Friday, February 29, 2008

Kids' Rooms

Still no baby. That means Stephen had to leave without meeting his new sibling. I'm not sure this mattered to him, but it bothered me. And we're half way through Leap Year Day which we all thought would be a great day to have a baby, and still nothing. I'm pretty sure the baby will eventually come, but I have to admit it's starting to feel like it will never happen. We had a false alarm last night where I got very hopeful, but then I fell asleep and it all quit before it ever really got going anyway. Just enough to get me hopeful that we'd have a leap year baby AND Stephen would get to meet the baby. But he left at 8 this morning and still no baby . . .

So on the bright side, I was able to finish my painting project. Clark and Sam have a jungle theme on their wall.
boys' room

Claire, Joy and Gloria have flowers and butterflies.
Girls' room

Neither room is finished, but the painting is done. They both still need the trim around the floor, desks and shelves built in, and some sort of curtain hung in the doorway. (The boys will get hanging vines and the girls want hanging flowers, like leis or something instead of curtains). But I wanted to share what I've done so far. I am fairly happy with how it turned out.

I have no drawing ability at all. I just copied pictures from coloring pages, used a projectoscope to trace them on the wall, colored them in with paint, then re-outlined the pictures with a black Sharpie. I wasn't able to project the tree though because it was so big. I just held the picture in my hand and drew it on the wall with a pencil. It was a simple tree so it worked out okay. Good thing or I'd have been unable to do it!

Eventually we'll do new quilts for their beds, but that will wait. They are warm enough with what they have and with a baby and summer both coming, the quilt projects will wait. I learned that you DO NOT want to have a quilt in your lap during a Texas summer.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Just another day in Coleman

There are a lot of reasons why I love to live out here. This post is going to focus one thing, or perhaps 9,000 things. You see, there are roughly 9,000 people in the county. Today provided me with several examples of the greatness of this place and its people.

With only 9,000 folks we have to be mindful of the value of each person. The pace of life out here is slower than in the Metroplex because we have to visit. Part of working here is visiting here. I visited with the Hospital Administrator, a retiree, a realtor, and a guy that walks around bumming meals and collecting cans. The last guy is a fella that would have been lost in the crowd of folks down on their luck in Dallas/Fort Worth. Here, he is a member of the community that is cared for and protected. I've given him rides in the dead of winter and one Saturday night I made sure the high school boys surrounding him weren't planning to hurt him. (They weren't, they were trying to help him get home.) You could walk into any cafe or coffee shop in Coleman and there would be at least 10 people that could tell the same or similar stories about him.

Today I had to get a fitting for the 100 gallon stock tank that Melissa will be in when she gives birth. When I went to leave the store the truck's battery was dead. It was a seven year old battery, so I guess that was going to happen soon anyway. So Mitchell came to help me. We tried to jump the car, but it wouldn't respond. As I stood there one of the guys that works at this store, a guy that I know by name and who knows me by name, told me how lucky I was in that they have batteries. Now, this is nothing more than good salesmanship, but he helped me swap out the batteries and fixed up the battery connector that was shot. I had to buy the battery, but the extras that were needed in order to make it all work were free. I had to leave to drop Mitchell off at work and when I came back he had finished installing the battery and made sure it worked. This is commonplace here. I have become so used to this level of service and personal concern that I almost feel foolish for writing this. Isn't this how everyone is?

This afternoon there was a grass fire perilously close to our home. As I was driving home there was a roadblock. I shouted out to the cop that I lived just down the road. The cop turned out to be the Chief and he turned and looked at me and said "Yeah, I know where you live, just tell them that I let you through." So I get to the house and get Melissa to take the kids to town to hang out at the church's fellowship hall. They ended up at a friend's house jumping on the trampoline. (Melissa did not participate.) I sprayed the house down with the garden hose while answering three phone calls asking if I needed help since the fire was near my house. The fire department stopped the fire about 500 yards from our house and all was well. As I was loading up the hose to take it back to the old house a truck pulled up with five guys from church. They knew where the fire was and had shown up in the event I needed some help.

Stuff like this is pretty common away from the city. Those of you that are reading this and live in a rural community like Coleman are probably bored or thinking, "duh!" to all of this. Sorry, but I am not writing this for you. I am hoping to let our friends back in the city get a glimpse into what it's like to live in a place without 50 dining options within three miles and movie theaters with 25 screens. Turns out that all we have out here are friends and acquaintances that are willing to help put out a fire, install a battery and just sit around and talk over a cup of coffee.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

You never know who might be reading this junk

So, I’m sitting in my office this afternoon and the phone rings. On the other end is a woman that sounds kind of upset. I was used to getting calls from upset folks when I was a City Manager, but not as an EDC Director. (This is one of the really nice things about the job.) Then the lady on the other end says “I’m your birth mother.” I suppose now would be a good time to disclose to those of you that read this blog that I was adopted as an infant.

