Monthly Archives: August 2010

Of course my books would teach me something!

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I’ve been organizing.  Specifically, my wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves upstairs.  A few things I learned:

I have a lot of books!  I should count them sometime.  It would probably take a few days.

I have more cookbooks than I realized!  There’s probably a reason I stuffed them upstairs on a dusty bookshelf.

I also have more health books than I remembered, and more marriage books than will fit on one shelf.  Why do I have so many marriage books?  Have I even read them all?  So, do I have an excellent marriage from applying all these books, or do I keep buying books hoping to improve my marriage?  Hmm.

I still love missions!  A lot!  I almost cried when I found my collection of books by Thomas Hale, missionary to Nepal.  I remember when he and his wife Cynthia visited our church to speak at a missions conference, and I remember deciding I was going to live in a mud hut in Nepal when I grew up.  I carried that dream for a long time.  My heart skipped a beat tonight, as I remembered all those missionary stories I’d read.

This is dangerous.

I’m a mom, and my mission is motherhood.  “Lord, may I not be discontent!  Teach me to serve on this mission field called ‘home,’ love my children, raise them well, and win their hearts for You.”

But I can pray like crazy that my children will love missions too!  I would be the happiest mom in the world if all my children dedicated their lives to serving Christ.  Fighting for His Kingdom.  Bringing souls to Jesus.  It really doesn’t matter where!  But… if God led someone overseas… of course I’d have to visit.

And finally… I’m still not a super-organized person.  It’s just not me!  Clean, yes.  I don’t like dirt on my floor, but clothes are okay.  I’m working on this!  Derek is the opposite.  He likes an orderly house, but doesn’t mind if I’ve dusted recently.  I’ll find that happy medium.  For now, I stuffed “How Not to be a Messie” and “Clutter’s Last Stand” on a back bookshelf.  Way up high.

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Tackling kickball — harder than it looks!

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After my last post, I decided to teach my kids something they’d never learned before.  I picked kickball.  I later decided that I’m not trying out for kickball coach!  Or soccer, or softball, or basketball.  Nope!  Not even t-ball.  Ever.

First, I had a hard time explaining that once you kick the ball, you have to run!  To first base first!  “No, not third base!  That way — first base!  No!  You can’t run back home!”

Once I got my kids to start running, to first base, I discovered that “base line” is a hard concept to grasp.  It’s invisible!  On a homemade, impromptu kickball field it is!  Maybe I should borrow Derek’s chalk line.  Because really, why would you run straight towards Mommy, who’s waiting to “get you!” with the ball?  It just doesn’t make sense.

Once I got my kids to overcome their common sense and run straight to first base, I couldn’t get them to stop.  Literally.  “No, Cory!  You can’t run way out there!  You have to stop and stand on first base!” 

And then the running issue again.  “Okay, as soon as Kirstyn kicks the ball, you have to run!  To second base!”  It didn’t help that second base was an oversized red tub.  You can’t really stand on that.  Although, Cameron did!  I quickly realized that Cameron wasn’t going to conquer this kickball thing.  He kicked the ball and then ran straight to second base.  Climbed up on the red tub, and stood there and squealed in a high-pitched voice as Kirstyn and Cory ran by him.  He stood there and squealed until my ears couldn’t take it, and I made him climb back down.  He laid down in the tree line near third base and pushed mulch around with his backhoe.

Kirstyn was excited once she figured out you get “points” in this game!  She’s very competitive.  (Like, she’s mad that Cory can whistle and do cartwheel flips and she can’t!)  It was all or nothing for her!  Either she’d run to first base and stop, even if I was far, far away fetching the ball, or she’d try to run all the way home.  Even if she kicked the ball right to me.  I tagged her out quite a few times!  No way will I “let” my kids win!  Got that from my dad.  No, I’m not competitive. =)

We learned, “No, you can’t share a base.  No, you can’t pass Cory!  You have to stay behind him.  No, you can’t run backwards.  No, you can’t hit each other!  Hey, you HAVE to run!  Go!”  Foul balls vs. fair balls was hard for them to understand too.  Our base line is invisible, remember?  I laughed so, so hard.  The whole time!  Even had to run inside to pee once.  Maybe if we play a little kickball every day, they’ll be able to run with the big kids soon.

