Friday, July 14, 2017

Good-bye Kazuma

We are very sad today. Last night, our beloved cat Kazuma suddenly couldn't walk straight or steadily. He was staggering around, and this morning he was worse.  We took him to the vet who diagnosed, vaguely, something very serious -- stroke, seizure disorder, blood clot. We could likely find out what with extensive testing, but it wouldn't have changed the fact that he was an old cat with a major problem who was completely miserable.

So we made the very hard call and had him euthanized.  They gave him a sedative and I held him in my arms as the terror left his limbs and he fell asleep in my arms.  He was peaceful as they administered the drug that stopped his heart.

Kevin buried him in our back 3 acres after a little time of reflection as a family. He was a really good cat and this was really hard and we've cried buckets of tears.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Potty Training the Littlest

Potty training is not for cowards.

If that is indeed true, I am a brave mama for training 9 kids thus far.

Of course, it is the children who have done the really hard work.

And it IS hard work.  Yes, some kids just get it all at once and have the whole thing down in a day or two. I have a friend who told me her eldest had one accident total. One.

We have had a couple of potty prodigies, as we call them (though they weren't as amazing as our friend's daughter) but most of our kids have taken awhile to master all the complex issues surrounding using the potty.

There is the actual peeing and pooping. There is getting the underwear off and on. There is dumping the small potty into the big potty. There is washing the hands.

There is recognizing the need to use the bathroom in the middle of an interesting video or game time.

So having said all that, Rose is doing very well. She's consistently able to use the potty and while she has accidents, we're proud of her progress.

AND, she is the last kid. When she is done, we will be done with diapers!  For real!  Wow. Amazing.  17+ years of having kids in diapers and yes, we will be done done done!


Saturday, July 1, 2017

20th Anniversary

Incredibly enough, Kevin and I celebrated 20 years of marriage this week.  It really is hard to believe, hard to FATHOM, that we've been blessed with 20 years together!

Marriage is hard works It is worth it, definitely, but it isn't easy.  I would say our first year was in some ways the most challenging, as we worked out what it was like to live together in marriage together.

On the other hand, back then we didn't have kids waking us up at night. Or fighting.  Or peeing on the floor.  Or falling over and scraping themselves.

In the Princess Bride, Wesley tells Buttercup, "Life is pain, Highness, anyone who tells you anything else is selling something."

It's a funny line in context, but there is a streak of truth. Anyone assuming life will be peaches and cream, all fun, is going to be sorely disappointed.  Our lives are joyful and happy.  Our marriage, our children, our GOD, are a blessing.

Yes, God has carried us through 20 years of marriage.  We are so thankful for His strength, direction and wisdom.

20 years.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Lydia is 16!

Our sweet Lydia is 16!

I remember like it was yesterday the night she was born. I went into labor about midnight and she was born less than 5 hours later. She was tiny and beautiful and such a blessing.

And she still is.  Not tiny, but a very beautiful blessing.

She is fantastic with small children and animals. She writes very well.  She loves God and other people.  She is an extrovert.

We are very thankful for her.

Happy birthday, Lydia!

Saturday, June 17, 2017


Our smallest boy turned 5 a few weeks ago.

He liked his bubble mower, which makes wonderful sounds and blows bubbles (outside, of course.)

And Rose turned 3 this week.  I took the crew to Young's Dairy, a local ice cream place.

Lydia makes beautiful cakes.  She made both Rose's and Daniel's.

We are thankful for our small people.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

King's Island Day

Once again, we were able to go on our annual trip to King's Island, a fairly local amusement park, thanks to free tickets from the company I work for.  We all went except Rose, who is in a rough stage of running away from Mommy.  Not a good habit in an amusement park. So Kevin's mom graciously stayed home with her for the day.

This tiny little 'roller coaster' is actually a lot of fun.

Our company paid for a face painter to go to the company picnic.  Nice!

It was VERY VERY hot.  Like 90 degrees hot.  At 3 p.m., we went to a circus performance put on by Cirque du Soleil (not sure about spelling.) Very fun and interesting, and cool.

By 5 p.m. we were worn out and went home.  Two days later, Kevin and I are still recovering though the kids are full of vim and vigor!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017


Well, wow, 2 weeks since I posted. That's bad.

So we are healthy again, praise God!  Isaac kept coughing and coughing and finally I took him in. His lungs were a bit wonky so the doctor put him on antibiotics for walking pneumonia.  He is all better now thankfully.

I'm usually the picture taker, not the person getting her picture taken. Kevin took my picture and it turned out well, so here it is.  It is interesting getting 'older'.  I mean, we all are all the time, but I do feel like I'm moving into a new season. No new babies,more than  few gray hairs (though thankfully to lucky genetics, I'm still mostly dark haired), more aches and pains.  It's all Ok.  I just have to adjust.

