Crazy weather people! In Canada here, I guess we’re used to a snowstorm, but oy, seeing some of those reports from the US makes me wonder where y’all go with all that!? We got a nice amount of snow here, about 25 cm (10″ for you imperial folks), which makes me wish I could take the kids out in it to romp. However, at 8 months pregnant, moving around the house with clear floors is hard enough sometimes, let alone trying to keep track of 4 kids in deeper snow…

The man here has been working looong shifts — he’s a snowplow operator, on call — which means that both of us are tired people. Him because he works nights and worked almost 30 hours out of 48, and me because guess who gets to solo parent for a bit? Nap time has become my best friend again.. not just because of a noise break, but because I actually get to sleep too!

Last night, since I was by myself and the kids were in bed.. ahhh, peace!.. I did some thinking and planning for this blog. It’s fairly random, but I do have some topics I want to explore more in writing here. Things like  having a larger family with lots of little ones (and no big ones to help!) since there doesn’t seem to be much out there like that.. lol, hmm I wonder why? Probably because when you have lots of littles and little help, it can be hard to carve out a few minutes to sit down and write. And also probably because a lot of those families who were once in that stage were there when blogging was brand new and not at all popular. Perhaps some thoughts on parenting, because I have children!, lol, homeschooling (since we do and have since “birth”), including how we do it when I’m pregnant or nursing (or both!!) frequently, and maybe some thoughts on family planning, or lack of it as the case may be, since we have had a number of children closely spaced, and all the details related to that, like organization and routines and schedules and all the other sanity savers I’ve gleaned from experience and moms who’ve “been there, done that, wish-I-did-this-then” — all of these may come up and more. Also may include topics such as my faith and its practical-living-out, and maybe even on marriage and relationships, though I do not claim to be an expert there!

Lots of things to explore. But life’s like that. Everything we do is related to everything else. I mean, my faith influences my parenting choices and philosophy, which is in part why we homeschool, which affects our daily routines and schedules, which changes with each new child, which affects my marriage and parenting choices, which describe my faith lived out loud.. there is no dividing line between one and the other, no matter what my written out schedule tries to tell me. We can block out periods of time to prioritize a particular area of life on paper, but real life means that trying to have a conversation with one’s husband may be sidetracked by answering your grade-schooler’s question in spelling which in turn may be interrupted by a diaper change, which may result in needing to empty the garbage, while re-directing the toddler away from it and correcting the preschooler who put her toys there, and breathing a prayer for more patience, and then needing to write down garbage bags on the shopping list, which reminds you that you still haven’t finished the history book list you were working on in the first place before you started talking to your husband… Maybe its just me??

Anyways, the point of this random rambling post is that I have lots of ideas, and hopefully experiences that will help others out there, or at least provide a laugh or two and show a few moms they aren’t the only ones.. lol or maybe I’m the only one, and you aren’t as bad as I am!

Enjoy and feel free to send me ideas, questions or comments..

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This past Valentines.. with all the pink and red, hearts and flowers, and chocolate trophies being thrown at shoppers.. Not exactly my favorite holiday… but not for the reasons you might think. I’ve never had a horrible Valentine’s. Quite the opposite, I’ve had some really special ones, in the past. But its mostly because I’m not a traditional “romantic”.

The traditional “romantic” woman is one who loves “happy-ever-after” stories, expects (and gets) flowers, cards, lace-and-bows traditional gifts, dresses up to impress, and enjoys the chivalrous actions of her partner(s). Which is soo not me. I like happy-ever-after, well enough, but I want more than just “riding off into the sunset, Disney-style”.. I like real life better, and I know real life doesn’t end at the engagement/wedding/first kiss. Relationships take work.  I think flowers are pretty, and I do enjoy their beauty, but I’d much prefer a plant to put in my garden than a cut bouquet to put in a vase. To me, that’s a waste of money, since they won’t last. I adore chocolate and treats, but honestly? I really don’t need too much of that — not good for my health, my skin or my waistline, such as it is… I can (and do) dress to impress, but for the most part, I prefer to be comfortable and wear things that are safe for young children, since I have a few around me, lol. I dress neat, clean, modest and try to be attractive, but I don’t wear bling and sparkle all the time, and I rarely wear make-up! And while I expect courtesy and respect from any relationship, the traditional date-night chivalry tends to make me roll my eyes.

