Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pampered

Yes, that would describe me this morning. Last night, A. and three of her friends had a birthday sleepover for P. at our house. (It was A.'s birthday gift to P.) M. and B. were sleeping over at other friends' houses, so weren't home this morning and J. has been teaching on Saturdays and leaves very early. That left me with 10 children, which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, except the baby girls continue to need to eat all night and I was very tired. But this morning, even with the amount of children in the house, I got to sleep until 10 am. A., P. and friends, when they realized how tired I was, went downstairs and made pancakes for themselves and the little boys. They also made sure that got K. dressed. At 10, when G. woke up and was hungry, A. came in and offered to take her, but I was rested enough and fed her instead. When the girls saw I was going to wake up, they bustled off downstairs (and really, no one bustles like A.) for a few minutes. When they reappeared, they brought a tray with pancakes, coffee, and a glass of water for me to eat in bed. The girls then proceeded to get both babies changed and dressed. It was all so thoughtful of them. And do you want to know the best part? Upon (finally) arriving downstairs, instead of being greeted with a kitchen that was a disaster, I found a completely cleaned kitchen. It was possibly cleaner than when I went to be last night. Talk about a way to guarantee future sleepovers. Thank you A., P., H. H-S, P13 and P11!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Growth spurts

G.

L.

I really shouldn't wonder why I have a house full of half-finished projects. It's because I spend a significant portion of my day nursing two adorable babies. And then every couple of weeks (days?) they seem to have a growth spurt and need to eat even more than usual. Other than them just nursing more frequently, I can tell because I, too, become ravenously hungry. I usually enjoy eating, but needing to eat all the time is starting to grow old. I had been drinking Ensure to help boost my calorie intake and I think I need to go back to doing that. I'm pretty sure I'm eating more than my 14 year old son at this point. Which, if you know B., is quite an accomplishment.


Oh yeah...the other thing about growth spurts is that the babies wake up more at night. So I'm hungry and tired. This could all explain my rather blah, unmotivated mood I've had for the past couple of days. But when I stop to think about it, I know that this season is very, very short. Before long the girls will be feeding themselves while sitting in high chairs soon to be followed by doing all sorts of grown-up things such as learning to drive. Sometimes when I go back through photo albums and look at my other children when they were babies, I wonder to myself if I appreciated that time with them enough. In hindsight, it seems so fleeting.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Preparing for a Renaissance feast or the motherlode of thrift store ugliness

Yesterday was our history co-op's end-of-year Renaissance feast. (It was supposed to be last spring, but various family-things came up for several of us and we had to postpone it.) Our feasts always involve costumes, so last week I hit the thrift store looking for things that could be turned into Renaissance dress. And that's when I found it. Possibly one of the ugliest designs of clothing there could be: the velour jumpsuit. It's only saving grace was the color:

My first thought was to turn it into short Renaissance style pants for B. to wear. It was perfect in that there was already an elastic waist band and the pants were wide enough to look authentic. But, I'm pretty sure you won't be surprised when I tell you my 14 year old son balked at wearing big, silly, velour pants. Another option for this astounding piece of clothing was to just leave it as is and put it up with the play costumes on the third floor. It did have a lot of play value, as A. demonstrates:

But, I opted to cut-up the legs and make two baby dresses instead. Here is the whole gang, dressed for the feast:

B. ended up being a Moroccan ambassador and you'll notice that J. was game to wear big, funny pants. I'm afraid that I didn't catch K.'s sandals before the picture. While red leather sandals are fine on a day to day basis, they aren't exactly period to the Renaissance. And finally, a close up of the 'infant princesses' in their new dresses, complete with gold circlets to indicate their social status (L. on left, G. on right):

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Battle of Antietam

What would you do on a beautiful Friday morning, when you don't have anything else scheduled, after a very productive week? Invite your friends to join you in reenacting the Battle of Antietam from the Civil War, of course. We have been studying the Civil War (I know, I know, we've been studying the Civil War forever...I plan on finishing this fall) and one of the books we are using suggests acting out the Battle of Antietam to give the students a sense of what troops moved where and when. To make it work better, we could have used 10 more people, though we made due with our 22 children. (Well, really it was 19, since one was off at a doctor's appointment and the babies weren't really old enough to participate.) It did make for some slim Confederate troops. At one point one of the 13 year old girls, representing an entire Confederate company, was doing her best to ward off more than a couple of Union troops. And another time, the youngest participants, who were on the same side, became enamored of the game and started wrestling each other. The whole thing was a success and everyone came away with a better sense of what happened that day. Unlike the real battle, we followed ours up with a picnic lunch and play time in the park. It made for a couple interesting conversations with some of the other people who happened to be there.

