Tuesday, April 17, 2018

More Fifth Wheel Excitement


The fifth wheel is in the barn now :-).

So there is a story behind that, not a very interesting one perhaps, but it is MY blog.

Since the previous owners bought the 5th wheel in California, we (meaning Kevin) had to take the RV to a local motor vehicle bureau to have the VIN number officially scanned by some official personage.

Moving the RV is a PAIN.  But Kevin had the morning off so he decided to do it, with the added motivation that the weather is crazy cold for mid April -- lows will be in the high 20's tonight, with blowing. So to prevent the water pipes from freezing, Kevin decided to see if it would fit in the barn.

And it does.  Barely.  It has about an inch spare on top where it almost hits the lights in the barn.

Before it got in the barn, we had a near fiasco.  Kevin got stuck on the hill near the barn, in the grass. Really stuck. Horribly stuck. We've had SO much rain and the truck's tires got mired in mud.

By God's grace, our neighbor not only has a very powerful truck, he also happened to be home!  He drove over and pulled us out.

So far the 5th wheel has been a big hit. One night Kevin and I spent a couple of hours in there, watching an old Doctor Who.  Last night, the four older kids went out to play a game, and tonight the 2 middle girls went out for a couple of hours to spend time together.

We still don't have the plumbing working but we do have electricity working perfectly.  When the weather is decent, we'll get the plumbing sorted out.

There have been plenty of memes about spring this year.  Which is proving very elusive.  We're all ready for consistently warm temperatures.

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Long Winter



Yep, winter will not loose its icy grip!

5th Wheel!





We are buying a 5th wheel and a truck to pull it!

I know my loyal readers mostly find this coming out of nowhere, because it kind of is.

So for as long as I can remember, I have liked the concept of a "tiny house" -- a little place which is super efficient.

But we got married and had 9 children, so a tiny house isn't practical for us.  AND they are expensive.

A couple of months ago, Kevin commented that we could probably buy a travel trailer or 5th wheel for a reasonable amount of money.  We started looking around.  A local family (not someone we know) has a 5th wheel in great shape for not too much.  So after prayer, we've decided to buy it.  AND he is selling a 2001 diesel truck to haul it, also for not too much money.

We do have to take out a loan and I hate debt but this is a really nice setup.  We did look around thoroughly at other travel trailer and 5th wheel options  and decided this is a good fit. It has a bunk room in the back and will sleep 9 people without too much trouble.

So what is the plan? The initial plan is to park the 5th wheel near our barn while we figure out all the details of caring for it. The most complex is the plumbing. There are issues involving the bathroom that are still entirely confusing to us.  Kevin is a brilliant guy regarding such things, but it'll still take awhile to get that all sorted out satisfactorily.

He already put in the requisite electrical connection so we can plug in the 5th wheel.

Our idea is that it will be a retreat. Kevin and I can get away from the kids occasionally, leaving the older ones in charge.  

Our kids can get away from the noise occasionally, or they can go into the 5th wheel and MAKE noise, leaving the house a little quieter.

So all this should happen in the next couple of weeks. As a SORT of amusing aside, the truck got hit by a falling branch during a windstorm last week, the day after we agreed to buy it.  We hadn't yet, so the owners knocked off some money.

I'm excited!



Sunday, April 1, 2018

Happy Easter!

He is Risen!

We aren't going to church today.  We usually don't on Easter.  I know that sounds pretty lame but it is always a crazy busy day at church and years of having a huge family has taken its toll on me.  I don't like having to keep track of everyone when there are limited seats in the sanctuary and all.

And Kevin's mom and our niece are coming for Easter lunch today at noon.  Our niece has to get back to college up north this afternoon and reasonably doesn't want to drive in the dark. AND it is supposed to snow tonight!  Will spring ever really come?  It has been a long winter.

I took the 3 youngest to our church's Easter egg hunt/bouncy hut spectacular yesterday.  We started out with listening to a wonderful description of the Easter story using Resurrection Eggs. Each egg has a symbol (like a tiny palm leaf, a cross made of nails, coins to represent Christ's betrayal by Judas) and one of the ladies from church did a lovely job telling the story.

