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Lord of the Rings

Over the summer I got my act together and had my kids in the library’s summer reading program. It was a good thing for them. They are all readers anyways so the challenge wasn’t getting them to read but getting me to the library regularly. Since the program has been over we’ve been going to the library a couple times a week. It’s a good habit to have. I’ll bring one or two kids with me and they’ll pick out some books.

A couple weeks ago Alex went with us and got a book on tape. Is it still called tape even though it’s not on “tape”? Anyways, he’s been listening to them on the way to and from work now so that’s been fun for him. But while he was at the library he spotted the Lord of the Rings movies on the dvd shelf. He grew up loving the books because his mom would read them to her kids and do all the voices. Alex insists Gollum in the movie isn’t doing the voice right. His mom does better. I thinks it sweet that he does.

So we’ve been watching the movies and it has taken over a week of watching some every night. The kids have been into it and watching with us. It would have creeped me out too much as a kid but they’ve all gotten into it and all of them love Samwise Gamgee. They all claim he is the real hero. And I agree.

Hopefully this spurs them to read the books. I’ve read lots of other book series. I read about a book a day or so usually depending on how much time I have. But I’ve never been interested in The Hobbit stuff. I watched the cartoon in the 80’s all the time but I can’t tell you what it was about.

When I was in 6th grade one of my teachers would read The Hobbit to us after lunch. Not the best time to read to kids. Puts them to sleep. And I am partially deaf. It was a bad combination. I missed most the words and was bored and tired. To this day I really prefer not to have books read to me unless I can follow along.

Overall I hope my kids give the books a go but I probably won’t. Sometimes I think when they do such a good job on the movie you don’t need to read the book. Don’t get mad at me for that. They are plenty of books that are waaaay better than their movie counterparts. I won’t get into that now.

But I’m glad we finished that series. Now onto the next one.

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Decluttering. Still.

Today I hit the ground running. Not literally. My knees would hate me. But I needed to finish the process I started. Little by little I will banish the clutter-bug.

So the day before yesterday I did toys and one bookshelf. Yesterday I did legos and more bookshelves. I do love paper copies of books but I gotta say my kindle app is my favorite. A hundred books that fit in my pocket that I always have with me. I will keep all my books because I re read them all the time and my kids will be older someday and they are all readers.

(Fun/weird fact about me: my memory isn’t so good. Why is that funny? I love to learn and love to read. I trust that the information is all in there and someday I’ll have access to it. But for now I can reread the same book or and over. If it has been a few years it is almost like a new book for me because I will have forgotten what it was about. I’ll remember that I liked it and it was good but most of the details escape me unless I’ve read it 10 times. No joke. I watched a movie I’d wanted to watch for years. Alex said I’d seen it before. “No. I would have remembered.” The last 5 minutes of the movie and it all came back. I had watched it before. Oh well. I enjoyed it for the first time. Twice. Such is my life.)

Anyways. My house has gotten stacked up with stuff because pregnancy (I literally only have enough energy to breathe most days) and taking care of a nursing baby (I give the baby my mostly undivided attention because they wouldn’t have it any other way). Now that I’m in the home stretch- Evangeline is 8.5 months and has started sleeping solo and playing solo!- I can get back to things I enjoy doing.

Projects.

Alex and I have done a ton of remodeling, refinishing, building, painting, yard work, gardening, etcetera to this house we live in. I love the hard work but I don’t do it when I have a baby because they are my project. I pour all my time and attention into them until they are off and running.

So back to the mess. I’m making visible progress now! Both bookshelves are cleaned up! I will take pictures soon. I have some more things I want to do before I take pictures.

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Word Search/Hide and Seek

Remember in grade school the teacher would give you word searches as busy work. You know that’s what it was. You assumed it was to gain a wealth of knowledge while keeping you out off the teacher’s hair.

Wrong.

And hide-and-seek was just a fun game you played with your friends.

Wrong again.

It was to prepare you for parenthood.

How?

Let me explain.

As a parent you will spend at least 50% of your time looking for stuff. Possibly more.

Grocery shopping and they changed the layout on you?

Online shopping?

Kid can’t find their shoe/coat/backpack/homework/sand on a beach/anything!?

Kids emptied the dishwasher and put the pizza cutter in the wrong place?

Can’t find your keys?

The remote control is missing again!

These are examples of what you were trained for.

Moms aren’t magic. We just have way more years of word search and hide-and-seek under our belt.

