Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Punctured Foot and the Death of Darth Cluck

Days in the Life...

Monday morning I left for work and Mom and Chloe headed to CareNow. 

Sometime last week our rooster, Big Ben, spurred Chloe’s foot. (A spur is like a big claw on the back of a rooster’s leg. They use them to fight other roosters.) Over the course of the next couple of days her entire foot got more and more swollen and red with infection. She soaked it in different things and put oils on it and elevated it, but it keep swelling. Monday morning it was bad enough, with no sign of much improvement, that Mom and Dad decided it needed to be looked at. 

So Mom took her in first thing in the morning and she came home with an antibiotic to take. 

Then Mom took her and Christian to class. While they were at class she took the little girls to get groceries and then picked Chloe and Christian up. 

I got off work an hour early and arrived home to do all my Monday tasks. 

Nana took Gabe to gymnastics while Dad kept working. The others arrived home and I eventually left to go babysit. 

Tuesday we had window screen repairs done around the house. 

Big Ben, who was renamed, Darth Cluck, attacked Christian. That was the last straw. Grandfather was summoned and with one shot, swift and true, Darth Cluck croaked. He was not worthy to be buried in our animal graveyard and was tossed down the hill for whatever other foul fowl wanted to feast on him. 

Uncle Phil made us a movie poster-

I studied some, then exercised and got ready to go meet a friend for coffee. 

Chloe and Christian were able to get back and forth to class just fine. After that day they were officially halfway through the course! 

Sofia and her mommy came to visit for a while in the afternoon. Everyone was very excited to see “our baby” again. 

I studied more in the afternoon, then made dinner. 

After dinner we all watched a “Christy” episode. 

Wednesday morning Dad and Chloe went back to CareNow. Ava went with them. 

I left for work and Mom and Mia took Gabe to his gymnastics class. Mia had her class as well, but while they were waiting they went to the library. 

There ended up being a very long wait at CareNow, but once they saw the doctor, he said it looked a little better to him and to stay on the prescription he’d given her. She left from there to get to class. (I have no idea how Christian got to class…) 

Dad and Ava ran a few errands, including a stop for Ava to purchase some more fish. They didn’t get home until noon. 

After work I went to the college campus to meet with an advisor and then had a massage when I got home. 

Sofia came for several hours in the late afternoon and evening. I think we overwhelmed her a little with all the attention. 

After she left, Gabe chose “The Wizard of Oz” for our entertainment that night. It had probably been eight years since I had seen that last. I understand it way better now. 

Thursday was Gabe's 9th birthday! He was up at 6:30 and requested Cracker Barrel for his breakfast date with Mom and Dad. 

I left for work and had a great day with the kids. Both Wednesday and that day, the baby slept for four straight hours! 

We had fun "hanging out." 

Chloe and Christian had a good day at class and came home to finish their other schoolwork. 

I exercised when I got home and then worked on my class. 

Mom and the girls dropped Gabe off at gymnastics and then went to go see "Finding Dory." They enjoyed it and said it was very cute. 

Once Gabe's class was over, they picked him up and met us, Aunt Cendei, and Nana and Grandfather at Babe's for a late dinner. We all converged again at home for Blue Bell ice cream and Chloe's chocolate chocolate chip cookies. 

Friday morning I really didn't want to get up when my alarm went off at 6:30, but I was so glad I did because the sunrise was beautiful and everyone else slept until almost 8:30 so the house was completely quiet for a good while. 

I studied all morning, then exercised and got ready to leave. 

Nana and I then spent the afternoon out shopping together. 

Is it bad that I have no idea 
where, when, or how I got this scratch? 

I had a little more class work to do after dinner and then Chloe, Mom, and I watched some “Dr. Quinn” while the littles watched “Planes.” 

Dad and Christian had an interesting day…

The plan was to go pick up Aunt Cendei’s trailer in the morning and go down to pick up the pool furniture. But the trailer lights were broken and then they could not get it unhooked from her truck. 

Plan B was to use Grandpa’s trailer. So they drove all the way over there to discover that his trailer lights were also broken. 

By that time the lady who we purchased the furniture from had somewhere to be. 

So Dad and Christian came home and got to start work and school about 4:00. 

After dinner Aunt Cendei was available to drive her truck and trailer down to get the furniture with Dad and Christian driving our truck behind her so she wouldn’t get pulled over. On the way they passed every single police car on patrol. 

The table top is granite and probably weights between 150 and 200 lbs. They had to load that first, but because it is so heavy, Dad and Christian had to roll it instead of carry it. Dad rolled it onto his right big toe. 

Christian saw it was bleeding and told Dad to sit down, but Dad knew if he looked at it and then needed to sit down there was no way the furniture would get loaded. So they finished loading the trailer and then took care of his foot. 

Christian excitedly offered to drive, but Dad was not going for that. 

They pulled in before dark (they did not get pulled over) and all of us, plus Nana and Grandfather, worked together to unload everything. It probably took less than 5 minutes. Aunt Cendei then raced home so it would still be light while she drove without trailer lights. 

Mom took one look at Dad’s toe and became very quiet. She had smashed her finger when she was younger and she remembered that the pressure under the nail was awful. She could tell Dad was going to be uncomfortable pretty soon. She administered pain meds and began a routine of icing his toe for 20 minutes on then 20 minutes off. All while keeping his foot elevated, of course.

