Thursday, May 28, 2009

Small Successes

I haven't done this in a few weeks, but thought I would give it a try today.

1. Cleaned out the 4 youngest children's drawers, ended up with two large bags of cold weather clothes in the attic and two large bags for Goodwill. And all the laundry is caught up.

2. Cleaned my room, almost. Packed away my maternity clothes. Not that my regular clothes all fit yet, but I won't "apply myself" to getting back into them if I keep my stretchy pants out. So, I bought one pair of larger pants, found a few of my old skirts that fit, and cut white sugar and flour back out of my diet like I did while I was pregnant. We'll see what happens.

3. Caught up on the Melanie's baby book. Each of my kids has a baby book, and I don't want her to have the only empty one. So now, it's updated for the first 10 weeks.

So, that's all folks.

Oh, wait, I also finally wrote a few thankyou notes, including one to the lovely lady that made Melanie this hat. I'll give it to you when we start painting again, okay Barb?

See other success at Faith and Family Live

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

10 weeks old today


Just a quick note to say just how much I love watching my 10 year old son. He is totally immersed in Star Wars right now, and I have observed him swinging his light saber around, doing daring jumps and flips on the trampoline, all the while so engrossed in his imaginary battle that the real world fades away. I can almost see his imagined battles by the intensity of his actions.

Just now, he came running down the hall with empty trash bags, completing his chore of emptying all the trash cans. He has a cape, his light saber is in a holster, and some old leather boots. He looks remarkably like Obi Wan in the newer movies. He moves through his day on the constant lookout for danger, like a good Jedi should. I love that he feels so free to immerse himself into his imagination, that the lack of self-consciousness allows for such free play.

What a privilege to be able to observe him in his freedom. All the times I question myself about deciding to home educate are mollified by seeing him as he is today. Confident, enthralled, active and just plain old happy. (Please know I am not saying kids educated in brick and mortar schools can not be confident, enthralled, active and plain old happy. I just know this boy, and his particular struggles and tender spots; also, at this very hour he would not be able to play, but would be at a desk.)

that's it. I just wanted to make a note of this day, so I can remember it later.


Sunday, May 17, 2009


Okay, so I haven't gotten the photo of the silver ball up yet. I know, and I am sorry. I will soon. Any other guesses? My hands have been either full, or busy, and I haven't been able to type or post, or download photos. I will return most likely next week, as this week is full of company and graduations and other such festivities.

Enjoy the photo of my little "bunny" as she slumbers.

May you all be blessed!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

God Grant Him Many Years!

As previously mentioned, today is my youngest son's 7th birthday. In honor of this, I am reposting something I wrote about him four years ago. This particular child was like a life raft for me at a very scary time. I will be forever grateful for him. Of course, all my children were well timed (not by me) gifts, each in their own way. But this life raft I am still holding onto, and so here is the rest of the story:

This is my sweet three year old son. He is a joy, and, I believe, a miracle.

It all began 4 years ago, when my dh quit his job, for ethical reasons. He had a healthy bonus coming, so to avoid conflict of interest, he quit prior to finding a different job. He also was getting fatigued in his chosen profession, and thought he might try something else. Didn't happen. Dh's ex-boss was furious to loose the brains of his organization, and accused dh of embezellment. Long story short, this all ended up with our bonus tied up in court, with dh having no job, and us having to deal with all the ugliness of a law suit.

Then, on September 10, 2001, dh opened a business account with most of the money we had left, and started his own business, as the luxury of doing something else had vanished. Of course, we all know what happened on September 11th, and all the fear and grief that accompanied that grim day.

On September 12th, I found out I was expecting my 6th child. This wasn't in the plan. This shouldn't have happened according to my charts. This just plain, old shouldn't have happened. Was I being cursed? Punished? How could God do this to me?? I mean, I live trying to trust God, remain open to life, yet could there be any worse timet to have a baby?: WHAT WAS HE THINKING??? This is what went through my head as I lay awake, night after night, and fought sleep day after day.

The pregnancy dragged on. I had high blood pressure, high blood sugar, had to switch insurance providers to save money, and therefore had to pay for the birth ourself. Meanwhile, dh's business is tanking in the post-9/11 stock market mess.

This is a really long story.

