Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Why does the early bird get the worm

There are two completely contradictory old sayings, and I am frustrated by the opposing "wisdom." The first saying is, "The early bird gets the worm." The second (and apparently opposing perspective) is that good things come to those who wait.

I have rarely been the early bird getting the worm. Waiting, however, has proven to be very beneficial in many cases, until now.

Saturday, I visited a friend's open house. She has sold a variety of products for home-based businesses and was clearing some of her excess inventory. In addition to a couple practical items and a Christmas gift, I found a beautiful white tea set, with two cups. Though the price was very reasonable, I am generally hesitant to make such a frivolous purchase quickly or without consulting my husband. So, I walked away, content to contemplate the pros and cons of such an investment in extravagance.

Several hours and conversations later, I reached a conclusion; I wanted that tea set. So I called my friend to see if I could go pick it up. Shock and disappointment filled my heart; the set had just been sold! After stammering my disappointment, I said goodbye. A short time later, I called back to see if perhaps I could purchase a couple of books about tea, as a consulation. Wouldn't you know it; those books were sold too!

Still suffering from the sting of disappointment, I am turning my frustration into a blog. And posing a question. Which is it? Do good things come to those who wait, or do early birds get worms? Can the two bits of wisdom both be true? If so, how, and if not, why not? Which do you see as more valuable? Why? Have you ever been disappointed?

I am really curious about what you think. Thanks for leaving your comments.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Caroling with Murphy...

Christmas caroling is a long-treasured family tradition. Some years we are more successful than others, but we almost always have fun. This year, however, will most definitely go down in the books as one of the craziest ever. After getting a late start (for lots of reasons), we headed off intothe night. It quickly became obvious that this experience was going to be unique. It also became very clear we had brought an uninvited guest; Murphy (of Murphy's Law fame) along with us.

Arrival at our first destination, 20 minutes away on foggy, unfamiliar roads, was reached successfully enough. Arriving with any measure of subtlty, however, was completely unsuccessful. Traveling, by necessity (due to the size of our group), in two cars, horns blarred as our cars almost collided. Then, Christmas cheer was greatly dampened as we backed into the car of our intended "carolee." Thankfully no damage was done, at least to the car. Our pride was a little tattered.

Proceeding to our next stop, the two vehicles became seperated. That wasn't nearly as memorable as getting lost along the way. Remember, we were driving on foggy, unfamiliar streets. To top it off, no one was home when we arrived. At least most of the kids can buckle themselves now!

Our next stop was, by far, the most entertaining. Arriving with little more stealth than our first unwitting victim, I mean recipient, though without the horns or crashing into cars, our presence was detected early.

Unfortunately, it didn't seem well received. Lights were on and people were obviously home, but no one came to the door. We sang anyway. And knocked, and rang the door bell, and sang some more. Our serenade drew the attention of the dog of the house (picture Carl, the rottweiler), who barked menacingly, for a moment. Then he diappeared. And, we caught a glimpse of someone.

We knew they were home. So we sang (the same song, of course) louder, with more enthusiasm, while ringing the door, again.

No joke; it was probably ten minutes before anyone opened the door! I really think they were not interested in being caroled to. Unfortunately for them, we didn't get the hint. In the end, I think they were blessed.

Things ended on a positive note. The final house we caroled to enjoyed our visit very much. And no one cried until the very end.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christ-free Christmas

What is the reason for Christmas? Why do we celebrate this winter holiday, with such a hodge podge of traditions, anyway? Retailers love it because somehow gift giving became part of the celebration, along with decorating and having parties, so people spend LOTS of money this time of year. It is a great excuse to get together with family and friends, eat yummy food, and take a break. But what is the point? Why?

Have you attended a public school Christmas program recently? Awash with political correctness, the program I attended earlier this week tried to address the questions posed here. The answers, sadly, were empty; Christmas is about food, gifts, decorations, spending time with family and friends, and love. But why? The darling elementary-aged children didn't really have an answer.

Why do you celebrate Christmas? Is it something you grew up with, a tradition you are passing on to your children? Is it because everyone else does it and you don't want to be a Scrouge? Why do you celebrate Christmas? Do you even really enjoy Christmas?

Consider; why do you celebrate this particular holiday? If it has nothing to do with the historical reasons (you know, a baby in a manger, shepherds, stars, wise men and angels, that sort of thing), why not? Do you know about the historical background for Christmas? Do you want to know?

Just some thoughts...

Babies DON'T keep!!

