Sunday, May 31, 2009

So Dear To My Heart

This picture was taken late several nights ago. As you see, it is a row of sleeping children. Five to be exact; and even though it looks like a spotlight is on in the room it's actually dark there except for my camera flash.

We have been "camping out" at Gramsie and Pop's these past weeks and having a marvelous time in every way.
Sharing a room in this fashion might not be considered "marvelous" by most folks - especially when you imagine how long it often takes to get everyone sleeping in sinc. I'm sure you don't have to have first-hand experience for your imagination to make an accurate guess at the noise, games, and shenanigans that go on after all five have been tucked in!

As much as possible I ignore it because... because hey, what a party - and every night too!!
With ignorance comes bliss. For a time. But usually my powers of persuasion are called upon to intervene before the room stays silent.

These children do EXTREMELY well sharing such tight quarters and as I was telling a friend of mine, it has increased camaraderie significantly more than if they were all divided up into their own conveniently separated spaces.
But... it hasn't come naturally. . . . .

This night I went in to check on things because I had listened to Susanna sniveling and carrying on for a while.
It was the usual ailments. You know, her knee hurt from when she-tripped-over-the-stick-that-so-and-so-left-in-the-path.... etc. etc. etc. that AND Zachary wouldn't let her move the corner of her sleeping bag towards his own and she couldn't sleep because... etc. etc. etc.

I just grinned at them.
I did - really!

I looked at Zachary and said
"Com-mon Buddy! Seriously? You have the most space of anybody!"

And then I looked at Susanna.
"Susanna. This is silliness! This is a party in here! Even when you're supposed to be still and quiet, you can still wink at each other and give secret smiles and grins - like this: ;-) ;-) ENJOY each other!!

And to them both:
Guys, you're sleeping arrangements won't always be like this. One day soon you'll be in your own bunk beds and will remember what a privilege it was to share this time together.

Now. Is there a REAL problem? Or do you just need me to pick your noses?"

We laughed some, woke up Carolina, gave more hugs, picked some noses...
and that happened to be one of those times when my "powers of persuasion" were a pleasure to wield. No serious action was needed or taken to get things back in order, and so far it has been quiet since I left. All very very good things!
It doesn't always go just like that, but always with the same outcome: they know what dad and I expect of them; and they know that life's not fair so they may as well get comfortable with that idea now.
It's a hard lesson to learn, but the sooner the better. Often the glass that appears half empty, is actually half full. It all depends on ones decision toward a thankful and grateful heart which creates contentment - no matter the circumstances.

And when I finish my own bedtime chores and climb into bed I can't help but smile - every night, and even in the darkness - at the soundly sleeping "party" at the foot of my bed. I smile because they look so amazingly sweet while they sleep. And because I made it through the black room without stepping on anyone! I smile because they are my treasures, and all within arms reach - literally.
And I smile mostly because one day they will look back on this season of their lives with great fondness.
I AM sure of it! Fondness for the memories, and a fondness for each other that comes only from being "stuck - unfairly, and at times uncomfortably" together, and choosing to make it a party.
Life will be good to them if they have that perspective.
And contentment belongs to those with a heart gratefully thanking the Lord God for everything He gives them!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

What I LOVE About Girls...

...They've got style (And boldness)! Not just anyone could pull off these daring feats of fashion!

Susanna gets her fashion sense from me I think; but like me, she seems to be happy wearing what she likes:-)

Olivia finds a new use for a shawl and makes us all wish we had one!

Aren't girls fun?

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Day We Made Charlotte Mason Proud

(glad she rinsed her feet off!)

Startling Blue!

If It Were MY Choice...

"Momma I hope we're going to have another GIRL baby."

"That would be lovely Susanna. I just love each of my girl babies! ...And each of my boy babies are wonderful too.
But you'd like another little girl, huh?"

"Yes. Girls are nice.
Boys... they just antagonize you and stuff."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Heaven is Closer Than Kentucky

Dearest and only Love,

This thought dawned on me the other day as I was thinking of you and the many miles between us:

I think Heaven might be closer than Kentucky.

