Nothing terribly poignant today…  I’m just tickled to announce we had a one POUND weight gain.  That’s right!  One pound and two ounces to be exact.  This officially brings Baby Ella, ten weeks old, up to eight pounds and six ounces.  I can’t tell you the relief.  It was a very PHYSICAL feeling of a weight being lifted.

She’s lying in my bed right now, grunting and hiccuping, lifting her little head.  We’ve gotten a few smiles in the previous days… Our darling seems to be hitting her  milestones as well?!  Time will tell.  She goes to the pediatric clinic next Wednesday and then to meet the pediatrician we’ve been referred to in April.   Her muscle tone seems good.

So blessed.  Yes, that’s me.  Just incredibly, incredibly blessed.

Healthy babies are an amazing miracle of God.  When you think of everything that could go wrong, genetically or just in the course of day to day adventure, a healthy child is a miracle.   If you have one (or six) give each of them an extra kiss.

I know that there are things we struggle with day to day.  I don’t want to downplay the emotions we feel when we’re frustrated with a messy house, or a child that isn’t quite “up to par” with where we feel they should be in school.  I know it’s hard to keep up and keep going.   But please try hard to put things into a context.

We know how excerpts from books can be taken out of context and warped.  Goodness! People do it all the time to the Bible… They take scripture out of context to twist and thwart for their own purpose.

Today… Today try to put life into the “bigger picture.”  There are those in life to whom every thing is a one or a ten.  Either the sky is falling or they fail to feel enthusiasm for the little things.    I have noticed two women have particularly encouraged this lately.  I noticed Marcia Somerville (Tapestry of Grace author) specifically writes encouragement into the curriculum.  I also remember reading about the need to encourage our children in a couple of Teri Maxwell’s books.   I remember something Teri wrote about that often encouragement, to those who aren’t used to it, feels false or odd.   It’s a worthy habit to practice.  So often when we are learning a new skill or beginning a new habit, things often feel strange.  It doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile.  It only means we must keep at it until it feels normal.

Too often I think we fail to encourage or to recognize that little things are worth celebrating!  I am not speaking of praising our children very every little thing.  I think that can become false.  But I do think that sometimes we have a tendency to get so caught up un the “gottagetitalldone” insanity, we fail to:

STOP!

SLOW DOWN!

BREATHE!

RECOGNIZE!

APPRECIATE!

I’d love to give you a handy little acronym to remember…  Um. Hm.  Not really my thing though and ssbra doesn’t have a nice ring to it. 😛

Recently a dear friend of mine started a gratitude journal, a very worthy practice.   And just yesterday the kids and I were digging into Hebrews and there is a lovely verse in Chapter 10.
Hebrews 10:
“And let us consider how we can spur one another on toward love and good deeds. ”  When you spur a horse you give it a nice kick in the right direction.   So, this morning, while I’m not advocating giving your children a good kick in the right direction, lol, I think you can certainly “strongly encourage” them onto love and good deeds.

So often as Christian parents I think we are walking in a trap that Satan loves to use.  We use verses, we talk about love, we discuss encouragement, we utilize scripture.   But it’s  hard to live and breathe it.    Without gratefulness, you’ll NEVER appreciate what God has given you.  And without that appreciation you will fail to treat those gifts as gifts.  This isn’t a one woman guilt trip.  What once was, was.   Two points for you to consider this morning that I found personally useful.   We are in the process of finding a local church.   Last week the pastor made an interesting observation.  Each of us can be one of two things – a thermometer or a thermostat.  They are two very different tools.  As applied to mothering, the temperature can tell us the temp. in our children.  Yes, yes, they’re a little too hot or a little too cold.  But that is all it can do… It’s very limited in it’s application.   But the thermostat has the ability to gauge the temperature and then ALTER that temperature.   If the thermostat recognizes the room is a little too hot, it has the ability to lower the heat a degree or two.  So, today, decide what you’ll be in your home.  Will you simply gauge the temperature but make no effort at changing what’s going on in the room or in the attitudes of your children or yourself?

Two weeks ago we visited a large church and it was very nice.  More importantly I’m wondering if the teaching wasn’t just for me that morning. 🙂  I know that we all have our own little personal struggles.   Some have a tendency/weakness towards one particular sin or another.  You may not struggle in the same area I do.  My personal struggle is my tongue.  There are days that I know I’d be better off if I just cut it out now.   And on particularly good days when I’ve prayed for assistance and managed to choose my words well, I’m encouraged.  But, on those days when I’ve lost my temper and lost my encouragement, I can use my tongue to inflict evil. 😦  And on those days I think I am NEVER going to get to where God is pointing me.  Ever.  It’s on those particularly hard days I feel like giving up.  I wonder how in the world God can use me in my childrens’ lives when constantly I learn a lesson and then do something stupid.  And, generally, it DOES follow that pattern… Learn something wonderful, screw up.