Many mamas are familiar with the poem, "Song for a Fifth Child" by Ruth Hubert Hamilton, but I've pasted it in below because I needed the reminder. Babies can not and do not wait. Days may be long, with diapers to change, laundry to wash (and dry, fold, And put away), meals to cook (and clean up), and much, much more. But the years are very, VERY short. One day you are holding a tiny baby. The next, you are staring in the face of an adult! What is the more important investment; your house or the future adult in your arms?!

Social pressures weigh heavy. We think everyone else keeps an immaculate home, and if we are good mamas, we will, too. Medical wisdom pushes us to parent for convenience, with the goal to as quickly as possible have our babies sleep through the night, on their own.

After 16 years of parenting, and lots of baby rocking (with eight kids, I've had plenty of opportunity), I know that dust and dishes will definitely keep; mine have! Babies don't. Even if you rock them all the time (like I have with my youngest, due to severe reflux and sensory issues), babies don't stay babies. It is hard, because the tasks are so obvious and absolutely necessary, but Ruth Hubert Hamilton was right, babies do not keep. Here is the poem, in its entirety. Enjoy...

"Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,

Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,

Hang out the washing and butter the bread,

Sew on a button and make up the bed.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?

She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,

(Lullaby, Rockaby, lullaby, loo.)

Dishes are waiting and bills are past due,

(Pat-a-Cake, darling and peek, peekaboo).

And out in the yard there is hullabaloo.

But I'm playing kanga and this is my Roo.

Look aren't her eyes the most wonderful hue?

(Lullaby, Rockaby, lullaby loo)

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,

But children grow up as I've learned to my sorrow.

So quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep,

I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep."

Monday, October 17, 2011

Abdication and embrace

I am a homeschooling mother by calling and not by gifting. It is a calling I'm not always excited to embrace. Honestly, homeschooling is HARD! There is a reason education used to be reserved for the social elite, who hired tutors along with nannies, housekeepers, and cooks. But, I digress.

It is Monday, a day usually spent at our homeschool co-op and filled with activity. And though I'm rarely ready for Mondays, Mondays are always ready for me. On this particular Monday, though, I have sick little ones, so I'm not at the co-op, having sent my older, healthy children alone. Which brings me to the reason for my post this morning.

If I sent my children to a government school, I could enjoy this kind of time every morning, five days a week. Six of my eight children would be gone, for hours, and the two who would be home would be napping at least a part of the time their older siblings were gone. Such quietness is tantalizing, even tempting. How much I could accomplish. How free I would be to pursue more enjoyable endeavors.

Then, before I've even had a moment to contemplate the temptation or the enjoyment it might bring, this realization pops into my mind; to send my children away would be to abdicate the responsibility God has given to me to disciple and train them. I could leave them to be raised by others, while I was home, in the quiet of a relatively empty house, but at what cost?

As difficult as it is to be wife, mother, housekeeper, cook, and educator, it is my calling. To do less will cheat me of the joy that comes from sharing life with my children, as crazy and difficult (even overwhelming) as that might be.

So, instead of abdicating or delegating my responsibility to train and educate my children, I will embrace God's call to a high and noble profession. And, many years from now when my house is empty and quiet and clean, I will look back fondly on these days, thankful for the privilege to leave my mark on the next generation.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Stock Up Stumbles

Extreme couponing has become quite popular, and with good reason. You can save some serious money. I, however, am not into extreme couponing. It's not because of a personal aversion to coupons or saving money. I LOVE saving money. Instead, it is an issue of logistics; I don't have the brain power to manage coupons at this stage of my life, even if someone else is telling me what to do.

That, and I really hate to shop, so I like to make it as streamlined and simple as possible. Which means I buy basically the same food every month. Knowing about how much we eat, I stock up at a local restaurant supply store, where I can buy bulk veggies for less than $1/lb.

Lately, though, I guess we haven't been eating as many frozen veggies as I thought. Today, when I went to grab something out of the freezer, I had to dig through several layers of frozen veggies before I found it. And, underneath the item I was looking for was... you guessed it, more frozen veggies! I have veggies for soup, veggies for stir fry, veggies for side dishes, veggies for whatever. I have LOTS of frozen veggies!

So, I'm going to adjust my shopping plan for a little while, at least. I'm NOT going to buy any more veggies. The restaurant supply store I shop at also carries yummy frozen desserts. Maybe I'll have to buy some of those instead. They probably won't stock up like the veggies have, and even if they do, I have the feeling no one here will mind at all.

If you happen to drop by for a meal in the near future, don't be surprised if we have frozen veggies for more than one course. At least you know what to expect for dessert, if I remember to pull it out in time (see my post on the problem with dinner in the freezer from March 2009 for more information ).