I guess my issue is that I’m too practical to be romantic. Romance is for optimists, and I’m too realistic to be that optimistic. Unfortunately, my husband is a die-hard optimist, and my lack of romance drives him crazy. He’s the one who would love to spend tons of money on roses, chocolates, jewelry and fancy dinners out. He insists (most of the time) on opening my car door, holding my hand and tends to be very affectionate. Ok, I can’t lie and say I don’t like that part 🙂 But for the most part, I would rather he spent the money on a nice potted geranium than a dozen roses, on pizza for the family instead of dinner out, and save the expensive jewelry money for a vacation trip or perhaps even just to pay down the mortgage.

It comes down to love languages, I guess. I highly recommend Gary Chapman’s book on the subject, and so do most of my family and friends (we were given 3 of them when we got engaged!! LOL), and it was very enlightening for us. My husband’s love language is words of affirmation, with a secondary of gifts, which is why I get the compliments and treats. Mine is quality time, emphasis on quality listening/conversation, and my secondary is physical affection, so I would rather spend long hours in discussion about anything and everything, cuddled up on the couch.

With love languages, the reverse of them is the absolute worst thing you can do to a person. If you want to hurt someone who’s love language is say, physical affection, refuse to make love with them.. it will hurt them right at the core of who they are. So my husband has a really hard time with criticism of any kind, as he takes it very very personally. And I get very hurt if I don’t feel listened to, or if I feel misunderstood. These things attack the heart of our being. You might as well stick a knife in the relationship, metaphorically speaking.

The problems come when the languages get crossed or mixed up. When I forget my “please”s and “thank you”s, or if I complain about something my husband has done too often, he will become very grumpy and upset with me. If he asks me to repeat myself several times, or several days go by without a kiss or a touch of some kind, I feel neglected and undervalued. Obviously, this leads to more issues, in a spiraling cycle of anger and hurt.

Your love language is what comes naturally to you. It’s how you naturally express how you feel about someone. But if they don’t share your love language, as Gary said, you might as well be speaking a foreign language, for all the good it will do you. It takes work to remember and express yourself in ways your partner will receive as loving. But, it is worth it.

This Valentine’s Day, treat it as a good reminder of how your partner really experiences love. You don’t have to spend a ton of money or go out to a fancy dinner, especially if neither of you see that time and money as being especially loving. Perhaps the pizza and a movie, cuddled on the couch after the kids in bed will be a ton more special. Or a love note left in a secret place, or a well-planned seduction? The possibilities are endless, and creativity is very useful when you consider your mate’s love language.

Me? I’m hoping for a love letter or well-written card, with perhaps some quality time later in the evening…. *wink wink*…

I found it! I found it! I found the stand I want for our tv. Nice and simple, just a low, two shelf stand, with a glass door over the shelves. I wanted a glass door so we can use the remote on the dvd player, without having to have the door open to little fingers and hands pushing buttons. I’m hoping to figure out a way to latch/lock it too, but I have yet to see it up close.  It was only $20 on Kijiji too! Well within my budget!

My dh wasn’t all that happy with me when I told him we were picking it up today. He was all set to custom build something …which meant that I wouldn’t get it anytime soon! Getting him to finish a project is like pulling teeth!! He’s been saying things like “need to modify” and “fix it to fit” but I think once it’s in place, it will stay just fine, the way it is. I talked him into it by pointing out that you can’t get a glass door and the hardware for glass doors for $20. Once he saw it, he was a whole lot more comfortable, and as I said, once it’s in place, I think he’ll be happier too.

Next on my list is to source out a dresser of some kind. I want a solid wood one, preferably in the kind of shape that I won’t feel bad about modifying it, because I want to turn it into a dress-up storage closet. Basically, take out the drawers and supports, refinish the frame, add a tension bar, and voila! Instant clothes storage. Depending on how it works out, I may look for another one for our entry way, for kids’ coats and things. I can always add a curtain to hide the contents too, if I like.

