So, I thought I would just do a little update here for all those people who care- just a smattering of what's going on in life right now. Here goes:
I'm a little over 10 weeks pregnant. This is actually my seventh pregnancy, but soon to be sixth child. I am due May21st and very glad for God's timing in it all. There were many times in the past year that having a baby would have just seemed like more than I could handle. However, God saw fit to schedule it right after we settled down from house renovations (not done, but plenty functional) and hold off just long enough so I can potentially get a full year of school in before he/she arrives. I'm very thankful for His care over my life in this area and I've found the more I trust God, the more He has proved himself trustworthy. All is going well. I had a little spotting a couple of weeks ago that gave me a bit of a scare, but the midwife assured me that it was due to "overdoing" it, and possibly a low progesterone level. The spotting went away and I'm trying to behave myself on things like "no heavy lifting". You know it's funny, I always thought something that was considered "heavy lifting" was actually something that I had to strain to pick up or almost couldn't pick up. I recently discovered that Joseph can be considered heavy lifting since he's 25 pounds! WHAT??? I carry him around all the time! And um...vacuuming with my non selfpropelled Kirby is also considered heavy lifting. Probably having the children jump on my on the couch falls in that category as well. You know, come to think of it...it's a wonder any baby of mine survives to reach the real world! That's just the beginning in our family of dangerous deathly situations- ahh...praise the Lord for angels!
But I digress...so baby, check. We're all good.
This year Jonathon is in a sort of probationary 2nd grade and James is in 1st grade. I don't mean to be down on Jonathon, that's just the way the state looks at it since he missed a lot of school last year and couldn't pass his test for 1st grade. But he's coming right along this year and if we aren't caught up by the end, we will be well on our way. James is doing well also. We are using the cirriculum "My Father's World" and I love it! What a breeze! I feel like school is very much what I always wanted it to be for my children- mostly fun, with learning happening on the sly and a good solid format to follow and know that they really are getting what they need. It's designed to be a whole family involvement sort of thing, so it works great for incorporating the little ones in much of the time and it has reasonable expectations for how much to accomplish in one day. Did I say I loved it? We've had 43 days of school so far this year. All the days we've taken as holidays I've been able to have them make up on other days and thus able to count. The kids seem to like school for the most part. They do the usual groaning every morning when I tell them it's time to stop playing with whatever is there favorite toy at that moment and come to school, but after that it's mostly pleasant. Don't get me wrong, they are kids and have their usual "I can't do it" fall apart moments and the "want to be doing what the baby it doing" times, but on the whole the days are usually characterized by happy moments. I'm so glad.
As I said earlier, the dust has settled somewhat over the massive activity in the house. We've managed to get most of the walls painted and the kitchen is done and the bathrooms are mostly done. Bedrooms are ok with a few little things to check of in each one of them before I can get them officially off my brain. So, the big part is ok. Brandon just replaced a temporary wall in the garage with a more permanent one and I was so proud of him. He hadn't really don't hardly any construction work before we moved here and he built that wall almost all by himself! I helped with design and measurements, which if you could see the wood on the bottom, you would know that I remeasured about 10 times before I got everything in the right place- he probably could have done it the first time. :-) Anyway, it's as water tight as anything can get there I think, so I'm anxious to see how it does with snow piled up next to it this next spring. Will we have water running in or not? Only time will tell- I am hoping for not.
As far as big outstanding parts of the house left to work on we have the school room, which has only been mudded and not painted. You wouln't notice though because I have plastered the entire thing with educational posters. (Ok, well you can see the ceiling part.) We still need to paint the laundry, laundry hall, and half bathroom. And we have countertops downstairs waiting for cabinets to go under them for those areas as well. There's a couple of wall cabinet sections that need to be built for that area too. We are of course hoping to do more with the garage to make it more functional as a room of the house and everything from the ceiling and insulation down to leveling the floor and reinstalling heat needs to be done out there. The entire outside of the house needs to be painted and soon. Then there's the endless array of little things- baseboard here, finish painting a million different pieces of trim, repairing windows, screens, replacing screen doors, oh, the litte bit of brick work on both the front and back of the house...and perhaps a toilet in our bathroom that flushes. The list is endless, and I am discovering- when you own a home- it always is. As soon as you fix something it begins to deteriorate and pretty soon you find yourself thinking, "I just did that."
We are currently getting a wood boiler installed to hopefully lower fuel costs for this house. That should help a lot. This house was built just before people started getting serious about insulating...which means the heat just goes right out through the walls and it costs a fortune to keep us warm in the winter! So now we'll be able to run on wood heat and then when that isn't practical we can supplement with oil. I must say, I'm not looking forward to the idea of giving large portions of my basement over to wood though. It'll be alright in the end I'm sure.
Brandon's keeping up his bookkeeping job and over the last few years both of us have realized that job has grown by leaps and bounds from what it was to what it is now and he finds himself busy MANY hours of the day. He does a good job with it and keeps track of things well, but it takes a long time to do it. When he's not doing that, he's still doing groundskeeping work. He just plowed up the gardens for winter today hoping to kill off some of the grass and tell the fungus to go back whereever it came from. I think he likes the variety, but as today was his only day in the next two weeks to plow, he wasn't thrilled with the idea that it snowed this morning and he had to do it in 35 degree weather- windy at that. Those days I think he wishes he could just be "cooking the books".
Lately he's had a good time talking about all things financial with lots of people since the economy is not so hot. I think he feels in his element and I love hearing him tell about his (public) converstations when he comes home.
