Showing posts from April, 2011

Work 5 days and rest for 2? Thoughts about the weekend and the Sabbath

I've been thinking about my expectations about the "weekend" for a while now.  It actually stems out of thinking about what the Sabbath is and how we observe it in our family.  (Ideas that have evolved over time... I've been working on this since M. and B. were little.)  And I've come to the conclusion that we get weekend and Sabbath a little mixed-up.

At least I had.  There is such an aura that surrounds our thinking about the weekend.  It's as if there is this expectation that it is two days of play, involving no work, and what we spend our week looking forward to.  The implication of this is that there is little good or enjoyable about the days of Monday through Friday, but that they are a necessary evil to get through in order to enjoy our weekend.

By buying into this (even if unconsciously), the weekend, instead of being the whirlwind of fun we expect, more often becomes two days of disappointment and short-tempers.  When expectations are too high, it is…

Therapeutic sewing

I spent a good chunk of yesterday doing some therapeutic sewing.  What is that you ask?  It's when I retreat to my room and spend time doing something that I find enjoyable and relaxing and gives me some quiet time to pray while I work as well.  There are just some days when the world seems so not right.  I have friends who are facing personal health concerns, friends who are facing serious health concerns for their children, and my heart is heavy for those who lost everything in the tornadoes.  Plus we still don't have a completed home study and I get depressed when I think about all the hoops that set of papers has to go through before we can even submit our dossier to China and begin that waiting.  And since yesterday it was cold, cloudy, and rainy for the millionth day in a row (OK, not the millionth, it just felt like it), it all adds up to a disheartening day.

So I forgot about working in the kitchen and headed upstairs to sew instead.  And while sewing is usually relaxi…

Twin things

Decorating eggs -- G.
I've been meaning to write about this for a few days.  Watching G. and L. grow and develop is so interesting because of the added relationship between the two girls.  I don't ever get tired of watching them interact.  Plus we now have the added entertainment of them both acquiring language.  G.  has been talking up a storm for a while now, but L. has started to get in on the game as well.  I find it particularly cute that they now say each other's name. 

Of course, this also adds some complications.  G. has become very concerned with what things belong to which girl.  (L. does not seem to share her concern... perhaps because it seems that L. thinks of everything as hers.)  If we give G. the wrong cup or shoes, she will shout, "No! L.!" over and over.  It took us a few times of this to realize that she was complaining that we were giving her something that belonged to L. and not her own.  When this happened with shoes, I at first mistook G…

Family togetherness

The All-in-a-Day Moms are discussing family togetherness today, so I thought I'd join in.  The topic is a bit ironic, though, since it happens to be one of those days where I feel as though a little less family togetherness might not be a bad thing.  The past 24 hours have been rife with less than wonderful behavior (and I am certainly including myself in there) and I feel despair trying to creep in.  Some days it feels as though not only will we never make progress, but we are going backwards. 

But that's all a part of it, this family-togetherness-thing, isn't it?  Getting along with other people when you only see them for bits at a time is easy compared to getting along with family members with whom you spend the bulk of your day, every day.  If we can learn to treat our family members with kindness and patience and grace then we can probably treat just about anyone that way.

What is it about sibling relationships that they can be so tricky?  I want my children to be go…

Spring break recap

We're back to our regular schedule today with the official end of our spring break.  (I included Easter Monday in our vacation... because I can.)  Out of curiosity, I kept a running list of all the things I noticed my children doing throughout the week while we weren't doing our regular schoolwork.  I found it interesting and thought you might as well. 

In no particular order (and with no identification of the child or children involved... it was spread pretty evenly across the group), here are the things I noticed my children doing:

--Watched Finding Nemo in French
--Wrote a pen pal letter
--Did Rosetta Stone Vietnamese
--Attended painting class
--Painted (both watercolor and acrylic)
--Played Battleship
--Read The Hiding Place
--Attended theater class and memorized lines
--Learned how to cut-out a sewing pattern
--Sewed two fabric pouches
--Discussed perspective
--Made geo-boards with scrap wood and nails
--Made a book about different auto makers using magazines to cut-out …

Easter 2011

He is risen!
Breakfast table
TM and D. in the new ties I made them.
Looking inside baskets
He is risen indeed!

