Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A quiet week

It's been quiet around here. The last couple of weeks, I feel like I am finding my groove and adjusting to life with 6 kids. Anna is starting to sleep so nicely on her own at night (in our bed, just not with me there feeding her) that I have a little time each night to get stuff done, be it personal time, or chores. Mostly, I have been working on birthday gifts for Miriam's 4th birthday next month. I made her a holder for hair bows, as well as all different types of hair clippies to match her various favorite outfits. There are a few more bows I want to make for her, then I will move on to sewing her one or two new nightgowns, a couple of new skirts, and matching outfits for her favorite doll. 

Here is a picture of Becky wearing two "loopy bows" I made for her. She really liked them, and they stayed in nicely all day long. Isn't she cute??!?

School is in full swing and going well, especially considering that we had a baby 7 weeks ago. We are almost half-way through this year's curriculum, and everyone is still going strong and enthusiastic (well, as much as can be expected). Wow, the kids are growing too fast. Solomon is up to my shoulders now!

Of course, everything is not sweetness and light all the time - I'm just the type who doesn't much want to relive life's inevitable challenges once the day is over and everyone is asleep in bed, safe and sound.

One thing this week made me really sad :( Isaac had lost a tooth last week, which to him is a joyous event because it represents a source of income. Now, I never will understand why kids in America get money for losing teeth, but they do, and so ours do, too. The thing that made me sad was not the fact that he lost his tooth (well, that too, but that's not what I wanted to talk about), but that I totally forgot about playing "tooth frog" for several nights after that. 

Then on Monday it dawned on me that he had lost a tooth days earlier. Hoping he had likewise forgotten about it, I asked him if he ever had put the tooth under his pillow. Now, any other of our children would have reminded me, several times a day and especially before bedtime, that they had lost a tooth [hint, hint, wink, wink, nod, nod]. Not Isaac. He is such an easy-going person, and never one to pester or impose. He just goes with the flow, smiling the whole time. Because of his personality, I have a tendency to overlook his needs more than those of children who assert themselves. Anyway, he started looking really sad, and said that it had been there for days, to no avail. Still skeptical, I asked him to bring me the tooth. He dug this out from under his pillow:

" fine $2.50$ must Be Paid by tonight"

If you look closely, you can see his little baby tooth in the bottom right corner. I felt so bad, especially because I don't know how many nights ago he had written "must be paid by tonight" - and I didn't want to ask and find out. I tried to brush it off as to not make him feel more sad by cheerfully telling him that the tooth frog must have had more business than usual, and that surely he would come that night. Yes, he knows that I am the tooth frog, but still. 

Later, after the kids had gone to bed, I was still feeling bad for having "forgotten" him, so I went back to his room to kiss him one more time and tell him good night. There he was in his bed, with his comforter pulled up all the way over his bed, silently crying really hard. Ugh, I felt so horrible. It wasn't about the tooth, it was just that he got overlooked, and we both felt the pain of that. 

Anyway, I was able to chat with him for a minute and cheer him up. And I made dead sure that the tooth frog made his appearance that night:

I really have been fighting a cold/sinus infection all week - my third in the last two months! I have not been sick in what seems like forever, so this cold haunting me is really getting unpleasant. 

As I said at the beginning, nothing much going on around here. I try to really focus on enjoying everyday life with the kids, rather than waiting for some big outing, vacation, or other special event. Even if life seems to be nothing more than a daily repetition of the same mundane tasks - the kids are growing older and bigger every day. This is the time in my life I will look back on years from now, and missing it. I am just trying to make the best use of the time we have together as a family.  

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Please help us canter the country!

After "Galloping the Globe" with the kids for the last year and a half, we started "Cantering the Country" a couple of weeks ago. I have ***SO LOVED*** both of these curricula, and had so much fun teaching the kids and learning so much new stuff myself.

For example, one of the people we learned about for Connecticut was P.T. Barnum. We read a children's biography of him out loud over the course of that week, and oh boy, was he an interesting character! We were in stitches reading about him. I for one certainly liked him better than Noah Webster, the other person from Connecticut that we read a biography of that week.

One of the books we read when learning about Maine this week was "Lost on a Mountain in Maine", which is a true story. We also read about Abbie Burgess, another real-life heroine. Other subjects we covered that the boys loved were whaling and logging, and Solomon enjoyed reading poems by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow most of all the kids.

Anyway, all that to say that of all the available books for homeschooling, this series has been our favorite by far. And I would love for my readers to help me surprise the kids with something! 

