Saturday, May 31, 2008

Name That Rash



It wasn't heat rash after all. Thursday morning she woke up covered from head to toe, including her palms and the soles of her feet. It bothers her some, but not too much. Being Gloria, she was still full of smiles and giggles. She spiked a fever of 103.2F in the afternoon. And Ezra had a slight rash too. I checked the other kids and nearly all of them were running a fever in the 99.5-100.5 range. Yet everyone felt fine. I called the doctor, but we didn't see him until today. Meanwhile, Clark, Joy and Sam ended up with high fevers and Grace has swollen glands in her neck. Whatever it is, they all got exposed at the same time it seems.

Knowing we don't immunize, the doctor went through every possible childhood rash and ruled them all out. In the end, he couldn't figure out what it is either, other than a virus, and just advised us to avoid spreading it by waiting 24 hours after the fever ends to go anywhere. He wasn't worried about her since other than being spotty she's fine.

Melissa

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Heat Rash

Poor little Gloria has had a rash for the last few days. I couldn't figure out what it was. She didn't seem sick at all. It looked like heat rash, but I'd never seen heat rash get that bad before. Whatever it was, it definitely was most uncomfortable for her when she got hot. Cooling her off seemed to help her feel better.

Ezra's room is the coolest in the house and Gloria's bed was the hottest. We're planning to cool the house with earth tubes, but we're not there yet. We've lived without air conditioning before and figured we could do it again. The only one really not doing well seems to be Gloria. So we let her sleep in Ezra's room last night to see if that helped. The rash was nearly gone this morning. As the day has warmed up though it's coming back, just not as bad as it was.

So our solution was to move her to Ezra's room. She loves it.



We'd thought about putting her in the nursery before, but we were worried that she would climb in the crib and that could be a problem. So today they were both napping. Then I heard these sweet little sounds coming from that room. The sounds of a baby babbling. I went to peek and this is what I found:



I have now explained to her that the crib is Ezra's bed and she is not allowed to get in it. She has to look at him from outside of the crib. She said okay. But she's only two so we'll see how that goes. It sure was cute though.

And a quick update on our kittens, the great hunters: Last evening we found a half of a snake right where the cats hang out. Gross, yes. But we quickly realized the value of the cats because that is one less LIVE snake at our house. Still, 5 cats would be too many . . .



Melissa

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cats and Clotheslines

We still have 4 kittens. I mentioned in a previous post that their mother is a good mouser. Well, we don't know if she fed the kittens a mouse or if they had a successful hunting lesson or what. What we do know is that they were helping each other eat a large field mouse this morning. It was as big as the kittens. I know it sounds gross, but it was an interesting sight to watch them work together on it. And now they have a taste for it and would be great mousers themselves. Anyone want a kitten? Red, their mother, has weaned them and they're ready to go!

At the old house there is a clothesline. It's quite a walk from here though and the wasps have taken it over so I am not using it. But I like the magic the sun works on stained diapers. I couldn't just put the diapers outside for the dog and cats to play with. So I put them on the dashboard of the van. It works. I get nice, white, dry diapers. If only the dash was long enough for ALL the diapers. But then the van would be even wider and harder to drive. I may have to see if I can find one of those retractable clotheslines when we have a porch.

Melissa

Monday, May 26, 2008

Tempting Fate

As has been chronicled on these here blog pages, I am not the most careful person. Missing fingertips, stab wounds in my leg from my own knife, nails in my hand all seem to lend credence to Melissa's obsession with my lack of carefulness. Well, we had a water problem the other day and I had to go a quarter mile to get to the meter. Bad planning on my part to not have it in place already. So, I went to the hardware store and got the parts I needed to remedy the situation only to find that the valve box was a new bee hive. See the little fellas in there? The comb is three layers deep and full of eggs. The fact I could get close enough to get this picture indicates that these are European bees, not Africanized bees. The Africanized bees are the ones the media likes to call "killer bees". These were much more docile "hurt you bees". While they were the more docile bees, they were not going to let me get in there, cut the pipe, set new fittings and then reset the box. Bees get real mad when you move their home around.

