Friday, February 2, 2018

7 Quick Takes -- Beginning of the year update

1) Our new little house is almost ready.

We are affectionately calling it "the cottage." Basically all that's left are to put the sinks and shower in and finish hooking up the kitchen things (like stove, dishwasher, etc). So a little, but still a lot. The solar panels and batteries are doing great and the new propane heater is keeping things warm. The well is done but we have not finished "turning it on" yet.

Here is the color we painted all the drywall: Avenue Tan.

2) We did the Shepherd for Advent.

So we journeyed with this shepherd guy (that the kids named Maximus -- or Max, for short) to find Jesus at Christmas. I think the little ones especially enjoyed it. Rebekah helped me mastermind it. It would not have gone nearly as well without her! We are considering asking the shepherd back for Lent.

3) I fit in my jeans again!

It only took a year and half. Guess it's time for another kid now. 😊
And here's some cute pictures of the girls mimicking me as I worked out one morning.

4) Miriam loves me.

She made me this little heart. All by herself.

5) Chores have been going better lately.

However, it's probably because I've turned into psycho Mom one too many times. 

And concerning chores, I posted the following on Facebook a few days ago:

Rebekah had been helping the younger children (Paul, Miriam, and Zipporah) water the plants every other day, but she told me this morning she decided to just do it herself now because it was too much work to have them "help."

I claimed solidarity in how I was trying to raise productive adults, but it was so much easier to just do the chores myself! Then I followed up with, I didn't have many chores when I was a kid and i turned out okay. -- To which Rebekah responded, "You turned out way better than okay. You turned out awesome, Momma!"

Oh that girl, what a blessing!

6) We like Aikido.

Rebekah, Samuel, and I attended the Aikido winter camp -- well, I attended the most of all of us, Samuel made a few days, and Rebekah a few more than Samuel. But it was very fun. We all really enjoy Aikido. And I especially like how the principles can help relate in regular life, too (things like relax completely and extend positive ki).

7) Here's some pictures of our kids playing outside at our new house.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

On Birthdays and Such

This time of year, as amazing as it is, is kind of depressing to me for some reason. And then along comes my birthday and I'm getting slightly older and THAT's kind of depressing. So tonight, my dear hubby was going to take me out for a birthday dinner, but being grumpy and just generally unsettled, I did not feel like just eating out. 

Then, as I was putting the baby to bed, thoughts of my work today came to mind. Today I was helping clean and organize a local free store (sponsored by a local group called Unite). It is nothing spectacular, just a bunch of donated items that hopefully pass into the hands of those who really can use/need them. The food portion was especially sparse. And there was a stone-age dirty crockpot/rice cooker thing that I felt was just begging to be thrown away. 

Anyhow, the story from our local parish mission (by Casting Nets, by the way -- a great couple of guys, you should have them out to talk at your parish, or give them your money 😊) about Mother Teresa came to mind. Apparently she was taking a flight somewhere and the airline was going to server her dinner. She requested to fast instead and take the money that should have been spent on her dinner. Apparently 80% of the plane followed her lead and gave her the money for their meals. Then, as she's leaving the plane, she has the audacity to ask for the meals that were not eaten since they will probably have to be thrown away. The airline gives Mother Teresa those meals and she goes and gives them and the money to the poor.

So in honor of that story, instead of eating out for my birthday, I went and spent that same amount of money on food and a few various other items for the free store. Now, before you think I wrote this post to brag, I will quickly clarify that who knows if these items will actually end up in those that really, really need them. Who knows if they are the "right" items. Who knows if they are going to sit on the shelf for years (although, some of the packages of crackers I bought are good for a year and a half -- we checked -- so hopefully they will be consumed before then 😂). Who knows if that money would have been better spent donated to another ministry or service. Well, God knows, but he's not telling. So all I have is what I did and even if it ends up not meaning anything at all, it was good for my soul, if nothing else (and possibly my waistline, too 😂)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

7 Quick Takes

1) Wondering why I  haven't blogged in about a year are you?

So my computer crashed a little over a year ago. Wha, wha, right? Anyhow, without being able to access my pictures blogging just did not appeal so much. And I figured I would just wait for my pictures to be retrieved from my hard drive before getting back into blogging. Unfortunately the hubby attempted to get to my pictures and documents from my hard drive one evening (many many moons ago), but things were being difficult so he had to stop for the night and has not had time to get back to it. But life marches on. Enough with the excuses. Time to pick up the ball and get moving.

