Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Elijah's Workbook

Like nearly all "preschoolers",
Elijah really wants to "do school" when the rest of the kids are.

Since I don't believe that formal schooling is necessary in the early years,
I don't buy curriculum for my younger-than-five-crowd.

That said, however, there are countless workbooks and worksheets available
that little ones like to do some work in--to "do some school" like the big kids.

One problem, though, is that nearly all of these are consumable.
I have bought some books with mazes or dot-to-dots
only to have them do all 25 pages in one sitting.

Yay for them,
but not yay for $$$$.

Another veteran homeschool mom suggested
 that after buying a book, I tear out all the pages
and place them in page protectors in a 3-ring binder.

I bought a zipper pouch to keep some
wet-erase markers in.
(you may remember these as what your teacher would use on an overhead projector)

When he is done with "school" for the day,
we can just wipe off the pages with a damp paper towel
and they are ready to go again for another day!!

What does Elijah think??
He likes it.
A lot!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I Think I'll Say...

I've decided that if anyone asks me if I usually go early or late, I'll answer like this:

"With five of the eight,
I've gone from four to ten days early.
Two out of the remaining three
have come within a day of their due date
and one came five days late."

And then?
I'll walk away while they try to figure that out.

(Just ask my poor husband--
I'm feeling a little snarky.)

"Preschool" Activities

Disclaimer:  I cringe at the term "preschoolers" and all that it implies.
However, as it's become such a part of our culture's vocabulary,
I''ll get over myself for today...

This year, I bought
and I couldn't be happier with it!!!

It had been on my wish list for several years now
and when I visited Heppner's Legacy this month,
I saw it and knew this was my chance.

Ruby and Elijah have loved the ones I've put together for them.
In the pictures below,
Ruby has some beads on a half of a pipe cleaner.
I glued one bead on the end and then about 6 or 7 more that are removable.
(I raided Linnea's over-flowing bead box--didn't need to spend a dime!)
She takes off the beads (that aren't glued),
puts them in a bowl and then matches them back up with the correct pipe cleaner.
It keeps her busy and happy for a loooooooong time.

Yay for constructively busy little hands!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

As You Can See...

I'm 40 weeks
still pregnant.

and that's ok.
(Babies are a lot easier to care for on the INside!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Works for Me Wednesday: I Retired My Dryer

If you've read my blog for any length of time,
you know that I am a clothesline fanatic.
My mom always used a clothesline,
so I came by it naturally, I suppose. :)

It also just makes good sense (in my opinion)
to use the wind and fresh air to dry the laundry than to 
spend money using electricity to do it.

But what do you do when it's rainy?
Or so cold the clothes will freeze?
Or the snow is just too deep for you to reach the line?

You can still hang up your clothes--inside.
I asked Dennis last winter how much he figured we spend per month just to run the dryer.  He figured at least $50.
(We have a front-load HE washer, but still our original dryer that we got when we were first married.  The washer has room for 3x what I used to be able to fit in our old washer, but the dryer couldn't keep up very well with 3x the amount of clothes in it.  I was constantly running that thing because I had to split loads, which held up the laundry process.  With this many people and dirty clothes--that laundry train has gotta keep movin'!)

I'm all about spending less when I can,
so I opted to quit using the dryer as much as possible.

I know that some people string a clothesline in their basement,
but this was not an option for me
so I spent about $3 on hangers at Wal-Mart and I hang the
clothes in closet doorways and bedroom doorways.

I also spent $20 on this rack (again at Wal-Mart)
for additional hanging space.
One can get a lot of little shirts on small hangers
hung onto one big hanger, as you can see.

This drying rack I've had for about 10 years.
Up until the "retirement" I'd used it for things that couldn't go in the dryer,
like any of the things I didn't want to shrink or fade
or if they were delicate.

I also recently decided to start hanging the diapers, too.
I do run them in the dryer for about 5-10 minutes just to fluff them a bit
and then hang them up. 

For barn clothes,
I hung a shower curtain rod between two hooks in the laundry room
and they hang to dry in there.

The only things I use the dryer for now are towels,
because I simply don't have the space to hang them up inside the house.
Also, if someone desperately needs their jeans or something else dry to wear,
we can toss it in--
I"m not militaristic about it. :)

I just thought of all the other places fifty dollars could go
and decided that I could implement this change in our house.

