Monday, December 31, 2007

New Years Eve

My oldest two are off at the Gelbach's having a grand time. I see from Susan's blog there is a lot of silliness. Shocked I am...... It is pretty quiet here. We are going to church this evening and I doubt I will make it much past then. We have no New Year's tradition other than maybe watching a movie and then falling asleep well before midnight. My parents came today and we had a nice meal and visit. I have cleaned for no one lately as the new room project includes piles of wood, constant influx of dust and that will not end untill perhaps next weekend. I really hope to ring in the new year cleaning my room otherwise know as the path room. It is getting beyond ridiculous. The rest of the house is really not that bad other than dusty. I think it isn't that bad because if anyone can't figure out what to do with something, they put it in our room. Now I get to put all of those ever accumulating things away. There are a few things missing in there which is no great surprise either so I hope to find them.

Had a pretty good talk about parenting last night and I am experimenting with some anti-bark orders ideas or rather ideas I remembered from camp and......they work. It is from the same guy who said every kid has a score card on the every adult as to whether to listen to them. I also remembered while we were talking last night how he emphasized going to the child, getting on their level (that isn't as easy with kids who are taller than you - stools?) and touching them on the shoulder. It works. I am going to 'try' to have them come to me. I am also 'trying' to have everyone repeat the instructions so I know their brains have processed it. It is so easy with this mass of bodies to shout orders from across the room and then go nuts when everyone is talking at once and not many people paying attention to what is needed. No this is not a New Year's resolution but just a reminder to myself that getting their little faces closer to mine when I am giving out instructions is more effective. Can I remember that all the time????? Oh, the other part of the conversation was about training the kids how to help their siblings. Yes......where to begin. I will be rumbling that around in my head as well and perhaps making a list of how tos to go over with them.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A baby's favorite part of Christmas.....

Eating the Christmas ornaments. What fun. I found Stefan pretty cute and amusing as he tried the ornaments out. I wonder what babies think. "Wow, look at that! I wonder if it tastes as good as it looks?" Cutie pie. He has since stopped mauling the tree but at least he didn't get too carried away. Someone once said how you can always tell if there are toddlers in the house by the height of the ornaments. We just tried to put the unbreakables on the bottom which worked for the most part.

Church was great as per usual this morning. Stefan cooperated and fell asleep just as the service began. Sweet. His skin looks better lately and I am sort of assuming it is because he IS taking a bottle and getting less allergens from me.

A young child in the family decided to clean his ear out with a little light sabre this afternoon. He learned the meaning of not sticking anything smaller than your elbow in you ear. Hopefully nothing will happen as a result of this but it did hurt. He seems ok now. What next. Of course we were getting ready to leave the house and were already sort of late when this occurred and.....the child tends to scream about stuff so it was the boy who called wolf. I become dulled to screaming. "Oh? Someone is screaming? I didnt' notice. Is there something wrong dear????" That would be better known as the family who calls wolf. I can remember a certain young lady screaming and this was her habit so when I heard it I pretty much ignored it until her little friend came to inform me that some yellow jackets got a hold of her.

So, that is some of today and the last few days. And many years ago..... Exciting eh?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas 2007

The picture is of a branch that came off a large hemlock in our front yard. Took out the electric....again. That was Sunday morning.

All and all it was a nice Christmas. The services were great as usual. Only one person someplace behind me was jabbering about how long the hymns were (loved them, prayers (awesome), and chanting too much (incredible). It was hard not to say something and I restrained myself (phew). It was great also to see all the other church going, addicted to daily services people who were also there.

We went to my mom and dad's in the afternoon yesterday. Yay, shrimp. The rest of the food was great too. There was some nice herring (thanks mom) and we had a discussion of how to make homemade and that she hasn’t been able to find fresh herring since the A&P went out of business years ago. A friend’s, daughter’s future father-in-law apparently makes his own so I will have to ask him where he gets his herring. My mother is prepared with her mother’s recipe to give it a whirl. My children got me herring for Christmas and so did my parents. How funny.

Mom and I played some hymns together on our horns. That was nice. My dad played the piano with, but I think we were so loud and I am not sure I heard it. It worked though. I played a little for fun. I am getting the itch to play a little more this afternoon.

There is church tonight. Yay! A Divine Service every day of Christmas! What could be better. My kids have great enthusiasm for this. My brother asked why Martin was wearing a suit. I told him because he likes it. He doesn’t feel fully dressed at church without it. He will take off his jacket to acolyte though and he wants to do THAT all the time. He even cried last week when Pastor beat him to it one morning. Opps. He is getting pretty good if I do say so myself. Very handsome young man too I might add. What mom couldn’t be happier to have a 9 year old son who can’t wait to serve at church?

I love every bit of this church season for all the great services. Stefan has become a bottle drinker which amazes me. Charley loves to take him during church now so I can most of the time be in the sanctuary. It is pretty cute. It is Charley and the other moms in the cry room in the back of the church. Sandy commented how odd it was to see me feeding Stefan a bottle. I agree, but I do think he is happier now. That could be my imagination but it seems to be true. He still nurses some during the day and night but not as much as he did. I am truly ok with that. He is growing up and may be one of my younger ones to lose interest in me but that is ok too. Everyone is different and has different needs.

We are living off of leftovers which is also great. The owner of Heavenly Ham gave us a ham and also a breakfast casserole and bacon for Christmas morning. That was incredibly wonderful. I was hoping to find time to make some sort of casserole and then it was handed to me. Wow.

Charley has primed the walls and ceiling of the new room and is working on the top coat. Anna and I went to Lowes this morning and picked out paint. I also inquired of a large rebate we never received and a manager type person looked into and found it was never processed. They actually went ahead and refilled it and we should get it in a few weeks. Oh happy day. It was pretty large so that should make some difference in the renovating fund.

Monday, December 24, 2007

For my dad (but I won't eat it)

O lutefisk, O lutefisk, I put in the dooorvay.I vanted you to ripen up, just like dey do in Svierge.A dog came by and sprinkled you,I hit him vid an army shoe.O Lutefisk--Now I supposeI'll eat you as I hold my nose.O Lutefisk, O Lutefisk, how vell I do remember On Christmas Eve, how ve'd receiveour big treat of December.It vasn't turkey or fried ham It vasn't even spickled spamMy mudder knew dere vas no risk, In serving buttered lutefisk..O lutefisk, O luteffisk--now everyone discovers Dat lutefisk and lefse makes Scandinavians better lovers.Now all da vorld can have a ball---You're better dan dat yeritol.O lutefisk---vid brennevin--You make me feel like young again!

O lutefisk, O lutefisk, when my poor heart stops beating, The gates of heaven will open wide, I'll see the angels eating From steaming platters of the stuff, and there will always be enough, O piece of cod that I adore, O lutefisk forevermore!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


This is what I mean. Labels are just labels. With every decade there are new labels and new ways of describing the same learning challenges. The labels do not solve the problem or lack of skill. The tools to help the child acquire the skill are what is needed. If to learn the skill they need to hear the instruction 10,000 times, then that is what needs to be done. The method of hearing it over and over does not change. Kids who learn this way do not just click. Why am I blogging about this some more? Because I live with that kid and no matter how many times people tell me that he really just reached an age and it clicked, I know that is not true. He finally was given the tools to learn and it worked. Given the correct tools, he went from a kindergarten reading level to a 5th grade reading level in one year. I knew that the same sort of solution must exist for spelling so I called and sure enough was led to the tools that will work. This guy, Mr. Maloney, does know what he is talking about as my child is proof that it works. Seeing the light bulbs pop in his head to having things explained in a way that helped him be able to read and then actually to be able to do it was incredible. If my explanation of how this type of learning does not make sense to you, then I guess perhaps you would have to walk around in my shoes and in my child’s shoes to believe that it is true. I know it is going to take time to get through the spelling program but when that child decides he has had it and is ready to conquer and divide, then I am ready to comply and help him. A willing student means everything.

Perhaps my explanation would still lead you to believe that it was the child's age that was the difference. The difference was really teaching the child the right approach to reading. How do we approach each word as it comes to us while reading. Our 6 year and 12 year old learned extremely quickly but that was because the approach made sense to them. A child who is just reluctant to read but can actually read words is different from a child who simply can not read. This child of mine's spelling approach is the same as how he approached reading. There is no approach whatsoever to his spelling. Put down some sounds and maybe it will work. Spelling is a skill and if the approach that works for most does not work for everyone, then there is a different way to teach it that will work. So why not teach the child the way it will work rather than keep trying to teach the child the way that works for most other children. Hmmmm........

Ramble, ramble.....feel free to ask questions if this does not make sense to you.


