Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fantastic Blog

One of my very favorite bloggers is Lenore Skenazy. In her blog, Free Range Kids, she says the kinds of should-be-common-sense things I'd like to say but don't because I have eight young children and my friends would call me negligent.

However, I do practice what she has coined as "free range parenting." We are firm believers in wisely letting a child practice responsibility while he is still under our roof (only figuratively, of course, because Free Range Parenting involves ...uh .... the Free Range). Even so, sometimes I am shocked at what she proposes, until I sit and think about it for a few minutes and inevitably come up with, "You know? She's right!"

Anyway. Her article for today was just right on the mark. Check it out!

(And for those friends of mine who tightly grip their 6-yr. old's hand when you are walking down to the end of the driveway to check the mail, um, you might want to read this with a stiff drink nearby. Maybe your 6-yr. old could bring it to you? I jest....I jest...relax...)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


  • Take shower (it is, after all, almost noon)
  • Direct Ben and Lily in fixing lunch
  • Get chicken started for tonight's curry (yum! a favorite!)
  • Make pound cake to enjoy with fresh blueberries tonight
  • Read to children; begin filling out reading logs for library
  • Help Ben wash boys' sheets
  • Dust house with Lily
  • Do reading lessons with Lily and Abraham and Miriam
  • Have Ben do math lesson
  • Schedule this week's errands: trip to Treasurer's office (property taxes for van and dog tag), solo trip to library (sans children), van inspected and oil changed, figure out when going to get riding mower from Fredericksburg 
  • Start list of things we want to do on house and items needed to do them
  • Write a letter to a friend
  • Take Redbox video back (and if have time, finish video as I ~alas~ could not stay awake for it last night)
  • 15-minute stints cleaning up "formal" HA! living room and van

Monday, July 19, 2010


was Monday, Ethan's "day off." We usually try to cram too many things into our Mondays and get started too late and end up disgruntled and tired and eager for the relaxation of a regular work day.

But today we had only four things on our agenda, none of them urgent:

  1. Get a coffee (I really really really need to get a new French press -- my old one broke and I am absolutely spoiled and must make coffee in a new one).
  2. Get funny little lock-thingys for the one nice bookshelf we own -- it lost them somewhere on the move.
  3. Get library cards.
  4. Get outside.
Right before leaving, Ethan burnt his hand when he inadvertently grabbed the exhaust of the pushmower as he was putting it away. He covered it with some silver salve he has left over from his battle with pushki nine years ago, and we left.

Our first two chores accomplished, we headed to the library. Eden (3) fell asleep in the van, so Ethan nursed his wound and stayed with her and the babies in the parking lot while I took the other five inside. The library here makes a BIG DEAL when you turn five and can get a library card, so Miriam and Abraham were especially excited to be getting their own cards. We decided each child could get the same number of books as their age. This means I know exactly how many books each child should have ready to return next time.

In other (more accurate) words, it means I will know exactly how many books are missing.

Then we headed to Gypsy Hill Park.We drove past the busy, larger play place and headed for the smaller, older one. The babies rolled around on a quilt on the grass, the other 6 played happily for the better part of an hour, and Ethan and I relaxed on a bench and laughed at the children's antics.

Afterward, we headed to Kroger for some last-minute embellishments for tonight's tacos. Ethan picked up a Redbox movie, I picked up some scrumptious fresh blueberries (albeit not for the tacos), and we headed home to a meal that was eagerly devoured and baths that were not-so-eagerly taken.

And now? We've sorted through a few more boxes in our bedroom, treated Benjamin's ailing tummy with peppermint tea and funny music youtubes, and are about to veg in front of a movie. I will make a valiant effort at staying awake.

Happy Monday.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

On Prayer

I refuse to offer a disclaimer with this. That doesn't mean there isn't one; it just means I don't want to give it.

That being (not) said, I include this because sometimes country music gets it right. And sometimes it doesn't. But even David offered up imprecatory prayers!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Steadfast Love and Frumpled Princess

I've been meditating on Lamentations lately. My heart has been lamenting, and it seemed a natural place to turn. Several people close to me have been dealing with extreme hardship:
  • a church member just found out he has an inoperable aneurysm and has maybe 6 months to live;
  • a close friend is dealing with breast cancer and all of its ugly sides, separation from young children included;
  • close friends had to say goodbye to their son/foster child of 27 months.
All of these things irritate me and weigh on me. I can do nothing for any of them, apart from praying, which I have been doing on an almost constant basis. I want to shake the doctor, shake the surgeon, shake the judge. I want to scream, "It's not fair!" and stomp my feet on their behalf.

Lamentations says differently.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him" (Lamentations 3:22-24 ESV).
"The LORD is my portion..." What does that mean? How do I hope in him?

I haven't really figured it out. And so I continue to mull it over and re-read it and study it and pray it.

The other thing I've been thinking about has been how to impart love to my children when it seems the normal drudgeries of life take all my attention. Or when "I've had the sort of day that would make St. Francis of Assisi kick babies" (Douglas Adams). I don't want my kids to feel like the kitchen sink was caressed more than they were, or that the washing machine received more praise.

