Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Still Summer?

Tomorrow is August, already. Yikes!
We've been enjoying summer, and plan to continue enjoying it for another several weeks.
School doesn't begin for us until nearly the end of September. For the kids.
*I* still have loads to do.
I still need to come up with classes at home with will satisfy the number of schooling hours required by the state for a few of the kids.  For two of them, it won't be so difficult. They'll be taking 'General Automotive Care' with Mr. TheZoo. That should cover it.
For the Teen, however, we have a few things to line up. She'll be taking the classes at the Parent Partnership Program that I don't have the courage and spaced to teach at home, such as Algebra 2 and Chemistry.  At home, we'll need to cover USA History and English. But, She needs two more credits, and more hours to be accounted for, so I'm hoping for a good local music program. I may have found one at One A-Chord Academy. I'm excited about this prospect because it's close to home, and the instructors are professional musicians. I've seen them perform, and I can confidently say that they are great artists and fine people.
We may also be looking into photography with a 4H club. I understand there is a club already at the Parent Partnership Program.
Or, perhaps, we'll cover Phys. Ed. at home.
The part I'm not looking forward to is writing out the goals and requirements for each at home class, for the entire year, month by month. I also have to decide how the children will be assessed on their progress. Our state seems to be a fan of tests. I don't really like them. How many times in life do we make decisions by sitting at a table and filling in bubbles as a way to recall what we have learned.
Generally we must think on our feet. Some folks like to make lists, or write an essay or journal entry, while others want a sounding board and someone to listen. Others will make snap decisions, and that is often needed.
Do any of you have a wonderful reading list for an 11th grade literature class? We'll read the books together, discuss them, sort of like a book group, and occasionally, we'll do some sort of project related to the books. My favorite kind of projects is watching a movie, or traveling a short distance to a museum or other cultural experience that has something to do with the book.
How about instructions on setting up a donation button for fuel funds? Anyone?
And so, it's back to the grindstone for ZooMama!


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Grouchy or Joyous?

Two posts in one day? Yup. And there's a good reason. I'll get to the reason in a minute. First this:
So, after the breakfast/trying to write my original blog post, this is what happened. The school age kiddos are going to VBS all this week at 9:30 am, so they are getting ready. Because of all the blog posting and breakfast issues, I still need to take a shower. Like really, very much NEED.
I have started washing my hair with baking soda, and using an apple cider vinegar rinse. Well, if you do this, don't get it in your eyes, because it HURTS!!!!. It hurts 10 thousand times more than shampoo. I know. So, after I throw a tantrum about getting apple cider vinegar in my own eyes, I rush out of the bathroom, urge the big kids to help the little kids get ready to go so we will be on time.
Victory, it seems, is ours! Kids are all outside strapped into the van, I slip on my flip flops and grab the purse, complete with the printer ink I need to return, and I even have the information I need to get the correct ink cartridge. Hooray!
Kids are dropped off at VBS, I get to Staples with the two littles and I find that the littlest little is dirty. The big kids let her play in the dust before we left. And she is wearing a diaper with a pink t-shirt that has mysterious orange stains on it. They truly are mysterious as we didn't have cheetos, orange juice, or orange anything in the house. Her hair is matted up in back, and there are dirt streaks from her forehead down to her filthy little toes. *sigh*
I give her a 'mommy spit' bath, and thank goodness there are cute little silver mary janes in the van. I'm hoping they will distract anyone from the lack of pants.
I exchanged the ink, and on my way out of the store, I dropped it. Didn't know it, and got the two littlest littles buckeled up into the van. Then I began searching for the ink that was no longer in my purse. A kind woman asked if I was looking for an ink cartridge and told me that she found it and returned it to customer service. So...I unbuckled the kids - because it's illegal here to leave them in the vehicle unattended, (stupid laws) and ran back in for the ink. Got it, ran back out, and buckled the kiddos in again (stupid safety seats).
On our way from Staples to the grocery store, we came upon a vehicle collision scene. There are four police vehicles, two fire trucks, and ambulance, and two tow trucks. This is a one way only, no place to turn roadway. So I do the only thing I can, and begin to illegally back the giant blue van back toward the driveway we came out of.  Two men in trucks stop for me, give me that "stupid woman" glare, and I shout out the window that the road is blocked, they cannot go that way. They both motion me out of the way and continue on. As I am backed up and getting ready to go the other direction, one of the men (bless his heart) stopped to apologize to me "well, I guess it was just like a man to ignore a woman's advice. And I even know better!" Ah, that gave me cause to smile. A really, really big smile! Men? Are there any men reading this?!?!? See? Our point was made!