Try to ignore the horribly dirty window. The cats continue to be SO much fun.  They are cute and rambunctious and sometimes adorably cuddly.  

Lydia got her temporary driving license, which I may have said before. So far she is doing well on the road.

I took all the kids except Isaac (who was sick at the time) to get their eyes checked at the optometrist.  We have 6 kids in glasses.  Today I took all 6 of those kids in to pick up their new glasses, except for Isaac who had to have his old one's repaired.  (He sees the optometrist in a couple of weeks.)  An older gentleman in the office commented, "I hope you have good insurance."

And we do. We are blessed to have a vision insurance that provides one pair of glasses each year.  My own eyes are in great shape. I don't need reading glasses and indeed only need glasses at night.  My night vision isn't the greatest.  Again, getting old, but I'm thankful for my good vision.

I found a mystery series I'm enjoying by a lady named Miranda James. They are called the Cat in the Stacks mysteries.  They are of the 'cozy mystery' genre.  The violence is real but not graphic, the person who dies is always extremely, super, over the top annoying (so you don't really regret he/she is dead) and the main character is interesting and nice.  The solutions to the mysteries aren't brilliant, but they are Ok.

The writing is, in my opinion, better than in most cozy mystery series.

The only issue I have with it is that the main character (a male librarian in his late 50's) is totally mellow and happy about the sexual relationships of various unmarried people in his lives, hetero and homosexual.  He attends church and prays occasionally though there is no discussion of Christ so it isn't a Christian book per se.

It's fine.  It's just noticeable to me that many books accept out of wedlock sex as normal, and while it may be normal in our culture, I don't believe it is wise, right, and/or good for people.  Sex powerfully binds people together and therefore it is something that should be kept for marriage alone.  It creates a strong sense of intimacy, tying people together.  Sometimes people who shouldn't be together. All this, I know, makes my views seem old fashioned these days. I'm cool with that.

Ok, gotta go.  I will try to update more promptly next time.

Oh, this Sunday is the yearly excursion we've all been waiting for, our trip to King's Island!!

Monday, May 22, 2017


We broke a bad record this week -- most people sick in our family at one time.  And the answer is (drum roll please) 9 and a half.  Out of 11. The half is Lydia, who has a runny nose but is mostly doing fine. I'm not sick yet.  EVERYONE else.  Ugh.

Coughing, fevers, fatigue, and crankiness, oh my.  It is really been quite the few days of yelling and crying and people lying on couches. No one will die, no one is badly ill, we're just grumpy and sick.

The coughing has been very intense at times, Joseph especially.

We will survive this. I am thankful I am healthy.  It was a quiet and simple weekend since taking our crew anywhere would have been some kind of social crime.

Kevin has it though he isn't coughing too much thankfully. He has been really tired though.

I pray we heal up quickly.

Growing Creatures

Kittens remain incredibly cute.

Caterpillars are in their cocoons

Tadpoles getting bigger, but no little legs yet.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Painted Lady caterpillars


Pollywog.  Or tadpole.  The eggs are laid on our pool cover and grow into tadpoles. This year, I took a bunch of them (about 20) and put them in a bin outside under a tree. We'll see if they grow into frogs!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

3 Little Kittens

Some dear friends of ours kindly took in a pregnant cat which was dumped on their property.  She produced 5 healthy kittens.

Our older kids have been wanting a kitten for a very long time.  A few days ago, we prayed and felt that adding a kitten or two or three would be a good thing.

So yes, we took 3.  All males, all adorable.

We'll figure out where to get them neutered fairly soon, though they aren't quite 2 months so we have a little more time.

They are totally cute and a lot of fun!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

St. Croix pictures part 1

So many pictures.  So many GOOD pictures. I just decided to throw some on here.

There were feral chickens everywhere!

These giant fish were swimming around the boardwalk area of Christiansted.

Um, sugar thing?  Or something?  Old, obviously.  We think it was originally designed for making sugar.

This is on the parapet of a fort in Christiansted.  It is refurbished and very neat!

The view from our balcony.

Tasty meal. Kevin cooked. I did the dishes.  I think I did well with that deal!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Air Zoo and Good-bye

Here are some pictures of our family at the Air Zoo.  The Air Zoo is in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and is a combination of rides and planes.

We went there with my parents the day before we flew out to St. Croix more than a week ago.

Rose was very dubious about the rides.  She warmed up and when my parents took her to the Air Zoo again later in the week, she was way more excited.

Weird infinity room with mirrors.

Everyone waved good-bye to us as we headed off to the airport.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Back from St. Croix

We're home!