Maybe I should try the extreme couponing, as long as I don't try any deals on frozen veggies.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

He's Not Me, Thank God

I've been reading through the Old Testament as part of my daughter's high school curriculum. Because of the craziness of my life and the challenges of having seven children plus a baby plagued by reflux, I've gotten quite behind. Whereas my daughter is almost through the minor prophets, I have barely reached the period of the kings of Israel.

My reading has taken me to the reign of Saul, the first king of Israel, a man generally despised and noted for his less than kingly qualities. As I was reading this morning, two passages stuck out to me. The first is 1 Kings 15:22, which says (in the English Standard Version) "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams..." That passage is a familiar one to many who have grown up in church. If your childhood was anything like mine, then you heard the following passage as well. It says, "For rebellion is as the sin of divination" or witchcraft, in some translations. Either way, the message is clear; rebellion is bad news.

Samuel is confronting Saul for his rebellion against the Lord, and he is mincing no words. Saul is in trouble, and he realizes it too late. His response, however genuine and contrite it may not be (he does, after all, blame his subjects for his rebellion, vs 24), echoes the cry of my heart when I'm confronted with rebelling against the Lord's direction, "I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD... Now therefore, please pardon my sin...that I may worship the LORD." Samuel's response is one to make a grown man shudder,"I will not return with you...the LORD has rejected you..."

Now, Saul was rejected from being king, which is far different from being completely rejected. But still, I'd NEVER want to hear those words, from anyone, about anything. Obviously, Saul was less than thrilled. For him, however, it was too late. For the rest of us, today, thankfully, it is not.

Centuries after the above described discussion, Paul (formerly known as Saul) the Apostle, wrote a letter to the Church in Rome, in which he described the challenges of living according to God's standard and how truly difficult it is. He ended one section with the cry, "Wretched man that I am, who will save me from this body of death?!?" Romans 7:24, ESV. But, he begins the next chapter with the thrilling words, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ."

In so many ways, I'm not better than King Saul, choosing to do what I want to do instead of what God commands (usually in the form of loving myself and not loving my neighbor), or to not do what I should do (which is to love my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself), but instead of rejecting me as He did Saul, God wraps His arms around me and says, "I don't condemn you." What a wonderful gift to be me instead of King Saul, who was rejected by God.

That makes me think of a passage in Isaiah, where it describes what happened to make it possible for me to experience God's grace instead of the wrath I deserve. It says, "He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." Isaiah 53:3 ESV.

King Saul, who was rejected by God for his rebellion, is not me, thank God!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Difference Between Boys and Girls

I have a four year old boy. Yes, they are an entity unto themselves; if you've had one, you know what I mean.

Earlier today I was in my son's bedroom (one that he must share, since we have twice as many kids as bedrooms), helping him clean up his clothes. Over the last several months, I've done a poor job training my son to put his clothes away correctly so they spend most of their time on his floor. It's had something to do with homeschooling, pregnancy with all it's particular joys, and now the added pleasure and excitement of a "gerdling" whom, with his frequent episodes of silently refluxing and gagging/coughing/choking when not in an upright position, requires most of everyone's time. But, I digress.

We were picking clothes up off the floor, trying to determine if they needed to be washed or folded (except for the clothes on the floor that WERE folded - those were easy to deal with) so I asked my son to sniff a couple of items. He sniffed, then he sniffed again. We're talking serious sniffs, too. After which he announced, without a grimace or a frown, "This needs to go in the laundry. It stinks!" Well, OK then.

Can you imagine a girl sniffing stinky anything more than once? Can you imagine a girl responding to a frontal assault on her olfactory nerve WITHOUT grimacing and making sure everyone knew how assaulted she really was? But for boys, it seems not to be a problem. I'm not sure if that is a good thing... But, it is a clear demonstration of the difference between boys and girls. I'm really glad I have mostly girls.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Joys and Challenges of a Cool Mist Humidifier

My son is battling yet another infection that plugs him up and makes breathing difficult, because of his reflux. So, I have spent yet another night parked under the cool mist humidifier with him in my arms. Because of how congested he is, I have the humidifier going full bore.

Of course, this means that a significant amount of humidity is in the air for both of us to breath. Consequently, I have stumbled onto a slightly ticklish situation: as I breath the humidity, it condenses on the little hairs in my nose! Oh my goodness, it tickles.

I haven't figured out a solution to this situation, but since JJ has a stuffy, goopy nose, I have tissue close by and can wipe both our noses as often as necessary. If I wasn't so tired, maybe I could come up with a creative design to prevent the problem. Since I'm exhausted, maybe I'll just buy stock in Kleenex instead.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Is It Too Late?

