Friday, October 26, 2012

My Life

Hello, dear friends.

Yesterday I folded eleven loads of laundry and sorted one giant basket of socks.  Thank you for putting Season 3 on the internet, Downton Abbey.

I am nearly 16 weeks along and am totally showing.  In fact, I remember being exactly this pregnant with my first and you absolutely could not tell.  At all.  I could see the tiny baby's movements because I was still so small.  Seven babies will stretch you out a bit, I suppose.

Our son is coming home tomorrow.  Now that he is not considered an unaccompanied minor, we have a found a bus/plane route that is similar in cost to my gas and food driving down and back.  This is a lucky thing.  It is a long day for him, but so much better for me.

We finally got down to the business of carving pumpkins the other night.  I enjoy doing it with the kids, but it always makes me grumpy.  It is a paradox.

After looking at the pictures, I think I know why it makes me grumpy. Most of my children are still too small wield a knife so I end up carving several pumpkins.  Also, it makes a gigantic, sticky mess.

But, they are cute and we had a great religious discussion while we were doing it.  (Why do Christians celebrate this pagan holiday?)

I have written the Sacrament Meeting Primary Program, made the copies, and have parts ready to hand out this Sunday.  Next up on the docket:  figure out how to seat 95 people in 32 choir seats.

After kneeling for some time in the temple this week, I full-on fainted.  The woman in the seat next to me happened to have been a leader of mine during my teenage years (Carol Stevenson, for those who know).  She was so sweet to me, kept checking my pulse and feeling my cheeks.  I felt very silly, but very loved.  I'm glad she chose to worship that day, too.

I'm still getting used to this having enough business.  I worry about every purchase and wonder if I am being glutenous (eggnog).  The other day I was supposed to spend $150 for groceries.  I spent $200 and panicked.  (How can they say there is no inflation in groceries when I see it every time I go to the store?!  Packages are smaller and prices are higher.)  I hurried home to check our bank account, thinking I'd ruined us for the month.  $50 is so much money!  While I hope I do settle down a little bit, I hope I stay vigilant so we never again get to the point where a $50 grocery bill overage could ruin us.

I am reading 1776 by David McCullough.  If you've never read a book by him and you are interested in history, you must do it!  His books are all non-fiction.  There is no made-up dialog or inserted characters to help the story along, but his books read like novels.  Fantastic, well-researched writing.

I want to visit Mount Vernon and study the gardens there.  We can be more self-sufficient, I know it.  I don't have black slaves to make it happen, but I do have a lot of children!  They think I treat them like slaves.  How little they know.

We're off to buy witches hats and a Chinese fan and yarn to make a wig.  Halloween is just around the corner.  AUGH!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Shopping Trip

I had one hour.  Our local Fred Meyer has this little kiddie-care place for children ages 3-5; this is a very small, but precious window.  When I do my big grocery shopping, I try to either go alone or only take one or two kids.  This time I had all of my girls with me.

I had a large list and several coupons.  Two of the girls needed tennis shoes and there was a deal.  We hurriedly tried on shoes.  (Thankfully, there weren't many choices in my price and taste range.)  Next to the groceries.  We raced through the aisles, stopping to pick up the dropped scarf, helping one girl out of the cart and the next one in--you know, the usual stuff.  We were pushing the one hour mark when I pulled into the check-out line.

Trying to plan everything just so, I hurried over to the playground and told the lady I was in line and was it okay if my youngest could stay just a few more minutes.  "Of course.  No problem," she declared as she looked around at the only two children in the room playing happily with the plastic kitchen.

Back to the cart and now we are next in line.  My older girls help me put items on the conveyor belt while the 6 year old stared longingly at the rows and rows of desirable candies.  In the middle of it all, an announcement over the PA, "Will Emily Sanders please come to the Children's Play Place?"

"Oh, no!"  That's me, I tell the checker.  "I'll be right back."

I instructed my big girls to continue putting groceries on the belt and ran to pick up the youngest.  She needed to use the restroom.  Right Now.

Hurry back and ask my oldest girl to take her to the restroom, which was luckily not far from our check-out.  Meanwhile, I'm working on the coupons and trying to get the last of our purchases on the belt.

"Mom," says a very pale 9 year old, "I feel really sick."  And she looks like it.  Her skin is pale, but her lips are bright red.  She is shaking.  Just then, the oldest returns with the youngest, fresh from the bathroom.

"Will you take (the next sister) to the bathroom?  She isn't feeling well."  With nary a rolled eye, off they go.  Boy am I grateful for that oldest girl.