I have dressers (from my girls’ room) that I plan on repurposing downstairs in what will be our dining room/school room/craft room, to store all the various school and craft supplies we have, as well as some of the more educational toys. I want to move the current toy storage 9-cubby organizer shelf upstairs to their room for clothes storage, while moving in a toddler bed at the same time, since our 16 mo old will soon be joining her sisters. Not a moment too soon either — she climbed out of her crib this morning, and took a big fall onto the floor!  I have bookshelves that I hope to have as actual bookshelves soon, depending on my dh actually completing the one project I do want him to get done: new dvd cabinets, to hang on the wall. Then I can put a lot of the school reading books on those, and my fiction/fun ones on the bigger shelves I have for them. I also want to add wall shelves for kids books in our play room, and perhaps, just maybe, free up another shelf for toy storage. Perhaps. That may be a bit adventuresome, as we have a lot, *a lot!* of kids books!

Books, books, books! My house is overflowing with books. Hehe, and I love it! We have cloth books for babies, board books for toddlers, picture books and sound books for preschoolers, picture books for beginners, first chapters for early readers, and great children’s literature for my older child, along with my own collection of fiction, both classic and modern. I also have books on parenting, relationships, marriage, finances, theology, discipleship, organization.. all sorts of non-fiction topics. The funny thing is, my current library is what it is, but my to-read list? About 3 times as big! And growing!

Back to reorganizing. I cannot wait to redo these rooms — can you say nesting much? I need to sort out my kids’ toys, and put them into meaningful categories, so I can create labels, and start training them to put it away better. I plan on switching my current dining/school room with what is now the living room, so I may have a few occasional tables put to better use soon. I also have some pieces going into storage, until we can refinish rooms to use them (we want to put in an office/adult craft room in our basement) and some things coming out of storage too. I’m really looking forward to the change! I think it will improve how the house works, and best of all — everything will be finally cleaned! Again!

Clean house, happy mama, happy family, right? Remind me to take before and after pics and post them!

I am anticipating tomorrow, because we have a Very Important Appointment. We have an interview appointment with a clinic, so hopefully the kids and I will have a family doctor. We haven’t had a family doctor in over two years now, because there is such a shortage of general practitioners in this area. Heck, in all of Canada! I’m grateful my kids have had a pediatrician, especially my two who *need* a ped, but right now, where we’re living, it’s an hour and a half drive to take them to the pediatrician.. which means, because I don’t drive (don’t have my license/have had eye infections/poor vision/pregnant/nursing/etc), my dh has needed to take a day off work, pack all 4 kiddos up, with all their assorted gear, snacks, bottles, sippies, diapers, etc, drive to the office, wait for 20-30 min, (even if we’re there only 5 min before the scheduled appointment) and see the doctor for all of 5-10 min… oy! Makes me tired just thinking of it. And now with a 5th one on the way, I’m very anxious to have this appointment go right.

Why in the world is there such an issue getting a doctor? You’d think, with 4 children (soon to be 5), with 2 of them “special needs” — one considered having a developmental disability — and 2 ages 2yrs and under… we’d have no issues getting medical care. But there are 50 000 people in this metropolitan area without regular care, so well.. we’re generally healthy, and I guess not high priority.  But 50k population without regular care means clogged emergency rooms and walk-in clinics that are overworked and stressed out! So getting even the most minor thing checked out is almost more hassle than its worth.

So we do like a lot more people seem to these days. We take care of the minor things ourselves. We use home remedies, try to improve our nutrition and watch what we eat, get regular exercise and enough sleep (try doing that with little ones that still get you up several times a night, lol!) and use over the counter medicines to self-treat in hopes that “that pain” isn’t really anything serious.

One of my new passions now is finding out more about herbal remedies and essential oils. I’ve been passively searching out info, which, frankly, is confusing and overwhelming at times. There are sooo many different herbs and each one seems to have a dozen different applications, potions and preparations, not to mention names. I have progressed as far as to try to grow a few here at home (though I have yet to grow anything indoors successfully! LOL). I have a mint plant that seems to be pretty hardy, no matter how tough the winter, and I have a sage plant that also seems to be survival-oriented, no matter what I do (or don’t do) to help it. But I’ve tried to grow basil and oregano, parsley and thyme and.. well.. the leaves scattered on my window sill speak for themselves.