I even went out on a limb and voiced the idea to a few people who raised their eyebrows quite high and limped up one half of their frozen smile in response.
Their faces clearly said "she's off her rocker!"

Am I?

I don't think death is the only way to get there - to Heaven I mean,
though it may be the most common avenue.
Perhaps since death is so unthinkable, so intangible, so unbearable,
and we want it to be so far away... perhaps Heaven is too.
At least for some people.

Is Heaven really far away?

I can count the miles from California to Kentucky;
and it's a three hour time difference.

It sure seems beyond reach - Heaven, I mean.

But not "far".

Far is the distance from the airport where I dropped you off,
all the way back to home with and empty front seat and a van full of your children.

Far is from here to Chicago where you called before getting on yet another flight going the opposite direction from me.
From us.

Far is the reach across the bed in the night only to find emptiness
and space to spread out.

Far is Louisville Kentucky.

I don't know where Heaven is exactly. I haven't been there yet, but I do know this:
God is near.

"The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth." Psalm 145:18

That's my hope and conviction; and I also believe that the place where He dwells is near even though we can't see it, or touch it...
And I can't wait!

Heaven may indeed be closer than Kentucky - it's a thought worth pondering anyhow.
But I will choose to be glad you are those many miles away from me today, dear one,

because even if it is - Heaven - closer I mean...
There's a better chance of me seeing you at the end of the week if you're in Kentucky!

I love you.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Take It From Me... (Reflections of a "Baby-of-the-family")

Little people give me an ear!
I have learned some things in my life that would behoove anyone small to heed. The world is a big place and unforgiving at times. Life is hard, but...
there are ways to make it work for ya.

They (my ever-loving family) think I'm a slow developer, but I know better.
I am number five in the order of birth, and I was listening that whole time in the womb before I made my person fully known. I decided long before I came out that the best mode of operation for success my world would be to play ignorant and see how much I could get my siblings to do for me. There are four big kids that adore me - I'd be a fool not to give them a little kindness back. Those of you with more than four "big kids" in your family are super-duper lucky!

So far my methods have been working out just peachy.
I make one little sound and have three people guessing what I want and handing me all kinds of great things:

"Carolina wants her blankie"

"Carolina wants her cup"

"Carolina wants to get out of bed"

You get the idea. I can get pretty much whatever I want with a little grunt and a compassionate soul in the vicinity. It's a game really, but try not to let on;-P

Oh - and use the eyes. It'll work for ya. Trust me.

The other method I often employ (and it goes well with the grunt) is the "cute" factor.

Being cute goes a long way and it's very important to exercise your cuteness to its fullest potential. I have found that what works extremely well is nodding the head to say yes, or shaking it to say no. It seems to get a lot more leverage than shouting that two letter word (I've been taking notes).
If you have a momma that fixes your hair with a bow, this can pull an extra advantage.

Any amount of cuteness will do though, it seems that family is fairly biased on this point.

I have put off learning to walk for 19 months now. It's a record I'm really proud of since my sister next up (#4) only made it to 15 and a half months! So no need to worry about what the doctor says. Go with what works for you. The longer you put it off, the more you get carried and held (a real plus when momma is so busy with all the demands of running such a full house).

Lately I have become concerned about the new baby to make his appearance. I'm pretty sure that when he arrives it will serve me better to be self-sufficient. I don't like the idea of those big kids ogling over #6 and not noticing me when I nod my cute little hair-bow.
What if I need something and can't get someone to serve me?

I have decided to take drastic action and learn to do a few things for myself - not too fast mind you; I still have four months before the next guy shows up, and I want to take every opportunity to be the baby.

You know... I have to admit, there are some really nice things about learning how to talk and get around...
and brush my teeth.
I think I may even learn to like it! I 'll let you know.

Besides, I realize that while I may lose my status as "baby" of the family, in September I will be joining the ranks of the "Big Kids!"

Now THAT's something to look forward to:-)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Finding Burried Treasure

People are motivated by different things.