A tooth makes me feel loved

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Kirstyn pulled her second tooth out tonight, and she was sitting on my lap.  I loved it!  She made me feel special.  Go ahead and laugh!  I know it sounds silly.  But there’s history here.

I’ve had scattered bouts of sadness recently, thinking about all the things I didn’t teach my daughter.  Things I always assumed were a mom’s job to teach.  So I go on a guilt trip every time I think about the things I didn’t teach her, because it makes me feel like I wasn’t there for her.

I didn’t teach Kirstyn how to ride a two-wheeler.  Derek didn’t either!  She taught herself, last year in Massachusetts.  I looked out my family’s dining room window, and there was Kirstyn, riding back and forth on the road in front of the house.

I didn’t teach Kirstyn how to tie her shoes.  One day, I just realized she was doing it!  I don’t know if anyone taught her.  Knowing my girl, she probably figured it out on her own.

The other week Kirstyn braided her hair!  All by herself!  And then put an elastic in to hold the braid!  I didn’t teach her to braid, either.  She said Cindy Fisher did.  (A good friend of mine, and a mom of twelve children.  I used to babysit for her!)

I didn’t teach Kirstyn to pump on a swing, and I didn’t teach her to read.  Not all by myself anyway!  I’ve worked a lot with her, but so has  Derek’s mom.  (Mom H. is a former high school math teacher, so she loves to teach!)  Teaching my firstborn child to read was something I really wanted to do.  Probably has something to do with my love of books!

I know teeth have nothing to do with a taught skill.  But I wasn’t with Kirstyn when she pulled out her first tooth!  She was next door at Grammy’s.  I don’t know why that made me sad.  Maybe it reminded me of this major pro/con thing of living next door to Derek’s family.  I know Kirstyn loves me to death, and I will always be her mom, but she also loves Grammy dearly!  And yes — this is a good thing!  I love that my kids can see (half) their grandparents so often.  I think grandparents can play a unique role in a child’s development, and I think the special bond between a grandparent and a child is one of the best things ever!  I just get jealous sometimes, when she asks every day, “Can I go up and hang out with Grammy?”  It makes me question if having four children so close together was a good idea.  “Are they lonely?  Do they get enough attention from me?”  These are things I wonder.

So tonight, when Kirstyn curled up on my lap with a mouth full of blood, I felt special.  And loved.  She wiggled and yanked on that bottom tooth, and all of a sudden I was holding a little girl with an even bigger hole in her mouth!  She’s adorable, this sweet, independent, people-loving daughter of mine.

We start our journey into the fun, scary land of Homeschooling

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I’m homeschooling Kirstyn this year.  We’ve been homeschooling all along, if you want to be technical!  But this year I’m scheduling, and documenting, and creating a portfolio to turn in at the end of our 180 days.  In Pennsylvania we don’t have to have our children in school until they’re eight years old.  Isn’t that crazy?  The lack of pressure is nice, though.  Of course I’d be teaching Kirstyn anyway, but I don’t have to.  I’m choosing to!  (The rebel in me likes that.)  I have two years to conquer this homeschool thing, with all its subject requirements, field trips, documentation, schedules, lack of schedules, testing, and portfolios (which I’m dreading).  By the time Kirstyn’s eight and I have no choice anymore, I’ll have this whole official homeschool thing down pat!  Rriiight…

