Saturday, June 29, 2013

Submission in Marriage

Disclaimer: I do not at all think or claim that I am a perfect wife, or fully submitted to my husband, and that all the time. It is possible to understand and believe in a concept, without oneself having perfected it. I am sharing my insights here, not giving a run-down of my wifely accomplishments.

On the most recent Q & A, the question was raised how exactly, from a practical standpoint, a wife submitting to her husband would play out in everyday life:
What I'm wondering is that your husband talks a lot about how he is the boss in his own home, and how you as his wife have to submit to him. I do get that in theory, but how exactly does this work in your every day life? I'm also asking this, because you seem to be pretty "independent" when it comes to managing your household (like putting the family on a organic only diet an so on). So a few questions, to get a better idea: who decides on homeschooling things, like which book to use, you? your husband? What if you, during the day, forbid/allowed a child to do something, and your husband doesn't agree with your decision? I mean, sure with the big things, you could call him, but with the thousands of small decisions every housewife and mother has to do every day? How does it work with the finances, do you get an amount of money and can decide yourself how to use it? and with general big decisions, like chosing where to live, which house to buy, your childrens names and so on, do you get to say anything, or does your husband decides everything, without considering your opinion? Like would he give a child a name he knows you don't like?

I'm sorry for asking so many questions, but while it is commmon to hear that the husband is the head of the home, it's sometimes tricky in everyday life.

And from another reader:
I also wonder about this? Exactly how a wife should submit to her husband in everyday life but still be a strong mother and woman in charge of her household.

A clear chain of authority is nothing unique to marriage. Just about any aspect of our society is built on them. Children are supposed to obey their parents. Employees are supposed to be working for the boss according to his wishes, not their own agenda. Courts have higher courts over them. None of these examples seem to throw anyone for a loop as much as saying, in the 21st century, that wives are supposed to obey and reverence their husbands, and submit unto them as unto the Lord. 

Since the other areas are not as much of a mental struggle to wrap one's mind around, let's use them for illustration purposes. 

Does the Supreme Court of the United States hear every single legal battle in this country? Are they the only ones qualified to decree justice? No, of course not! There are many lower level courts that hear the everyday, common, straightforward cases. It is only if there is a dispute or disagreement that the next higher up court is called upon. If an agreement cannot be reached, it gets passed up to the next court, and so on.

Or let's imagine a big company with many employees. Is the CEO making all the decisions? Is he hiring all the workers, choosing the stationary, answering the phone, analyzing the finances, etc? That would be absurd at best, as well as impossible. Does hiring employees to fill the various positions, and taking over certain responsibilities, mean that the owner of that company no longer is the head of it? Of course not!

The husband being the head of the home does not mean that he makes every decision. The Bible makes it clear that while the husband's duty is to provide for the family and protect it (i.e. mostly dealing with the world outside the family), the wife's duties are mostly within the family (i.e. raising the children, and keeping the home). My husband knows and appreciates my competence in this area, and trusts me to make the best decisions to keep us moving forward in the course we have set for our family based upon the Bible and his preferences. So yes, in my home, I am the queen, and as such, very independent. There is no need for my husband to monitor, veto, or override my every decision. I do not call him throughout the day to run this-or-that by him.

If we come to a conflict, an area where we do not see eye-to-eye on, my opinion is carefully taken into consideration, as any wise and loving husband would do. Ultimately, however, the burden and responsibility of decision-making for these "big" areas is with the husband. These would typically be important decisions. Some examples are: where to live, how many children to have, how to educate them, where to go to church, etc.

Have I always agreed with my husband and his decisions? No, of course not! But thankfully, I have a higher power above him that I can appeal unto, one that is always wise, just, and perfect - God! If my husband and I have two very differing opinions on what we should do, both of us can't be right. Either he is right, and I am wrong, or he is wrong, and I am right. Knowing this simple fact, I can pray to God that He would either show my husband the error of his thinking, or else if my husband is indeed right, change my heart so I can easily get on board and submit. True, if God were not a factor working in our lives, marriage would be quite scary and difficult. But the same God that creates life, saves us from hell, and guides us into all truth, can make either one of us have a change of heart effortlessly. I can think of a number of vital areas right now in which we had vastly different opinions, but over time, with prayer, my husband came to see and agree with my standpoint.