Some by money
Some by praise
Some by affection
Some by food
Some by... chocolate?
(Isn't that the same as food?)

If you ever found Clayton in this position...

 would know without a doubt that he was searching for loose change. He finds it everywhere; it's always a treasure; and he always spends it generously on others (today he bought headbands for his sisters).
This story is not about Clay though.
It's about Olivia Honor.

Olivia was playing in the living room the other day all by her lonesome, and got distracted by the underneath side of the couch cushions.
Her exploration was not in vain. She found there... a chocolate chip.

Yes. And she wanted to eat it (of course).
Annnnd, since she brought it to me and asked first (an amazing feat all by itself!), I rewarded her by saying yes (you can all groan and say "EEEWWWWE!!" now).
Really it probably was very eewwwe, and in hind-sight I should have confiscated that piece of chocolate and given her a "fresh" one as a reward. Alas I have never been accused of having a brilliant mind. This idea was dad's.

Since the operation went so well and the end result was so satisfactory, she commenced to look for more. Don't think it was a waste of time because Pops sits on that couch and is known to sit there with a bowl of chocolate chips occasionally, often accompanied by almonds and a glass of tea (there were no nuts or tea found in the couch to my knowledge).
There WERE, however, a couple more chocolate chips, and once word got out that the living room had potential for a spontaneous dessert, there were others who wanted to join the hunt!

Unfortunately for the others (but perhaps not so much for mom) Olivia had found the only three chocolate chips "buried" in the living room - at least until Pops spends another evening relaxing after dinner on the couch!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Susanna on Training:

"Momma..." she says
"Momma, I am training Mitts to sit still and quiet"

As you can see, she must know what she's doing since it appears to be effective! I'd better pay attention and take some notes. I could really do to exercise her methods on Carolina:-P

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Carolina's Little Victories!

I was supposed to be working on one of a dozen other projects but I got distracted by some fun fabric and visions of a Pixie.
This was some late-night entertainment I indulged in while AJ worked. I did have a good time:-)
Since I was winging it, there are things I'd do differently with the design of this little sundress for function and comfort, but it's pretty cute for a picture rt two anyway!

Speaking of Carolina, she is 19 months old tomorrow and progressing wonderfully with her muscle tone and use. She is months behind the ball, but smart as a whip and catching up a little at a time! She eats everything and eats well; she stands up next to everything; she now actually CRAWLS (not just the bottom-scooting action); she just started walking with her hands being held; she now skirts the edges of the piano bench or coffee table where her feet used to be firmly planted; AND... from the middle of the floor she stands up on her own!

Just take a look:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Is She Coming or Going?

This one's a firecracker!

"Olivia, you're underwear are on backwards."
or as in this picture "Olivia you're pants are on backwards".
(clearly the pockets were foolishly placed on the back of this clothing item, making it much more difficult to access for stuffing penny's and clam shells and such)

"No they're NOT!" She spouts without skipping a beat.
I think this might be referred to as...
"talking back".
"Being Sassy".

Definitely that last one!
What she has gotten away with as "cute" is not so cute as her normal mode of speech. I have to curtail it before getting roped into an argument with a three year old. These kind of responses often elicit a "yes they are, no they're not" kind of discussion which is usually born out of Mom's tiredness or laziness, and the three year old's human nature to dominate.
A rule of thumb most all children live by is:

wherever the line is drawn, get as close to it as possible
- if you're really brave,
cross over it just enough to be in charge
without collecting undesirable consequences.

She is my line cross-overer. Taking one toe, slipping it over the line all while looking you in the eye and wielding a do-you-dare impish grin. This is a casting down of the gauntlet.
Why do I have a three year old who is so successful at this game? It's because I didn't fight and win enough battles early on. She's never been the foot stomping type. Her style is sneakiness combined with charm. That one is harder to want to combat - the charm; it's difficult to crack down on someone who is batting her eyes at you!

Today however, I saw things for what they were and took no guff about those backwards undies!