He's also been a great support to me. As I began school, he got on a kick of throwing a load of laundry in every morning and evening, so if I had baskets of laundry they were always clean ones. What a big help that has been. He's also helped greatly with breakfasts for a while now- especially since I've been doing the morning sickness thing. I crawl out of bed, stumble downstairs and find all the children dressed, in their right minds, eatting breakfast that he made. Somedays it's oatmeal, others- like today- we have scrambled eggs, grits, and sausage. He's a good cook, don't let him fool you. If you are ever in doubt, just ask me about the time I was gone and he decided to help all the children make their own loaves of zucchini bread- at the same time, then he did the same with apple bread, and they were really good! I was amazed, not that it was good, but that he lived to tell about it. I would surely be dead!
Jonathon (7) has been my biggest helper lately. One day this week I felt so sick I stayed on the couch and told him how to make spaghetti for dinner. And he did, all but drain the noodles and put the food on the table. He's a great help with Joseph and seems to be sensitive to when things are going hard for me and is willing to lighten the load. He's currently trying to loose his 4th tooth and thus check off all the front teeth. He's quite proud of this accomplishment.
James (6) desperately wants to loose his teeth (that haven't already been knocked out) but I think it's merely for financial gain. He's gradually learning that throwing Joseph around like a pillow or sitting on him are not proper forms of affection. He's tough, sneaky (sometimes), slick (more often) and funny (almost always). He can pull out movie quotes with the best of them and apply them in just the right situation. He and I have agreed to build a "Calvin snowman" on our front lawn sometime this winter. I think he's settled on the one of the large snow chicken holding an ax over the stump where the snowman is laying on one side and his head on the other. All you visitors beware!
Jeff (almost 5 and has been counting for 2 months with a month and a half to go) is well also. He's talking a lot more these days which I'm happy about. His speech is even pretty clear. He likes being involved in school when I can. He and Rachel are best friends and play all the time together. They do a good combo of girl and boy things and though Jeff makes a great effort at playing girly stuff, no matter how it goes, Rachel plays his boy stuff as girly as you can imagine. He tolerates it though and when he really wants rough and tumble he goes and hangs with his big brothers. He's pretty gentle and loves to cuddle and has a knock-you-over happy smile. I asked him today what he wants to be when he grows up and he said, "I want to grow up and be a Daddy so I can cook grits." A high calling indeed!
Rachel (3) is the ultimate in girly. Dress up, high heels, princess, the RIGHT outfit, wash her hands before she eats, don't get your feet dirty kind of girl. She doesn't like bugs and the boys clap for her when she touches one. Her one gross habit is that she still carries this large blanket around with her everywhere and sucks her thumb while she puts the corner of the blanket up her nose. We should wash it more than we do, but I also figure, most of the time almost everything on her is clean- what's wrong with a few boogers? Her favorites are Cinderella and well...Cinderella. She of course can name off every Disney princess there is and has glass slippers for all of them I think. She's big on who her "favorite" (person, that is) is and goes back and forth between Daddy, me, and a friend of her's, Nicole. Nicole always wins out for a long time after she has seen her. I think her biggest struggle is with her brothers tearing up her things and wrecking her room. She'd be mostly neat and tidy if they would leave her alone, but she's way to social to allow that.
Joseph (21 months) is quite the baby of the family right now. I hope he gets over it soon! He's very clingy and calls everyone Mama. I think he's a little more clingy because he's the first child of ours that hasn't been passed around to every person on campus every day since birth. When we lived in the Main House, we saw lots of people all the time and the children interacted with them whether they wanted to or not. He has lived most of his interactive infancy at our new home and while I love it, one negative aspect is that he doesn't like to make friends much. We're working on that since I just have an aversion to impoliteness under the excuse of shyness, but he's going to take a little longer I think because he doesn't have as many opportunities as the others did. He's happy though and except for an excema problem that he has regularly, he's a healthy little boy.
In other news:
I've managed to kill most of our fish. We're down from 11 to 4 now. I think I starved them to death in the process of trying to get our tank to be sparkly clean again. It's been green and now just a clear cloudy for months now and no amount of care, chemicals, etc. seems to fix the problem. I think I'm about ready to throw the baby out with the bath water on this one!
I had an awesome herb garden this year, thanks to Alouette Anderson for getting it all ready for plants last spring and I'm dreading the dying of the last herb, which I know is soon to come if it didn't happen today. I had better basil this year than I've ever grown and actually all of the plants did really well. The soil has been dormant for a while which probably helped and so I had all the parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, chives, and chocolate mint I could ever want. Ahh..it was a cooks dream!
We also had a great garden. We were able to put quite a bit in the freezer and are enjoying some squash and sweet potatoes these days. I made lots of homemade catsup which to my delight, the children LOVE! We also canned some sweet pickle relish and froze stewwed corn...mmmm... Praise the Lord for a bountiful harvest. We actually had a pretty nasty blight of some fungus over almost the whole garden, but thankfully it didn't hurt the fruit so much as the leaves, so by the time it came we were able to still get most of the produce we would have gotten.
Now the leaves are almost all on the ground. There are some oak trees out there that are being quite stubborn with their crop and just won't let go, but almost all the maples have shed. The top of the mountain was snowy today and there was about 1/2 inch on the ground this morning when we got up. It made me smile. I love the snow. It makes me think of words like bright, cozy, warm drinks ( I almost wrote worm drinks- eww), and clean. Ok, the mud coming in today on people's boots wasn't so clean, but the snow makes the whole world out there look clean and fresh and new- like taking a bath or putting fresh white sheets on the bed. It makes me think that God can fix it all again to make it a true pleasure to him.
Well, now that I've run the risk of waxing eloquent I should stop. That's all for now. Hope you've enjoyed the narrative of Life in the Aldrich Army.