Saturday everyone had a peaceful morning and then watched “American Ninja Warrior” during lunch. In the afternoon they had rest time and took showers before church.

I left around 1:00 to get coffee with a friend and then arrived at church early to play piano. 

Dad stayed home. As long as he kept his foot up, it really was not bad. But after just a few minutes of being on it, it would start throbbing again. 

We had a guest speaker this week. After a precious time of worship he got up and said he had words of encouragement for me. I cried. God knows my heart so deeply. He knew what I was feeling and the exact words I needed to hear. 

Actually, starting about 2:00 until 9:00, God used person after person to reenforce the message I needed so much. He amazes me. 

Sunday morning Gabe got up early and, all by himself, set up everything we needed to make brunch so that once Dad and I were up it was very easy for us to start. 

After brunch Ava, Gabe, and Mia finally got to perform the magic show they had been working on since Friday. Nana and Grandfather also came over to enjoy it. They did a lovely job and it was very entertaining. 

Dad still wanted to take the kids swimming, because he was “just fine to drive.” But, seeing as how his right toe starts hurting as soon as he puts it down, I decided to drive. 

The kids had a great time and Dad and I got to visit with Gramma and get a tan. Well, he got a tan. I got a sunburn. What is sunscreen? But the next morning it was a tan.

On the way home we picked up Mediterranean food for the adults and pizza for the kids. Everyone took showers and Nana and Grandfather came over to eat dinner with us and watch pre-Olympic women’s gymnastics competitions. 

It was a lovely ending to a fun day. 

That moment when...

You are driving 60 mph and a bird flies into your car. 

The little boy you watch tells you he likes your "wreally yong hair."

You eat your dinner trying to ignore the two guys at another table who keep starring at you.

The advisor says, "Have fun on your trip." And you reply, "Thanks, you too! Uh- I mean- if you go on a trip, I hope it is fun for you..." 

The Herd: Quoted 

"Can we have actual conversation at the dinner table instead of doing show and tell with our bodies, please." -Dad after Mia, Gabe, and Christian were showing off their abs. 

"Good morning, Gabe. Happy Birthday! Why are you up so early?" -Me coming up the stairs. 
"Thanks! I'm going to breakfast." -Gabe
"But not at 7:00, right?" -Me
"No, at 8:00." -Gabe
"It's only 6:30, you don't need to be up yet." -Me
"You sure?" -Gabe
"Yes... You might want to go back to sleep for a while." -Me
"Well, I'm already dressed and wide awake, so I will just read quietly." -Gabe 

"Should we sing to you now?" -Mom to Gabe.
"I'm listening!" -Gabe grinning expectantly and thoroughly enjoying being the center of attention. 

"Wow, our little boy is 9 years old." -Mom
"Wait, you are 9?" -Me 
"Yeah, how old did you think I was?" -Gabe
"I don't know." -Me 

"When you were born, Lydia was your age and she had 4 younger siblings." -Mom to Gabe
"Wasn't I 10 when he was born?" -Me
"No..." -Chloe
"But he is 9 now and I was...wait, I'm confused." -Me
"You are 18 now and about to turn 19. Nine plus nine is 18." -Chloe 
"Oh!" -Me
"How is it that you have passed your college math?" -Chloe
"I forgot how old I am now." -Me
"How old did you think you were?" -Dad
"I don't even know." -Me 
*disclaimer, it was 9:30 pm and I had already almost fallen asleep on the couch.

"We found the fish that just gave birth! It was hiding under the bridge." -Mia talking about Ava's new fish.
"Yeah, that's exactly where I aways wanted to be after giving birth." -Mom

“Please remove all cell-phones to the coffee-table so that you will not be distracted from the show.” -Ava 

“And please remember, this is a commentary-free show.” -Gabe


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Noisy House Guests and 7 lb of Meat

Days in the Life...

Mondays will probably continue to be pretty consistent. I left for work and had a good day with the kids. Then came home to an empty house and did laundry, cleaned, exercised, took a shower, ate, etc, all before then leaving at 5:30 to go babysit for group.

Chloe and Christian went to class and then to Plato's Closet and Walmart afterwards.

Mom took Ava to her first day of sewing camp and did all the grocery shopping.

Dad and Mia took Gabe to gymnastics.

Everyone else was home by 7:00 and had a mostly quiet evening.

I got home, caught up with Mom and Dad, and headed to bed as soon as I could.

Tuesday morning I worked on my class work and then took our truck to be inspected and get an oil change. The gentlemen at the shop made sure I understood all the different oil options, and how to know when to come back for another oil change, and opened my doors for me, and gave me $5.00 off "because Tuesdays are ladies' days." I guess it's a good thing Dad sent me!

Chloe and Christian went to class and Mom took Ava to sewing camp again.

I got home to exercise and shower, then got back to class work and other things.

We have been trying to find outdoor furniture on Craigslist for a couple of weeks. Several times we found great deals, but then someone else just barely got to them faster than us. Mom looked again before engagement group and found the best deal so far and it had not sold yet! It was actually even the exact same table we'd tried to get a couple of days before, but this one was $50.00 less! Mom was pretty proud of herself. *wink*

We had a medium-sized group that night and it was special as always.