So we talked for a while and she tells me that I am the only child she ever had and I told her that she was about to be the grandmother of ten children. She already knew this as she has been reading this blog over the last few days. She knew about the laundry room and my napping. The thing about this is that I had never given a great deal of thought to the fact that various parts of my life are just thrown out there on these here internets for anyone to read. It was an absurd moment. Here is my birth mother, the woman that carried me around for nine months and had every right to know my tenth child was on the way and I’m kind of startled that she knows it before I can tell her about it and she knows because I have told the whole world about it over the last eight or nine months. Actually, I think Melissa has been the one baby blogging, but you get the point.

To add to it all, here I am all startled and bemused about the lack of privacy that I have because of the internet and my blabbing all over it and now I am telling about this deeply personal and cool deal that happened to me today. Why am I telling all of this? Because it’s going to come out anyway over the next few months as she is going to come and meet us all in April.

Now, you all know. I will not be revealing her name, at least for now, because she gets to keep her privacy for a while. Also, I’m not really sure how to deal with all this. We’ve traded a couple of e-mails already and there was the one conversation, but how is this supposed to work? I have parents that I love already. I talked to Dad and he was very supportive of me getting to know my birth mother. At some point I need to relax and drop the birth part, but at the same time I have my mother’s memory playing large in my mind. I went to the library and checked out “Heather Has Two Mommies”, but it didn’t help at all.

I guess for now all I can do is take a line from her e-mail earlier this afternoon and agree that I hope it will be a great journey for all of us.


Monday, February 18, 2008

The Laundry Room

entering laundry room
As you enter our laundry room, this is what you see. Not terribly exciting, huh? But I love it. It's got everything in one place. In the last house, the washer was in one room, the dryer in another. Then we folded everything in the living room. The kids kept their clothes in their bedrooms. We had a "family closet" type of laundry room in Grapevine and it was hard to give that up. I am so glad to be back to this setup.

clothes boxes
Each member of the family has 2 boxes or baskets that hold their clothes. There is also space on the shelves for some shoes. This frees up the bedrooms to not need to house all these things, but the biggest benefit is that when their clothes are clean, I fold them and put them directly into the appropriate box. This way we never have to deal with the kids taking their clothes to their room and just leaving the clean folded pile on the floor, only to dump it in the dirty clothes basket after mixing it with dirty clothes and being told to clean their room. Plus, the dirty clothes, even if left on the floor, are all right in the room with the washer and dryer. No carting piles of clothes all over the house. The door to this room has a bathroom type lock on it so they can change in here. We haven't done it yet, but plan to add a full length mirror to the inside of the door.

All the extra clothes boxes that you see are either clothes that don't currently fit anyone (organized by gender, size and season), extra blankets, towels, etc., or shoes that are worthy of being passed on to the next possible wearer.

hanging clothes and wire shelves
This area is where we are currently hanging our clothes as they get taken out of the dryer. The kids' clothes stay here for now, Roger and I have a closet in our room. In the next picture you'll see where there will some day be another hanging rack to hold the kids' clothes. We don't hang a lot of stuff. If it can't be folded and put in their boxes, they usually won't wear it anyway.

The shelving next to the hanging rack is also next to the washer and dryer. This is where I keep the laundry detergent (btw, I settled on the homemade powdered detergent which I am finding is the best detergent I have ever used. Works great, clothes come out soft, and it's really inexpensive!). It is also where more towels and such go. I place the kitchen towels here as I fold them, but then they get put away in the kitchen by whoever has that chore every day during our "after lunch clean up" (we have one for every meal).

laundry sorting and storage
Here is where we sort our dirty clothes. Our last sorter broke and we just got a new one. I am really happy with it. It has wheels so I can roll it over and easily add clothes to the washer. Also, the wheels make it easy to get to the stuff stored behind the sorter. We sort things into 3 loads--darks, lights, and reds. This sorter works well for us and takes up less space than 3 baskets. I may be adding a basket soon though because we are moving away from paper towels and napkins in favor of microfiber towels (we found them in the automotive section of the store and got 3 dozen for cheap. They work GREAT for soaking up all those spills at meal time!) that we can wash and re-use. Add to that all the other wet towels and wash clothes, etc. and I really need to keep them separate from the clothes. I'm finding it difficult to get that load clean. It can be done, but I think I'd prefer a load of just towels instead of risking losing our clothes if something is too gross.