P. in her new dress.
He is risen!

G. (she was better about keeping the hat on)
G. and A. hunting eggs.
He is risen indeed!

B. helping L.
He is risen!

G. (on left) and L.
The empty tomb ornament on our Lenten tree.  (Really, it is.)
He is risen indeed!


Preparing for Easter

Busy doings around here today.  There's bread baking...

and cleaning...

or not...

and tie finishing...

and linen ironing...

as well as egg boiling and decorating.  Plus it's a beautiful day and we're trying to enjoy being outside as much as possible.  B. decided today was a good day to open up the hive and see how the bees are doing.

Smoking the hive
B. the beekeeper
The upper super with the top off.
One of the frames... if you look on the left you can see a bit of comb started.
Another frame with some bees.
More frames inside the hive.  B. found the queen on the one you can see in the picture.
Everything looks good.  Lots of bees and comb and capped cells.  I'm so impressed with B. for taking this project on and all the work he has done on it.
As an aside, I also wanted to share a household tip with you.  If you have any linens to iron (napkins or tablecloths), the easiest way to do it is to wash the linens in hot water and send them through an extra spin.  Then take them out …

Good Friday

Thank you for the cross Lord
Thank you for the price You paid
Bearing all my sin and shame
In love You came
And gave amazing grace

Thank you for this love Lord
Thank you for your nail pierced hands
Washed me in Your cleansing flow
Now all I know
Your forgiveness and embrace

Worthy is the Lamb
Seated on the throne
Crown You now with many crowns
You reign victorious
High and lifted up
Jesus Son of God
Darling of Heaven crucified
Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb

Homemaker's binder

I've been working on this for a while, and think I have something that works.  Of course, now everywhere I look, I see posts about different people's homemaking binders and my reactionary-ness almost made me not write about it.  But, perhaps someone will read this who hasn't read the same type of thing in a dozen different places and it may be useful.

So that incredibly inspiring photograph up there is my binder.  It's the 7x9 size, so half the size of a regular binder and easier to carry around.  This has been the other key way I've been able to keep my desk clean for two weeks now.  The binder is now the place I write down all the little things I didn't want to forget that I had scrawled on scraps of paper and strew across my desk.

Inside the binder I have lined paper, divider tabs and clear pockets.  I also have a small calendar I keep open and tucked in a pocket inside the back flap.  I use the divider tabs and clear pockets to divide the notebook into sect…

Stopping to be thankful

Some days it's good just to stop and be thankful.  This is especially true when it feels as though there has been a whole string of things that could be the cause of a very bad week.  So...
Instead of being disappointed that several people have been under the weather during our spring break (and a little too full of goo), I will be thankful that we have easy access to medicine for the girl who has moved into ear infection territory.Instead of being annoyed that the dryer quit working for a day, I will be thankful that J. was able to fix it cost free.Instead of being worried and anxious about the paperwork to bring H. home, I will be (super) thankful that I have received several pictures of her enjoying a BBQ in the woods and dying Easter eggs.Instead of being upset with the weather (snow in April?!), I will be thankful that today is a much better day and boys with too much energy can be outside.Instead of being tired of the endless diapers, I will be thankful that I have the childr…

Sewing patterns

You would think that makers of commercial sewing patterns would like to make the instructions as clear as possible so that the people who buy them have success and are more likely to buy more patterns.  Instead, I have come across more than a couple of patterns for the which instructions are written so poorly that I have trouble understanding what they want me to do... and I've been sewing for a while.

