Sunday, 30 December 2007

What Do You Love?

I started out planning to write about all my electronics and to whine about how little time I had to use them. My husband not only gave me great photo editing software but a new gi-normous lens for my camera. The kind of lens that leaves people wondering..."paparazzi?" I was going to tell about the great shot I missed of a perfect row of pine trees lined up against the setting sun because my 3 year old didn't want me to stop pushing the stroller. James also put an mp3 player in my stocking. The kids all have various brand mp3s as well and I had to download from Itunes and Window's Media and load everyone up with their favorite music. I was going to complain about the fact that there is essentially no time in my day that I can stick two ear buds in and not listen to anyone. (I once counted and "mom" was said 39 times in a half hour.)

Then we went to church this morning.

We sang, "Jesus, Be the Center" and we were invited to come down to the alter and commit to making Jesus our consuming desire for the coming year.

I did.

He needs to be what I read about and get just right.
He needs to be what brings me joy and excitement.
He is what I should get up before everyone else so I can have uninterrupted time for.

Jesus needs to be my passion.
(And He never needs charged or rebooted or downoladed!)

Friday, 28 December 2007

Lane's Song

Lane became our daughter at the beginning of her 10th grade year and has kept things lively every since. She's now married, is a nurse and has an adorable daughter, Layla. We've always thought that Lane had a beautiful singing voice and last month she decided to see where her talent might lead her. Her husband went with her to Nashville, Tennessee where she met with a music producer and recorded a few songs. I'm excited to see what God has in store for her!

As you can see, Layla is following in her mom's footsteps!
To hear two of Lane's songs, click here.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Time to Relax

The flurry of Christmas is over and now begins my favorite part of the season. This week there is nothing to do but relax and enjoy each other and play with new toys. Our boys each got a Craftsman tool box loaded with tools and are changing brakes and taking apart everything they can get their hands on. Grace got an electric guitar and Anna a keyboard and they've been living in imaginary "girl band" mode. Gabby is happily creating masterpiece after masterpiece with all her new art supplies.
With so many siblings it would have been difficult for them to buy gifts for each other so my Dad suggested that they all had to exchange gifts from the Dollar Store. It w
as great fun and the big popular items were the the disguise nose and glasses and the "Bling Grills".
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to play with my new photo editing soft
ware before anyone wakes up.

Friday, 21 December 2007

I'm Thinking Coal all Around

This year I ordered about one third of my Christmas gift giving on line and my husband did all most all of his. The best has to be Amazon where I can sit at my computer and order in the morning and my package is delivered the next afternoon! It's almost scary, like you just think about something and it shows up on your doorstep. It certainly beats loading everyone up in the car (do you ever get out alone?) and parking (my van fits in basically no parking spots and we park far away from the door and hike to the store - I figure that I walk off about 14 cheese curls every time I park) and then trying to find exactly what you need. Even the most obscure gift is available via the internet.
But sometimes you just have to get out there and touch things and last night my husband and I went out to finish up Christmas shopping. We provided the kids with pizza - the "aren't you feeling so good with your tummy full of cheese and pepperoni drug" and admonished them that they all had to get along.
No fighting.
You know where I'm going with this.
At our house it's always the boys versus the girls. Age and personality has no bearing on their battle lines, it's always the battle of the sexes.
We shopped for an hour or so when the calls started coming in. The "he said/she saids". They call my phone and not my husbands - safer for their lives. I beg for them each to be peace makers but I can tell it's not going well. I pretend we're childless for awhile but the phone keeps ringing. Now I'm dreaming up horrible punishments to inflict upon our return while enjoying my salad at Olive Garden. We linger shopping till we're sure they've put the little ones in bed and head home, making our plan of attack.
James leads the family meeting and imparts the guilt to the offending parties - everyone says their apologies, forgives each other and it's over.
There is so much less drama at

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

It's Party Time at School!

Our homeschool group had our Christmas party yesterday and it was great. We took the entire group bowling after the party and realized it's the perfect homeschool activity. Every age has fun. Gutter guards for the youngest and fierce competition for the oldest. Merry Christmas to the Shepherd's Flock Homeschool Group!

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Jesse & Kara

When our family moved to West Virginia over 20 years ago, I met my forever best friend Anita. She had two boys the same age as my two girls. Our then youngest two, Jesse and Kara were also the best of friends. They even looked alike. As they grew they remained friends, went to the same college and both got married (not to each other as Anita and I had planned) and both began their families at the same time. What's the chance that Jesse's son will marry Kara's daughter?!

Friday, 14 December 2007

2 Cans, Cream of...

5 days in a row of trial run casseroles for freezing and I'm dreaming of biting into something that you have to really chew. Like a steak or even a hot dog!

We're on cream of chicken soup here. (Why DOES every casserole have either cream of some soup and grated cheese in it?) We've explored the many casserole toppings including tater tots, corn flakes and stuffing.

We've had some bigger winners, especially, my friend Joanne's "Beaulieu Kid's Favorite Chicken and Rice Casserole" or better know as "4 out of 4 casserole". At our house it was 8 out of 9.

Running a close second was Julie's, "Spaghetti Pie".

So we've picked the favorites and I'm freezing them in case we get the call for Grace's transplant.
Anyone out there have a freezable casserole dish that doesn't have a can of soup in it?