For those whose history is rusty...the Battle of Antietam, fought on September 17, 1862, was the single bloodiest day long battle in American history. Both sides had heavy losses of life, with the Union losing more men, but the Confederates losing a greater proportion of their total troops. It was considered a Union victory, but only just. In honor of the Union victory, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

The participants preparing for battle.

This is the Curry family, the P family and the H-S family, minus one boy, in age order. K. is in there on the left...he got a little pushed out when I had them squeeze together because they weren't all fitting in the camera frame. It's a little hard to see them all, but if you click on the picture you can see a bigger version of it. A. is wearing the Civil War general costume I made for B. several years ago.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

3 months old

G. on left and L. on right
It is impossible to get a good, smiling picture of both of the girls at the same time. One of them always ends up looking goofy. Anyway, G. and L. are three months old today. They have settled quite a bit and often have periods of happy attentiveness. This is a significant improvement over just needing to eat whenever one of them was awake...or crying because the other one was eating. They are also sleeping better. Their bad nights are now better than even the good nights were when they were first born. I'm not caught up on my sleep yet, but it is getting better.
Everyone has been asking me how I manage to homeschool the other children when I have two infants. Frankly, the homeschooling/infant part is easy. I can nurse and correct math, or explain sentence diagramming, or read a book while I'm nursing. What's trickier is the house stuff and infants. It's harder to nurse and sort laundry at the same time. The 3 year old and homeschooling is also a challenge. K. is rather, um, curious, shall we say? He really needs constant supervision. Babies stay where you put them, toddlers don't. I'm not sure why people don't ask about that aspect of my life.
But back to the babies. Even with the lack of sleep, they are sheer joy. I never tire of staring at them or holding them or smelling the tops of their heads. I am incredibly blessed, really doubly so. There is the wonder of the babies but there is also the delight I have in watching my older children with them. Never have two babies been so loved. God is good.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Commando shopping

This morning I decided to go to the Moms of Multiples semi-annual sale. When I was pregnant, I looked into joining this group, but the annual dues are $40. I'm too cheap to pay that just to get into a rummage sale an hour early. I'm sure they do other things as well, but I also don't need playgroups or baby basics lessons at this point in my life. So, I had to wait until 9am with everyone else. I knew it was a popular sale, but I under estimated the desire of pregnant women (I've never seen so many pregnant woman in one place!) to get good deals on baby stuff. Even arriving early, I was still probably at least 100 women back from the door. The standing in line part was fine, though there were a couple dicey episodes between cars in the parking lot. But then it was time to shop. Perhaps I should have titled the post 'Speed shopping'...these women were serious. I saw entire dress racks empty in the space of a half an hour. I was only there to see if I could find some matching/coordinating outfits for G. and L. in larger sizes. The trick was to scan the racks looking for duplicates while dodging grabbing hands and trying to move down the row. I only found a couple outfits, but that's OK since I only brought a little money and the ones I found were pretty cute.

But the whole experience leaves me with many questions. First, if the group is charging a $1 admission fee to the literally hundreds of shoppers who were there today, why do they need to charge such an exorbitant membership fee? What do they do with all that money? Second, what on earth were the women going to do with all the clothes they were buying? Each shopper was allowed to bring one laundry basket into the sale. I saw women toting laundry baskets that had clothes stacked easily 2 to 3 feet high. I don't know how they carried them around. How could one or two children possibly wear all those clothes? (And if they were buying for quadruplets, perhaps that membership fee would have been worth it.) Is there some children's clothing black market they were suppliers for? I was sorely tempted to go up to some of them and ask. I wish one of them was standing in line next to me as I was waiting (in a line longer than the one to get in) to check out with what felt like a very small amount. It's easy enough to start some small talk and comment on who you're buying for. Maybe they belong to some little known sect that doesn't believe in the use of washing machines. I know I sound a little snarky, but I'm truly mystified. I'm not sure if I'll go back to the next sale in the spring. Because of the early bird shopping, there were very few matching outfits and the prices were higher than the thrift store I usually frequent. But, if I ever feel like just people-watching, it's an excellent venue; it just needed a coffee bar with some stools to sit on...though someone might have bought them if they were unattached to the floor.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, P.!