Finish checking out.  Go check on the big girls in the restroom where my 9 year old daughter is not looking good.  We get to the car as quickly as the sick one can go, bundle her up inside and give her a plastic bag for insurance.  The rest of us unload the groceries, return the cart, and buckle in our seats.

And I take a deep breath.  Whoa.  When it rains it pours, I suppose.

You will be happy to know that we all made it home alive and my new car is unscathed.  It could have been worse!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fall Field Trip

We are having a glorious autumn, in our neck of the woods.  Sometimes the hard freeze will come too soon which makes the colors blah.  Sometimes a huge windstorm will come just as the leaves turn and all of the beauty is blown away in one crazy night.  This year, however, we've had several frosts and lots of afternoon sun.  The trees have all had plenty of time to gradually fall into dormancy.

Justin had his middle-of-the-week weekend yesterday, so we took the chance for a field trip to a nearby wildlife refuge.  It was a beautiful drive over and a most enjoyable walk through.

Yes, I know she is wearing a petticoat.  She complained that her skirt didn't have
pockets so she put the shorts on underneath for that purpose.
Then, she filled her shorts pockets with pretty rocks.  They were falling down the entire day.
Also, one child is wearing flip-flops and another is wearing snow boots.
No idea.
Honestly, we didn't see much wildlife.  Maybe they are all hunkering down or flying south for the winter.  Maybe our family is so loud that all the wildlife fled the scene well before we could get near them.

We did see several different kinds of ducks and hawks, a few brightly colored song birds, a couple of garter snakes, several owl pellets, lots of scat, a dead frog, and a coyote.  It wasn't a total famine.

Mostly, we enjoyed hiking around and taking in the perfect day.

And just being together on that perfect day.  (Yes, we missed you, Isaac!)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Inspirational Family

Dear Friends,

When I was in college, I met this sweet girl named Christianne.  We were on an exchange program to Jerusalem and spent four months going to school together.  She was a girl who always tried to do what was right, but her way was humble and genuine.  She was a fantastic piano player and I was privileged to sing The Holy City, in the Holy City, with Christianne at the piano.  It was a moment in time I will never forget and it was only possible because of her years and years of practice.

After that semester, she went back to her school in Utah and I moved home to Washington.  Years later, we found each other on Facebook and I've followed her blog for a while.  Seems like she met and married a super neat guy and have lived a challenging and rewarding life.  They lost two babies (which created an instant connection between us).  Those tragedies eventually led them to adoption.  They have adopted several special needs children and are in the process of bringing two more home.  This was the announcement they posted:

As you can see in the video, they are running out of room.  Someone who saw this video decided to begin a fundraiser to get them into a new home.  When they put out the plea for help, I knew I needed to post here.  I know personally that my readers are generous and thought maybe this family might touch your heart they way they have touched mine.

Please visit to learn more.

The MotherShip

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Getting the Signal

Last night at about 5:45, I turned on the computer.  The presidential debate was to start at 6 o'clock and I wanted to catch it from the beginning.  Logging on, the little weather gadget on my desktop said, "Service not available."  Crud.  That is the sign that my internet is down.

We are not way out in the country, but we are a bit away from the city.  We've had internet problems several times with our cable company since moving out here.  We don't know if it has anything to do with the distance, but we like to blame it on that--and that at the moment we begin having trouble, all of our neighbors  must be streaming Netflix.

I tried re-setting the modem.  I tried unplugging the whole thing and starting again.  I tried several trouble-shooting wizards.  I tried another computer.  It was now after 6 and we were missing the dang debate!

We don't get television reception, even the local channels.  I have given it a mild effort a time or two, but don't care that much so I haven't ever given it an actual, determined try.

No luck.

Knowing NPR airs the debates, I pulled out our crappy $20 Walmart boom box.  We use it mostly for listening to audio books and when I plugged it into the kitchen outlet, I remembered why:  the antennae is broken; snapped right at the base.

I wasn't able to get any FM stations, but clicked over to AM and was getting a fuzzy country music station.  Carefully, using those tiny motions necessary for navigating AM signals, I tapped my way across the dial.  I got one talk radio guy, but he wasn't talking about the debate and certainly wasn't airing the debate.  It was the same ol' rhetoric.

I remembered the emergency radio that Mom gave us several years ago to put in our 72 Hour Kits.  It has really good reception so, filled with a new hope, ran to get it.

My husband had hidden it because the little ones kept playing with it and he was (rightfully) afraid they would break the antennae.

Justin got home at about 6:35.  "I'm sorry I don't have the debate on.  I have tried several different mediums and nothing is working."

To which Justin replied, "The debate is tomorrow night."