It is ME I see reflected in my daughter.
My short-comings and weaknesses.
The things that irk me about a sassy child are remedied only by my quick diligence and follow-through. When I least feel like it THAT's most when I need to get up off my posterior and deal immediately. Did I mention being speedy? Fast? Quick as lightning? THAT is the strategy ladies! If you can make it across the room to the offender with gold medal sprinting speed, you will surprise the socks off your child and maybe even surprise the underwear to turn magically around;-) Combine that with consistency and you have a recipe for almost-certain success.
A few times of taking such astounding action will cause even the stubbornest of wills to consider giving that line some respect!

I don't mind backwards pants - really I don't! I think they're super cute and can't help letting them stay that way just for my own personal pleasure throughout the day, but let us keep the cuteness in the style and alluring smile, and NOT in words and tone whose days of enchantment are numbered.

This post is intended to be a little pep-talk for me. I know my lack in this area, but I also see the solution clearly. Make it worth her while to be honestly sweet and to obey promptly, and she will be.
Sweet, obedient, and truly charming!
There is no need for that delectably impish smile to fade in the process - in fact, I love my little lady's sense of humor and love of fun - but to give her the tools she needs to be a person of integrity and a woman of virtue?
To do this thing is to do one of the (many) "most important" tasks in mothering.
AND... there's no time to lose!

I Have A New Friend:

Chocolate Syrup, Organic, 16 ozs.

This was given to me as a Birthday gift from my dear friend Shannon. It is chocolate syrup made from Cacao powder and Agave Nectar. That's it.
It's called Healthy Addictions Chocolate Syrup.
I was skeptical at first, and thought it tasted just like... cacao powder and agave nectar mixed together - not exactly an improvement to my Rocky Road ice cream, BUT...
On a morning when a mocha was calling my name (you know how it does that) but the Ghiridelli's chocolate was GONE, in desperation I reached for Healthy Addictions.

What I discovered was something very very good! Try it and see:-)

  • 1 mug full of milk,
  • some coffee (I used about a teaspoon of the instant that was in the cupboard)
  • and a generous dollop of this healthy chocolate syrup!
  • Heat and stir.
(note that the word healthy is not in parentheses because it truly is all natural and unrefined!)

Does this make my mocha GOOD for me? maybe I should take it like a morning tonic?
OK, so that's pushing the envelope some. I'd probably have to milk my own goat (which I HAVE done in the past and that's out of the question for today), heat my milk on the stove top, brew my coffee in a French Press (none of this "instant-schminstant" stuff) and stir with a silver spoon so as to get all the anti bacterial benefit possible...

Not happening today, but I thought I'd share my secret with you anyway. I don't know where all you might find this product available; I know it can be ordered through Azure on the West coast.

Happy HAPPY perking-up in the morning!!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

More Adventures With the Cousins

Last weekend we couldn't help ourselves; we had so much fun at Wilson Lake the weekend before that we drove up to Lake Almanor this time!

Packing folding chairs, peanut butter, and the Tims Jalapeno potato chips, we found a quiet spot in the shade...

 enjoy the beautiful scenery and watch the children play.

The weather was a bit warmer this time and the sun made it's mark on anyone venturing out of the deep coolness under the trees!
The children sure got a kick out of playing in the water; it just happened that the shoreline was extremely mucky with algae so they were in greater need of a bath AFTER they played in the lake than before:-P

Uncle Char brought an inflatable thingy...

We couldn't decide if it was a raft, a canoe, or a kayak, so we dubbed it the "Kayraftoo".

Whatever it was, it's lack of identity did in no way deter the little ones from each catching a ride with the infamous Uncle Char!

It was good entertainment too, for we land lubbers to watch Uncle Charlie attempt to instruct his young "crew" how to paddle. Suffice to say, they didn't leave the shoreline, and I suspect Char suffered some sea-sickness;-)

We culminated our day with dinner in Chester at The Pizza Factory, you know: "We Toss 'Em - They're Awesome"

A sort of traditional ending to a day in the Summer sun at Lake Almanor. More wonderfully delightful memories, and a million things to be thankful for!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Silly Things I Do "Because..."

