Leave a comment

A Permanent Paint Job in My Hair

“Is that paint in your hair?”  He grinned.  I think I glared.  He knows perfectly well that even though I am the one to get paint in my hair while painting, that none of this has been going on for a few months. He kept grinning and then said, “I LOVE your grey hairs.”  He actually gets kind of giddy about them.  I guess they are factual of our journey from teenagers to pushing forty.  It is a beautiful thing to grow old with someone and know your grey hair makes them excited.  He’s actually getting a tiny swath of grey himself, which I find very attractive.
2016-07-14 19.35.00
I could name a handful of reasons for a few extras which may have popped up this month.

Earlier in July, Nadine came downstairs one morning with an incredibly stiff neck.  We had done massage, chiropractor, essential oils, and more, but she steadily got worse.  More sore, feverish, and absolutely exhausted.  A few doctor’s visits later and bloodwork drawn, I noticed a nice red circle on her leg.  And her shoulder.  And her arm, and torso and so on.  The number hit 17 bullseye rashes.  Her body felt and looked like it was shutting down.  We had spent so much time in prayer over her and Lymes kept running through my head.  As horrible as those bullseyes were, at least they showed up to confirm my thinking and get us on a path of treatment for her.  Just 24 hours later of being on strong antibiotics, she was sitting, standing up, and walking without having to collapse into bed.  She even swept the floor!  If people think I am anti-medicine because I’m a crunchy-granola-Plexus-mama, then they’re misinformed.  There is a time and there is a place, and I thank God for the ability to research and choose and make informed decisions.  I do not take antibiotics lightly.  So thankful too to have a quality probiotic to counter the nasty effects it will have on her good gut flora!

A few days after she started feeling nasty, I was grabbing some groceries and meeting my mother-in-law to pick up the youngest two who had been having a week at grandma’s.  We were waving goodbye as we backed out of our parking spot when all of a sudden the gear shift popped out of place and the whole gear shaft just started spinning around.  Thankfully, Linda hadn’t driven away yet, so we pushed the van into a safe spot and we all piled into her car where she drove us home!  Thankfully, it was not a huge fix!  Yesterday something else happened and we had to tow it again, but it’s fixed already.  We’re getting to know our local tow-truck drivers!
2016-07-08 18.07.52
I spent a lot of time sitting still and being quiet that first week of July.  Not my strong point.  Our front porch is my summer haven, and it gets a lot of love.  Between a broken arm, a broken vehicle, and a broken down body… I was pretty broken myself.  But God.  He’s in the business of fixing and providing and healing.
2016-07-29 09.32.34
One of the biggest blessings of this trial was seeing the rest of the kiddos rise to the challenge of taking over Nadine’s chores and jobs and serving her in many different ways.  From getting her icewater, to cleaning the kitchen, to hanging out with her while she couldn’t do anything but lay there.  It was refining for us all!  We also saw her faith grow in Jesus by leaps and bounds, as she audibly thanked Him for the sickness, and acknowledged He knows what’s best for her.  Do you know how hard that is to do?2016-07-13 14.19.53
As her body started to heal, God did another amazing thing for our family.  Because of the many broken things which needed money to fix them, we had to tell the kids they weren’t going to be able to go to soccer camp this year.  It was super difficult to tell them that, but we reminded them how God had the power and ability and means to provide for them if He wanted them to go.  So we laid it before the Lord without telling anyone else about the need.  On Saturday, one week before the camp would be starting, Elijah said to me, “Mom, camp starts in 7 days.”  I told him to keep praying and trusting God would provide if they were to go.  The next day, we recieved a phone call from someone who wanted to pay for our kids to go to camp if that was something they were wanting to do.  Seeing their faith grow when we told them the news was incredible.  At that point we weren’t even sure if Nadine could go!  We didn’t shop for her, until two days before they had to leave, when she was showing signs of having enough strength to handle a week at camp.  God provided in more ways than we could imagine!
2016-07-17 16.28.05

Processed with MOLDIV
Now camp is over, and we are on our second day of school!