Lastly, God appoints authority (in this case that of the husband) not as a tool for the one in charge to serve  themselves, but rather for that leader to use his power to serve those under his care and protection. My husband is commanded to love me as Christ loved the church, which means he should be willing to lay down his life for mine. He has the say in decision making, but it is all tempered by having to consider what decision will best serve me and our family. 

Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty - and within marriage, and life in general, I enjoy great liberty. There is a chain of authority that rules our day-to-day lives, but if we both do our part - me acting according to my husband's wishes and him ruling in my best interest - it is hardly ever seen.

No marriage is perfect, ours included. Friction between family members under the same roof is inevitable. Having clearly defined roles is one of the tools that helps reduce conflict, rather than add to it. 

I will end with what another reader shared in this response to this question, as it was so perfectly worded: 

I get this same question a lot. I explain it like this:

Think of a property owner who owns an apartment complex. The property owner has an apartment manager that lives on the property and manages the property. The property owner has given the manager full reign to run and operate the property following the guidelines and standards set up by the owner. The manger makes all daily decisions on their own while considering what would be pleasing to the owner. If something unusual or serious comes up and the manager is unsure how the owner would like that situation handled then the manager consults with the owner for guidance.

My husband is very much the leader over the home. As the leader of our home he understands that the Lord has called me to be the keeper of the home. My husband has given me full authority to “keep” our home under the principles set by the Bible and the preferences set by my husband. I make all day to day decisions in our home on my own with keeping in mind what would be pleasing to my husband. If something major comes up and I am unsure how he would want that situation handled, then I call him for guidance. This rarely happens because my husband and I are like minded and I as the keeper of the home have learned what is pleasing to God and what is pleasing to my husband that that is how I proceed.

Being submissive doesn’t mean you are a doormat, have no opinion or can’t make a decision on your own. That is a great misconception. Submissive women are very capable women. Their goal is to make daily decisions in the home that reflect the standards set by their husband, which is not hard to do if you and your husband are like minded, have the same goals and most importantly serve the same God.

On big things like where we live and which house to buy my husband prays and seeks God’s leading. He will talk to me about what I think about the decision, but he has the final word. Typically we are on the same page because his heart is to follow God and my heart is to follow my husband. There are times that we disagree such as naming children. He likes the name Uriah. I can’t stand that name it reminds me of Urine. We do not have a child named Uriah. I would prefer that each of our children’s names don’t start with the same letter, but he felt that the Lord gave him a particular name for a youngest that happened to start with the same letter as our oldest. It meant a lot to him, so our youngest got that name. So like with every couple there is compromise. But my husband is the final authority. My husband loves me like Christ loves the church and he treats me accordingly. He is not going to give our child a name that I hate because he wants to consider me and please me…. just as I do him.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Things I like to buy on Azure Standard - Part 3

*** WARNING *** Contains images of animal body parts. Proceed at your own risk. Not for the pregnant and nauseous, or faint of heart. ;)


Several months ago, I found out that pretty much all ready chicken/beef/vegetable broth from the store contains MSG. Yes, even the organic, "all natural" brands, the ones that are labeled "MSG free." Drat! Broth was one of the few things I was rarely making from scratch.


Not that making my own stock would be that difficult thanks to my handy slow cooker, but coming by good bones for making it is difficult and often expensive, especially since we typically go through 2-4 quarts per week.

Imagine my delight (yes, delight) when I discovered Azure Standard carries - get ready for this - CHICKEN FEET

They clock in at just under $1.50/lb, and they are organic. The package is very big, so I suggest splitting it with another family. 