Wednesday I went to work and my day with the kids was the best one so far! That was nice. *smile*

Mom and the littles left pretty early to take Gabe to his class and hung out at the library until it was time for Mia's one hour gym class. Gabe's class ended by running an obstacle course like American Ninja Warrior. He loved that.

Once all gym classes ended, they all took Ava to her sewing camp and then met friends at Chick-fil-a.

Chloe and Christian had a good day at class.

We all got home around the same time and I exercised and cleaned up, then turned around to go get Ava while Mom went to her hair appointment.

I think I have a love/hate relationship 
with the feeling of being drenched in sweat.

It was nice to eat dinner all together that night and hear a very animated description of Gabe's class, as told by Gabe.

Then we all watched an episode of "Christy."

After the littles went to bed, us older ones got to tell Mom and Dad more about our days and have "deep" conversations.

Thursday I went to work and got home to exercise and do class work as usual.

Chloe and Christian had a good finish to class for the week and came home to finish the remainder of their homework.

Dad was gone with meetings most of the day.

Mom took Gabe to his class.

We were all together for dinner again and watched another "Christy" before bed.

After dinner we had some chocolate, fudge-y cake, a la Chloe. I think that set me on a chocolate high; I was plenty tired before dinner, but then remained wide awake past 11:00. It was worth it.

Friday morning everyone started a little bit slowly. I exercised after breakfast and took Chloe's car to be inspected. The men at the shop were confused as to why I was back so soon.

Chloe and Christian didn't have class, but homework was still to be done.

Mom took Gabe to spend his weekend with Aunt Lauren and Uncle Phil for his birthday and had our other car serviced and then finished by swinging by Costco.

Gabe put together this care package to give to a homeless person. 

Meanwhile, Dad, Ava, and Mia went to a meeting and had frozen yogurt.

I spent the afternoon on class work, accompanied by a headache. Remembering how Dad pushes through with his work even when he doesn't feel good kept me going strong.

When Mom returned home, Chloe was still working and Christian was at the neighbor's house hanging out. She and I enjoyed relaxing and catching up in the quiet house.

We all ate dinner, minus the boys, and then the others settled down to watch "National Treasure 2." I had about an hour's worth of class assignments to finish for the week and then finished the evening with some blogging.

Saturday morning we didn't sleep in crazy late, but got up to be ready and have brunch food prepared to celebrate Father's Day with Dad's entire side of the family at our house. We were also recognizing three June birthdays.

The cousins enjoyed playing after our yummy meal of all different breakfast foods and the adults visited. Before they all headed back to town, Dad took people over to see the progress at the little house.

Once everyone left, Christian, Ava, and I got ready and left for church.

I played piano and Christian helped with slides while Ava floated about.

The others met us there.

After church, which was really good, we stayed to fellowship for a while and then I took the kids home. Mom and Dad left from church to get dinner out and then stay overnight at a hotel in honor of Dad's birthday.

At home I got everyone to bed and Nana and Grandfather were around to make sure everything was good.

Sunday morning Mom and Dad enjoyed resting at the hotel and then got lunch out and did a little shopping before coming home.

The rest of us slept in and Chloe and I spent the day mostly reading, while the others played Monopoly.

I also prepared a roast for dinner.

There is nothing too terribly difficult 
about getting a 7 lb roast in the oven by myself,
except for actually getting it into the oven. 

Not too long after Mom and Dad returned, Aunt Lauren and Uncle Phil brought Gabe home.

It was weird without Gabe. It just was. We were all glad to have him back.

Nana and Grandfather joined all of us for dinner to celebrate Father's Day with Mom's side of the family. While we ate, Gabe gave us a very detailed narrative of his weekend. He is very good at making his stories last a long time...

He got to watch some "Star Wars" movies, go see "Finding Dory," play with Uncle Phil's legos, eat yummy food, and go swimming.

Afterwards we discussed all manner of tiny house ideas and got gymnastics demonstrations from Gabe and Mia.

I've been pondering...

As a believer, how do you view God? 

When you pray, is it to give Him glory, or ask Him to do things for you? 

Is He a part of your life so that in every situation you face He can receive the glory, or so that you can be sure He will cause everything you do to prosper? 

When trials come, if God's primary purpose is to prosper His people, then your trial would be evidence of some problem in your life. You won't understand why He has allowed X, Y, and Z to happen to you because your view of God's plan is skewed. 
But if, when trials come, you understand that everything God allows in your life is for the purpose of bringing glory to His name, then you can rejoice! Because with your trials come greater opportunities to glorify Him. 
God's primary focus is not prospering His people. His primary focus is receiving the glory and honor that belong to Him. 
One day "every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord." This has nothing to do with "everything you do will prosper."

That moment when...

Your phone falls out of your pocket and you just barely manage to knock it onto the carpet before it hits the wood floor.

You discover birds flying around in your attic and those active birds decide to stay up until midnight and wake up at 6:00 am.

The policeman stops by while the family is working at the little rental house to ask how many kids y'all have.

The Herd: Quoted 

"I'll hobble my way downstairs." -Mom
"Sore much?" -Me
"No, I just feel old, this time of night." -Mom

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Stressed Porcupine

Days in the life...

Monday. Was. Full.