So I will skip most of it, except to say that God took the most exquisite care of us. We never had a need that wasn't filled. Somehow, we managed to go nearly two years with no income, and suffer no permanent repercussions. We found how many dear friends we had in our life. We found that our church was a refuge and a strength for us. We were able to turn to family for help without shame. And, we got our dear, sweet son, who couldn't have come at a better time. He soothed my soul, gave me joy, gave me the sweet simplicity of a new, lovely baby, at a time when the world seemed so complicated and dark.

People often assume that our seven children were a choice for us, you know, good for you, if that's what makes you happy, and all that. No, this really wasn't what I set out to do. I didn't have any desire for baby number 6, thought I was being punished, and was beside myself. When he was born, I realized that God did know better, and knew exactly what I would need at exactly the right time.

Now, things are better, dh's business is still surviving, we have another baby, and all the legal and financial mess is ancient history. And we still have this little precious boy, a gift, and a constant reminder to me of God's tender care.


Of course, we have TWO more babies now, and my husband has gone through more career changes, and we have had more unexpected difficulties. But the lesson we learned with the arrival of our sixth child helped us weather all those things. We are still so very grateful for him, and the joy he has brought our lives.

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day!
In honor of every self-sacrificing mother out there, here is a quote that hit me right between the eyes. Whenever I read this part of the story to my children, I pause. This is the answer to the unsettling hesitation I have about the costs of mothering. I see my body, so changed by the process of carrying and birthing eight children. I see the hesitation to endure whatever the future has in store. I see the fear of "losing myself" amidst the constant daily demands. I see the desire, and yet am fearful, of becoming real.


"What is REAL?" asled the Rabbit one day. Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
The only toy that was kind to the Rabbit was the Skin Horse. The Skin Horse had lived in the nursery longer than any of the others, and he was very wise.
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens when a child loves you. It takes a long time. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, you get loose in the joints, and very shabby."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse. "But when you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
The Rabbit sighed. He longed to become Real, and yet the idea of growing shabby was rather sad. He wished that he could become Real without uncomfortable things happening to him.

from "The Velveteen Rabbit" by Margery Williams.

And I offer a sincere prayer of thanksgiving to the Heavenly King, Consoler, the Spirit of Truth; Who is in all places and sees all things; Treasury of blessings, and Giver of Life, for granting me the gifts of my children, and the many opportunities to become REAL.

And to all the Mothers reading, and to all the women who mother other people's children, and to all the women who care for others and give of themselves, Happy Mother's Day, and may God grant you many years in peace, health and happiness.

(adapted from Mother's Day, 2005)


I have put this post up on Mother's Day for four years now. This is the first time I have had to edit the number of children I have birthed, from seven to eight. You have no idea how happy it made me to be able to do that today. I have to say, as the years go by, and the children grow and are added to my life, I am quite a bit less hesitant about becoming real. After this last birth, my body is even more "shabby". And I care quite a bit less than I used to. I think I am more real now than I was last year, and the more real I get, the more real I want to be.

It is also my son's seventh birthday today, and last night we went out Dairy Joy, for corn dogs, cheese fries and shakes. I felt a little hesitant, thinking this wasn't good for my figure (or lack thereof), and my wise 14 year old daughter said to me "Life first, figure second. Have fun!" So I did.

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 08, 2009

7 Quick takes Friday ~ Gardening Edition

As usual, go check out Jen for more.

Thank you for all your positive feedback on my garden. Let me elaborate a little, based on some of your questions. First, I live on a 3 acre parcel of land, in the woods. The area around the house is the only space that gets sun. Everything else is shady. We have numerous areas I call "the wild areas", due to the fact that they are left to fend for themselves. I see evidence that they had been cultivated at one time, but when we moved here they were too far gone to wild for me to do much with them.

Right around the house, there were old, leggy, overgrown bushes, and we had them taken out. With that, I got lots of empty dirt that I had to do something with. Around here, with our very fertile soil, a blank spot doesn't last long. It is either plant something, or concede the area to the weeds. So first, I prepared the soil with rototilling and removing as many roots and rocks as I could. Then I watched the sunshine, to see what percentage of the day this area got sun, if any. Then I defined the space by edging it (basically digging a trench around the bed). I noticed the other day that those have grown back in with weeds, and need to be re-done this year. So, number one, prepare your space.

