Friday, February 27, 2009

I'm a Wild One

You'll never guess what I did the other night.

It was really wild.

And when I say wild, I mean w-i-l-d, wild.

'Cause let's face it, sometimes things can get monotonous when you are home all the time. It's cold and snowy and I'm ready for Spring.

You want to hear what I did to spice up my life? To live vicariously? To walk on the wild side?

Here it is:
I loaded the plates in the dishwasher facing the opposite direction.

I know, I know--it's crazy. I still can't believe I did it.

I told you I'm wild. Next week, I may even wash the floor starting on the other side of the room. It's crazy, I know--but I just might do it.

You just never know what might happen with someone wild like me....

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Call Me Dave

Yesterday I took the kids to an activity for our homeschool group. I let the four older ones go in while the three little ones hung out with me in the van in the parking lot.
A man started his pickup and pulled out of the space next to us.
Christopher commented that his pickup sounded just like Daddy's (a diesel).
Elijah thought he said it was Daddy.
Christopher said no, it wasn't Daddy 'cause his name wasn't Dennis.
I said "that's right--(then to check again) 'cause what's Daddy's name?"
Christopher said, "Dennis."
I asked if he knew mommy's name.
His reply: "I dunno, um, Dave?"

Monday, February 23, 2009


I just finished watching Ben Stein's documentary "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed".
Oh. my. word.
Use a free two-week trial of netflix and get this movie!
It is amazing!!!!!!

We needed you, Ruby!

The other night, I was changing Miss Ruby. As I typically do, I was making all the googly, smoochy, baby talk sounds to her. Linnea and I always tell Ruby how pretty she is, or what a big girl, how much we love her and so on.
I suddenly wanted her to know how much we wanted her, how much we needed her in our family.
I told her. I said, "Ruby, we needed you! I'm so glad you're here!"
Linnea, Andrew, Christopher and Elijah were in the room, too. I told them how much we had needed them, also. How much we wanted each of them, and their older brothers, too.
I told them how God had placed them in this family, because he knew that this was where they needed to be--and that they were and are just the children that Dennis and I need and want.
Some days get really overwhelming, whether you have one kid or fifteen kids. But I always want my kids to know that we want each one of them--and any more that God may have for our family.
Each one is put in our family for a reason.
I want God to have His way in this area--His way is perfect! Who am I to say "yes" or "no" to the Creator?
I want my kids to know that children are a blessing and NOT a burden.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The New Me

Today, I become the mother of a teenager.

Thirteen years ago today, I labored to bring him into the world. At 6:08 pm, Nathaniel arrived weighing 8 lbs. 8 oz.
I was convinced I was having a girl, but Daddy announced "he's a boy!".
In honor of his special day, I will write 13 things about our oldest son.

1. He is a walking atlas. Seriously.
2. He is a walking encyclopedia. Seriously.
3. He is a voracious reader.
4. He loves cashews.
5. As a toddler, he had the best giggle.
6. He has a quick wit and great sense of humor.
7. He is big enough to still call me "mommy" when talking to the little ones. ie. "Mommy says it's time for supper."
8. He has been to way more states than I have.
9. He changes diapers, and has for years. Probably more than Dad or Grandpa.
10. This child whom I once held in my arms is now hard to distinguish from his dad from a distance.
11. He is a hard worker.
12. He is a good brother.
13. He is the first child to make me a Mom.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Congratulations, JIF

My six-year-old is beginning to read. That means that he asks what everything spells. This morning, as he was preparing his peanut butter toast, he said
"Does J-I-F spell peanut butter?"

Advertising dollars at work, folks.
I still remember that choosy moms choose JIF, at least when it's on sale.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

All better...