I got up at 6:00 to get ready for the day, have my Bible time, drink coffee, eat breakfast, and pack my bag for work.

I worked from 8:30 to 2:30 caring for Luke, Sadie, and Calvin.

Meanwhile, Nana took Ava to her art class.

Mom drove Chloe and Christian to their first day of college class, then went to pick up Ava, and eventually made it back to pick up Chloe and Christian.

I got home from work as Dad and Mia were leaving to take Gabe to his first team gymnastics practice.

Mom, Chloe, Christian, and Ava arrived home as I was finishing my workout and heading to the shower after completing my laundry and cleaning my room and bathroom.

After all of that Chloe and I were both ready to begin our online college classes. But our internet was out. And so was Nana and Grandfather's.

So we had a little down time.

Then Chloe made dinner and I left to go babysit the small group.

Back home I got to talk with Mom and Dad about how everyone's day had gone and not start my class because we still had no internet.

I was grateful for the very valid excuse to go to bed a little early.

Tuesday Kate did not come because her little sister was on her way! So I had the day at home to begin my college class and get a multitude of other things done.

Chloe and Christian had class again from noon to 2:00 like the day before, only they drove themselves this time.

Mom was grateful for a more restful day at home as well. The kids very much enjoyed playing most of the day.

We all ate dinner together. Chloe and Christian both had homework to work on in the evening.

Mom and I spent some time visiting and then watching "Dr Quinn."

Wednesday I was supposed to go work, but one of the kids was sick, so I had a bonus day at home.

I was able to get all my class work done in the morning which felt great.

Mom took Gabe to his gymnastics class and then she and the little girls went to the library until Mia's class at 11:30.

Chloe and Christian, of course, attended their class and Dad and I enjoyed the quiet house until they all returned.

I worked out and took my shower and got some other things done, then journaled until dinner time. After not journaling much the previous two weeks, I guess I lost some hand strength. I was sore after just two hours.

After dinner we watched a "Christy" episode all together and then headed to bed.

The sunsets that week were stunning

Thursday morning I left for work. My day looked very similar to Monday, minus babysitting in the evening.

Mom took Christian to the orthodontist and had him back in time to leave for class.

Gabe went to his gymnastics stuff with Mom in the late afternoon and evening.

After dinner everyone but Mom watched "Soul Surfer." When we have seen a movie many times, regardless of how long it has been, there is TONS of commentary (not from Chloe, Dad, or me, but everyone else *wink*), never mind how many requests for silence are made. It was good to see it again, though, regardless of the fact that all tender moments designed to inspire emotional connection were murdered disrupted.

Friday morning my room was a mess. My room is never a mess. It warranted a picture (once in a blue moon event here, ok?). It did not take me long to get it cleaned up and back to normal. Whew!

(Okay, so it wasn't too awful, but you can't see my nightstand.)

I finished my classwork for the first week and then exercised in the afternoon. 

In the evening Gramma and Grandpa brought us dinner and we celebrated the first week of college classes and Dad's birthday. 

Saturday was Dad's birthday!

He and Mom went for an early(ish) morning walk and came back to announce a family work time at the little house. Dad had ordered a 30 yard dumpster to be delivered to the house so we could load it up with all the deconstruction trash and have it hauled off. The task had been weighing on Dad for over a week. So we loaded up about 11:00 and headed over to see what we could do.

The garage was full of trash and there were two large piles in the house. All of it needed to be put in the dumpster and all the dust had to be cleaned up. We thought a couple of hours was an ambitious goal, but after just an hour and a half, the dumpster was overflowing and everything was done. It was the best birthday gift any of us could have given Dad.

By the time we were done, we were all drenched in sweat and had a nice tan, I mean, were so covered in dust that we looked like we had a tan.

This is a triumphant picture.  

Back at home we began cycling through the showers and eating lunch. 

Christian, Ava, and I left for church at 4:00 to be in the pre-service worship and prayer thing and the rest arrived for the service. (No Costco this week.)

Church was really good and we got home before 9:00, which was nice. 

Sunday morning we made brunch and Nana and Grandfather joined us in honor of Dad's birthday.

Once the meal was over and cleaned up, everyone but Mom and Chloe got ready and left to go swim at Gramma's. Those who stayed behind spent the afternoon reading.

We had a nice time. It was plenty warm and humid even though the sun was covered by rain clouds that eventually ended our swim.

Back at home everyone cleaned up and Mom and Dad left for a date.

The rest of us ate dinner and watched "Annie Get Your Gun."

In summary and after some reflection...

Beginning this week I was so overwhelmed. 

I was supposed to do my first online college class ever and work everyday, totaling 30 hours this week. On top of that, Monday when I sat down to start my class, our internet went out and I had to leave to babysit for the evening before it came back on again. 

But God knew how I felt. 

Last minute I ended up not needing to work Tuesday or Wednesday! I was also able to figure out how my class would work and the assignments were easier and faster than I'd expected and planned. 

I survived the first week of class, worked some, got caught up on a few things I was behind on, worked out everyday, and got at least 8 hours of sleep each night. Best of all, I remembered to eat!!!

I'm so grateful for the grace God gave me for each situation each day, it wasn't a perfect week, I still had some struggles, and I'm still *cringes* two weeks behind in my journal, but God is so good!

