Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Anna, eating

I am so excited about little Anna. No matter what she does, I think she is just wonderful and cute (and she is). You may find this video boring because she is not your baby, but I am putting it on here just for myself to be able to pull it up again when she is older and feeding herself. 


As you can tell from the background on the video, I should be cleaning the dinner mess in the kitchen. My husband cooked today! - A first in almost 11 years of marriage. Maybe not a first, but I cannot remember him making dinner any other time before. He does take us out to eat, though, which counts just as much in my book. The five little monkeys all said that they liked HIS spaghetti sauce (made from scratch with fresh tomatoes) better than mine. I say it was because of the tomatoes he used, and because he was following MY recipe. The sixth and littlest monkey is non-verbal, but judging by the above photos and video, she, too, loved every bite. 

Oh, I love my children, and my baby! I was at the library with the kids today, and a lady kept smiling at Anna. Her husband leaned over, and facetiously asked "You want another one of those?!?" to which she (with a gasp) responded "Oh, no!" Their daughter, who looked about 10, was sitting right there. If she is anything like I was at her age, she probably would love to have a baby brother or sister. I said "Well, I would like another one!" to which the lady said "You do? Well, I already have THREE!" She could hardly believe when I told her I had SIX, at which point the husband, incredulously, asked again "And you want to have another one??" I told him that actually, I would really love to have at least another six. He smiled, and said that what I really wanted was my own reality show. Haha! Real soon. I would get canceled the first week because I am not friendly and patient and smiling and unflappable. 

Anyway, I just felt so lucky and blessed to be sitting there with the cutest baby and sweetest children in the whole library. And I am only slightly biased! :) Anna was so funny, she was sitting on my lap and enjoying every minute of the puppet theater show. I love having older kids for whom I will go to programs like that, because I never would have thought of going there with just a baby, even though she clearly enjoyed it.

I will spare you all more of my gushing. :) Gotta clean that mess, bathe the baby, get everyone in bed, mop floors, and do some grocery and errand planning for tomorrow.

Summer in Phoenix


 For my readers from overseas, that's 48 degrees Celsius


The sky was overcast, so we all went on a bike ride together - me in the front with the three girls, then Solomon, Isaac, and John on their own bikes, and my husband at the far back making sure we weren't losing anyone. 
 Anna doesn't look like this in the picture, but she actually loves going in the trailer, or any stroller for that matter, as long as it keeps moving.

 Having Miriam in the back with Anna works well because she feeds her snacks and gives her water as needed. 

 This particular picture is from last week, I included it to show the whole getup "in action". 

The trailer and bike seat both work extremely well, and hardly weigh me down at all.  I was shocked at how well the trailer turns and runs. Still, I am also going to buy another trailer coupler at the bike store to put on my husband's bike, so that on trips where he is with us he can quickly hitch the trailer to his bike.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A different sort of water birth

Miriam came to me yesterday announcing that she thought she was having another baby, her fifth. She informed that she had already called the midwife.

A few minutes later, she came again, this time with the bumps under her shirt giving away the fact that she had stuffed a baby doll under it. She said the midwife was on her way, and that the baby was definitely coming that day. 

The next time Miriam came to me, she was beaming and holding a little doll in her arms - her new baby. I congratulated her, kissed the little baby, and asked her how the birth went. 

Miriam: "It was good. I had to use the Slip and Slide."

Me: "The Slip and Slide?"

Miriam: "Well, my birth tub is from 1928, when I had Elizabeth [her oldest "child"], and it had holes this big in it. So we had to use the Slip and Slide for the birth."

Miriam, Becky, and baby Elizabeth in the shopping cart, ready to go shopping in my pantry

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Camping trip

Our church had its annual camping trip this week from Thursday until yesterday (Saturday). We went to a group campsite near Prescott, AZ, which is a good 2-hour drive from here. The elevation is over 6,000 ft, so the weather is about 20 degrees cooler. Most of the area consists of pine forests. 

 Anna snoozing in the tent

 There is a larger mattress under the one she is sleeping on, and I left the window down to check on her and make sure she wasn't rolling off. She usually just lies still and looks around for a few minutes after waking up.