This pastor must struggle with the same… Wondering how God can use such an imperfect person.  Because he pointed us in the general direction of Peter that Sunday morning.  Look at Peter.  He walked and talked with Christ Himself.  Promised to stand by His side.  And Christ loved him deeply.  And yet Peter denied him, not once, not twice, but THREE separate times.   Peter must have felt like an utter failure.  Christ had even told him he’d do it and he denied that he would.  And here he was, just a short while later, doing exactly that which he professed he would not.  And surely he must have thought, “What good am I to God?  How will He ever be able to use me in the lives of others?”

And yet the good Lord, in His mercy and wisdom, used Peter mightily.

And so I say to you, you’ve screwed up.  Most likely you’ll do it again. (Nice, hm?)  And yet God CAN use you.  You must be willing.  I pray that each of you would go out this morning and love your children, encourage your children.  I pray that you’d be SPURRED on to encourage and love.  And that you’d also teach your children and spur them on to do the same.  No kicking please. 😛

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Daniella Hope is here!  Born at 36 weeks and 6 days, December 23rd – Elizabeth’s birthday, she weighed in at a hefty 6lbs. 10 oz.  She is a round little thing and it  was a lovely birth, if a little TOO fast.  I have to congratulate my beloved obstetrician this time though – he did ACTUALLY make it to the birth, although we made him run for it.  Did he get to catch the baby?  Well, no, he didn’t.   To be fair to me, I had too little warning to tell the nurse.  One moment we were chit-chatting between contractions, the next moment I thought she was crowning… Up from the birth ball and wasn’t sure I’d make it onto the bed.  She called for the doctor and another nurse, I got to have another contraction – and my husband announced, “Yep, there’s the head” as our Dr. O tried to get on his gloves.  “Oh, she’s here!” was his next comment, poor doc still with no gloves on.  But he made it!  And that was quite a change from Abigail’s birth – the one he missed and the nurse delivered, lol.  We hear that he literally ran down the hall for our room at the phone call… Pretty amusing and I’d like to have seen it as this would have been no small feat.

Miss Ella did have a bit of a breathing problem.  The neonatologist tells us that it was most likely because she didn’t get “squeezed” in the birth canal and was born just a bit too fast.  Once she was stabilized in the NICU for having a troubling oxygen saturation she did much better.  They kept her on CPAP for the evening and the next morning, weaning her down to room air.  Today, Christmas, they’ve removed the IV, the ventilator, the feeding tube and she’s a champion nurser.  We hear we’ll get to go home tomorrow morning.

And so our so very precious ninth child has made her way into this world.  She is indeed a very real miracle as those of you who have read the journal of our pregnancy can attest.   What an amazing and lovely testimony to God’s goodness.

May you all be blessed this lovely Christmas season as we celebrate not only the birth of our Saviour, but give thanks to our Lord for His goodness in watching over every little detail of our lives.   And for blessing us beyond comprehension.

Oh my goodness what a great break!!  We took a vacation (literally) from the internet and our television.  I initially intended for the vacay to be 21 days.  BUT, then I loved it and decided I’d make it ’til December 1st.  Alas cabin fever set in and I caved after TWENTY THREE days.  But, with a twist.  I went ahead and installed a child guard software on the computer that only allows me a certain amount of time on the computer and only during very specific hours.  It’s one half hour in the AM (6:00-6:30) so that it falls after dressing/devotions and before the little ones are awake.  In the afternoon it’s an hour between 2:00 and 3:00 – so after phonics (little kids) and history/science with the big kids.   So far so good!

Although it took a LOT of work!  I had to transfer all my files into shared folders and set up separate windows accounts for each family member.  DH was sweet enough to password protect his account and promises not to tell me the password, lol.  Truth is, I have NO self control, so I have to build it in for myself.  And it’s working beautifully so far.

So, did I accomplish anything during those 23 days?  Sure did!  I switched out all of the summer/spring clothes for winter/fall and packed up the warm stuff.  Separated everything into Trash, Give Away, and Keep piles and got them packed back up, with the exception of the shoes.  I made the girls dresses and skirts for Unschool Day and we have really thrown ourselves into Tapestry of Grace and we’re loving it!