Anyway, behind that you see a pile of boxes. These are my sewing things. I have a lot of fabric stored away. I couldn't help myself when the local store had 25cent a yard clearance fabrics. Besides, I don't know anyone who sews who doesn't have a stash of fabric somewhere. Eventually Roger is going to build me a cabinet to sew at and store my stuff, but for now it lives here. When the cabinet is built, we'll be able to add a bar for hanging the clothes the kids rarely wear.

looking out of laundry room
Looking back out of the laundry room you see the kitchen out the door. To the right at the doorway is a hanging thingy to hold our broom, mop, dustpan. We also have our water softener, heater, and filter in here. Some day, if I need it, there is room for a shelf that can go up over the top of all this for more storage. For now I don't need it and asked Roger to just wait and move on to more important things.

I've probably forgotten something, but this post is too long already. I just love this room. It makes my life so much easier.


Napping Buddies

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Just Hangin' Around

Hmm. What's new around here that's worthy of blogging about? Not much really. We're currently rained in. We're getting rock laid on our new driveway in a couple days, but it wasn't soon enough.

I've gotten a bit closer to having the laundry room finished. I finished the little mini-diaper bags/purses that I made for Joy and Gloria out of scraps from my diaper bag. Roger and I made some meals for our freezer today. The freezer was hungry so we fed it.

Stephen is home visiting until the end of the month. I'd very much like to have the baby before he leaves again since we have NO idea when we will see him again. I'd like for him to get to meet his new sibling even if it is a very brief meeting that neither of them will really remember. But then at the same time, we have yet another sickness going through the family. It's some sort of sore throat/headache/high fever/cough thing. Grace had it first. Now it's Joy and Gloria. Hopefully that will be the end of it, but who knows? I do know that I don't want the baby to be born into it. So do I want the baby sooner (to meet Stephen) or later (to stay healthy)? I can't decide. Thankfully I don't have to. God has the timing all planned out.

I have been MOSTLY free of gallstone pain this past week by the way. Until I ate cheesecake last night (a slightly delayed celebration of Stephen's birthday). I guess that got it going again. I can't decide if it was worth it or not. Probably not, but it was really good. So was the big turkey dinner we had. It was soooo good to be full for the first time in a month rather than just eating enough to not be starved.

Anyway, we'd appreciate prayers for good health. And I know you aren't supposed to pray for patience, but if you have to wait for something anyway (like a new baby) it helps to be patient about it. So please pray for me for patience too--not just to wait for the baby, but to be able to deal with two very whiny, clingy little girls who don't feel good.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Nesting Time

As with any mother expecting a baby, I am nesting. I have had a long list of things to get done before the baby is born. My list cannot include fixing up a nursery because the nursery is currently the storage room for the tools and such needed to keep working on the rest of the house. We won't need the nursery for at least a couple of months since the baby will be in our room anyway.

So what kind of things make the list of a homeschooling mom expecting baby #10? Well, our school year ends in 2 weeks and the new year begins after I get some time off from having a baby. March 31 is the projected date for the 1st day of school. So I had to get all my school plans ready. That included getting the writing curriculum I've written finished, the books we need this year printed and bound, and the books all backed up on a disk (very important because 3 days before the last baby was born I had a computer crash and lost those same books!) This is done and checked off my list. I've also been working on figuring out what in the world we are going to do with Mitchell. Aside from building a house and writing a novel, in his spare time he has managed to get ahead in school. He just turned 16 but is beginning his senior year of high school. He should graduate a few days before his 17th birthday. So I've been looking up colleges and trying to figure out how to get him through some college online before he would actually leave here. He'd have 1.5 years and could possibly complete an associate degree in general studies by then. Then he could go to college at the same time as other kids his age, but already be half way done. That's been a bit time consuming. It's hard to get information about online colleges online. They still want you to use the phone. Phone calls with 8 kids in the house, well, I won't even describe the difficulty there.

I wanted to make sure anyone who might need a haircut in the next couple months got one. That includes Roger and the 3 boys still living at home. I also gave 2 of the girls haircuts and trimmed bangs for 2 of the others. This cannot yet be checked off my list. Someone unplugged the cordless trimmers that I'd plugged in to charge and I couldn't get through all the haircuts before they died. But I just have 2 left so I'm close.