I got the idea for this after a couple of people have left me comments from their neck of the woods/world, offering to furnish us with any info we might like from where they live.

I would LOVE for you all to send the kids a postcard from whatever state you live in, and maybe share an interesting tidbit or two that likely would not be found in a book about that state. Something that only the locals would know.  

You can send your postcard anonymously, if you prefer. We will put them up along our big map of the United States. I will also put up a map here on my blog, with a dot (and a name, if included) for all the places that sent us a card. 

View Cantering the Country in a larger map

If you are very ambitions and extra supportive of our homeschooling efforts, you can instead send us a letter with a brochure of a local attraction, or other things that you think we should have to make our learning complete! 

And if you live overseas and would like to get in on the fun, we would be thrilled to hear from you, too!  The kids often consult the globe and talk about the countries we learned about, so it's not too late to give us your input, or even just a postcard with a pretty picture of where you live. Maybe one of my Aussie readers would like to mail some Vegemite?!? The kids are dying to try the stuff. :)

Please send your mail to: 
The Anderson Kids
c/o Faithful Word Baptist Church
2707 W. Southern Ave, Suite 105
Tempe, AZ 85282

Thank you all in advance. Can't wait to see if we will hear from you!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Call me crazy

If you find hate mail in the form of anonymous comments perturbing, do yourself a favor and skip this post. I myself find it rather cowardly and ridiculous. The only reason why I am choosing to post about this particular comment (and believe me, I've had plenty this week!) is because it perfectly showcases the hypocrisy of all the tolerant, enlightened people who think I am a crazy, horrible person. 

I received this in response to my post "So you're married to a jerk...", which was not a post addressing domestic violence but rather spouses that are "supreme jerks". 

I edited out the profanities. Ready?

You are a [sic] ignorant, stupid woman! If I was ever :graced: with your presence, I would sucker punch you in the mouth that NEVER STOPS! You have no experience with this - so shut [...] up about. Go back to doing what you do best. Laying [sic] on your back and shooting out ugly kids. [You know, this isn't the 1950s - women don't give birth *lying* in the supine position any more.]

Really? Stay with a man that beats? You really should not be giving that kind of advice. Do you know how many women are murder
[sic] each year becasue [sic] they stay in abusive marriages? [...]

Obviously you wear the pants in this relationship. Maybe ole' Stevie boy should start wearing your jean jumpers on Sundays......
[for the record, I don't have any jumpers, jean or otherwise]

You and your family make me sick! I hope your newest succumbs to SIDS. One less idiotic fanatic in the world. 

Hm, is it just me, or does this person have a serious anger problem? So she'd like to punch me in the face and wants my baby to die because she somehow perceives me as sanctioning domestic violence? And accusing me of being ignorant and stupid while herself making one grammatical error after another? That makes a whole lot of sense. I rest my case. 

No more of this. I can't reason with insane people.

Friday, January 21, 2011

My current everyday schedule

I always enjoy reading how other ladies manage their time each day, so I thought I'd share my current "schedule". It's really more of a routine, because I do not go by the clock other than for mealtimes and bedtime.
  • Wake up between 7 and 8 - For me, this is really late, and the one thing I am currently most unhappy with about my schedule. There are several reasons why I "sleep in" this late. 1, I just had a baby and need extra sleep. 2, said baby sleeps pretty well in the evenings, allowing me a chance to do housework and laundry late at night. As a result, I am never in bed before midnight. If I went to bed early and got up around 6, I would just end up sitting on the sofa with Anna, not getting anything else done. 3. It is still dark until after 7 am, and cold. I can't peel myself out of bed for that! I like to read the Bible on my phone for a few minutes when I first wake up, while nursing Anna. As soon as she dozes off, I get up.

  • Fix breakfast, feed and dress kids, morning chores - Depending on what I am making for breakfast and how long it takes to make, we get done with breakfast and morning chores between 9 and 10 am. I cook breakfast most days, but oatmeal is a lot faster to clean up after than, say, bacon, eggs, and toast. So it depends. The boys obviously all dress themselves, as does Miriam on most days. The boys also help the girls get dressed by getting their clothes out of the closet for them. Morning chores consist of clearing the breakfast mess, emptying/loading the dishwasher, caring for our dog, making beds, brushing teeth, and (for the girls) fixing their hair. The two oldest boys do their personal Bible reading during downtimes. Solomon is reading through the Bible in one year for the second time, and Isaac is reading through the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs this year.