Personally, I am not a big fan of camping, but my husband and the kids love it. This year, we had NO rain, so it really was very nice. I think my favorite part about going camping is when we first arrive at the campsite, and I get out of the van and smell that wonderful mountain/forest air. It's also nice to be without any watch or clock, without cell phone reception, and without doing laundry and errands for days on end. In all, I would have to say this was my favorite camping trip ever.

 The sun setting from our tent window

Our tent has two "rooms". Everyone except me was on one side to stay warmer and to keep from rolling off the mattresses. 

 The other "room", where me and Annie shared a mattress and sleeping bag.

One of the days we were up there, most of our church group was able to spend the day at a nearby lake kayaking. Our family brought hot dogs for our lunch that we grilled at a picnic area right near the water, and my husband and I took turns watching the kids by the shore and going out on the water. I did one long trip to the opposite side of the lake with Solomon, Isaac, and John. Way back on the other side, we saw a man who was trapping crawdads. The boys were fascinated, and Isaac found the head and one claw of a HUGE dead crawdad. Ew! I have no clue where his trophy is now, and I probably don't want to know, either (just as long as I don't reach into his pockets when I check the laundry before washing it, and find THAT in there).

One thing I did new this year was to dress all of our kids in matching color shirts each day. Seems pretty obvious, but I just caught on to that this year. We had a total of 21 kids (all age 9 and under) between all of the families at our camp, so having all mine in a certain color made it a lot easier to count heads and keep tabs on them all.

right before leaving on "Day Orange"

Other than all the outdoor fun, one of the main attractions of our church camping trip is all the great preaching we get to hear. This year was no different. 


Solomon holding Annie

Then of course there is the special camp food, and I must say that doing dishes in the outdoors is a nice change. There are some foods that taste best cooked over an open fire that we only ever make when we are camping.

  My husband didn't actually cook. He just stirred the food a couple of times.

 Isaac waiting for the bacon to finish cooking

The campsite we use has no electricity or running water, so all the kids were pretty dusty and dirty the whole time, but they were all enjoying that a lot, it seemed. Last night, after we got home, all the boys took showers, and Miriam and Becky took a bath together. When I drained the tub, there was sand all over the bottom of it, and also after little Anna when I gave her a bath separately.
 Becky at the lake. She was the grubbiest of all of our kids by far.
We often have friends of our church visit from other states just to join our camping trip. Some of them have gone camping with us every year. A pastor friend of my husband and his family have been there every year, and he is my favorite preacher beside my husband. Another family from New Mexico has a little daughter Miriam's age, and all year long Miriam looks forward to whenever we go camping or they come to Phoenix for a visit.

 Becky and Miriam with their friend.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A goodly heritage

A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just. - Proverbs 13:22 

The Bible speaks often about leaving an inheritance for our children - not necessarily as a command, just as prudent advice. Applying this principle to material things, it is easy to see how helpful it would be to have the parent generation jump-starting their children's generation with sound financial teaching and the means for them to start their own families with tangible goods rather than debt. This second generation will then, in turn, be able to help the third generation so much more, and so on. I am not talking about amassing and hording money. Rather, I was thinking along the lines of how in the old days, families would pass part of their land on to each of their children, and help them build a house/farm on it, or how the family business would be passed down from father to son for generation after generation. 

The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. - Psalm 16:6

Regardless of your financial standing, this same principle can be applied to the spiritual realm, which is also infinitely more important than the physical/material. 

Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart.  - Psalm 119:111 

When we think about the importance of passing on to our children a heritage of godliness, living a life that strives to be in line with Bible principles becomes a much more urgent responsibility. There are more areas than I can list here, but I will give a few examples:

  • Marriage: What are you passing on to the next generation about marriage? I don't mean having a perfect marriage, because nobody has one since we are all married to, and are ourselves, imperfect people. I am referring to just how you deal with these imperfect unions that God says are to last a lifetime. If you throw in the towel and get divorced, do you realize that you are making it so much more likely that your own children will one day grow up and have one dysfunctional relationship after the other? If, however, you ride out the bumps (great and small) in front of your children, they will learn that marriage truly is "for better, for worse, till death do us part", and they may themselves are likely to make a more prudent choice of spouse than the parent generation did. Few of us were afforded a chance to see such commitment in our parents' lives ourselves, but the buck needs to stop somewhere, so it might as well be with us. If you look around families that you know, you may notice that couples who stay married usually have children who themselves are even more happily married.
  • Birth control: Life in an ever-growing family is very different from a "statist" family, regardless of the total number of children. Growing and stretching to uncomfortable new levels physically, mentally, and spiritually is a MUST if the non-birth control family is supposed to stay sane and maybe even succeed. There is no such thing as permanently "finding a groove" and growing comfortable, because just when we do, a monkey wrench in the form of an adorable but very needy baby is thrown into the mix, and suddenly we're back to square one. I always think it's funny how I think "Wow, this is so much work, I can hardly handle this!" only to one baby later think "Wow, my life was SO easy back then!" It's all perspective, and allowing God to control family size will really expand your perspective beyond what you ever thought possible or maybe even wanted to experience. If I were to stop and think about how many more children I might be having in my life time - children that haven't even been born yet, and that need to be helped from infancy to adulthood, it can really be an overwhelming thought. As much growing as I still have to do in so many areas of being a mother, I can at least see how I have grown in certain areas already that I would not have grown in had it not been for the ever-growing number of precious children. Children are a blessing, and God uses having them to teach us as much as we teach them. Even just growing up in relatively "large" family with 5 kids helped me so much to have a jump-start on raising my own children. I hope that our sons are learning what it means to provide for a large family, and that our daughters are learning how to sustain it from the inside. If they know everything we parents know at the point when they are getting married, they will have a 20+ year lead on what we knew when we were in their situation as newlyweds. THAT is the kind of heritage that we all should be fortunate to have.
  • Homeschooling: Much along the lines of the last point. Again, this will pick up momentum as one generation passes the torch to another, because children whose parents make their education their personal responsibility are so much smarter and well educated (haters, hold your comments - it's a fact.) I wish I had known even one tenth of what our children know when I was their age, or have their mental agility. The human mind is absolutely amazing, especially when it is cultivated rather than lulled and sedated.
  • Homemaking: Being a homemaker, I am ever aware of trying to pass everything I know on to our children, especially the girls (although if I succeed at teaching all of our boys to put their laundry in the hamper and their shoes in their cubbies I think my future daughters-in-law will love me to pieces). All of our children learn to cook and clean, because I firmly believe that learning ANY productive skill is worthwhile regardless of gender. As they get older, I truly hope and even pray that our sons will be taught my husband's line of work by him, so they can work in the family business as young adults even if they later choose a different line of work. It will give them an edge not only financially (a family business can employ their children at younger ages than outside businesses are allowed to hire them), but also professionally. My husband learned like that from his own dad, and I know it has helped him in his job many times. If our daughters leave home knowing all the tricks and shortcuts that it took me years and decades to figure out, they will themselves be able to build on this foundation and reach heights I would never be able to reach myself. The Bible calls children arrows, and it is so true, because we have the opportunity to shoot them beyond what we ourselves could accomplish.
  • Health: Not so much a direct aspect of "godliness", but since "all that a man hath will he give for his life" (Job 2:4) , this point still has great bearing on our everyday lives. Maybe laughable to those who frequent the Golden Arches regularly, this is actually very important to us. I wish I myself had not been formula-fed, vaccinated, and had my health permanently interfered with on so many levels. In some ways, trying to navigate through the maze of mis- and disinformation out there is like trying to reinvent the wheel. I sure would have loved to be taught all the traditional wisdom that used to be passed down from mothers to daughters about how to be (and stay) healthy, naturally, or to not fear pregnancy and childbirth as a deadly disease, or how to use herbs for healing, just to name a few examples. While I am starting from square one, our own children won't have to. In a world where in one century we have gone from the majority of people dying of old age to 1 out of two men and 1 in three women suffering cancer in their lifetime, in addition to a whole host of other entirely preventable modern illnesses, I would love for our children to be able to break out of this mold and not have to struggle with poor health their entire lives.
There, I have just run through all my favorite "hobby horses", but you can probably think of many more and better examples yourself. I hope this post encouraged you to look beyond your own generation and consider the benefits that we can bestow on those who come after us. The next time your spouse is acting unreasonable, or you get questioned at the store as to when you are going to stop having children, or people hate you for homeschooling because it pricks their own conscience, or you stay up late researching a new topic you are trying to learn about, or you get challenged for not injecting your child with toxic substances and aborted fetal tissue in the name of Franken-health - just think of it as laying up, little by little, a better heritage for your own children.