The last few months have been quite difficult, primarily due to the severe reflux plaguing our youngest son. Today was one of those days when life was just crazy. So, I pondered the question, "Is it too late to rethink this whole large family thing?"

I sent a text with that question to my sweet sister and a dear friend, both of whom I knew would enjoy my twisted humor. The texts read,

"Is it 2 late 2 rethink the whole large family thing? I am going to LOSE. MY. MIND!!! Ahhhh. Try'n 2 do school & NOBODY. IS. LISTENING. Either the baby needs 2 eat or a diaper change or the toddler needs 2 sit on the potty or she missed and we have a mess 2 clean up or somebody is fighting or b'n rude. Ahhhh!!"

The reply was, of course, that it is most definitely WAY too late to rethink this whole thing. I'm committed. Or maybe I should be committed. Regardless, I am committed to finishing the race God has set before me. Sometimes I can't see the great cloud of witnesses through the piles of laundry, dust bunnies, and waves of spit up flowing down my shirt, but I know they are cheering me on because the Bible tells me so.

Days like today, so full of futility and frustration, are why I have chosen Galatians 6:9 as my life verse. The Marchauna Revised version says, "And do not grow weary in parenting, for in due time you will reap a harvest (of grown, well-adjusted, contributing members of society) if you do not lose heart." The key words are, "do not lose heart." I experienced great frustration today, but by God's grace and because of the love of two dear people, I did not lose heart. Maybe they are part of that great cloud of witnesses described in Hebrews.

It is most definitely too late to rethink this whole large family thing. But, the more I think about it, now that my large family is all quiet, asleep in their beds, I wouldn't trade my life for anything. It isn't an easy life, but it is my life and I really do love it, most of the time.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Day in the Life

I have decided to start chronicling my life, since it is so crazy sometimes I don't even belief what has gone on!

Today, along with the normal craziness that comes from having eight children between fifteen and new (you know; tears, tantrums, kids fighting with kids, kids fighting with mom, mom trying not to fight with anyone), my two year old stuck a bead up her nose! We didn't know it was a bead, of course, until it came out. But, that explains why it hurt to push on her nostril and why all the regular tricks didn't work.

We returned home to find things fairly quiet and our infant taking a bottle from a very capable big sister. After taking four ounces, he was still hungry, so his sister gave him another bottle. Having consumed a total of about five ounces, my sweet little boy became a volcano, spitting most of what he'd eaten all over the floor. My husband and daughter barely missed a formula shower, though my husband, who doesn't handle puke well, didn't enjoy his front row seat.

Things are quieter now; the baby seems none the worse for wear after his ordeal. The toddler has recovered from her trauma (though she is not real happy with the doctor), and everyone else is downstairs watching television while they fold clothes. I'm getting ready for my weekly escape (my husband gives me a few kid-free hours to gain strength for the week to come), and dinner is already in the slow cooker. So, things are definitely settling down, for today.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


I have joined the ranks of mothers wrestling with a baby who has reflux. This is my eighth baby, so it actually took a while longer to recognize the problems and get some help. You'd think it would be the opposite! But, I know babies spit up. And I know babies cry. So when my new son was doing both in excess, I just figured he was a little fussier and spittier than others. Until it went on for seven weeks.

Honestly, I felt silly taking my otherwise healthy son to the doctor because he cried so much. So I called one of my best friends (who is a PA-C) to see if it was crazy to see the doctor. She said no, not at all. So, we went to see the doctor.

The doctor, an older gentleman with grandkids, prescribed a medication that has some success helping with colic, ordered an upper G.I., and told me I needed to get two hours away from my son's crying every day. I couldn't take care of any of my children if I was completely spent from the anxiety and stress of not being able to soothe my little guy.

The test showed a normal anatomy, so my son projectile spitting wasn't a result of pyloric stenosis. It also showed severe reflux. I now had a reason for my son's constant crying, especially in his swing or car seat! But, I didn't have any answers.

We have been a quite a journey. After the diagnosis of reflux, our doctor gave us a stronger protien pump inhibitor, which has been helpful. I also began scouring the internet for information. Unfortunately, my search was not initially successful or encouraging. A variety of perspectives and thoughts, at times conflicting, gave me a sense of discouragement. It seemed that allergies are often a cause of reflux, so I wanted to try an elimination diet, but how long should I eliminate foods? The answers weren't forthcoming.

When my son started chocking and not breathing, I called my doctor back again. He sent us to a pediatric gastroenterologist. That didn't give me much more information, though the specialist did schedule a gastric emptying test and give me a sample of hypoallergenic formula to try, to see if the problem was an allergy to breast milk.

