"Anyone can have one kid. But going from one kid to two is like going from owning a dog to running a zoo." - P. J. O'Rourke

Monday, April 30, 2012

There's More Than One Way

I love Nina!

One of the things I love about Nina is her unconventional way of looking at things (unconventional compared to my boring ways).  Well, it shouldn't come as any surprise that she approaches algebra with a little different flair than I do.

Today, for her story problem, instead of writing x's and y's for her terms she decided to draw pictures of tomatoes and cabbages (I assume the problem had to do with tomatoes and cabbages).  Anyway, I thought it was very cute.

The hilarious part was when I was checking her problem though.  Here is the conversation that occurred.

Nina: "I don't think I got the answer right."

Me: "No.  The answer is right, you did fine."

Nina: "Really!  But you can't even tell that that's a cabbage, and the tomato doesn't look much like a tomato...."

Ha!  I found her response quite humorous :-)

One thing I can tell you, she has struggled to solve story problems for weeks now, never quit sure how to compose the equations from the word problem.....until she started drawing pictures for the variables.  Now she almost always gets them right!

Hello, There!

This is a special post for a special audience.  It has come to my attention that several of my children's friends read my blog.  (I know you each thought that you were the only one, but that's just not true.  For all I know there is a whole army of you out there...silently lurking on my blog...never commenting, but always seeming to know weird things about our family)

Anyway, I have a special message to all of you...

You all rock!  I love my kids' friends and I love the ones that read my blog even more!

Just thought you should know!

Reflections on Hannibal

We just finished studying Hannibal in history, as in the Hannibal who took elephants over the Pyrenees Mountains  and the Alps.  The Hannibal who pushed back and annihilated the Roman army.  He was an amazing general.  But, he never did take Rome, he never achieved his ultimate goal.

One of the reasons he won so many battles is because he chose where the battle would take place.  He picked his battlefields to his advantage and his enemy's disadvantage.

As I was reading Psalm 18 this morning, it struck me that Hannibal lost the war largely because his supply lines were cut off.  He wasn't able to get reinforcements because the Romans controlled the seas. 

Although I don't own elephants and I am not commanding soldiers, I need to fight my own battles today, and every day.  The first half of Psalm 18 assures me that God will fight on my behalf, I am not alone in any battle I face.  The last half assures me that I will never be without reinforcements and supplies, and I will always have a choice battlefield to fight on.

Psalm 18:19 tells me that God brings me to a broad place and he rescues me, and verses 33 and 36 remind me that he gives me a wide place for my steps , so my feet won't slip.  God chooses the best field for my battles.

Verses 28 -50 assure me that He will supply me with:light in the darkness, battle readiness, a shield, a refuge, strength, training for the battle, continuous support and deliverance. 

My supply line will NEVER be cut off!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

To Medicate or Not To Medicate...

That is the question.

We've got a couple kids over here who would most definitely be diagnosed with ADD, and for years we have just "dealt with it."  Meaning, we worked with them on ways to "do life" with the way they were wired.  I am a firm believer in teaching kids coping skills, as an alternative to medicate for something like ADD.

That was until we started noticing that the issue was making it difficult for one of our kids to maintain relationships with his/her siblings.  Also, we were seeing the toll that the issue was taking on the child's self-esteem (because of falling behind at school).

So, recently we have travelled down the road of pursuing medication to treat ADD.  The first day on the medication Child finished their school in record time, and completed all the assignments properly.  S/he also stated that this was the first day in two years that they had been happy.  Well, that nearly broke my heart :-(

Unfortunately, the side effects of the medicine were not ones that we could live with.  Child had difficulty sleeping at night, stomach aches, loss of appetite (as in hardly eating at all), and very difficult behavior when the medicine wore off.  After about a week of the medicine, we decided to stop using it.  So we are back to ADD issues, but we are used to these issues, and I have my "normal" child back.