Friday, October 12, 2012

Allowance Debate

Let's talk about money for a minute, shall we?  Specifically, money for the children.

My husband and I both grew up in households that didn't provide an allowance for the children.  In both families, some of the now-grown children are very careful with money and others have had an extra share of money problems--mostly due to their own lack of money smarts, so to speak.  Neither of our parents had much money.

My own experience was that while I knew we didn't have much, I never had the impression that I was any worse off than any of my friends.  I knew that Mom made most of our clothes, I knew that tending the garden and animals were important (though I didn't know we often relied on them), and I knew that we shopped for groceries at the discount store.  But, though it wasn't frequent, we did go to the movies, we did go camping and we did do other fun things as a family.  Mom and Dad worked very hard to make sure we were protected from the financial frustrations they were experiencing.  The only clue I had regarding that was on bill-paying day; when Mom was at the table with stacks of bills all around her and her checkbook in front of her, everyone knew to be quiet and stay out of the way!

My experience with Dad and the money came when it was time to ask for lunch money or extracurricular money for things like an ASB card or a yearbook.  Each time I asked for money from Dad, he would begin to inquire about the cleanliness of my room or what extra things I had done to help the family that week.  It was frustrating because, first of all, I wasn't very clean, but also because I never knew what was expected.  Yes, I worked with the family, but was it enough for a yearbook?  Yes, I had done the dishes that night, but was it considered extra since Mom had to ask me to do it?

On the other hand, I had friends who's parents were completely open and transparent about the money.  While it could be argued that it was important for the children to know that frivolous purchases were just that, was it necessary for the children to bear the very grown-up burden of financial hardship?

When I left home, I felt wholly unprepared.  While Mom and Dad were open about generalizations--stay out of debt, make sure you balance your checkbook, don't write a check if you don't have the money in the bank--I didn't know a thing about how to run my finances.  I didn't understand how to, or the importance of, establishing credit.  I didn't know much about budgeting or making a long-term plan.  But, I'm a smart enough person that I knew I needed to study and figure things out.  I am naturally frugal so luckily I didn't get into crazy trouble while I was figuring!

When Justin and I saw our children beginning to be motivated or enticed by money, we tried to find a happy middle ground between telling them nothing and telling them too much.  We found it rather tricky!  We tried to use phrases like, "Not in our budget," or "Don't want to spend our money that way."  We tried to seek out and follow good advice from both experts and other parents.  Going to school frustrated some of our efforts because we didn't have any pennies to spare.  It became difficult to reward the children with money because we didn't have it!  We felt the need to teach them more about saving and giving, but we couldn't be consistent and worried that we would make things worse by giving sometimes and not others.

Now that we are done with school and taking in regular paychecks, we are taking another look at how to teach our children about money.  Dave Ramsey, who has been with us from the beginning of our marriage and whose advice made going to school possible in the first place, suggests giving children a commission (basically, work based allowance).  In General Conference over the weekend, two different speakers suggested an allowance to help children learn financial responsibility.

I like the idea of an allowance of some kind and really like the idea of letting the children know it isn't going to be automatically given.  As long as we establish and communicate our expectations, they will know how and how much they can receive.  However, having not come from this background, I'm unsure how to proceed!

What do you do in your family?  What did your parent's do?  What do you wish you had done?  How much are we talkin'?  What should we expect the children to buy (popcorn at the movies, birthday presents for friends or their own school clothes)?  Do you have a program or a book that you use?

Anxiously awaiting your advice,

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I'm So Happy!

The junk yard bought our broken-down van this morning.  I hated every moment of trying to sell that!  I'm mostly brave in stereotypically male situations, but calling the junk yards made me really feel like a girl.  Now that job is done.  YES!

After washing all morning and spending an hour and a half drying at the laundry mat, Justin had pity on me.

He showed me the cash from the junk yard and proclaimed, "We're getting a dryer!"

With the help of Craigslist, the passage of about an hour's time, and our bigger car, we brought home a new/old dryer.

I never thought listening to the sound of a working and quiet dryer would make me so happy . . .

But it has!


Starting October first, I began looking.  When I saw it a few days ago, I literally gasped and held my hand to my mouth--even though I was all alone and had no one with whom to share the moment.

You KNOW I paid that $4.83 (which was a whopping 5 cent sale) to bring home the first egg nog of the season!  I may or may not have a problem.

We have been having a very mild fall.  We've had several frosts, but it always warms up in the afternoon.  I have been rather sick (yeah!), but the other day, Justin insisted we get out.  We took the kids and the kayaks to the lake.  I sat on the blanket most of the time, but it was nice to sit in the sunshine and watch the family play.  It was no where near warm enough to play in the water, but the girls had a great time with the sand.