It wasn't until I found that I started getting answers, and some hope. We don't know yet if this problem is simply gastro-esophogeal reflux (GER) or gastro-esophogeal reflux disease (GERD), but the information on the pollywog site has been tremendously helpful. The site has a store with products designed to treat the causes of reflux, not simply the symptoms, and has links to other sites where you can learn about elmination diets (even a plan for an elimination diet, with basic instructions), read articles by moms who have survived caring for children with GER and GERD, and just find hope. If you are struggling with reflux in a little one, please do yourself and your family a favor and check out!

Thursday, April 28, 2011


I may be showing my age, but I remember Calgon commericals. After showing a crazy situation featuring an overworked and overwhelmed mom, the mom would look at the camera and say, "Calgon, take me away." Suddenly, this overworked and overwhelmed mom would find herself in a bathtub full of bubbles (Calgon bubbles) in an oasis of peace and quiet. So, my joke, when life is a little crazy, is to look at my husband and say something about Calgon.

Well, today really is a Calgon day!!

  • Our water is off, for the second day, as a crew of guys works to connect us with the city sewer system.

  • Three of my eight children were running fevers of 102+ through the night.

  • We awoke to the sound of jackhammers.

  • A kid dumped water down the sink (after the pipes had been cut) and flooded our basement.

  • One of my girls broke her finger.

  • My seven week old son had an upper GI at a hospital 25 minutes away and he screams in his car seat.

  • When I got in the car to buckle him in, I discovered the car seat wasn't buckled in to the car, then I discovered that my two year old's car seat wasn't buckled into the car!

  • When we got to the hospital, about 10 minutes after we were supposed to check in, parking was a zoo, and my son was screaming in his car seat. I called to say we were going to be late and found out that we were on the wrong side of the hospital complex.

  • By the time we actually got in to where we were supposed to be, we were 20 minutes late for the x-ray!
I was on the verge of tears. So, I did what any self-respecting 40+ year old mother of eight would do. I called my mommy. And like the wonderful mother she is, she met me at the hospital, hugged me, prayed for me, and took my kids, then bought all of us lunch.

When I got home, I discovered that we still don't have water, but I'd forgotten to store water, so we don't have any water for things like washing hands, or rinsing dishes, or refilling humidifiers to help sick kids breath easier. This really is a Calgon day!!

I wonder if I volunteered to make a commercial if the people at Calgon would whisk me away to a deserted bathroom lit by candles with a tub filled with warm water and bubbles. Probably not, but just imaging the setting has me feeling better already.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Big Boy Toys

Our house was built before the sewer came through our part of town, so we've been operating with a septic system since moving in two and a half years ago. Just over a year ago, we received a letter from the local county health department that we had to connect to the sewer. That process began today.

Because we educate our children at home, we have the privilege of making the most of different opportunities, like when a huge backhoe pulls into your yard and starts digging a 12 foot hole! The mother of a four year old boy, I expected he would be enthralled. What I didn't expect was how my daughters would respond. Three of my daughters lined up on the couch along with my son, captivated by each step of the process of connecting our home to the sewer lines. They watched until the pile of dirt in our front yard obscured their view of the backhoe and workmen. But, they were back at the window again watching as the men returned all the dirt back to its proper location.

I've heard it said that the only difference between men and boys is the price they pay for their toys. I don't know that I completely agree with that perspective, but my little boy (and his big sisters) really like those big toys!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

When are you due?

I'm eight months pregnant with baby number eight. After this many pregnancies, you might say things are well broken in. As a result, I look more pregnant than I really am. A young friend recently gave birth to her first, and she looked smaller at nine months than I did at seven! But, like I said, things are well broken in.

The other day I was wandering around a discount store, waiting for the mechanic to figure out why the check-engine light came on in our car. Time to wander is unusual for me, and I quickly tired for the sport, so I was hanging around the televisions, watching episodes from the BBC production Planet Earth. An older woman approached me and we started chatting about the video. Then she asked me when I was due and if I was expecting twins, or maybe triplets?! When I replied that I wasn't due until March and was only having one baby, her comment was, "Wow, you're big."

Though not surprised by the response, it wasn't something I expected from a perfect stranger. Then, of course, I got home and my seven year old daughter said exactly the same thing! According to the Bible, children are a blessing and a gift. I guess I'm blossoming with my blessing, and I'm going to celebrate the privilege of this baby, even if I'm reminded on multiple occassions that I'm very big. It is a small price to pay for the blessing of being a mother.