So I had a LONG discussion with Micheal Maloney this morning about one of my children's spelling skills. The discussion of skills itself I thought was pretty interesting and is making me think of how this applies to everything in life. If someone lacks the skills to spell they need to be taught the skill to achieve it. There are people who feel that a certain age has to be reached in order for the ability to be acquired but I DON'T AGREE. If the child can not do the task, such as reading without being taught how to use the tools of reading to be able to read, they are not just going to suddenly wake up and understand. It is an actual skill to be able to understand how to read. The best thing he EVER said to me is that some kids need to hear the rules 10,000 times before they understand and that is true. I have seen it and experienced it. The good news is that skill can be learned and the child can succeed when given the right tools. He also said something I found VERY interesting. For all the labels that are given kids, ADD, ADHD, etc., that these labels do nothing towards teaching them skills. They are treated differently and not always taught in a way that helps them acquire the skills they need. Sure, some kids just click and then they read, but that is NOT true of every kid. My child who had the reading difficulties, would 'learn' the reading skill and understand it that day but would then forget a week later. That was because the skill was not ingrained in him. He understood the skill but couldn't retain it. Then, when given the instruction literally 1000 plus times (or maybe 10,000) he then retained it and hasn't forgotten it. It works.

So.....I was talking to Mr. Maloney about life skills and following directions. Same thing. Ask the child to tell you what is required to do the skill - clean the dishes - step by step to completion. Take the time to teach the skill. Have them repeat it every time for a long time so they retain it. How do you do the completion. This method would apply to all kids. Definitely like catechises. Say it outloud, over, and over...and over. Read it over and over and over. You will own it. You will understand because it is ingrained on your mind and heart. It works.

It was a good talk. I probably have now tortured the rest of my kids with going over the skill of cleaning the kitchen. They know the answers. They told me what needs to be done and if we repeat it orally over and over till they can tackle the task without having it explained then they will own it. They do know what needs to be done. They just need to be walked through it verbally over and over again and perhaps the wicked mommy of the west will go away.

Sigh......back to the kitchen.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Shopping with Benjamin

Benjamin is 4 and I think he is going to try out for the perpetually happy kid award. We have the kids exchange names every year and each kid gets for two of their siblings. Since none of them drive, we should really start this name drawing sooner in the year as it would simplify things for me. Anyway, I don't think Benjamin fully grasped that we were shopping for his siblings as most of the way through the stores his chatter was about how we could get this and that for him. He was truly amazed. Since he has so many older, baby-sitting siblings, he rarely gets out to a store. He talked non-stop the whole time. Of course a four year old also has no concept of cost either so everything looked attractive to him. Why wouldn't it?

We did finally accomplish our task and I was naughty and go Charley something else for Christmas. If he reads this before Christmas he will know but he doesn't usually read it. He reads this Pastor guys blog more than mine but I can't say I blame him as he sort of lives with me so the blog can't be that interesting to him. What he doesn't know is that I do withhold information in order to put it on the blog and let him find out that way. I could put all sorts of interesting information in here and see if he notices.

Back to Benjamin. He has a reputation anyway for being cute and smiley. He told us all about his latest dreams and adventures. He will be a typical male shopper as when we found the second gift in his quest, he was whining to go home. We took an unexpected detour to another store and he was NOT happy. I guess this is why I don't take him to the store very often. I did toddlers in the store enough so these young ones will have to wait awhile to get out of their four walls. I suppose that means, life is church and home. Not a bad life.

Speaking of his life at church, Charley has been taking Stefan a lot on Sundays so I can actually sit through a service. Benjamin has decided this is time for a love-in and was climbing all over me this past Sunday. The people behind me found this quite amusing and were quick to note that Benjamin was delighted that baby was somewhere else. "Mommy, Mommy, kiss, kiss, flop all over her, don't listen, get your leg squished by a kneeler, then wrap your arms around mommy's neck......."

Now I need to feed the Scouts so they have happy tummies.

Monday, December 17, 2007


I need to finish our Christmas letter and I guess I am stumped. It all sounds sort of oppressive so far so I am going to start over. Ugh. Perhaps it will have to be short and to the point.

It is the beginning of the church marathon which that is totally cool. If you can't find me at home, look for me at church. Perhaps we should change our phone message.

Anna is working all week and part of next so she will probably be rich. We won't know what to do with her. Erik works some as well so the place will be a lot quieter. I should be able to accomplish these tasks set before me but seem to spin my wheels at times.

I did go to the doctor this morning as ordered by my husband, mom, and friends. He wasn't positive what to think but we are trying a few things. Hopefully I will stop sounding like I am losing a lung. Laughing is what really makes it bad. Is that laughitis then?

Stefan is walking all over the place and is feeling pretty good this week. No dairy for that kid. I can't handle the grumpiness of said child so dairy experiments everyone. Give me the dairy not him.

Blah, blah, blah........

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Peace has returned......

The keys were found. Everything is quieted down and the siblings are safe again. Phew. There is a sewing whir coming from the basement and the rest of the kids are watching Andy Griffith. I am looking for some sort of toy I saw at the dentist with no success. I might have to go back there and ask where they got it from.

The boys found a possum down in the coop a little while ago. That may explain the decrease in eggs. It is not just playing dead now. They told us it was a mink so there was a general freak out as a herd of boys and dad rushed back to the coop to take it out. I am relieved it was only a possum.

I love snow

Reasons to love snow......

So, I was asked why I love snow so much if winter itself challenges my happy countenance or just makes my countenance worse. Well, here's the thing. If you have seven very loud children of two loud parents, then it is a great thing to......send them outside to play in the snow. I find that investments in warm outdoor clothing is the best money spent as they stay out there longer. What happens inside then is......peace and quiet. I LOVE IT! I went out to take some pictures a little while ago and wow, I actually wouldn't mind going out to play myself. I think after Stefan goes to sleep tonight I may get on my snow gear and go sledding with the older children. Of course I do have to consider that my back might hurt the next day so it will have to be careful sledding. Perhaps I could make a snow man. I won't name it Parson Brown as those lyrics are VERY weird/disturbing and I am already married.

I do not like friends of mine driving in this snow long distances so that is the down side. Don't forget to call home.......

The kids ARE outside in the snow now so it IS quiet in here. brain feels pretty good right now. I should be watching tv, reading a book, or wasting time dreaming of knitting projects to do. You thought I was going to say, washing dishes, looking for the cabinet keys (they are missing and Anna can't sew until we can find them as her patterns are locked in), or cleaning up clutter or putting away laundry. HA! Snow, quiet, wood burning stove and a cup of hot tea. What could be better? I think I will go find that book.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Fiddlers Hearth

So we went with some friends and my brother and his wife to a local hang out/pub to celebrate Charley's bday late. I've always wanted to go to this place so it seemed no time like the present. It was pretty interesting. It's claim to fame is it live music. There was a band of three guys doing their Irish thing. The deep thoughts I thought were.......why was the one guy sporting a Detroit Symphony t-shirt and playing guitar and lute (not at the same time). And.....what does someone who is Irish look like? Only the guy in the middle sounded like he could be Irish but of course I wouldn't even know if I heard a real accent or not. Sounds good to me. Since the lyrics were all sung with this Irish twang, it was hard to understand them entirely. I did understand most of the birthday songs they terrorized my husband with though. It was a little amusing.

Charley also seems to know everyone in town. Everywhere we go with friends and ourselves for that matter, there is someone who knows him. Then they are smiling at me as if we have a deep connection (Not Charley and I but.....) but I am wondering what they are thinking. I usually feel that we must be old friends with the warm conversations that come up. Whenever I have been pregnant with someone or rather when I am NOT pregnant with someone and this happens it really makes me wonder what they are thinking. "Wow, look at her, those stereo types of women being 'ruined' by having all those kids must have just been ploys to make us stop having them" or......'So, she's the one who lives with him. How does she keep up?' or of course the genuine nice things they may be thinking. I think it is the look of commaraderie where I have no clue who they are and then I have to remind myself when I run into them in the bathroom, why they are staring at me. Charley must be like the president or something. (I never did blog about him for his bday come to think of it).

There was one point where the band asked if there were any sailors in the crowd and my dear husband was briefly tempted to introduce my brother who looked at him cross-eyed and pleaded he not encourage him. My brother sails his boat in his garage so far. He is building a boat. I should find a picture of it and post it. Perhaps there will be a sailing event some time in the next few years as well.

I think I would go back to this place. I definately would check the schedule for who is doing their thing there and perhaps find a dulcimer performance. I have read that the best hammer dulcimer player in the world lives here in South Bend. Since I enjoy playing (but haven't set it up in awhile) I should look up information about him. He has played at this bar and I have no doubt I would HAVE to have reservations. Perhaps in a year or so I can pull that off after remembering to actually spend time looking up the info etc.

It was a nice evening all around and I am glad we did it. Post.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Freaky Fridays

So every Friday morning there is the same scene. The piano teacher comes to our house to teach all the kids from both hsing families their lessons. No running back and forth and we generally lock ourselves in the basement and try to learn something while they are having their lessons upstairs. That really works.

Every Friday morning before she comes, I wake up and glance around and see the clutter everywhere (this seems to happen every morning really) and then I ask the kids to come clean up the living room and dining room so we can keep up our image of not living with clutter. Then.......the kids come into these rooms and look around and see the clutter and perhaps pick up one thing and put it on another surface and start stumbling around some more. Then the mom asks them again and points out some stuff that seems glaringly obvious to her. A child starts to work on clearing a table, for instance, and 10 to 15 minutes go by and for some reason there is still sticky jelly and crumbs everywhere. How can that be? This is the mom question of all time. What could you possibly be doing with this time and still keep going back and forth and yet the crumbs and jelly remain?????? Very, very perplexing. Of course I am sure I was just a precious darling for my dear mother and she never fussed after me about cleaning. (My definition of needing to clean my room, was waiting till some sort of yucky looking spider moved in and then I went nuts cleaning my room. Good thing my mom didn't know that then or she would have started collecting and planting them in my room. It would have been easier).