Unschool Day Picnic

Unschool Day Picnic

Pic1 Unschool Morning

I had time to make Abigail a new bag and an apron, complete with an EGG pocket for her birthday.

An apron like mama's!

An apron like mama's!

A mama from RGT made milk crate covers and they were so cute we made some as well!

Milk Crate Covers a la Hungry Catepillar style

Milk Crate Covers a la Hungry Catepillar style

I did INDEED learn to knit while we were on our break and I can now honestly say I can cast on, knit, purl, yarn over, bind off, and a couple other hand things.  With the help of online friends I discovered RAVELRY.com and I’m loving that!   Now, there are knitting sites and there are KNITTING sites.  This is the latter.  Oh my!  You can look up yarn reviews, patterns that are most popular, HUNDREDS of free patterns, you can sort through them, see the completed projects… It’s absolutely incredible.

My next project is LegWarmies.

LegWarmies - Photo from Ravelry.com

LegWarmies - Photo from Ravelry.com

I just know they’re perfect for us because the little girls will go through tights like crazy but Iowa in the winter is too cold for just socks.  I’m going to forego the stripes for the first pair and give it a shot on some pretty peony colored wool.  I’m using this pattern and I’m pretty excited to get started!   Ana suggested I size them for Sarah so that IF they’re too small they can be for baby Daniella and if they’re too big then Abigail can wear them.  Good idea!

So, it was a pretty fruitful three weeks.  We spent a few weekends at the timber and on the trail.  We gathered wild berries, wild elderberries, wild plums.  We harvested most of the garden.

Yes, it IS a turnip.

Yes, it IS a turnip.

And some taters

And some taters

Did a little baking…

Pic9 Making bread on the weekend

We’re preparing to hatch our last round of laying hens for the year.  I can’t emphasize enough how grateful I am that we got out of the house and enjoyed the bounty of the season.  It’s hard to truly appreciate how beautiful fall is unless you’re outdoors.  Here in Iowa  it is absolutely the BEST time of year.  It isn’t too hot, it’s not too cold, and there is a harvest to be seen all around you.

Gathering Picnic at the Timber

Gathering Picnic at the Timber

Our Bounty of Plums!

Our Bounty of Plums!

Trail5

Big Sister and Little Sister having a moment

Big Sister and Little Sister having a moment

And, naturally we had time to read a few good books.

Pic11 Reading more

Legend has grown this year into a big beautiful brute.   Tira, our beloved good mama, has had a new litter of baby bunnies.

Pic12 Leg and Abby

On the homeschooling front we’re also seeing our hard work come to fruition.  Little Rebecca has memorized almost all of her phonics… She’s in SUCH a big hurry to be able to read.  But her enthusiasm is lovely.  Elizabeth Grace is reading quite well now.  She memorizes with ease and we made her some flashcards yesterday, lol.  She was so excited.   She’s reading four and five letter words now with ease and some that are larger as long as they are phonetically correct.  We ordered new math books for her yesterday as she is a WORKBOOK lover.  Gasp!  Yes, I suppose every family has to have one.   Ana and Christian are enjoying TOG.  Although I’ll readily admit that Christian is the one who loves it most.  This surprised me VERY much as he was originally a hesitant book lover.  I’m thrilled!

Tapestry is working out just as I had hoped.  At this point I can safely say we WILL be using Tapestry next year as we enter our first year of high school.

And finally our most important update.  You all know we had our cerclage surgery in Iowa City.  The placenta had moved 100% out of the way and is not even considered low lying.  I’m now past 22 weeks…. A point we greatly feared we’d never even make it to.  God is good…  ALL the time.   Our Baby Girl is growing beautifully and is right on track.  We had a beautiful ultrasound of her last week and we are SO incredibly grateful for this little one.  I get comments like this must be old hat.  She’s our ninth baby, our eleventh pregnancy.  No, no it never is.  Each time is special, each time is unique.  Each pregnancy is a completely and totally different resulting in a completely unique and beautiful blessing especially meant for our family.  Old hat?  Um, no.

Sooooooooo… What’s next for the family?