  • Homeschooling - Once everyone is ready and done with their work, we start school. If we didn't already listen to the Bible on mp3 during breakfast, I will start by reading the Bible to the kids. Then, until lunch, I work with the oldest 3 on their core subjects - English, Spelling, Math, Handwriting, and for John also Reading. Basically, it's a lot like juggling, and until lunchtime I don't really get much of a chance to breathe. This is definitely the most challenging time of day - trying to teach 3 grades at the same time, while keeping the two older girls busy, trying to engage Miriam in educational games, tending a baby, keeping the laundry churning, and dealing with unforeseen emergencies like broken dishes, diaper messes, and other fun stuff. Thankfully, Anna is usually asleep in the sling all morning.

  • Lunch - We have lunch around noon or 12:30. We always eat leftovers from the previous night's dinner. It simply would not work time-wise to fix a separate lunch during our already busy mornings. I always cook enough to make it last for 2 meals for our family, and nobody seems to mind having leftovers. Well, unless its something they already didn't like the first time around, then they REALLY don't like seeing it again! :) The kids go play outside as soon as I start working on heating up and serving lunch, as well as rebooting the laundry and tending to other chores, which gives them about a half hour or so of a break to blow off some of their pent-up energy.

  • Naptime / Quiet time - The girls all nap after lunch. I have a firm rule that anyone younger than 1st grade has to take a nap every day. Why first grade? Because once they are that old, they can work independently on quiet school work during nap time. Basically, one way or another, the kids all have to be kept quiet for an hour or two after lunch. I need this time to regroup, think quietly without interruption and plan the rest of my day, write grocery and errand lists, update our lesson plans, respond to business calls and emails, get started on dinner preparations, etc. During this time, the boys usually sit and read quietly, build puzzles, or do some art activity. Once they have done their daily allotted minimum for non-fiction reading on the current week's subjects, they can read whatever they want. 
  • Afternoon activities - Depending on what is going on that day, we might make a treat for snack time, do a craft relating to the current week's homeschool subjects, read out loud together, run errands/go shopping, or work on laundry. Hm, how many times can I use the word "laundry" in the same post? I guess with 3 to 4 loads per day (and about double that if any kids are sick and throwing up), we spend a lot of time on that. Anyhow. This week, for instance, we are learning about Maine. For a special activity during quiet time right now, the boys are making lighthouses and sandcastles from moon sand. Well, by now they have moved on to building more exciting stuff, like erupting volcanoes and knight castles. Later, when the girls are up, we will make whale mobiles. I do not give the kids a snack every afternoon, but most days, I do - especially if we are having to run errands. They love cut up fresh fruit, yogurt, sandwiches, crackers, pretzels, and other typical kid favorites. They also play outside for an hour or two every afternoon in between all this craziness. So, once the girls are up from their naps, there is again a lot going on, but by then I have the peace of knowing that bedtime is near!

  • Dinner/Evening - We have dinner around 6 most nights. It takes the kids forever to finish because they talk so much at the table. Seriously, I read about people trying to get their family to talk at the dinner table - I am trying to figure out how to get them all to NOT talk for a spell. Around 7, it's bathtime for the girls and showers for the boys. They do not all bathe and shower every day, but we end up having bathtime most days for someone. The kids all do the typical stuff - putting on PJs, brushing their teeth, picking up their messes all over the house, etc. Hopefully, everyone is ready by 8 pm. We then do story time, something I enjoy as much as the kids. Depending on how tired I am and how long of a day it's been, I might read out loud to them for as long as an hour, but most nights it's closer to 20 or 30 minutes. Then it's "lights out and silence"! [Sigh of relief]

  • Nighttime - I cannot go to bed unless the kitchen and living room are tidied up and swept. Not because I like cleaning, but because I don't like to get up to a mess when I have to hit the ground running every morning. It rarely takes me more than a half hour to do the dishes, clean the kitchen, straighten up the house, and turn the laundry on one final time. (There's that word again!) Not too bad. Then I sit down and enjoy a quiet evening by myself if my husband is not home, or if he is home we talk and hang out and play a board game if it's not too late and we are not too tired. Whenever the baby goes to sleep (and stays that way), I currently work on hanging laundry. It's actually quite relaxing to do that in my dark, quiet bedroom, with everyone fast asleep. I go to bed around midnight, with my batteries recharged enough to make it through the next day.

Over the years, I have learned to just take it one day at a time. I have also learned that really bad days are usually followed by really good days, and vice versa. And if it didn't get done today, it just wasn't meant to be. Prioritizing is key for me. For example, if I get behind on laundry (the last time I am using that word in this post, I promise), the pile will only get bigger and bigger. But no matter whether I mop every day or every week or every month, it still takes me the same amount of time to get the floors clean, no matter how long they had been neglected. So planned neglect is key. The years go by too fast to worry about whether or not the piano got dusted today (it didn't) - just please don't write in the dust if you happen to come over and you find it dirty. Chances are, it is.