The last event before piano teacher showed up, was when I walked into the kitchen and saw smoke coming out of the microwave. There was a charred piece of leftover pizza on a melting plactic plate burning up in there. It made a quick exudus to the outside where it smoked for at least 30 more minutes. Now I have to figure out how to get rid of the burning smell in the microwave. It still works. The dog didn't even eat the pizza outside. It still is there of course. Getting kids ready in the morning is far from dull.

The piano teacher may still think our house stays nicely vacuumed until she reads this post......

Thursday, December 13, 2007


The youth group is having a bake sale to raise funds for this summer's Higher Things sale. Cookie baking is not really my thing as details just escape me. It has challenged my oldest three to look through the cook books for great recipes though and to go ahead and try them. We got several different recipes made Thursday and hope to get more done today. Since I have never really got the hang of this, I must say this sale makes more sense to as people will get a variety of cookies with each plate. Perhaps we should always do that.

We also have homemade lit grape vine wreathes for sale but perhaps it is now too late to get any more of these sold. I wish we could find a good place to sell these at outside of Emmaus folks. They are pretty nice actually. We are going to put one on our gate.

My poor husband is really hoping that some of these cookies might stay at our house. His mother and sister have been the royal house of cookie making his whole life (number one reason to visit his mom during Christmas.......) and then he married ME! My talents in this area are SOO LIMITED. I guess I can figure this whole cookie thing out some more but I do remember my Erik looking shocked and perplexed one time when a friend offered him a cookie with frosting on it. He was about two or three at the time and he just sat and stared at it instead of eating it. I sort of rolled my eyes and thought "great, my child doesn't even know what the lady gave him" We had to coax him to try it. "Mom just gives me meat, potatos and veges" thought the little Erik.

I see more and more how I am just NOT DETAIL ORIENTED. Things that require careful attention to special steps just paralize me. We shall see........

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I decided to try a new strategy to just survive the day. Stefan has been fussy and crying since Saturday. Today he showed a glimmer of happiness and hunger. He wants to be held all the time which is fine if there were just one or two kids here and no school responsibilities. But....that is not the way it is. I wanted my older children to have a quality school day so I took the kids to the 'other' house for catechesis and then took younger kids and went back to our house to get some sort of math done between taking care of Stefan.

Stefan seemed a little better today but still persists in fussing. It is unfortunately Martin's scout night so Charley is gone for that. I am not sure what to do about church/youth meeting tonight. I suppose if Stefan is totally cranky I will take Charley's car and go home (he is meeting us there after scouts.)

I am making an attempt to use the wood stove to cook with. I made chicken noodle soup on it this afternoon and that worked. Since it is now heating a bigger space, it does not make the house as hot to turn it up to cook with. I should make some pizza in the oven part. Someone else mentioned that and it sounded fantastic to me.

We visited with our friends who are soon to have their miracle baby. We are so very happy for them as mentioned last spring. I could tell that the baby can't come soon enough which is true for everyone in the 9th month. I encouraged to pretend it wasn't going to happen and stay somewhat occupied with other stuff.

Had other weird stuff happen this week so I am proceeding with weathering the storm.

The ice went away. Yay! I am not sure if it is supposed to snow again soon. That would nicer than all that nasty ice. 15 passenger vans and slippery roads do not go together.

We are praying Stefan has an even more cheerful day tomorrow. Sleep....sleep.....must sleep. I never fall asleep on the couch but that happened today.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Blogging my weirdness away

Ice storm this morning. That was interesting. I saw some tail light fragments in the church parking lot but didn't see any evidence of damage to anyone. Perhaps that has been there awhile. It was slow, slippery going on the way home.

We had a new to Emmaus family over for the afternoon and had a grand time. We have a lot in common as far as experience, interests and love of house keeping. Har har. I have no way to judge if that is true but we seemed to have a similar understanding of how house keeping or cleaning is not our first love. I think brain stimulating activity would be our first love.

The kids had fun outside slipping and sliding and only one toddler escaped without a coat for awhile. The family has boys the same age range as most of ours so that was nice for both families. And there are girls close to Anna's age as well. Cool. I am excited.

So.......perhaps I will go feed my family again and clean the dishes some more. Stefan has been the epitome of cranky and seems a little happier now so should try to sneak some oatmeal in him.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


I still think I may be weird but my deep conclusion is that about once a month or so I just need some quiet with no one asking me anything or expecting anything. I can usually hold things together for about three or four weeks. That doesn't mean I can't do anything but after working hard doing what I am given to do with a whole bunch of little people and also a dh is working hard too, that sometimes a little rest from expectations is a good thing. I usually don't even realize this is true until I become cranky woo and then my brain goes on over drive and I might figure out why I am cranky woo.

I love my family. I don't mean anyone any harm so perhaps if you picture me in a rubber room when I am cranky woo you might just chuckle and then cut me some slack. Thanks. Hope I haven't frightened anyone.

What I know about Karin

Just for the general publics knowledge (as if you didn't already know this), Karin has an attitude. As I watch my dear friends deal with their kiddos and see in them the same reactions to weirdness and unpredictable behavior, I become more obsessed with just keeping things simple. These same people filter the needs of lots of little people who are at a cognitive level that does not include understanding what will happen if they continue running through the house (again) and their little brother is playing in the pathway. They just seem to not get it. "I am enjoying the running, and so is my friend so what is the problem anyway?" "Mom, why does your hand shake anyway while you are trying to drink your coffee???" This thought actually may never run through their minds until they are maybe 16.

What am I trying to say? I truly think all people filter a lot of other people stuff all the time. I am just not good at it. Containment. I contain a lot for a long time. The kid stuff, the friend stuff of not quite understanding where they are coming from unless they speak clearly (I am usually obviously cryptic). If you are going to be cryptic, then how about just saying what is really on your mind......????? Then there comes a point that I have to tell people that I just can not handle any more conditions of what is happening. If it is time for lunch, eat it. If the kids are getting together with friends, tell me if I need to drive. If you do not like my house keeping, keep it to yourself. If you participate in guessing what crazy Karin is thinking, then call her and invite her for a cup a coffee and ask her to explain herself. But......don't guess what I am thinking. Don't guess what anyone would say or do but direct them to the source. If I call and say I may be late, assume that I have a good reason and not that I have been tied up shopping thrivolously for bon, bons.....they have those at the check out lane and it doesn't take too long to pick them up.

Mom's with children in that lovely 'can't think of anyone else's needs but my own' stage really need patience from others. If their eyes glaze over they could look like that for any number of reasons. Perhaps they are thinking of the melt down that occurred over breakfast when their sibling told them they couldn't eat dad's cereal. Perhaps they are dreaming of those sweet moments of rest before their eyes shut last night. Perhaps they are processing how to keep up with their children's rashes or nose picking habits. The list is endless. These are just real issues that may distract a mom from remembering to smile at you in the grocery or even get out of your way. These are all just silly things, but unless I am truly totally crazy, I do think that people do mutually experience these same things. Yes, yes, we forgive, love our neighbor and go on, but I DO think it is helpful to consider that everyone has all these odditities in life and may just be tired if they look at you oddly or whatever.

My best friends just laugh at these muddle through life things. I never want someone to help change things really but just to listen and perhaps remember to pray for me the next time they see a mother with a hoard of kids putzing through the grocery store. Oh......yes.......also to forgive me for my weirdoness. I am JUST WEIRD. Please forgive me me weirdoness as I forgive those who weirdo against me. I don't need fixed, just forgiven. I do need to rant sometimes and then......forgive me. God help my future daughter-in-laws and sons-in-law. They may have to buy my some Bible beer or wine and permit me to just sit at their tables and chuckle at their current frustrations. Oh, don't forget the herring and stinky cheese. But.....please tell me if some dark chocolate will help you and if you do not like hand made sweaters, tell me upfront to save time and money. I will NOT be offended. If you don't want to have gift exchanges tell me. If you don't like working on projects and would rather just buy new, tell me (us). This Karin person is just painfully honest, tired, and perhaps needs a day to go to the Symphony and listen to some great brass music and not do anything for four hours on a train.

I can't wait for two weeks of daily divine services and maybe putting cots in the basement for my tall boys to catch some winks. THAT is what totally rocks my boat. Sigh. Is it that time yet? Pastors can we do that more often? Would your families mind if we just lived at church. Ok, ok, I will do what I am given to do and yes, I will buy Bible wine for our Higher Things fundraiser (windows, whatever).