Well, we have play-doh and some bread to make today.  Afterall it’s difficult to make the earth without play-doh.   It’s time to gather nuts and I’m wrangling for a trip to the timber again this weekend.  My great uncle went through and labeled various types of trees in the timber… It will make for an incredible leaf collection for the children.  They’ve learned to identify many trees but there are SO many we don’t know yet.  I’m dreadful… I can tell a maple from an oak, but the only tree I REALLY know is a shagbark hickory.  And that one is REALLY obvious.    We have a pioneer festival coming up in October that will be fun and exciting.  We go every year and drink real rootbeer, see blacksmithing and spinning, and enjoy talking to the soap lady.  They always have lefse and Ana enjoys the lady who does geneaology.  It inspired the trip to the Norwegian festival this year.    The boys are going on their annual camping trip to Wisconsin in the next few weeks. I’m only a tiny bit jealous, kwim?  Ana and I have a llama and alpaca festival planned for October as well.  We’re going to buy some natural yarn and try our hands at some simple dying…. tutorial here if you want to peek.  I’m terribly excited about this… And a little fearful that I’ll destroy some really beautiful Alpaca wool.  And, of course, we’re expecting the wee one to debut in December.

We’re also planning a move.  To where?  Oh sigh.  DH got transferred in his job.  The REALLY big decision is whether to have him drive there 2-3 days per week or to move there full time and he’ll work there 4 days a week with one day at home.  He’s been doing the drive for weeks now while all of this medical mess was up in the air.   But, we’re thinking we’d like to be moved by Spring.   We like this house well enough, but I’m not going to lie… If we could find a house with an acreage with a BIG barn or with a little pasture, we’d love it!  A four bedroom farm house with a horse barn and pasture came up last week, but it would only increase his drive at this point.

We’re still very much up in the air about this and it is on my prayer list…  Not to necessarily find the “perfect” house but to be where God wants me when He wants me there…  After all, that’s the best place to be, blossoming wherever God plants us.

I’m so very sorry for not updating the blog.  But things have moved quickly this week and have been very chaotic around here.  Friday we went to the obstetrician (Dr. O) and ya’all know about that already.

Monday we had another appointment with Dr. O and we requested a referral to a University hospital here.   He not only gave us the referral, he said he was glad to do it, his only goal was healthy mama and healthy baby and he hoped they could do it.  He had them call IMMEDIATELY down there.  My appointment was at 1:00. By 4:00 that day, the phone consult had been done, the records had been faxed, and the appointment for an indepth ultrasound and a physician consult with the perinatologists had been scheduled… For THURSDAY!  We were thrilled.

I should go into more detail about Dr.  O.  For one, the man has zero ego.  When he says he only wants a healthy mama and a healthy baby, it’s true.  He cares very much about his patients.  I’ve heard from the grandmother of a baby born still through no fault of anyone and  I hear he cried with Mom and Dad after the delivery.  He is deeply invested in his patients and I can’t tell you how incredibly blessed we feel to have him as our obstetrician.  That said, a doctor is as good as his staff.  And honestly?  I can’t tell you how much I look forward to going into that office.  Every single person from receptionist, to the person who takes my blood, to the nurses and ultrasound tech are about the most cheerful, encouraging, lovely people I’ve ever had the joy to be around and I’m glad to be going back to a place that very OBVIOUSLY loves children.  They constantly ask about mine and we enjoy taking them in on occasion and getting them ooh’ed and aah’ed over.  What an amazing blessing.

Thursday was the consult.  With a LOT of people, sigh.  First we did a very (VERY) thorough ultrasound.  After all we had denied all of the prenatal testing and you’d not want to go to extraordinary lengths to keep a pregnancy of a less than perfect child, right?  Oh my.  I think I answered that one with grace, I think.  I explained to the doctor that knowing ahead of time that there was something wrong with the child and doing less than we would for a “perfect” baby and not try to keep the pregnancy would entail a very serious ethical dilemma for us and that we would do exactly the same for a less than “perfect” baby as we would for a so called perfect baby.  And he dropped it thankfully.  I don’t say this to say he’s a bad man.  Actually we QUITE liked this Dr. Y.  I feel a bit sorry for him.  I suppose seeing high risk patients with babies with serious issues probably does jade one quite a bit, don’t you suppose?  We had two ultrasound techs and two perinatologists consult on that.  Then we were sent over to the OB clinic for an internal exam, a history work-up of past pregnancies, and a consult.  Had the exam and was found to be a “good two” whatever that means…  I HAD been 4.1 on the previous Friday, so that was a little concerning but not surprising.   They wanted to fit my cerclage into the schedule by the following Wednesday but couldn’t do it with the two particular doctors they wanted to do it, and they didn’t feel it would be prudent to wait longer than that at this point as we would be past the 17 week mark….  So they fit me in on Friday,  the NEXT day.  LOL, it was such a relief but oh my what CHAOS.