2) We cut Peter's hair and it is STILL tripping me out a week later.

He looks so much like Paul did as a baby. But he acts so different!! Yet, he doesn't look like the Peter I know and love. It's like a new kid, seriously. And it doesn't help that he has suddenly starting talking -- and I don't mean just jabbering. He had been jabbering adorable for the past several months. But now he uses words. Not always correctly, but real words -- LOTS of them! It's crazy. Seriously, someone swapped out my baby for this little boy!!

3) I tried to crush my finger a few weeks ago.

It was the day before Gordie's cousin's wedding in Topeka (a 2.5 or so hour drive for us). I was cleaning out the car for the event. I had just taken the bikes off the bike rack (from our previous trip to Grandpa & Grandma's) so the top part of the rack was loose (normally it's locked tight). As I was pushing the rack to get into the back of the van, the top part wiggled and smashed my finger. I lost the last part of the nail now (as it caught while I was working) but it's almost all healed up!

3) We recently did new chore charts again. I think they are going well.

They each have two chores for every meal. We rotate once a day. Obviously this is just for the big kids. Rebekah, Samuel, Jacob, & Paul. The younger three can help with a few things, like setting the table or clearing their plate, but they are not very dependable. Rebekah did the artwork.

Rebekah washing the dishes tonight. She looks so grown up in this picture!!

4) I made checklists for the kids and so far I am liking these.

I've made a bazillion schedules and then we never stick to them. But these are more fluid. Plus I can look at them on Saturday and hold playing wii on Sunday (which is generally our tradition -- since they don't play during the week) over their heads to get anything caught up if needed. -- I've told them I don't mind if they play during the day. I don't mind if they take breaks. But they need to get their lessons done.

5) I put up two nativity scenes this year.

Since there were two in the box, I decided to put both up. One went on the piano, like usual. The other I decided to put in the kitchen because that's where I spend a lot of time. I felt silly, though, as I don't have a lot of space in my kitchen so as I tucked Jesus on top of the spice rack, I apologized to him. Rebekah said, "I think it's fitting. He is the salt of the earth." -- Well-played, daughter, well-played. :)

6) I was on the radio again this week for our local Catholic stations Care-a-thon.

I spoke on covenants and how each Sacrament is a covenant. And how God relates to us with covenants and Jesus; his life, death, and resurrection, is the final covenant that fulfills all the others. It was pretty deep. I had to like look stuff up and really read my catechism for this talk. It was good.

7) A while back we cut Miriam's hair . . . and I still need to find it.

She had this beautiful long hair, but she was just not fond of keeping it brushed. So we had it bobbed at our local beauty school.  There was enough hair cut off to donate. We brought it home from the salon with the best of intentions, and I have yet to find it again to send it in. Mom of the year here. I imagine will turn up eventually?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Happy Belated Birthday Samuel!

Samuel's birthday was in December. I really TRY to post about my children's birthdays at least IN THE SAME MONTH. Well, this time I'm only a few days from two months late, but better late than never. -- Dear Samuel, this in no way means I love you any less!

Fun facts about Samuel:

*He always picks the same cereal for breakfast.

Some of the other kids change it up, but not Samuel. He likes Toasted Oats (which are basically Kroger brand Cheerios -- but he does not like General Mills Cheerios, only "Toasted Oats" from Kroger -- hah).

*Samuel LOVES to talk and he has a comment for EVERYTHING.

Since Gordie and I both have what my father calls "the gift of gab," poor Samuel was doomed from the beginning. But man oh man I have had to beg him to stop talking on more than one occasion.

*He is a great actor.

Samuel has some of the BEST facial expressions. He definitely follows his dad in this department. He can easily be spontaneously funny when he's in the mood for it.

*Samuel is very smart.

He got moved up a year in his Math and his teacher keeps hinting that he should be further ahead in Literature as well. He reads at a considerably higher level than is typical for his age. Schoolwork definitely comes easily to him -- thus far, at least.

*He likes to have the rules followed.

Samuel takes after his mom in this respect. If a rule is set, he will follow it, and he will raise a stink over anyone else who fails to toe the line.

*Samuel has a great memory.