Even if you decided to run the dryer half the time--
that's still a savings.
Something to think about!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I'm Doing the Best I Can

Y'know--I'm doing the best I can.
Well, maybe not my very best every day, but I really do try and I work very hard to accomplish all that has been given me to do--and then some.

I cook {a lot}, I wash {a lot of} dishes, clothes, faces, hands, bodies, floors, and diapers.
I make the beds, sweep the floors, and vacuum.
I disciple, discipline, correct, and instruct the children.

And still--it's not enough.

Because if I don't return an email immediately, I'm ignoring emails.
And if I don't answer the phone every time it rings, I'm ignoring people who call.
If I can't come to every (or any) Bible studies, I'm ignoring my responsibilities to the church.
If I'm overcome with it all and lose my patience, I'm a terrible mother.
And if I am out and about, well, shouldn't we really be home doing school???

Sometimes I need to decline an invitation because I don't know how in the world I'll fit it in with all the other things I need to do--and my calendar is basically empty.

I know very, very few people who have a family even remotely similar to mine (I'm certain there are other larger-than-average homeschooling families that live and work on a dairy farm--I just don't know them personally).
This season of motherhood, child-rearing, and child-bearing is just not conducive to a lot of outside-the-home activities, especially if they are recurring over a period of time (ie, a weekly event).  Few people understand this.

And so, I get criticized for staying home "too much", for not "going out" enough, for being a woman who finds fulfillment and peace and contentment staying at home.

I like being an at-home-mom, I like doing housework, I like taking care of my kids and teaching them.

Being a wife, living on a farm with children who have responsibilities outside, being a mother to many and growing another requires a lot of time and energy.

I'm tired.
Tired of trying to please everyone.
Tired of trying to explain to non- or mis-understanding ears why I am unable to do something or need to do it a different way.
Tired of being misrepresented and misunderstood.

I'm doing the best I can.
I really am.

And still, people get offended because of something I said or didn't say, something I did or didn't do, somewhere I went or didn't go.

It's so exhausting to have people hear things that I didn't say or read something here on my blog that I wasn't even saying.

I am a real person who struggles with real things in real life.
I enjoy real things and real people who lead real lives.

I put up with people that refer to my kids as "this one", "the other one", "what's-his-name" and "what-cha-ma-call-him".
I hear the comment when we arrive somewhere (in a big stage whisper) "Look--it's like a parade!" and I try to take it gracefully.

I know I cannot be responsible for how everyone else reacts to me, to my family, or to my blog; I know I have a responsibility to act courteously and respectfully--of this I am fully aware.
However, carrying the weight that belongs to others is just too heavy for me.

I don't have the strength to bear it anymore.
Because I'm tired, and there are other things that need my attention more.

10 Ways...

I may have found a new blog to stalk...

I love, love, LOVE these two posts:


Yes, I am on my soapbox--
not because I think everyone should birth in a certain way,
but because I believe that so many women could birth in a better way than they are led to believe.

Monday, November 21, 2011

I'm Blessed

It's been a bit since I participated with Gretchen's I'm Blessed Series,
but this week I'm prepared.

I've been thinking about the kinds of things that many people take for granted;
though I'm sure there are many, many things that I, too, take for granted,
I know that I don't take the following lightly:

~I'm blessed to have running water in our house.
Each time I turn on a faucet,
I am thankful.
There have been many times over the years when I have turned on a faucet 
and had nothing happen.

~I'm blessed to have hot running water in our house.
Each time I turn on a faucet and get warm/hot water for a shower or bath or to do the dishes,
I am thankful.
There have been many times over the years when I have turned on a faucet and had only cold water and have had to heat water on the stove for baths or dishes.
I do not take hot water for granted. 

~I'm blessed to have vehicles that run consistently.
We have our big van and now we also have a car.
Both are reliable vehicles.
There have been times when we've had nothing to drive,
times when what we had to drive only had room for a fraction of us so we didn't go anywhere,
times when each time I turned the key, it was anyone's guess whether the engine would roar to life,
and times when my prayer was, "Lord, please just let me get to town and back before it quits."
Having a reliable vehicle is such a load off of my shoulders, and Dennis' too.

