Wednesday, September 09, 2009


Phoebe began turning from tummy to back a couple of days ago! I can hardly believe she is big enough to have these milestones already marked in her baby book - or at least they could be marked in her baby book if I actually got her baby book out and marked them! The point is, Phoebe is growing, changing, moving through her little world of discoveries with each new first just around the bend. I adore watching my children grow. It is easy to see the changes of little people when they are very young. One day an infant suddenly flips over, sees the world from a whole new vantage point, and breaks into a grin. But my older ones are changing with no less mind-boggling rapidity. Everything from the sudden realization of fingers to the conscious recognition that delayed gratification isn't a monster, my children keep me humble as they pursue life with a passion.

Hannah is starting 5th grade! Since when did I become the mother of a nearly 11 year old daughter? Her sense of style and personality are blossoming, as more and and more she discovers ways to express herself through choice of wardrobe and accessory. She has gained so much perspective in the last year, and continues to work tirelessly alongside of me with all the other little ones. Hannah is growing in selflessness, and love for her siblings, and respect for her parents. She sacrificially owns her position as eldest in our big family.

Bethany is barely containing her joy at beginning the 3rd grade. This is mostly due to the fact that I do not assign rigid academics until this grade level. I strongly recommend, and practice a school of thought called, "Delayed Academics," which is an entire post in itself! I mention it only to give background for why this school year, in particular, has Bethany fired up, because she now has real assignments, with real homework, and real lessons! She is growing into her academics with real enthusiasm. Where once she did not care much for prolonged reading, now she constantly steals opportunities with her current book. The written word has begun to open its treasure chest of booty for her. Bethany is growing in enjoyment of academic study.

Caleb never stops growing. He daily mounts an attack against the civilized world, daring it to surrender its finest discoveries. Most recently the new frontier is Legos, and the magically limitless combination of ways you can build all manner of war-making machines with these gems. I remember when Duplo blocks hardly held his attention, with the fine motor skills required to fit the pieces together nowhere near engaging enough for his interest. Now most afternoons find him parked in front of a sprawling expanse of tiny blocks, working to engage just the right torque on some lever as to render the Lego villain headless.

Leah is growing through some tough spots. She fell back to needing her thumb-guards, stubbornly holding onto the habit of sucking her thumb at night. And while she cries just about every time we remind her of their necessity other areas have seen huge improvements in her maturity. I never thought I would be able to allow her freedom away from the strict confines of our house for fear that her natural curiosity, and total lack of impulse control would carry her to Neverland before I could stop her. I am happy to report that she can be trusted (mostly) in the front yard, and knows the distance between Miss Voula's and Miss Pee's house is fair game for running amuck.

Mary is no longer, "babyish." This is her word! Shortly after turning three she wanted to know when she would be old enough to turn four. I answered that she had to grow for an entire year. She took this to heart, and each day reminds me that she is, "not babyish today. I can be four soon!" It breaks my heart on some days to think of my Mary Ellen as a four year old. I know it will come too soon. In the meantime I am enjoying all her wonderful 3 year old-ness! I love this age, when all things adult are mimicked with no end to the comedy. I nurse Phoebe, she nurses her doll. I cook dinner, she creates plastic culinary art. I grab my purse to run an errand, she struts around the living room, sans clothes, carrying her prized Coach.

Josiah has transformed from my chubby baby boy to a full-blown toddler overnight. Running through my house, terrorizing all of us, Josiah fears nothing. Or almost nothing. Josiah is learning the rules! I didn't think it was possible, but this blazing ball of energy has actually begun to take seriously our voice commands for ceasing and desisting many activities. He no longer runs away at breakneck speeds when confronted with impending discipline, either. His language development continues to refine itself, and I am positive we may yet receive intelligible communication from him! Until then his positively dashing good looks will easily keep him in my good graces.

Yes, each of these magnificent human beings is changing, growing every day. They remind me that life is not dull, fixed, or boring but something to be experienced afresh each new morning. Time changes me, and I grow through the years right along with my children. I am so glad for their lives, and the way God's grace sovereignly chose to place their soul in my heart.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Tuesday's Tip


I live in a home with all hardwood floors so vacuuming, for me, is an absolute necessity - or at least it is if I don't want a sandbox in each child's bed, not to mention my own boudoir. But I have come to appreciate vacuuming in a far greater capacity, and the time I save is worthy of note in this, Tuesday's Tip.

I vacuum everything! Those special attachments that come with your machine are not just decorative items, but actually have design merit for specific purposes outside of whisking away trekked in dirt from your floors. Here is what I have found works at the end of my hose:

Small brush-lined nozzle - countertops, and tables. I no longer waste my time wiping up crumbs after meals... I vacuum them! Cleaning the table with a hot rag after the offending debris has been removed is so much easier than multiple trips to the garbage, washrag full of particulates.

Small brush - dusting, dusting, dusting. I vacuum end tables, bed moldings, baseboards, and even appliances rather than wiping, spraying, or paper towel-ing. The brush does a fairly decent job getting into intricate wood cuts, and I know I am not simply wiping around the dust.

Long skinny tube - my dryer's lint trap gets nicely cleaned with this treasure. It is also a gem for window and sliding door tracks.

Be creative with your Hoover, and you just might find a shortcut in your own cleaning routine.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

We go through liquid hand soap at an alarming rate. I seem to have two options available: let my kids have dirty hands OR buy soap like it is going out of style. The first option is entirely unacceptable. The second is not much more appealing than the first. What's a thrift-minded mom of many to do?

Some of my more savvy counterparts would say, "Use bar soap. It is much more cost effective, minimizes waste, and does a great job to boot." They would be right, except that bar soap also adds the bonus of leaving nasty residue everywhere it sits. Gross.

Then I spied this little gem, and knew I had hit pay dirt. It uses a 1:4 ratio of liquid hand soap and water to create a soapy foam that kids love to use. I figured I could pick the dispenser up at Target or perhaps WalMart, but no such luck. However, what I did see surprised me! Apparently these large box stores have learned about this lovely device as well, and are now marketing their own super-diluted hand soap in foaming dispensers. Bingo.

I bought a container, used up the included soap in a little less than 20 minutes, and replaced it with my own solution. You can buy the foaming soap refills, but the cost is ridiculous for something you can simply make. Buying full strength liquid hand soap refills in the large quantities, diluting it with water, and using the special dispenser means I can have BOTH clean little hands, and pennies in my pocket! I love it.