My dh would like to communicate with me so I am done ranting.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Above the kitchen cabinets

So this afternoon I braved the dust above the kitchen cabinets. Yikes. I am glad we don't know anyone tall enough to keep tabs on that mess on a regular basis. There must have been at least a quarter of an inch of dust in places. I also determined that it is time for some of my wedding gifts to disappear. Vases seemed to be the theme in 1987. Blankets and afghans were also popular. If you come to visit we could hand one out at the door to everyone and you would be assured to stay warm. Anyway, if anyone needs a vase, let me know. There were also some broken serving dishes that I glued and can't use that must go as well. Why is it so easy to part with these things now?

We have been hunting dust bunnies in the rest of the house as well. Fortunately dinner is already ready. I hope to visit with a friend whose baby is due soon this evening. She could use the distraction I think.

It is cold and snowy and the kids are headed out to sled since they have paid their dues in the cleaning department. I need to update the view from my window.......

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Wednesday night service

Church was nice tonight. Sermon was great, hymns were great and Evening Prayer is always great. Charley took Stefan the wild boy and I was able to sit in the pew. Benjamin spent much of the time hung around my neck which I suppose counts as bonding time. I don't get to spend enough time with that boy. Cecilia was sort of reclining in my lap trying to soak up a little of mommy too. So.....I suppose I didn't have Stefan to wrestle with and those next two older ones did their best to have a love in.

Some mysterious person took Cecilia's bulletin after the service as poor Walter came to usher us out. It wasn't Walter's fault. Cecilia melted in a puddle as it was HER bulletin and what happened to it anyway. She cried all the way through the back of the church and out the door. Upon arriving home the dear little child was given clear instruction to get ready for bed in ten minutes or less and prayers had been said. (Gosh I feel evil sometimes). The phone rang while these lovely instructions were given so hopefully I didn't sound too evil to the person on the other end of the line. When I return home from church in the evening I am definitely focused on the task at hand - "Get thee ready for bed and get there".

Stefan is nearly in bed so that is a good thing. Perhaps I will work on finishing the knitting project I am working on. I talked to a friend about how the Christmas letter isn't done, and then there are all the books we would love to read. Sigh.

Nighty, nighty.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

This is what got my brain cooking

The list below from Anita's blog got me thinking about this misunderstanding thing. Or should we call it something else. I do think Charley and I have been guilty of overanalyzing other people's choices in the past. That may seem shocking but I guess I do still love and quote Barb K. about how each couple has their own definition of life and family that is different from everyone else and that is OK! It didn't go exactly like that but that was the basic gist.

So.....I sent this list to some friends and even some friends who may have made some of these generalizations and one friend had the most profound reaction. She was not defensive or shocked by what people said really but she said "Wow, that list made me so sad that we can all be so thoughtless and mean." Well, I was surprised in a way by her reaction but thought that this list could be made about just any topic related to personal choices.

Why don't we ask questions of each other that show true curiousity, interest and love for one another? Do we HAVE to 'fix' other people's choices. Are these choices really all that bad in light of the fact that duh (Swedish for duh) we are all full of sin? Or that we are all created beautifully and uniquely for a REASON? Do we have to fix what God created? Why not love people for who they are, respect them as being adults muddling through just like the rest of us and just enjoy our different weirdnesses. Cheif of weirdos though I be........

If you have not read the list, enjoy. I found it humorous for the many reasons including many that have been stated to me. In fact, I think most of them have been stated at one point or another either to me or through other people who may have been to chicken to 'fix' us in person.

One last thought.......I have been told I am forthright about stuff. I can't stand not being forthright as the question that something seems wrong can keep lurking in the back of my mind and simply drive me crazy. If you act like perhaps I have offended you, then why don't you talk to ME about it????? If I melt in a puddle oh well? At least the air will be cleared or maybe you may be surprised that I won't melt and I would REALLY like to talk through stuff and not be guessing what the other person is thinking. Isn't it better to be honest with each other thus loving the other person with true care. Another person's weird actions can certainly leave the person receiving the weirdness to go nuts quite frankly. JUST STATE YOUR CONCERNS FORTHRIGHTLY AND THUS SPARE YOURSELF YEARS OF AGONY WONDERING WHAT IS GOING ON!!!!! Ok, I am done now........

The Bitter Homeschooler’s Wish List
From Secular Homeschooling Magazine, Issue 1
1 Please stop asking us if it’s legal. If it is — and it is — it’s insulting to imply that we’re criminals. And if we were criminals, would we admit it?
2 Learn what the words “socialize” and “socialization” mean, and use the one you really mean instead of mixing them up the way you do now. Socializing means hanging out with other people for fun. Socialization means having acquired the skills necessary to do so successfully and pleasantly. If you’re talking to me and my kids, that means that we do in fact go outside now and then to visit the other human beings on the planet, and you can safely assume that we’ve got a decent grasp of both concepts.
3 Quit interrupting my kid at her dance lesson, scout meeting, choir practice, baseball game, art class, field trip, park day, music class, 4H club, or soccer lesson to ask her if as a homeschooler she ever gets to socialize.
4 Don’t assume that every homeschooler you meet is homeschooling for the same reasons and in the same way as that one homeschooler you know.
5 If that homeschooler you know is actually someone you saw on TV, either on the news or on a “reality” show, the above goes double.
6 Please stop telling us horror stories about the homeschoolers you know, know of, or think you might know who ruined their lives by homeschooling. You’re probably the same little bluebird of happiness whose hobby is running up to pregnant women and inducing premature labor by telling them every ghastly birth story you’ve ever heard. We all hate you, so please go away.
7 We don’t look horrified and start quizzing your kids when we hear they’re in public school. Please stop drilling our children like potential oil fields to see if we’re doing what you consider an adequate job of homeschooling.
8 Stop assuming all homeschoolers are religious.
9 Stop assuming that if we’re religious, we must be homeschooling for religious reasons.
10 We didn’t go through all the reading, learning, thinking, weighing of options, experimenting, and worrying that goes into homeschooling just to annoy you. Really. This was a deeply personal decision, tailored to the specifics of our family. Stop taking the bare fact of our being homeschoolers as either an affront or a judgment about your own educational decisions.
11 Please stop questioning my competency and demanding to see my credentials. I didn’t have to complete a course in catering to successfully cook dinner for my family; I don’t need a degree in teaching to educate my children. If spending at least twelve years in the kind of chew-it-up-and-spit-it-out educational facility we call public school left me with so little information in my memory banks that I can’t teach the basics of an elementary education to my nearest and dearest, maybe there’s a reason I’m so reluctant to send my child to school.
12 If my kid’s only six and you ask me with a straight face how I can possibly teach him what he’d learn in school, please understand that you’re calling me an idiot. Don’t act shocked if I decide to respond in kind.
13 Stop assuming that because the word “home” is right there in “homeschool,” we never leave the house. We’re the ones who go to the amusement parks, museums, and zoos in the middle of the week and in the off-season and laugh at you because you have to go on weekends and holidays when it’s crowded and icky.
14 Stop assuming that because the word “school” is right there in homeschool, we must sit around at a desk for six or eight hours every day, just like your kid does. Even if we’re into the “school” side of education — and many of us prefer a more organic approach — we can burn through a lot of material a lot more efficiently, because we don’t have to gear our lessons to the lowest common denominator.
15 Stop asking, “But what about the Prom?” Even if the idea that my kid might not be able to indulge in a night of over-hyped, over-priced revelry was enough to break my heart, plenty of kids who do go to school don’t get to go to the Prom. For all you know, I’m one of them. I might still be bitter about it. So go be shallow somewhere else.
16 Don’t ask my kid if she wouldn’t rather go to school unless you don’t mind if I ask your kid if he wouldn’t rather stay home and get some sleep now and then.
17 Stop saying, “Oh, I could never homeschool!” Even if you think it’s some kind of compliment, it sounds more like you’re horrified. One of these days, I won’t bother disagreeing with you any more.
18 If you can remember anything from chemistry or calculus class, you’re allowed to ask how we’ll teach these subjects to our kids. If you can’t, thank you for the reassurance that we couldn’t possibly do a worse job than your teachers did, and might even do a better one.
19 Stop asking about how hard it must be to be my child’s teacher as well as her parent. I don’t see much difference between bossing my kid around academically and bossing him around the way I do about everything else.
20 Stop saying that my kid is shy, outgoing, aggressive, anxious, quiet, boisterous, argumentative, pouty, fidgety, chatty, whiny, or loud because he’s homeschooled. It’s not fair that all the kids who go to school can be as annoying as they want to without being branded as representative of anything but childhood.
21 Quit assuming that my kid must be some kind of prodigy because she’s homeschooled.
22 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of prodigy because I homeschool my kids.
23 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of saint because I homeschool my kids.
24 Stop talking about all the great childhood memories my kids won’t get because they don’t go to school, unless you want me to start asking about all the not-so-great childhood memories you have because you went to school.
25 Here’s a thought: If you can’t say something nice about homeschooling, shut up!

Monday, December 03, 2007


So I sort of ranted at the kids this morning about how I might need to have gray clothes to remind me to use my brain or......all of their clothes need to be gray to remind them to use theirs (gray matter). Ok, this may sound harsh but.......why do I have to explain that if I don't want you to take a shower since I don't want you to get your hair wet that you shouldn't get your hair wet in the bathtub either? I seem to need to spell out everything. I suppose I am sometimes confusing. I say something that seems glaringly obvious - "We need to leave soon, so please do not read right now" and then.......the child is examining some random pile of legos on the ground. Parenting is fun.