That said, s/he has asked if we could try a different medicine.  Child recognizes that the medicine really helped them to pay attention and think clearly.  Thankfully, there are several options when it comes to ADD medication these days, so we will probably be trying a different one in the near future.

While all this is going on we are also doing some dietary changes.  I understand that the medicine only deals with the symptoms.  My real desire is to deal with the root of the problem - whatever that might be.

My reason for putting this post out here is because I KNOW we are not the only ones struggling with this!    I know I am not the only one who was convinced that medicating for ADD was a bad idea, yet now finds herself in a different boat.  Bottom line, I will do whatever I have to to help my child!


I found a tick on myself today!

Hard to believe for two reasons.

1) It's only April 29
2) I haven't been in long grass or the woods any time recently

I'm blaming the dogs!  Surely they must have brought that little blood sucker into the house!

Friday, April 27, 2012

My Friends Get It

I got an e-mail from a friend of mine earlier this week.  I've known her for a VERY long time (read decades).  Long before we were married, long before we had kids, we were college roommates.  Since that time, we have both gone on to have kids and adopt kids...only she's done both much more prolifically than I.  She has 15 kids, aged 17 down to 4.  If you want to find out more about her and her amazing family (which I really think you should) you can visit her blog, Dandelion Fuzz on DragonFrye Wings.

Anyway, I wanted to share part of the e-mail she sent me, because she did such a nice job of putting into words what it's like to come face-to-face with difficult things in life.

When I think through all of the family transitions and adjustments we have gone through, I would say it has been hardest on our relationship. Nothing beyond repair or long lasting but very stressful.  I can say Jeff and I are not the people we thought we were. Pressure can do that. Sin does that. But it is a good thing because "before I was afflicted I went astray but now I obey your word. You are good and what you do is good... Ps 119:67-68a    ( "Everything about God is good. God has been good to each and everyone of you. God has been very very good..." I listened to The Goodness of God tape about a zillion times in the past) . We might have looked like better more 'with it' Christians before this all, but being broken and needing to be fixed and put back together (even if it is for the umpteenth time) is ok
It is an ok place to be. 
Even if not many of our fellow friends desire to be in their own broken place too. Most settle for being in a chipped place, but broken is kind of a scary thought. Truthfully I did not know I was choosing to be extremely broken when we started to adopt though. I had no clue. I would have settled for chipped. Funny thought. It is kind of like tubing down the Apple River most do not mind the gentle flow of the river but most get off before the rapids. God is good in the gentle flow of the river, and God is good in the rapids, but the rapids take more faith to see God's wisdom and goodness. Hmm..this just happens to echo your Monday blog post,doesn't it? The thoughts you stirred up in me.
 The Goodness of God tape she refers to is a teaching tape from a church she and I used to go to.  That teaching had a MAJOR impact on my life, as well as hers!

Anyway, I hope those of you that are broken, and not just chipped, are encouraged that you are not alone in this!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I Think I've Succeeded

You may remember that way back in September I taught my first co-op science courses for the year.  I wrote a little blog post after that class lamenting the fact that most of the jr. and sr. high students no longer loved science. 

This made me sad :-(

This also made me very, very determined to change their minds.  I made it my own personal goal for the year to show all these kids how fun science is.

Well, the year is almost over now, and what a year it has been!  We've learned a lot of really cool things about space and astronomy.  We've learned that very large things frequently fall out of the sky (usually into the Pacific Ocean - never in Minnesota).  We've learned that earthquakes and tornadoes kill a lot of people, and so do tsunamis and hurricanes.  We've learned that physics is fun!  We've learned that eggs are God's gift to science teachers!  And just today, we learned why you have to wear shoulder harnesses when you're riding on a roller coaster - you don't want to end up like the broken cup, now do you?

I've also learned the high school kids are very motivated by candy!

