Tuesday, October 6, 2015

of tanks and bunkbeds

A tank attacked my boy's bunk beds today.

I mean, my boy's bunk beds demolished a tank today.

Ok. What I really mean is I changed the sheets on my boy's bunk beds today.

Whomever it was who came up with the concept of a bunk bed really was quite clever!! What a great idea for maximizing small sleeping spaces for multiple persons.

I am fairly confident that this a fore mentioned clever person was NOT a woman and surely not a woman who was in her 8th month of pregnancy.

 I did just a little research and didn't find much  solid information about the origin of  the bunk bed.

It seems that we can thank the ancient Egyptians for, at least the idea and concept of bunk beds.

Bunk beds have been used for years in sailing vessels and the military as well as college dormitories.

So while I admire this clever person with his clever idea, I wonder if he ever thought through all the implications of maintaining a bunk bed.  

Especially a twin stacked on top of a double mattress with walking space on one side of the bed only.

{And what about pregnant women??}

Of course, maintaining a bunk would have been much easier before the day of fitted sheets.  

Maybe we should go back to the whole bed roll idea. 


So. I have this love/hate relationship with this clever person that I do not know at all. 

I would like to thank him for his ingenuity and goodwill towards large families.

And since he was so clever, I would like to ask him to come up with a slick maintenance package for his invention. 

Even in my frustrations with changing sheets  on bunk beds, I find myself very mesmerized by all the varieties and designs of modern bunk beds.

In fact, I dream of having some of these bunk beds in my house full of kids someday AFTER I learn of a better sheeting option or AFTER my kids are old enough to do a full sheet change on their own or AFTER I am through this child bearing stage of my life and AFTER I have a home with bigger bedrooms to house such amazing beds.

After which my home will likely not be filled with my own children but grandchildren!!!

Now would that be a party.....a sleep over with the grandchildren in these darling bunk beds!!!??!!!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

hasty words

No kidding. Less than 60 seconds after I hit 'publish' on my former post, I heard that terrifying"glug-glug-glug" sound.  My 2 year old was trying to pour a gallon of milk into a 4 oz juice cup. Things got a little out of hand very quickly.

If I was the kind to cry easily, I would be crying my eyes out.

Instead, I'm laughing.

Thank God for a bucket of soapy water and a rag.

We live and we learn.

summer reflections

Wow. It seems like just a couple days ago I was thinking about and adjusting to our new summer schedule.

Tomorrow my three oldest head back to the classroom.

They are very excited.

I am too.

It's been a good summer for all of us,

It has been an exhausting but super satisfying summer for me as a mom.

I don't know if you remember the lessons that I learned from my husband?!?

Well. I do really feel like the 3 strategies that I listed in that post were the secret to our summer going well.

It's hard to see growth in yourself and in your family because it all happens so s.l.o.w.l.y.

But just this past week as the children and I were processing 2 bushels of peaches, I realized that life with 5 children has changed significantly for me in the last several years.

Somehow (thank you, Jesus!!!) we've moved from playing in bins of flour and throwing eggs in the hallway and writing on walls with permanent markers to being a productive little cleaning, gardening, cooking, painting, baby-sitting crew (with lots of quirks of course).

It's humbling and altogether beautiful for me to realize that I am being transformed even as my children are growing. It's not about me doing all the training and them doing all the changing.

As I reflect on our summer I can see that we were all growing in grace together.

I stand back and say "Bless the Lord!"

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Summer Activities

I think these are supposedly the dog days of summer.

You know, when you feel hot and lazy and the grass turns brownish and doesn't need to be mowed every other day.

When the novelty of summer vacation for the school kids has kind of worn off.

When mom isn't quite so super motivated about her own chore list or making yet another chore list for the kids.

Although some of the above statements are at least semi true about life around here, it sure doesn't feel like we've hit the lazy dog days of summer.

There is more life and activity and hard work happening around here than what I can keep straight.

After a day or so of dirty demolition work we see the addition to our house taking shape. Cheers!
*Framing credits go to RJL Construction. **All clean up effort credts go to the Stoltzfus family.

Little Lady is busy growing 

Lotsa pool play

A fun but very intense week of vbs

Super fun weekend with the Lehmans at a cabin in Ohio celebrating Dad & Mom's 40th anniversary.

{We also spent 2 different weekends with Amos' family, both of which I failed miserably to capture on camera.}

Ice cream socials with family, neighbors, friends

And what have I been doing in the midst of all this activity???

Well...just the normal - Cooking, Cleaning, Laundry, Refereeing (times 500,000,000)

And, oh yes, I am also in the full time business of baby growing this summer

Thursday, June 18, 2015

photography & me

I have come to an important decision.

Ok. It's not really THAT  important.

But I'm relieved to have finally found a personal spot of peace and rest on the subject of photography as it relates to me.

For years I've really enjoyed photography.

I was beyond delighted when my husband gifted me with a Canon Rebel XTi on my 27th (ish) birthday.

It has been a joy learning how to use my camera through lots of experimentation for the last 7 years.

It has been an even greater joy to capture moments and milestones in the lives of my own children, as well as many others.

At one point I thought I may pursue the path of becoming a photographer. (back when I had more time to dream and had an elevated opinion of my own skill level)

Then entered the digital age which totally amazed us all and still continues to amaze me.