Perhaps this is why he is so good at school work. He has a great attention to detail and remembers every off-hand comment. If you once made a comment about something and he heard it, he will remember it for all eternity.

*Samuel is really getting into joke telling.

All the children like to tell jokes. They often read them to me straight out of the Boys Life magazine. But Samuel is really picking up on what makes things humorous and putting his own twists on traditional funnies. He is quite the character some days!

Dear God, thank you for the gift of Samuel. He is the best oldest boy I could ask for. He is loyal and strong but still sensitive and compassionate. Please keep him every close to your heart as you form him into the man you desire him to be. -- Amen.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

7 Quick Takes: Things I want to Remember

Paul, nine-months-old.

1) Peter has been standing by himself!

He often pulls himself up on something, but then lets go and hangs out for several seconds. He started this just a few days ago -- the day before his 9-month-old mark. If he keeps this up, he will be the youngest to walk.

Miriam, pretending to be Mary and hold baby Jesus, while playing "Heaven."

2) Miriam is playing this game she made up, called "heaven."

She basically dresses up like Mary and gets her baby all swaddled and kneels down and looks at him. She used her giant stuffed pony as a donkey the other day. Zipporah joins in the fun, too. It's adorable.

Zipporah with her "veil" for playing "Heaven."

3) We implemented new chore charts today.

So far things are a little cleaner, but probably that is just because I stopped doing whatever I was doing to pitch in. We shall see how it goes when the kids have to pull the brunt of the burden.

4) Have I mentioned our family is on crazy diets right now?

Everyone tries to lose weight in January, right? Rebekah told me she wanted to do a Whole 30 with me because she had eaten so many sweets and stuff and it made her tummy hurt. So she and I are eating Whole 30. She says she feels better and hasn't even considered cheating, so I'm impressed.

Gordie is also trying to lose weight so he is doing the Ketone diet -- mostly because he doesn't like fruit or vegetables and you don't have to eat those for this diet to work. It is very similar to Whole 30 otherwise -- oh and he gets to eat cheese. He's lost maybe six pounds I think.

And the rest of the clan is still eating the regular fair because those are meals I know how to cook and bread/grains are cheap -- much cheaper than feeding everyone only meat and fruits and veggies.

This makes for a crazy kitchen, but we are persevering. And bonus, I've found a few Whole 30 recipes that don't break the bank and everyone can eat. Winning!

5) Work

I'm still trying to do random work. I've been writing for a blog (although horribly missing deadlines and having to redo things -- I'm still way new to writing for a specific audience -- as compared to here, which is basically my journal). But in any case, I'll give it a shout out here. Check out Mamma Tech for everything from kid stories and techy tips for moms to travel reviews and school break suggestions. I should have an article coming out soon about self-driving cars. So stay tuned for that.

I'm doing transcription work, as well. I finally broke down and invested in a subscription to the free software so I could upgrade and use foot pedals. This sped me up a little on the last job and I anticipate it helping me get must faster in the future. This kind of work does not pay super-great (nor does writing for a blog, for that matter) but the OCD part of me really enjoys it. And thus far, my mind has enjoyed it, too -- I get to relive snippets of people's lives and hear their stories. Granted, they are not always the best, or the most interesting, but it is entertaining! -- Even when I transcribed someone talking about the new steam pump distribution center. -- haha

P.S. Shameless plug for the company I do transcription jobs for here: Noble Transcription Service. They take all size jobs, from legal work to the average "Joe" wanting his spoken notes (say for a book he was writing) transcribed for reference. The owner is a married couple with a bazillion kids (okay, I can't remember how many, but I'm thinking they just had their ninth baby -- I know it's more than us). And he has been very good to work with.

6) We redid our Spiritual Plan as well.

Actually, shortly after the new year I sat down with the big kids and we went over what was expected from them and such. Together we made up a daily schedule, rules, and decided what spiritual practices we would do together each day. I'm hoping that having them help decide things will keep them motivated and responsible. We shall see how it goes.

7) Who picked 7 as an amount for this template??

Well, since I shared the Chores and Spiritual Plan, I might as well share the rules. Here's the rules the children came up with. I was impressed they decided to have a rule about speaking quietly. I thought I was the only one bothered by the noise!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

7 Quick Takes -- Random things that make me happy.

*I'm overdue for a post about Samuel's birthday (back in December) and I wanted to get Christmas pictures up, too, but this is on my mind. So first this, then those.

