kids are likely to finish up early and strong.

 Becca is an absolute book worm. She cranks out her school work quickly, then finds a quiet nook somewhere and reads for hours.

 She is not going to let Lincoln get off the hook for the bloodshed of the Civil War.

We will take about two months of summer break, and start back sometime in August or possibly September. This will be Solomon's final year of high school, and he is only taking three credit hours to finish up a couple of requirements. He has been working every week for almost a year now. Isaac, who is going into 10th grade but taking a full course load, just started working on the side last month.

 Isaac - too cool for school

Isaac found this giant moth (?) in our yard. That's a pint and half jar he's holding.

The other kids will be in grades 8, 6, 4, 2, and K. My one room schoolhouse will reach critical mass at 7 students in as many grades! It seems like I just started with one pre-K student, and now he's ready to graduate and move into the working world. We have all heard 'the days are long but the years fly by' and it could not be more true.

 Boaz used tiles from the game "Scrabble Apple" to make a Macbook laptop!

This blog post has exceeded all recommendations about keeping posts short, sweet, and frequent - but at least you have a bit of an idea what we've been up to. :) Of course, I can't let you go without a few more pictures of my cuties!

Thank you for reading here in spite of my sporadic and jumbled updates and entirely too many pictures of my family.


  1. Oh, my goodness! John's picture!! LOVE it!!

    And Becca's poem - wow, what inventiveness!! And so funny, because that is exactly the conclusion that our eldest came to about Lincoln after reading about Sherman's march to the sea.

    Love the girls' new swim suits.

    Your eldest boys are getting BIG, and I can't believe Solomon is about to graduate! So awesome to see your family growing up!

    Thanks so much for taking the time to update - I miss your posts! :)

  2. In regards to Solomon's dental dilemma. I would absolutely take care of it now. I had a similar situation with my wisdom teeth. The pain caused by them pushing on my other teeth was unbearable. I ended up needing major surgery to remove them ans repair damage caused to my teeth and sinuses. Years later I still have sinus issues.
    Yes option 2 is invasive, expensive and painful but 12 to 18 months f treatment is better than a lifetime of problems and cheaper too.

  3. I'm curious about your stance on Abe Lincoln. The South started the war, so I'm curious to know why you blame him for the war.

    1. I do not consider breaking off from the Union an act of war. Abe Lincoln ordered the invasion of the South and is responsible for the ensuing bloodbath.

    2. In German, we have a saying mocking Communism ("Und willst du nicht mein Bruder sein, dann schlag ich dir die Fresse ein") which loosely translates to: "And if you won't be my brother, I'll bash your freaking face in"

      It reminds me of the Civil War.

  4. Gotcha. So you must feel the same way about Woodrow Wilson.

  5. RE teeth. My front upper 4 are also milkteeth. The 'regular' ones can be seen on x-ray. Never came down. Current doc said it is rare, but happens sometime.

    One question might be whether the new teeth your son has are moving downward at all - or not as was the case with me.

    These things are never easy. Given that likely you are facing something kind of rare and the consequences can be costly/painful/long-term I would ask for second opinion.

    Big university dental hospitals are the best bet - they see the rare cases most often, if you get my meaning. (English is not my first language)

    Best wishes to you and your family.

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  7. Without Lincoln, slavery would have prevealed longer than it should have. The South seceded from the Union to keep slavery going. It's disgraceful how much and how long the South disenfranchised African Americans. And this is coming from someone born and raised in the South. Abraham Lincoln wanted to keep the country together and free people who should never have been enslaved to begin with. South Africa's Apartheid only ended in 1991. Without Lincoln how long would slavery have lasted in the United States?

    1. The North also allowed slavery in five of its states. That is not what the Civil War was fought over.

    2. States rights is why the South seceded from the Union. However, a big part of that was slavery (which had been legal in all states at one point in time but had been ignored by the writers of the Constitution to ensure that it would be ratified by all states).

      Citizens of the North began to question the morality of slavery and some even aided the escape of runaway slaves (a violation of a law which said a fugitive in one state is a fugitive in every state, thus another law was passed that if an escaped slave made it to a Northern state, it would be illegal to harbor them and you had to return them to their owner.

      After the Mexican War, the US started expanding further west and there was a debate whether to permit slavery in these new territories. As the debate intensified it created more and more distance between slaveholding and non-slaveholding states. The Republican Party won the 1859 elections in the North and since the party’s candidate Abraham Lincoln was an avowed foe of the
      slavery the Southern states seceded from the Union.