What I’d love to find is a class I could take that would go step-by-step through the different most commonly used/needed plants and show me how to do this. Maybe I’ll do it myself and post it — start with identification, how to grow, how to prepare for use, and what to use it for. Hmm.. on my list would probably be lavender, mint, chamomile, sage, rosemary, basil, oregano and thyme to start with. Any others?

Yay! 27 weeks pregnant today. Only 13 weeks (give or take a month) to go. I say give or take a month, because there seems to be some confusion as to when this baby will actually come. According to my cycle, we should be due in the middle of March. The ultrasounds put us in the middle of April. My measurements put us at the end of March, beginning of April (in the middle of the other two)… so my thinking is that sometime around Easter, we’ll be having a baby, LOL!

I love babies. They are adorable. They smell good (most of the time!) They cuddle and coo, and all they care is that they aren’t tired or hungry or uncomfortable. So easy! At least for a few months, hehe. They are so small and cute and mmm I can hardly wait to meet this little girl.

One of my favorite things about having girl babies is I get to play dress up. Girls get frills and ruffles and lace and bows and sparkles and pretty colors. We can do hair and nails and even jewelry (still need to get my toddler’s ears done! oy!) I love dressing my girls up to the T, with princess dresses, bows in their hair, their nails painted up pretty and sparklies in their ears, right down to the shoes! I love matching them, so they are all color coordinated — makes it easy to keep track of them too!

Girls give me lots of chances to enjoy my girly side — since I wasn’t much of a “princess” when I was a child. I can’t wait to show them how to wear make up, to have high heels and jewelry, to enjoy all things feminine! We’re already trying to ease our oldest into the mindset of being presentable with proper behaviour that will be attractive at all times, with the idea that eventually she will be married.

We want to train our girls in godly womanhood, with the assumption that they will be married — and that they need to remain pure until then! I want to prepare my girls for marriage, far beyond what I was prepared (or not prepared, as the case may be!). We plan on using purity rings to reinforce how special they are, and hope chests to keep the idea of right relationships in sight. I want to prepare them, not just physically or financially, with the right skills to run a home efficiently or tangible items to help get set up, but emotionally and spiritually, with the right attitudes towards marriage.

I want my girls to dream of romance, but be realistic about love. Love, especially in marriage, requires work! It’s hard, sometimes. It is a constant choice to act loving, even when the warm fuzzy feelings have long since faded to cool hardness. It requires a commitment to remain faithful, not just physically, but to not check out emotionally, and just go through the motions.

But marriage isn’t all about the hard work either. It should be about the warm fuzzy feelings and the fluttery anticipation and the excitement. I want my girls to know how to graciously accept a compliment, to respond warmly to romance, to enjoy being courted and wooed. Independence and strength are desirable in a woman, but so is the softness and vulnerability of being feminine. And marriage requires both.

So.. I have all girls! I hope to raise capable, attractive, strong, feminine, gentle, captivating women, who will go on to be living examples of what God created woman to be, in life, in love and in family.

I’m really on this organizing kick lately. Must be “new year syndrome” lol, and if I wait long enough, it’ll go away..  Anyways, my newest thoughts have been on organizing my time. Last spring I bought “Managers of their Home” by the Maxwells at a homeschooling conference. I spent the summer reading and diligently working on a tentative schedule for the fall.. until August, that is, when we discovered that our family was going to grow (again!). And all thoughts of stricter scheduling went down the toilet.. along with my breakfast..

So I’m revisiting that book, and looking into being more deliberate about scheduling my time. I have my daily housekeeping checklist (which is working so-so — energy being an issue, but at least some things are getting done!) I have created a list of things I need to do in a day, along with things I’d like to do, sleep being one of them! Some things are daily, some are weekly, but I just wrote down everything I need or want to do on any particular day, knowing that I can’t do everything!