Life is one giant neverending game of hide-and-seek.

So go ahead and clean your kids room and organize the toy area. Payback the kids for all of your time they wasted. You are just preparing them for parenthood.

But you’ll still have to find everything for them that you put away.

It never ends.

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Decluttering

I had such plans today. Okay, I had one plan. I was going to take the little kids to story time at the library. Well apparently story time doesn’t start until next week. Fine. At least the kids were bathed and ready to go. We had the whole library to ourselves so I didn’t panic about the kids making too much noise.

While they were looking at books and playing on the computer (and talking to me loudly because they had headphones on) I was on my phone looking up ways to muster up the courage to declutter. It’s the emotional aspect of decluttering that is so hard. I hadn’t gone into the day wanting to declutter but it ended up that way. The shelves I’d gotten from IKEA to contain the mess was a mess. It was driving me nuts. So as soon as baby’s nap was over we headed to the basement to make sense of it all.

You can’t really organize/clean clutter. You have to get rid of it. Years of experience talking here. So I started sorting through stuff. I like to live dangerously so I did this in front of the kids. I would sneak stuff into the garbage can when they weren’t looking. I got rid of about a garbage bag full of stuff.

Next I went through the books. I don’t buy books that often. When I was single every paycheck I’d buy a book or two. After I got married I only bought books I loved. I let the library buy the rest. Somehow though we have shelves of books no one touches. They are mostly free books from school, library discards, and other people downsizing. I managed to get a sizable stack to give to charity.

I wish I could show you a beautiful after picture. I’m not done yet. Maybe tomorrow?

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Romans and Self-Worth

I was reading Romans 5 the other morning and about how everyone sins. What is sin exactly? Wrongdoing, evil, offense against God.

A thought came to me that sin is anything that hurts anyone or ourselves. So maybe instead of saying “I don’t want to do wrong (sin) because I don’t want to get in trouble” we change the attitude to “I don’t want to do anything that would hurt anyone.” Which changes it from a selfish act to an unselfish act.

Just a thought.

I was also having a rough day yesterday. I’d accomplished a lot but I’d found out some news about someone. It was good news so you think I’d be happy. I wasn’t. I was miserable. I congratulated them and sincerely meant it. But the negative thoughts (probably of jealousy and envy) kept going around and around and I felt worse and worse. Depression was setting in and that’s not a place I wanted to go.

Usually what works for me is getting up and getting to work on something, anything! Just to change my thought process and head off the doldrums. It wasn’t working.

I was feeling worthless. Like I need to do more to prove myself, to be more than I am because it felt like what I am isn’t enough. It felt like I wasn’t good enough because my life looked nothing like theirs. I needed to be out doing more, going more places. Anything but sitting around just taking care of kids and a house.

I started to pray because nothing I was doing was working. I needed help.

I still felt bad and was still sinking.

Then a thought came to me. God would never make me feel that way or tell me negative things about myself. My worth as a daughter of God has never changed. I didn’t have to be going and doing and keeping up with anyone. Who I am is enough. I have been blessed with so much. A healthy family, beautiful children who are smart and funny and bring so much joy to my life just by being, and a husband who cares for me more than I can comprehend. My life taking care of my children where I am right now is where I need to be.

I just needed to be reminded of that and not compare my life to anyone else’s life.

And to tie it into Romans 5, if a sin is something that hurts someone then I need to include myself in that someone category and be kind and gracious to myself as well.

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Street fest, Endgame, and Potluck

Thursday night our town had a street festival. I decided I needed to get out and do something. My kids don’t remember ever going to it because I don’t like braving crowds with so many kids. But I told my friend I’d take her daughter to her at the festival since she’d come home from school with my kids. There was no getting out of it.We walked the few blocks to the main street and my oldest boys ran off to find their friends. Then when I dropped the friend off my oldest daughter decided to stay with her. Fine by me. Less of a crowd for me to take through the crowd. We walked along and looked at the stalls and they’re wares. It all smelled so good. We stopped and I talked with a few of my friends and the kids waved to theirs. Then Noah, my 3 year old, had to go potty. I had been waiting for my husband to get the from work but he was still ten minutes away. We went to the drug store to use the facilities.

I live in a very small town. Everyone knows everyone. The drug store is almost 100 years old and has a fun old fashioned soda fountain. After the bathroom break, finding my husband and my son who ran off to find his friends, we went back and got 75 cent root beer floats for all the kids.