Oh, and did I mention I developed some kind of infection/bite on my leg on Wednesday?  It showed up on Tuesday and we drew a marker circle around it.  It was hot and inflamed and obviously growing.  By Wednesday it was really unpleasant, having grown a full inch all the way around.  DH was concerned and so off to the doctor I went.  I’ll say nothing nice about the doctor, so I’ll just say nothing at all.  Suffice to say that was a clinic visit utterly wasted.  Do you ever feel you should get to deny a payment to the medical field if they don’t actually DO something?  Kind of like any other profession where they sit and hmmmm at something but don’t actually touch the car or whatever they’re supposed to fix?  Sigh.

At the appointments on Thursday and again on Friday they were quite interested in my infection.  It was general consensus among the doctors down there that it was cellulitis, a fairly non threatening infection of normal bacteria like staph or strep that would normally live on the skin.   At this point (Thursday afternoon) it was over the circumference of a softball.  I was on antibiotics at this point and they decided to do the surgery anyway, but gave me more antibiotics injected.  I can honestly say today it looks MUCH better.

Onto Friday.  We showed up at the hospital at noon.   The procedure began around 3:30.  It’s normally a 20 minute surgery.  It took a little longer due to a small issue with scar tissue from past cerclages.  They were able to deal with it beautifully though and instead of placing the normal 1-2 purse string stitches, they placed FOUR.  That made me smile a little.  I guess we can safely say we got our money’s worth?  There were three doctors, including the department head,  doing the surgery as apparently they found this pretty fascinating.  The popular discussion of the day seemed to be wondering how much scar tissue I’d have in there with this many cerclages.   We were later told by her that she’s glad they scheduled it for Friday and not the following week as I was very soft and already dilating.  Thank God.

Thanks to ansthesia and some nice drugs that helped me to not vomit violently 😉 it was by far the most pleasant cerclage experience I’ve ever had.  I can’t begin to express how grateful I am to God for what He has done.  Oh, and that pesky previa?  Yeah, it’s gone.  Not marginal, not low lying, but a very nice, healthy placenta exactly where it should be.  No signs of accreta, and no abruption.  I can’t begin to explain the miracle that has been done here.  I guess if you read the past excerpts you’ll begin to understand where I was, almost hopeless, to where we are now.

Oh, and they think she’s a girl.  Did I mention that?!  How blessed are we?

I looked at our two year old today and wondered if there was anything more beautiful than a child.  I think not.  Mamas, do you know how blessed you are?  You were CHOSEN.  Yes, YOU!  You were CHOSEN by God Himself with the remarkable task of being entrusted with His beloved children for their training, protection, and love.  What a shocking and mind boggling task.  Without dependence on Him I wonder how we should succeed at all???  And be so grateful.  You should SEE my house right now.  It is an absolute disaster.  Pictures would only begin to describe the smell of the dishes that have sat for about four days now.  It is more than a little chaotic and exhausting.  And we have my sister’s shower tomorrow to celebrate her daughter whom we will welcome to this family sometime in the next four weeks.   What a perfect end to an exhausting week – the celebration of a new life!

Don’t begrudge your tasks.  Don’t belittle your role.  You were chosen.  Your ministry personally given and assigned by God Himself.  What a beautiful thing to be given such an important, vital, life altering ministry.   And to something to precious to God as a child?!?!?!  Truly, mother, He must love you and think highly of your ability….  And remember not all children are given biologically.  Mother, if you haven’t children biologically please think not that I don’t include you.  He shall and perhaps has also laid out your ministry….  God bless each and every one of you in this amazing blessing we’ve been given.  Please be grateful each and every mess, er, I mean DAY, that we even have the chance to be a mom……  We are so blessed.

We were talking on another board about the sheer MASS of comments we get from people.  It’s true.  You can’t take seven children and a pregnant Mama out in public and not get comments.  Sometimes they’re sweet & encouraging.  More often they reflect a worldly point of view.  Other times they are less subtle and sometimes downright rude.   We’ve gotten used to it.

It’s not a thing that is easy to get used to if you don’t have thick skin or laugh things off easily.  Being told you’re certifiable at least three times a week can be a bit overwhelming.   But you know?  I’ve come to agree with them.  We MUST be crazy!  I found flair on Facebook that I LOVE.  It fits me so well and I’m thinking I need a bumper sticker, lol.