For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name. - Psalm 61:5 

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, June 17, 2011

Odds 'n Ends

  • Summer has finally hit us in full force, but I really can't complain - this year, we actually had a lovely spring season with moderate temperatures up until very recently. Our pool is now bathwater temperature, and the water coming out of our faucets reminds me of lava.
    • We got a quarter of beef last Friday. Boy, this must have been one big cow, because there was a ton of meat. It took me quite a while to rearrange everything in the freezers so I could fit it.
    • While picking up the beef, I met another customer, a fellow German lady who embraces our ideas about freedom and government. She had even heard my husband speak at a rally in the past! More importantly, she is also a Christian. This week at church, we had a visitor who lives in Switzerland and listens to my husband's sermons online. He included a stop at our church during his vacation, to be at a service "live". Oh, I do get homesick for the old country often, but it was nice to meet two people in one week who are not as blinded as most of them are.
    • Anna turned six months old earlier this month. Wow, time flies! She is cute as ever. She learned to say "Mama!" just a few days before her half-birthday, making her our youngest child ever to do so (and only our second child to say "mama" before "dada"). It is so cute. I just never tire of a little baby calling me mama. Anna was eager to try solids until she actually tasted them, but now most of the time she turns her nose up at any food and prefers to nurse. She is learning to sit up, and also tries scooting around when I lay her on her tummy. She is still very petite and oh so cuddly! It is hard to describe, but she is just so perfect and angelic.
    • Becky, who is a chatterbox by nature, has just recently become really good at expressing herself. She has a pretty big vocabulary for a child her age, thanks to her older siblings. It is so funny the things she says in her funny little voice, and her facial expressions. She LOVES eating cereal, much to my dismay because I disdain the stuff and would never even buy it except for the fact that Becky is so slender I am glad for anything she eats a lot of. Which may or may not include bacon.
    • Miriam is doing so well learning to sound out letters and blends. She is also great at learning her numbers, counting, etc. She is such a sweetheart. She cries if I even just go to the mailbox without her, because she just wants to be with me wherever I go. She is very mothering and loves babies and dolls.
    • John had his half-birthday this last week, also. Like the rest of the kids, he has a heart of gold. He is doing really well on reading now, and actually has the confidence to think that yes, he CAN read books on his own. Tonight after the girls were in bed, I read a book to just him while the older boys were reading and playing on their own, and he was so happy and appreciative.
    • Isaac is, as always, laid back and dependable. His math skills have skyrocketed this last year. He reads even more and faster than Solomon, and loves helping any way he can - taking care of the dog, being a buddy to the younger kids, or even carrying Anna when I am busy. He almost never gets a bad attitude about anything.
    • Solomon continues to amaze us with his musical talent. I never once have to encourage him to practice piano playing - if anything, I have to tell him to stop so he can get his chores and school work done, too. It's hard to believe he is almost ten years old - I remember so clearly the day he was born, just like it was yesterday. 
    • I thought I should finish up the answers to the Q&A post from April. Then I realized that I have barely answered half of the questions. My apologies if you have asked something and are still waiting. I am plugging away at it bit by bit and will get it done one of these days. 
    • In the almost four years that I have been blogging, there have been times when I considered closing the blog, but these past couple of weeks I have almost done it several times. The thing that kept me from actually doing it was having unanswered questions that people had taken the time to type out and post, and I did not want to be a flake. Also, I love to go back to old posts and look at pictures and read about our memories. BTW, although the timing may suggest otherwise, it has nothing to do with all the hateful comments recently - I get them all the time, I just often choose not to publish any because certain people only become more contentious when they feel they have a platform. I could not care less about those comments - they honestly never bother or rile me. I told my good friend A that I was thinking about deleting the blog. When she asked me why, I didn't really have a good answer other than that I don't have any special kind of knowledge that cannot be gained elsewhere (in the Bible, online, in books, etc.). I am just me, which is nothing special, and I thought that maybe my time would be better invested offline. Blogging is pretty much my last and only hobby, so it's not like I am slacking in other areas of responsibility. I just don't feel I have much to offer besides what is already available online. Well, as you can tell, I am still here, but the subject is still on my mind - hence the recent lack of posting. Okay, so now I am sounding a little like a teenager threatening to run away from home. I just didn't want people to worry about me if I decide to leave the blogosphere.
    • On a high note, here are some pictures:

    We went to see a special balloon-making performance/story time at the library. Miriam and John got picked as some of the volunteers.

    I am almost done with the boys' room. Pretty much the only thing left to make are the curtains. The boys LOVE to relax in their room and read during our daily "silent time". 

    Anna loves sitting in her bouncy chair in the shade outside by my side as I watch the kids in the pool for about an hour each afternoon. The sound of the waterfall and the happy voices of her siblings often lull her to sleep. 

    John LOVES drawing. Anytime I haven't heard from him in a while, I can be certain he is sitting at his desk in the school room drawing one picture after another. I wish I had a method for displaying all of his art work, as well as that of the other kids. 

    Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

      Monday, June 13, 2011

      Burzynski the Movie

      Update: Free viewing has been extended for an extra week, until 11:59 PM on Monday, June 20th!

      Available for FREE viewing only through the end of today (Monday).

      The Great Cancer Hoax: The Brilliant Cure the FDA Tried Their Best to Shut Down...

      Friday, June 10, 2011

      Q & A answers, part III

      Please excuse me for taking this long to answer these. More to come still!


      Jessi said...

      I forgot to ask this in my first comment, what do you think of only giving the rabies and tetness vaccination when kids are older. I am not vaccinating my kids but have thought of only doing thoes two. Kids could easily get bit by a lose dog with rabies, or step in a rusty nail.

      I am not a medical professional, and cannot give any medical advice. We do not vaccinate against anything, but some people who do not vaccinate still do the tetanus shots. You will need to do your own research on this and come to a conclusion you can have peace about.

      If our kids got them, deep puncture wounds would be cared for with hydrogen peroxide, and closely monitored for infection, but none of our kids has ever had anything like that. My husband stepped on an old, rusty nail once that went all the way through his boot, through his foot, and out the top of his foot. In spite of not being "up to date" on his "shots", the wound never got infected or anything because he was vigilant about treating it with hydrogen peroxide. The tetanus bacteria can only thrive in anaerobic conditions (such as deep wounds that scab on the outside before the inside is healed, with little to no exposure to oxygen in the air), which is why it is so important to use hydrogen peroxide on the wound.


      Anonymous said...

      Dear Zsuzsanna,
      can you recommend any good parenting book?
      Thanks for your answer,
      Hi Babs, without trying to sound like a smartypants, I must say, the Bible. Even if that were the only book I had in life, it would have the answers to all the important issues and questions. Besides that, most modern parenting books are just a joke. In fact, I am currently working on a blog post called "Unnatural Parenting", in which I am taking apart the whole "Natural/Attachment Parenting" trend. Not that I am at all against being attached to my children, this particular style of parenting is just misnamed. There have been a handful of books that I have gleaned bits and pieces from along the way, but no single one stands out. Readers, please share any suggestions you may have in the comments below.


      Kelsey said...

      What would be the #1 piece of advice you would give to teenage girls striving to live a Christian life (especially to girls who do not come from Christian families)?