Kevin and I spent the last 2 weeks driving to Michigan, leaving the kids with my parents, flying to St. Croix, hanging out for a fantastic week, and then flying home on Thursday. We pulled our stuff together and drove back to Ohio yesterday.

We had a GREAT week.  St. Croix is a lovely place for a couple wanting to just hang out at the beach.  We did a little more than that, but we spent a lot of time in the water snorkeling and on the beach walking on lovely wet sand.

We stayed in a little place that had the air of a mom and pop establishment.  Each room is individual and our room, while not large, had a lovely king sized bed, an adequate bathroom, and a charming little kitchen.  It oozed personality and creativity. We napped every day, I think, and waking up to the beamed ceiling with the knowledge that our kids were 1500 miles away and being cared for well was a delight.  I am so happy to be home now, I missed my kids, but just being able to nap whenever we wanted was a little bit of paradise!

The place where we stayed had a curious little group of people who are monitoring the egg laying of giant leatherback turtles at a nearby preserve.  They are staying for 3 full months and spend the night out on the beach, looking for turtles.  They tag the turtles and move the eggs if they are in a dangerous place (in terms of shifting sands and erosion.)  A young lady gave an interesting talk on Tuesday night about the turtles.  They are huge -- full grown like 900 lbs. But when they are laying eggs, they enter some kind of trance and don't care if humans mess with them.  Most interesting.

Well, today is super busy so I'm going to sign off.  Pictures later.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Happy Easter!

Kevin is finally much improved after a horrible 2 weeks of illness. He had/has a virus with lots of agonizing coughing.  Of course the kids and I got it as well, but he was by far the worst.

Yesterday was Easter.  Our holidays are weird.  I'm not someone who does well with elaborate parties of any kind, so Easter is never fancy. Nor is Christmas, really.  I feel like life is so strenuous that adding on a big party is TOO MUCH.

Usually Kevin's mom fills in the gaps on holiday celebrations. She blessedly lives nearby and brings over a pile of food to augment our turkey or ham or whatever.

She also prepares the bazillion eggs for the kids' egg hunt.

But THIS year, she was driving back from Connecticut with our niece on Easter!  They went to New York City and saw a Broadway show on Saturday. Very cool. Our niece has been in Connecticut the last few months doing an internship.

So sometime this week we'll have an egg hunt. The hunt is just fun and doesn't have a whole lot to do with Jesus, so having it later is just fine. I know the symbols can be tied into the Easter story and indeed we just did a Resurrection Egg hunt, which tells the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus through objects in eggs.

Anyway, we went to Sunday school yesterday morning (me and 6 of the kids) and it was great.  A speaker introduced a short video on Holy Week.  It was well done, taking bits from a movie about Jesus' life and interspersing it with lots of archaeological evidence.  It was excellent.

Today has been quite strenuous.  A friend asked me to watch her 1 year old, which I did.  This little girl was probably intimidated by being at our house but she was good as gold.  By that, I can only assume she isn't ALWAYS that angelic.  Rose is a total terror in comparison. But of course Rose is usually calmer at someone else's home. Anyway, it was fun.

Then I was trying to take a nap (I've not had as much sleep the last 2 weeks with Kevin's illness) and in the middle of TRYING, Sarah and Daniel started tearing around the house, which got me out of bed. Then I ran off to the chiropractor.

Kevin and I are going on a 20th anniversary trip soon. So exciting. We're going to the beach. Tropical beach.  My parents are watching the children.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

These Are the Weeks That Try Moms' Souls

So we are sick again.

Kevin has been coughing hard for more than 2 days now, resulting in almost no sleep. Poor guy!

Other people have been sick too. Our big girls are already through this stupid illness.  They were quite miserable but are on the upswing.

I've been home a lot this week.  Which is fine, but it is hard when kids are sick and I can't fix it.  Rose ran a fever much of today and kindly threw up on Lydia twice.  As usual, Lydia handled it very well. She's stoic about such things.

Weather got super weird in the last couple of days, too.  We had a few very nice days and did a lot of playing outside (those of us who weren't sick at the time.)

Yesterday there were very bad storms rolling through.  Those of us at home hid in our tornado shelter downstairs, and the 3 kids at youth group found themselves sitting in a hall waiting for the tornado warning to pass.

And incredibly, a tornado did pass, though north of us, in Enon, where Kevin's mom lives.  It was an F0 and not strong, but there were dramatic winds as part of the storm system and many trees went down in Enon, including part of one of Mom's trees.  And shingles, a bunch of them, came off her roof.

A nearby barn was badly damaged.

Today it has rained dismally all day.

I keep balancing all that needs to be done with the need to get adequate rest, as I hope I don't get seriously sick from this stupid thing.

We will see.  Feel free to pray for us.