A good can of wasp killer would probably have taken care of them, but since we already have a hive and the oh so cool looking beekeeper outfit I decided that this swarm could be moved from where they were to another spot and it would give us a second hive. What could go wrong? So I put on the bee suit, taped my shirt closed and strapped my pants legs tight to my boots and away went to move the bees. I also had Faith do a photo shoot of the event as it would make for either a blog post, a slide show for the funeral or both.


The first thing you do is make a fire in the smoker. You light some jute and pump the bellows like there is no tomorrow. I was doing this in 90 degree heat and that shirt is a thick winter weight shirt. I thought I was gonna stroke out, the bees were not as big a worry. You can't drink through the mesh. Anyway, got the fire going, got the smoke pumping and pumped it all over the bees. I pulled the box out of the ground and I moved it about 20 feet to the west and sat it on top of a honey super that was not in use.
There were a few bees that decided to stay at the old place and give me grief. They have subsequently moved out, I think they went to the new hive but they all look alike and I didn't bother to get their names. For the rest of the day, though, they would not let me get within 15 feet of the valves and pipes. I'd see them as soon as they saw me and they'd send a kamikaze straight for my head. I should have let one of them sting me as I had a touch of arthritis a couple of weeks ago and bee venom will knock that back.

The lid I am holding was clean when I knocked it off the box the night before and they had already started a honeycomb in order to make the newly rearranged utility box their home.
The new hive is getting reestablished and I lived through another day. I a couple of weeks I am going to move the main hive to another part of the farm, away from the cows and near the future garden and orchard. I may have Faith tape this next one so we can post it on YouTube as "Dumb guy runs and screams like little girl." Watch for it.

Roger

Happy Birthday Gloria!

Gloria is two today! Can you believe how quickly the time flew? It seems like just yesterday, okay, well, maybe last month, she was born.

Here's some stuff from the archives about her birth:
She has arrived
And now more about the baby
Another baby picture

And now here she is two years later. What a happy, beautiful blessing she is!

Gloria on her second birtday

Oh, and happy birthday to her Uncle Fred!

Melissa

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Google Reader

I just saw a blog that was giving directions how to subscribe to posts on that blog and thought that was a good idea. I don't know much about subscriptions, but Mitchell told me recently about Google Reader. I'm posting directions to set up Google Reader. If you would like to use it, it helps you keep up to date with us without having to check in on us everyday. We all know that wastes your time since we don't get around to blogging every day.

How To Use Google Reader

Go to www.google.com/reader. If you don't already have an account, you'll need to get one. If you do, be sure you are signed in.

To add a blog to your list, all you have to do is find the bar on the left that says, "Add subscription" and click on that.

Type in the name or url of the blog you'd like to add. In this case, youredoingwhat.blogspot.com and then hit "enter".

You can add more blogs or webpages to your Google Reader and it will list all the unread updates on those blogs. You may have to tell it to mark all as read if you've already read them. It's just a computer and only knows what you tell it. ;-)

You can add this as a gadget to your iGoogle home page, too. If you don't already have an iGoogle home page, you can create one easily. Just go to the upper right corner (from google.com) and click on iGoogle. Follow the steps to create your own homepage in under 30 seconds. You can close any of the features on the page that you don't like.

Now click on Add stuff. In the little blue box on the right you can type "Google Reader" and click search. Click the Add it now button next to Google Reader. Go back to www.google.com and you should now have Google Reader as a box. You can drag these boxes around and set your page up however you'd like. When the bar that says "Google Reader" has a number in parentheses in it, there are blogs you haven't read yet. You can just click on any of the hyperlinks to see what is new.

Now you can easily keep up with what we're up to. Isn't that great?

There are other ways to do this, but I don't know them. Sorry.

Melissa

Monday, May 19, 2008

Anybody want a kitten?








