Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

Invest in People.

What do King Tut and John D. Rockefeller have in common? When they died they left everything behind. Everything. Not an ounce of gold left Tut's tomb until it was discovered some 4000 years later. He wasn't spending it in the "afterlife." When someone asked Rockefeller's accountant how much he left behind when he died the answer was, "He left it all." All.

Working your fingers to the bone in order to leave it all behind doesn't sound like much fun to me. But knowing that I could die at any moment, and that I am at peace about the relationships I have with my loved ones brings far greater joy than a bank account with 7 zeros - shoot even a consistent two zeros!

I am not recommending that you don't work hard, invest wisely, save some for that rainy day. No, being a good steward of the resources God has seen fit to bless you with is important. But really, the stuff is just stuff. It is not going to do you an ounce of good when you have left this earth. And, frankly, I think most of it is not very good even while you are here! It just makes you feel tied down, imprisoned at times, and certainly responsible for its management, upkeep, repair, and use.

No thanks.

I want to spend my time with my kids, not researching who is going to fix my antique nick-knack collection. I want to hang out with my hubby, not worry about my investments in the stock market. Sure, I want to have enough money to pay my bills, maybe spend a little extra on a nice meal once in a while; but I don't think that hoarding money, collecting a bunch of stuff, or killing time resolving who will get what in my 500 page last will and testament will make me happier... really. I don't think it will make you happier, either.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Leah has added a new dimension to her plan (read this blog if you are unfamiliar with Leah's plan). She now asks how long it will be before she is __insert any age from 12 to 64 here__. Christopher does the math in his head, spits out her answer, and with great satisfaction Leah proceeds to bed. However, the fascination with age has gone beyond the plan, and a few days ago she and I had the following conversation.

Mama, how many years until you are 33?

I am already older than 33. I am 35.

Hmm. How many years until I am 33?


Can you help me count to 29?


1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, and 29.

How many days is that?

(Why does Christopher never get these questions?)

Wow, let me think. It is about 10,000.

Can you help me count to that?

If I could insert a comic book picture right here it would show me, staring straight at the viewer, eyes the size of saucers while my nearly 5 year old daughter looks at me with an innocent, and completely trusting expression.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How am I?

How are you?

How are you doing with a new little one?

Has it been easy having seven?

These are all common questions I get on a daily basis - or at least any time I run an errand, go to church, pick something up at the store, step outside my door, answer my phone... basically get out of bed. The question is common enough, but the answer has a few more twists to it. Each of the following variations are true, in their own right, but each one focuses on a slightly different perspective beginning with an eagle-eye view, and spiraling all the way in to macro zoom.

Answer #1 - Total Stranger
I am doing great! Phoebe is such a blessing, we can't imagine our lives without her. The kids adore her, and it is so precious to watch them bond. Having seven doesn't seem that much different from having six. We already had the van, so throwing another car seat (which we already owned) into the mix, and setting the moses basket up really wasn't that big of a deal. It really does get easier as you go.

Answer #2 - Acquaintance
I am doing well. Phoebe sleeps great, so I really can't complain! Sure, she has some fussiness that we are trying to get to the root of, but I am confident we will figure it out before we send her off to college! *chuckle* The kids are a tremendous help, and without them adding her would definitely be harder.

Answer #3 - Friend
I am hanging in there. Phoebe is smiling, which makes all the discontentment easier to bear. She can be such a doll, and she smells so good. I am still amazed that God gave us another little one. I know we don't deserve her, but sometimes I wish the Lord didn't trust us quite so much. I am definitely getting older, and while my age and experience lend perspective that give me tools to cope with midnight feeds, and unexplained crying, I do find myself much more tired than every before. I wouldn't trade Phoebe for the world, but the transition of bringing her home has probably been one of our roughest to date.