Yesterday I worked all day in the laundry room. We are very close to having that room finished and organized. When that is done I will have all the clothes organized by size and gender and boxed and labeled in one room. That will be great since Spring weather should hit shortly after we have the baby. Roger will be able to help get out what we need and the children won't be stuck wearing sweaters in 80 degree weather.

And the thing I am most excited about is that I wanted to make new burp cloths for the baby, and a new diaper bag. I finished both today.

The burp cloths were exciting to me because I was very frugal. It cost me 75 cents to make these. I had flannel that I'd bought on clearance for 25 cents a yard. I used less than 3 yards, but more than 2 so I rounded up. I just took two rectangles of flannel for each one, sewed a piece of a dish towel that needed to be thrown out because of all the stains and rips (and we had quite a few of these) into the center and serged the edges. I made 11. It bothered me that it's not an even dozen, but not enough to go find more fabric to make just one more. And we still have 1 or 2 old ones that haven't been completely worn ragged from the first 9 kids.

burp cloths

The thing I am absolutely thrilled about is the diaper bag I made today. I started this at about 3:15 and by 9:15 I had finished and even taken pictures. Of course, we just had sandwiches for dinner which Faith fixed, but I did take time to eat. And the kids watched more movies during that time than I was really comfortable with. But I have never done a project like this and I was totally absorbed with the directions and what I was doing. I am VERY pleased with the results.

diaper bag
inside of bag

The first picture shows the exterior of the bag. In the second picture I tried to show the vinyl inner pockets, there are 6 of them including two to hold a cup or bottle--one for mom and one for baby/toddler. I also added a little loop at the top to hook my keys on. The criss cross design of the bag means there are 2 outer pockets, too. I love this bag. I got the pattern from and the fabric and notions from Walmart. I learned several things from this project, but two stand out in my mind the most: don't try to iron this fake leather stuff or it will melt, and french seams are not as hard as I thought they would be.

So now if I can just get those last two haircuts done and finish up the last few things in the laundry room, I'll be ready to have the baby. Too bad the baby won't necessarily come when I'm ready though.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

What if you don't have a lot of toys for your kids?

Having moved recently, we haven't yet moved all of the kids' stuff. As Sam, our 3 year old, said recently, our old house is "where all our stuff lives."

So what do the kids do all day? We homeschool and get done with school work by noon most days. Some days they make messes--especially the younger ones. But there are positive ways they put that energy to use, too. They help out with work--like organizing the room full of tools and such that are needed to finish the house, helping me bake bread or cook whatever needs cooking, or clearing a path for a new driveway. But sometimes they just like to play. So here's an example of what they do if all they have is paper, markers, colored pencils, and modeling clay. Oh, and one little castle thingy they snuck over here without my knowing. (I've tried to not move anything that doesn't yet have a home in the new house. Shelves aren't in yet.)


Monday, February 04, 2008

More Large Family Numbers and a Praise

The praise first. I have been struggling the last 3 weeks with pain. We believe it to be gallstones. Being pregnant there isn't a whole lot we can do about it. I've been eating more acidic foods, more fiber, and just suffering. Any fat in my diet makes it hurt soooo much more. So I've been avoiding fat--which means protein because even beans hurt me a lot. Of course, I've been praying about this all along. One night Faith watched me struggling with an attack and prayed for me. It instantly got better. I didn't know why until she said how weird it was that I got better at that moment because she'd just prayed for me. It hasn't been as bad since then, but it definitely wasn't gone. I've been sleeping only 4-5 hours per night and not eating very well either. I know I've gotten incredibly grouchy and hard to live with. Last night I went to bed and as usual, couldn't find a comfortable position to sleep in. The pains only allow me to sleep on my back, but at 37 weeks pregnant, that can really be uncomfortable. I'll sleep for 15 minutes or so at a time before I wake up with back pain, unable to breathe, or just numb from the waist down. If I sleep on either side I get this pain that feels like someone is stabbing me in my lower right ribs and I can usually only sleep through that for about 15 minutes or so. So last night I asked Roger to pray for me because praying for myself just wasn't helping. As he prayed for me to be able to sleep and eat normally, I felt some of the pain subside. I still awoke several times during the night but never felt I had to get up to breathe or anything. Just changed positions and went back to sleep. I was totally amazed to see the sun was rising when I woke up. I had been in bed for almost 8 hours!!!!

Then came time for breakfast. I'd made yogurt yesterday (which turned out to be the BEST yogurt ever) since that seems to be the only form of protein that doesn't hurt me. But I added the granola that Faith made this morning in spite of the fact that it had oil in it. I was feeling pretty good about God answering the sleep part of the prayer and wanted to see if He'd also answered the eat part. I had two bowls of yogurt and granola and no pain. Tested it further at lunch with two tortillas with cheese melted on them and now an hour or so later, still no pain! I sure hope this continues. But even if it's just a break for the day, I am praising God for it!