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

We Know You're In There

In August when our three year old came to live with us he had very little ability to communicate. When ever he wanted something or was upset he banged his head really hard on the floor and he had a permanent huge swollen knot on his forehead. He wore a helmet and we were told he needed to have his environment padded and he would do best contained in a playpen during the day so as not to hurt himself. He was a sad little guy and we were sad/frustrated.
We have a organization in our area called, "Birth to Three" that comes into the homes of kids with special needs and works with the parents to teach them ways to deal with and help their kids. When we got him they came to our home and gave us much hope that with a lot of work and patience (emphasis on patience) we could see him progress. And did we ever!! Trent is now signing as many words as we can teach him. He signs, "eat", "more", "thirsty", etc. and he waves "hi" and blows kisses. He has started to vocalize which is really exciting. He has said, "Poppa" and "Good boy", "Da Da" and "Thank you". The head banging has completely stopped and he has a smile that lights up the world (our world, anyway)! Being a foster parent doesn't get much better than this!

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Waiting for a Call

At a Christmas party today at Children's Hospital, the transplant co-coordinator told us that Grace was third backup for a kidney that came available two days ago. Apparently they consider the top 4 on the list when a kidney comes in case there's a reason the first few don't want it. That really hit home that it could happen at any time - we would get the call and would have to go immediately to the hospital. As wonderful as that call would be, it also means that someone has just died. Our happiness made possible by some families tragedy.

Getting the call would also mean that Grace and I would be out of the house for about a week or so which leaves brave husband James home with the rest of the six kids. That should be interesting. The last time I left him home with six kids for a week, they told me when I got back that he kept making them go outside. He claims that it's good for kids to be outside but in my experience basically it's only good for the Dad. I let them in when they press their faces against the windows and look sad.

We do have to come
up with some meals that I can freeze ahead of time. James suggested that I make two of everything for awhile and put one in the freezer. Okay, I'm feeling good making one dinner every night....I'm not seeing this doubling thing working. I suggested frozen pizza and oodles of noodles and cereal for dinner.

It will be n
ice not to have to do dialysis every night. Each month they deliver a gazillion boxes of stuff we use to do the dialysis and Grace can only get to her clothes about half way through the month when some of the boxes get used up. She's looking forward to sleep overs and baths again when she's done with dialysis.
Maybe soon.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Who Needs Perfume when you have Softener?

A number of years ago a friend, Angela, was selling natural products from home, which, as with all those, "you can make money at home" schemes was a total flop and her husband ended up paying more than she ever made, and she told me about a laundry softener that was natural - no dyes - no perfumes. What?!! No perfumes?! I've been known to stand in the laundry detergent isle for 10 minutes huffing each and every bottle to fine just the right scent for my clothes. Why would anyone want a scent free softener? On the other swing of the "green" pendulum is my friend Lizbeth, who doubles the recommended amount to make her clothes smell so so so very good. She's my hero. I'm not quite up to the double mark but have been experimenting with half as much as allowed. All this softener does have some side-effects. Towels aren't really as absorbent as they should be....the water kind of beads right off and right back onto your skin - who needs to be dry when you can smell that good? You can also slip right out of your jeans they're so soft.

My favorites at th
e moment are:

#1 all time best for smel
l appeal Ultra Downey, Cashmere & Silk Fresh or when you want your clothes to be even more special you say it in French, Fraicheur Cachemire et soie.

#2 Ultra Downey Simple Pleasures, Vanilla & Lavender is also excellent but you then have to make the decision to buy the matching detergent or not.

#3 My third runner up is very very smelly but can be a bit over-powering like an old ladies
perfume if you're not careful - Suavitel Ultra, Morning Sun.

And I HATE dryer sheets! What do you use?

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Cold, Wet and Perfect

Snow day!! We woke yesterday morning to a light dusting of snow and watched as it picked up through the day. Everyone was EXCITED, especially when the public school dismissed two hours early. Our Homeschool strictly follows the public school schedule as 3 of our kids attend and we would have mutiny if one group did one second more or less school than the other. We rummaged through the attic and drug down boots and snowsuits for everyone. Gabby wanted to sled because in her 5 year old experience even a flurry equaled a sled ride and was disappointed to learn differently. We spent the required half hour bundling up the three year old who like the snow for 3 minutes after refusing his mittens and freezing his hands. One of the kids put her hand on a neighbor’s woodstove and came home with blisters and cried and whimpered for about an hour afterwards. She asked at one point if I thought she was going to die and I assured her that I knew of no “hand on the woodstove” fatalities but that she should consider stopping all the crying or someone may dispatch her to her room for awhile. David and Steven argued with each other and annoyed us all but did get a wreath with a red bow hung in each of the front 13 windows. They wanted to have some fun while removing the window screens with one throw them sailing down to the other on the ground but James put an end to that amusing game. By the afternoon we were back up in the attic, this time hauling down the Christmas decorations and listening to our favorite Christmas music of all times, The Soundtrack of the Grinch who Stole Christmas.

Gabby said it was a perfect day when she caught a snowflake on her tongue!