(our basil patch, awaiting planting. We grow basil for church, for the feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross in September)


The next step was to beg for perennial plants from anyone who had some to share. I offered to split any plants that had gotten overgrown in their gardens, if I could take the extras. I have many varieties of lilies, cone flowers, black eyed susans, bee balm, catmint, grasses, and ground covers that I paid for only with my labor. I also go to garden walks and community garden sales and often times people offer plants to share. One word of warning: When people give away plants because they have too many, it means the plant spreads and may be aggressive. Find out how aggressive it is: having a plant fill up a lot of space may be just what you are looking for, but if you want to contain it, plant it in a coffee can with the bottom cut out (if it spreads by root), or be prepared to pull a lot of seedling if it spreads by seed.
(some catmint and other ground covers, next to an old street sign and a pot, soon to be filled with geraniums)

The next section will be about shade plants. I have a wild area smack in the middle of my back yard. It had some ferns in it, and some ground cover, but wild bushes and lots of blackberries and weeds. Without care, the blackberries arch out of the area, attaching to the dirt next to it, and gobble up about 5 feet of land every year. So, my first job was to redefine the space, and cut back and dig out blackberries and some weed bushes. That was all I did that year (about 8 years ago). Next, while whacking my way through another wild area, I discovered a tree with hosta growing around it (remnants of past cultivation that was long overgrown). I dug some out, and plopped them along the border of the now blackberry free wild area and the grass. That was all I did that year in that area, and I have distinct memories of hauling my full term pregnant self into the woods to dig up the old hosta, actually sitting on the shovel handle for some leverage, and all the squatting and bending I had to do to finish that job. (My son turns seven this Sunday. How time flies). I hand-cleared the soil that year, but was much smarter the next year, when I rented a rototiller to add to the hosta garden on either side of that first try. The next year, I continued to add about 5 feet of cultivated space by rototilling a new section, splitting and transplanting old hosta, and begging other varieties from friends and family. Hosta are like weeds in a way ~ very durable, hard to kill, and they get bigger every year. So every year I split and move them, reclaiming more space from the wilds.
Last year one of my neighbors gave me a little of her very vigorous bleeding heart, and I put that and some pulminaria along the front of the hosta, and in the process added another section of my garden. I think it is looking pretty good.
(the old dilapidated trike that I now use as a plant stand. Impatiens will be potted and set upon it soon)

The next year the kids and I (mostly the kids, though) put a little path into the wild area and dumped a few bags of mulch on it to keep it from getting overgrown. and that leads me to the next section:
(There is a chair tucked back in there. Click on any photo to get a bigger picture)

mulch. If you go to all the trouble of clearing dirt, and planting flowers in the dirt, make certain you put a thick (4") layer of mulch on all the soil around the plants. This will keep the weeds down, and help retain the moisture in the soil, so you will have to water less frequently.

Look to the future for more ideas. This area is still wild. I have put a few decorations in it, because I see it from my bedroom, but it is the next spot I will reclaim from the wilds. I am beginning to cut out the blackberries now, then I'll have the soil tilled and then split and plant more hosta and other plants I have. I'll get about 5' done this year, and have about 20' to go. Slow and steady.
(If you mow down the weed, from a distance, it looks like lawn =)


Lastly, at least for this post, is the little extras you can do to fluff up your garden. In a sunny spot, throw zinnia, cosmos and other annual seeds down. This will add a lot of color with almost no work. In the fall, plant LOTS of bulbs (like I mentioned before, last fall was the first one I actually did this after 7 years of wanting to. Slow and steady). I planted about 400 of them (the kids and I did, I mean. I couldn't have done it alone). About half actually came up (squirrels and chipmunks feasted on the rest, I think). If I had only planted 200, I may not have ended up with very many. Also, I have lots of things in my garden to decorate. Old wheelbarrow filled with dirt and annuals, with a fairy statue. Colorful pots that I put geraniums in. Old baskets that I fill with dirt and pansies. The St. Francis statue that I got at an estate sale for $35. It was so heavy no one else wanted it. My sweet husband had to figure out how to get it home, but it was so worth it to me! I have bird baths (mostly from garage and estate sales, or garden sales). I put shepherd hooks in the middle of the garden and hang a plant there to add height and color. Wind chimes here and there. A random chair, stepping stones, and little glazed figurines I get at the thrift store, stuck here and there add to the charm. I have some freestanding trellises with climatus growing up, adding a backdrop of color. As these things start bloom, I'll take more photos. I have birdhouses around, all of which I got from the thrift store.