We have new kittens at our house. I think they're about 4-5 weeks old (I've totally lost track of time) so they could leave their momma in a couple of weeks. I haven't checked for myself, but the kids tell me they are all girls. Two of the kittens were born without a tail--strangely similar to the black cat up the road. ;-) If anyone wants a kitten, just let us know! We'd be happy to give you one or more. Their mother is a good mouser!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Discipline Update

How do I have time to post twice in one day? Well, Ezra is taking a nap. There are other things I should be doing, but frankly I am too tired. The kids and I worked on our front path today. That meant we moved a bunch of rocks and either dug or filled in to try to make it as level and sturdy as possible, then covered the whole thing with sand to fill in the cracks. Followed by sweeping the sand off the rocks. We only did about half of the walkway, but those rocks are heavy and we were all tired! It may not seem too impressive if you're used to seeing pavers and a nice smooth walkway, but these are real rocks from our property so they are all of a different thickness. And it certainly beats the boards we've been walking on!



Anyway, I wrote about discipline the other day. I wanted to give an update because I feel I've had a real breakthrough.

I've been saying for a long time that I don't like to read books about discipline or marriage because they mess me up. Everything is fine in our family and if I read a book about how things worked for someone else, it sounds good, but it doesn't necessarily work for us. And it's hard to get things out of your head once they are in there. Authors that assume their way is the only right way are the worst in my opinion.

Well, I read a book about 8 years ago that seemed like it would help me a lot. It's been since then that I felt things were going downhill. I realized that something entered my thinking upon reading that book that didn't work for our family, but I couldn't figure out how I'd changed or what was different now. The day we quit watching TV for a week I began to pray that God would get me back to what was right for us.

I read the book because I was struggling with the fact that my children didn't obey immediately and cheerfully. Well, they still don't so it didn't seem the book helped me much at all. Some things changed for the better, but some for the worse.

Last week I read a blog that talked about discipline and while I didn't agree with everything exactly that she said, God spoke to me through her words. She talked about mercy and forgiveness and how God doesn't chase us around spanking us every time we mess up. I believe He does discipline us and sometimes it hurts a lot. But He is very creative and uses unique methods to teach us. Being a Father, that makes Him a great example of how to parent.

The child training book stated that in order to be 100% consistent and have cheerfully obedient children you needed to swat them for every instance of disobedience. If you tried to discipline them in any other way you'd have times of fatigue where you wouldn't want to have to think about it and they'd get away with their disobedience thus undoing everything you'd done up to that point. (None of that is a direct quote, just a part of a lesson I took from the book. Maybe it's not even what they were really trying to say which is why I'm not naming the book.) It made sense to me at the time and still sort of does.

What they didn't say was that there would be times I wouldn't feel like getting up to spank them. Or there would be times that I just didn't feel it was a "spanking offense." When you believe that you have to spank every time, but then you aren't spanking this time, that leaves you with nothing. So actually the kids got away with a lot more.

I knew I didn't have to spank 100% of the time because I already had good kids BEFORE I read the book and I hadn't been that consistent. I just wanted to know how to make them even better.

But now I realize that I have the freedom to discipline in whatever way works for me and the children at the moment. If I'm busy nursing and can't spank them, I can still give them time out or make them hold hands or at least scold them. My kids used to have to endure long lectures (aka guilt trips) when they did something wrong until I could tell they understood. But between everyone saying that making them feel guilty was bad, and this book saying just spank them and get it over with, most of my long lectures ended. I was more frustrated, they didn't learn much, and I have a group of kids who really don't seem to understand empathy.

My children are smart and will learn fast. I am just so thankful to worship a God who is merciful and just and gives me a great example of how to parent my children.

And being a woman who loves to talk, I am thrilled that the long lectures will resume at my house. They really did work--if for no other reason than the kids want to obey to avoid them!

Melissa

Can You Really Love That Many Kids?

I've heard it said before that you couldn't really love this many children. And I remember being pregnant with my second child and wondering how in the world I could love another baby as much as I loved Stephen. I was (and still am) so completely in love with him and worried that I didn't have enough love left for another child. Silly, huh? But not all that uncommon of a fear. When I really thought about it, I knew that it was silly, but fear doesn't always make sense. I know I was surprised at how much my heart grew when I had the first baby. What I didn't know is that it would happen with every baby.