And then the world became absolutely FLOODED with amateur photographers, just like myself.

Slowly but surely I find myself more than happy to pass off potential clients to other capable  budding photographers.

I don't have the time or money or passion right now to grow as a photographer.

I hate stagnation. I am a self diagnosed stagnated photographer.

I also am NOT a business woman.  Dabbling in photography only confirmed that fact in my mind more clearly than ever.

When money starts interfering with something I love, then I just feel like hanging it all.


Back to my great and important decision.

I am no longer a photographer. (not that I ever really was....)

At least, I am not advertising myself as such in any way.

I still love working behind the lens.

I plan to keep taking pictures of my children.

And I have energy to continue to give to my community through the experience and talent that I have gained in the last 7 years.

I have vision for a community that actively serves one another in greater ways with the talents and gifts we've been given.

This means that I would be DELIGHTED to shoot pictures for the dear folks who live in my community-- whether that be people from my church, family or neighborhood.

It would be a great pleasure for me to share what I have to offer as a gift to my community.

I really and truly mean that.

Don't be scared to inquire about my time. I am THRILLED to share it with you as my other responsibilities allow me.

I don't think I'll ever tire of taking pictures of  sweet babies. Especially ones that live next door. :)

Or ones that I get to see every Sunday at church. Photo shoots are a great time to get to know both mommy and baby better. I'm glad when this kind of opportunity arise for me to interact with families in my community.

A charming little face like this is an amazing mood booster. I promise.

 I haven't figured out exactly how I will handle each and every situation.

Like I said, I am not advertising my services.

I am offering my service to my community. In the same breath, I acknowledge that I do have limited time, energy and skill to offer.

If I get inquiries from random people who I do not consider to be in my close community, I will consider them and possibly agree if my schedule permits me to do a photo shoot for a small fee.

I am happy and relieved to have come to this decision.

The end.

Friday, May 22, 2015

summer strategies

Any good parenting strategies that I have learned over the years are a direct display of God's grace coming to me though other people.

There have been numerous people who have deeply impacted the way I think about parenting and do parenting. In fact, too many for me to mention here today.

However, I would like to zoom in on the one who has walked most closely with me through the parenting saga in the past 12 years.

Meet Amos. (far right)


sorry about hind shot. Amos prefers to keep his online presence minimal :)

Mr. Administrator.
He loves to create systems.
He loves to work quirks out of faulty systems.
Believe me, he has had plenty of practice at working the flaws out of my hastily created chore charts and summer schedules.
Mr. Former School Teacher.
Mass (wild) crowd control is seemingly simple for him.
He's really good at what he loves to do.
In fact, so good that I remain 100% quiet when I  hear ladies saying things about their husbands like "Well, I would like to see him try to keep the house running smoothly and the children fed for a week......(blah, blah, blah)"
The issue is that I'm scared to let him even try it because I would likely come back to a household that was running more smoothly than ever.
So, while I'm not willing to turn it all over to him, I am slowly learning that he has some very valuable lessons for me.
I will admit that I've been a very slow learner.
I rather like my own way of doing things which is more of a  "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-work-impulsively-in-spurts-as-the-mood-hits-party-hearty-as-often-as-possible".
My way actually works fine for me, myself and I.
But. It doesn't work so well when you're trying to keep a family of seven on task and in some fashion of order.
The 3 most significant things I am learning from my husband and trying hard to make part of our summer are:
1. Work with the kids.  Yes. They can put a tremendous amount of work though in one day, but I must stay engaged with them throughout the process.
 I cannot say "Go clean the basement" and expect them to do a thorough job while I am upstairs sewing. Just doesn't work. 
I've been amazed already this summer at how my presence and a few instructions and encouragement along the way really does help keep them on task and keeps the bickering to a minimum.
2. Make lists 
 I easily get overwhelmed by own mental list of things to do, why would it be any different for my kids?
I have a master list of projects that I want to work on this summer as well as daily routines. Every morning I make a chore list for each child. They have some flexibility with how and when they complete their chores.
Some of the chores are super small and can easily be completed in 5 minutes or less.
Some chores are larger so I  split them up into chunks. Like: "mow the front lawn before lunch. mow back yard after quiet time"
I like to cross things off lists and feel like I really got something accomplished. Guess what? My kids do too!
3. Reward them for a job well done.  (ahhhh. this is the part that I like)
A job well done is a job completed without constant nagging from mom or fighting with your siblings about who is doing the most or the least or whatever.
The reward doesn't always have to be monetary or something big. It can be as simple as a trip to the library which I already had in the plans for the day. (shhhh....don't tell them)
I like to give them rewards throughout the day to keep them going.
Again, don't think too big.
-  a Popsicle for mowing a section of the yard
- 10 minutes playing a computer game
- 1/2 hour in the pool
- a ball game (w/dad :) )
 and such like.
I know that these ideas are pretty basic, but it is truly a stretch for me to stay committed and consistent to even very basic concepts.
So instead of trying to take on every area that I think I need to work on, these are the 3 that are on the front burner this summer.
Maybe once I get them under my belt, I will be able to move on to higher heights.
Onward then to "Work hard, Play Hard Summer 2015"