We're all better! What a week! I am so glad it's over.
A few things I learned this time:
~I have "mommy ears". You'd think sleep deprivation would take it's toll, lessening my ability to respond quickly to a sick child. Not so. I awoke at the slightest sound of a possibly-puking child and was there with the bucket or trash can before it could hit the sheets or the carpet. One night, I came back to bed and saw my husband--who typically sleeps on the couch--and thought "when did he crawl in here?" This sort of thing has happened before and I am admittedly a little freaked out that someone could get into bed next to me and I apparently don't even know it. On the other hand, I was secretly impressed with myself that I could hear "sick sounds" while sleeping and get there in time.
~When kids are sick, I look at food in a whole different way. I don't feed anything that would seriously affect me if I saw it again later--if you know what I mean...
~In a small and, selfishly indulgent way, I was a little jealous of those in my family who got to lay around and watch movies and sleep all day. I have no idea what that would be like. I'm picturing the house caving in and the health inspector and social worker showing up...
~I WISH I had a nickel for every time I tell my kids to wash their hands. They may grow up thinking their siblings are toxic. They rarely see the inside of a store and know that the reason is because "there's GERMS in there!!!!!"
~I sunk to a new low on the germ-a-phobe scale. When I went in to Linnea's room to bring her a drink of water and empty her "basin", I donned rubber gloves and tied a dishtowel over my nose and mouth. I cleverly disguised my distain for this task by saying "this is a stick-up", which made her smile. Maybe I'm not the worst mommy ever???????
~No matter how many times I washed my hands (which was getting up close to a million, I swear), when you have little kids who are throwing up ON you, around you, at your feet, and on each other--you're probably going to get it, too. (I was BEGGING God to spare me, but He had other plans. At least mine was short-lived, about 6 hours of feeling REALLY crummy.) Getting sick is not a failure on my part, although this is very hard for me to accept.
~I am thankful for Tylenol/Motrin. I imagine those pioneer mamas who could do nothing to help their sick children, often watching them die within a short matter of time. I am thankful for hot running water, telephones, washing machines and hospitals. I don't use meds if I can at all avoid it, but knowing they are available is comforting. Same with hospitals. Dehydration is a very real concern when little ones can't keep anything down. Knowing I could get an iv if needed helped stave off some of the helplessness I felt. (I think Elijah was close to being dehydrated. Then, he turned a corner and started keeping things down.)

OK, I'd better get off the computer and get kids through the tub. Linnea and Andrew are at AWANA, and Christopher is in the barn with Daddy and the big boys. It's just Ruby and Elijah with me in the house--but they're the two who require the most attention! Typing with a five month old in your lap is no easy thing. And it smells like Elijah's been busy...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Can you hold a man accountable for something he says in your own dream?
Dennis said something very rude to me last night in my dream, and quite frankly, I am a little miffed this morning...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

another one bites the dust

SIX down, three to go...
It hit me late yesterday afternoon. Feeling better today and so is Linnea. I'm actually kind of fearful of Ruby getting it.
I always feel so helpless when babies are sick.
Maybe she won't??
The bigger boys are going bowling with a couple friends for their birthdays tomorrow; Dennis is taking them. I hope they stay well so they can go!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ode to Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day to me,
I've been cleaning up throw-up.
It's now day three...
The washer hasn't stopped running,
the towels are spinning now.
The bedding lies in wait
I'll get through it somehow.
Everything I am seeing with my eyes--
I feel the need to sanitize.
(I haven't written a poem since 6th grade.
There's probably a reason for that.
I can't believe I'm actually going to post this...)

All Aboard

This is what my kids like to do when I wash the kitchen floor (which is usually about four days AFTER the day I say I cannot stand it anymore)--they make a train in the hallway with all the chairs.
It's a simple way for them to have fun--and it keeps them out of the way while I'm washing the floor.

for some reason it worked to post an image today. I've been meaning to do this post for a long time, but blogger wouldn't let me add the picture...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Potty Training

Christopher calls from the bathroom, "SOMEONE COME WIPE MEEEEEEE!!"
How it is that he can operate the dvd player and yet cannot wipe his own bottom is what I wanna know.