Later we ran into one of my older sons, Benjamin, as we made another pit stop for Noah. He and some friends were hanging out behind one of the stalls and catching stay bit of cotton candy that were floating in the air.

All in all it was a fun outing and I’ll make it a point to go from now on.

On Saturday morning the library called to say an item I had requested was ready. The movie Avengers: Endgame. Yay! We got the house cleaned up quickly by telling the kids we wouldn’t go get the movie if the work wasn’t done. They worked pretty fast. I like getting movies from the library because it’s free and I get it for a week not just a night. Besides, I pay enough in late fees to make up for it.

We watched it that afternoon and it was fun for me to see my kids cheering the characters on. What I found interesting was the scene where all the girl super heroes charged into battle together. I thought nothing of it but my daughter, Lauren, loved it.

On Sunday it was potluck. Every month our church group has a potluck dinner and has for years. This months was especially good because one of the missionaries that has been in our area was going home. So the potluck was for her. The food was so good!

As a side note, I go to a Spanish speaking church group and have since I moved here (I don’t speak Spanish but my husband does). So it is not your usual American food potluck. We get food from Latin American countries and those ladies are excellent cooks. We all stuffed ourselves it was so so good.

The kids had a grand time as well. After the food was cleaned up the boy, mine and others, were on a sugar high I guess. They were running and jumping around the pavilion and along the tables like they were reenacting The Sound of Music.

They were not this graceful and no girls joined in.

They obviously had more energy than they knew what to do with so I organized a footrace. It was a long one and off they went. It wore them out a bit and afterwards they went off to play marbles and explore and catch grasshoppers.

At home later that night after scriptures and prayers I was tucking the kids in bed. I was going to put Elizabeth’s pillow case on her pillow and she got mad and said she didn’t want it on. Okay. I won’t put it on. A few minutes later she comes into my room sobbing, “I wanted to put it on myself but I didn’t know it would be so hard!”

The sweet little girl. Independence is hard won. She had gotten it halfway on which is a good effort for someone who’s pillow is as big as she is.

It was a good full weekend.

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Big Dog, Big Deal

Why am I awake at 5:30 a.m.? Actually I’ve been awake since 3. A dog started barking in my front yard. Loud barking. We woke up thinking our dog was somehow outside. When I went to open the front door to check my dog came up behind me. So I went back to bed but not back to sleep. Every time I’d just about drift off the dog would start barking again. We lay there hoping the dog would just wander away. Why was it barking at our house?

Finally at 4 a.m. Alex had had enough. He looked outside and saw the problem. The dog was stuck. Alex went outside to fix the problem and I followed because I love a spectacle and in case he needed help.

When I opened the door I saw a giant black dog whose chain had gotten caught on my kids’ bikes. She was threatening to lick my husband to death. Such a dangerous situation. It was the neighbor’s great dane. As soon as I opened the door Alex had the collar off and the dog came up the stairs and into the house. I couldn’t remember the dog’s name to get her attention. She seemed to feel at home in my house though. I opened the back door to get her outide so I could deal with the issue in daylight but she had to investigate the house first.

Do you know how big those dogs are? Huge. And she was walking around and into every room in my house while we tried to get her outside. I was imagining the look on my kids faces if they had woken to a giant black dog in their face.

When the kids got up at 6 they were told the tale and got all excited. They stayed at that energy level until they left for school an hour and a half later. I was glad the excitement was over. I’m tired.

P.S. The dog’s owner came out at 7 and noticed his dog was in the wrong yard so I went and told him what happened and gave the detangled chain back to him.

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First day of school 2019

The day started too early. Alex’s alarm goes off at 5:20 a.m. all the kids except the 3 stay-at-home ones were up at 6. The 5th grader will probably go to sleep early tonight because she hardly slept she was so excited/anxious.

They all got ready and I looked at my 1st grader and said, “You can’t wear swim shorts to school.” For days I’ve asked if they have their school clothes ready and picked out. Yes, they all said. Apparently some of them are liars. His jeans were dirty. Did he bother telling me when I could do something about it? No. I did a load of laundry this morning and he still wore something else. Oh well. His jeans are ready for tomorrow.

Then they all started to make their lunches. 1st grader packed all snacks. Um no. We repacked. My 7th grader wanted hot chocolate for lunch. Whatever. As long as we get something in him. He’s thin as a rail and a picky eater. It isn’t a double standard. It is survival. For all of us.