We all took turns in the boats and enjoyed paddling around.  In a pinch, the paddles also make great shovels .

I am 13 weeks along and am slowly starting to feel better.  Two days ago I didn't get sick until after dinner (I've always had morning sickness at every time BUT the morning), but yesterday I was sick most of the day.  I can feel the intensity and duration of the sickness beginning to taper and am looking forward to the easier second trimester.

The real problem at my house right now is laundry.  Our dryer is out (long story) so we've been hanging clothes.  We don't have a real clothes line--just a line strung between the back porch and a pole--and it only holds one load of laundry.  Because it has been so cold morning and evening, I'll only have time for one load to dry per day.  You can imagine that that one load is not nearly enough to keep up with all of our laundry!  My alternative is to wash several loads then take them to the laundry mat to dry.  The problem?  The smell of the wet laundry makes me nauseated   That makes me not want to do laundry at all.  That means everything in our house is dirty and the laundry is taking over my life.

The good news is that our architect is wrapping up the first draft of our house plans and we'll be able to see them next week!  I am more excited every day.  We're supposed to have a mild winter.  Oh, man, would I love to start building early.  Well, we will see and I'll keep you posted.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Guess What I Saw!

Remember this?

It is the precious 8th seat.  Yesterday, I had a little glimpse of the future occupant of said seat.

That's right.  We have a new baby coming!!

And now you also know the reason for last week's panic attack.  I was afraid terrified that I'd lost the baby.

After a long first visit at the doctor's office and my telling her the history of last year's pain and heartache, she finally pulled out the doppler so we could hear the baby's heart tones.  I wanted to skip everything--all of the patient history, the discussing of symptoms, and the explanation of paperwork.  I wanted to hear those precious sounds first and then I'd be willing to talk until I was blue in the face.

Patiently I waited.

Then I was rewarded with the most beautiful, strong heartbeat you've ever heard.  All of the tension I've been storing up over the past few weeks bubbled up and the tears burst out.  It was such a relief!  The nurse practitioner (my doctor was at the hospital) stood there and bawled along with me.  She kept that device securely in place for a long time as we both sobbed over the miracle of the sound.  It is a moment I will never forget and that filled me with gratitude.

I know things can still go wrong.  I know that we still may not get to bring this already loved baby home, but I also know that yesterday Heavenly Father blessed me with added strength for whatever is to come.

Baby #7, due in mid-April.  

Monday, October 1, 2012

A New Car

 You're supposed to say the title like Bob Barker--with that sing-y announcing voice.  It is supposed to make you cheer and jump.  Me?  I'm just glad it is done.  However, many of you have been asking so 
Here . . . It . . . Is!

Yep, a Suburban.  Just like every other Suburban you've ever seen.  Buying it wasn't the totally miserable experience I was expecting.  It wasn't exactly fun, but it didn't make me want to hurt people, so that's good.

We ended up going to one of those tent sales at the mall--the kind with the really loud commercials telling you how Low, Low, Low their prices are and this is the Best Deal of the Century and that it is a Blow Out and that Everything Must Go and all that bologna that no one believes.  I will spare you the painful details, but, against all odds, we found a car.  A good one, we think.  They made this embarrassing to do out our purchase and Justin got to spin the cash wheel (in addition to the $5 gift card I had already won!).  Talk about raking it in! (Ha.)

It is a 2000, but was owned by an 87 year old man so it only has 50K miles.  
I do have to admit that I am pretty excited about a few things.  Things our old car did not have, either because it didn't come that way or it had broken over the years.  
For instance:

A rear window wiper.

Storage space.

A fourth door.

4 Wheel Drive for our snowy, snowy place.

A CD player. . .

as well as a cassette player so we don't have to get rid of our favorite tapes.

 A hitch.

Hazard lights that blink and, closely related, a blinker that blinks.  No more manual blinking.

This crazy don't-even-try-to-hurt-my-family-innocent-little-deer-in-the-road guard.

It is a little worn, but it is a remote lock thingy.  No more juggling kids and groceries and the key.

An 8th seat--and it is kid friendly leather.  

Finally, and most importantly, heated seats.  Oh, man.  I am excited about this one!

So there you have it.  Our newest family member.  It is kind of stinky and doesn't fit all the way under the car port, but, heck, it starts.  In fact, when my dad asked what kind of motor it had, I said, "Oh, it's that kind that when you turn the key it goes, 'VRoom!'"  

To me, that is the best kind!