Whether or not you are keeping it all for yourself (I did), it is easiest to divide the chicken feet into individual, gallon-size freezer bags of about 1.5 to 2 lbs each. Because they are packed before being frozen, the feet will all be stuck together in one massive block by the time you receive it. I simply put the whole package inside doubled-up large (new) trash bags, and then repeatedly dropped the entire block onto my tile floor. The frozen feet separated perfectly, and it was much faster and easier than trying to chisel out two dozen or so feet each time I wanted to make stock. This will take up quite a bit of room in your freezer, however.

To make the broth, simply add to a crock pot: frozen chicken feet (one gallon bag full, about 1.5 lbs), celery stalks or root, one whole onion, peeled carrots or parsnips, bay leaves, peppercorns, a splash of apple cider vinegar (will help draw minerals from bones), a bunch of fresh parsley, and water to cover. 

Cook on low for 12-24 hours. Strain, fill into quart jars, and refrigerate (use within 5 days) or freeze (leave enough head space for expansion, and do not put a lid on it until the stock is completely frozen or the jar will burst). Because this is true bone broth, it will become gelatinous when cold, but will become completely liquid when heated.

The above batch yields about 4 qts of chicken stock. Very tasty, nutritious, economical, and free of questionable flavor enhancers. 

The process is the same for making beef broth. We get our bones from the ranch whenever we order beef, so that is not something we order on Azure. You can order the chicken feet on Azure Standard here


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summertime Madness, and a Q & A

Our kids have gone certifiably insane from cabin fever (seeing as it is too hot to go outside for most of the day). This morning's activity of "running in the sprinklers" quickly descended into a mud fight that involved their neighbor friend. 

Wow, is this what Solomon will look like with a beard??

 That was a white shirt on Isaac

Miriam, in the thick of it, long hair and all.

Please help me preserve my sanity by sending me your intelligent questions for another Q & A later this week (hopefully). If you have asked me a question in the past, and it never got answered, I apologize. I am hopelessly disorganized like that. : /

And to the person who wrote this morning and asked: 

I was wondering if you could do a post on how you get such clear skin.

My answer is: mud baths. Lots and lots of mud baths. 

Now I'm off to hose off kids and mop muddy floors. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dust If You Must

Dust if you must.
But wouldn’t it be better,
To paint a picture, or write a letter,
Bake a cake, or plant a seed?
Ponder the difference between want and need.

Dust if you must.
But there is not much time
With rivers to swim and mountains to climb!
Music to hear, and books to read,
Friends to cherish and life to lead.

Dust if you must.
But the world’s out there
With the sun in your eyes,
the wind in your hair,
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain.
This day will not come round again.

Dust if you must.
But bear in mind,
Old age will come and it’s not kind.
And when you go, and go you must,
You, yourself, will make more dust.

- – - written by Mrs. Rose Milligan

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sarah, the Healthy Home Abortionist

As someone who is interested in natural health, I occasionally enjoy reading on the website of Sarah, "The Healthy Home Economist."

Therefore it was rather shocking for me to discover a post by Sarah titled "Natural Birth Control Using Herbs," dating back to October of last year. My shock was not rooted in the fact that she was entirely and utterly wrong on something, but that she was ignorant of the most basic of science underlying the issue of "birth control."

Lest any of my health-conscious friends and readers are deceived by her lingo, this post is intended to expose the abortifacient nature of the herbs Sarah is recommending, as well as her ignorance (or intentional deception) on this topic. Many of the comments on her original post expressed the same sentiments I am about to share, and yet Sarah has refused to take correction, so my goal is not to change her mind, as that is a lost cause. My goal is to show you the truth.

First off, the entire concept of "healthy infertility" is an oxymoron. Not being able to conceive children is the opposite of health, an indicator that things are not working as they in their most natural state should.

Nor does the fact that women have been using these methods for hundreds and thousands of years make them any more safe, healthy, or morally justifiable. Of course selfish mothers have been killing their own offspring since the beginning of time - duh! One need only crack open a Bible and read about heathen nations sacrificing their own children to false gods. 