God will never give us anything He cannot do through us. We can do all things through Him who gives us strength.

Don't hesitate to call on Him when you feel overwhelmed by all that is going on in your life, He longs to show you His faithfulness, and maybe, He just might give you a couple of days off of work! But even if that's not how He strengthens you, you can be sure that He will indeed be your source of strength for whatever it is He has for you to do.

Don't worry, seek the kingdom of God, and praise Him knowing all glory and honor is His. How blessed are we that He has chosen us to point others to Him in all that we do.

I've been pondering...

If it, whatever "it" is, falls outside the boundaries of His perfect plan for me, then I must trust that, regardless of how I feel based off of the limited amount of knowledge I have, I truly don't want whatever God has not allowed me to have.

Trusting His perfect plan and resting in His perfect love that casts out all fear, I can continue walking with my good Father.

That moment when...

You feel the baby's drool, I mean angel juice, running all the way down your arm.

You try to unlock the door to the house with your car-lock clicker. It doesn't work.

Your legs are still shaking two hours after your workout.

The Herd: Quoted 

"Aren't you just so impressed by me?" -Gabe
"Yes! I'm very proud of all my siblings." -Me
"I know. We are just so amazing." -Gabe

"I am awesome at gymnastics! Well, pretty good. I have some talent for it. Not as good as Gabe, though. But still good." -Mia

"I'm a porcupine rolled into a ball with its points going in every direction and people pulling on all those points. That's what all the responsibilities pulling on me are like." -Me

"We have to watch 'Soul Surfer' soon, Lydia is longing to see it again." -Gabe (Not quite sure where he got that idea from...)

"You haven't put me in the herd quoted in a long time." -Chloe
"Well say something!" -Me
"I can't even remember the last time it was." -Chloe

"I'm so used to seeing you with your glasses on so when you taken them off you look weird!" -Mia
"Believe me, when I take my glasses off you look weird." -Chloe

"So what's the secret ingredient?" -Christian serving us lunch.
"I'm not taking another bite until you tell us what you put in here. Last time you put in a 'secret ingredient' it was bay leaves which are poisonous." -Chloe

"When this is done we should take a family picture by the dumpster." -Dad
"I was thinking the same thing." -Me
"I think I will opt out of being in that picture." -Mom
"Hey, you can't look worse than me." -Me
"But the picture will look so much better if someone takes it instead of it being a selfie." -Mom

Friday, June 17, 2016

It's been a year, plus some weeks and days...

It has officially been a year, plus some weeks and days, since we first began our family blog. Goodness, it went by so fast. (At least for me.) So much has happened and we have all grown in a multitude of ways. 

Our first post was an introduction to our family. Now seems like a good time (a few weeks ago would have been a better time, and was a part of my plan...) to do an update on each of us; what we are up to, learning, involved in, etc. 

Dad has had a constant supply of work. We love having him at home so much, because even if he is involved in designing a house on his drafting board, or inputting things on the computer, or sending emails, or composing invoices, we can still walk by his office and see him. As long as the door is not closed we know we can go in a share whatever little event just took place, or conversation we had, or something we learned, or ask a question, or just grab a hug and a smile. (Within reason, of course. His work is important and if all 7 of us walked in individually every 10 minutes...yeah, no.) He has client meetings most every week that take him out for several hours, but most of the time he is at home. One of his biggest projects in process the last several months has been the House of Dreams

He is still heading up Christian's schooling as well. 

Dad has also gotten back into regular daily workouts again, after having a bit of a break in the fall/winter and he and Christian are doing some workouts together. 

Ever since we moved to our current house eight years ago, Dad has been dreaming about and planning our pool. Now his dream is finally going in! We should be swimming within the next three weeks. 

Mom and Dad both have enjoyed blessing our church body, and being blessed in return, by leading our church’s largest engagement group. We love being able to open our home every other week and share life with our church family. The relationships we have formed with different ones over the past few years are priceless and run deep because we have spent the time getting to know them and listening to their stories, so that we can pray with them and cheer them on as we all walk through this life together. 

As always, Dad’s big “carrots” to work so hard are to glorify the Lord, provide for his family, and get to our "second home," Maui. 

Mom has been resting and relaxing and tak- nope, she's had plenty to do! In keeping with her love of organization and efficiency, she has continued systematically going through stuff all over the house, discovering new things we no longer need, rearranging things we do need to be in more accessible places, and making sure it is all orderly. This gives her great joy. Its amazing how the house seems to breathe easier with less “stuff” everywhere. 

As always, Mom has been schooling the littles. At this point, she has it worked out so that all she needs to do is read aloud to them, listen to Gabe and Mia read (on occasion), do a little bit of math and language arts instruction, and double-check all their work. Even though it is summer, school will continue. At most, a full school day for the littles takes two to three hours. Mom is not stressed about keeping a tight school schedule, she would much rather cultivate a love of learning and have the kids be mostly independent with their work. 

Getting everyone to their various commitments and managing everything takes up a considerable amount of her time, of course. In the midst of that she enjoys spending time encouraging other moms and, in turn, being encouraged. She has also been studying the science behind habits. She says it is truly fascinating!