25 Random Things About Me

1. Sometimes there are situations where I find I am afraid that someone will come along and catch me playing grown-up.
2. I have seven children. In many ways, seven kids are easier than one. No kidding.
3. I have a blog. You know this because you are reading it, but it amazes me every day. I can barely answer my cell phone and yet can post items here that people all over the country can read. Whoa.
4. I don't get sports. I am easily bored when playing them. I just don't see the point of chasing a ball.
5. I don't drink or swear---though some days it's a wonder that I don't start.
6. I like dip. All kinds of dip--for chips, for fruit, for bread...Maybe that's why I have a weight problem??
7. I am a germ-a-phobe. I won't touch public bathroom door handles, I wash my hands a zillion times a day, I won't touch my face after being in a store. Shaking hands at church is a hurdle for me.
8. I use cloth diapers--and I like doing so.
9. I home educate my kids--and I like that, too.
10. I HATE HATE HATE salamanders. I am NOT exaggerating.
11. I don't take any pain meds/epidurals during childbirth.
12. I enjoy cleaning the house.
13. I went to high school with some of the funniest people on the planet.
14. My kids are smarter than me. I'm so not kidding. I ask my 12 year old for help with MY history, math, and Bible.
15. I love learning obscure facts. The kind that leave people speechless. Like, did you know that President Taft (who was overweight) once got stuck in his bathtub at the White House?
16. I love doing laundry. I am a clothesline fanatic from April through November.
17. We get four channels on our TV: CBS, PBS, ABC and FOX. Now with DTV, we get five! FOX, two PBS's and 2 ABC's. Whoopie.
18. Even though I haven't listened to anything other than Christian talk radio for nearly ten years I could probably sing the lyrics to every Country song recorded in 1995. Yet, I am hard-pressed to accurately recite more than four Bible verses.
19. I have occasionally neglected to buckle my seat belt right away, as my vehicle hurtles along at 55-60 mph and yet I cannot eat an unwashed apple.
20. I've never shopped in GAP or Old Navy. I think I was in a GAP once, my senior year of high school on our class trip to the Mall of America, but I didn't buy anything.
21. I am happiest when I am home.
22. I love thunderstorms.
23. I would love to travel to Maine some day.
24. I love to read.
25. I love my children more than I would have thought humanly possible. Knowing that God loves me more is breathtaking.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Oatmeal: a title that begs to be read

After years and years of harboring guilt, I feel like I've made a major accomplishment:
My kids will eat oatmeal. (OK, to be honest, it's only some of them...)
I've always felt so inadequate admitting that all they ever ate was cold cereal--honey smacks, froot loops, kix, even pop tarts...
But since the beginning of January, when I ran out of cereal and it was going to be awhile till I was able to go to the store again, I've been cooking breakfast.
I've read this over and over again--cook breakfast instead of feeding boxes of sugar coated air. But I wasn't convinced that it would be cheaper. I've been pleasantly surprised. It may not be drastically cheaper, but it's not more expensive. And it's better!
Six eggs, scrambled, feeds four of my younger children and me. I also make a small pot of oatmeal each morning and some of them like a scoop.
I've tried serving oatmeal before--always the microwave kind. Thinking back, I may have tried to cook some quick oats a loooong time ago when my bigger boys were small. Either way, it was unsuccessful.
I tried it this time around with the regular oats--not quick oats or the microwave pre-packaged kind.
One of my kids tried it and gagged and ran to the garbage to spit it out. I'll be transparent enough to admit that.
However, my 2 year old ate FOUR helpings of it yesterday morning! I cook it according to the directions on the container, except I mix milk in for some of the water to make it a little creamier. I like my oatmeal to be thick so I use slightly less liquid than it calls for on the package.
For the servings I make, I use one and a half cups of water and a fourth cup of milk. Bring this to a boil and add one cup of oats.
I add about 2 T. brown sugar, a dash of vanilla, some cinnamon and a sprinkle of nutmeg and yummm: my kids eat oatmeal!
(My bowl gets topped with some walnuts from time to time. The kids think they don't like nuts, so they don't want them on theirs.)
I am able to make a cozy, warm breakfast that's pretty cheap. The best part is that it's good for them, too!
I still keep a couple boxes in the cupboard for emergencies (like Cheerios or honey smacks), but they last a long time now.
I feel better knowing my kids are eating healthier, as fruits and vegetables are hard to fit into my grocery allowance.
Oats are a heart-healthy food--it says so right on the box!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Nothin' better...