So what is our responsibility anyway. If our children take piano lessons, is it my responsibility to pass along a reminder to practice? Is it a balance I guess. If you are 6 and you don't realize that time passes quickly, then I as her parent, may need to remind her to practice and make sure it is done.

If you are fifteen and you have been told for years to brush your teeth, is it MY fault if the fifteen year old forgets? No. If you are 12 and have homework and can't seem to get it done, is it my fault that I did not rip the book out of your hand that you are addicted to and send you to a table to do it?

I do find adult relationships interesting in this regard as well. I am truly amazed how mixed up conversation can get. I think that the movie "Pride and Predjudice" should be watched on a regular basis. (Yep, you should read it too, but I don't have time). My kids and I watch this and roll in laughter at how sad it is and ridiculous the relationships in that movie become. Anna and I have even looked at each other with that knowing P & P look when things go awry in real life. Sigh. Misunderstanding go away. Critical thinking where are you? Are things really that bad???? Please Karin, do NOT get your feelings hurt over NOTHING! Stick to the FACTS and do try not to manipulate life or ruminate too long over stuff that is PROBABLY NOT TRUE. But......we all seem to do this. So do my kids. Reflect, reflect, reflect.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Another busy weekend

Since this blog is about chickens (?whose idea was that anyway?) I will tell you what is new with them. They are not mine for starters. They are the boy's chickens. There are maybe 75 of them and they spend most of their time running around the yard, getting out of their fenced in area, and scratching at the ground. I don't think they have been laying many eggs lately so it may be time to call that Mexican family about their Christmas dinner.......I wish I could go to it.

The other chickens, known as my children, I have to stop and think what they did all weekend. Anna had a 'throw it out' frenzy in the basement and her room. I think she threw out her childhood and I am not sure what to make of that. Perhaps there is some deep, dark psychological meaning behind this behavior or perhaps she is tired of cleaning up after all the *&$%@# around here. I am sure with her. I directed her to a great collection of miscellaneous junk that was bought/given to us thinking we may be able to make use of it someday seeing as we do all this homey stuff. I remember a girl friend asking if we made our own sour cream and that was when we lived in the city. Hmmm........freedom!

Erik went shopping on-line last night and during the day yesterday, I think he was working on winterizing stuff outside. He spent today in a meeting and then watching Stefan during the voters meeting at church. It was meeting day. The kids are going to the Poconos for Higher Things. Whew! That decision took about 3 hours of wrestling over what to do in light of Pastor being the Chaplain in St. Louis.

Matthew did about the same. I do think he is somewhat disappointed over not being able to be a tall boy in St. Louis but he will cheerfully go to PA. He too tried to go shopping online and failed.

Martin......played. He also did some winter stuff outside and I chased him around with cream for his ever dry face and body, and chased him with water for his dehydrated insides. Drinking and taking care of ourselves is complicated.

Cecilia, Benjamin and Stefan played. C and B giggled a lot.

I assisted in cleaning and broke a trailer delivering some stuff to a certain house. That WAS entertaining. The trailer is back at our house now and I have been told it is fixable.

I am currently attempting to cook some yummy food as we are all HUNGRY and some actual cooking will cheer everyone up. Oh.......I did chase Charley around the not-a-garage room for asking too many questions and I do have some yarn shopping to do later. Har har.

Stay tuned for wreath sales and February retreat information.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Eating again

Just a quick note that Stefan has decided he likes to eat again. Happy baby, happy mommy......

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

So he seems to want to feed himself

The little guy seems to get much more satisfaction over feeding himself than seeing the evil spoon come his way. The trouble is of course the mess. He can green beans and we shall see about cut up bananas tomorrow but, oatmeal and applesauce is purely a lot of fun akin to finger painting. I did get pictures but will have to post later. Not every child has been so stubbornly independant. The first one was and knew full well what her parents were up to. The second child could eat soup at this age with great skill - stomach. He is still proud of the quantity of food he inhaled as a baby. I heard him bring it up just the other day ;o)

So.....we will continue the adventure again tomorrow. He is zonked now. Cutely zonked.

Getting back in the groove of school

So we are day two of getting school going full tilt. We took a few weeks off so the family we school with could get through the moving/get settled ordeal. That was a learning experience for everyone and all and all a good thing.

Yesterday, the kids were all a little nutty and in 'use my brain?' shock. It went ok. The smaller folk did a little grappling over toys and territory. The older kids were just readjusting. "I don't know where my math is Mrs. H". "Ok then.......we figure out plan B". Then the younger kids took turns asking lots of questions and forgetting that taking turns and raising their hands was a good thing. Peppered in between were a few falling apart episodes because someone may have given the answer away or wouldn't share their markers, or they suspected Mrs. H might make off with batman. "Mrs. H wants batman to help teach school" "Well, that is so-and-so's batman, she can't have him."

"Ok then, I suppose I should ask for Batman for Christmas?" That is a bit odd though really. Mrs. H is always a little odd and might bring out the wittiness of young children who aspire to be paid attention to a lot for their wit and charm. I guess I am a wimp. I am usually charmed and perhaps I am corrupting said children by encouraging such talk with an adult. A certain Maggers once told me I was like a big kid. That was such a nice compliment though. I will always remember that wonderful day in the car looking at Germany pictures on her camera and her giving me this lovely compliment. Perhaps that is why I don't deal exceedingly well with 'normal' adult activities. I am not into church stuff that requires too much food coordination or fussiness over details as I am one of the least detail orientated people. Just tell me what to do and I will do it. If left to my own devices, I can put on a great event but.........don't try to change my plan too much or you may be in charge. Naughty I am.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Stefan and the eating game

I had another kid who played eating games with me years ago. This game makes me a little nutty. Stefan needs to eat. He can easily fall into a non-eating pattern as I have seen before. I spent a good portion of the afternoon trying to get him to open his mouth and eat. I know there are those who theorize that if he gets hungry enough he will eat but......I have seen this kid jump off the bottom of the weight scale so I am just not going there. The game is.....give Stefan something interesting to look at and he might accidently forget and open his mouth. If there is a guest, they should come and talk to me as this may make Stefan forget.....and open his mouth. Sigh. Life is much smoother when that kid has calories in his stomach and he is most charming and the kids say he is hobbit face cute when happy. He is not a hobbit. He doesn't seem to like to eat. Sigh, sigh and double sigh. It isn't as if there were something else that might be nice to do on a Sunday afternoon so yes, I am whining. He just ate. We managed to get all his siblings to eat quickly too with no bickering. The latest trick is to turn on the tv and he might watch it and But, what happened was his siblings heard the tv and inhaled their food so they could come see the kid hypnotizer. Somehow with miscellaneous stuff that was brought to Stefan, he ate too. Phew. I think it is 'get the kids ready for bed drill time now'.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A funny talk from the backseat

I was driving my kid's friends home about a week ago and the most hilarious conversation occured in the backseat between these pious Catholic brothers. The nine year old boy was gazing out the window and declared in disgust how silly and stupid it was that people were putting up Christmas decorations. Ramble, ramble, ramble about the decorations. He had clearly heard the rant from his siblings and parents his whole life of 'don't they realize it isn't Christmas yet?' Of course it was and is always sort of sweet to hear this chatter from the kids but then.......his older brother retorted "Oh brother, here we go again. I am getting so tired of everytime we get in the car, listening to people go on and on about the inappropriateness of these Christmas decorations during Advent. We all know this is wrong but why do we have to keep talking about it?"

Ahem, well......I sort of share his sentiment. I about bust a gut laughing too at this unexpected response from the brother. I guess I am more apt to arm my kids with alternative listening during Advent and turn off the radio and try to happily ignore the decorations. Of course if you are married to a liturgically obsessed husband, you probably can't get away with these sentiments. BUT......if you are a mom who drives around with pious Lutheran and Catholic children who prattle on and on and on about these stupid people.....then.....I do get a little tired of the rant. I usually put up the ignore front and be glad that they 'get it' but I must say I am in the older brother's ball park with this discussion.

Friday, November 23, 2007


So Nat mentioned I may have had a little coffee yesterday. Well...I suppose you are right Nat. I am actually trying hard to cut back on how much caffeine this body inhales which is harder than this weak person thought. Stupid reasons I have not cut back include the fact that decaf is more expensive. How dumb is that? When Stefan was on the way my blood pressure was getting higher so.....did I dutifully give up caffeine? No. Sadly. Will having high blood pressure as I get older make my life easier? No. So I am slowly plodding along to lessen the caffeine consumption. I wonder if there is some sort of 12 step plan or something. I do get a big headache if I don't drink some coffee in the morning so there is another hesitation. Other people have given it up though so I suppose I can do it too. I started drinking coffee as a camp counselor and hyper I was. The first year I worked as a camp counselor I could hardly make it through the day and then I discovered caffeine. Well, kids, anyone up for a mud hike? Let's go! How about a few rounds through the 100 acre woods?

Now coffee just gets me jump started to deal with my own little campers and other people's campers. It does seem like just something hot would still do the trick so I will keep cutting back. Don't offer this weak soul a cup of coffee ok?