A large goal of both Mom's and Dad's is to reduce stress as much as possible. I know that sounds impossible with a family of eight, who homeschool, work from home, host church gatherings, have people seeking their counsel, etc, etc, etc. However! I did not say reduce all stress. For Mom, one way to do this has been getting rid of things we don't need because she is not then worried about cleaning and managing all that extra stuff. For Dad, having Christian do an online math program reduced the stress of teaching, grading, answering questions, etc. Those are just two examples, they have been very good about targeting many different points of stress and finding solutions to the issues. 

This summer she is looking forward to sitting by the pool reading. (While keeping up with everything else.)

Chloe is entering her senior year of school and beginning summer college classes for dual credit. She is in a ten week Federal Government class online and at the same time she is taking a Learning Frameworks class for the first five weeks and a Speech class the second five weeks, those two are both on campus from noon to 2:20, Monday through Thursday. Also, she is doing an online Algebra 2 program. 

She is still working for the photographer; editing, assisting with a few shoots, and cleaning in the studio and is still very much enjoying all of it.

Although rain and schedule complications have made it less frequent recently, Chloe still enjoys riding horses at the neighbor’s every Sunday afternoon she can. 

As always, she has been consuming books by the ton (basically). Currently she is into “good fantasy and sci fi.” 

Also, she has enjoyed compiling music playlists on Spotify. “Music is my life” are words she has claimed. 

Last but not least, Chloe has continued writing sporadic blog posts and has four different novels at various stages of development. 

Christian is entering his tenth grade year and is taking the same on-campus classes as Chloe and the same math. On top of that he is about to start Biology and will continue working on his Spanish program. 

If he has extra time, he may work some for a couple of our neighbors and Aunt Cendei, as needs arise. 

As he just finished Driver's Ed, he now has his permit and is anxious to drive as much as possible. 

At church he has enjoyed learning some more about guitar, drums, and the sound board. 

Ava is entering her sixth grade year and is so amazing all she needs Mom for, schoolwise, is to double-check her work. She has been rising by 7:00 most mornings in order to complete the bulk of her work before breakfast. 

If I am not hogging whatever baby is around, Ava is. She has enjoyed expanding her skills and is very good at putting them to sleep. Whenever I have Kate and when Sofia was coming, she is a huge blessing to me. 

Like Chloe, she has been devouring books. She enjoys the “Nancy Drew” series, anything that has anything to do with ocean creatures, particularly dolphins, and she just finished reading “The Hobbit” at Chloe’s recommendation.  

She just finished a couple of months of art class and is enjoying learning to sew. 

Gabe is doing great in school and is right on track with his age level. He is about to begin fourth grade, which is hard for all of us to believe. 

A few weeks ago he was invited by his gymnastics coach to join the boy’s competitive team, entering on Level 4. His practice schedule is Mondays 3:30-6:30 pm, Wednesdays 9:00-noon, and Thursdays 3:30-6:30 pm all summer. This totals 9 hours of practice every week, as opposed to the one hour a week class he’d been taking for the last couple of months. He is very excited about learning how to do new tricks and getting even stronger, and we are all SO proud of him. 

Gabe still loves listening to history CD stories and building with his legos and all three littles enjoy playing with plastic horses together. 

His reading skills are improving and he really enjoys history books. 

Mia is technically about to begin second grade, but she’s been doing second and third grade level work for a couple of months. We’ve been calling her a genius since she was two years old, but the older she gets the more true it is. She loves school and is known for jumping up and down screaming in excitement over a new math book. (The rest of us have memories of running away crying at the mention of a new math book.) 

Mia enjoys doing whatever the rest of us are into. She is reading the same “Nancy Drew” books that Ava is, she’s still taking the one hour a week gymnastics class, she loves helping with Kate, is trying to write books, and wants to learn to draw portraits and play the piano. 

She is her own person, a mixture of all of us, but totally different at the same time. (The genius factor is, I’m sure, part of it.) 

I just graduated high school and that is still sinking in for me. Nope. Still having trouble grasping that I'm in college. Actually, this is really starting to hit me. Wow. *Deep breath* *Exhale* Okay then.

This summer I am taking two online classes. The first is the same Learning Frameworks class that Chloe and Christian are taking and the second is Art Appreciation.

I am also nannying again for the same family I worked for last summer. They have three children, four, three, and one. I will watch Kate some, but it will be more sporadic as her new sister is due to be born at any time and thus her mommy will not be working for a few months. I will continue to babysit for the small group on Monday nights as far as I know.

In addition to my various childcare jobs I run errands for Mom and Dad as needed and, of course, help get my siblings places.

I am also looking at becoming a fitness/wellness coach, a majority of the work being done through Facebook. (When I start that, I will explain how it all works.)

And I would like to set up a Facebook page to offer portraiture as something people can hire me to do. (Again, when I do that, I will give y'all more information. Both of these are things that have been on my radar for a while and I've been holding off to make sure I had other priorities in place first.) Obviously I'm still drawing some, however, I've been working on my current portrait for *gulps* over three months. (So, time to draw has been a priority I've begun to work on...)

I am back to exercising regularly! I used to be very good about working out a couple of years ago (during my busiest two years of high school), but between a lot of different things, I lost the habit. Then when I was working at getting back into consistent activity every week, I hurt my foot doing the sprint workout and had to not do anything for over a month. But, I'm finally all healed up and am exercising 5 days a week; three days of weight lifting and two days of more pilates/yoga stuff. I'm working at stretching more as well. Of course, I'd love to go for runs and do Cize, but I can't do everything... Unfortunately.