Inevitably, writing this out will lead to my whole day falling apart now. It never fails. It is some unwritten universal law, much like putting away winter clothes, no matter how far into summer, always brings on winter weather. Or a stranger praising kids for how well-behaved they are is always followed by the parent being mortally embarrassed within minutes after the compliment.Wish me luck.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

6 week check-up

Can you believe little Anna turned 6 weeks old yesterday? Wow, time has a way of flying by. Here, in no particular order, is a little update on what our baby is currently up to.

  • She continues to be a little spitter-upper. In fact, I have nicknamed her "Itty Bitty Spitty". I think part of the problem is that she enjoys nursing for comfort, i.e. she is using me as her pacifier. Of course, she still gets milk, so much so that it makes her throw the extra back up. Miriam did the same thing as a baby. As with Miriam, I finally resorted to buying her a pacifier to use for those times where she is obviously just nursing for comfort, but she is not very good about keeping it in. Becky also thinks it's funny to "wear it" herself, as she calls it, so I can rarely find the pacifier when I need it anyway.   But alas, our sofa has way too many spit-up stains right now.
  • While she will only rarely let me hold her without demanding to be nursed, she will allow my husband, Solomon, and Isaac to hold her for long stretches of time. Often, she falls asleep while one of them is carrying her over his shoulder. It is so precious. 
  • I really enjoy having her with me in church. It is a time I look forward to, as I get to just sit and relax with her for a good hour without any interruptions from the other kids. Well, Becky has been acting up in church lately, but overall, it is still a special time I get to sit and just enjoy Anna. I am SO GLAD she is not in a nursery somewhere else.
  • Ditto for bedtime - once the older kids are in bed for the night, I enjoy holding Anna in a quiet, dark house. And snuggling up with her all night long is of course the highlight of both of our days. 
  • She really loves having no diaper on. When she is fussy and won't be content with anything except nursing, but I am busy and not able to feed her right then and there, I lay her on the sofa, with a diaper under her bottom and a blanket covering her legs. She usually will stop fussing right away and lay there, looking around, for a quarter hour or so, long enough for me to quickly do whatever it is I need to do.
  • Riding in the car seat is getting better, too. She will now usually only cry very briefly, if at all, when I first leave the house, and then stop even if she is not asleep. She still loves this one particular piano/violin instrumental music CD. It's starting to drive the rest of us slightly crazy. There are, however, 44 tracks on the CD. So it's not as bad as Becky was, who only would not cry in the car as long as we kept looping this one certain instrumental rendition of a hymn. It was about 4 minutes long, and that's pretty much all we ever listened to while going anywhere in the car for the first year of her life. 
  • At the check-up with the midwife today, she weighed 8 lbs 7.5 oz and measured 22 inches long. At birth, she was 6 lbs 13 oz and 19 3/4 inches, so she's grown quite a bit. It was so funny seeing her interact with her midwife. Anna was obviously happy to see the midwife, and was all alert and interacting with her eyes and facial expressions. It's hard to explain, but it was obvious she knew who she was "talking" with. Honestly, babies know and understand so much more than we give them credit for. 

  • Anna also recognizes all her siblings, and grins ear to ear for them. I really have to try and get a smiling picture of her one of these days. And, she likes having kisses blown at her.
Oh, I could go on. Babies are so sweet. They certainly help balance some of the stresses that come with having older kids by reminding us how sweet and tiny they likewise once were. Little babies don't give cell phones a bath, take in stray mutts they find while out riding bikes, run over each other on said bikes, grumble about having to work, tease their siblings just for the fun of getting a reaction, and so forth - not that our kids did ANY of these things in the last 48 hours... :)

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    So you're married to a jerk...

    Someone recently asked the following question in a comment:

    Wanted to ask you a question regarding a comment made in that other blog that linked to you (Jan. 9). I know that you consider it a Biblical precept to submit to your husband. But what about the point he other blogger made - what if a woman's husband really is a supreme jerk (she used a less polite word for it)? I'm honestly interested. what would you sugget to the woman who may try or want to submit in principle but whose husband is selfish, mean, abusive, bad father etc., etc. (you can think of lots of adjectives). I'm glad to see that your husband does not appear to be any of these things, but I'm sure you know that these things do happend - and what is a woman's recourse then if she has multiple children, has never worked outside the home and has a similar worldview to you?