Time to pay the bills. They don't offer decaf in jail.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hyper update

So.......we are listening to or rather reading the FlyLady thingy to try to get back on track. Sorry FlyLady, with 9 people working as hard as they can to clutter up the house, we are usually behind. I think we are 9 very un-focused folks who jump from one thing to another without finishing much of anything. Then.....the clutter rears it's big ugly face and the mom's eyes roll, she becomes paralyzed as to what to do next and for the hills! It's the mommy monster! Ok, not usually the mommy monster but if you happen to cross her path she will give you a job.

The best strategy if you live here is to 'go do what mom gave you to do' then get randomly sidetracked by the great book that happens to be in your room where mom sent you to put something away......and wait for 10.....15.....30 minutes or more till you mom discovers you have disappeared. This is sort of self made time out. If you are put in time out in this house you will be forgotten. Time out for the number of minutes that you are old may translate into the number of minutes you might live to be.

The other weird side-tracked thing I noticed this morning is that if I give my dc something to do and ask them to focus and finish, their df might drift into the room and see something he may deem urgent to do and thus side track them by redirecting them to that other task. This leaves children very confused as the mom just gave them thus and such to do and then the dad gives them thus and such and soon two parents are asking why the child is standing there looking confused. I know I am confused. How about you?????

Focus and finish.....focus and finish..... Do you hear the hypnotist droning? Focus and finish.....and the little watch swinging back and forth in front of your eyes????? You are getting very sleepy.......side tracked.....focus and finish.........

My break is over.....back to the panic, hyper mom, try to whip this place into shape, not get mad at my children or side tracked dh, the dog or any miscellaneous relative who might call to wish us a Happy Thanksgiving......hmmmmm........what are you all doing today anyway?????

Too much to do

So I had to take a walk this morning to get my head on straight. Martin insisted on coming with and I took Anna along to talk her ear off. Martin started out strong but his crazy mother was walking a little fast for the little guy and he was soon walking/running/walking/running to keep up. It was cold and crisp and beautiful out so perhaps my head is a little clearer for it. We spent the time chatting about the weirdnesses of our different personalities in this family and how in the world we can manage keeping up with the random behavior around here. I am HYPER this morning and want to get too much done which can't and won't get done. THere is the whole weekend to work on getting rid of the clutter/random paper/dirty kitchen........bills.....laundry......take a breath. If only I had the energy and the want to of some of my friends. I don't enjoy these tasks in a 'love to do them sort of way' so I don't tend to keep up. Anna and I think we have a reasonable solution that will not grate too hard against our tendancy to want to be creative, random and our otherwise odd behavior. My kids could probably use a break from their weirdo mom but we will muddle through the day and enjoy a meal with friends who also understand the muddling we all do together.......sigh. to the races. Do the next thing. Be happy with what gets done and try not to be cranky about it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday afternoon

I spent this afternoon taking books off some shelves in the basement. I discovered several books I had forgotten. They were books I had read to Anna and Erik when they were little. The younger kids haven't heard these books so it was sort of like finding treasure. I am looking forward to reading them to them soon. I think about how I spent a lot of time reading to the oldest three when they were little and I am sort of sad that I do not seem to find as much time to read to the kids who are younger now.

I had goals of getting caught up with the ironing too this afternoon. Charley told someone that he often times says goodbye to his shirts when he puts them in the laundry like he is saying good-bye to a good friend as it might take a long time till he sees them again. Sigh. So.....I thought I would reintroduce him to his shirts and it didn't work too well. I was sucked into a chair with sleeping Stefan and Benjamin to watch 'The Princess Bride'. Benjamin was ever so cute and he warned me of all the scary parts. He would cover my eyes with his little hand so I wouldn't be scared at times. I would ask him if it was safe to look and he would reassure me that the scary part was over. I am not a big tv watcher but perhaps a little more snuggle time with Benjamin would be alright. Of course I can read to him more too. He is going to be five soon. Sigh again.

Time to go tuck little people in bed and of course read to them.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Not very bloggy lately

It has been a busy month here in Horner land. I think there hasn't been much time for thinking too hard about anything. I had a nice chat with my dad this morning about stuff which was really very daddish/daughterish. That was very nice. I should probably haul him off somewhere for lunch on his upcoming bday. Hmmm.....that is thinking out loud I think.

We MUST start school soon or the kids will start to make me crazy. It has been nice to have some time off but time to get cracking again. I LOVE homeschooling as it SO helps me keep life goals etc in perspective. What DOES really matter anyway in what they study? It is great to be able to hone in on their strengths and work on their weaknesses to prepare them for what God has given them to do in life. I still am mystified by helping Anna figure out further study plans. I have crazy/sane ideas about what would be great and helpful and I think the two of us are busy percolating these ideas. I can see the old fashioned coffee maker bubbling in the little glass thingy at the top now. That would be Anna and my brain right now. Ideas....blurp.....ideas.....blurp. I LOVE it when I can see in her face that she is drawing some conclusions. It is of course heartbreaking to see her frustrated and distressed.

Speaking of Anna, she is almost done with the promised bribery to dancing. It is a 1950's full skirted, fitted, 3/4 sleeve dress with a great black and white print. Gorgeous da...ling. Daddy go get you gun!!!!!! Oh to be that thin but the seven squirts were SO worth it.

Benjamin is rambling some cute somethings at me and is waiting for me to read to him.....ta ta.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Throw stuff out '101'

So I pretty much had it this morning with the 'strew the toys' routine around here. My dh built cabinets for our basement years ago and installed locks. In theory the kids are supposed to not be able to randomly get stuff out and strew it. The intent of the toys is to play with them right? There seems to be no greater pleasure to the short people than to take the containers and empty them on the floor. The containers of random pieces to be sorted and put away was getting ridiculous so........we had a sort it, throw stuff away party and then.......I took the keys. My 4 yo is having the hardest time with this. I always have been the one who was supposed to be the key holder but magically they have gotten ahold of the keys and had their way with them. I told the kids that unless I magically mustered the energy to open a cabinet and remove 'a' toy that they shouldn't expect to see those toys soon. The keys are mine, all mine. Even though 4 yo was told this, he greeted me at the door after dropping off the catakids and asked for the keys. Oh botheration.

The funny thing that happened with the keys was I asked Matthew to bring me the keys and put them under my pillow. Well later I went in my room and there was a bag of frozen peas on my bed so I thought to myself "What is up with the frozen peas?????" Upon investigation I discovered it was Matthew who thought that I said to put peas on my bed......not keys. How silly.

So we were ruthless and threw away toys. These were of the worn out, broken, can't find all the pieces variety and it sure felt good. The basement is cleaner, the kids can't trash it, and otherwise there is not much to report.

Friday, November 09, 2007

I must move the babies bed

Stefan's crib is in the little walk through area to the bathroom upstairs. Needless to say, if someone needs to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, they are sure to wake him up. Ugh. They don't suffer too much for this offense as they can skip back to bed. It isn't that I haven't pointed out before that the baby sleeps there and they need to be quiet or go to the downstairs bathroom. So......where do I move it????? The one boy's bedroom might work but there is a 12 year old boy who sneaks and reads past his bedtime so he could wake up the baby. The other boys room is WAY too small and there is a 15 year old boy reading way to late in there. I know they do this now as I just came up to re-cover up the baby from earlier and discovered their lights on. Hmmmmmm.........where are the video cameras to survey their behavior. There is a winding staircase that prevents me from seeing their rooms unless I climb the stairs so who knows how long they stay up. I am all in favor of reading but sleep is important too. Then.......I never know exactly where to draw the line with making it their problem that they are sleepy in the morning. This hasn't exactly been typical family behavior either so what to do.......

Well, the baby is back to sleep so I better go back to sleep also.

Feed them and they will be happy

Not trying to be profound here but food is the answer to kid happiness. I seem to have a theme centered around the stomach. Their little cherub faces just light up at the thought of getting something yummy to eat. They become compliant relaxed cuties and are easy to live with. I think the trick is to give them something good for them before they get the screamie meanies and then they don't go foraging for the yucky stuff.

Wasn't that deep? Perhaps it is the giving of the food instead of their asking that impresses them. Would you like a big bowl of popcorn? Sure! How about a taco with cheese and salsa? Sure! I think I would like one too.

I have nothing else to say today. Our friends are moving, it is cool and fallish outside, and tummies want fallish food.

I am trucking salmon and oven fries over to the movers later this evening. I hope someone can find a bottle of wine. Then maybe the movers will all take a nap tomorrow........

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Ha Ha -

I'm glad my 'sister' has a sense of humor. We went to look at paint and pick out colors etc. In our haste to return to our children I forgot that I was the one who drove us there. Well......I almost left my 'sister' at the store!!!! We both laughed. Oh brother, I must be losing it. At any rate we were able to get a lot accomplished quickly.

I am busy gathering paint stuff to take with me to dump my older kids off to clean the walls. It is great that someone's house is in good enough shape that painting is what it will take to make it nice. I am still amazed at how much work our own home has been and how seemingly impossible it is to get to all that needs to be done here. 140 year old homes are not rebuilt in a week. We have made a lot of progress though. I am still happy that our friends home will not require that kind of work. Only nutty, dreamers take on our house.