Take Butterick B5230, for instance.  A. is making M. a largish pillow as a belated birthday present and I was helping her figure out the pattern.  I sat reading the instructions and looking at the picture for a long time before I finally figured out what was going on.  With a couple more lines of explanation, the whole process would have been made clearer.  But it truly felt as if the person writing the instructions didn't really care whether the sewer has any success.  This is besides the fact that there were blatant errors in the written instructions as well.  This is not a co…

Learning new things

When J. and I were first married, we were at a restaurant and noticed an older couple across the room.  As our dinner progressed, I became more and more distracted by these two people.  You see, for the entire duration of their dinner, neither of them said a word to each other.  They sat and ate and ate and sat.  It made me profoundly sad.  Had they been together for so long that they had nothing more to say to each other?  J. and I never seemed to run out of things to talk about; would this happen to us one day?  It's truly amazing the things I can find to worry about.

Well, I have crossed that worry off my list.  (Quite some time ago, actually.)  I don't think J. and I are in any danger of running out of conversation.  First, we have too many children for that to ever happen.  While we do talk about many things other than our children, they do take up a significant portion of our conversational topics.  But what about when all of our children are grown and out of the house? …

Weekend pictures...

(Raising Homemakers readers -- the link on the link-up is bad and should have sent you here.  Sorry.)
or any excuse for a new dress.  Since it was Palm Sunday yesterday and the children in our church march in a palm processional, I thought it seemed like a good reason to make them (my little girls, not the palms) new dresses.  Here they are in their new togs (L. in purple trim, G. in red):

L. showing off the matching bloomers.  She also liked her bit of palm frond.

And because it's a bit difficult to see what the dresses actually look like on two moving children.  Here is a picture of just the dresses:

The print is of a vintage drawing of children painting eggs.
The other thing I did yesterday was to create a pattern block of a pair of pants to fit M.  Well, I hope they fit M.; I've never done this before.  Being a strong believer in the theory that if I read how to do something in a book, I should be able to do it myself, I dove in following the pretty detailed directions in De…

An open letter to President Obama

Dear Mr. President,

At a recent town hall meeting, you discovered that a man had 10 children.  Since this obviously came as a shock to you, I feel it is time to let the cat out of the bag.  You see, he is not the only one.  All over this country are hundreds, if not thousands, of families with 8, 9, or 10 children. Some even have more.  I'm sorry to have to break the news to you so abruptly, but it's time to come clean about this.

It is understandable that you (and many others) didn't know, because those of us with larger families have been working diligently to keep the information under wraps.  We have done our best to blend in with the rest of society.  If you saw one of us walking down the street (without our children, of course), you would never guess how many little ones we have at home.  We look like everyone else.  We have jobs, we own homes, and some of us have managed to collect a variety of degrees from colleges and universities.  The females among us even go so…

Salt dough and little girls

(First an apology to all the G. and L. fans out there that I did not take a picture of what I am about to describe.  I'll try to do better next time.)

I got a lot of work done in the kitchen yesterday all due to a little bit of salt dough.  Earlier in the afternoon, K. had been playing with some dough and it was still on the table when G. and L. arose from their nap.  L. climbed up into K.'s booster seat and looked interested, so I helped her to the table and got some dough out for her.  She proceeded to cry.  I thought if I just let her get used to it a bit, she might decide it was fun.  In the meantime, G. trotted around to the other side of the table to see what was up, so I put her in her chair and got another bit of dough out for her.  She started to cry. 

Thinking that like me, they might not be so keen on getting their fingers messy, I got out some take-out chopsticks that had been stuck in a drawer, broke them apart and stuck each pair into each mound of dough.  The c…

A clean desk is...

certainly not a sign of a sick mind.  For me it is a sign that I have a handle on life.  One of my goals this spring has been to get the systems I use to keep our home running smoothly back to a maintenance level.  When one is pregnant or taking care of a baby (or babies), some things by necessity need to slide because people always take precedence over to do lists.  Now that G. and L. are a little older and don't need 100% of my attention (and since they have become champion sleepers), I feel that I can once again take some time to focus on other things.  A lot of jobs have piled up in the past two years, and it's taking a while to whittle them back down.  I've tried to work on them in order of importance.  My other motivation is that I know bringing home an older child can be as intensive as caring for an infant.  I really want to create some better habits in myself before we bring H. home.  Having our home under control will make it easier (both emotionally and time-wis…