I get comments about my choice. People say, “Wow!”  And, “You’re brave — with all those other children?”  Stuff like that.  And it’s true — it will be hard!  Those comments don’t encourage me.  They make it worse!  I’m already totally nervous and freaking out.  To be honest, I would love to send my children to public school.  (Yikes!  I just admitted that in public!)  I’m not afraid of the hard work.  I’m afraid of failing.  I want my children to have the best education possible, and sometimes I don’t feel like I can provide that!  Part of me feels like if I stick them on a bus they’ll be safe.  Better off than at home with me.  They’ll learn more.  I know, in my head, that I’m thinking nonsense!  I know, in my head, that I can do it!  I know I’m the best choice for a life-long influence on my children.  I know I’m doing this so my children can have a better education, if we’re diligent, and so we can have fun while we learn.  I know I’m doing this so I can incorporate God into everything we learn.  When my kids leave home, I want them to remember God when they remember science or history or anything else they learned.

And so, my journey as a homeshool mom begins.  Has begun.  I thought I’d be really sad, thinking about lazy days with my four small children… days that will never come again.  (Sounds like ages ago, huh?)  And I am sad, a little.  But then I realized that I already have nine school days to document!  We’re already in the swing of things!  I didn’t have to deal with that “first” day of school.  It’s gone!  On Saturday we found ten monarch caterpillars to bring back home.  We’ll feed them milkweed, give them a safe place to spin their cocoons, and watch them turn into butterflies.  That counts!  Kirstyn is reading independently now, and I’m digging out all the old Dick and Jane books for her.  She reads almost every day.  Those days count!  Clipping the chickens’ wings, reading about the Great Horned Owl,  studying about the moon, the seasons, hibernation and migration, learning new words like “predator” and using them correctly, drawing pictures of what I read to her… it all counts!  It’s kind of exciting, when I realize how fun and easy this can be.  This whole school-at-home thing can be a blast if I can stick to my guns, relax at the same time, and develop my creative teaching skills.  I mean, wow!  We’re studying life! And the whole wide world!  That’s awesome stuff.

P.S.  Our official, every day, stick-to-a-schedule type of school will be the second week of September.  Canning takes precedence right now!  Then we’re visiting my family in Massachusetts for a week.  We’ll be spending a day in New York City while we’re up north, and that goes in the portfolio!  By the time we get home and officially start school, we’ll be halfway through the school year!  Well, not quite. =)

Me and my kids… and our hair

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So, this is the hair I want to chop.  I think.  I’m still undecided.

I love the way Cameron’s hair turned out.  I can still see bare patches if I look close enough, but I think I did a good job considering the situation!  I’m proud of myself!  Kirstyn’s hair met my satisfaction too.  She thinks I cut off too much!  But this is coming from the girl who wants hair long enough to wash in a car wash.  So.  I’ll never meet her expectations! 

Cory’s hair is way shorter than I wanted, but I had to buzz it pretty short to get rid of the home hack job.  (He wouldn’t pose for a picture.) 

Here’s my cute baby girl, who started walking a few of weeks ago!  She won’t stop now!  I wish I could slow down time.

I kiss her sweet face a hundred times a day!

Hair cuttings

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I’m cutting hair today!  Not planned, but I need to do some “fix it” work.  My boys took scissors outside this morning, to cut grass and forsythia twigs.  Next thing I know, Cory’s face was pressed up against my front door.  His forehead looked funny, and I noticed a large bare patch where hair used to be!  Turns out he also trimmed Cameron’s hair.

We had company coming for breakfast, so I couldn’t cut the boys’ hair right away.  Figured I’d tackle it later.  Well “later”  we sent swimming in the creek, in spite of the fact that Cory saw a snake in the water.  Naps were next.  Then the library, for summer reading program prizes and astronomy books for Kirstyn.   So my boys have been running around all day with patchy hair jobs!  (Cory was barefoot at the library, so he really looked like a hick child.)  I’ve been meaning to trim Kirstyn’s hair for while, so maybe I’ll tackle three heads this evening!  Kirstyn’s hair is so long it’s almost dragging on the ground, and I can barely see her eyes.  Megan’s good for now.  Adorable in fact!  I just put pigtails in her hair the other day, and she looked too big!  I took them back out.  I’m glad she’s a girl, and I don’t have to cut her hair anytime soon!  I always cry over first haircuts.  I feel like I’m snipping away babyhood. 