My back is better. Now there is just a twinge and the floor still seems a long way off.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

My sympathies to back ache sufferers

Boy, this is fun. I guess ironically the back ache is giving me opportunity and excuse to rest. I suppose if I was needing some extra TLC I am not sure this would be my first pick but my brain seems to be getting a rest as well.

The funeral this morning was wonderful. Nothing like a little faithful preaching of Law and Gospel to lift ones spirits. I was praying for those who needed open ears. I am sure there are some at every funeral. Victor will be missed by me. There is nothing more humbling than seeing a 92 year old man plodding to his pew every week and having the watchful eyes of the parishioners keeping an eye out for him. Anna looked at me with eyes of someone who will also miss seeing him.

I am not of much help to many people right now but will slowly plod through the rest of the day. The kids are trying to find the house as usual. I wonder if children ever learn that there would be less work if they picked up as they went. I am sure my mother is smirking at that question. I don't think I learned that as a child and I don't have enough of me to keep up with it all now. Oh Flylady, can we get rid of some more stuff?????

I think I could take care of someone with a back ache now as I am learning what is needed in that department. The boy's Scout leader suffers a lot with this problem so I am not feeling too sorry for myself and I know I can't relate to what he goes through every day. I am thankful for health and hoping to get over this soon. So much for lifting honey supers........

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

What's new 2

So it took me till this afternoon to figure out why my back hurts. Sunday we went to work with the bees and I not surprisingly couldn't wait for Erik to get down to the hives to take a peek in the hives. So.......I tried to open up the one and it was sealed shut. I should never try to wrench a hive open as my wimpy back can't handle it. Hopefully sleeping right and resting my back will get things back to the way they are supposed to bee.

We are taking a week off of school this week to catch up on cleaning, bill paying, errands etc. THere are so many things that need attention that I have been ignoring it was sort of driving me to the brink -not of despair but perhaps mild nuttiness. I am feeling a little bit more caught up but hurting my back was not really good timing. At least I figured out why but will I remember not to do that again???? We'll see.

My teaching partner is moving this week so we are also floating back and forth helping in that department. The previous owners of their new home left it a wreck so that took more time than anyone wanted to take but it is better now. The floors were sanded on Sunday afternoon and the last coat of poly is going on this afternoon. I haven't seen hardly any of this but am sure I will be well familiar with it soon enough.

Stefan must be growing as he is loving to sleep again. He also loved the applesauce Grammy made for him. Yum, yum. Hands off everyone else!

Time to be responsible again........the end of every post.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Stefan turned one today

The cute little bugger is one now. He was pretty charming this evening. I thought I could pull a fast one on him and wrap his gift in front of him but it didn't work. He was on my back and started to hyperventilate so I just gave it to him. So much for the thrill of watching him open it but he will never know. He enjoyed the toy most of the day too and impressed his siblings with his talent. He put the little cube down the giraffe neck and then would clap his hands and give us a big toothy grin. Cute.

He seemed very intrigued by his carrot cake as well. He sort of stared at it for a long time and then took little hunks off. With a little help from his siblings, he ate it all. Not too messy either.

His first year certainly has been entertaining. I was thinking about how thankful I am to have him on Sunday considering his cute little incident over the summer. (I think I was basically thinking about too many things) He is still allergic but doing so much better than he was. He is not quite so work intensive as he was either. We pray he does not more difficulties with the colder weather but so far his skin looks pretty good. He is still allergic to dairy products though. I bought him some soy yogart and he definately gave me the thumbs down on that stuff. I will have to cook with it instead. I wish I had a picture of that look of disgust. Babies are so straight forward.

Well, he just got up to enjoy his birthday some more and now it is time to pitch him back in bed. (place him gently back in)

Saturday, November 03, 2007


My heart goes out to all teens who are in the midst of figuring out future plans. I am really glad that is behind me. My 16 yo dd seems good and stressed lately with all the figure out college, what college, how to do all this talk that seems endless. I know she would rather be spinning wool, sewing, spending time being silly with friends and then.......the big yukky subject rears it's head again. Last night I threw out the possibility of her taking her life's savings and buying a small house in a safe neighborhood and set up shop sewing etc, and working a job. I always thought I was going to do something like that and then.......I met Charley. So much for the townhouse in Chicago. (I am sure I could never have afforded that anyway).

She could take some classes, take organ lessons, figure out how to make vestments, and live a quiet existance. Perhaps I could come spend the night there and we could call it a retreat center. This was just crazy, working in the kitchen ramblings but it sounds nice to me. I guess I am a dreamer too.

Everyone is busy working today and I am busy with those rolls. I need to get them cooked and drop them off so I can move on to the next task. Taking time to sit down and literally rest at church tomorrow is sounding grand. I hope no one takes a nap over the age of 5.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Stomach part two

So I think we just don't take time to eat or cook lately. I think I should probably spend my Saturdays cooking so I don't have to so much during the week. I think the little kiddos would be much happier if they could eat on time and there actually was something to eat. Of course if there is food made in the fridge that is yummy they may decide to eat it all on Sunday afternoon.......

Tonight Anna is whipping together some spinach quiche. I am re-making bean soup so it is a little more tasty. Then......a few hamburgers are are going to be cooked for the oldest worker bees later as they seem to gravitate towards finding junk food instead. Matthew and Martin made angel food cake. Isn't this riveting reading?

I hope to get a little house work done in between cooking rolls for the church dinner tomorrow. I guess I will begin that task tonight as the other roll cooker just wrote to say she was done with hers. I am just not sure how people define fresh rolls so I was hesitating.

My youngest kids were acting a little like wild animals earlier so Charley stuck rakes in their hands and sent them out to work. They seem much happier now. Why didn't I think of that???? Their stomachs are probably bothering them as well. Benjamin just asked if we were going to church tonight. I hope he wasn't too disappointed. We're not.......

Time to go hit the kitchen again.....stomach.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Long day again

It isn't even over but it seems long already. The kids were bubbly and talkative and I felt like I haven't stopped talking all day. I wonder how little I can talk for the rest of day or at least for the next few hours. I have a meeting tonight so I am not sure how that will work. I am already failing miserably as there are children who need to know what to do to help so we can get out of the door on time for church.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

This was YUMMY

I made this recipe which was sort of a risk as we had guests over and it was great! Phew. Using guests as guinea pigs is a little risky but these guests eat all sorts of things so I thought I could get away with it. I used left over turkey breast on it so it should be great after Thanksgiving as well.

Turkey with spiced squash and apples:

1 pound acorn squash, seeded and cut into 6 wedges
3 red apples, peeled and quartered
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup apple juice (I used apple cider as I had no juice)
1/3 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
6 turkey breast cutlets

Preheat over to 350 degrees. In a baking dish, arrange squash wedges and apple quarters together in the pan. In a small bowl, mix together syrup, apple juice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour half the syrup mixture over the top of the squash and apples. Bake for 30 minutes or until nearly fully cooked. Add turkey cutlets and remaining syrup mixture, spooning sauce over the cutlets. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until turkey and squash are both completely cooked.

Hope this helps someone with their leftovers. The cooked leftover turkey worked just fine. I don't think I have ever purchased turkey cutlets anyway. What are turkey cutlets????

Saturday, October 27, 2007


I have been thinking about this post for weeks. And this morning I humously stuck my foot in mouth (did it taste good?) and told my pastor to remember to eat as a happy stomach is the key to happiness. My husband shouts "You are telling the pastor what?" Well.......ok......not the key to all happiness but at least the key to some peace and some smiling family members and friends.

It is amazing to me how magical food is to the countenance of the people around me. I am sure it is not truly that amazing but the grumpy grouchies do tend to disappear if fed well. Junk food does not cut the mustard. Whole wheat rolls made from the buckets of wheat berries that I grumble about kicking around my kitchen seem to make people the happiest of all. Maybe I need to keep my own stomach happy too.

During the school week, if two short people fall apart crying and attacking one another, their whole disposition changes when offered a yummy apple with peanut butter on it. Food cut up in little pieces for little people is so appealing it is amazing. Then pour a nice cold cup of milk and peace and happiness returns again.

If dear husband comes home from that work thing and there are no whole wheat rolls and apples sitting around, he too falls apart. Sigh, how can I keep up with the gumpy tummies???? There is something ever so true about Edith bringing Archie a beer and something to eat when he got home (although that did not cure HIS gumpies - maybe he needed to hear the gospel) that is ever so true. We wifies kick and scream over this need of the dear husbands to have this yummy food presented but I guess if we want some peace it needs to be fit in somehow. "Back away kids, mom is working on some peace here". The kids know the benefits of yummy food too (but it also creates food snobs if I work too hard on it - sorry y'all).

So......I am currently searching for a yummy recipe for dinner tonight. I am taking it over to the pastor so his families tummies will be happier and they can keep packing. I better get at it.........

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dear husband wanted me to clarify

He is feeling misunderstood. ;o) His parents never bought junk. With the little money they did have they bought clothes that were quality, bought quality food, and basically did not buy stuff that was junky just to get by. They also took care of what they had which is saying a lot these days.