I play piano most every day and am continuing to compose songs. I'd like to try combining my poetry  and musical skills to write lyrics too, but I've not taken the time to do so yet. The last several months I've been playing the keyboard at church during the worship and prayer service as well. That was way out of my comfort zone when I first started and it was definitely different learning to play with other people and follow a leader, but I've come a long way and every week it seems easier.

Aside from blogging and journaling, I have not done much writing. I have lots of writerly aspirations, but others things are higher priority for me right now.

And there you have it!

I hope y'all are being encouraged, getting some laughs, and being reminded that God is our source of joy and gratitude.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Radio-Active, Poison Green Liquid

Days in the Life...

Monday morning Aunt Lauren, Uncle Phil, and I all slept in a lot and had a very late brunch. Then Aunt Lauren and I went to a coffee shop to sip lattes and work on our own things for a few hours.

Meanwhile, at home, Dad worked and most of the rest of the family went to help some friends from church move.

Aunt Lauren and I took dinner to friends of theirs with a new baby and then went back to rescue Uncle Phil from his loneliness their apartment where Uncle Phil made us popcorn and Aunt Lauren made us smoothies, both to enjoy while finishing "Wives and Daughters."

We eat a late dinner and enjoyed visiting, then watched "October Baby."

Tuesday morning I headed home about 9:00. Christian was off helping to finish the move, Chloe was about to leave for work, and I can't remember where the others were. All I know is, most everyone was gone for a good part of the day and I was slightly uninformed, but not inconvenienced in the least. (A mostly empty house is great when you have a lot to catch up on!)

Wednesday was pretty quiet for the most part. The kids had gymnastics and I helped Nana for a bit in the afternoon in-between blogging and other things.

Mom and Dad had a meeting to attend that evening and the rest of us continued with our normal evening routine.

Thursday I left relatively early to go meet a couple of different friends for coffee, then came back in the afternoon to work on other stuff.

I think Christian worked at Aunt Cendei's that day, in the rain.

Friday we had a couple of moms and their kids over for another sewing/visiting day. It was just as good as the first one. (Or even better!)

I left when they all did to go meet another friend for a bit.

That night we all ate dinner together (it seems like we didn't do that a whole lot that week) and then watched "That Thing You Do."

Saturday morning everyone slept in as usual and had a relaxed day. My plan was to journal. That didn't happen. But I still got things done that needed to be done.

One of my friends graduated that afternoon so I went to that and then met everyone else at church.

Church was wonderful and we visited for awhile afterwards before going with several other families to Rosa's.

Sunday morning Mom and Dad went out for brunch and the rest of us did our own thing.

Once they got back, Dad and the four younger kids went to Gramma's to swim for the first time this year!

Meanwhile, Mom, Chloe, and I went to a huge mall on a mission to find good swimsuits. Chloe and I both found what we needed at Athleta and then we continued to make the most of being in a large mall. We had a lovely time and stopped mid-afternoon to get smoothies and muffins.

Back at home, we went over to eat watermelon with Nana and Grandfather and, once the others returned, operation-showers began and we started preparing our Sunday brunch meal for dinner.

Everyone had fun swimming and came back to tell us about Gabe's new trick; flipping off the diving-board. Last year, he was too afraid to even try. This year all it took was three attempts, then he had it down.

With all the rain the past two weeks our pool is half full!
However, nobody wants to swim in the 
radio-active, poison green water.

After everyone was showered and had eaten brunch for dinner, we watched an episode of "Christy" and then headed to bed, all thoroughly worn out. 

I've been pondering...

*Loooooooong exhale*

My mind has been racing for weeks, thinking about so much that I've had little to no time to sit down and write about any of it! My journal is now over two weeks behind.

*Tells self not to panic*

I know I will figure stuff out eventually and get back on top of things at some point, but right now I'm working at getting just the next thing done.

Meanwhile, Chloe texted me something very wise and so I thought I would share that.

"I was writing down the rule for absolute values in algebra:

'The absolute vale of a = a, and the absolute value of -a also equals a. In other words, absolute value has to do with the number [its identity], not the sign in front of it.'

GUYS, our absolute value is our identity. What we do, who we truly are inside, not our outward appearance or the things that happen to us.

Our identity as Christians is in Christ.

That, my friends, if our absolute value.

Revelations while drinking coffee and doing math..."

That moment when...

You realize you are driving on the wrong side of the road.

Your nail polish perfectly matches your bathroom rug.

You can't remember any of the quotes you stored in your brain instead of on paper.

The Herd: Quoted

"Lydia, I ate a worm." -Mia
"Okay." -Me
"At least I think that's what it was." -Mia

"Do you need me to do anything for you today?" -Me
"I need you to be perfect." -Mom
"Well, I already failed." -Me
"Oh well! Then what I really need you to do is relax and rest so you can be out tomorrow." -Mom
"Great! That was my plan." -Me

"Where is Lydia?" -Mom
"At her friend's graduation." -Dad
"Did we know about that?" -Mom
"Yes...she talked about it several times this week." -Dad

"Well, we aren't going to go home by way of Fort Worth like the last time, but we got here by way of Dallas!" -Me when Chloe and I arrived at Rosa's.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Graduation and Color Arguments

Days in the Life...