~I'm blessed to have been given a DISHWASHER!!!
It has been nearly a year since mine quit
and I am beyond excited to have one that works!
It came to us because someone was remodeling and putting in new appliances
and didn't need this one anymore.

As I sat sewing the other night I thought to myself, 
"I can spend time sewing because the DISHWASHER is washing the DISHES!!!"
Washing all the dishes by hand certainly wasn't impossible,
but, well, this many people who are all home every day makes for a considerable amount of dishes.
I am thankful for a friend who made it possible to lighten my work load.

~I am thankful for my family--both my immediate and extended family.
Dennis and I came under some serious attack recently for choices that we've made for our household from someone that we had previously considered "safe."
When this person unleashed how s/he really felt,
it was pretty unbelievable, not to mention incredibly hurtful.
However, I'm thankful that my home is a haven from people who are so openly (as well as covertly) hostile
 and that my husband and I are on the same page regarding these decisions.

We are blessed with grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles that love our kids--each one.

~Last, but certainly not least, I'm blessed by a Savior who gave His very life so that I could have mine.  It is in my weakness that I see how very strong He is.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Taking Care of "Business"

It had been that kind of day.
The kind of day that you wish was over and it's not even 4:00 yet.
The kind of day where I made an early supper because I just wanted to be done--done with cooking, done with washing dishes, done with baths, done with bedtime, just.

But it was only 5:30.
So, I did what I always do when I need to check out for awhile.
I purposed to take a bath.

The older children know that they are not to bother Mom in the tub on a day like that unless they are bleeding or on fire.
Ruby,  however, did not.

She knocked on the door.
I wanted to deny her entrance, but knowing that I could end up needing to clean up a puddle if she were not allowed through the door, I granted permission for her to enter.
I pulled the shower curtain shut, she came in and sat down on the little potty seat next to the tub.

I had lit a good-smelling candle, but even it couldn't cover up the "scent" of what she was doing.
"Ruby, are you done yet?"
"Are you done yet?"
"Not yet."
I just wanted a bath, some time to myself, and some reprieve from bad smells.
Obviously, that wasn't going to happen.
Because that is part of my life.
Babies and toddlers and poo.
Grown men and boys and barn clothes and poo.
Little children who never remember to flush the toilet (!!!) and poo.

And so, when my darling little three year old was finished stinking up the whole bathroom minutes after I'd begun my "relaxing" bath, she peeks around the shower curtain and says, ever-so-sweetly, "I'm done now, Mommy, and you take care of the poop, ok?" and out the door she went.

Yes, sweetheart, I'll take care of the poop.
Because that's {part of} my job.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Philippians 4:8

I was up long into the night 
mulling over some incredibly cruel and hurtful things said to us by a friend.

This morning I was reminded that
Whatever is 
~TRUE (emphasis mine)
think on such things.
paraphrase of Philippians 4:8

I know what God has asked us to do--
and what this person has decided we should do is in direct contrast to that.
I know what is TRUE
and I need to focus on that.

Praise God for His True and Holy Word.

Wanna See What I Made for $6??? (No boys allowed!)

This post is really for girls only.
If you are my son, nephew, brother, uncle, pastor, etc,
you may not want to read any farther.
Feel free to skip today and come back tomorrow!

Inspired by Genevieve,
and bolstered in confidence by Theresa when we made up some diapers for our new babes,
I decided to jump in.

My babies wear cloth...

I did some searching around on the internet
and decided to try this pattern from the Hillbilly Housewife.
I thought we might share some similarities :-)

I looked around the house for what I had,
spent $5 at Wal-Mart for some additional flannel,
and $1 at the thrift store on a pair of flannel pajama pants to cut up.

So, wanna see what I made?
10 outer pads
and 24 inner pads
for $6.00
all from old receiving blankets, t-shirts, a crib mattress liner,
new flannel, and re-purposed flannel.

For the same reasons I use cloth on the babies,
I decided to go this route after this baby is born.
~no chemicals
~no trips to town because "I'm out!!!"
~no contribution to landfills
plus an added benefit of feeling quite resourceful and independent!!