Then we went on the egg hunt. Rose and Daniel and Sarah all gathered many eggs. Rose went quietly nuts near the end and I was keeping track of all 3 kids in a busy crowd and each egg hunt was in a different place so it was stressful. Four of the big kids were there helping with the event itself. They were able to help sometimes.

Suffice it to say I was very glad when I got everyone safely home, but it was a lovely time and I'm thankful for our church's willingness to have such a community event which ties into the gospel.

I've been saved since I was a teenager so maybe at some level, the Easter story seems old news sometimes. But this morning I was reading through enduringword.com, which is a wonderful website which includes historical and theological insight into passages.  I was reading about the Last Supper in the Gospel of Luke.  And once again I was struck with amazement that Christ, the Son of the Living God, my Lord and my Savior, humbled himself and died for me, for my sins.

I was reading a movie review a couple of weeks ago on screenit.com.  I really like this site, to the point that I actually pay for the privilege of using it.  The reviews are very detailed about various issues that might be a problem. The reviewer of a new movie on the Apostle Paul commented briefly that he didn't understand how a man like Saul of Tarsus (who became Paul after his conversion) could truly be forgiven for his many sins.  We tend to forget that Saul was basically a terrorist.  He went around dragging innocents to jail for being Christians. He killed.  He murdered.  This reviewer said he just didn't get that aspect of Christianity, that a truly evil man could truly be forgiven.

And I realized that I am Saul of Tarsus. I am.  No, I'm not a mass murderer.  I'm a "pretty nice person." But GOD IS PERFECT.  And I never was, am not, never will be perfect on Earth. I will sin. I will fail. I will be selfish and fearful and self centered.

But Jesus loves me anyway.  He loves me SO MUCH that he was willing to die a truly horrific death to be the sacrifice for my sins.

We are all sinners, and we are saved by grace and grace alone.  Thank you, Lord Jesus.

Happy Easter.  He ROSE!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Funeral

Kevin and I drove up to Michigan on Friday night so we could attend my uncle Bill's funeral on Saturday morning.  We were originally planning to drive up early in the morning but there were threats of an ice storm so we went up early.

Kevin's mom kindly came over and spent about 24 hours with the kids.

The funeral was beautiful in its own way.  My aunt said that at the end, the only thing working well for my uncle was his pacemaker. He was so ready to go home, so ready.

It was a Lutheran funeral full of liturgy and hymns.  My dad gave a lovely eulogy.  Communion was served and I got confused about what to do. I've been to 3 Lutheran Churches now in my lifetime (attended 2 for some time) and each one did communion differently :-). Those Lutherans!  No really, it was lovely.

Funerals are strange things in some ways because we're all grieving a loss but we also see relatives and friends we've not seen in forever.  I met a friend of mine I'd not seen in more than 20 years. She used to attend the same church as I did back in my graduate school days, before Kevin and I were married.  She got married to a fine fellow and moved in ACROSS THE STREET from my aunt and uncle. Just one of those weird "it's a small world" things.  She and her family have been loyal friends to my aunt and uncle, and vice versa.

I got to see one brother, the one who lives in Chicago. The other lives in Hawaii so getting back for the funeral wasn't feasible.

After the funeral and lunch, Kevin and I went to visit another aunt and uncle who live in the Ann Arbor area. I used to live with them for the first couple of years of graduate school, but I haven't seen much of them in the last 20 years.  Kids and kids and more kids, and married life, and work, have not resulted in much traveling on our part.  It was wonderful to spend a couple of hours with them and my brother, who was there also.

Their house is gorgeous.  It is funny to me how different life is without small kids.  Our house must be practical, for our own sanity.  No figurines, so breakable objects at high level, and so on.  It was fun seeing the house and the changes they've made since I lived there, but I'm thankful I'm not trying to maintain that level of decorating with kids racing around like rhinos around here.

We got back late, after driving through a snowstorm.  The kids mostly did fine though there were things that didn't happen that should have.  Rose was pretty crabby.  She is very attached to me. I don't know if that is partly because she is the youngest and the "baby" of the family?  The other kids, by this time, had at least 1, usually 2, younger siblings!


Monday, March 12, 2018

Uncle Bill

Each of my parents has one sister, and each sister is married.