There are two more classes left in the year, and on the last day I will re-do my informal poll on how many of the kids love science.  I'm very confident that the results will be better than the first time I took this poll :-)

Just today, a mom told me that, even though they never study physics at home, her daughter told her, "I want to be a physicist!"  This made me VERY happy!

It's been a VERY GOOD year!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Monkey

I know Zoe appears to be a sweet little girl....but really, she's a monkey, and I have pictures to prove it!

Gone Fishin'

The little kids went fishing today...

they didn't catch much!  Maybe because they never left the neighbors driveway :-)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Ready, Set, Go

I always feel like the beginning of the week is like the beginning of a race.  Sometimes it feels like it will be a fast sprint around the track and sometimes it feels like it's going to be a marathon.  I never know if I will dash across the finish line or stumble on the first curve.  Regardless, there are good things to remember as I face my week ahead - a little pep talk, of sorts.  Maybe you need that, too, so I will share it with you.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me.  When you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, declares the Lord." - Jeremiah 29:11-13

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.                     - Hebrews 11:1
I always like putting those two passages together because, quite frankly, sometimes believing the first one takes the faith talked about in the second one!  Sometimes the things that are seen are quite discouraging and look quite hopeless, and that's where faith steps in and raises my head.

I hope you all have a faith-filled week!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Career Choices

Here is one of my public service blogs.  This one is specifically for those of you with high school or college age kids.

You may or may not know that my husband was a computer programmer for many years.  Now he is a manager of....computer programmers, and architects and things like that.  According to my dear husband, there are not enough young people going into computer programming anymore.  He is quite befuddled by this, since it is a career choice will most certainly land you a well-paying job.  Despite the depressed economy, there is still a need for programmers.  In his own words, "It isn't a terribly difficult job and the pay is great."

So, you might want to put a little bug in the ear of your college bound children that maybe, just maybe, they should consider a career in computer programming.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Women Wanted

Looking for volunteers - three to be exact - of the female persuasion for adventure, excitement and possible danger.  Although it's not quite a Schackleton adventure (we hope), we are hitting the water in July.

Where?  The Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA)

When? Mid- to late July (from a Thursday to the following Monday)

Who? Me, Nina, Molly, Emily, My Sister Deb, Her Daughter Rachel, _________________, ________________ and ___________________.  We have room for three more ladies, young or old.

Any takers?

What can you expect?

A little of this....

Some of this....

And lots of this....

Don't be intimidated!  No previous BWCA experience necessary, but it would help if you knew how to paddle a canoe :-)

What we will not tolerate:  whining & complaining!

Seriously, it is an amazing, relaxing, refreshing time!  No phones, no responsibilities (beyond basic survival), no alarm clocks (except the loons), no clocks, no need to go the gym.  It really is a wonderful place!  It's been two years since my last trip, and I am very much looking forward to going in again!

Will you join us?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

This Makes Me Happy

Yesterday during school, Raelea asked if she could listen to Aidan and Emily's science lesson because "it's interesting!"  And then, she said those wonderful words...

"I want to be a scientist when I grow up!"

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It's Time

I went to our state homeschool convention this past weekend.  I haven't gone in a couple years, so it was fun to be back there.  My favorite part of the convention is running into friends and holding uninterrupted adult conversations (something that doesn't frequently happen when you have eight kids).  This year, I had two long talks with friends who are struggling with "issues" with their kids.

I also tried to attend one of the speaker sessions that involved helping families where there are kids who are struggling.  I couldn't get in to hear the speaker because the double ballroom was full (with a long line outside of people hoping to get in).  This did not go unnoticed by me.

The observation I made from these "events" is that there are a LOT of people out there, good people, people who are doing their very best for their kids and their families who are struggling, looking for help, looking for encouragement.  In my opinion, the problem is that there are NOT a lot of people around who are being honest about their struggles, particularly in the church and specifically in the homeschool community.  This leaves those of us that have a less then perfect family feeling very much like we're the only ones.   The "everyone else has it together, so there must be something wrong with me" attitude quickly takes up residence in our minds.