Answer #4 - Prayer Partners/Spouse
I am really struggling. I just can't seem to get my feet under me! I have these sweeping highs, and dropping lows that render me incapable of normal thought. I think I might have post-partum depression. The restrictive diet for Phoebe's sensitivities has just about sent me through the roof! I can't bear the idea of weaning, and don't believe it is what God would have me do, but I certainly can not reconcile how this is supposed to be a, "light and easy burden." I feel like I am just treading water from one day, sometimes one moment, to the next. Will it ever even out, and seem doable to me?

Answer #5 - God
Please help me! I can't do this. I am falling apart. I don't know why you think I can handle 7 children, with all the weight of responsibility that comes along with them. I am so afraid of failing you... failing them. I know that your grace is sufficient, but I can't seem to find the way that your grace takes care of the dishes, while the baby screams, the toddler wails, the kids ask a million questions, the phone rings, and there is a knock at the door! Help me, God!

So if I seem a bit perplexed the next time you ask how I am doing it is because I am trying to sift through all the above answers to find the suitable one for the occasion. It isn't that I am lying, because all 5 answers are true! I am: great; overwhelmed; incredibly blessed; feeling the burden of of responsibility; irritable; in awe of how well the other children have taken to their new sister; falling in love with Phoebe; wondering when we will be out of this particular season with its specialized demands; confident in my motherhood; enjoying this newborn stage; missing Josiah as my baby; tired of whining, crying, wailing, and whimpering; certain that my frailty is nothing new to my Lord who sees me, and has compassion upon me.

How are you?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"Get Out Of Jail Free" Card

Summer has arrived! For our family not a lot changes with this announcement. Of course we get longer days, but our mild weather offers very few significant changes. Yes, we see friends for play dates and attend camps, but homeschooling practically year-round keeps us set on a routine regardless of whether it is November or July. We have too many little people requiring naps for our family to be utterly footloose, and fancy-free. But still, the graduation and advancement ceremonies of countless schools, both public and private, marks the arrival of our:

Get Out Of Jail Free card.

California has a wonderful set of educational laws which govern how those in this state may operate a home school. The bottom line is that we register with the State Department of Education as individual private schools, filing the same paperwork as Robert Louis Stevenson, York, Santa Catalina and the like. This frees me from the state mandated public school requirements, and satisfies my adherence to the compulsory attendance laws. However, because home education continues to be vastly misunderstood by the mainstream there is the need to manage protocol in such a way that we raise as few questions as possible for those with, "helpful" motives. School officials seeing my children out during "class" hours might become suspect of my sincere methodologies. The idea that I can teach math at, say 6pm, just as easily as 10am doesn't altogether register with these educational gurus. Hence the need for my family to stay undercover during the school year. This presents a problem.

Because schooling through tutorial based academics (small student to teacher ratios) presents far superior results with the added bonus of taking far less time (remember, I don't have 25+ students to manage before I can even get to the lesson on hand) our schooling lasts for under 2 hours each day. Ideally this should mean I could run to Target during the morning, and avoid evening crowds. But I can't regularly take my big kids with me because of the possible suspicions raised. And my size family doesn't exactly fly under the radar! Neither can I leave my not-yet-big-enough kids home regularly because of the image this might expose us to.

So we are stuck. Until Summer!

I plan to load all the kids into the van this very day and make a Costco run - in the middle of the afternoon.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

Invest in SOS pads.

I grew up with these little gems, using them for stainless steel, glass, and chrome. They cleaned beautifully. My mom also taught me to use it on our enamel stove top to really get those tough burnt on tidbits removed. I recently rediscovered this versatile tool, and realized I should never have let it go.