I’ve discovered some blogs that talk a lot about family scheduling. One of the things that came up on one of them is scheduling a baby, a la Babywise. And that is something I really don’t want to do. Most of my babies have fallen into a routine within a few months, but I’ve also had high needs babies that require way more mama time than what a schedule would allow for. There’s a lot of things about “scheduling” babies that makes me uncomfortable. Like.. just because they ate a full meal 20 minutes ago doesn’t mean I can’t feed them again now. I’ve had that happen — baby breastfeed for 30 minutes (full meal) and 20 minutes later did the exact same thing. I really really don’t like the idea that because the schedule says it’s nap time, I shouldn’t be picking up my crying baby or I’ll “spoil” him. I don’t know that babies have that level of conscious thought.. to be that manipulative! At least, not in the early few months at least. I think the independence of will that kind of thinking requires doesn’t develop until they start moving around on their own (crawling or rolling towards a goal, etc), which is when we usually start training for obedience around here. But before that, I want to foster a sense of security and trust in my babies, that when they need something and let me know (by the only way they know how, crying!) I will be there immediately. Or someone will. Which…makes for a certain amount of unpredictability for a while. I can deal. So can the rest of the family.

So, yeah.. back to scheduling. I can definitely see where we need to tweak ourselves into a more predictable routine around here. At least I need to, hehe. One of the things I think I will be doing is more structured activity time for my under-5 crowd. Free play seems to equal free-for-all fighting/chaos. I think I will look for organization storage for toys and activities that allows me to more adequately control exactly when and what each child is playing with where. Free play is all well and good, but too much of a good thing is well.. too much! We definitely need more structured time for the under-5 crowd.

One idea that has come up is restricted play areas. I really really like this one. Having a playpen set up and limiting the amount of activities that are accessible to a child in a particular area may help cut down on the toy clutter and disorganization we have around here. Table time, blanket time, room time.. etc all have the same basic idea behind them. Child stays in one area, with a limited amount of choices, for a certain amount of time. It’s the idea of training the girls to stay in that area, for that amount of time that scares me, lol! Do I have that much energy/patience?

So look for those ideas in upcoming blogs. I may just post of list of all the preschool activities we can do, so I myself can see them/divide them up into appropriate time slots and places. I could see that kind of list being useful just for myself.. and who knows what I’ll discover when I actually sit down and think about it.

Scary concept — sitting down and thinking about anything means undiscovered territory..

I was discussing my plans to rearrange my house (switch three rooms around) before our baby comes, and we nearly got into a major fight. Of course, with us, that’s typical. But I think most of his problem wasn’t with my plans but being overwhelmed with the changes, and not being able to see it.

I had brought up the idea of changing around what is currently our dining and living rooms a few months ago, and his reaction was typical == absolutely not! LOL. I began throwing ideas out for the last couple of weeks, and slowly he’s been coming around. Now he’s the one who is bringing up benefits of switching them around and asking me where I want things, and what I want here or there. It always takes some time for him to come around, but he usually does.

Now he’s getting really helpful in discussing things to help out with our storage/organization issue. One of our issues is that our toddler is currently using the room we have set up as a nursery, and we will have to switch her to a toddler bed in with her sisters. However, that room is smaller, and already has bunkbeds and two dressers in it. I was having a hard time figuring out how we were going to fit a toddler bed + dresser/shelving unit in that already cramped space. Leave it to the man.. He asked me what we were going to do with a nine-cubby shelving unit currently used as toy storage in our playroom, as I wanted to switch all the toys to cabinets with drawers or doors. (In hopes to tame the “everything on the floor” mess we currently deal with!) He gave me a great idea. We’ll put that in the girls’ room, to use for their clothes, and take the two dressers currently there out, to use as craft and toy storage. Saves me from having to find new furniture for cheap/free, and solves the problem of space in that room.

So now all I really need to get is an old solid wood (preferably) dresser I can remake into a wardrobe for dress-up clothes (a la pinterest board) and perhaps another bookshelf, and some media cabinets for our movies and things. There are a couple other things I’d like — another play table for the playroom, and some storage carts on weeks, along with a train trundle — but not absolutely necessary for storage.

I’m really glad he’s getting on board, as.. well who gets to do all the heavy lifting? Can’t be me — I’m carrying a baby, and this one seems to be giving me more braxton-hicks contractions than the others, earlier than the others too. I’m kind of concerned about early labour symptoms really. But anyways, I need him to be ok with this so he will make the changes I want.