Not CrazyPerfect, right?  I love it.  Honestly, I’ve been admitting it lately.  I’ve heard I’m either SuperMom or crazy.  I’ll ‘fess up to crazy.  For the first time in fourteen years we’re looking at not having children after this pregnancy, for medical reasons obviously.  And I tell you, flat out, gracefulness of tongue gone?  It sucks.

As absolutely overwhelming as it may be to be bombarded by comments about your family EVERY time you go to the grocery store, Wal-Mart, post office, library, doctor’s office, it’s STILL better than the alternative of not having a large family.  We have family members that have struggled with fertility.  I’m sure they’d gladly put up with the comments for a baby.  People just know not what they do.

Remember, please, young mamas of many, the world sees things from a wordly point of view.  They cannot be expected to acknowledge God’s goodness… They don’t understand.  They can’t see children for what they really are… Blessings.

So, I’m told I’m crazy.  I nod.  Yup, probably.  My reality is pretty different from the world’s.   It takes a special kind of crazy to have a big family and we’re okay with it. I’ll take crazy, I don’t mind. I’ll take the chaos and the hard work too. Someday our houses will be quiet and everything will be clean and there won’t be babies leaving smudgy prints on everything. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not looking forward to that day.

And honestly? They just don’t understand what they’re missing out on. Pity them.

On an entirely different note, and altogether more pleasant, today was our first official day of school.  It felt good!  We had a great first day!

1st Day Group Photo

1st Day Group Photo

We had a great time.  I admit I took a nap today!  I had to stay up ’til one finishing the jumpers and the skirts to make it a REAL, top-notch, official first day, lol.   You’ve never seen girls so grateful for a uniform, lol.  But SO much fun.  It’s going well, the fileboxes were a hit and we had no problem keeping busy.  I’m off to make supper so we can call it a success and put up our feet.

It’s a common enough theme.  I’ve been asked how we can afford it.  I’ve been told by others that they would have more, but children are too expensive.   It’s a common discussion on MOMYS, on Quiverfull, on any large family forum.  Bottom line, either people want to be assured it’s very affordable or that’s it’s completely unaffordable and therein they are not compelled to have another child.

Bah humbug.  The question never was, “Can you afford it?”  It never should be.

I’ve tried to address it in my various forums.  And, mostly because I’m lazy and I want to get onto the rest of my day, you’re just going to get a copy and pasted response.  Enjoy.

Okay, well, there’s never enough. Period. I know people who have their 2.1 children, who make $100+ K, and who don’t feel they make enough $$. I know another family that makes approximately $30K/year, they have four children, they have paid off all their debts (NOT that they never had them, but that they paid them all off!), and only owe about $30-$40K on their house. It’s new too, they built it about 5 years ago, and no, it’s not LAVISH, but it certainly is comfy and they love it, on an acreage to boot.

A lot of “comfort” depends on what area you’re in. You might make the big bucks on the east or west coast, but I’ll GUARANTEE you won’t be able to buy as much (housing, food, gas, etc.) as we can here in the Midwest. Here you can buy a NICE house in a NICE neighborhood for $125K. And a gorgeous house, newly built for less than $200K and you’d have a REAL yard, unless of course you’d like acres, and then you could do that too.

Having a large family is NOT affordable. I’ll say it again if you’d like. A lot of people want to know that it is easily affordable and you’ll be able to have all the toys and all the frills that a family would have if they only had one child. Well, you won’t. A long time ago, when I first started on Quiverfull digest, I latched onto this saying, “Children aren’t expensive, lifestyles are.” I think that’s an awesome saying and I think all young couples should latch onto it. Because by the time they find out it’s not true, lol, then they’ve figured out what’s really important.

Yeah, that’s right. It’s not true. Lifestyles are expensive. So are children. No, they really are. If you have seven children, I can almost guarantee at least 1-2 trips to the ER per year. Not to mention paying for a delivery every 18 months. It’s true. While little ones don’t eat much, let me tell you, by the time they start to hit pre-teen, teen years, you’re left thinking, “But I DOUBLED that recipe? Where’d it all go?” No matter what your lifestyle is like, six children eat for six children, not for one. That’s a fact.