When we bought our home there were no useable appliances, requiring us to invest in a brand new ones. I was really excited when we found a gas stove with a continuous grate, and a 5th middle burner. I knew, with our large family, filling the range with bubbling pots was a reality I needed to address. Sure enough we started using our new stove the minute it was installed. I cook breakfast (oatmeal), often lunch (mac and cheese, soup), and dinner on top of that appliance, so you can imagine how often it needs cleaning. Just about every evening I take the grates off, and wipe down the gleaming white enamel. Occasionally something gets stuck, and needs a little more elbow grease. I had gotten in the habit of using a green scrubby for my stainless dishes, and then polishing them with Bar Keeper's Friend. This was working well for my dishes, but what I didn't realize was that it didn't have quite the umph necessary for a good clean on my stovetop.

About 6 weeks after using my stove I noticed a chip in the enamel next to one of the burners. I was sick! What on earth could have caused this? And what was I going to do about it? Earlier that day I had been spraying white gloss enamel into my medicine cabinets for a clean finish. I had some left over, and grabbed it for the job. After cleaning the stove for superior adhesion, I taped off the burner and gave a few short bursts to cover the nick. Sure enough, in no time flat, the chip was covered and my beautiful white stove was returned to me, sans blemish. I was so proud of my ingenuity.

However, I had second thoughts about my rather rash decision to use the spray-paint enamel I had on hand when I needed to blast the burner for a high boil a few days later. I worried that the paint would burn, and rightly so because after my pasta was done I had a glob the color of roasted marshmallows along the side of the burner. Now, instead of a small nick I had a brown spot roughly the size of a quarter. But I knew what to do! I was now convicted of my folly for not thinking through the specialized tasks of the stovetop, but I would not repeat my mistake. I went to The Home Depot for appliance enamel touch up paint. Sure enough, they had a whole variety of colors to match today's common finishes. However, proudly displayed on the label of every brand was a warning that the paint was not intended for use on the top of stoves where exposure to heat was certain. Thankfully a worker told me about a specialty store that sold wood-burning stoves, and parts. They also had touch-up paints which might be more specifically designed for heat-resistance. I made a mental note to get over to the stove store, and in the meantime I continued cleaning my stove with my green scrubby.

Well, several other projects, a baby, and 4 months of life later I still had not gotten over to the stove store. But last night I was using an SOS pad (which my mother purchased, since I didn't have any on hand) when I realized that my stove was in need of a thorough cleaning. I started working the pad over the top, noticing with pleasure how quickly the little spots of burnt on dinner disappeared. As I raced it along the surface where the nick was covered by burned spray-paint I saw that some of the "patch" was lifted! Perhaps I could scrub away the old paint, leaving just the original nick. Ironically I now wished all I had was that small nick, instead of that glob of brown adorning my beautiful stove all these months. I ran the SOS pad across it again, this time with a little more elbow grease. It appeared to be working on more of my patch. Now I was inspired and I got to really working, putting all my effort into that 2 inch square piece of steel wool. After several minutes the glob was noticeably smaller, and after several more minutes it seemed that I would be successful in getting back to the original nick!

Then the unthinkable happened.

I began to see the original nick surfacing under the burned on spray paint I was working so hard to remove. "Just a few more moments," I thought. But suddenly the brown paint was gone, and so was the nick! I blinked in astonishment. I ran my hand over the perfectly smooth, chip-free surface. What? 

There was no nick. I had spray painted over a small piece of burnt on food which my green scrubby could not loosen, but which my SOS pad had not only cleaned, but perfectly removed the spray paint covering it! The moral of of this week's Tuesday's Tip is:

Use SOS scrub pads BEFORE you paint over it.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


James 1:5 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." I need that truth in my life, right now.

Phoebe has a sensitive tummy. That's polite for saying she fusses... after every feeding, in between feedings, before feedings, and occasionally even during them! She screamed almost the entire car-ride home from the hospital as a newborn. That's saying quite a bit considering it takes 45 minutes to travel from the hospital to my home! It wasn't long after that when the idea that she might be allergic to milk surfaced. I greatly reduced my own consumption of milk, and finally switched to a non-dairy formula for the supplementing I need to do. Sure enough, the very next nursing saw her dramatically improved. Great! Problem solved. Or so I thought.