      Hm, good question! How wonderful to know you are striving to live a godly life even if you yourself had a different sort of upbringing. I would say that you would do well to find godly examples (both in real life, as well as in the Bible), and pattern your life after them as much as you can. In other words, to have what they have, do what they do. And remember that with God's help, you can overcome any hurdles in your way. It will make it so much easier for your own children to live righteous lives if you start them out on the right path from infancy. Be faithful in the areas you have control over, pray about the rest, and God will bless your efforts. Best wishes!


      Anonymous said...

      Not a question, however, I'd love to see more authentic German recipes in the future!

      Thank you, I will keep that in mind. The metric conversion of the ingredients is always a real pain :(


      Muliebrity said...

      You've said that the complications with Anna's birth have led you to believe that God is blessing your home births, but how can you be sure that that wasn't a warning for the future?

      Well, it was only a single complication, not complicationS. I guess I don't look at it as God saying "Okay, here is a warning, don't have another baby or else!" We all could die any single day if it were not for God keeping us alive, and often have near misses. I don't look at those encounters as God warning me, either.


      Jessica said...

      Are you against dancing? I know some Christians are.

      No, not as long as it doesn't involve dancing with members of the opposite gender (my husband excluded, obviously), or is something sensual. You won't see me doing the Tango even with my own husband in public.


      Anonymous said...

      Could you talk about how you discipline your kids? Tips on toddler management would be particularly appreciated. Thank you!

      The most important bit of advice I can give on toddler management is this: win every battle. They need you to be a parent, not their psychologist or BFF. I'm not saying to micromanage them - most days, there is no reason why they can't pick what clothes to wear, for example. But if you say something, mean it, and enforce it. When you say "come", he/she needs to come right away. When you say "don't touch!", they ought not touch the forbidden item, and so on. If you are not willing to enforce the rule, it's better to not even say it, than to make a rule and then not enforce it. Also, never give them what they cry/whine for, unless you like listening to them whining and crying.


      jake said...

      I would like to know why you believe that you will be rewarded in heaven for just taking Jesus as your savior. You said in an earlier post that you do not believe good works will get you into heaven.

      I also don't understand why you only stay involved in church activities and never talk about outreaches for the homeless or helping out local charities/ groups to show gods love and kindness

      I don't think I will be rewarded just for believing on Jesus - rewards are extra things we get for serving God. Salvation, however, is free, because the Bible says so.

      And does helping the groups you mentioned through our local church somehow mean less than helping them through a national organization? 


      jankatcla said...

      Love your Q&As! Here are a couple of questions that I would like to have answered:

      1) Your written English is nearly flawless. How is your spoken English? Do you have an accent?

      2) I believe you once said that you drive a minivan. With 6 kids, you must be about to outgrow it. Do you have plans to get a bigger vehicle?

      3) Do you plan to encourage your kids to get a college education? What would you consider good career paths for them?


      (1) I have a slight accent, but people can't necessarily put their finger on it and say it's German.

      (2) Our van has 8 seats, so if we are all riding in it, all seats are taken up. If and when we outgrow it, I would LOVE to get a Dodge Sprinter, but that is rather quixotic. I hate the typical 12/15 passenger vans because they seem like death traps and are really, really uncomfortable.

      (3) I am all in favor of "higher education", which is partly why we homeschool. However, I think modern colleges are more about social agendas and raking in tuition money than learning. Knowledge is available for free to anyone who wants it. These days, even to get a degree in something like engineering, one must sit through lectures on "diversity" and other garbage. Having a degree and being educated have little to do with one another.


      Saturday, June 4, 2011

      So, does it get easier?

      Waaaaaay back when I was the young mother of just one little baby boy - which, honestly, seems like it was just yesterday - I used to think that as children grew older they required less work and effort. In fact, I distinctly remember telling another lady at church that I couldn't wait for Solomon to grow a little older (and, as I thought, less labor-intensive) so I could "get my life back".

      Hahahahahahaha! Can you say "naive"? I figure I'll get "my" life back right when I'm old enough to about die. And really, that is totally okay with me. I love being a busy wife and mommy.