I need a haircut too, but nobody here can help me.  I need professional help!  My hair is longer than it’s been for years.  (Like, twelve.)  Derek loves it, but I’m feeling a constant urge to chop, chop, chop!  Maybe I’ll compromise.  Leave a few inches.

I try to make a cherry pie, and end up with barbecue

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My new recipe:  barbecue pie.  That’s what Derek said my cherry pie tasted like.  I didn’t have the guts to try it!  We had company over tonight, and Cory asked me to make a cherry pie.  I tried!  But I never served it.  It was brown!  Not red.  And runny!  Not oozing, like a pie is supposed to be.  Oh well.  It’s just a pie.  I’ll blame it on the jar.  It was a bad batch of pie filling! =)  (It looks kind of red here, but it wasn’t red!)

Can I admit something?  I don’t like to cook!  Ooo, that sounds as bad as I thought it would.  I’m a stay at home mom, raising a large family, doing my best to make healthy meals and be self-sufficient.  So I have to love cooking.  Right?  I beg to differ.  Oh, I can cook!  Yes I can!  I’ve been cooking for a long time, way before I was married, and I consider myself a good cook.  With recipes and multiple hours, anything is possible.  I could make five-star, five course meals if I wanted too.  (And if I had a nanny for my four kids!)  But why in the world would I want to spend five hours cooking?  Crazy.

Apparently, there are quite a few people who actually love to cook.  Like my brother Andrew, and my sister-in-law Erin.  I honor you!  I admire you!  I love eating your awesome food!  But I’ve never envied your love-of-cooking trait.  My idea of cooking is an hour or less.  (I wish that was breakfast, lunch and supper combined!)  Now this doesn’t mean my family eats crappy meals.  Even breakfast is nice here!  We only eat cold cereal once a week, on Sunday mornings.  Granola doesn’t count as cold cereal, because that was hot once upon a time!  We eat oatmeal, eggs, french toast, pancakes, repeat.  Repeat pancakes a lot.  I LOVE pancakes!  (And I make them from scratch, not a box.)

Lunches are yummy too, in my opinion, and I do my best to make suppers everyone loves.  It’s hard with six people!  Everyone has favorites.  I love that kids love the easiest meals!  Like spaghetti!  And mac and cheese!  Tacos!  None of those are my favorites though, so I have to spend more time in the kitchen if I want something I love.  Like chicken pot pie, and stuffed shells, and chicken parmesan.

Me and my crockpot are getting to be best buddies this year!  I have the most energy in the morning — AFTER I’ve had my coffee — so it’s good to cook then.  Put it in the crockpot and leave it.  Voila!  Delicious supper!  Afternoon cooking takes more work.  I’m dragging by then!  I always thought my mom was exaggerating when she said she used to fall asleep reading books to us kids.  She spoke the truth!  It happens!  No exaggeration.  Hey, it’s been proven that our bodies are wired to nap at 2:30pm!  Some countries in Europe even have an offical naptime.  I’m moving to Europe!

So I guess my point is: I don’t like to cook, but I like to eat, and I have a family who also likes to eat, so I cook anyway!  And it’s not all bad.  Kirstyn is old enough to cook with me now, and  I love that special time with my daughter.  We made pizza for supper tonight, but I cheated.  I can buy melt-in-your-mouth delicious pizza dough from Tony’s (our local pizzeria) for $1.95.  It’s also perfectly round — no wrestling with a lump of dough to conform it to pizza stone shape!  All I have to do is roll it out and slap on some pizza sauce and cheese.  Totally the yummiest pizza I’ve ever eaten.  I will never buy pizza dough again!

Cory eating the mini octopus (octopi?) we fried for lunch.  He and Kirstyn love it!  I’ll let them eat it all…