Herbs and other "natural" substances are extremely potent drugs - just as their synthetic, big-pharma counterparts. Arsenic is a natural substance, too - but consumed in the right quantities, it will lead to quick (albeit very "naturally induced") death.

Sarah breaks her post into two main parts:

1) Sterility promoting herbs: Again, the entire concept of being healthy by disrupting the most basic and important aspect of human health - reproduction - is moronic to say the least. Infertility is ALWAYS a sign of less than ideal health in one aspect or another, whether that be age, weight, fibroids, diet, toxins, etc. - the list is endless. 

Sarah fails to explain just how these herbs cause infertility, sometimes even permanently. Which of the body's many intricate systems do they mess with to disrupt fertility, sometimes permanently? What is being poisoned to the point that the incredibly smart human body decides it is too hostile of an environment for new life? Besides Sarah's anecdotal usage suggestions, what studies prove the safety of these "natural" infertility-causing herbs?

2) Implantation preventers: This is the second, and much more grievous point that Sarah expounds upon. Before we delve into it, here is a basic lesson in reproduction for those who don't know:

About midway through the monthly cycle, a woman's body will release an egg from the ovary (called ovulation). This egg then travels down the fallopian tube. About two more weeks later, if fertilization of the egg did not occur, this microscopic egg is shed along with the lining of the uterus - the monthly cycle. Women are born with two ovaries, one on each side, and they normally alternate each month on releasing an egg. If a woman for some reason loses an ovary, the other will often take over by releasing an egg every single month.

However, if seed from a man is present in the roughly 48 hours following ovulation, under normal, healthy circumstances this will lead to fertilization of the egg, also called "conception." Please take note of this because modern science is changing these terms in order to make early abortion more palatable. 

The fertilized egg, unlike its unfertilized counterpart, immediately begins the process of cell multiplication, even as it still travels down the fallopian tube. The newly conceived child has its own set of DNA, entirely different from his father or mother. This is an incredibly critical time, and an intrinsically hazardous journey.

If the rapidly growing egg were to get trapped by tissue in the fallopian tubes, or were to accidentally attach to the lining of the tube, it would lead to an "ectopic pregnancy," which almost universally leads to the loss of the still growing baby, as well as the likely rupture of the fallopian tube in the mother.

Sometime around 8 days after conception (fertilization of the egg), the developing baby has arrived in the mother's uterus, and burrows deep into the uterine lining where it attaches and later "taps into" mom via placenta and cord. Unlike the fallopian tube, the uterus is a muscle that has the capability to expand incredibly to support, protect, and nourish the child until it is ready to be born 9 months later. 

Some doctors and scientists (though the minority) are attempting to spin the medical terms by referring to this implantation of the baby in the uterus as "conception," because it is at this point that the child (which again, is unique in his DNA and very much different from either of his parents) arrives at a certain benchmark destination. By the same logic, one could refer to birth itself as "conception," since that is when the baby first makes his visible appearance in the parents' arms.

The Bible is clear that a woman "conceiving seed" is the same as her being "with child.", seed being the Bible term for a man's contribution to this matter. But even if we left the Bible out of this, science has proven over and over that by definition, life begins at the point of fertilization (i.e. conception), as that is when the egg starts multiplying and developing.

Please also note the following terminology: if the fertilized, growing egg were to implant someplace other than the uterus, this is called an ectopic pregnancy. By Sarah's logic, which she shares with Planned Parenthood and pro-abortion doctors, the mother is not even pregnant until the child arrives in the uterus. I guess she would call this an ectopic pre-pregnancy?

So back to the "implantation preventers" - as even the name suggests, they are not to stop a woman from conceiving, they are simply designed to prohibit something from implanting that naturally is intended to implant. Notice, the unfertilized egg needs no such attention - it will never attempt to implant of its own accord. That's the difference between a living human being, bent on survival, and an unfertilized egg that is not a living organism.