(Regarding the "ick" factor--if you scroll way down on 
you can read some really great information 
that lends significant insight into this topic.)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Isaiah's Deer

Our men were successful
on the 2011 deer hunt!
Isaiah shot this doe as well as a button buck.

I'm a big sissy when it comes to firearms,
so I'm always happy when hunting season is over
and all of my family are safe!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

MInd Over Belly

A comment that is very common for me to hear goes something like this:
"I bet you're sick of being pregnant, aren't you?"

Um, no.
No, I'm not.

I have very easy pregnancies--
no complications, no drama.

While I will admit that I am officially uncomfortable at this stage of the game,
I hope I never portray pregnancy as some terrible life-event to simply be endured.
I know many women have different stories than mine,
and, to be sure, I am NOT belittling their experiences.
I don't know how it's become so normal(?) to bash pregnancy and scare the living daylights out of anyone who has not yet had a baby.
Think how many horrible pregnancy/birth stories you've heard compared with the number beautiful, heart-warming ones.  Why do women do that to each other?  I have no idea.

I came across this article recently and really enjoyed it.
Maybe you will, too.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Doe, a Deer, a Female Deer

Nathaniel shot his first deer this year!
he shot this HUGE doe on the first day of the season.
The boys bought their first 12 gauge gun this fall
and that is what he used to bag this doe.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Getting Ready

You'd think I'd have this all down pat by now.
But I don't.

I think I had my heart and mind so set on a homebirth that I forgot that I have to have everything "ready" before baby comes: the carseat, a bag packed, camera at the ready, etc.

A few nights ago I was wondering if it was "time."  I made my way through several contractions, all while {almost} freaking out that I wasn't ready!
I knew that  if it really was labor, a bath would make the contractions progress.  If they were just "false", then a bath should settle things down.

At about midnight, I drew a nice warm bath with one of my favorite goat milk soap treats for myself (black raspberry for the really curious reader)...and cried out to God in my heart.

See, I've delivered eight children naturally (no epidurals, etc.).  I suppose it's because of this that I know very well that birthing a baby isn't exactly the most comfortable thing in the world to do.  It hurts.  It hurts worse if you're scared.  It hurts less if you're prepared for it and prepared to work with rather than against the pain.

Even though I know this, I still had this moment of really vulnerable conversation with God.
"Lord, I'm scared.  I'm scared and I'm handing these fears over to You:

~I'm scared it's going to hurt.

~I'm not ready.  If the baby comes tonight, I'm not ready. I'm not packed. I don't have everything out of storage!

~I'm scared of all the new-ness surrounding this baby...a new midwife, a new clinic, new hospital, etc.

To each of these, once I had surrendered the fears to the One who can handle them, I talked myself through each one.

Scared it's going to hurt?  Of course it's going to hurt--and it will hurt worse if I'm scared.  I need to remember that I was created to do this very thing.  I'm fully equipped to handle it.  If I can remember to work with  my body, as I have done before, it'll be fine.  I can do this.

Not ready?  GET ready!  Pack what I can right now, and the rest will work out.  It's no one's fault but my own that I'm not packed.  Make a list, gather what I need and the problem is solved.

Scared of all the "new"?  It can't be helped.  Concentrate instead on what is the same:  my husband, my friend/doula Megan, birth is not new to me, etc.  Focus on the One Who Never Changes--the Almighty, in who's capable hand I rest.

By the time I stepped out of the tub, the contractions had stopped, my fears had eased, and I smelled reaaaallllly good. :-)
I just had to get myself ready to face what lies ahead.

Happy Birthday, Elijah!!

Elijah is 5 years old today!
This tender-hearted boy...
our fifth son and sixth child...
I love him so.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Andrew's Birthday Date

 Andrew asked if he could have a "go out for dinner date" for his birthday.
He chose the Chinese buffet.
Dad had no objections.
(Neither did Mom.)
Of all the things offered,
he chose cantaloupe and chicken-on-a-stick
over and over again.
His drink of choice?
A little bit of each one from the self-serve fountain pop.

It was fun for him to be with "just us"
and equally fun for Dennis and I to be with "just him."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Happy Birthday, Andrew!!

Looking for someone who's NINE today???

Look no farther than our Andrew Dennis!
(that's our little friend Bridia he's holding)

I will try to post some more pictures later of our 
activities planned for him today.
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