I can think of few things sweeter than the way Miss Ruby holds my hand as I feed her, or grasps my shirt like she's hanging on for dear life.
It is a memory from babyhood that I hold dear from all of my babies.
I imagine that it will be images like this that sustain me when I am an old woman rocking away in a nursing home...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

It's a Big Day

It's a big day here at our house.
Christopher is wearing "unnerwears". Lightning McQueen underwear. That's a big deal.
He is so proud. He spends minutes in front of the mirror admiring his narcissistic, underwear-clad self.

Andrew read his first book: Hot Dog. He has been waiting and waiting for me to start reading with him. Today, we did. That's a big deal, too.
He called Grandma Cindy to tell her about it. Here's what I overheard from the half of the conversation I was on...
"Hi, Grandma. I read a book today all by myself."
"It was called 'Hot Dog'".
"About a dog that was hot."
(Apparently, she had asked him the story line. I am constantly amazed at how those beginner books are able to make PAGES out of something as simple as a dog that was hot....)

It's also quite balmy here today. 27 degrees! Linnea, Andrew, and Christopher were outside swinging on the swingset this afternoon. Yep--that's living in Minnesota, all right! The swings are only a few inches off the top of the snow. It's too funny when I stop to think on it. My kids in their hats, gloves, and insulated shirts--because 27 degrees is now somehow too warm for coats.
The big boys snowmobiled this afternoon--again peeling off layers because of "the heat".
Apparently, ya really do get used ta it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Sword fighting

Actual conversation between me and my three-year-old:
(I was brushing my teeth, so it's hard to type out the phonetics of my responses...I'll just type it as it was intended.)

Christopher: Hey, Mom? Me and Andrew are gonna have a swordfight, K?
Me: Ok.
Christopher: But we are going to do it downstairs.
Me: Good choice.
Christopher: Yeah, 'cause we don't want anyone to get hurt.
Me: Smart thinking.
Christopher: Ok, we're gonna go now.
Me: Have fun.

After he left the doorway of the bathroom, I realized the absurdity of the conversation in which I had just participated.

And in case I need to say it, they're plastic swords...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hide and Seek

Apparently we don't play enough organized games in our home.

Yesterday, Christopher (3) was playing hide-and-seek with Daddy and Elijah (2).
Everyone knows 2 year olds are hide-and-seek champs, right? They make the game so much easier for the seeker by standing and pointing out the location of the hider...

Anyway, Daddy was hiding and Christopher was counting:
"one...two...three...for Heaven's sake--HERE I COME!!!"

I'd better get back to my troops; ready or not...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Invisible Mothers

I didn’t write this, just got it sent to me somewhere along the way…

Invisible Mothers...
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.
Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.
I'm invisible. The Invisible Mom.
Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?
Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude – but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself.
I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this." It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe.
I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'"
In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals – we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.
A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it." And the workman replied, "Because God sees."
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."
At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.
The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree. When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table."
That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there."
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Eleven years ago today, Isaiah Carlton was born!!
4:58 am, 8 lbs. even--and on Grandma Cindy's birthday to boot!
Happy Birthday to our very serious, very curious, very studious, very daring, very funny second son!

And Happy Birthday to Grandma Cindy, too... ;-)
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