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Schools Out for Sonja

My best friend's Anita's ten year old daughter is having surgery at Children's Hospital tomorrow and won't be able to get around for quite awhile. My girls and I were thinking of things we could do when she got home to make things a little less boring for her. We talked about them playing board games and doing crafts and watching movies with her. Grace said, "Well, we'll have to do all those things after we finish school." Absentmindedly I agreed with her but really, I'm not so sure about that.
I ran through the lesson plans for next week...The Crusades in Europe, changing percentages to decimals and Brazil.....all important things for 8th graders to know...while Sonja sits not able to do anything.
I really don't know how all hopped up Jesus is about my kids knowing the capital of Brazil but I do know that He wants - no, expects, them to have compassion and to encourage and to love. I doubt one day they'll have to give an account of how many times they failed to compute a percentage but...
"The king will answer them, 'I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did for me.' Matthew 25:40
So schools out early next week and we're going to work on some real things. And Sonja would appreciate your prayers tomorrow.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Don't Eat That - You Might Learn Something

Our science class is studying Biology and we took a look at plant cells this week. We identified, colored and labeled all the cell parts and made cell models. (We also watched a Sponge Bob movie in between called, "The Fungus Among-Us" which was entirely amusing.)
The cell models were made from lemon Jello as the cytoplasm with various candies used to replicate the cells parts. They were both instructional and yummy. Bite of Endoplasmic Reticulum anyone?

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

3 Days Later....

The party's not over till the balloons deflate.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Still Counting the Blessings

The holiday is over and it's post quiet here. The turkey is now sitting in a zip lock bag waiting to be a sandwich.
We had much to be thankful for including the news that Kirsten is beginning to feel a little better each day as the malaria symptoms are subsiding. Thank you for your prayers - We have seen God do mighty things as He hears the cries of His people.
We also celebrated our granddaughter Scarlett's 1st birthday and the news that she will have another brother or sister this summer!
And our last good news is that our 3 year old is sleeping in past 6am. Whooo Hooo!

For more pictures from the birthday here.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

All Things

It's still quiet here- Thanksgiving morning. Only the turkey and I are up and he's in the oven smelling good. The tables are set for later today - we have 29 people celebrating with us. I'm thankful for this tiny slice of peace before the day begins and most grateful for all the people and noise God has brought into our life.
Please pray for our daughter Kirsten in Chad who is spending her Thanksgiving battling malaria and yet their family gives praise for the opportunity to be there.
Everything He gives is good.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007


Swim fish...swim for your life!

Sunday, 18 November 2007

The Buzz on the Bee Movie

My husband is a beekeeper so it seemed that we had to go see the new Bee Movie. Wow! It was really bad. I know I'm prejudiced against cartoons, but this one was so stupid. It was mildly amusing in parts but not amusing enough to make you smile or anything close to it. What was interesting was that it was Gabby and Trent's first time to the movies. Gabby was completely impressed with the size of the screen and asked a few times, "Are we going to all fall out of our seats because we're so high up here". She loved the movie and thanked us for taking her. The most amazing thing about the entire event was that Trent was great. He slept through most of the movie (good choice I thought) and was quiet when awake. That's not bad for any 3 year old and for him that was incredible.
So skip the bees or you'll get stung!

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Bad Choices

On Friday one of our sons is having a parole hearing. He's hoping to leave his present residence (IE jail) and return to the real world. My husband and I are driving 5 hours to be there for the hearing. I'm not excited about it. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have to watch one of my kids being brought into a room wearing handcuffs. (I did actually get a small amusement out of the orange flip flops that compliment the orange jump-suit.) Every kid that comes to our house has the chance to start all over again. We don't know all their past...their mistakes or habits and on day one in our family you start out with all privileges. Each kid can watch and see what they can have. They can choose the Lord and they can choose blessings. Most of them do....God's very appealing when you've been rejected by everyone else.
But some don't. I've seen them walk back to their old life and go down in flames. This kid's one of them. As much as I love him and it breaks my heart, in the end he's chosen this path.
So, I've lined up friends to drive kids to their stuff and a daughter (thanks again Lane) to come and hook Grace up for dialysis and my mom's going to homeschool the kids while were gone.
Just so the whole trip isn't terribly depressing, I plan to watch 20 episodes of HGTV in our motel room.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

What I meant was

Okay, so my last post wasn't all together true.

The part about Alfred was true......he was great.

It's the part about, "when I'm losing the battle, I run to the Word."
It really goes something like this.
When I'm losing the battle I...
first try to figure out whose fault other than mine it is..
and then I get mad
and then I usually complain some
and then I try to work it out on my own..
and by this point when every thing's wrong..
I sheepishly go to the Lord who was patiently waiting for me all along and He runs to me.

Confession over.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Ode to Alfred

Here stands Alfred the Great....defender of England against Viking invasion.... on a milk carton covered in faux rock (crumpled paper bag). The project was fun- minus the hot glue that stuck to the tip of my finger and hopefully his place in history will remain in my kids brain just a little longer.

*History lesson learned from Alfred the Great - If you want to beat the invaders, build up your army first, physically and spiritually. Which is good advice no matter what or whom the enemy is. Whenever I feel like I'm losing the battle, I know I need to run to the Word and get strong.