    This is a question I have been asked a handful of other times, so I thought I'd address it in a post of its own.

    First of all, chances are that the "victim" in this situation made their own bed, i.e. married that person out of their own free will. I'm not trying to play a blame game here, but choosing the right spouse is our own responsibility. It is not the duty of the spouse to live up to our fairytale expectations of them. My mother always taught me to marry someone I loved the way they were, because they were not going to change as a result of marriage - what you see is what you get. I think women especially have a tendency to feel pity for some loser of a guy and marry him in hopes of reforming him. It's a lost cause - people are who they are. Disillusioned, these women then despise that same man, when they would easily be able to overlook those same faults in others. 

    Which brings up my next point - many times, we perceive people the way we want to perceive them. For instance, take a child throwing a screaming fit in the store, demanding this or that. To a random onlooker, the child might just appear like another undisciplined brat. But to the mother, who loves her child and is therefore more willing to look past his behavior, he might just be an overtired little boy who stayed up too late the night before, or didn't have a proper meal all day, or whatever other reason may have helped bring on this tantrum. If nothing else, she will blame herself for his behavior, much more than the child. When you love someone, you are willing to overlook their faults and shortcomings, and excuse them.

    What I am trying to say is this - what one woman calls a jerk, may at another time have been someone she loved. Or he may be someone that another woman (who doesn't live with him) would consider lovable. The way we perceive people is the way we want to perceive them. One could just as easily will oneself into thinking highly of one's spouse and children. It is our own choice to focus on the negative, or the positive attributes. 

    The reality of the matter is that we all have a tendency to piecemeal our ideal spouses. We want a husband who fixes stuff around the house like husband A, is considerate like husband B, looks like husband C, makes as much money as husband D, fathers like husband E, and so on - you get the idea. Nevermind the fact that husbands A-E all have different faults from one another, none of which we would want to put up with any more than the faults of our own spouse. Nobody could live up to such unrealistic expectations, therefore, disappointment is inevitable. This disappointment will turn into bitterness, anger, and eventually hatred for that "jerk" husband. It is really just a matter of how we look at him. I'm pretty sure that the mother of this "bad husband" would look at that same man (her son) and think very different of him - yet it's the same person. Choosing to love him makes all the difference.

    Besides all that, my personal observation has been that those who complain about their spouses all the time, or think to themselves what a jerk he is, really are not a pleasant person to be around themselves. Maybe it's them who is the problem?

    Just hypothetically, let's assume that a sweet, godly lady marries a nice godly guy. After they are married, completely out of the blue, he changes personalities and turns out to be a complete jerk. What should she do? Does she have any "recourse"?

    Based on the Bible, I believe that divorce is always wrong, whether or not the wife is able to survive on her own financially, whether or not there are children involved, etc. 

    Even if the Bible didn't spell that out so clearly, looking around at divorced homes I would have to come to the conclusion that a bad spouse is still better than a divorce. Divorcees suffer the emotional consequences of a divorce for a lifetime, and their children usually suffer even more. I have seen this countless times in people I have come into contact with. 

    There are several "mommy blogs" I used to read a few years ago, and when I visited them again a year or two after forgetting about them, lo and behold, they were in the midst of a divorce, or just through one. None of the cases I am thinking about right now were based on something egregious like adultery (which would still not make a divorce right), but were rather of the "he/she is a jerk and I'm sick of them"-kind. Reading about the impact these divorces have on everyone's sanity, chiefly that of the children, is so sad I never can go back to those blogs. I have to ask myself - was it really worth it? So your husband was a jerk because he didn't spend enough time with the kids, wasn't funny and romantic, or bought birthday/anniversary gifts at the gas station after remembering the big day at the last minute - but why would you trade that for him never spending time with the kids, never doing anything romantic for you, and never again giving you any gifts? Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face. To top it all off, the children become depressed, suicidal, medicated, aggressive, withdrawn, and will grow up to be every bit like their parents when all is said and done, so for all that you still have to put up with all the faults you were hoping to get away from. Now you don't just have to feel bad because of the divorce, but you can forever beat yourself up about having done this to your children.

    Unlike merchandise, spouses cannot be returned for store credit. Getting a divorce used to be as unthinkable as giving your children up for adoption because you are sick of putting up with them. It's just wrong, no matter how bad they are.