      Unfortunately, to quote Rhett Butler - Gone With the Wind - All the South had was ". . . . cotton and slaves and arrogance." They had few cannon factories, few textile mills and few iron foundries, it was also relatively easy for the North to run blockades that kept essentials from reaching the Southern ports. There is so much more to the civil war. The civil war was a tragedy, so much loss on both sides. Lincoln is the last person I would think of as an evil man. Especially since he experienced great loss in his life, he was only 9 years old when his mother died, his only sibling, a sister, died in child birth, his first fiance, Ann Rutledge died of typhoid fever, only one of his four sons survived to adulthood, one was born and one died while he was president.

      Sorry for being so long winded, but I have always have an interest in the Lincoln family since I read the book "Mary Todd Lincoln Girl of the Blue Grass" by Katherine Elliott Wilkie. ~ Ginger

  8. Just out of curiosity, how do you afford the dental work for your kids? Do you have insurance or pay out of pocket?

  9. Love your daughter's poem about Lincoln! Not too many people realize what a wicked president he was and how unnecessary the Civil War was.

  10. This is unrelated , I saw this about seniors and fornication and the increase of disease. I didn't know this was a problem in the older age group , at least not to this degree. I didn't know where else to send this to you.

  11. You don't have a problem with 4 million people held in bondage, beaten, starved, shackled, chained, raped. Families torn apart at the slavemasters will. Yeah, Lincoln was the bad guy.

    1. Over 600,000 people died in the Civil War. Those who did not were also "held in bondage, beaten, starved, shackled, chained, raped."

      No, I do not believe that the ends justifies the means.

      Beside that point, the North had 5 states that allowed slavery. The Civil War was not fought over slavery.

  12. I love reading updates about your family! :) I pray for your husband's ministry and your family's safety regularly!! God Bless!!

  13. I read but don't often comment. When I do it is often about homemaking. I draw the line at historical revisionism (alternative facts). You should likely read exactly what Lincoln wrote himself - throughout his life instead of repeating something so laughably off the mark. No child should be allowed to speak of so great a man in such a way.

    I am cognizant of the fact that she has no idea what she is saying, only what she has been told. But that little poem is sinful no matter what your beliefs are.

    In this case, historical facts trump beliefs/religion. I think you need to update your history curricula for the kids. What you are using is frightening and incompatible with the truth.

    1. I was taught the standard message about Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War when I was younger even though I was home schooled. Now, I am learning about a different Abraham Lincoln as I go through a more thorough history of the Civil War in my high school education. I had never been told about how much presidential power he exerted towards those who disagreed with the Union cause near the beginning of the war. I know I can’t just blindly believe the interpretation I am learning now, but I am learning about “exactly what Lincoln wrote [or said] himself”, that I had never heard. Here are just two quotes from him, one from before his election and one from during the war.

      "I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races - that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything."
      That was a quote from his fourth debate with Douglas:

      “If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.”
      That was a quote from Lincoln’s letter to Horace Greeley (emphasis added):

      I’m sorry this is a such a long post, but I just wanted to give a different take on the history we are taught. Because it seems clear his objective in the Civil War was not to destroy slavery, I have to wonder what political goals he had for preserving the Union when the Southern states wanted to secede.

  14. Becky is clearly the daughter of her father ... ;-) Concerning teeth: When I was young I had several cavities too. After I improved my brushing technique, brushed longer and more thorough, I never had problems with my teeth again. I would also make eating sweets a special occasion, not a daily habit.

  15. Mrs. Anderson, I am a 29 year old man, about to become 30, and I still have a baby canine that still hasn't fallen out, with the adult impacted above it at a 45 degree angle pointing down-right instead of down-left. It's just the one though. Back in 2012 my oral surgeon who removed my wisdom teeth said in a couple years it would likely fall out on its own and then i'd need surgery to get the adult canine moved into place. That was five years ago and I still have my canine obviously. I haven't felt anything strange from it and my regular dentist hasn't made an issue of it as well. I'd go for a 2nd opinion, and if you still just aren't sure, do the second option. Hope this helps.

  16. this is a amazement, but im in shock Solomon like 15 how is he on his last year of school,im 15 and im just going into the 9th grade, is it because of home school or what?

  17. My favorite family <3 your kids are so cute!

  18. I see this is an old post so you have probably already made the decision regarding Solomon's teeth but I will comment anyhow. I had impacted incisors and at 15 had the baby teeth removed and braces put onto my teeth for 3 years. It was a slow, painful, and costly process but I always felt that my parents made the right decision and was thankful. I got really straight teeth out of it but sometimes I wonder whether the braces are partly to blame for my receding gumline I had surgery for at age 21 and still struggle with. Anyhow, I pray you have wisdom with this situation!

  19. Hi, I was wondering if you have any advice for finding affordable braces. We have a large family with another one on the way and live quite frugally in order to keep mom home and homeschool everyone. Can you please comment - it seems like the cost of braces has gone up astronomically since I had braces in the late 90s. Thank you in advance for any advice you're able to share, and congrats on baby Peter.

    1. If you are here in phoenix, risas dental is more reasonably priced.


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