All the herbs Sarah is suggesting are to be taken "until menstruation begins," or to "bring on menstruation if necessary" if "an 'oops' occurs and unprotected relations take place during the fertile time." Nice! In other words, you are making your own herbal concoction for "morning after" or early chemical abortion. The way they work is by poisoning and/or destroying the lining of the uterus, so that the newly conceived baby cannot implant deeply, and is shed with the onset of the monthly cycle. These herbs also induce shedding of the uterine lining even if the child is fully implanted, but defenseless and unable to "hold on." 

Furthermore, there is a real chance that this regimen is not going to be fully "successful" (for those defining success as the murder of their unborn), and will rather lead to a poorly implanted child which can bring about a host of issues down the road, such as placental abruption, low birth weight, etc.

Sarah is, in fact, sounding every bit as the founder of Planned Parenthood, and birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger, who made it clear many times that making sure menses would resume, "brought on" if necessary by the use of bleach and other similar methods, was the responsibility of every woman, and part of reproductive hygiene. 

Many, many comments on Sarah's post stated what I am writing here, and she listened to none of them. She repeatedly reiterated the greater importance of the mother's health, with the example of her gut flora. Dear Sarah, I am infinitely more concerned about my uterine flora, than my gut flora. But neither comes close to my concern with right and wrong, or what God thinks of all this.

Please beware of Sarah's scientifically inaccurate, anecdotal, unsafe, toxic, and morally reprehensible "natural" ways to kill your own babies. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mother's Day photos

Only a month late, here are the pictures we took on Mother's Day this year.

I was inspired by seeing many of my Facebook friends posting pictures of themselves with their mother. It dawned on me that while I have many photos of the kids, I do not know how many there are that just show one child at a time, with me. 

With that, a new yearly tradition was born. 

(Warning - picture bomb coming your way!)

 Solomon (11)

 Isaac (10)

  John (8)

 Miriam (6)

 Becky (typical)

 Becky (4)

 Anna (2)

 My sons (minus baby Stephen)

My daughters

Anna wasn't going to smile for any of the photos... sigh...

All the children (minus baby Stephen)

No picture of me and baby Stephen that day, as he was teething, crabby, and finally asleep. We weren't going to wake him just to have him crying in each photo.

Last but not least... Da Man and I - baby daddy to the above treasures

We may or may not repeat this process for Father's Day this Sunday. What special thing are you doing that day?

Arizona Home Educators Conference or Bust!

If you live in the area, and are going to the Arizona Home Educators Conference this Friday and Saturday, please be sure to stop by our booth, # 502.

We will be there with my husband's popular "Complete Church Piano Course," as well as having free gifts for all who stop by.

I am excited! It will be nice to have my husband there the whole time, with a booth as our "home base," which should make it a lot easier to spend 12+ hours there each day. 

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Summer project: new swim suits

A couple of years ago, I sewed Miriam and Becky beautiful yet modest swim suits. By now, they had grown too tall for them, and the fabric was showing some wear. It was time to sew new ones.
The girls and I went to the fabric store to pick out their favorite fabrics. From left to right, are Miriam's, Anna's, and Becky's choices. It only took them two hours and changing their minds fifteen times to settle on these... :)

I sewed Miriam's swim suit first, because the two younger girls would be able to fit the older suits until I got around to sewing theirs. With summer break finally here, I was able to make Becky's last week, and Anna's this week. 

These are an adaptation of the Simply Modest Swimwear pattern. The changes I made were to join the leggings with the top/skirt part, making it a one-piece outfit. This required that a zipper be added in the back. I also made the skirt knee-length all around. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Drunkards and Winebibbers

My husband preached an awesome sermon yesterday morning. If you get a chance, you should definitely watch it!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Things that make my day...

(... naturally, they are food related.)

Making Hungarian goulash in a kettle over the open fire

 Home-made waffles with syrup and whipped cream for breakfast

Well, yes - but in this case, I didn't even eat any. I was THRILLED because for the first time since buying it two years ago, I successfully used my Griswold cast-iron waffle maker. 