My aunt on my mom's side lost her husband, my Uncle Bill, last week. The funeral will be this week and Kevin and I are going up for it.

In some ways, it was a terrible time for my aunt and uncle.  Bill had a terrible foot infection, resulting in an amputation of part of his leg, which then morphed into additional heart problems and breathing problems and infection.

It took 7 weeks from the point of realizing he needed medical attention for his leg to his death.  Seven really tough difficult weeks.

On the other hand, he was a devout Christian and he was ready to go home. It is very hard for those left behind, of course especially my aunt.  They were married for more than 3 decades.

I'm thankful he is with Jesus, sad for those left behind. 

Losing Weight

I haven't.

And I'm Ok with that. But I did say I'd update on my quest to lose a few pounds.

It's hard!

I don't need to lose weight, just not gain 20 more lbs, but it is interesting how hard it is to lose weight.

Lots of people would agree, of course. We are blessed to live in a culture with lots of food and we don't work as hard physically as many of our ancestors.

So I'm rocking along between 150 and 155 lbs and I'm Ok with that.

My blood sugar A1c popped up to 5.8 last time it was checked, which means I have higher bgs than when I was on metformin.

I've been trying to exercise moderately regularly.  I'm doing better than I did a year ago, for sure.  If I can maintain this weight and keep those blood sugars reasonable, I will be blessed.


Monday, March 5, 2018

Spring and Field Trips


  
We are inkling towards spring.  It was warm last week and hit 70 degrees one way.  That was awesome. And then it got cooler again. Right now it is 41 degrees.

Every year I get too excited about warm weather and put away warm clothing and then it gets cold again. So this year I WILL NOT DO THAT.

We went for a walk in our back 3 acres. It is lovely out there, thanks to Kevin's hard work.  It would be a tangled mess of vegetation if he didn't cut things down every year.

And our new deck is beautiful.  A nice place to eat popcorn.


This morning was not warm but I felt energetic and ambitious so 5 children and I went to the Air Force Museum, which is fairly close.  We had a lovely time but it is HUGE and we went to one of the farthest hangers. I think I wore out the little ones.  We didn't stay too long and were home by lunch. There was lots of fussing and whining as I tried to feed people and deal with a very tired Rose. Then our microwave broke.

But I did take them somewhere fun and educational, so I get kudos for that. Right?



Sunday, March 4, 2018

A Crazy Week

So after being sick off and on the week previous, I had a crazy week last week.

I went to the orthodontist 3 times with Joseph. THREE TIMES.  Things kept coming loose. It was weird.  We also took Isaac in. The ortho, whom we really like, strongly suggests that he have orthodontia because of an overbite and his teeth not lining up properly.

It's only money, right? 

And appointments.

I also had 4 dental appointments on Wednesday.  It was a crazy week with being gone and the house got kind of messy and out of order.

And then we sold the big van!  We got at least 10 inquiries about it, and sold it for a little more than $12,000 to a church in Michigan.  In the last couple of years, we've totally refurbished our car fleet. We should be good for awhile unless we buy another car for the big girls to drive. 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

An Off Week

An off week in more than one way.

I was sick for a few days.  Thankfully it was just headaches and body aches, not the flu.  Praise the Lord. And the kids didn't seem to get it, though Kevin had it as well.  We were both very tired.

I took the week off from school and thought I'd get a lot done.  Which didn't happen. Being sick didn't help.  Caring for Rosy Posy was, as usual, fairly exhausting because she's a high energy girl.

However, we did get a few things done.  I specifically wanted to START working on clothing needs for the summer and sure enough, I started.

I managed to heroically cull some of our DVD's and books.  That doesn't come easily, but I got rid of at least 75 books and maybe 6 videos?

Which helps.


Rose makes me chuckle. She has all these toys she adores so she has now found them a plastic tub so she can haul them ALL around.


And here is her 'submarine'. Please observe the crack so she has air.  We are careful.


Tuesday was WARM.  Like 70 degrees.  We spent hours and hours outside, which was good.

Naomi's college courses are going well.  She is a hard worker and organized.