    The only Biblical recourse for a horrible marriage, or any marriage for that matter, is death. If your husband is an abusive, mean, hateful, fill-in-the-blank jerk in spite of you doing your best as a wife, God can kill him whenever He wants to. If he is still alive, God must want you to still be married to him. A wife could pray and fast for her husband/marriage, and for the kids to turn out right in spite of marital problems. If nothing else, it will be a great lesson for the kids, who hopefully will grow up and make wiser and more careful choices regarding their future spouse, rather than learning that marriage can be dissolved at a whim.

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Flower Girls

    Miriam and Rebecca were flower girls in a wedding at our church last weekend. They were so excited, and did really well.

    And just because Anna was too little to be a flower girl didn't mean she couldn't dress like one.

    My alternate post tonight would have been "101 Reasons why today was a bad day", but I didn't want to relive it even mentally. Okay, maybe not THAT bad. I'll leave it at that.

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    A lovely day

    In all honesty, the daily grind of housework, errands, childcare, and homeschooling can get pretty boring and tiring sometimes. It's not that I wish I had a different job or calling in life, it's just that I am the type of person who gets bored doing the same of anything day in, day out. On top of that, I did not grow up living in a big city, and when I get to thinking about living in the middle of this metropolis, it makes me feel downright claustrophobic. 

    With a newborn in the house, I have not been leaving the house more than absolutely necessary, and even then only on short trips close to the house.

    Today, for a change of pace, and because my husband was able to come along, we took a drive up to Payson, and visited the Tonto Natural Bridge. It is such a beautiful place. It is a natural stone bridge spanning a little canyon. It has a waterfall going down from the top of the bridge to the bottom of the canyon. The top of the bridge, of course, is now covered in a paved sidewalk, with safety rails and all, but it is still breathtaking. 

    picture found here

    We had not been there since I was very pregnant with Becca, so over two years ago. Please excuse the quality of the photos - I forgot my nice camera at home, and took these on my phone. Also, I put the phone in my backpack once we started hiking down, and forgot all about it until we got back to the car, so these pictures were all taken while we were still up at the top.

     The three boys at the top of the "bridge"

     There is a metal grate in the pavement above a hole in the bridge, where one can see all the way down to the bottom. Very cool!

     Isaac and Miriam

    The weather today was perfect - while there was a little snow in some shady spots in the forest, the temperature was actually in the high 50s to mid 60s, and very sunny. My idea of a perfect snow day! :) Just enough to throw a couple of snowballs without having to get cold.

    Someone is about to get hit by a snowball

    We hiked down to the bottom of the little canyon - even the two girls did really well. Miriam hiked all by herself, just holding my hand, and Becky only had to be carried part of the way down. I carried Anna in the sling, and she peacefully slept through it all. The boys had fun climbing on the boulders right under bridge, although I was very nervous about them slipping on an icy patch and falling into one of the (no doubt very cold) pools of water. 

    A view of the bottom of the canyon from up top

    After a couple of hours, we headed back home. There is a town right on the outskirts of the Phoenix metro area called Fountain Hills. Their claim to fame is a giant fountain in an artificial lake that sprays water hundreds of feet into the air for 15 minutes every hour. Because it was still light and warm outside, and time for dinner, we decided to make a pit stop by the lake and let the kids play on the playgrounds and watch the fountain. We had brought along food for a picnic lunch, and there was enough left to also feed us dinner while we were there. 

    The kids had lots of fun feeding the extra bread to the ducks at the lake, and then chasing them all back into the water again and again. Although they thought of it as corralling them. There was a fancy gelato store there, and we got some for a treat. Would you believe the place sold such strange flavors as tuna gelato, and sardine gelato? My husband asked the lady about it, and she said they made gelato for cats and dogs. I knew this was a ritzy place to live, but please... gelato for a pet?

    The best part of it all was getting back home just in time for showers, storytime, and bedtime - and the house was still picked up and tidy because the kids had not been home during the day to make a mess of it! I think I need to get back to doing weekly field trips again for the sake of my sanity.

    The kids were so tired they went to sleep as soon as I sent them to bed, and I am enjoying researching some things I have been meaning to look up online and working on a couple of future blog posts while nursing Anna. Miriam felt a little warm when I put her in bed, I hope she isn't coming down with something.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    On hating

    For starters, I hate writing on this topic. I hate it because it's only such a small part of what my blog talks about, or what I am about for that matter. Yet, people love to latch on to it, misconstrue it, blog about it, and otherwise get all in a tizzy. Some people read my blog for one reason only - to find a post like this that they can link to on some forum, and be a self-righteous busybody. I for one don't like to feed them.

    But alas, every once in a while, I feel the need to clarify my position. You can read an old blog post on this subject here.