I finally made it to the grocery, got everything I needed, and passed up a mom shopping with three little ones. She noted that I was making much better progress than she was. I told her that I usually do this with seven kiddos. Her face paled and she hurried away. I wonder why?

Then I got home, started carting groceries in the house, and guess what? You know that trick we all do where we gather as many of the groceries as we can at once out of the back of the vehicle so we don't have to make as many trips? Well, that failed me today. Two gallons of milk in one hand while fumbling with keys makes for a very milky front porch. So now I have to clean the porch, under the porch, my legs and feet and still get the groceries into the house.

Sounds like a pretty rotten, rough day, huh? But only, here in the USA, could that be considered so awful. I have a vehicle that runs and a license to drive it. I have safety seats for my children. I have clothes for them to wear (even if they don't get worn). I live in a place that values safety for it's citizens and pays people to close up a street and clean up after a collision. I was able to buy ink for a printer. I did not have to cry over the $2.50 I lost all over the porch, because it won't bankrupt me to buy another gallon of milk.
I can grouse about what a challenging day I've had. Or. I can be happy that I woke up to do this day at all.  I choose joy.

And now that it's time to go get the big kids from VBS, and I have spent all of my time cleaning up and typing this blog post, my littlest little is still in her filthy t-shirt, and still pretty much streaked with dirt. I guess the other churchies can judge me on that, along with the apple cider vinegar perfume that I'm sporting today.
Joy, y'all! Count it ALL joy!


This Morning.

I sat down here to write a great blog post. I have deleted and started over several times. I even got up before children usually do, and they got up withing five minutes of me.
This is how the blog writing has gone so far.
Me: write, write, write
Kid: Mom! There's no more cereal! What am I gonna do?
Me: prepare breakfast for that kid. Erase what was written because it no longer makes sense
Another Kid: Mom! There's no more cereal! What am I gonna do?
Me: prepare breakfast for that kid. Erase whatever else was written because it no longer makes sense
Yet Another Kid: Mom! I have no more shirts!
Me: Walks into Yet Another Kid's bedroom and find at least 4 shirts, all in Yet Another Kid's size.
Me: Writes something else
Still Another Kid: Mom! Evie needs a dry diaper!
Me: Changes Evie's diaper. Deletes what was written because I can't even decipher it.
Kid and Yet Another Kid: erupt in screaming and running up and down the hall
Me: Stop it. Stop! It! You! Will! Wake! Your! Sister!
Kid and Yet Another Kid: quit running down the hall, instead squeal and screech in the living room
Me: realizing sister needs to get up. Goes down the hall to wake her. Thinking I need to buy cereal to    avoid this scenario tomorrow morning.
Sister: what's for breakfast?
Me: Toast
Sister: That's all?
Me: very grown up and mature "get over it"
Kid, Another Kid, Yet Another Kid, Still Another Kid, Evie, and Sister: loud, noisy, child like, and busy
Me: giving you the play by play because I know you were dying of curiosity.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On Taking Advice