These things are like frosting on a cake. I move them around every year, and if I have one problem with it, it would be I can get my garden looking cluttered if I am not careful (you should see inside my house. Same problem).
(this is right off my back step. More blank dirt I had to put something in or I would have a weed patch).
(See the ball next to the fairy in the wheelbarrow? It is silver and swirly, and iridescent and weather proof. What do you think it is?)
(This birdhouse remains vacant)
(This one has wrens in it)

(An old bird bath and my tulips that I planted in little clusters here and there around the garden)

So, for now, that's all folks. I'll keep you all apraised of the garden progress and the season unfolds!!

and last but not least:

The gratuitous baby picture. She gets smooched from one of her sisters.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Small Successes

Having a garden that can basically take care of itself is one of my successes. Don't look too closely at the dandy-lions, and other "weeds". We live in the woods and weeds are a part of life I have learned to accept. Taking pictures of the garden is one of my small successes. And Posting this on the right day is another. So here are some garden shots. Enjoy
(*of course, there is a extraneous photo of the two youngest, the Princesses of our home. Can't help it.)

Here is the front porch decor. Welcome!
Side door entry, the way most people come into our home.
I finally got tulips planted last fall. Yahoo!!! I am so glad I did.
See the happy little tire swing? A prize for the first to document the movie reference. A small prize, but a prize, none the less.
The Princesses!!

The back yard garden, with a tricycle that will be a plant stand soon.

My dear St. Francis. I can see this from my bedroom, and from the classroom, as well as the kitchen.

More tulips in the front. I can see these from the front living room window.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Things I love to see, for which I am grateful

Spring Blossoms in one of my favorite glass vases.

My soon to be seven year old and his "sword".

Kids having fun in the back yard. They have been having fun in the tent, as well.

Baby in a cute outfit before church last Sunday.

My book ends, oldest and youngest, Godfather and Goddaughter. I love this picture. Notice the icon wall behind them.

Friday, May 01, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday. Whew. What a week. Go to Jen's for more.

1. I have been battling mastitis all week. I haven't had time to properly take care of it, but I am doing the best I can. Melanie seems to becoming a worse nurser as time goes by, and is depending on the bottle of pumped milk more and more. I bought my very own pump this week, because I can see the handwriting on the wall, pumping and bottle feeding is going to be the way she eats for the foreseeable future. She nurses for comfort only it seems to me. When she tries to eat that way she gets frustrated and squirmy. After I pump, and then try nursing again, she relaxes, but doesn't get as much. Then she drinks the previously pumped bottle. It is working, as she is now nearly 10 pounds, but very time consuming.

2. I am actually gaining weight, I think, since she was born. I haven't been able to be nearly as intentional with my food, because I can't get to the store to buy the "special" healthy food I was eating, and I don't take the time to make the healthy food that I have around here. I spend an inordinate amount of time in my chair, nursing, or pumping, all the while snacking because I am so hungry. I must work in some exercise somewhere.

3. I got her birth announcements addressed and bought stamps. Only the task of mailing them left.

4. I did the first of the summer buzz cuts around here. One more of those, and then a few trims for the girl's hair (maybe Super Cuts can do those?), and we are ready for warm weather. Did you hear that, midwest, we are READY FOR WARM WEATHER. Not HOT, not COLD, but WARM. Thank you for your cooperation, midwest.

5. We did our first full week of school since the baby's birth. It was challenging, but we did it. Felt good. We had choir rehearsals, and an upcoming concert this Sunday. Took the little ones to the library, and they had a blast. Started up our co-op again for school. Very nice to do that again. Busy week. Good week. Tiring week.

6. I am loving Perrier water, especially the Citron flavor. It was on sale this week, and I stocked up. Delicious!

7. I am craving cheese enchiladas. I am going to the store to buy the makings, and that is what we are having for dinner. Amen. I'll eat healthy tomorrow. See number 2. Maybe I'll go for a walk after dinner??

Ugh. That's all I've got. I wish I could go deeper, but just can not at this time. But I do have a baby photo. And that should explain everything.