On Alfred the Great's real statue in England there is a plaque that says, "Alfred's name will live on as long as mankind shall respect the past." And here he is standing on my kitchen table all these years later.
Alfred's so cool.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Re-Re Cycle

This week's homeschool craft was from our history curriculum. (We're using "The Story of the World" with activity pages.) We have to make a statue of Alfred the Great and we needed four half gallon milk cartons for the base. At our house we buy milk in kegs, not half gallons so I had to look elsewhere to get them. Today was garbage day and I decided to set out early and pick through people's recycling bins before they were collected. I scored all four half gallons on our block and made some interesting observations in doing so.

#1 Bottled beer is preferred over canned beer
#2 Beer is preferred over milk, orange juice or soup
#3 Many people drink beer while reading the paper and don't appear to eat
#4 Our family drinks more Sunny D than anyone else in our neighborhood
Either no one eats canned vegetables or no one likes to wash out the cans

I'll show you the finished project tomorrow.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Layla Grace

Our granddaughter Layla Grace is 2 this week.
She is everything a 2 year old should be...without the "terribles".
Her parents threw a fitting party complete with friends, family and a new tricycle.
She is adored by all -
as it should be!!
(Layla, tell mommy you want to come to Grandma Kate's house.)

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Appliances Are a Girl's Best Friend

Unfortunately one of the tiles in front of our kitchen sink has a large crack in it. (and "nobody" did it....we asked.) For the last few days, water has been seeping up when you step down on it. Then yesterday we found a puddle further down the floor by the refrigerator. Most broken objects or weird occurrences are somehow a direct result of some nefarious action from one of our kids but this one we couldn't pin on anyone.
James spent some time crawling around on the floor and discovered the water source was near the dishwasher. And that made sense because it had been making a terrible noise lately when we ran it. It normally makes a sound as it grinds up large food particles but this noise was as if someone's arm was shoved down in there and was being chewed up to the elbow. James pulled the dishwasher out and found under it a place where water was shooting all over and one of Grace's many lost retainers. (At a replacement cost of $75 which she had labored many hours to pay back.)
It was time to replace the dishwasher, so after a beautiful wedding yesterday on the way to pick up our kids who didn't attend, we stopped at Home Depot. My daughter Kelly and I looked lovely in our dresses and cute shoes. James was dashing in his suit and tie. That's a problem. Next time your in Home Depot look around. Before people head to Home Depot they rummage around in their dresser drawers to find their nastiest outfits. Guys are drawn to the sweatpants with the oil stains- topped by a too small t-shirt so you can just see a little stomach hair poking out. For the women either the sweat pants or maybe the too small jeans with a "big shirt" to cover the butt. As we checked out the dishwasher selection people were WE were wrong.
Selecting the dishwasher. This was difficult. We checked out - how many wash cycles, energy saving features, advance filters, noise reduction enhancements, capacity, multiple wash levels, and on and on. I was getting confused and sick of looking at them after a couple of hours. I opened one model from the group of ten we had narrowed our selection to and it had a lovely gray interior with gray racks. The gray was soothing and I could picture our dishes looking lovely against the gray. Sold!
Sadly it won't come for a few days, so don't come here for dinner. I'm thinking I could parlay this whole mess into eating out a lot. If not, invite us over to your house to eat. (There's nine of us and two of them only eat macaroni and cheese.)

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Bottoms Up

We have a fairly large house which is needed to stuff all of our kids into. There are lots of bedrooms which is fine and I only clean mine and those of kids under age 6 (which presently is only 2). Everyone else is on their own.
The issue continues to be with the bathrooms. Keeping them clean is not too bad. I clean bathrooms that the boys use every other day and girls bathrooms less often. I never wash a shower curtain. When the mold is noticible I buy a new one.
The issue is running out of toilet paper.
I buy the largest Charmin pack they make at Costco. The 24 pack that "is like 48" rolls because each roll is double the normal size. The stuff is thick! My friend Joanne's husband swears it'll clog up the septic system.... it's that thick. The package is so huge it doesn't fit under the shopping cart and I knock things off shelves as I weild it through the store. It should last for about 20 years or so. Or at least a week at our house. The rolls start to dwindle and the manuvering starts. Someone steals the roll from the guest bathroom. Then the downstairs bathroom rolls dissapear. I sneak in and steal the roll from the girls bathroom for our bedroom. Only the boys don't play this game. They basically don't care if they have a roll at all. That scares me. I could buy 4 of the mega rolls and I still wait till we're down to tissues before I go back to Costco for more. Do they make a hundred pack that "is like 200?"

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Just a Treat

30 years ago today I missed Halloween. I had the candy ready to hand out and we had pumpkins carved but our first daughter Kirsten, decided to be born and everything was forgotten.

I was thinking about that day and realized that her birth had been the catalyst of so much of what my life is now. I never much liked kids while growing up. Baby-sitting for me was purely a money making activity but not anything I really enjoyed. When my husband asked me to marry him I said "yes" with the caveat that he didn't expect me to have any children. Four years later on Halloween they placed Kirsten in my arms. I don't know any other single time in my life that I felt such complete joy! From that moment to this day, God has placed a love for children in me that I can't explain.
Kirsten has opened my heart more each day of her life. Even now I see her now giving up things that I don't know if I could, to go on the mission field in Africa.

Today is Halloween and we can't be with her and her family to celebrate....and I know she would about LOVE this cool fall weather right now! (What's it like 102 in Chad today?)
Happy Birthday Kirsten Jan and thank you for being my pumpkin.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Birthdays and Anniversarys

Yesterday was a day of celebration.