Lydia is also doing well in her freshman English class.  It has helped a lot that Lydia has her license.  My weeks are much easier now that I don't have to drive her to class. Of course I pray for her and Naomi, that God will keep them safe.


We have made the fairly momentous decision to try and sell our 'big van'.  It is a 15 passenger that has served us well, but now that we have 4 drivers, one of whom is full time in college, we are using it all of once every 3 months.  We almost always take two cars to church as different people go to Sunday school and service.

Given that we are paying insurance on it, and it is worth a fair amount (still) we've decided it is time to pass it on.  For our occasional trips to Michigan, we'll either have to take 2 cars or leave two someones behind; but again, with both Naomi and Lydia being full time in college next year, that's not unrealistic.

Or we can take two cars.

Of course, we have to sell it.  What kind of crazy needs a 15 passenger van???



Saturday, February 17, 2018

Cuteness Overload


She loves this hat and pretty much wears it all the time these days.  Sometimes even to bed!


And sometimes, she just needs to hang out in the corner of the family room eating an apple.


And this is the GREATEST.  She's entered her "attached to multiple objects" stage in life. She has all these stuffed animals she adores, to the point that she can't carry them all at once. So being a sensible little girl, she found a container and carefully stacks them all inside so she can cart them all around at once. Problem solving at its best!

We love our little lady.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

(Not) Like a Well Oiled Machine

Usually our laundry routine works quite well. There are 11 of us, of course, which means a great deal of laundry. But we've got things down to a semi-science, with various people doing various jobs.

So we rarely get way behind, and we rarely have laundry catastrophes.

But yeah, yesterday didn't go well. We were running laundry cheerfully enough, when we suddenly smelled something dreadful in the washer.

Kevin, of the eagle eye and nose of bloodhound, successfully tracked down, yes, a small lump of fecal material, also known as poop, in our washing machine!

AFTER we had run a couple of loads.  My best guess is that one of the little ones had an accident and 'helpfully' threw a pair of underwear with unpleasant load into the washing machine. Because that's what you do with dirty undies, right?  Wash them.

So that meant we had to wash some clothes over again. Not that they really smelled, but I just KNEW what had happened so had to wash them again.

And then, to add insult to injury, we had a sheet problem.  Fridays are the day that the younger 7 kids change their sheets.  We have 2 sheets for each child, so when one comes off, another clean one should be available to put on the bed.  But SOMEHOW, the middle girls only had 2 clean sheets.  4 dirty.  We figured this out at night.  So here we are, juggling laundry that had to be re-washed with a frantic need to wash a sheet so Angela could make her bed before bedtime.

Result is that I have a half load of wet stuff from yesterday sitting in my entry room because somehow we overlooked it. Today we wash our sheets, so I have to wait for those to dry before I put the clothes from yesterday in.

We are close to being sorted out, but arghh.  Not a stellar day in the laundry department!


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Newly Minted Driver!


And this lovely young lady is now a licensed driver!  She passed her test last Friday.  It is exciting for all of us. Yesterday she drove herself to her college class and it went great.  Congratulations to Lydia!



Most mornings now, Rose sits on my lap for 10 minutes or so drinking her milk.  This is new and special.  The child rarely sits still for long so these moments when she just cuddles without frantically wiggling are a lot of fun.  She has also started sitting still for me to read her books.

This is the first time in my parenting life that I've had a 3 and a half year old youngest child.  It really is different. I don't have a baby or a toddler now.  Rose, though she is still very active, is calmer than she was a year ago.  It'll be interesting when she is 5 years old. 

Friday, February 2, 2018

It's a New (Used) Car!


Lydia is a brand new driver!

And we bought a 2016 Toyota Corolla last week for both girls to drive.

I've never been a parent who thought their children 'deserved' a new car at 16.  Indeed, I have always thought that a ridiculous point of view given that cars are expensive and kids' insurance is higher on new cars.

BUT, we decided that the old car that Naomi was driving, a 2003 Civic, wasn't nearly as safe as a newer model.  Tremendous strides have been made in safety the last 15 years.  More air bags, improved crash protection, rear backup camera...

So yes, we decided to buy a safer car.  Which is red.  Now our fleet of cars includes 2 red cars, 1 red minivan, and a silver 15 passenger van.