    Yes, there are things I hate. So does every other human being. Hatred is a natural feeling, and I have yet to find one Bible verse that says that hating is wrong. 

    And yes, there even are - gasp - people I hate. They are few and far between. However, I have recently been accused of hating such groups as illegals, socialists, public school teachers/students, etc. If it's out there, and it's wrong, so the maligners say, I must hate it. Nothing could be further from the truth, and I would like to challenge anyone to find me saying any such thing on my blog or elsewhere. Yes, I hate socialism, but no, I do not hate every socialist. Yes, I hate public education, but I do not hate every single public school teacher. I do not even hate people who hate me. The Bible commands us to love our enemies.

    There is only one group of people I hate: reprobates. Those who hate God, and as a result, have been rejected by Him. As a result of this rejection by God, they (as the Bible says) become like animals, and there is no end to how low they can sink. When they die, they will go to hell - they can never be saved. This is a very small minority of people, limited to very few, egregious sins such as being a homo, tampering with God's word, or otherwise being "past feeling" (i.e. the Dr. Tillers and Stalins of this world).

    The Bible never says to love God's enemies. In fact, it says not to love them that hate the Lord ("Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD." - II Kings 19:2)

    The Bible records several instances of God hating/abhorring individuals, such as:

    The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. - Psalm 11:5

    All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house, I will love them no more: all their princes are revolters. - Hosea 9:15

    There are many other examples that I already listed in my other post on the subject, so I won't belabor the point here. The truth is, God hates some people. Therefore, it cannot categorically be wrong/sinful to hate, because God does not sin. 

    But then, I don't think it makes any difference to some people what the Bible says. If it doesn't agree with their preconceived ideas, they'll just throw the Bible out. Some people, I guess, are good enough to be their own god. 

    One adage that is often parroted is "Hate the sin, love the sinner". In fact, I even read a comment by someone recently that we can't just cherry-pick verses that support our beliefs, but that we need to read the Bible as a whole, starting at "hate the sin, love the sinner". This person's Bible knowledge must stem from such a reading plan, since that phrase (or anything remotely similar to it) is nowhere in the Bible. They are still looking for that starting point to their reading, I'm guessing.

    The truth is, everyone hates, and everyone hates some people. If Hitler were alive today, would anyone actually think we are commanded to love him? Maybe I am just honest enough to put a face and a name behind my beliefs, while anonymous commenters like to hide behind their computer screen while calling me narrow-minded, hateful, and bigoted. Personally, I feel that their intolerant view of me is quite narrow-minded, hateful, and bigoted. So it's wrong to hate vile, abusive perverts, but it's okay to hate me for hating them? Please.

    There. This post is not open for comments, because that is all I want to say about the subject, and don't care to hear others' unbiblical opinions. Back to the regular scheduled programming.

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    The small-ish benefits of homeschooling

    Homeschooling has many important benefits that I have mentioned before. There are countless more small advantages that may seem insignificant, but which we cherish.

    Exhibit A: Kids sleeping in on a cold morning, and then quietly cozying up in the living room while I fix their breakfast. John was still in bed when I took this picture. Isaac is under the blanket in the armchair. The school bus had left our street about an hour earlier. I love winter mornings like this.

    Exhibit B: Celebrating our first harvest together from the orange tree I planted five years ago. This year, for the first time, it produced ONE orange. Each child got two wedges - it was so funny!

    LOVE Becky's expression in this photo!

    “The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family” - Thomas Jefferson

    Monday, January 10, 2011


    Miriam (while handing me some coins from her wallet): "Here, Mom, this is for the carousel ride we went on."

    Me: "Oh, thanks honey, but that's okay, I already paid for you."

    Miriam (perplexed; then, after a pause): "But, Mom... I thought you said I was priceless?"

    Sunday, January 9, 2011

    To answer a question...

    You can click on the above image to read the text of the email; it says:

    Just curious. Since you have six children why would you have a "headliner" on your blog featuring the child of someone else? Do you know anything about them? Their morals? Are they KJO's? Are they Christians?

    I'm so glad you asked. I do, in fact, know the little blond girl with the pigtails featured in my blog's header. And I know for a fact that she, as someone else recently put it, "hates homos, faggots, Obama, socialism, abortion, public schools, [...], and IVF.  Not necessarily in that order".  

    How do I know that? Because the photo is of me, at the tender age of 3. 

    Thank you for your heartfelt concern, though.

    Thursday, January 6, 2011

    Recent happenings

    My apologies for my recent lack of posting updates. I have just been so busy loving on little Anna, and the rest of the family. Which is about as good a reason to neglect housework, chores, errands, correspondence, and blogging as any reason ever could be. 