Let’s go onto the “but” though – C’mon, you knew there would be one.
We won’t be paying for our childrens’ college. Evil aren’t we? But the Army paid back $64,000 in student loans of dh’s and then put him through over $35K in more school and we took on another $30+K in college loans while we were in. We found a way. And our parent’s didn’t pay for it. Let’s take our own children for example. When they’re little you have visions of doctors and lawyers dancing in their heads. But as you have a half dozen, you’ll see, hopefully, that they are VERY uniquely gifted. As a rule, U.S. couples have 1-2 children that they just KNOW are little geniuses and even if Little Junior doesn’t “apply” himself, they’re still willing to fork over $40K to send him to get the paper degree in Dances of the Northwest Cultures. As parents of a large family, we are in a unique position. We can see that some of our children are going to be very academic, some are very industrious, more than academic. I know in our culture we prize academia over every other thing, but it only leaves kids feeling short. Why would we do that? Is not a happy, hardworking child’s worth valued as much as a bitter, sour child who always fell short of their parents’ goals? Our oldest is VERY academic. She knows she is expected to get scholarships. She gets up in the AM and she is very devoted. She is going into the 8th grade is narrowing her focus already. We’ve geared her schooling towards her PSAT with the goal being a National Merit scholar. My goal isn’t to pay her way. It’s to EQUIP with her what she needs to succeed. That can’t be bought.
Our oldest son is not as  academically inclined as our daughter. But the child has a heart a mile wide and two miles deep. His love for his God and his country is pretty awesome in a 10 year old. He wants to serve. He has no academic goals, but of course our duty is STILL to equip him… both by building him up with strong character, his academic abilities still need to be strong, and he needs to be willing to serve.  Again, OUR job is to equip our children to use their unique GIFTS.  God wired them each in a different way.
Our third child only wants to act. It’s been that way since she was three. We really are at a loss what to do with it – It’s a gift, I have no doubt. I’m just a little clueless how we can use it for good instead of evil. Sigh.

And the rest, we’re waiting to see. But my point here is not only should you NOT pay for your child’s college, but that NOT every child SHOULD go to college. We, as a culture, consider it the end all be all, and it leaves an awful lot of kids, who could be hard working, happy, and strong and feeling good in their unique GIFTS, feel stupid, worthless, and short changed. And those children who have vision, know where they want to go, what they want to be, are driven, and are academic – well, they’ll get scholarships anyway.

As for house space, we’re working on stacking them. Our oldest shares a  bed with her “beloved” Abigail (2) and while there were some shortfalls (while we potty trained) they get along VERY well when Abby doesn’t pee on her blanket, lol. Truth is, Ana, if given her own room, would be hyper-protective, and rude about it to her sisters. This is a built in character builder for her. On the other side of the room is a set of bunk beds for Rebecca and Elizabeth. Underneath that is going the trundle for Miss Sarah who will be moving up there in approximately 5 months. Now, if we need to, we can switch the full bed AND the twin bunks to twin over fulls and put trundles under each of them. The girls room CAN hold at least eight, reasonably, lol. We hang and color code almost all of their clothing. And we don’t keep extra. Ana has learned that good clothes are for good and you take care of your things. If all girls had to share a room (AND BE NICE) with their little sisters we’d see girls who take care of their stuff and assign value to them. And it’s good for the little girls to learn that things are special and belong to someone else so they can’t treat them badly and can’t touch everything they’d like. The boys share twin bunks. There are two bedrooms upstairs, one is more like a glorified large hallway. The boys don’t care. I love boys. My goodness they’re easy.

DH & I share a cubby hole that was meant to be the computer room. There is enough room for our bed, for our dresser, and he can even walk on his side of the bed! Since it’s our bedroom and we SLEEP there, we’re not too stressed about it. Our living areas are huge. But see this all changed with the culture of America. This was an old farmhouse. The people congregated in the kitchen, which of course, was eat-in. This is where they lived essentially. The living room is modest sized. The bedrooms are small because children and parents didn’t retreat there… The family stayed together, worked together, and played together. And then SLEPT in their bedrooms.
DH mentioned to me the other day, I’ve been morning sick and the house isn’t exactly spotless. Well, that might be an understatement. But, he mentioned, with the chaos, that maybe this house WAS too small. It’s not. As a matter of fact, I feel we have more space here than we did in town. Because I can cook a huge meal and have elbow room. Because the kids go out and run and jump and scream and then come in and sit still. (I like that part of living in the country.) So, living space isn’t very relevant.

Yes, money is tight. It always is. Mostly because we’re not great with  money.   But, we’re listening to good ‘ole Dave and we’re getting there. This last year I really wondered if it would be responsible for us to get pregnant before the end of the year. Due to the year change, our surgery will be in 2009, but the baby won’t be born until 2010. Which means we’ll max out our deductible this year and then turn around in January and max it out all over again. Sigh. But you know what? I’ll bet you in 20, or 10, or 5, or EVEN 2 years from this January, I won’t look at that little face and see the hospital bill. I bet I just see the face of a child, a blessing, that I’m so grateful to have that I don’t even notice the cost.