Our granddaughter Aysha turned one and our marriage turned 34.
Aysha is a delight and we all adore her. She's smart and wonderful and full of life.

Our marriage has always been the best thing about me.

Watching the family yesterday, all together, laughing and loving each other, I realized that God had taken two ordinary people, and brought them together to do a job.
I could tell you how kind James is (and he really is) and how well we get along (we do!!) but the best part of "us" is the work He chose us to do. Every grandchild gives me a glimpse into God's plan for our families to pass the "Good News" of a Savior to each generation.
Happy Birthday Aysha! I love you James forever.
Click here to see the rest of Aysha's birthday pictures.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Wait, Let Me Get My Apron On!

It's back to the grocery store again today because it's time to think about dinner and I haven't bought anything to make it with. How can that be possible when I, or someone from this family has walked through the Wal-Mart doors at least once, often more, each day this week? It's not because I'm saving so much money each time I go. I've had carts loaded down with all the stuff that a large family needs but I somehow missed the meals. There was a ton of toiletry and paper goods and many many boxes of cereal and cat food and lunch snacks and laundry detergent and a crib sheet and a new moisturiser, but nothing that you could dump together in a pan and call everyone to sit down and eat. I didn't make a menu for the week. I hate making menus because I can't think of anything new to make and if I did, well I really wouldn't want to cook it anyway which is probably the real reason there are no dinner ingredients at all. I've looked at the Every Day with Rachel Ray magazine and everything looks so yummy. I read the recipes and dream about someone coming over and cooking it all for me.
Looks like another pot-luck night!

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Parenting Tips for Teens

Just recently I was congratulating myself on some small but significant successes both as mom and teacher. Grace and Anna Claire had shown progress in things we had been working on forever.

Grace has bilateral hearing loss which translates to her as "I have to wear a stupid hearing aid in both ears. The audiologist forms a soft mold that fits in her ears and the mechanical parts sits outside and behind each one. When Grace was younger she thought the hearing aids were cool and ordered her molds in hot pink and white swirls. Now at 14 she's going for a more sophisticated look. All of this is to explain why for the past few years we've had an on going battle with her to wear them. The more she wears them, the more sounds she hears and the clearer she speaks.

Another totally unrelated area that we've been struggling with is the girls willingness to work at school subjects that are difficult for them. Learning doesn't come easy for either one of them and I haven't been able to make them understand that working hard can overcome a lot of the problem.

For the past few months Grace has had her hearing aids on every single time I see her. I couldn't believe it. When I asked her what prompted this sudden change she explained that Anna Claire had told her that her speech was sounding much clearer when she wore them. (Wow, like that was some new revelation.) Also, the girls have been studying like crazy and they've been getting 100's - even on their science tests. I was happy with all this and feeling like all the nagging, I mean encouraging had paid off. Then the girls shared the truth with me.

I teach a science class for homeschoolers every year. This year we have 17 kids and 6 of them happen to be boys that are between the age of 14 and 17. That was the catalyst for all this positive change.
So, I'll put away the rough draft of my book entitled, "How to Motivate Your Child to Become All They Can Be" and leave it to the age old process....Girls like boys and boys like girls, girls want to impress boys.....

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Log In My Eye

This past week in our very excellent Veritas Press Bible class we were reading about the fruits of the spirit and decided to look at them up close. The first fruit we looked at was gentleness. The definition we came up with was - being calm, not wild or harsh or stern or rough or abrasive or caustic. To be soothing and tender to others.
The first few days I watched everyone and noted when they were not being gentle. I really wanted to point it out to them it was so obvious. Then about day three I was disciplining one of my kids and I just didn't think they were getting my point. I had to make them understand what they were doing wrong so I spoke a little louder and made my point in a way that they could see what I meant and how I felt about it and basically implied that what they were doing was going to ruin their life forever. It was something like forgetting to feed the cat. I was harsh and stern and oh yes- rough and caustic. There wasn't a tender word in the whole exchange. Seems the fruit had fallen right off my tree. I was seein
g the grapes in everyone else's eye and missed the watermelon in mine.
Also this week each of our girls received a gift of a book cover and apparently only one of them knew how to use it appropriately.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Off to School

This week, our now 3 year old, started preschool for kids with special needs. We were nervous as he can be a little.....unpredictable. We dressed him up in his cutest clothes, oohed and ahhed over him and sent him on his way. He was excited about the whole thing and so were we.
This morning as we home schooled, it was eerie. It was quiet. We could concentrate. Nobody was climbing on anything they weren't supposed to and it was WONDERFUL! He came home happy and tired and we were refreshed. This is going to work out well!

Saturday, 13 October 2007

2 Times the Fun

Haven't been able to blog the last few days. Our almost two year old granddaughter, Layla, has come to stay with us for six days while her parents have gone on a business trip. (I'm hoping for a new grandchild out of the deal.) Layla has teamed up with our two year old, taken the house over and left us very tired but happy by the end of each day. I'm sure Layla is delighted that her grandparents have toys and diapers and strollers in stock and an "uncle" to play with. We may be very old parents of a toddler but we're so very young grandparents . I think someone spiked the babies' apple juice today as there was a four in a row disgusting diaper thing going on with both of them but everything else was just peachy. Gotta go sleep before they wake up!