It's been an expensive year + what with one thing and another.  We bought the Pacifica for me, the Corolla for the girls, orthodontia for 3 kids, decking, and no doubt other things I am forgetting.  And of course we eat a lot.  Our grocery bills went up last year as Isaac in particular did his classic "I'm a teen boy with a hollow leg" thing.

All this is to say I am very thankful for Kevin's job.  It pays well and we are able to care for our large family well.

And congrats to Lydia!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Superhero capes by Lydia




We were gifted some fabric and Lydia made capes for the three youngest. So adorable!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Choices

I spent (not enough) time this morning praying for our children and their career choices.

It occurred to me that we live in kind of a weird time in history.  Our children, both girls and boys, have so many possibilities for careers.

For centuries, most women in most countries had very few options. In many countries today, women had few options. And many young men have also been expected to follow in their father's footsteps. If your father was a tailor, you were expected to become a tailor.  If he was a farmer, so were you.  And so on.

So now we live in a country where both men and women can do almost anything.

And while that is great freedom, it also means that the choices can seem overwhelming at times.  I mean, there are like hundreds of possible careers. Which is the right one for a particular young person, especially someone who naturally doesn't have experience in the working world?

There are ways to narrow things down, like doing career analyses.  I have some of those books and the older girls have worked their way through. Naomi is an introvert so spending a lot of time with random people, as a salesperson, for example, wouldn't be a good fit. 

Lydia loves children.  Loves children.  So she'll probably end up doing something with little kids.

Or animals. She love animals as well.

So yes, I was praying for God's guidance.

But maybe even more important than picking the "perfect career" is being at peace with not really knowing the future.

I went to college and chose metallurgical engineering as my major, based on a week long trip to Michigan Technological University the summer after my junior year.  We had a half day session on metallurgy.  That wasn't much information about a whole major, but I figured I could switch majors if it wasn't a good fit.

Turned out it was.  I really loved metallurgical engineering.  My graduate studies were more all encompassing and my degree was in Materials Science and Engineering. (Metallurgy is focused on, you guessed it, metals.  But ceramics and polymers are also vitally important materials, of course.)

So I spent almost 10 years in college. Yes, 10 years.  Graduated with Ph.D.  Got married.  Worked for a couple of years.  Had a child.

And wow, was I unprepared!  I hadn't been around small children much at all for decades.  I was teary eyed with hormonal upheaval and fear the day we brought Naomi home from the hospital. Of course I had researched and read books and thought about baby care, but it wasn't something I had much experience with and I was so stressed about messing it up.

Did I mention she was under 6 lbs at birth, and born in the winter?  She was so tiny and I was so unprepared!  I loved her with a fierce passion that defied description, and felt inadequate.

But you know, I figured it out. And then we were blessed with 8 more children, and my life settled into a routine and I became a bona fide expert with small ones.

So sometimes you start in one direction, and life takes a sudden turn and you do something else.

That's encouraging.  Our kids don't need to figure it all out. They can take a few steps in one direction. If they need to adjust, that's Ok. God can guide them through His paths for their lives.

Just as He guided me.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Potty Training from an Expert

My expert opinion, based on training 9 children, is that potty training takes a long time.

Like, years.

Each.

At least for some kids.

Yes, I have had potty prodigies, who got the whole day time and night time dry and clean thing down in a few short weeks.

But Rose is more typical.  Yes, she does pretty well during the day. At night, she is still wet. Which is fine.

But even during the day, sometimes life is way too interesting to bother with a bathroom trip and then she gets a little wet as she finally races off to the potty.

This is all fine.  An important aspect of being a parent is tons and tons of patience.  Really. Patience. 

Lots of it.

God given, endless patience.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Pics with Warmies

My wonderful mother sent us mittens and hats and neck warmers, mostly made by her.  And we are enthusiastic and having fun with them.







Oh, the Frisks and Charas deserve some discussion.  They are characters from a game called Undertale.  Miriam accidentally got two of each character for Christmas/birthdays. She could NOT be happier.  Having twins of each is like a dream come true for her.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Family pictures

We took some family pictures and they turned out well!







Because being able to carry your son who is 6 ft. 1 inches tall is important!