When I bought it (used on Craigslist), the castiron was in bad shape. It had no rust, but had been seasoned with vegetable oil, rendering it sticky and useless. Every time I tried to make waffles, the batter would stick, making it impossible to remove the waffle, and making a horrible mess in the process. Over time, from me scrubbing off burnt-in batter, and not seasoning it myself because I knew the cast-iron needed to be stripped and re-seasoned, it started becoming rusty.

Online, I tried to read up on how to get out the old, sticky grease. Putting the cast-iron in the oven didn't produce the necessary heat to rid it of the buildup. Neither did ammonia, and I never quite could get myself to spray it in (highly toxic) oven cleaner. So for the last year, the waffle maker has sat, rusting away. 

My last attempt was going to be to set the irons into some hot embers, since this would produce much higher temps than my oven ever could. Online recommendations were divided on this point - some sites suggested this could warp or crack the cast-iron, while others swore by it. 

So when the fire pit was nice and hot while cooking the goulash, I decided it was worth a try - all I had to lose was an increasingly rusty antique. However, I was so sceptical it would work, that I didn't even bother taking a "before" picture.

I didn't expect the metal to become glowing red, but it did. Scary! In fact, it became translucent from the extreme heat! Certain that I had permanently ruined the waffle maker, I fished it out, one piece at a time (there are 3 total) with a metal hook, ready to hose it off with cold water like a true blacksmith.

After being doused with cold water, the pieces were cold enough to handle - and lo and behold, the metal was dry and rough, not at all sticky. The terrible grease buildup was GONE!

The rust was still there, so at this point, I soaked the pieces in a tub with a 50/50 water/apple cider vinegar solution. Two hours later, the rust wiped off with relative ease. 

My waffle iron was now de-greased, rust-free, and ready to be re-seasoned correctly. I applied a coat of home-rendered lard (which, unlike plant oils, holds up well on cast-iron even if stored for months), and set it in the oven at a low temperature to season. I thought it would take several coasts to achieve a good non-stick finish, but to my utter surprise, that first coast seemed to do it. 

Somewhat apprehensively, I prepared the waffle batter, ready to have disappointed kids once again after another failed experiment at getting this waffle maker to work.

When I cautiously opened the waffle iron to check on the first waffle, I was ready to be let down. Instead, I saw this:

Clearly, not stuck! It plopped right off the top iron, too, and we soon had a big stack of fresh, crisp, delicious waffles waiting to be devoured. 

For me, this was VERY exciting. I love when I finally succeed at something I had failed at again and again, and given up on (like, say, gardening - still no success on that front).

Baby Stephen had his fair share, and then fell asleep in his high chair.

Finally, FINALLY, I can throw out my old waffle maker - the last "non-stick" teflon-coated equipment in my kitchen.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Summer reading

Our kids read a lot of books year-round, but I don't always have as much time to read as I would like to. Here is what we are reading this summer. 

Lots and lots of library books...

Wait, there's more...

 These are some of our library cards...

We are also re-visiting the 50 states we covered in great detail in the last two years with these little activity books. Perfect for silent time in the afternoon.

Organized, geographically, on one shelf. We have multiple copies of most of them.

And here is what I am reading. I know some of you may have questions about these books, and believe me, I'd love to do a detailed review on every single one of them. But - there's not enough time.

In brief:
  • Trim Healthy Mama: It works well, is pretty easy to follow, and can be adapted to fit a whole foods lifestyle if you are willing to go the extra mile. I have lost 10 lbs in 4 weeks (still about 20 more I'd like to shed), Solomon has lost - hold on now - 15 lbs in that same time frame, pretty much painlessly. Which puts him in a healthy range for his height and weight, and he is now back to eating like the rest of the family.
  • Cure Tooth Decay: highly recommend. Great nutritional advice.
  • Escape from Camp 14: Wow. Do not start on a day that you hope to get anything else done. I read the whole thing in one single day.
  • Hungarian vocab: I SO need to brush up on my Hungarian. The grammar comes easily to me, but I am lacking many words.
Wait, I forgot one - this is very informative and helpful. Lots of rave reviews on Amazon, too.