I get pretty excited about big family blogs. I search them out, I read past and current posts, I bookmark them, I suggest them to others.
Sometimes, I find great ones. The ones where the blogger has been a mom for more years than I have. She's had a larger family, she is a bible believing, Jesus preaching, love living woman with wisdom and wit. Those are my favorite.
I found one recently that I really like. You know, a WHOLE lot. She wrote a blog post about being careful where we (Moms, most specifically, but anyone, really) get our advice.
Then, on her facebook page, she posted about having a meeting with her mentor. This woman that she loves and whose advice she cherishes.
So, I found the facebook and webpages for this mentor.
She is a vivacious, outgoing, energetic woman! She declares her love for Jesus! She encourages people to stretch themselves.
Then, I saw a post in which she referenced a particular verse in the bible, with a statement exhorting people to embrace a message of financial prosperity, while also stating that being poor is a mindset, that it is outmoded, and that we should all do better financially because God wants us to.
So, I looked up the verse, and found that it really had nothing at all to do with her message.
Not even just a little bit.
I was disappointed, but hey, we're human, we make mistakes. Maybe it was just a mistake. But I looked at the comments - there were about 40, they ALL agreed with her! Some even looked up the verse, put it in their comment, and continued to agree with her.
Well, I looked at more of her posts, and creeped around her webpage.
I believe this woman believes that she loves Jesus, but to all appearances, she is really more of a fan. She seems to use God as a mode to promote her business, because hey, if she loves God *and* she's financially successful, then she must really be blessed, and we should all take her advice.

Now, I'm sad. I don't want to let this particular big family blog go, because she seems more relaxed than some of the others. More real, less patronizing. More of actually living life and interacting with her family than adhering to stringent rules. She seems less like a pharisee, and more like a lover of Christ.

I guess I should take her advice, and, ironically, stop taking her advice because of where she gets HER advice (was that as confusing to read as it was to write?) .

I don't want to be Pharisaical about it, either. So, here's my go to. My standby. My answer. I will pray about whatever advice I get from that blog. And you know what, it would be super duper if you would pray over anything you read here.

I'm not always giving advice, sometimes I'm just sharing a story, but, if you find yourself taking advice from me, please make sure it's biblically sound. And please call me on it if it isn't.



Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I Saw The Batman Movie

I'm not here to talk about the shooting in Colorado.
It's a terribly sad, frustrating, and horrifying circumstance and many lives are forever different because of it.

The movie, it's self? Not so sure that it's life changing.
There are so many parallels that a person could make, I guess.
I chose to watch the movie as a comic book adaptation.
But, I don't read comic books, so I'm not sure that was helpful.

Also, I didn't see the first two installments in this particular series.
I was so confused about Bruce Wayne/Batman.
I kept expecting him to break into choreography singing "Seize the Day".
The whole movie, I was convincing myself to see him as The Batman.
I couldn't. His smile was too sunny, his daring to...mischievous.

And then there was Cat Woman, or whatever her name is. I like Anne Hathaway. I really do.
But...she's the teen princess. In a kitty costume, trying to act sort of seductive. All I saw was awkwardness.

I was terribly disappointed that I couldn't get past the casting in this movie.
My girlfriend had obviously never seen 'Newsies' or 'Princess Diaries' and couldn't understand my trouble getting into the story.

I'm usually disappointed by a bad movie. This was a strange circumstance. The movie was good, the actors faces were distracting.
Maybe I'll watch it again on DVD. Maybe.


Monday, July 23, 2012

What I'm Reading

There has been a lot of conversation around me lately about what people are reading.
It isn't like it has always been, it's more. People can share on social media what they are reading, the can recommend, they can discuss, they can load entire books onto e-readers.
Reading is a wonderful thing!
I'm not really going to lecture anyone about what they are reading, but I am going to make some recommendations, and some comments regarding what I am reading.
You all can agree or disagree, that's your prerogative.
First, for the entertaining, quick, easy to pick up and put down that doesn't take much thought to get into (is there a shorter name or some kind of acronym for those?) book.
It's called Hollowland, by Amanda Hocking. 
This is a book about a zombie apocalypse.  I chose it because, hey, zombies are entertaining! I actually chose this book because it was free, and because the author is self published, and she's written many books already. I believe the Hollowland series is her latest.  It is a YA work of fiction, and anyone to religious for make believe won't enjoy it. (I'm just saying!)
The other books I'm into recently are Seven: an experimental mutiny against excess, by Jen Hatmaker.
Okay, so far I have read the acknowledgments and half of the introduction. I have put the book down because I don't want to get 'messed up'.   This woman speaks her heart, and her heart is on God, and filled with wisdom.