This clan also practices the same thing (although with seven kids bumping around, the taking care of things does not always work the way I would like it to). My smallest child is wearing what the first son wore as a baby as I saw their baby clothes as an investment. So there is a difference from being cheap and spending wisely. If we can avoid buying things like convenience foods we will avoid it. I have taken to breaking that though too if the cost of trying to be perfectly thrifty makes me a crazy woman and cranky at everyone. I do think that the extra work involved in thriftiness can sometimes cost more in grumpiness and exhaustion than is always worth the effort. Does that make sense? Pick your battles........

Tired, grumpy children downstairs, gotta scoot.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The wood god is back up and running

It is COLD and I reved up the old wood stove again this afternoon. That is complete learning curve all over again. It took four matches and two start overs to get it going. Hopefully it will successfully warm this place up. My eldest tells people she worships the wood god and bows down to it frequently in the winter. She is just weird. I realized all my kids are a little weird and kids usually take after their parents so that means..........we are all weird. I am glad they have a healthy sense of humor. Dd is currently cleaning a section of the basement up frantically so she can get her internet privileges back. The internet is very handy in motivating people. I guess it is then the internet god. I better go be responsible and stop thinking and writing.

What Polly said.........

So upon driving home to my dial-up computer I remembered the duh (that's Swedish for duh) that God richly and daily provides ALL of our needs. He richly provided for my dh's family growing up. Not everyone would define it that way, but He did. They had food on the table, decent clothes that his mom saw to it they had, they participated in activities that richly provided for their children's needs in learning to function in this world, and they had family that loved each other. Who could ask for anything more.

We just can't get frantic. I am sure we do still but that is the trick, the old 'trust God' thing. Some days are easier than others. We are richly provided for even if we don't recognize it. I used to take in everyone's hand-me-downs to find a new home for them and it got to be ridiculous. Yes, I wanted to help my neighbor but the stuff began to overwhelm me and I wasn't much help to anyone with the mess all over the place. I think we are still recovering from those days. Now I just want to get rid of everything (no I am not suicidal) and have less to take care of. We too are 'trying' to fix up the old yukky stuff in bathrooms etc and stop having the college fraternity room look. Perhaps that is just getting to be the age we are and getting our heads a little above water or recognizing junk when we see it.

Sigh. Yes, it is fantastic to be Lutheran. I am a little bothered by statements insinuating that other people evaluate one's thriftiness or whatever you want to call it. We all do that at times of course - breaking all of those commandments......rats. But oh yes, it is wonderful to be Lutheran and realize that is already forgiven. Phew.

frugality at our house

So Susan blogged on frugality. I can relate to her post in some ways. I am married to a 'depression era' 43 year old man. How can he be depression era? I say this pretty often actually. I am raising depression era children. This is why. My dh grew up sort of poor. There were times when the water heater would go out and a year would go by before they could afford to buy a new one. They had an old fashion tub, the feet kind, and they would boil water on the stove and mix it with the cold in the tub. It was never more than an inch of water and that stuck with him on into adult life. Our dear little first born loved taking a bath and he would come and inspect how much water I put in the tub. It cost money to heat the water and there was a water bill. If you spent months carrying hot water in order to bathe (no shower in that house then) then you might be concerned about water use.

There were also times when the well would go dry and they had to carry water from the spring (fortunately there was a spring) to cook or bathe. I am surprised he does not get the kids up before he goes to work and monitor their water use. If you had to work for the use of something, then you think about the use. If you did not have the money to pay for such things as replacing water heaters just because they broke, then you think about how you spend your money. There is no one that I admire more in getting by with next to nothing than my in-laws. They raised my dh so it also was surprising to me that they could not figure out why he was and is sort of careful about how he spends money. I can joke about my depression era husband but is it really that mysterious???? He is slowly growing out of some of these habits but waste still drives him nuts. Shouldn't that drive us nuts???? When you see people struggling to pay the bills, it makes you stop and consider how you are spending money.

Should we criticize people who are frugal? I don't think so. I think we just become dulled to what it means to live within our means. What IS living within your means anyway? I don't mean for this to sound like law either. It is just a perplexing subject and I think we all revisit it when we evaluate our spending habits. Wants/needs vs food/utilities: If the second one is the priority and glaring issue, than I guess a person would decide to be frugal.

As a result of growing up with a depression era dad, (my dh) my dear children do stop and think about how to spend money or not to spend it. People can criticize Charley or they can see that his kiddos are learning a little bit about balance in spending. I could go on and on about this but it has been on my mind lately. There is so much stuff in most people's homes that just don't matter but that does not make it wrong to have it either. It seems like balance is the answer. Should I feel guilty for replacing a pot that is worn out when I could survive another year with the one I have? Hmmmm............

Susan just made me think some more..........keep the balance and I guess cheerfully ignore the people who think we are nutty for not having cable, 60 dollar a month high speed, for having children who look confused at restaurants since they are clueless (we don't eat out), and the list goes on. As long as we are not to proud of our frugality. I think I am failing at frugality lately though, just for the record. I'll be quiet now.....

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Getting kids out of bed

Just when I think perhaps my kids might be getting the picture that I really do want them to get up in the morning without all the nagging etc., they still need all the nagging etc. Bedtime will just have to be earlier. I am not sure even that will do any good. I could say it is all my fault as I am the one who has encouraged the use of the computer so my kids could have a life with other crazy Lutheran people but there still must be a limit to all this. The only kid who has no trouble getting up and being cranky is dear little Stefan. He doesn't know what he wants. Does he want oatmeal? Beef? to nurse? to sleep? to terrorize? It varies from moment to moment. But shouldn't mom be doing something other than dragging that kid around?

Hey mom! Practice what you preach and get off of the internet!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mondays are weird

I find every Monday that the kids are always a little disconnected. The adults are too. I have no idea what to do about that but persevere. The weather is sort of weird too so it leaves the teachers feeling restless I think.

Over the weekend I think I got about half the yard mowed. I love to mow the lawn. It seems to grow very quickly lately. I really don't like it when it stops growing as I lose my outlet for exercise.

There was a tornado in Nappanee last Thursday. It came within 1/4 of a mile from a friends house. He wrote back that they had been spared and all his bees were safe and sound. That was sort of an interesting reply. We know what is important to him now don't we? The damage in Nappanee is pretty devastating though and I am sorry for the people there. It is an Amish community though so I am sure they will pull together and be back up and running soon.

The kids are upstairs watching "School House Rock" and loving it. That is so nostalgic. I remember singing those songs and even thinking about them on a Standardized test to see if I had the right answer. Yay Saturday morning cartoons! I miss the Road Runner, Tweety and Spider Man. Those were the days. I have not a clue what they show now-a-days and we are way too busy to watch anything on a Saturday morning anyway.

Charley made some good progress over the weekend on the new room project. Perhaps by Christmas he will be done. It is looking great. I have decided to try to move the couch and chair we got a few years ago out there but there is also some question as to whether they will fit through the door. When they were brought into the house there was no trim work on the doors and now there is. It was a very tight fit when they came in so I am not sure they will ever get out. Stay tuned to December to see what happens.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I was talking to my mom

and she made an interesting observation. We were discussing with Anna the upcoming joy of visiting colleges etc and would she mind if she lived far away from South Bend. (She didn't really answer). My mom scoffed at my lamenting a possible three hours and said that when she was in college she didn't go home until Thanksgiving for a visit. I asked her if she remembered my coming home to visit (Our house was about five minutes from campus). She said I didn't until I started bringing Charley home with me. Interesting........I think I have noticed this to be true of other young people I know as well. Thinking back to these times is always interesting as I haven't thought about them in a long time.

Other random Erik thoughts

I forgot about his tendency to collect things. Erik has always collected something. His most famous collections were of bugs and rocks. He has quite the impressive bug collection which I need to find space on the wall for in the new room. His funniest collection has been rocks. For several years of his life he spent quite a bit of time in people's driveways examining rocks. He could find a lot of amazing fossils this way. When we went to Sweden, we spent several evenings on the shore in Gotland looking for fossils. We found quite a few actually. Then he had to decide which ones to take home with him as rocks are pretty heavy! It was sort of heart wrenching to see this boy sorting through a pile of rocks in our hotel room trying to decide. Rocks are heavy. Perhaps I have mentioned that before. Ask to see his Gotland rocks someday.

One time Charley and I were going someplace out of town and Erik was left with a neighbor to help take care of the home place, animals etc. These neighbors are great. They are sort of like a third pair of grandparents to the kids. Erik packed to walk down the street (which is at least 1/4 mile down the road) for his weekend visit. I walked with him and beat him by at least 10 minutes. When he got there, Charlene asked what in the world did he have in his bag, rocks? He gave a sheepish grin and nodded his head. She was surprised. It turn out they were rock lovers too and they spent the weekend looking at their rocks too.

I love the innocent love of a small boy. Rocks. That is so sweet. He may not appreciate this love of innocence that I have but it is pretty sweet. Hours and hours of time examining stuff in the yard. Perhaps we should steer back to geology for a future. He still loves rocks.