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Is the Earth Off Course or Something?

All day I've been in a really bad mood. I don't know why.
Tonight, when my children spoke to me, I had this urge to plug my ears and yell, "Be quiet". I kept a nice mom look on my face but I was ugly inside.

Someone was eating popcorn on the couch with me and they were taking a hand full and holding it against their mouth and gnawing it. I could feel my hands wanting to wrap around their neck.

Some of the people in my family made me mad when I just looked at them.

I think it's because Fall has let me down so completely. It's been 90 degrees in West Virginia for the past two weeks. It's cooler in Florida than here. That's so wrong. I love hot in the summer but this is ridiculously past summer. I want to wear pants and stop shaving my legs. I'm sick of under arm wetness. I want to wear sweaters and not flip flops.

So basically I'm in a bad season mood. Is there such a thing?

Monday, 8 October 2007

A Little Respite

This weekend my husband and I slipped away alone to Gettysburg, thanks to our daughter Lane who not only happens to be a great sister and everyone was thrilled to have her here, but she's also a renal nurse and could do Grace's dialysis! (God was probably going...."This is going to be so perfect!", when he brought Lane into our family years ago.)
We stayed in the Gettysburg Hotel on the main square downtown across from a room where Lincoln stayed and right around the corner from the train station where he arrived at to give the Gettysburg address.

Touring the battlefields was sobering, realizing how many thousands of young men died and the impact those battles had on forming our country as it is today.
We had quiet time to talk, some wonderful meals, long walks - we hiked up to a water fall and best of all......H.G.T.V. in our room!!
The perfect weekend!

Friday, 5 October 2007

Hugs for the McKenzies

This evening after dropping the girls off at cheerleading I met my daughter Kara and her husband Nate and my youngest grandaughter Scarlett at Walmart. They were passing through town and so we shopped together for an hour or so. As I held Scarlett I couldn't help but miss my other 5 grandkids who are about to leave France and move to Africa. I want to hold them too. Please pray for them as they make their final preperations. Here's my son-in-laws most recent update.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Sugar and spice and a tongue like a knife

We have a "force" in our family. They are our dear 14 and one 15. They're the best of friends and rarely do anything without the other close by. They can be thoughtful and sweet, lots of fun unless they gang up on someone. And lately their 17 year old brother Steven has been their hapless victim. If he utters a single word, both of them roll their eyes and look at him as if he just came off the bottom of someones' shoe. They obviously find him to be beneath themselves in every area. He looks, acts, speaks and even chews wrong. It's been getting out of hand. I've spoken to them about how unkind they're being, we've looked up verses about being loving and humble; there's been some small attempts to correct their attitudes but mostly they're just nasty to him. Tonight at dinner one of them answered Steven with a look of pure disgust. Their father at that very moment decided that he needed to step in and help with this problem. The offending daughter was sent to her room for the night, no movie with the family, no Youth Group. I won't say which girl it was but I will say that Grace should be done with her 9 hours of dialysis much earlier than usual tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

And for my next trick....

Our two year old has been learning new things in leaps and bounds. Just a little over a month ago when he came to live with us he didn't do much more than lay on the floor rocking his head back and forth. Our family in just being itself is apparently very stimulating for the little guy and he's decided to get up and join in the ruckus. This week he's added "the slide" to his favorite things. He's still a little cautious but he's letting go!

Saturday, 29 September 2007

One More Time!!

We decided to wait till everyone else was in school to go to an amusment park this year. So Friday, we headed down to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia for a day of fun. It rained early in the morning as we traveled which must have convinced even more people to stay away, leaving the park almost empty. It was lines!! David was our navigator and sucessfully led us to every ride in the entire park but one. We rode so many roller coasters my brain was hurting from hurling around in my skull. Gabby and Trent enjoyed the carousel and all the little guy rides. We made it home around 11:00pm, tired but happy. Meet us there next year, same time!

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Bible Class - Oh Yea!

This school year we've been loving our Bible curriculum - Veritas Press, "Acts Through Revelations". We've never used any of their stuff before (it looked liked the kind of stuff for brainiac kids, of which mine are not) but we tried it and it's great! We sing this really incredibly dumb song every day and now know the chronological order of the events of the Bible. There are questions to answer each week; a test and best of all, a project. We've made "Martyr Trading Cards", "The Sign of the Fish Mosaics", "The Conversion of Saul Dioramas" and this week, "Cornelius's Roman Army Shield." They're learning tons so I'm happy and who doesn't love crafts?!

Monday, 24 September 2007

You Can't Take it With You..unless it fits in your suitcase

My daughter Kirsten and her husband Stephen and their five kids have begun the process of leaving France and moving onto the misson field in Africa. As they prepare to go they have to decide what can't go with them....which is pretty much everything. Each of them can carry one suitcase's worth of belongings. (I'd have a hard time narrowing down to one moving van!) They have recently given up their home phone and no longer have internet at their house. Our ability to talk to each other has become almost nonexsistant and will be even more so when they get into Africa. I feel as though they are fading away right before my eyes. I miss them.
This past Sunday our Pastor talked about the end times when this world will pass away and about a new heaven and a new earth. I thought about Kirsten and Steve and how the things of this world are becoming much less for them. They are trading these earthly treasures that we seem to want to cling to for the good and eternal things of God's kingdom.