P. turned 9 yesterday. She is definitely the quietest member of the family; I often joke that she needs sub-titles so we know what she's thinking. Though recently, she has been more chatty and sociable. It's nice to hear what's going on in her head...because there's a lot there. She is very imaginative and crafty and likes nothing better than to be making things. Enjoy this picture of her I took today. Sometimes getting a picture of this child is more difficult than taking one of an animal in the wild. I love this girl, quirks and all. Happy birthday P.

We celebrated P.'s birthday on Wednesday since yesterday was the annual homeschool day at the Six Flags amusement park near us. We have gone with our close friends the P family and the H-S family for many years now and it has become a tradition with our three families.
Here is the group of our children (plus a couple of parents) from this year. (I should say four families because the past couple of years another mom and her daughter have joined us as well.) Between us there are 23 children, born on three different continents and four different countries, with ages between 2 1/2 months and 17. As usual, we all had a great time

Here is a picture of K. with one of the P family children. They are 'driving' ladybugs in the little kids' area, where I always spend most of the day. By the time I'm free to go on the big roller coasters again, I may not want to ride them anymore.

And just because, another picture of the babies. It's not their most attractive photograph, but I think it's funny because their eyes are so wide in it.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

New schedules

Wall schedules with our daily routine


I've been busy the past few days working on new schedules for the school year. This includes new chores for everyone and slightly changing our school schedule from last year. I've decided I'm the eternal optimist. Every year I work on developing a schedule that will transform our lives...the schedule that will create children who are happy and cheerful in doing their chores and who do them everyday without being reminded. Since I am making a new schedule for this year, you'll know that this has yet to happen. But, on the other hand, every year I have new insight into what things will help the year go more smoothly. This year, I'm leaving nothing to chance. Everyone has everything explicitly written out: when chores are to occur, how they are to be done, and what schoolwork should be accomplished. I have also made myself a list of what I need to do and when. I've given up trying to keep everything straight. I either end up forgetting something or I just can't think of what I should be doing next. I have also learned that if I don't check that what I've asked to be done is actually done and done well, it isn't going to happen. With all this in mind, I've created job folders for the older, reading children and job cards for the non-readers. We'll see how it all works.

These are the fronts of the folders. I have attached a list to each one of the schoolwork that needs to be done each day.

The inside lists a schedule of what happens each day, including when the child is to do certain chores. On the left side is the list of weekly cleaning jobs that are assigned to that child.



On the back is a pocket which holds cards that have instructions written on them for each job. No longer can a child say to me that he or she didn't know it was supposed to be done that way.


These are the rings cards I made for TM and D. They are very specific lists of what each boy needs to do with a place to check off when it is done. There are dry erase markers included in the storage pocket to do this. The last item of the day is to prepare the cards for the next morning. The older children will get to keep their folders in their rooms, but these will live in the hallway where I can keep an eye on them.


This is my folder. On the right is the daily schedule and lists what I need to do or check and when. On the left are schedules specific to days of the week. Each afternoon is completely different around here with various combinations of people going to a variety of different places. Plus, I designate to each day of the week a certain job. (For instance, one day for grocery shopping, another day for sewing and mending, and so on.) This way I get to each major group of jobs and I don't have to feel guilty for not doing all of them all the time.

And finally, one last picture for those of you who made it this far. A completely gratuitous picture of two cute babies:

L. on left and G. on right

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Owl Babies

G.


L.
One of my favorite picture books is Owl Babies by Martin Waddell. The three owl babies in it are so cute with their big eyes, thinking, as they wait for their owl mother to return. I've taken to calling G. and L. my 'owl babies' because they remind me of the pictures in the book. They look like they think a lot, don't they?
The babies have also started to sleep more. Going to bed at a reasonable time is still not their forte, but once they are asleep I can count on at least four or five straight hours. After weeks of an hour or two at a time, this feels wonderful. They have been sharing a crib, and often sleep in exactly the same position. (I hope you can see this, for obvious reasons we didn't want to use a flash.):

And sometimes sleepiness is contagious. We call it 'baby dust' around here.
Today, L. had an ultrasound on her kidneys. If you remember, in all those ultrasounds I had during the twins' pregnancy, her kidneys were always showing up as being dilated. If it did not resolve, she would need surgery to correct it. I'm happy to report that only one kidney is very slightly enlarged at this point. It looks as though the issue is resolving by itself and won't need surgery. She will have a follow-up ultrasound next year just to be sure. But now, I'm very thankful that all I need to do at the moment is enjoy my babies. God is good.
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