I've been noticing with each new addition to our family that my love for that baby surprises me. I just didn't know I could love yet another baby so much. I wasn't very excited about this last pregnancy. I was excited at times, but there were lots of times--which I kept completely to myself--that I thought I had stepped beyond my capabilities this time. There was no way I could do this. Everyone likes to point out that 40 is kind of old to be having a baby and I'm 40 now. Yes, I'm more tired and grumpy at times than I was at 22. Nearly everyone I know that is my age is done having babies. I was looking enviously at couples who can go out on dates without bringing a baby and couples who can just hop in the car without car seats to buckle in and wondered what in the world I was thinking having another baby.

Well, first of all, I don't think about it. We don't plan to have another baby and we don't plan not to. We leave it to God to decide when to create life. I won't argue that with anyone. You can disagree all you want, but it's ultimately our decision and we are happy with it. Unlike many in our culture, we see children as blessings and we would not want to reject any blessings God wants to offer us.

So Ezra was born and it didn't take long to see that I could indeed love this baby as much as any of the others. It's such a wonder each time that God would see fit to bless us with the responsibility of raising this precious new life. Just like each of my other children, I fell in love with Ezra just because he exists. Because God made him.

Often times, I am more endeared to a child because he or she will exhibit behaviors like Roger. I love Roger and so those traits that remind me of him just help me love that child even more. And now I'm seeing that when Sam does something that reminds me of Mitchell or Clark does something that reminds me of Stephen or x does something that reminds me of y (insert any two of our children's names for x and y) it makes that love grow even stronger. And then I love each one more because they all remind me so much of each other in so many ways.

I'm so glad now that I had this baby. I have no regrets at all. I continue to be amazed everyday at all the new things he is learning and doing. I love it when he smiles just because he sees me. I love how he was kicking his toy just to make me smile yesterday. (It's one of those things that makes noises when he kicks it, but he only kicked it when he saw my face--I would smile and cheer for him each time. I guess he likes that better than the song and such the toy rewards him with.) I love it when he squeals and says "hi" sometimes when he sees someone he recognizes. Yes, I have to get up at night to feed him. Yes, I often have to do things with one hand because I'm holding this big chunk (he doubled his birth weight today at 10 weeks). Yes, I need to load him in a carseat every time we go somewhere. I can't go on a date with Roger unless we bring him. Labor was excruciatingly painful. I could go on listing all the sacrifices a woman makes as a mother, but I think you get the idea. He is so worth every minute of it. They all are.

I swear I can feel my heart swelling and getting bigger and bigger all the time (and no, it's not a health issue due to my "old age".)

And would I do it again? In a heartbeat. (Remind me of this if I get pregnant again.) And the answer is YES, you really can love that many kids!

Melissa
(Roger, I'm sorry to have once again sucked all the testosterone out of our blog.)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Discipline

This is such a controversial issue. And such a big one to parents. Parenting can be so hard. When our children are behaving badly in public we worry that it reflects badly on us as parents. And whether in public or at home it will drive us nuts. No one wants to spend their day having to yell at, spank, put in time out, or otherwise discipline people that they love. We want to just enjoy them and have fun with them.

And then there are the guilt issues that go along with discipline. We're supposed to be 100% consistent, never lose our temper, and be calm and patient all the time with our children. That's what makes us good parents, right? So when we can't measure up to those standards we feel like failures and worry that we've ruined our children or at least scarred them for life. Therefore we are bad parents.

But is that really true? Well, in part, but not completely.

Yes, it's best if we can meet those standards. Consistency is important. Calm patience is good. But if God thought all parents needed to be perfect, He'd be raising all the kids all by Himself.