      Sometimes, though, I have to chuckle when new moms, or mothers with all little kids, moms with  less kids than we have, think that my life is such a walk in the park compared to theirs. "Must be nice!" is the universal vibe that often comes across. I am NOT thinking of anyone in particular at all. In fact, I'm certain that I used to fall into this same line of thinking - that once children got old enough to no longer require my help in feeding and dressing themselves, once they were old enough to actually start helping ME, they somehow required less work and effort on my part. In fact, to this day I often catch myself thinking that life is easier now than when I only had one or two children to care for. Until my husband takes one of the kids off my hands for a few hours and I notice how much it lightens my work load, even if he took just one of them, or just one of the older ones. 

      The truth is: our children need us as long as they are alive. As they grow older, their needs change in that they become less physical and more emotional, but they always need us.

      Take, for instance, Annie, who is not quite 6 months old: as long as she is cuddled, fed, and diapered, she is the most content, happy baby. She never asks for candy for breakfast, doesn't question why I won't let her go swimming in the pool in freezing temperatures (well, you know, relatively speaking...), or asks me every day to take her to X store so she can spend her allowance money on Y toy. The only things she wants are easy things, like milk, and being held.

      On the other side of the spectrum is our oldest, Solomon, who is turning 10 this fall: he can do every part of laundry from sorting loads to hanging and folding the clean clothes. He can cook simple foods, take care of younger siblings, haul groceries into the house, and tend the garden and pets. He can run into the store, post office, or library for me if it's just a quick stop to save me having to haul the whole family in. But does that mean that I work less because of having him? No, not at all. Unlike the youngest children, I spend a lot of time each day teaching him. Which requires a lot of planning, choosing curriculum, and agonizing over what the best choices are for his particular style. He gets chauffeured across town for activities such as piano lessons and P.E. He has important (to him) errands to run such as putting his allowance in his bank account and then withdrawing it, so he can go spend it at a store that he needs me to take him to. He likes writing books and building stuff and inventing things, but inevitably he ends up needing my help and it takes a lot of time to keep up with it all. He has good days and bad days and moody days and happy days just like all of us do. Instead of waking up at night to feed him, I wake up wondering if I am doing a good enough job advancing his natural talents and helping the areas he struggles with. Last night, I was up for a full hour (!) after only a few hours of sleep, contemplating with great sadness the fact that years ago I had failed to record a major milestone for him on video camera, and now the moment is gone forever.

      The other children are at various stages between these two extremes. In Germany there is a saying: "Little children, little worries, big children, big worries."

      Taking care of an older child is more of an emotional drain than a physical one, but I almost prefer the latter because it is so much more straight-forward and simple. I imagine it does not get easier even as they become adults and leave the home. I will probably be laying awake at night wondering whether they are well, and praying that they do not die in a horrific accident. At least now, I can go into their room and check on them anytime. At least now, there is a time each day when ALL of them are asleep at the same time, affording me some mental peace knowing that they are all SIMULTANEOUSLY fully cared for and safe.

      Have you ever had company over? Of course you have! Even though you likely didn't do their laundry, or agonize over their well-being to the extent that parents agonize over their children, and even though your guests probably did everything in their power to not cause any trouble, it was still extra work having them. Simple reasoning tells us that 8 people are louder, track in more dirt, and eat more food than, say, 2 or 3 people. What if both your parents, and your spouse's parents, lived with you 100% of the time? That is the reality of having just 4 extra people living under the same roof. Mind you, almost any adult will be less work than almost any child, although you may not think so about your particular mother-in-law (just for the record, mine is FABULOUS! - which explains why she raised such an awesome son).

      My conclusion: Unless kids are safely tucked away in bed sleeping, they are work. Even while they are sleeping, they weigh on our minds to be prayed and agonized over while we pick up the day's messes and clean the house like busy little elves. It NEVER ends, and it never gets easier. Being a mom is the hardest job there is, both physically and emotionally. The more children there are, the more work there is, or else everyone would be having lots of kids because we are naturally inclined to be lazy. But oh, the unspeakable blessings that are ours every single day, the little things that outsiders never see or experience because they are only shared in the intimacy of the immediate family circle. Those make it all worthwhile, and then some.

      But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. - Proverbs 4:18