"What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away." 1 Corinthians 7:29-31

Saturday, 22 September 2007

I Used To Be Me

As any mom with extreme numbers of kids (and especially kids with a lot of physical needs) will tell you...your social life pretty much stinks. I used to have friends and I actually did things with them. Adult things. Lately, my adult encounters are severely lacking. It's so bad that I've tried to strike up a friendship with the U.P.S. man as he's one of the few people who come to visit anymore. I can't tell if he likes me or if I freak him out. My best friends Anita and Adela have attempted to invite me out for lunch numerous times and I told them to forget me. I can't talk on the phone because the minute I pick it up, someone is either crying or standing in front of me waiting....who can concentrate?
Last week Anita called and suggested that while our girls had cheer practice we should slip away and have a latte. I didn't have much hope, but agreed. Yesterday Anita came by, picked us up, dropped the girls all off and we went out by ourselves. We sat outside of Panara Bread at a little table and sipped our drinks. It was quiet and wonderfully relaxing. Heaven!
There were still a billion kids there when I got home and David put Trent to bed with his diaper on backwards (which for some reason causes the urine to soak the crib sheet but not the child and he slept in longer than he ever had before) but for that hour....I was me again. Thanks Anita for not letting me disappear completely.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Girl Friends

Grace has a very good friend. The kind of friend who not only loves Grace, but loves the Lord even more. Jessie is just a great kid and I'm thankful that she and Grace are close. They met before their first birthday (in the first picture) and have celebrated the following 13 together. Jessie spent the night with Grace last weekend. She not only put up with Grace's snoring and her Adventure in Odyssey stories that she listens to at full volume because she can't wear her hearing aids to bed, but this time she also slept to the sound of the dialysis machine working away.
That's a good friend.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Wild and Crazy... Sorta

Saturday night my husband and I took our teens and a few extras and went to Awakening Fest in Virginia to see Barlow Girls and Toby Mac. The weather was perfect...a fall chill in the air. God was present, the music was great and loud. We've been taking our kids to Christian rock concerts since our 30 year old was a teen. Back then we were often up front jumping and shouting like our kids did at this concert. This Saturday, my husband and I sat in our cozy lawn chairs in our hoodies, wrapped in blankets and tapped our feet to the music. There was a little bobbing of our heads now and then and a shout out to Toby but basically it was just nice sitting and listening. The kids were happy - we were happy. Still Jesus Freaks after all these years.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Water Can Be Thicker Too

Our daughter Margie came in for a long weekend to visit. She lives in Florida but had some training with her job in Richmond, Virginia the beginning of the week. James drove down on Thursday to pick her up and we she was able to stay until today. Margie was our very first introduction to foster care. That was 18 years ago...she was 16 and now she's all grown up. James and I decided way back then that we would pick carefully just what kids would come into our home. We told D.H.H.R. that we would only take a child younger than our daughters who were 11 and 10 at the time. They brought us Margie. She walked into the room, a teenager (oh no!) and smiled at me with her beautiful blue eyes and dimples and I've loved her ever since. Margie has lived in California and Florida but has never been far from our hearts. She gave us our first grandchild, Cameron (who is now 14 and just about perfect) and later blessed us with Taylor who is 8 and as beautiful as her mom. She taught us many things...never loan money to a drivers can be very handy....drawing the line can be hard but one is more fun to laugh with than your daughter....grown children still need you but they choose their own path and hairspray builds up on your bathroom walls. Lane and Kara made sure to visit with while she was up and it was a sweet family time.
And about the carefully choosing which kids would come here. Margie taught us that God does the choosing and He sooo knows best. I love you Marg.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Just a Little Escape

It was nearly 9:30 at night and the house was still humming like a beehive. Lights were on in every room and people were still doing stuff. Loud stuff and asking me where things were and making popcorn and I suddenly felt overwhelmed.
I slipped quietly, unseen, into the garage and climbed into the two seater convertible. Driving away I glanced back toward the house and slipped from the pulsating life into the cool night.... alone. I took the turns as quickly as I dared, feeling the car grab the road. My hair was blowing in the wind and there was no noise but the car humming as I sped further and further from home. The feeling was incredible and I was free!
Then I pulled into Kentucky Fried Chicken and picked Steven up from work. Someone had to get him.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Can I Get a Cup of Coffee Around Here?

Mornings have become a little hectic around here. I'm out of bed by 6:00am and can usually count on a half hour by myself to ask God what's up for the day before the little guy is crying. He doesn't do mornings well. Wrong side of the crib or something. David and Kelly are also up at 6:00am and heading out to school clutching a package of Pop-Tarts - the breakfast of champions and of kids whose mom won't make them anything. I get our Kindergarten girl up at 7:00am and get her on the bus at 8:00 and she's pretty much the easiest kid ever and she ONLY eats Lucky Charms which proves the theory, "You are what you eat." because she is charming indeed. A friend drops off her daughter at 8:15am so she can homeschool with us and I wake up the other three kids and unhook Grace from her dialysis machine.
I don't mind any of this except for my coffee problem. I pour my cup of coffee intending to sit and drink it and an interruption happens. By the time I return to it - it's cold. So I nuke it in the microwave and take a sip and then again an interruption. Ten minutes later I'm back- the coffee is again cold and another round of radiation in the microwave. I confess to nuking a cup 5 times in one morning. But today was bad. I had reheated my cup a few times and now I really needed it. It wasn't in the microwave. It wasn't anywhere. I retraced my steps, upstairs, in the laundry room, by the computer, the copier, the back porch. I'm mad and I really really want some coffee. I resort to bribing my children. I promise to give anyone who finds it a candy bar that they can eat right now if they want it. (I don't actually have a candy bar to give them but I was willing to lie at this point.) Everyone's dashing around searching. Steven finally finds it outside at the end of the driveway where I had set it down to shoot hoops while waiting for Gabby's bus to come. I send the coffee for it's final spin in the microwave and sit down. It's now 9:00 and we start school. We pray around the table and by the time we're done the coffee is cold. I get up and dump it down the sink.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Growing Old Gracefully but Not Ready to Die