My mother has apologized to me for mistakes she feels she made. I even agree that some of those things were mistakes and she shouldn't have done them. But I wouldn't change a thing. My past is what made me who I am today and I like who I am--most of the time. I am happy to be with Roger and be the mother of my children. I'm happy with my relationship with Jesus. If my life had been different, I might not be who I am today. That could be a really sad thing for me. It's some of those trials we endure that help us to grow. My children need trials too. As much as I hate that thought, I know it is true. And even more troublesome to my thinking is that *I* will inflict some of those trials on my children. Not on purpose, but it will--and probably has already--happen. (And btw, my mother did a lot of things right, too!)

So what's a mother to do when she realizes that she's messed up? Apologize and try again! And that's where I'm at yet again. Eventually it gets to be too late to try again, but we can still apologize. If nothing else, you would be setting a good example.

I haven't been very consistent with my discipline. I have made empty threats, forgotten rules I've made, and overlooked bad behavior too many times. I was not 100% perfect. Does that mean my kids are ruined? No. It means we have to work together and try again. We've been here before. It seems to happen after every baby I birth, illness in the house, or other blip in the normalcy of life (as if anything is normal about our, or anyone's, family life).

And while it may sound like all my kids are horrible, it's really not THAT bad. Roger and I figure that everyone has a certain amount of chaos they can live with. Let's call it your chaos-ability. That chaos-ability gets divided up by the number of children in the family and each child gets his/her portion of chaos that he/she can create. So if you have 1 or 2 kids, they get to create all or even half of the chaos around you, then you'll settle things down before you snap. Well, when you have a lot of kids, each kid gets a smaller portion. The trouble we're having right now is that a few of my children are each trying to grab the whole share. So I am overwhelmed because we've surpassed my chaos-ability.

I'll try to keep you posted on how/if we settle things down around here. So far we've determined that Joy is currently the biggest chaos creator and that spankings don't work for her. I've tried time outs a bit, but she doesn't stay put and/or I forget I put her there. That can be a problem because either she doesn't get any time out or she gets way too much. (I've mentioned to the kids that a good Mother's Day gift would be a watch with a timer. A girlie looking one that their dad won't "borrow.") Taking privileges only works if you can remember things--like that you grounded someone from something. I can't. So then it becomes an empty threat. Right now I'm working on praising her for everything good she does. So far so good. She seems to be responding quickly to that. And it puts me in a much better mood to be focusing on the positive not the negative.

So we'll see how this goes. Sam is next. So far it seems that just tapping his bottom or even looking at his backside causes him to want to be good. They're all different and it's all about getting to know them.

Melissa

TV Free Week Update

We made it. We went a whole week without watching TV.

Sam and Gloria had the hardest time with it. Gloria really missed her friends Alex and Leah from Signing Time videos. Sam missed it all. He REALLY loves the TV.

Today though when they asked to watch something I asked them to save their TV time until I was making dinner. They nodded and walked away. No fussing. They figured out something else to do instead. WooHoo! That was one of my goals.

It did help with obedience some, but not completely. We gave it a test. We went to Walmart yesterday. We'd been out all day and it was at the end of a long drive, but they'd slept. I needed to nurse Ezra so we stopped at a park and they played for a while BEFORE we went shopping. Their tummies were still full from a lunch at CiCi's with Grammy (Where they'd watched TV. But you really can't help but see it there!). They weren't tired. There were pretty much no excuses. But still, Joy and Sam--5 and 3 yr olds--were awful. Joy wasn't quite as bad as she usually is at Walmart, but Sam was worse than ever. I figure it's either become a habit for them to be loud and disobedient in Walmart or it was that teeny bit of TV at CiCi's. I'm leaning toward the habit thing.

But it's not just Walmart. Today we ran to Dollar General to get 2 things and Joy ran away from me in there. So we'll probably try no shopping for them for a while and see how that goes. If nothing else I won't have to leave the store all sweaty and frazzled from chasing those two around.

Anyway, my conclusion is that while it was good for us to cut back on TV, it was no magic cure for bad behavior. We're still going to stick with lower doses of that screen. My plan now is to continue working on the discipline issues. There will be more on that later.