We are still celebrating summer, with later nights and a bit of sleeping in, but I always need a week or two of slowly easing into what our year will be looking like for the next ten months.  This gentle beginning also gives me room to purge from last year.  The last couple of days have seen six trash bags exit our house, lockers cleaned out, shelves re-organized, new books introduced, and a general feeling of newness and anticipation for the year ahead.
2016-08-02 12.48.142016-08-02 12.01.422016-08-02 17.23.15-22016-08-02 10.00.09
I’m incredibly thankful for these amazing blessings entrusted to us for a time.  For the five independent ones downstairs eating icecream, and the one who is sending me love kicks from my womb.  We actually decided to find out whether “Baby Chip” is a boy or girl.  Here is the video of the kids’ reaction to the news:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgrowoldwithme%2Fvideos%2F10154821482927971%2F&show_text=0&width=400

There is so much more I could write, but I have a few things left to do with my quiet evening, which my greying husband gifted to me tonight.  Thank you, love!

Advertisements


Leave a comment

2 Months, 1 Amazing Guy, 5 Kids, 1 Rabbit, and 22 Bobby-pins

We stood on the edge of the woods, arms around each other and Nadine started to quietly sing: “Nah-nah-nah-nah, nah-nah-nah-nah, hey, hey, hey, good-bye.”  Matthew and I hugged her close and sang along, our mournful song stretching past the trees and into the May evening with respect and emotion.  A pile of stones marks his grave, as this week we said goodbye to our first pet.  Toby was Nadine’s rabbit, and she loved and trained him well.  I will miss watching her train him on the front porch and take him for walks around the block on his little leash.  The words sharpie-d onto his grave-stone say it all:
2015-05-14 20.03.03
On a happier note, our school-year is done. We are schooling all year, which basically means we are taking a short break before starting again!  This allows for longer breaks during Christmas-time and the dreaded February blues.  Today I have an incredibly special place to school-plan.  While Matthew works on a side job, this is my view:
2015-05-16 10.00.21
I do not take this for granted and have spent most of my morning in awe of the fact that there is no one needing me.  In fact, I even managed to go to the bathroom without anyone yelling, “MOM!”  Because as every mother knows, the time when every child all of a sudden urgently needs them, is the moment the bathroom door closes.
2015-05-16 10.02.24
In the past few months of non-writing, there are mounds of funnies jotted into my phone’s notebook, along with lots of pictures.  Our spring has been full of gardening, school, organizing, and purging.  Recently, we’ve been going room-by-room throughout the house and deep-cleaning every nook and cranny.  This is useful for two things: to get rid of what is not needed, and to find lost things.  I don’t know about you, but there are a few items in our home which notoriously get lost throughout the year:  bobby-pins, scissors, pencils, pens, hair-ties, hair-brushes, and socks.  There is a small list of things of more value and meaning which have also gone missing, and this was another reason for the deep-cleaning.  Unfortunately, those things still haven’t been found, but we do have a FULL jar of pencils, pens, and scissors again.  As well as this nice array of 22 bobby-pins confiscated from one room alone:

My  heart is so full of thankfulness for the five amazing gifts God has given to us.  They bless our lives more than words or pictures can express.  But I will try to express it anyway.
Nadine has such a huge heart.  This was shown so clearly this week when she lost Toby.  How she carried him bravely from the accident and stayed with him and didn’t shy away from showing her grief.  She has been babysitting and absolutely loves kids.  Her passion for horses has not been abated, and she loves to spend her free time writing letters to her amazing friends.  She is keeping alive the art of creating home-made envelopes and giving the post office lots of service!  She holds the highest record on “bop-it”, which is like a concentration game: 250.  I think my record is 21.  She sang her first solo and did a beautiful job at their end-of-school play.  She is a strong girl, and loves to arm wrestle.  I love how she cleans up the kitchen at night for me, when I’m feeling like toast.  Her energy is exactly what I need sometimes.
May 2015 phone photos
Elijah is growing up, like boys do.  Our recent trip to the Franklin Institute to see the “Art of the Brick” Lego display was pretty epic.  He and Jack have been building all sorts of things in their spare time, making guns that shoot legos, and vending machines that actually work.  It is beyond me.  He is often my side-kick in the kitchen.  He recently made some chicken curry that was pretty bombdiggity.  He did a great job a couple weeks ago, helping Matthew at our church to teach a lesson about lying.  He has a gift for music and I absolutely love listening to him jam on the guitar.  It is his new passion, and he brings us great joy to hear him play and sing.
May 2015 phone photos1
Jack finished up his year of wrestling, turned 9, and all sorts of other momentous things in April.  At the kids’ end-of-the-year school celebration with their co-op, they performed a musical called, “Rats”.  Jack was one of the rats, and I learned something I never knew about him before: that boy can act!  He was not afraid on the stage, and he actually hammed it up quite a bit.  He is fearless on his bike, which is sometimes not a good thing.  He loves to hold hands, and can give the best shoulder massages.  When I think of Jack, I think of a strong, tame, hug-gable tiger.
April 2015 phone photos3
Elsie is a fearless, yet at times, shy girl.  She has the most beautiful singing voice, and the ability to pick up songs on the piano naturally.  She did a great job at the end-of-the-year play as well.  When she has two wheels under her, she becomes very bold.  The other day our family went to the skate park together and she was the only girl in the entire park, fearlessly rollerblading between some crazy fast boys on jumps.  She prefers to be outside, and has the best imagination.  Her end-of-the-year science experiment with flowers and colored water worked out well, and it was fun watch the flowers turn into different colors.  She turned 7, got glasses, and seemed to grow up all in a matter of months.
April 2015
Betty, who is four (which really means “I’m almost five”), tops our charts with hilarity.  She adores school, her yellow crocs, and being a part of everything.  Like when the kids were all playing “Truth or Dare” in the car.  She piped up: “Truth or dare?  Truth is, I dare you to jump out of the window!”  Elijah calmly answered, “Betty, I’m not going to jump out the window.”  She probably crossed her eyes, which is something she does a lot of right now when she’s annoyed.  She recently learned how to ride a bike without training wheels, had her first three-legged race, and a host of other firsts that come with being under the age of five.  She tells stories which go on for many minutes.  The most recent one she told started off like this: “Long ago, when I was three…”  She loves “noodle” cookies (snickerdoodles) and “reading”.  When we were gardening last week she exclaimed, “There’s a lot of bees in this village!” I must have said, “Sweetheart” to her at some point because she looked at me with a dead-pan face (as she always looks when she says things that crack us up) and said, “Sweetheart?!   Why do you always call me sweetheart?”  I was so taken aback, I wasn’t sure how to respond!  April 2015 phone photos4
Another highlight of our spring was saying hello again to my parents who recently just arrived back from Africa.  It was fun house-sitting for them,  but much more fun having them back again.  You can read all about their trip here.

Meeting our international travelers at the airport.  I love hellos!

Meeting our international travelers at the airport. I love hellos!

Matthew has been doing pretty well.  I don’t think I could be more thankful for him than I am right now, although I know tomorrow it will be more, because that’s how love is.  It grows with time.  And though we’re not old, we’re older than we were, and I have time on my side to say without a doubt: It just gets better.
2015-04-18 17.47.08


3 Comments

School Room Makeover

It’s been about a year since I gave a little tour of the downstairs of our home.  The past month has been full of much rearranging, as we attempt to utilize our space in the best possible way.  I’ve been waiting to post pictures when it was “perfect”.  Then it hit me how this will never happen, so it was time to just take pictures.  The biggest change is that we switched the living room and school room around.  As you walk in, you are greeted into our cheery school room:
DSC_2552-2 DSC_2558-2 DSC_2563-2
Each child has a locker, and we also store coloring books, craft items, and other untouchables (like tape!) in the top lockers.  I recently scored an amazing deal on Craigslist which included six IKEA expedit shelving units for the price of one!  The shelves under our chalk board contain all our schoolbooks and readers, divided by subject into each square.  The shelf as you walk in to the schoolroom contains space enough for everyone to have one bin for their shoes.  The flip side has squares and bins for my school books, clipboards, portfolios, and a few other things.  Each person has a filing cabinet with six drawers, divided into categories by school subject.

Here is a blurry wide-angle view, as my wide-angle lens is not a precise fit.
DSC_2564-2 DSC_2567-2 DSC_2568-2 DSC_2570-2
Moving on to the living room… it is a tight squeeze to get a good picture.
DSC_2573 DSC_2575
Through the living room, is the kitchen.  Earlier this month I woke up one morning and decided to paint our kitchen!  There was a new can of paint (bought for Nadine’s dresser makeover), and all the kids were sleeping.  What is a girl to do?  So, a quick makeover was in order.  It is super happy now.  We added a book shelf to store some larger items we use often but would love to not be on the counter-top.  Nadine painted the mirror and everyone helped to spray paint the chairs.  Matthew was pretty surprised when he got home that day!
DSC_2543-2DSC_2542-2DSC_2544-2
My favorite decoration is my “new” vintage hanging scale.  Eventually we will move it in front of the window so it’s a bit easier for everyone to pull fruit from its base.  But for now there was already a hook in the ceiling in the corner.
DSC_2504-2-2
Up next: a tour of the upstairs!  We now have an office and sewing room, thanks to Nadine giving up her personal space and sharing with her sisters.  It is still in the organizing stage, so I will post pictures when it is finished.  Hope you can stop by sometime!