I know I need to change my name from Big Red Driver and fix the header of my blog since David killed Big Red, but I haven't been able to think of what to change it to. I thought about the nursery rhyme I named my blog for, 'There was an old lady who lived in a shoe...." but I didn't know if I wanted to be known as an old lady. Then I had this conversation with our new 5 year old.
"What will happen to me if you die while I'm your foster kid?"
"Honey, why do you think I would die?"
"Because you're so old."
"Sweetie, I'm not old, I'm only 52."
"That's really really really old."
Five year olds expect to have much younger moms and I'm hoping to live well beyond my fifties.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Little Miss Tidy (or Monk's younger sister)

Most of my children are messy. Some more than others...don't ask about the boy's rooms. But I have one, just one, who is not only neat, but borders on compulsive. Her chore is taking the garbage to the road for pick up. This is what it looked like yesterday.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Just connect this thingy to that thingy and.....

With Grace's last surgery finished to repair her catheter, we did one last training day at Children's Hospital and they told us we were on our own. We loaded the car up with machines and tubes and bags and a million other parts and pieces and brought it all home. I was just a little, teeny bit apprehensive (massively actually) about the whole thing but how bad could I mess it up? Monday night we hooked everything up and started the dialysis running at 10:30pm. At 4:30 in the morning I heard an alarm from her machine, went into her room, slipped on a draining bag of fluid on the floor and did one of those clawing, spinning into the air turns and caught myself. Grace was so sound asleep she didn't hear the alarm at all or my flailing around next to her. I flipped her over a couple of times and the alarms stoped. The next morning at 7:30 I unhooked her. We did it!! If you have to have kidney failure and you have to do dialysis, peritoneal dialysis is the way to go. Grace has no more inconvenience than being tethered to a machine while she sleeps. She feels good, no side affects and the rest of the day is hers. As fun as this all is, we are praying that a kidney comes available to her soon and she can be "regular" again. Grace has never been regular but we're not telling her that!

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Oh But You Look So Marvelous

I've been thinking for the last week that our little guy needed a hair cut. I spent a lot of time thinking about it but didn't actualy get up the nerve to do it until tonight. First, no two year olds like to get their hair cut and secondly what most kids just don't like, our little guy can take to a new level of unhappines. It was amusing (not to him) and the end result was a new "big boy" look. He wasn't buying it.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Keep Your Shirt On

My good friend, Adela, took in her nephew to raise a few years ago and he's now almost four. This is not only wonderful for him, but for us as well. Adela really likes shopping and that includes shopping for adorable little boy clothes. She and her husband had wanted to go into foster care and so had saved everything their nephew had outgrown. It seemed as though God had other plans for their family and so foster care was put on the back burner. Adela called the other day and asked if we would like all the clothes that she had saved. I really really wanted them but we had a dilemma still. Our little guy would strip naked if he didn't have a one piece outfit on which was amusing but probably not acceptable in most social circles. I asked a few people to pray that he would get over this nudity issue so we could put all those outfits on him. We picked up the two huge crates of clothes after going through them. The three girls and I were dying to dress him up. In faith the next day we put him in a pair of shorts and a shirt. He kept them on. We couldn't believe it!! The next day the same and again today!! Hallelujah...tomorrow he's wearing real clothes to church!! We decided on two outfits. One is the summer Hawaii look and the other the sporty look. How will we ever pick!! Maybe we could change him halfway through the service. Thanks for praying Anita!!!

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Everybody's Getting Smart Around Here

School started at our house this week.
Kelly is off to college and is doing her best to negotiate public transportation from our house to classes and back each day. I think the classes are easier than the bus schedule.
Two are off to public school, one for the last year and one for the very first time. Kindergarten is adorable, complete with a Polly Pocket book bag/Dora the Explora lunch box and a little name tag with a picture of a racoon or something and her teacher's name. David is a senior and that's wonderful too although his book bag is much less pink and he isn't required to nap but just nods off in his after lunch classes.
There are four kids homeschooling this year and our first two days have been just about perfect.
Grace has also drifted off to sleep a few times during the day but she swears it's the Tylenol 3 for pain relief from the surgery and "but it's not because your'e a boring teacher or what your teaching is boring, Mom, really".

James has kept our two year old amused while we school and has apparently been giving him piano lessons as well. The little guy also read a few magazines to keep busy while we did math. It looks messy but I think he was just tearing out a few recipes from Martha Stewart Living that he thought the family might enjoy.

Does this mean summer is over?