It's got to stop!  It really does!

People are hurting.  Their kids are hurting.  They need to know that they are not alone, and that we are all in this together.

A few weeks ago, I made the decision to be real with people.  I'm not helping others and I'm not helping myself by pretending we've got it all together.  Now, I'm not going to go and vomit all of our family issues out on anyone who walks by, but I'm also not going to pretend that we have the perfect family either.

We have serious problems in our house...seriously.  We have ADD, we have attachment issues, we have learning problems, we have anger issues, we have people seeing therapists and people on medication under this roof.  We are a broken bunch...BUT (and this is a very important but)...we have an AMAZING Savior who not only specializes in saving us from our sin, he also specializes in healing us of our hurts and helping us in our trials and being strong when we are weak.  He is our ever present help in times of trouble.  He is more present in this house of brokenness than ever before.  I have seen Him work, first-hand, in my life and in my kids' lives.  I've FELT him carry me, I've WATCHED him put together broken people.  I've gotten to know him in a much more intimate way in the past four months - through the intense heat of trials, grief and pain.

So, if you are struggling, I want you to know that you are not alone and there is hope!

She's At It Again

Raelea had to write another story for school.  Like her first writing assignment, this one also had to do with a fish.  I include it here for your enjoyment.

I was fishing off an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico and I caught a magic fish.  I found it at 2:00 p.m. when it was usually my room time.

My first wish was to get forms, and it came true.

My second wish was to keep the fish at my house and make a wish on my birthday every year, and that wish came true.

My third wish was to breath underwater and hold the fish, and my wish came true.

When my wish came true, I could hold the fish and it was not slippery, so it did not slip out of my hands.

The End  

And there you have it!

Monday, April 16, 2012

It's Alive!!!

And it's in my cupboard!!!

I've never done this before, but a dear friend gave me some kefir grains last night.  So here's to happy digestive flora!

Btw, if any of you who live close by want to start growing kefir, I'm sure I will have grains to share in the not too distant future.

It's About Time

This day has been three years in the coming!




Doesn't she look happy??  We are back to having only one child in braces :-)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Just Sayin'

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Is The Hand That Rules The World

by William Ross Wallace
Blessings on the hand of women!
Angels guard its strength and grace,
In the palace, cottage, hovel,
Oh, no matter where the place;
Would that never storms assailed it,
Rainbows ever gently curled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Infancy's the tender fountain,
Power may with beauty flow,
Mother's first to guide the streamlets,
From them souls unresting grow--
Grown on for the good or evil,
Sunshine streamed or evil hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Woman how divine your mission
Here upon our natal sod!
Keep, oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Blessings on the hand of women!
Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,
And the sacred song is mingled
With the worship in the sky--
Mingles where no tempest darkens,
Rainbows evermore are hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

On A Happier Note

Today was co-op day!  Teaching science always makes me happy :-)

Here's a summary of what the kids learned in my class today:

1) Physics is fun!  Actually fun and physics are two words that should ALWAYS go together!  Fun physics!  It has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

2) Eggs are God's gift to science!  Do you have any idea how many really cool things you can demonstrate with EGGS?  I think I did a blog post about this fact a while back.

I combined these two truths with this experiment...

In case you're wondering what we were really learning today, the lesson was on Newton's Three Laws.

It's My Blog

So hold on to your hat, Babe!  I'm fuming mad, and BECAUSE it's my blog I'm going to vent right here! If you're not interested...or ready...you better go read something else!

(deep breath)

It seems that some woman named Hilary Rosen has stuck her foot in her mouth in a BIG way by saying, Mitt Romney's wife "never worked a day in her life."  Now I don't know what Ms. Rosen does all day with her time, but I can guarantee you there is not a stay-at-home mom on this planet who doesn't work her rear end off every single day!

Ms. Rosen, while you spent your day today offering artificial apologies (I'll get to that later),  let's see what THIS stay-at-home mom did all day...