My mom fixed artichokes for us occasionally growing up, and it was a special treat:-)
We had Artichokes tonight and dipped the leaves in mayonnaise. That's how you do it, because... that's how we always did it!
Here's some other things I do because... it's what I always do:

*The best way to eat steamed spinach, is to drench it in butter and red wine vinegar.
*I eat lemon pepper sprinkled on my clam chowder
*steamed broccoli and asparagus dipped in mayonnaise
*drink milk with peanut butter and jam sandwiches
*eat Rocky Road ice cream in a mug with milk poured over it
*dip my french fries in ketchup (doesn't everyone?!!)

I never drank soda before I married AJ, and he is faithful to Pepsi. But... because of him I now:
*Like Root Beer with my pizza
*And Mr Pib with my hamburger

When I was little my Grampa always made a "party" out of our visits (which were often many times a week since he and Grama lived a field away). He taught us how to:
*dip our lettuce in mayonnaise (yeah our family has a thing for ketchup too:-))
*stick olives on all our fingers
*put ketchup in our soup (was this when Grama wasn't looking? I don't know... Grama is a pretty good cook!)
*scoop the sweet centers out of Fejoa's with a spoon

My husband likes:
*a maraschino cherry and syrup in his Pepsi
*Claussen dill pickles on his turkey sandwich
*See's candy on special occasions (or any time)
*Salt n' Spice on any dinner food
*his Rocky Road ice cream in a bowl with hot fudge over it

This fellow is known to be repulsed by the usual foods (cooked broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms...) but has said that anything is good with enough chocolate. For instance:
"Zucchini is good dipped in enough chocolate
- especially if you leave out the zucchini."

He is predictably normal in his eating habits. It has taken him many years to get used to all my dipping, but he now shamelessly dips his french fries in ketchup!

What do YOU eat a certain way because... you always do?

Monday, May 18, 2009

"We GO Where The Toilet Is"

This as heard at the dinner table tonight.
We were discussing our coming Summer at Marvel Hill, and the guests we hope to have visit us.
Upon listening to our plans Mom suggested that people might not come if there isn't a toilet (how short-sighted is that?!), to which her son, my ever practical husband replied:
"Oh there'll be a toilet. We Go where the toilet is!"
Which elicited a lot of laughter around the table (as one might expect), but which is in fact a sound and true statement.
(You're not scared to come now, are you Heidi?)

As to when we might actually get to "go" anywhere northerly in direction...

...that is a more perplexing question.
AJ has another trip to Kentucky, and then we hope to head that way.

For now, we are coming into the warm Summer weather. It's only in the high eighties to 100 degrees, but if you live in the middle of Colorado don't scoff! 100 feels darn HOT when there's a fair amount of humidity in the air - which there IS because we actually have some GREEN growing things and quite a bit of water around these parts. In the last few years the hot Summer days are more like 105 and up. A hose is a must where a pool or creek is absent. Unfortunately for me, the first maternity swimsuit I finally broke the bank for on baby #5 is in Idaho. That is really the pits, but I'm telling you that if need be, I am not above climbing into the kiddie pool fully dressed!
It is becoming a regular phrase which is followed by grins of chagrin, this "We have one of those... but it's in Idaho."
It's a little annoying when the sun is scorching your baby but you don't buy a sunhat because you have three " Idaho".

Anyway, I am almost completely done with the quilt I started for Zachary two years ago - just stitching in the binding. So off I go to sit my presence down beside my husband while he works away at his laptop, and I will be putting the finishing touches on that quilt so Zack can use it (and so I can move on to the next project free of guilt!).
Hope you are enjoying some cooler weather for me Jess! I hope you pity me being pregnant in the Summer HA! I am so-very-thankful-I-could-cry that there is a ceiling fan and A/C unit in the bedroom where we sleep. THANK YOU LORD! (and Gramsie ;-P)