    The little love muffin turned 4 weeks old yesterday. Unbelievable! She is slowly getting more used to life outside the womb, although I continue to feel like a marsupial, what with carrying her around with me in a sling 90% of my waking time. I read somewhere that pregnancy takes 12 months, and it is so true. It does take our babies about 3 months to get to a point where they don't mind being set down alone. I for one certainly prefer carrying a baby in a sling to being 9 months pregnant.

    At night, her and I are snuggled up side by side, and I must say it is the favorite part of both of our days. There is nothing sweeter in life than to have a nursing infant with that wonderful newborn scent in my arms all night. This morning, I managed to slip out of bed without her waking up and protesting. It gave me a chance to see my husband out the door, respond to a few emails, and now even blog! We'll see how long that will last. I think part of the reason why she wakes so easily is because she burps and spits up more than any of our other kids did. It always wakes her up. If I am holding her, she quickly glances up to see if she can find my face, and if she does, goes right back to sleep. But if she is lying down on her own, she cries miserably, and of course I can't not pick her up. 

    No matter whether I am feeding her, holding her, giving her a bath, or talking to her, Anna's eyes are always just fixed on my face, without ever blinking. It makes me feel bad when I look down at her and realize that she has been staring at me for minutes, without me ever looking at her and being equally transfixed. Although I admit to having tried "staring her down" and not blinking, like her - but she always wins. :)

    She continues to greatly enjoy taking baths in the kitchen sink
    This sweet photo almost makes me sad, because it reminds me of...

     ... this photo, taken just a couple of weeks ago. Look how much chubbier she is now, and how she seems more mature. 

    She does like being held by her Daddy and Solomon, too, so that frees up my hands enough to get things done I can't do with her in arms. My goals are all small right now, and I don't plan much beyond each day. So far this week, I have managed to take all the kids to the library, pack up the Christmas decorations, write lesson plans for the four oldest for the next 7 weeks, and keep up with the cooking, laundry, and the most important errands. There is always more left to do, but that's life. 

    We are starting homeschooling again next Monday. It will be week 12 out of 36, so almost one third done with our current "school year". Since we finished up "Galloping the Globe" last month, we are now on to "Cantering the Country", a state-by-state unit study. We are going from East to West, starting with Connecticut. Besides just learning about the state in general, we will be reading about Noah Webster, Eli Whitney (he invented the cotton gin), DNA/genetics, skunks, praying mantis, colonial Connecticut, and shipbuilding - all subjects which somehow relate to Connecticut. For special activities, we will make hamburgers (the first hamburger served in America was served in Connecticut - hey, it beats making clam chowder!), and read some of the "Boxcar Children" books. I also have some fun worksheets printed out. Solomon and Isaac continue to devour any books they can get their hands on. John is still not reading fluently on his own, in spite of the fact that he has almost finished his phonics program. He just has it in his head that he can't read, so he won't even try, even though when he sits down with me he can sound out/read almost any word. I am hoping that he will have a breakthrough in reading very soon, so I have more time to concentrate on teaching Miriam to read. Becky has taken an interest in learning the letters along with her, and has picked up several of them already. To be honest, teaching a child to read is one of my least favorite homeschooling tasks. It is so tedious, and plain boring. But it is also so important for their future academic success, and of course to be able to read and memorize Scripture on their own. Definitely a labor of love.

    Our church had a special "Watchnight Service" on December 31st, which was fun, as always. There was a ping-pong tournament, board games, preaching, singing, communion, and fireworks at midnight. The kids loved every bit of it, and not one of them threw up that night after snacking on all the different goodies and washing them all down with sodas. Although John did turn pretty pale at one point and told me he felt like he needed to throw up. Just in case, I sent each of the kids to bed with a large bowl, and told them to please, please NOT throw up on their pillows and blankets. Thankfully, they didn't need them. Pleasant subject, huh? :) Just keeping it real here. 

      I bet you didn't know that I am actually the mother of Daniel Boone. Isaac wears this everywhere.

     My husband with John and Becky (and two random bellies - sorry, no time to crop photos!)

     Solomon and Isaac



    Not much else is going on around here. Miriam is going to be the flower girl at a wedding in our church this Saturday, something she has been excited about for weeks. Other than that, we are just trying to enjoy every day and have some fun while keeping up with a family of EIGHT - wow, that does sound like a lot!

     Miriam working on her "laptop" with her baby in a sling. Hm, wonder who HER role model is? :)