5:30 woke up, showered, read my Bible
6:30 put the finishing touches on a science lesson that I will be teaching later to 3rd - 12th graders
6:50 fed my son
7:15 woke up six more kids and began breakfast for them
7:30 Took one child to a doctor's appointment
8:30 Came home and made dinner for the crock-pot
9:15 started school - taught six children in four different grades every subject required by law
10:30 started making lunch
11:00 fed kids lunch while preparing to get six kids to co-op
11:30 helped two children prepare for giving presentations at co-op, while gathering all the necessary items to entertain my students with interesting physics experiments
11:45 make a quick stop at Target on the way to co-op
12:00 arrive at co-op, help children set up their displays for their presentations, set up my science classroom
1:00-3:15 teach three class of science (physics today, if you're wondering) to approx. 30 children
3:30 load everything back into the van to go home
4:30 fielded a phone call regarding some educational choices
5:00 get dinner on the table (that would be a homemade dinner, btw)
7:00-8:30 continue to teach one child math

During this entire time I was also acting as a medic, counselor, psychiatrist, tutor and chauffeur.

So, Ms. Rosen, while I am sure you are emotionally exhausted from your strenuous day, I am physically and emotionally exhausted from mine!  And you know what?  I will get up tomorrow and do it all over again (sans the co-op- but adding other chores), and then I'll get up and do it again, and again, and again...Do you get the idea yet??

Okay, now let's move on to your fake apology, shall we?  Now, here's the deal.  When we apologize here at our house it goes something like this, "I'm sorry for doing _________.  It was wrong of me.  Will you please forgive me."  Notice a couple things about this apology.  First, an apology acknowledges that we have done something WRONG.  Second, a proper apology should ask for forgiveness.

Now, let's look at your apology.
 "I apologize to Ann Romney and anyone else who was offended," Rosen said in a statement Thursday. "Let's declare peace in this phony war and go back to focus on the substance."
Hmm, a couple things are NOTICEABLY missing. 1) an acknowledgement that YOU WERE WRONG and 2) a request for forgiveness.

Notice the "I'm sorry YOU were offended."  So instead of an apology, we get an off-handed slam for being offended by her statement.  As though the being offended was the problem!

Okay, I'm done now.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Things Are Really Hopping

Life's really hopping over here!  At least it has been since this past weekend, when this appeared in our backyard....

Hopping, hopping, hopping...that's all the kids want to do this week!  It's making it a little difficult to do school.  It's also making it a little difficult for some of the kids to move without pain!

And our backyard has officially been declared "a really awesome place!"

Thankfully, there have been no serious injuries...yet.  

Monday, April 9, 2012

Over Too Fast

The thing I don't like about holidays is that they end too quickly!  I really enjoy them and I want them to last...well, aside from the copious amounts of sugar that is consumed...that part can't end soon enough!

The part of spending time all together with the family, that's the part I really enjoy!  So, here are a few highlights of our Easter.

There was a lot of this going on...

When we weren't eating, there was this going on...

and some of this....

Later, there was a bit of this...

There was also some of this happening...
(I'm not sure how Peter could sleep with children hunting for Easter baskets all around him)

Here we insert a random, but beautiful picture of Emily because, well, because she's beautiful.

And last, but not least, how many people does it take to determine if the ham is done?  Well, apparently for our family, at least four.

Hope you had a glorious, Christ exalting Easter!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

Amidst all the candy and bunnies and feasting of the day, I hope you take time to look in the tomb.

But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here, for he has risen, as he said."     Matthew 28:5-6

Out of all the verses in the Bible, these are my very favorite!

He has risen!!  Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Fine Line

There's a fine line when you're sick (say, with something like a sinus infection) between when you should just let your body go ahead and heal itself and when you should go to the doctor for some medicine.