Melissa

Friday, May 02, 2008

TV Free Week

Wednesday evening I was talking with Roger about our children. They are good kids, but lately I've been noticing attitudes that I don't like. And some of the younger children don't seem to have a clue about some basic obedience issues.

Here's an example: We'd gone to the store and I'd talked to the kids about the behavior I expected from them while we were shopping. This used to always work with my kids. They might "forget" for a moment, but a look or a reminder would usually suffice and they would stop running up and down the empty aisle, hiding in the clothes racks, or whatever other shenanigans they were up to. Sam, our 3 yr old, has had a different response. "I get one more chance." Whoa. That would be my fault for ever letting him get a second chance. A friend of mine put it well today at the park. Her son told her no to something and she got up and said, "I'm sorry son, we have a zero tolerance policy." Yep, that's what I need to get back to.

But how? It's gotten pretty bad when a 3 yr old doesn't have a clue what obedience is. He just understands saying sorry when he's caught (Roger says he thinks it's a "get out of jail free" card) and expects multiple chances before ever being disciplined.

I realize that all the books on discipline say you should be 100% consistent and yada yada yada. The thing is, I'm human and I just can't do that. Sometimes I don't notice things they do wrong even when it's right under my nose. You know how it goes. You're thinking about something else and just plain don't notice. Sometimes I notice and I'm too pregnant to deal with it--or busy nursing a baby who is finally falling asleep. Sometimes it's easier to turn on the tv and ignore them for a while. Does that make me a failure? Yes and no. What do we teach kids when they make a mistake? Do we tell them they have failed and that's the end? Of course not. We tell them to get up and try again!

It's the same for parents, don't you think? So, I've decided that there are some issues around here that need to be dealt with. But what? How?

So, I was talking with Roger about it and praying silently at the same time, pleading with God to show me WHAT I am doing wrong these days. I believe I know how to be a good parent because I have done well with the older kids, but somehow I'm really struggling with the younger ones. What am I doing differently? Just then Joy ran up and asked to watch TV. That's when it hit me. It's the TV. Roger reminded me that I used to let them watch a maximum of 1 hour a day. They're watching WAY more than that these days and it can't be good for them. There were always times, like right after having a baby or a rainy day, that I would make an exception, but we'd make up for it with less TV later. Well, it's time for less.

So, starting this past Wednesday, we are not turning on the TV for a week. Then we'll go back to our old limits. The only exception being they are allowed to watch the Math U See videos. They don't count. The younger kids are having a pretty hard time with it. And I have to admit that in the evening when the kids go to bed it's hard for me too.

I've always told the kids that the TV kills their brains. I didn't make it up. I read a study years ago that explained something or other about the television hardening the brain and not allowing new creases to develop as well or something along those lines. I just put it in my own words so they could grasp the seriousness of it. And now I'm seeing that they certainly lose their imagination. It's like they don't know what to do anymore unless they can watch a movie (most of what the kids watch is stuff we have on dvd or video. Some PBS shows are okay, too. I still have standards even if I am allowing too much quantity. No commercials either if I can help it. What parent needs their kids to be told that their parents don't know anything? So we avoid commercials as much as possible.) or the "Why Why's"--also known as Super Why on PBS.

It sure seemed to be making life easier for me. Turn on a movie and they all get quiet. I can do something else for a while. But when it's over, there's a rebound effect. They are wilder and louder and less responsive to me. So when they ask for another movie it's harder to say no. In between movies there's more fighting (and we don't watch violent stuff) and arguing and certainly more whining.

And I have to admit, without that electronic babysitter going I pay better attention to what they are up to. I hadn't noticed the change in myself, but I am definitely more attentive when the tv stays off. Maybe I'm just more aware of them because I don't assume they are quietly watching tv. I've taken back my responsibility instead of delegating it to a box with magic pictures and sounds.

The whining got worse at first, but I'm seeing a difference already. We have a way to go, but there's improvement and that is encouraging. It's been a hard couple of days and we have 5 more to go, but it will be worth it.

Maybe we'll even blog a bit more often now.

Melissa