Leave a comment

Loads Of Fun: Laundry Room Makeover

It all started back in April.  I asked for a bigger laundry room, and my smiling husband began the “weekend” project of extending the laundry room and shrinking the powder room.  It has taken… well, a few weekends.  It is finished, minus a new window which is on its way, and a touch-up here and there.  The powder room only has a few more pieces of moulding and a paint job before it is finished.  Here is a look at the before and after pictures.

October 20133 DSC_5697-001

The shelves are from Ikea.  The baskets are from Target.  The moringa tree is from Haiti.  The floor was free from a job Matt did almost 8 years ago.  It has moved with us and finally found a nice home in the bathroom and laundry room.  There were only five extra tiles left over.  How is that for perfect fit?  The trim work was done by Weldon Carpentry.  The wall paint was free-cycled and turned out to be the perfect shade.

Each of the four youngest children have five baskets.  From Left to Right they hold: 1-Snowsuits/hats/gloves in winter, swimsuits and towels in summer.  2-Sweaters/sweatshirts.  3-Shirts.  4-Pants/shorts.  5-PJ’s, underwear, and socks.  The top five shelves hold my rag basket, vacuum bags, Matthew’s running clothes and gear, gardening gloves and seeds, and tablecloths.

DSC_5701-001

I am so very thankful for a laundry room and am thrilled to keep our family clean and clothed!

 


1 Comment

Our One Room Schoolhouse

Our first week of school flew by at top speed.  I have barely had time to sleep, and my head is spinning with Ancient Rome history and what sound “A” makes.  We are steadily getting into a routine, and for that I am grateful.

September 2013

Here is a tour of our school room!  My mother-in-law rescued the chalk board from the school where she works, and it fits perfectly on my Life is Beautiful wall.  We use it all the time!  The desks are made from two Ikea table tops, which Matthew reinforced underneath with metal plates.  The top is screwed into the four filing cabinets.  The four oldest kids each have their own set of six drawers.  We are still getting used to having so much extra space, and we’re trying to keep one subject per drawer, then filing papers straight into our portfolios at the end of each week.  Along the window wall is an old Ikea coffee table (again, which my mother-in-law rescued).  I wondered if maybe we sawed it in half, if it would make a better window seat.  Voila!  My live-in-carpenter/handsome hubby did just that!  Betty’s puzzles, little toys, blocks, train set, etc. go in the baskets for easy access.  On the far left corner, under the red “W” is our reading corner.  You can not see the wooden library box which I keep heavily stocked with both books of their choice and along the same lines as what we’re studying in Science and History.

DSC_4196-001

The red lockers contain my school supplies (top 3 cubbies), shared school supplies (next 3 cubbies), kids’ personal lockers for their own projects or collections (next 6 cubbies) and finally the last 3 cubbies are math manipulatives and Betty’s shapes and stacker-type toys.

DSC_4197-001

We have our first morning board calendar, which everyone loves getting a turn at doing.  None of these ideas are my own original.  What a blessing the internet is sometimes!

DSC_4172-001

Finally, each child has their own school and chore chart, held together with a jump ring.  I got this idea from Homeschool Creations.  Certain children LOVE their lists, others are more forgetful.  We’re all still learning!  If it works as it is intended, each person has the ability to earn sixty cents a day.  However, if I end up having to do their chores because of ceaseless reminding or bad attitudes, they pay me.  Each day there are six (easy) chores required because they are a part of our family, and three (slightly harder) chores for which they can earn money.

DSC_4173-001

Further on in their charts are the school days, with velcro tabs in each of the sixteen boxes.  I printed out many many possible school and life things to do.  These get stuck in the order which I would like them done.

DSC_4178-001

Once completed, that child can remove the square and put it in their top drawer.

DSC_4180-001

Here you see Nadine has four things done, and a few more yet to do.  We are flexible here, and constantly tweaking, but it gives them a good idea of what is expected of them.  It takes me about five minutes the night before to set it up for the next day.

DSC_4181-001 DSC_4182-001

So, there is a brief show and tell of our first week of school!  I hope you have enjoyed it!  There are a lot more things going on behind the scenes.  The bright pink cast on Elsie’s arm and the very short bangs are only a slight indication of the excitement which goes on outside the doors of school.  But that is for another day.  Right now this teacher must hit the hay… which rhymes with… yay.

September 20131