So,  I’m pregnant. And it’s going to cost us a mint. Did I mention I HATE being pregnant? Hate it. I hate that I have to have surgery every single pregnancy. I hate that I throw up from the anesthesia. As a matter of fact, delivery is WONDERFUL compared to week 14.

Things that are precious have a cost, a high cost. If they didn’t cost a lot, monetarily, emotionally, or physically, they wouldn’t be considered precious. If you could walk out in your backyard and pick up a handful of diamonds, they would be worthless. Afterall, they’re just shiny rocks.
It is their COST that gives them value, that makes others consider them precious. The U.S. does not appreciate their children. The years gone by from disease and poor medical care has made children fairly easy to raise.
They are no longer precious. But ask an infertile couple what they would give to have a child.

In 2001 we gave birth to our daughter, Hannah Elizabeth. Unfortunately she was 26 weeks along and less than 2 lbs. She had decent chances, statistically speaking and did really well for a little while. On Day 12 we held her while she died. It wasn’t a short death. It wasn’t a painless death. It was long, and they gave her several morphine shots. You know your life has been changed forever when you stop praying for your child to live and instead pray for her relief through death. Life is precious. Her life was all of 12 days long. Sometimes it is not the length of time you live, but the impact of your life on those around you….. And if that is so, her life had true meaning.

Housing, space, money, college, it all means very little. If you have a house, it is enough. If you have space, it is enough. If you have food, the money is enough. If there is a will to get to college, it is enough. These things are very much not relevant compared to the preciousness of one life. And if you have the opportunity to give the world one precious life, it is a trick of the mind (and more as I know many Christians would believe and attest) that it should be denied because they might have to share a bedroom, or you can’t pay for four years of college.

Timothy was a good little boy…  A very active, energetic, slightly frenetic, albeit creative little BOY.  His mama loved Timothy very much… Most days.  But it always seemed as though the occasional, odd day would come along that sweet Timothy would seem to get into everything.

Poor Timothy.  He just didn’t understand.  He was only trying to help.  Why did Mama have that funny look on her face?  Why did her mouth get all tight around the edges and her eyebrows furrow together like that?  Why did she look like she wanted to say something…. But didn’t.   It was because Timmy’s mommy was biting on her very own tongue.

Timothy isn’t much of a sleeper.  As a matter of fact, some might call him an “early bird.”  Rising at the crack of dawn each day, Timothy, our sweet little hard workin’ boy was raring to go from the first light… Some times even earlier than that.  Many days it was before Mama had had her coffee.  And Mama desperately needed a full cup of coffee in order to be prepared to take on the day a la Timmy.  And, even more amazing than Timmy’s ability to wake early even though Mama was shockingly quiet, was his ability to tiptoe down the stairs and into the kitchen with no one hearing him.

But, never fear, if there was one thing Timothy was good at – it was making coffee!  Oh yes!  Coffee was Timmy’s specialty.  He would get out her favorite mug.  He knew she liked it ‘specially well because even though he had dropped it, and broken off the handle, and chipped it, she refused to throw it away.  And he KNEW she really LOVED creamer, because you should see the absolute FIT she’d throw when he’d drink it all up in a cup.  Oh, yes, Mama loved her creamer.  A good, strong shot of creamer, some coffee… What else could Mama want?  Cocoa!  Mama always loved it when Daddy made her cocoa!  But why was his so lumpy?  Daddy’s cocoa didn’t look like that.  Oh well.  Timmy figured he’d just cover it up with a bit of whipped cream!  Oh drat!  Why did it always have to stick to the spoon like that?  Just shake it harder.  Whooops.  We’ll wipe that up later.  Oh Mama is going to be thrilled.

(Little Timmy takes the coffee into Mama’s computer room.  Mama is indeed…. um, well… speechless.)

 

 

Disclaimer: Even though the author does indeed have a sweet little four year old son Timothy, she vehemently denies that the boy in the story bears any resemblance to her son.  All events in the episodes of stories about Timothy are indeed fictionalized.  Any such similarities to events or persons are purely coincidental.  Mmmhmmm….

And thank you Judith Viorst for writing the truly original Alexandar and The…  as we’ve enjoyed it over and over and over again.  Gosh, I wonder why.

Entry 2?