Archive | June, 2011

Our Semi-Annual July Reading Contest

30 Jun

Tomorrow is already the first day of July!  I was determined to make a “fun” schedule at the start of summer.  June was full of wonderful days, but time is slipping away quickly! So, determined to not let another month slide by –  Friday, July 1st, will mark the beginning of our Semi Annual July Reading Contest.

I am not going to say too much about it yet due to the fact that I have not revealed all of the information to the kids.  What I will tell you, as I did them, is this:

– there will be 3 separate levels of competition, covering 6 of our children – ages 4-14

-the books will all be provided by mom

-there will be a 1st and 2nd prize at each level ( I am a typical mom and want everyone to win – but, the first prize on each level will definitely be worth working towards!)

I will share a few more details after the race begins!


Lessons in Grace with Great Aunt (part 9)

27 Jun

  Motivating with a Stethoscope

When a virus invades the house of a big family such as ours, it usually sticks around for a while.  Seldom do we all get sick at once. Typically one of the younger children would have the first symptoms. Within a few days another one or two might become sick, from then on, it’s like watching dominoes fall – only in slow motion.  The process can take a month or two.  My goal is to quickly rebuild the first child’s immune system, in hopes of avoiding the whole process from repeating all over again.

Great Aunt was right in the mix of all the other dominoes.  Inevitably  she too would become ill.  The problem was, she no longer had the drive to get back up again.  Once in bed,  that is where she wanted to stay! In our earlier years together, I could reason with her – to a degree.  She saw the importance of good hygiene, nutrition,  exercise, and fresh air.

Eventually, at least for a time, I had lost all authority in her care.  She no longer knew who I was and chose to deliberately disregard anything I said.   Her line became, “The doctor told me I was to stay in bed.” To try to speak truth, that the doctor had not been there, was to challenge her word (not a good call).  Her ability to think clearly was continuing to diminish.  Although she appeared to be unaware of the trouble most of the time, I remember one particularly lucid moment, as she attempted  to describe the jumbled up mess she was experiencing in her mind.  My heart ached for her.

Never-the-less, I was still faced with a dilemma.  She needed care, yet was unwilling to receive it from  me.  I no longer had her respect…  until the day I was given a brilliant piece of advice…  If Great Aunt had respect for the doctor, why not become “the nurse”?  I thought it was worth a try, after all, I had been a nursing assistant in a nursing home years ago.

Borrowing a friend’s stethoscope and wearing a white smock, I marched into Great Aunt’s room with complete confidence.  After taking her pulse, I informed her of a concern about her lungs and the dangers of pneumonia.  I stated  instructions for her to get out of bed and take a short walk out side.  Her response was incredible!  She simply got up, no questions asked.  I helped her dress and assisted her outside.  She walked and walked enjoying the gardens, watching the children play, and breathing in the fresh air.

In the mean time, I took the opportunity to  make up her bed, open the windows and flood the room with sun light.  She returned to the house with a renewed enjoyment for another day of life.

With stethoscope and white jacket in hand, I had gained the authority I needed to carry out my job without confrontation.  Great Aunt gained the motivation to continue to embrace each new day.

Come, sit, be nourished, and rest.

25 Jun

Running errands is not very high on my favorite things to do list, but yesterday, I took the opportunity to take just one daughter, and we had so much fun!  In-between accomplishing our tasks, we were frequently side tracked.

There were the varied beverage dispensers:  some – beautifully shaped glass, others – a colorful plastic (a wise choice in our home), and my favorite container was  yellow ceramic,  that came with its own stand. That one would look so nice on our porch!

We discussed the options, remembering the very functional white plastic igloo with a large capacity that sits on our kitchen counter during the hot summer days, and refrained from spending.

We continued to eye up porch furniture, cushions, dishes… but the most common thing we came back to were the yellow place-mats.  Every store we went into, we managed to locate yellow place-mats.  They look  so cheery and bright!

Arriving home, I stepped on to the porch and dreamt for a moment of the fun outdoor furniture we had seen.  It would have been fun, yes, but I am content and very thankful for what we have.

The place-mats, on the other hand, did make it all the way home.  They look so bright and inviting!

Whether for family or guests, my hope is to provide a cheerful atmosphere that says. ” I am glad you are here.  You are important to me. Come, sit, be nourished, and rest.”

Lessons in Grace with Great Aunt (part 8)

22 Jun

I procrastinated a little too long…

As with all of life, each day with Great Aunt brought new challenges.  At first, the walk from her living area to the bathroom seemed to be a good thing. It required her to get up, stretch her legs, and move regularly throughout the day.  In addition, it brought her into the main area of the house where all of the action was, providing some stimulating conversation with a multitude of young children.

Over time, as her health declined, it became evident that some changes needed to occur.  The bathroom was just too far away.  We searched for the best and most economical solution.  Installing a bathroom in an area of the house that had no plumbing would cost a fortune.  The next best option was a commode.  If you are not familiar with the term, a commode is a portable chair/toilet.  It was relatively inexpensive, had a reasonably sized removable container,  and looked easy to clean.  The Commode became part of our household.

It turned out to be a great success, equally helpful to both Great Aunt and myself.  For a time, it saved me much work.

I tried to get the routine down:  empty, disinfect, replace…  Sounds easy doesn’t it.  It truly was easy.  But… the babies needed to be fed, diapers had to be changed, laundry needs were continuous, beds must be made, hungry tummy’s required frequent cooking, gardens were maintained, homeschooling was in progress… and then I would remember – The Commode.  Quickly making a mental note,  I would remind myself to empty soon!  The telephone would ring, the toddler would fall and need bandaging, Great Aunt would like tea, lots of it  “nice and hot, with two teaspoons of sugar” …  Oh, yes! I was reminded… The Commode! On went the cycle, until at last – it happened.

