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.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

7 Quick Takes - Peter 8-months-old Update

1) Peter is basically crawling now.

He was just doing an army crawl, pulling with his arms and dragging his legs. Now he is getting the arms and legs together -- but not all the time. He can do it, but he does not always do it that way, so he is not super fast yet.

2) He is pulling up now.

I find this adorable. My tiny little man, standing there at the gate watching me in the kitchen. And then suddenly, his little muscles give out and he falls and wacks his head. Poor Peter. But, after some consolation, he gets back up and does it again. He is Schroeder stubborn, apparently.

Here he is just before bed, in his sleep sack. 

3) Peter licked me!

I was holding him and he leaned his head in. So I leaned my head toward him, thinking he wanted to snuggle. He laid his head against mine and then turned a little so we were face to face. It was such a sweet moment. . . and then he licked me :)

4) Peter eats at the table now.

Peter is sampling more and more food now. And thus, he crawls over to the table and pulls himself up to eat with the rest of us. For some reason this brings me no end of joy -- to have all the family eating together.

5) He squeaks!!

All of my children have reached a point where they would squeal some. But Peter is definitely taking the cake. He was SO LOUD in church today!! I did not want to take him out because he was not fussy -- and honestly he was so loud, he probably would have been heard even through the cry room. The catch is that his squeaks are fairly unpredictable. We are not tickling him or playing with him. He just turns his head and fills the area with his high-pitched joyful cry.

6) He sees me mostly as a milk tank.

Oh, Peter loves me, I am sure. He will smile at me when I come into a room and I know he is so happy to be with me. But often when I am holding him, he will smell my milk and nose dive from shoulder height to about my middle (where I usually hold him to nurse). This is followed by frantic head-butting and pulling at my shirt. I don't remember any of my other children being quite so violent about their desires for nourishment. I guess I better get on teaching him sign language already.

7) He does not really have words yet, but . . .

When he wants to get my attention sometimes (like in the middle of the night) he will cry, "Ma ... (pause) ma ... (pause) ma..." and repeat. I would find it endearing if I did not feel sad for him crying.

(Side tangent, I am so tired of listening to crying -- from any of my children. I really feel like it is an assault on me some days. I try so hard to take care of them and meet their needs and how do they respond? -- They cry!! Silly kids/babies. I know it is just part of life, but my weary ears are ready for less violent noise.)

* Dear little Peter, you are growing so fast! 8-months-old and doing so much. You are such a blessing to our family!!

Bonus Section:

1) Miriam LOVES Peter.

Seriously. She tells me at least three times a day how much she loves Peter and asks me to confirm that he must love her back. -- From the moment I brought him home from the hospital she was asking to "pet Peter" and now she asks if she can play with him and is always hugging him.

2) Samuel is an awesome big brother.

Samuel was a little hesitant to help much with Peter in the beginning. He would grudgingly hold the little guy while Peter cried and I hurriedly finished whatever task I was doing. -- Then Samuel learned how to comfort him and I would ask Samuel to take Peter when he was fussy and calm him down! Samuel would sing to him and gently pat him or carry him. -- Now I often ask Samuel to help with Peter and he gladly scoops him up and carries him off. He will calm him if necessary or just help him get settled with toys and let him happily play.

3) Rebekah is a mini-momma.

This is probably not a surprise to anyone, but Rebekah is practically an adult in the household as far as caring for the children and babies anyhow. She can even be in charge of Peter for large chunks of time while Mom is fairly indisposed doing dangerous or particularly messy projects or special tasks. -- Lots of girls want dolls to play with. Rebekah has a real doll and his name is Peter. -- She also has two little sisters that adore her and she is so good with.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Family Fun at Grizzly Halloween Camp

This weekend we packed up Miriam and Zipporah and passed them on to Grandpa and Grandma so the rest of us could enjoy the Cub Scout Grizzly Halloween Camp at Camp Hansen.

I attended Camp Hansen for Girl Scouts a million years ago and loved it. I went as a Junior to the week-long camp two or three times and then as a Cadette to the 10 or 12 day-long camp three times, I believe. I followed it up by being a Resident Assistant for the next four years. I LOVED Camp Hansen and have so many wonderful memories there. It was great to go back and enjoy it with my family. (minus two :)

Setting Up Camp

Rebekah and Paul set up the kid tent. Rebekah, Samuel, Jacob, and Paul all slept here.

Jacob stopped to smile as he and Samuel were working with Daddy to set up the tent Gordie, Peter, and I slept.

More "tenting" -- these pictures might be out of order.

Peter checking out the nature.

And he likes it!

Weblos Learning Stuff

I believe they were making a fire here. Samuel is tucked in on the right.

Peter and I

Peter and I trucked ALL OVER Camp Hansen and it was great. The scenery is a lot how I remembered it, though some things have changed. The roads are bit different, the Lake is missing some trees and the water is definitely up. But generally, the feel of the camp -- the smells, the air, the peace, the nature -- it's all there. And it is good.

Samuel and Rebekah are Weblos age, so they did their thing separate from the other groups. Gordie is a co-leader of that group, so he mostly hung out with them. Jacob and Paul adventured around with the rest of Pack 133 for their activities. 

Peter and I floated around trying to catch up with everyone. We wandered out to the Weblos, then back to see Jacob and Paul do bouldering. Then back to the Weblos, then lunch with Jacob and Paul, then nap (but it was too hot in the tent for a nice long nap -- this was more like a sip of a nap) And then out to see Rebekah and Samuel do bloudering, and back to the dining hall for Jacob and Paul to make pumpkins. And this is only about half the day. Our time there was PACKED FULL!!

Selfie with Peter, to try and capture some oft he gorgeous scenery.

2nd Selfie -- Peter looking the right way. 

Wide-open spaces.

Peter checking out the tent before our short nap.

Bouldering Fun


Paul and Jacob

Paul on the wall. 
Jacob on the wall.

Rebekah and Daddy on the wall. He was showing her how to do it "properly."



Samuel on the wall.

Arts and Crafts

Samuel and Rebekah with their pumpkins.

This is Jacob's little clay pumpkin he made.

Jacob was so proud he made a little imprinted J on the back of his pumpkin.

Here is Paul's clay pumpkin creation.

Paul was so excited that he had put "a butt" on his pumpkin. -- Oh little boys!

Jacob and Paul.

I have no idea what they are doing here, but it looks kind of crafty. Of course, they might just be eating chips for lunch. Hard to tell.

Halloween Fun

Gordie braiding Rebekah's hair so she could be Wednesday (on a Saturday :) -- It was actually really dark at this point, after sunset, and he is doing this by flashlight. The flash on my camera definitely lit it up for a moment, though.

Rebekah as Wednesday. Too bad we ran out of time to powder her face.

Peter the puppy (outfit courtesy of Grandma -- for one of the older children when they were a baby -- I think maybe Jacob).

Happy puppy Peter.

Peter later morphed into a dinosaur puppy.

Daddy and his dino-puppy.

I added this photo to show Samuel's costume (his gi, he went as an Aikido student) and Jacob has a turtle shell on his back (he went as a ninja turtle, dressed like a cub scout). Paul was a dinosaur. Gordie has the pictures of them on his phone and I have not been able to retrieve them yet.

The Morning After the Longest Camp Day in the World.

Jacob and Paul


Tired Rebekah.

Still tired Rebekah, but happy, too.

Very unflattering picture of Mom to show cute Peter. -- Selfies are hard with a "traditional" camera.

We were both so tired. Camping out is hard on mommies with little babies used to their own beds.

But Peter's still cute, no matter what.

Good Bye, Camp Hansen -- until next year.