1) Flowers from church.

Every year, at the end of the Christmas Season, the poinsettias are set out, often still full of life, but in need of a new home. Our little clan LOVES to walk them home from Daily Mass the Tuesday following Epiphany (this year -- when the days of the week fall differently, it is the Tuesday following the Baptism of the Lord, to be precise and all).

P.S. Zipporah actually carried the one she is holding below about 3/4 of the way home. She can be a stubborn little lady, just like her momma.


2) Paul being helpful.

I've only recently (as in the past year) started really expecting more help from the kids. It has been a slow road -- them learning how to do chores and us getting in a routine for them to do them. And then, once they do them fairly well and remember to do them, the whining about having to do them sets in, of course. But Paul has been different.

A few days ago Paul surprised me by unloading the clean dishwasher before I woke up. The next day he unloaded the dishwasher AND wiped the table off! A few days after that (or maybe before) I was super-busy with something or other at breakfast time, so I asked Paul to make the toast AND HE DID and did a pretty good job!!

*Side note: I offer my kids toast with peanut butter and jelly for breakfast because that's one of my favorite meals ever.

Lately Paul has been exceedingly helpful. He always tries to surprise me by unloading the dishwasher and he never whines when I ask him to clean off the table. I would venture to say he is more helpful and dependable than his older siblings!! And he figured this stuff out all on his own -- I never taught him to unload the dishwasher or wipe the table. He just watched and learned.

3) Some Family Pictures are Up.

I'm sure you all get pictures of your relatives. Sometimes they are photo cards. Sometimes school pictures. And if you are like me, you mean well, but those pictures always end up in an envelope or drawer somewhere, despite your every intention of displaying them somehow!

Well this year I let go of perfection (in every and any sense of the word), grabbed some sticky tack and got busy. They may not be beautiful, but they are up and we are enjoying seeing our family and friends around us.

4) Sponsorship pictures up.

For Christmas, Papa and Nana sponsored some wild animals for the children. The kids got a nice little stuffed animal for each and the joy of knowing they are helping preserve these animals.

Here are the Meercat and the Mountain Lion (which Miriam refers to as her "Mountain Kitty" ).


5) I redid the "Prayer Platter"

Here is a "before" photo of the Advent Wreath on "the platter" and baby Jesus just came along for the ride, nice and cozy in his bed of good deed strings.
I mention this concept in some of my earlier posts here and here. Basically my children love the Advent Wreath and I was keeping our on a platter. I would put it on the table at mealtime and then put it up on the bookshelf for safe keeping in-between. Once Advent was over, I decided to keep the "Prayer Platter" but I changed it up some to reflect the proper season.

New set-up here. I plan to put prayer requests in the bowl and the fountain actually works. I'm going to put holy water in it, to use it as a holy water font, as well.

6) Peter napping.

Peter is a somewhat "particular" child. He will sleep okay at night in his own bed. But for some reason he will NOT let me put him down to nap during the day. He will fall dead asleep in my arms, but the second I move to put him down he is awake and wailing. 

I have compensated by sitting with him for the whole nap and napping myself. This would definitely be my solution of choice, if I did not have other pressing duties I often cannot neglect for the entirety of his nap. Instead I have been nursing him to sleep in our main room (instead of his bedroom) and continuing to teach the children as best I can with a sleeping baby on my lap. As you may imagine, this means he does not nap nearly as long (as being in the main room can be loud of course) but it is what it is. I'm not really sure of any other way to fix it right now.

In any case, here he is with Rebekah as I needed to put Miriam and Zipporah to bed for their naps (even though I had just nursed Peter to sleep in my nap -- poor planning today), so I passed him off to Rebekah and she was able to keep him asleep (for a little while anyhow).

7) My children.

Here are some random pictures of the children I have taken lately. Not all of them are equally represented (or represented at all), but that's just how we roll here.

Zipporah and Rebekah:  This is the first time we put Zipporah's hair in pig tails. Yes, they are crooked, but her hair is not grown in all the way, so this worked best.

Peter, eating at the table. His "plate" is awesome, btw -- made of silicone. It is heavy so he can lean against it or bump it and it will stay put.

Miriam, Rebekah, and Zipporah -- Rebekah had just braided everyone's hair.

Miriam and Zipporah, ready for a princess picnic with their kitties.