What are you reading this summer?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Summer doesn't just happen by accident

At least not a fun summer, in a busy and somewhat large family.

Our homeschool year is over, and we won't be starting again until the last of week of August or the first week in September.

This last school year has been - awesome! I now have 9 whole years of homeschooling experience under my belt, and I must say, each year keeps getting a little better, and a little smoother. So if you are new to homeschooling - take heart! Just like anything else, time is the best teacher, and you will find the journey more enjoyable with each passing year. (That's not to say it wasn't enjoyable in the early years - it was. It's just even better now.)

About a month before our school year drew to a close, I suddenly came to the realization that it had been several weeks since Solomon, now 11, had asked me for any help with his work. He just finished 7th grade in most subjects, 8th in some, and 9th grade in Math. For that last one, he used Saxon Algebra I, which by all standards is a very demanding curriculum. Yet, not even once, had he asked me for help in weeks, not even in figuring out how far he should be along in each subject at the end of each week (he simply checked my lesson plan for that). Even before that, for most of the school year, he had worked independently. Only at the very beginning of the school year, way back last fall when he was 10, did he need me to go over the day's assignments with him each morning. 

Somewhere along the road this year, my baby grew up. He is where we had hoped to guide him - on the road to lifelong, independent learning, as my years of labor in teaching him is now bearing fruit. Yes, it's exciting, but oh, it is also incredibly sad. I am so proud of Solomon, but a part of me is hurting from the continual severance that must take place as children grow into adults. When I talked to him about it, he was - naturally - thrilled. As was his Dad.

Being reminded yet again how fleeting this time is makes me ever more grateful for the little ones coming up in the ranks behind their older siblings. So yes, we are looking forward to starting again in the fall.

In the meantime, having a good summer requires planning if we are to make it enjoyable. Just the logistics of getting 7 kids out the door, on time ***laughs hysterically***, dressed, fed, clean, and with water and snacks that can withstand the extreme daytime temps is a task. Let alone coming home to something warm and nourishing for lunch or dinner, keeping up with the animal chores, laundry, dishes, and errands - whew! Remember, my goal is to feel refreshed, not ragged at the end of it all.

Which is where a cheapo little 10 cent paper binder comes in handy. In it, we hold the kids' reading program records, blank calendars for the next three months, notebook paper for ideas, and printouts of any fun events going on, as well as our own goals for this summer. Left on the kitchen counter, or in my purse, this lightweight binder is constantly by our side.

Each day's to-do list is on a sticky note on the front.

 Older kids' reading program on the left, blank calendar pages on the right

 More of the inside of the binder

Yes, riding public transit is considered an adventure around here. And no, it's not one I am willing to spend money on, seeing how they raised sales taxes just to pay for the crazy light rail that nobody wanted. 

Would you like to see the complete list? You will have to check back for a separate post on that :)

Naptime, the holy grail of parenting sanity, is the time for Miriam and older to be working on the above (minus the piano, obviously). Summertime is a great opportunity to work with the younger kids without distractions from the older ones, so Miriam and younger will keep doing school work daily (which they are begging to do). 

 Little kids' reading programs

Okay, we're off to today's fun outing. Enjoy your summer!

We don't need no stinkin' ObamaCare...

... our kids are smart enough to be their own surgeons.

I am not sure what Miriam's ailment was, or how the cure worked out for her. I do know they had lots of fun playing together. Isaac is a super big brother, always patient with the younger ones, and willing to pretend with them at their whim.

I also love how Becky almost always has a baby doll in her arms. Such a little Mommy!

What if you were going in for surgery, and this is who walked through the door and introduced herself as your doctor. Scary, no?? :)

I just love those leather cowboy gloves Isaac is wearing!

Siblings are a special blessing. Our kids are not just a source of joy to us, but also to each other.