But Phoebe continues to be more fussy than any of my other newborns. She just can't be totally content outside of being held. And she is even persnickety about how she is held, preferring those positions more closely related to burping than snuggling. Also, her sleep is interrupted more often than I think necessary. And finally topping everything is that niggling mother's intuition telling me that something just isn't right. After all, I have completely removed dairy, chocolate, most eggs, citrus, and many spices from my diet along with using a dairy-free formula for any supplements, and she still is not guaranteed to be a happy baby after a feeding.

Yesterday I decided it was time for another switch in formulas, as well as a severely restrictive diet for me. I hauled myself to the pharmacy for a thimble sized can of formula costing the better part of Christopher's yearly salary when my eye caught something on the shelf. Here is where the truth of James 1:5 started to play a major role. Previous to the, "I spy with my little eye" game I was playing in the aisle of Walgreens I had asked God to lend me insight, and wisdom for Phoebe's feeding dilemma. I asked others to pray on my behalf. I was fully convinced of God's understand of Phoebe's need, and knew that he could communicate that to me if I was willing to be still, and listen.

So there I stood, listening. Rather than just grab the brand I was prepared to purchase I lingered, reading the other options for GI sensitivities. I don't know when you last went formula shopping, but if you think finding a bathing suit is hard work you ain't seen nothing! Overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of options, I noticed one brand which was dairy based, but lactose free. I suddenly remembered that Hannah was highly allergic to soy as an infant, and during our formula trials with her we had switched to a soy-based brand with disastrous results. Hmmm... could Phoebe be allergic to soy, but also lactose intolerant making both the original dairy based formula, and the soy based alternative we were currently using equally unappealing to her little tummy? I also noticed the price tag for the lactose-free was less than half the cost of the hypoallergenic brand I was already holding. Could God be opening my eyes to see this option in order to provide health to Phoebe, peace to me, and a little extra change to my pocketbook all in one fell swoop? Knowing that God was still good even if the lactose-free was a flop, I purchased both brands and headed home.

Phoebe's first feed using the new formula went off without a hitch. She actually sat contentedly in her swing for over an hour simply watching, then slept well during her nap. For the remainder of the day she ate well, showed no signs of gastrointestinal upset, and generally made her father and me happy as punch! I am on day 2, and still showing no signs of the irritability previously accompanying so many of her feedings. Yippee!

God really will give me relevant wisdom for my life's needs.

Tuesday's Tip

Get up in the morning.

This probably seems overly simplistic to one, perhaps like yourself, who is thinking, "Why Trisha, you state the obvious." But I am learning that this little tip might just save my life. At least it will save my sanity.

A few mornings ago I allowed myself the sweet indulgence of sleeping until my children awoke. But forbidden fruit soon turns rotten, and within 3 minutes I was paralyzed with no less than 26 natural disasters on my hands.

Josiah needed changing.
Phoebe was crying, and hungry.
Leah needed her thumbguards (we are now using them for her) cut off.
Mary was squawking about going potty.
Phoebe was crying.
Bethany was asking me if she could watch a movie.
Caleb was tearing around the house looking for a wrestling match.
Oatmeal needed cooking.
Grain needed milling for bread, if we were going to eat lunch.
Phoebe was still crying.
Josiah needed to eat, but it was at least 10 minutes before the oatmeal was done cooking.
Hannah was asleep even though three of her siblings had already given her a wake-up call.
And I needed my chai.

I have no idea how I managed the morning, but somehow I made oatmeal, got bread to baking, nursed Phoebe while feeding Josiah, and even managed to get my chai. It all got done, but it wasn't pretty. So I learned this Tuesday's Tip for myself:

Wake up before your household. It allows you to manage your day so much better. You never quite recover from a beginning the likes of which I experienced the other morning. And the 30 minutes of sleep was not worth it!