I checked out Jen Hatmaker's facebook page.
You should, too. I like the lady that posts on this page. She says 'crap'. I know that's a stupid thing to be enamored of, but if you grew up in the church, you know that slang is the same as "coarse language" and that we will go straight to hell in a hand basket if we use it.
What I am saying, is that she is a real person, that shares her real self. She is learning, and has a young family, and is in a season of life similar to mine. Sort of. She has kids at home. Six of them. Two of them are adopted.
And, her book is about to kick my butt. Strangely, I'm looking forward to it, and I'm scared out of my mind. I don't really want the responsibility of knowing what is right, because then I *have* to do it.
Since I've just shared with you all that I'm reading it, now I have accountability.

Oh, and because I read the introduction to this book where she mentions that she will explain more of something in another of her books, Interrupted, I put that on my kindle, too.

Seriously, I guess I was looking to get slapped around a little!
I don't believe that I will learn anything in these books that I haven't read in the bible. I don't believe that Jen is revealing new truths that have never been found before. What I do believe I will be getting out of these books (yes, it *is* all about me! It's about what my heart longs for, and how to shift it away from concern for myself), is hearing those truths in a voice that I recognize, in a language that I understand.
Do you need more before you go spend 5 bucks on this book? This book is really about creating margin for God to move-through a fast. If you think fasting is only and all about food, think again. It's about giving up the justification of our selfishness and greed, and taking on the responsibility of loving the world the way God does.

I'd be ecstatic if any one would read these along with me, and would be willing to discuss both the book, and our changes as we allow the holy spirit to make us new.

Who's with me?


Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess.
She lived in a castle where the King and Queen loved her very much. Her brothers and sisters, the princes and princesses all played together with her.
One day, the Princess grew up. She got married and had seven children.
The Princess stared at the mountain of laundry that never seemed to shrink no matter how many loads were washed, dried, and put away. She sighed at refrigerator and pantry full of food that would be empty in a week's time. She gagged a little at the sink full of dishes, thinking how it seemed to be a magical sink with a curse on it, that it would never be empty.
She thought back to her growing up years, remembering that she had felt like the King and Queen held her in slavery, like her good friends, Cinderella and Snow White.
Now, the Princess was very glad that the King and Queen had taught her life skills in order to run her household, raise her children, and to do it with joy.
Sometimes, though, the Princess wished she could rest like Sleeping Beauty, but only sometimes.
The Princess knew that she didn't really want to miss the life happening around her. She knew that life was a gift, and circumstances around us can change, but she could choose how to respond to the circumstances.
"Today," the Princess mused, "I will be glad of clothes to wear, and food for another meal, and dishes to eat from. Today, I will teach the children to wash their clothes, prepare their food, and clean their dishes. Today," she said, "I will remind my children that there is joy ready to fill their hearts, and they can choose to live with joy, or they can choose to be filled with venom."
The Princess had chosen, for a little while, to replace her joy with venom, because she didn't recognize the joy. It was invisible to her eye. She couldn't find it anywhere.
She searched and searched for it, for she knew it existed, she had seen it in others. Why, she'd even had it herself!
The joy was elusive. The Princess was certain that the joy was hiding from her, that it was resisting her calls, and would never come to her again.
That's when she met the venom. It didn't look like venom. It looked friendly, and comforting. The venom promised the Princess that if she took it up, she would feel better. Things would go her way. She would be powerful, and people would admire her.
The Princess decided that those things sounded pretty good, so she took up the venom. She did feel powerful. She demanded her way, and she often got it. She noticed, though, that people were not offering service with a smile. They were grimacing and grumbling. She decided that it was because they hadn't yet experience the venom, and had no idea how freeing it could be.
The Princess became arrogant. She began taking things because she felt she deserved them. She worked hard, and was certain that these things would be given to her anyway.
She began to feel as though the world and everyone in it owed her something. After all, she was the Princess!
Pretty soon, the venom didn't feel like such a good thing. It was certainly powerful. It seemed to grown until the Princess was almost nothing but venom inside. It was beginning to grow out of her. It crept up and made ugly marks on her skin and distorted her face.
Her nose became huge and bulbous. Her eyes became squished too close together, and her mouth became far too wide.
She was become hideously ugly. People began to recognize the venom as it became noticeable. They would stay away from the Princess. She began to feel lonely, and the things she took because she deserved them no longer made her happy.
One day, the Princess was lounging around with the venom, because by now it was her only friend.  She felt as though the venom no longer wanted to be her friend, either. It was taunting her, telling her she wasn't good enough for anything. It told her that she was ugly and unfriendly. That she was useless and untalented. The venom began hissing and laughing at the Princess. It dared her to find something better. It had her under it's thumb.
The princess listened to these things, and believed them, for there was no one left to tell her otherwise. She became tired of listening to the insults of the venom and fell asleep.
In her sleep, she heard a whisper. It was very faint, and difficult to hear because the venom was still blathering on. It never stopped talking. The princess woke up, and listened very hard for the whisper.
She became sad when she couldn't hear it, and she began to cry.  The venom's laugh was loud, and long as it was sure she was crying in response to it's abuse.
She told the venom to shut up. "What?" cried the venom. "How can you treat me like that? I am your only friend! I am the only one that has stood by you! I encourage you! I soothe you! I make you comfortable!"
"No!" Shouted the Princess. "No! I said shut up! You have become something grotesque inside of me! You have convinced me to be ugly and hateful. You have been the reason that I have driven people away! I heard a whisper last night."
"Ha! A whisper. You are so stupid. Who would whisper to you? You are too ugly for anyone to want to get close enough to whisper." the venom snarled.
She knew, then. She knew that the venom had to go. That she had to find the whisper. That the shouting of the venom over everything else had to stop.
But it wouldn't stop. The princess looked over at the venom. She saw it shouting. She saw it's rage, but somehow, she could hear other things, now, too.
The whisper. She could hear the whisper.
"You are patient. You are kind. You are gentle." it said.
"What? I am what?" She asked. She needed to hear it again, to be sure.
"You are patient. You are kind. You are gentle." it said, again.
She asked, "How can I hear you? Why is the venom quiet now? And how do you know me, to describe me this way? The venom says otherwise."
"I know you." The whisper said. "I knew you before the venom did. You can hear me now because you choose to listen. I have been calling you always. You used to listen for me, then you allowed the voice of the venom to drown me out. I never stopped speaking to you."
"I chose." the Princess said. "I chose. Do I have a voice? Can I make the venom stop?"
"Yes," the whisper said, "You may use my voice. You can tell the venom to stop. You should know that it will listen for a little while, then it will creep up on you over and over and over again. You will always have to tell it to stop. It will shout when you don't notice it is near. You will be tempted to let it soothe you again and again. But you can choose."
So, the Princess borrowed the voice of the whisper. She told the venom to "Stop talking! Leave me alone! I don't need you! You aren't good, and you aren't helpful! Go back to where you came from!" the Princess was startled by the force and volume of her voice. It had been just a whisper, but when she claimed the voice for her own, it reverberated. It had power, and it drove the venom away.  Her skin was clear again, and her features slid back into their places, being pleasing to look upon once again.
The Princess often sees the venom slinking around. Though she doesn't ever invite it back, it hangs out, waiting for moments to be by the side of the princess. It noticed how the whisper worked, and copied it's ways, but it didn't sound the same. the venom's attempt at whispering was raspy and papery and cold.
Sometimes, the venom plays with the Princess's children. She recognizes it, and teaches the children to hear the whisper.
"Thank you." The Princess whispers back, as she watches the venom slink away in defeat, again and again.