I'm not going to lie: it's difficult to have eight children and find ways to let each of them know how they are uniquely special to you. They are, there's no doubt. But slowing down enough to look them in the eyes and truly interact -- even if it's just to really listen to what their dream was last night or what they are going to spend their fake money on -- is important. So I've been trying to be more "in the moment" with each of them. More book reading, more joint efforts at chores, more hugs and giggles and tender words.

Capture the moments. "The days drag on, but the years fly by."


Monday, July 12, 2010


We did get to the DMV. Virginia license for Ethan, change of address for me. Virginia license plate for the van. It's not personalized (BORING!!) and it's not pretty (standard blue-and-white). And it wasn't even cheap. But I'll take this DMV over the Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania/Stafford ones any day. You could probably drive out here and back before you got things taken care of at those offices.

We did get to the bank. Errr ... I mean ... credit union. Account opened successfully.

We did make it back home, I did get a real supper fixed (although Ethan has not yet eaten it - dashed out to pray with a family).

Is it too ambitious to hope that I might also get the kitchen cleaned tonight?

Getting Stuff Done


I am slightly discouraged by our lack of progress. Even worse, we seem to be digressing.

Take Saturday, for example. A simple run to the bank ended up being THREE runs to the bank simply because we kept misplacing things ("Where's the checkbook? Where's the check?"). A dash to the Redbox to return a video ended up being a disgruntled purchase of bread at the Kroger instead because we couldn't find the video.

I can look nowhere and see clean. We did tackle the children's rooms; but, of course, they have already been untackled. Our bedroom is a dangerous obstacle course of clothes with no home, books with no shelves, and furniture pieces. The van is atrocious, even for us, although it does look a little better after my frantic scurryfunging trying to find the checkbook (which scurryfunging resulted in the check being tossed in a bag in the house and the video being thrown out).

We have too much to do today, Ethan's day off, and we're off to a late start. DMV and Treasurer's Office and Bank and Etc. I look around me at the mess and have no clue how to go forward. Children are fussing, dog is underfoot, and dishes are crustifying.

We're home.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Almost Ornithology

Abraham (5) to Benjamin (8) after Ben spent hours perusing his newly-found expansive Bird book: "Do you know what a dodo is?"

Ben: "Yeah. It's a bird, and it's extinct."

Abraham: "But do you think it really stinks?"

I'm off to change a very squirmy baby boy who is on my lap and suspiciously extinct.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Say That Again?

Ben (8) to Lily (6): "All you really need to live is bread, water and venesion. Right, Mama?"

Me: "Hmmm??"

Ben: "I said, 'All you really need to live is bread, water, and venesion. Right?'"

Me: "Venesion?"

Ben: "Yeah, you know, deer meet."

Me: "Oh. No, all you really need to live is bread, water, and venison."

And now somehow, I'm not sure even that is right. But I do think it fits in with his reading of late:

And, according to him, the real version is that much better than the abridged. Because why on earth would you want to leave any of it out?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Jiggity Jig

Home again, home again ... and all that.

Because, for the first time in a long time, we are in a home. And for the first time ever, we are in our home.

There are boxes and clothes and diapers piled everywhere, but it's all here and we're sorting through them. The job will get done. I have to say the work has not been hastened by the presence of two nursing babies. But the breaks are welcome, and the newest twins are really starting to be a lot of fun. They're five months old now, and they control their hands and fingers, roll all over the floor, and eat everything in sight ... siblings' elbows included.

We are outside city limits. This means we avoid the high taxes but have to get cable for Internet (which we did ... today!). And we also live in the part of the country where our cable guy's dad works at the Christian radio station with the deacon-in-training at our church. You find this stuff out when he asks your husband, "So what do you do?"

Questions like that bring out all kinds of relationships here.

I love it. The views are beautiful. The church is five minutes away. The children are still exploring the house and romping all over the back yard. We are unpacking treasures, some of them things we haven't seen in a couple of years. I found Ben's math book!!!

We celebrated Independence Day around town on the third. It was fun, albeit hot (what else?). We went to the Frontier Culture Musueum (free!) and then cooled off with frozen fruit slushes and frozen lemonades from our favorite drive-by coffee stop. Abraham (5) had us quite puzzled when he woke up asking, "When will we see Joseph Elias?"

We know no Joseph Elias.

We kept questioning and pondering and banging our heads against the wall until Lily said, "So the Fourth of July is tomorrow?"

"See!" Abraham shouted. "Lily said, 'Joseph Elias'!"

Fourth of July is. Joseph Elias. They sound ... um ... nothing alike.

But he was convinced, and I am sure we will celebrate Joseph Elias day again next year.

I'd best get back to unpacking and nursing and rounding up dinner. And THEN I'm going to make some iced coffee and smile big.

Six of the children enjoying the fireworks and dessert:

Enjoying a nearby dam:

Just hangin' out:

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