Now, more about Numbers. I talked the other day about 90 months of pregnancy. I was just handed a tooth. I have been keeping each child's teeth in a separate container and decided recently that I'm just going to throw them all together in one jar. I realized when Claire handed me her lost molar (We don't do the tooth fairy. I just trade them a couple of quarters for the tooth.) that if each of ten children give me 20 teeth, that's 200 teeth for my jar! But I won't quite have that many because Clark has swallowed a couple and Mitchell lost some before he could give them to me. But still, that's a lot of teeth!

Oh, one more thing. Happy 18th birthday to our soldier! Stephen is in the field training this week so we can't contact him. But it's a big day for him! And 18 years since I officially became a mom. Of course, it was about this time of day that they were sending me home from the hospital saying it was a false alarm. But 6 hours later he was born. And people wonder why I prefer home births.


Saturday, February 02, 2008

90 Months of Pregnancy

Today I realized I am in my 90th month of pregnancy.

I mentioned that to Stephen on the phone this evening and he pointed out that is 7.5 years. Since I'll be 40 this month also, that is almost 1/5 of my life! As I turn 40 and wonder what I've done with my life so far I can realize that I've spent 20% of it growing and raising some of the world's smartest, cutest, most beautiful, wonderful creatures that exist. Wow! Quite an accomplishment, huh? I can feel good about that even if I never did get a college degree.

So then you go a bit further into the numbers and try to get more specific. I can figure out weeks. Each pregnancy is an average of 40 weeks. So that would be 400 (don't you love multiplying by 10! It's so easy!) weeks minus 3 since I still have 3 weeks left. But wait! Stephen was 12 days late, Mitchell was 1 day late, Grace was 2 days late, Claire was 3 days late, Joy was 3 days early, and Gloria was 4 days late. The rest--Faith, Clark and Samuel--were born on their due dates so that equates to 0 days late or early. That adds up to 19 days late. I'm due in 20 days so as of tomorrow I will have spent 400 weeks of my life pregnant. That would be 2800 days!! And I'm not even done yet.

That's a lot of morning sickness, small bladder, heartburn, achy back, etc. kind of days.

And was it all worth it? You bet!

Well, at least so far.


Friday, February 01, 2008

White Rock Marathon - and I don't mean listening to hours and hours of Lynyrd Skynyrd

I am not sure when was the last time I blogged, but I did notice that Melissa has not blogged in over a week and I would like to apologize for her lack of blogging. It is shameful and we will be talking about it later, after the movie.

Over the last few weeks I have been splitting time between Coleman and Dallas. My quest to qualify for retirement, a trail full of peril and betrayal, is nearing its end. I have not blogged about it because I have been so apprehensive about the whole process. When it is all said and done and I have received my first check I will tell all. Until then I will tell some. Since mid-January I have been the Mail Boy (Mail Person if you want to be PC) for University Park. For two weeks I was full time and this week I worked Thursday and Friday. I have a couple of days to work next week and then the following week I will serve on an interview panel for UP's Fire Chief hiring process.

The City Manager of UP, Bob Livingston, really likes the thought of introducing me as a member of the panel and as the former Mail Boy to the candidates. I also enjoy the thought of asking these guys questions such as: Does a return receipt requested letter have to be sent as certified mail or can it be sent uncertified? What is first class postage on a flat weighing between two and three ounces?

I have been lucky to have a free place to stay while in Dallas. It is called the sofa in my Dad's TV room. I am about two inches too tall to stretch out on the sofa. (I used two, to and too all in one sentence and it all made sense, much excitement here in word geek land) Worse than that is the food. It is all good food and good desserts and I am about 15 pounds heavier than when I started my time at UP. So, I am going to diet now. In fact, I have a new blogging trail to follow. I am going to bore you all with my training to run a marathon. My plan is to run the White Rock Marathon this coming December. So, follow along for the next two weeks while I research and plan out my training program and decide that running a marathon is a lot of work and quit, or decide to keep on training until a snake bites me while I run on the roads around here or keep at it and make everyone uncomfortable as I share details about chaffing. I think my odds of really making it to the finish line in Dallas in December are about 1 in 50. My sister is almost 50. Love you Ronda and I will call you soon. I got to leave work early and was home in Coleman before 5 your time.

I weighed myself just now. 191 pounds. I have the svelte look of Jack Black.