I'm not one to trot off the the doctor willy-nilly for myself or my kids.  This probably comes from my upbringing.  Mom hardly ever took us in to the doctor, and certainly not for something so minor as a head cold.  There was that one time, Mom, when Kathy probably should have gotten stitches, but aside from that we all faired pretty well and made it to adulthood intact.

It's a fine line.  You don't want to go in to the doctor too early and be needlessly prescribed antibiotics for something that would go away on its own.  And you certainly don't want to take the precious extra hour out of your day for that doctor's trip.

I found myself pondering where that line was this week.  On Wednesday I felt like I was getting the beginnings of a sinus infection.  I figured I'd try a little rest and some sinus flushing and I might just kick this thing.  I wasn't any better on Thursday, so I continued with the rest and sinus flushing routine.  Friday morning, I began to think that maybe, just maybe, I was approaching the "go to the doctor line."  By noon on Friday, I was sure that I was at the line!

What I failed to take into account was the time it would take to go to the doctor, get the prescription and then wait for the antibiotics to start working.  All the while, I was racing full speed ahead on the wrong side of the line!  Which resulted in a VERY unpleasant evening and night for me yesterday!

I am happy to say, that thanks to the wonder-drug Zithromax, I am once again at a functional capacity!  I think I'll move the line a little before  I get sick the next time!


Not sure what happened, but sometime while I was laying in bed, sicker-than-a-dog with a horrendous sinus infection, my blog got deleted!!!!


Well, I'm back now.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Good Day/Bad Day

Everyday, When Chris comes home from work, he asks me how my day was or if I had a good day.  In the past, I would answer that question based on how the kids' behavior was that day.  If there were lots of issues or problems that would be a bad day, if the kids were overall well-behaved that would be a good day.

I've stopped doing that lately.  I've come to the realization that I can't control the kids' choices and therefore, in my old system, I had no control over what kind of day I had.  This is not good!  So, I have learned that how my day goes needs to be determined by me - did I make good choices, did I have a good attitude, etc.

This has resulted in a LOT more good days for me :-)  So now, when Chris comes home and asks, "How was your day?"  I will frequently answer, "I had a good day, but ________(insert child's name here) had a bad/hard day."

Oh, how wonderful it is to not be under the dictates of other people's choices!

I've also learned that "good day" does not necessarily mean "easy day." Some good days are hard fought on my end - choosing to make the right decision with my own responses in the face of my kids' sin and disobedience is sometimes a very difficult decision (but not impossible, mind you).  On those days, my response to Chris might be, "I had a good day, but it was a hard day."

There you have it!  I'm off to have a good day now, and I hope you will too!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

At Long Last

Maybe you haven't been waiting for months for the Castlecomer EP to be released, but I have!  And now, today, I can finally purchase it on iTunes (and so can you)!

I HIGHLY encourage ALL of you to go over to iTunes right now and take a listen.  No longer do you have to listen to them playing in an abandoned parking garage!  Although I kind of like the empty building back-drop, I think the sound quality is much better on the EP.

Okay, run along now over to iTunes!

Monday, April 2, 2012

I Love Playmobil

This isn't a new sentiment, but it is one that I am reminded of tonight.  Seven children, ranging in age from fourteen to five, all happily playing in my living room - this folks, is the main reason why "I Love Playmobil!"

In addition to the broad appeal, they are so well made and fun AND I get to hear such things as:

"I'm the Prime Minister!" 
"They shall be arriving by carriage."  
"Are you going crazy, Sire?"
"Will you royal people stop coming over!"
"Here ye, here ye, I would like to introduce the King of England, err, the King of wherever we are...and now I would like to introduce the pets, Oliver The Duck...."

Renewed Interest

Strangely, my children have a renewed interest in archery.  Okay, not so strange, since the five oldest have all seen the Hunger Games at least twice (some three times).  I haven't seen it yet, and don't know if I will, but I'm glad they are enjoying shooting the bow!

They'll need to continue to hone their skills, as I think they lost a few arrows in the woods!