Learning colors thanks to Pixar

Since we have been working on preschool level skills with K., we have been working on colors.  I have done all sorts of fun learning activities to do this... we've played beautiful German wooden games, sorted buttons, worked with the color preschool box I made, colored, made crayons, and read dozens of books about color. All to no avail, unless you count the fact that after all this, K. at least knew the names of the colors so he could randomly guess using the correct names.  I am not patient by nature, and this certainly was an exercise in patience.  The only bright spot was that he could correctly match colors every time, just couldn't dig the name of the colors out of his little brain.

But through all this, I forgot two important axioms about learning:  1.  A person can only learn something new if they can relate the new information to something they already know.  2.  Interest plays an enormous role in learning and remembering.  I forgot, but J. didn't.  In a moment of…

Bible Sunday

Every year our church presents the second graders with a Bible.  The Bibles are presented in the worship service and afterward there is a celebration with treats and activities.  It is a great way to demonstrate the importance of this event and also help the new Bible owners get to know their Bibles a bit.

This year TM and D. were due for their Bibles.  This has been a source of great excitement for several months now... and for some, anything that is exciting also causes a significant amount of stress, but I digress.  This excitement was in part due to having four older brother and sisters who already had their own Bibles.  TM and D. have been wanting their own Bibles for a while now, especially since they can both read.  J. and I certainly could have bought them a Bible earlier this year, but we waited for the church presentation Bible.

There are a few reasons we did this.  The first being that delayed gratification is a good skill to practice.  We live in an instant society where w…

Little girls in summer weather

We had the most beautiful weather yesterday.  I'm never going to complain about low 80's in April even if we are back down to more normal temperatures today.  The little girls loved being able to play outside and I loved seeing them in summer dresses.  I particularly loved that fact that their cups matched their dresses.  G. is in stripes and L. is in flowers.

I couldn't get a good shot of L. without the cup in her mouth.

Is there anything cuter than little chubby toddler legs, ruffly socks, and Mary Janes?

Evidently it's disturbing when it looks as though the world ends

Dinner is going to be late tonight because we all took a family walk in the late afternoon.  The weather has been changing and there was an odd fog rolling in and J. thought it would be fun to go and see what it looked like by the lake.  So, we piled the little girls into the stroller and took off toward the lake.  Evidently we weren't the only ones with the same idea as we ran into quite a few people we knew.

The lake looked interesting.  Well, the beach near the lake was interesting, you couldn't see the water at all unless you were right up to the water's edge.  It was as if someone had taken a giant eraser and rubbed out everything that wasn't in front of you.  It wasn't as eerie away from the water because you could still make out enough to see where the horizon was.  Buildings and trees helped to anchor you in space.  But on the beach, without those things, it was if the world just ended... or faded away.  It distressed G. and L. and they started to cry.  Onc…

Homeschooling blahs

This has been one of my less inspiring homeschooling weeks.  I'm sure the weather has played a huge part.  We all want spring, yet it stubbornly remains below 50 degrees.  Plus, I was a bit consumed with completing home study paperwork which left little brain space for other things.  And then when you add in more than a couple emotionally draining events... well, that leaves you with a pile of workbooks without a lot of creativity.  Bleh.

I know all too well that if I am not feeling excited about what my children are learning, then it's guaranteed that my children are not going to be excited.  Now that I have several things finished up that have been hanging over my head, it's time to go back to focusing on learning.  My typical pattern of doing anything is to throw myself whole heartedly into one project and work on that project in a slightly obsessive way until I become sated and immediately lose all interest.  (Yeah, I know... it's a little pathological.  I do try t…