Monday morning it was back to work I went! This summer I will be watching Calvin and his older siblings, Luke and Sadie, whom I nannied last year. I was very excited to see the kids again and they were happy to see me.

The first day wore me out, but went smoothly.

I got home to catch up with Mom and then began Chalean Extreme again. This is a weight-lifting program I did a few years ago and really enjoyed. I had forgotten how good it makes me feel. My hope is that it will strengthen my back, in particular, to help me not be in so much discomfort so much of the time.

I felt so nasty and yet so good 
at the same time when I was done.  

I worked on other Monday tasks once I was finished with my workout and then enjoyed spending the evening with the rest of the family watching "Christy." It was nice to have Chloe and Christian home again. 

Tuesday Kate arrived at 6:15 and was as quiet as a little mouse so everyone else could keep sleeping for the most part. I held her most of the time that she was not sleeping and she asked to dance repeatedly. During her naps I also slept as I'd not slept well at all the night before and also got a work out in.

We had our engagement group that night. Almost everyone was able to come so we had 31 people in our house and plenty of "welcoming summer" foods. Everyone who came got a punch-card for the group so that every meeting they attend can add points to their ability to swim in our pool. The pool under progress was much admired. 

Everyone was so blessed by the opportunity to share where they are in life right now, how we can continue to pray for them, and the prayers that have been answered already. Investing in each other like that as a group is not about efficiency, but rather taking the time to hear from each one and offer the support they need where they are. We always go late, but it is worth the time we invest. So worth it. *Smile*

Wednesday I went back to work and had another good day. 

Meanwhile Gabe and Mia woke up covered in Chigger bites (like over 20 bites each) and were absolutely miserable. They ended up still going to gymnastics, but Gabe threw-up repeatedly and they both came home exhausted. They rested on the couches in the living room for a while and watched "Sea Rescue." By the time I got home they were some better and were playing upstairs. 

That night I had dinner with one of the ladies in church. We were "supposed" to meet the week before, but God knew that we would need it instead when we did meet and not any sooner. 

Thursday I worked and came home to exercise and rest. Chasing three little ones around for 6 hours wore me out! I still loved it. *Smile* 

Aunt Cendei came over to eat dinner with us and Chloe treated us to "Texas Style" strawberry shortcake (biscuits, ice cream, strawberries, and chocolate sauce). We watched "Mall Cop" afterwards. 

Friday Kate came back and did quite a bit of sleeping. I got to take a nap in the morning and then got some of my other work done later on. 

The pool now with tile completed. 

It is the little things; 

coffee, roses, open windows, the sunshine God 

knew I needed, sweet Kate, finishing an amazing book, 

singing praises to my good, good Father... 

Find reasons to smile, they are always there.

After Kate left I finished making dinner and then in the evening worked on pulling stuff together for my high school graduation taking place the following day. 

The others watched "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader." 

Saturday was a pretty normal morning. 

I finished packing stuff up for graduation and Mom, Ava, and I left for church at 1:00 to be able to help set up. 

We arrived at church and the parking lot was full. There was a wedding going on! 

That was not a part of the plan, but we made it work. 

We were able to take everything to a back room and get the tables set up to be moved into the common area once everything with the wedding was finished. 

I graduated with 2 other homeschooled girls in our church. We were able to make it exactly what we wanted. 

Each of us set up a display table with things from our lives to represent who we are, our interests, accomplishments, etc. 

My table in the back room.

We practiced the whole ceremony several times with much laughter and many mistakes and a multitude of fun. Then we began receiving all the family and friends who came to celebrate with us.

During the ceremony we each had a slideshow with pictures from our life and a favorite song. Then our parents talked to each of us for a few minutes and presented us with our diplomas. 

Almost all the members of both sides 
of my extended family were able to come. 
Aunt Amy and baby Eli surprised me! 

Our parents and the elders and their wives prayed over each of us.

Receiving my diploma. 

After the ceremony there were cookies and punch served and everyone got to see our tables and visit until our church service began. 

Church was so so good and we stayed for a long time afterwards to visit and then helped clean up.

At home we got everything unloaded and then took all my cards and gifts next door so everyone could see. We got to visit with Aunt Amy for a couple of hours as well, which was one of the best ways to finish the day. 

Sunday everyone slept in way late after being up until at least midnight and for some even later than that. 

We ate brunch on the later side as well. 

I had a sweet baby shower to attend in the afternoon and then rushed home to pack and leave to go spend a few days with Aunt Lauren and Uncle Phil. 

My drive to Dallas was uneventful aside from the rain. 

I ate dinner with them and then we started the BBC version of "Wives and Daughters." 

The Herd: Quoted

"Now, the thing about this lunch you are packing is you have to remember to actually eat it." -Mom to me.

"I'm such a red-neck." -Gabe

"Sometimes I argue with people over what color something is and usually I am wrong." -Christian
"That's not a very good idea when you are color-blind, son." -Mom
"I know. My favorite argument was when I actually was right. The other person was also color-blind." -Christian

"Trust me, I am never leaving you, Mom and Dad." -Mia