We did the obligatory first day pictures and I was with it enough last night to print some cute signs. Usually it’s a paper with my quickly drawn numbers on it. It does the trick but doesn’t look so good. So I was pleased with myself.

I left the babies with the two older boys and ran my the littles and my husband’s cousin’s kid to school. We were so early the school wasn’t open yet. So more pictures! I felt bad because I’d been in such a rush and I realized we didn’t say prayer before we left the house. I hugged them all and dropped them off at their classrooms promising to say a prayer for them.

The boys handled it like champs. My oldest daughter was a bundle of nerves. I introduced her to a new girl who had just moved in that was standing next to her outside the classroom. Hopefully they become friends. I left them to be nervous together and rushed home to let the oldest boys go to school. This time I had prayer with them.

Its going to be nice to have a routine again and maybe the house will stay cleaner. I’m dreaming of course.

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Last Day of Summer Vacation

I always say I’ll never take kids shopping again every time I take kids shopping. I have great kids but they are kids. They touch everything, they want everything, they go everywhere, and I’m always counting heads which distracts from getting everything I need. I took six of them with me and left the teen and preteen sleeping in for their last day of summer.

I did get about everything I needed and I didn’t lose my mind. So there’s that.

What did I get? I’m glad I’m pretending you asked.

Since I’m jumping on the home lunch train my kids need lunch boxes/ bags. I have Disney princess and Lightning McQueen ones that we’ve used as “backpacks” when the kids were little but they’ve outgrown the characters. So embarrassing. New ones it is. I also got them thermoses so they can take leftovers. The initial output to outfit five kids is a bit of $$. But I did the math and one month of school lunches is about $200. I didn’t spend that much on lunch box stuff. The ones I had my eye on on Amazon I found $6 cheaper at Walmart. Yay! So hopefully it will yield a good savings. Eventually.

Now for the fun part. Cooking the food.

Ha! I baked some pumpkin spice cake and moved on to making peanut butter bars. But then realized I have no vanilla. Nooooooo! Had to go to the store again. I hate running out of ingredients. But while at the store I saw a box of bananas for $5. Score! I put them in the freezer as is for later to use in banana bread.

I love using real vanilla but since the price has skyrocketed to $30 a bottle at Costco (I remember the good old days when it was under $5 and I’d stock up) I am having to resort to other methods of vanilla flavor. It hurts me to do that but you do what you have to. When you bake as much as I do you go through a lot of ingredients.

Peanut butter bars are one of my family’s favorite. Last time I made them I was out of creamy peanut butter so I used the crunchy peanut butter I had. Love it! It adds a bit more texture. These remind me of the ones my elementary school would make. So now I have some to send to school with my kids’ lunches.

Think I can keep this up all year?

By the end of the day I was exhausted and my feet hurt. I made 5 loaves of bread and 2 batches of rolls and dinner.

This is not a normal day for me. But guess it should be. Baby likes all my time so not enough gets done around here. But they are only little once. That goes for all of them.

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Back to school. Almost.

Today I was getting ready to prep for dinner and needed two ingredients. As I was getting in my car my neighbor asked if I was ready for the kids to go back to school. I replied yes! But then I felt bad! I love my kids! I don’t send them to school to get rid of them so I can have me time. I really only send them because I have to. I say have to because I am not organized and disciplined enough to do home school. Plus the teenagers have surpassed me already in several subjects. Their Dad helps them with their homework in those subjects.

All of them like school for the most part except one. He hates it. He has since kindergarten. He has always missed the maximum allowable amount of school days without getting in trouble. Until this last year. He did make the days up and got his grades up so the year ended well enough.

At the beginning of the year he was struggling, as usual, and putting me at my wits end. I was hugely pregnant with my eighth child and struggling myself. He hated school but he would also get really depressed. I started to get worried that he would get so depressed he would do something permanent. So I called and got him in to see a counselor. After meeting with the counselor for a few months he was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. The counselor also thought he should be tested for autism.

What?

Anxiety and depression I could see and through being in every single session with my son I could see where he got it. Me. I realized I had similar issues but growing up and having to be an adult I just dealt with it the best I could. But Autism Spectrum Disorder? I didn’t know how to deal with that. I still don’t.

The doctor who diagnosed my son said he qualified for an IEP and to make sure the school cooperated and not just do a 504. All of these concepts are foreign to me. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what help to get him.

So now as we get ready to start school I am just a little bit anxious and lost on how to help my son make the most of his schooling.