In the kitchen, tending to the needs of the moment, I heard a strange, unusual noise.  Quickly running to check on Great Aunt, I suddenly knew I had procrastinated a little too long!  That “reasonably sized removable container” of The Commode, only holds so much weight and no more.  I allowed the limits to be tested too far.  Oh, how I wished we had linoleum floors rather then thick plush carpet! I felt so stupid, so embarrassed.  There was no one to blame but myself.  Not only did I have to clean up the mess,  while I cleaned, I carried the shame of my lack of care for her in this area.

Was I lazy? No, those days were never lazy, but I did put off something that was essential that needed regular attention.  We all do it.

So, today I am asking myself and asking you.  What is most essential in our lives?  What is more important than anything else?  Is it being tended?

Don’t let less important things crowd it out.  Be deliberate!

work together and play together

17 Jun

When summer time comes, I am just as ready to be outside as the kids are.  I want to garden, go for walks, read a book, maybe play a little tennis or go for a swim.  If I’m not deliberate, I will let all of the work of being a wife and mom (which I love) crowd out the play.

Throughout the morning, the kids and I accomplish much. We clean bathrooms, water gardens, bake bread, move laundry, – this week we cleaned the basement… There is never, ever a lack of work to be done! Sometimes we move in teams and other times individually, but we all work.

Why do I make the kids work?  (I say make, because it is something they have to learn, it is not their natural tendency.)

1. They don’t get bored.

2. They learn how to do sooo…  many skills.

3. They learn to set a goal and accomplish it.

4. They sleep better at night.

5. They learn to work together and make it fun.

6. They build strong healthy muscles.

7. They learn to serve others.

8. They become less self focused.

9. They have a greater appreciation of their free time.

10. Many hands make light work!

Even if there isn’t anything I need done, I will look for something for them to put their hands to and conquer.

At lunch time, it all comes to an end and we take some time to shift gears. After a quiet time of reading, resting,or looking at books, it is time to play.  This is the time when the kids ask me if they can do something… or if I will do it with them…  I make a point to say, “Yes!”  “Yes, I will go swimming with you! Yes, we can go for a hike.”  I want to have fun with my kids!

Why do I make myself play?  (I say make, because it is no longer my natural tendency to take time to play.)

1. I don’t get bored.

2. I learn new skills.

3. I sleep better at night.

4. I serve my kids.

5. I learn to play together with them.

6. I become less task focused.

7. I have a better appreciation of what they like to do.

8. I want the kids to know I love to be with them.

9. I am interested in what they’re interested in.

10. I will gain strong healthy muscles.

The summer flies by quickly.  Take time to be deliberate.  Work together. Play together.

Lessons in Grace with Great Aunt (part 7)

14 Jun

 Polyester Pant Suits

 It had been some time since Great Aunt had lived in her own home. She moved to an apartment with assisted living, then to the nursing home, and finally in with our family of, at the time, 8 children.  Her once lively lifestyle had become more and more confined with each move.  Even so, a variety of remnants from her past remained, and we desired to provide as much life and vitality as we were able.

 In previous years, Great Aunt had enjoyed  hosting card parties with her lady friends.  Wanting to encourage those friendships, we had decided to help her host a party in her new place.  She was no longer able to see a cooking project all the way through, but she did enjoy getting her hands into the mix of things.   It was our hope that by having her friends come,  Great Aunt might gain a sense of belonging. This was her home.

One of the remnants of Great Aunt’s past was her wardrobe.  She loved bright vibrant colors and bold gaudy jewelry.  With this in mind, you can imagine the process of getting dressed for a party!  Her favorite selections included various  pant suits that were in shades of lime green, bright orange, and brilliant purples .  The fabric of choice was consistently, the ever-wearing, polyester.  It truly  never did wear out!   She no longer was confined to the typical rules of a matching an outfit. She had found complete freedom to mix and match.  The brighter the colors, the better she liked it! Hair done, lipstick on, she was good to go.

I think I was more excited about this event than Great Aunt.  I enjoyed planning ways to make it special for her and generating her participation.  She genuinely liked the ideas and was ready to greet the ladies as they arrived.  Tea and dessert were served.  Cards were played.  The visit was a success.  Having heard Great Aunt speak of these special people, I was thankful to have met them. They were faithful friends showing both their love and concern.

Pictures played an important role during this period of time.  With every event, we captured memories in print.  As time progressed, it often became her only memory of us.  The past became increasingly present in her mind, and recognition of who we were faded in and out. We used her photo album as a tool to try to keep her remembering the recent past. Today, I am thankful we did, as they now have become precious memories for our family.

As I helped Great Aunt get ready for bed, I cheerfully tried to engage her in recounting the happenings of the day.  It was gone.  All memory of her friends and the visit had faded away.  To try to persuade her otherwise was an insult to her intellect.

Was it a waste, I wondered?  Had I gone to all that work in vain? No… I knew the answer had to be no.  Great Aunt lived that day.  Embracing her friends, she loved  and served them.  Equally importantly, those ladies embraced their friend one last time.  Yes, it had been worth it all.

getting dirty was OK, Heidi T.

11 Jun

“My curfew was lightning bugs. Mom didn’t call my cell, she yelled my name. I played outside with friends, not online. If I didn’t eat what my mom cooked, then I didn’t eat. Sanitizer didn’t exist, but you COULD get your mouth washed out with soap. I rode a bike without a helmet, getting dirty was ok, and neighbors cared as much as your parents did. Re-post if you drank water from a garden hose and survived.”


We saw this on facebook and wanted to share it with our not without aim friends.  I love the  life philosophy portrayed in this quote – the joys of simple pleasures.