Sometimes fairytales are just fun. I hope you enjoyed this one. Make it a great day, and remember to listen for the whisper. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Setting Out to Impress You

This morning, I started writing a bright, witty and insightful post. I had ideas running through my mind, I had written some down and outlined a few thoughts. I was going to be a vessel for blessing you all with words this morning.

Then, my two younger boys got up.
They woke today with their fists flying and their attitudes at full tilt.
They fought over who gets to snuggle with mom first, or on which side of me they would sit. They ran down the hall with extremely loud voices when everyone else was still sleeping.
They played with the cereal and milk in their bowls.
They found colored pencils on the table and thought it would be a good idea to throw them at one another.

And so, this particular blog post ends, because I have two little boys that need a mommy today who loves them enough to teach them that there are consequences for unwise choices, and that I still cherish them anyway.

Perhaps I will dazzle you all with my profundity another day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Thrill Seekers and Bench Warmers

Mr. TheZoo and I took some of the kids to The Shindig. It's a local street fair/carnival.
A couple of the children were off doing other things, so we took the rest for a few rides.
It was interesting the choices of rides among the boys. It seems we have two that choose cautiously, and two that want rides the wilder the better!
Any guesses on which ones?
Well, the 3 yo, and the 7 yo are the thrill seekers. The 4 yo and 11 yo wanted to take it slow and easy.
It's interesting to me when our children's personality traits are played out someplace other than home, in situations that aren't the norm for us.
I pay attention to my little zoo, but we do get used to our daily routine, and to each other. It's fun when things are shaken up a little, and notice something that seems new in the kids. It isn't really new, it's just a reaction to something different.
Like the rides at The Shindig. We don't have a Crocodile roller coaster, or anything like it at home, so the risk takers don't have that particular sort of thrill or challenge. Instead, they often are in trouble for climbing on the cars and jumping off of them, or something similarly disturbing.
We have one good climbing tree, and our play structure is fun, but not breathtaking.

Our cautions boys were interested in rides that *looked* exciting, but were more tame. They didn't go around quite as fast, or they didn't launch so high up.  These ones are great with taking small risks, and increasing the odds over time, rather than jumping in with both feet.

As Mom and Dad, Mr. TheZoo and I get to encourage or cautious kiddos to take risks, to go ahead and assess the odds, but don't hang back because of fear.  And, we get to teach the risk takers to stop a moment, and take in their surroundings, and consider consequences before proceeding.
Many days, I feel like a living, walking contradiction. I often have to stop and reassess my approach with the differing personalities of my children.
Mostly, I want them to learn from one another. Not that one is more right or more wrong. Ultimately, I want them to trust one another. When a child needs to tone down his wild side, and a cautions sibling is counseling about the consequences of some heedless action, it is my desire for the thrill seeker to trust his sibling, and make a wise choice based on advice given.
When a child needs to take a little risk, I would hope that some coaxing from an adventurous sibling would win them over. We don't get far without taking risks along the way. Not just physical risks, either. There are risks that simply put us out of our comfort zones psychologically.

Regardless of whether my children are risk takers, or bench warmers, I love them all.
It's a gift to have the blessing of raising this Zoo.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Driving in Cars with Toddlers

Kid #1 needs to be at place 'x' at time 'a', Kid #3 needs to be at place 'y' at time 'b'. Kids #2, 4,5,6, & 7 just have to ride a long. For 3 and 1/2 hrs. No kidding.
Then, the next day, we pick up kid #3 at place 'z', and decide if we are going back home, or to spend the afternoon at place 'b' for which I will need to bring diapers, wipes, changes of clothes in case of accidents (which we all know are really purpose-dents and WILL happen), food for one or two meals, cups and liquids, bikes, and helmets. Then, when we get to place 'b', we'll have to unload it. And, when we leave, we'll clean it all up, and put it all back in van.  Then, when we get home, we'll unload it all from the van again and put it away.
I'm exhausted just thinking about it.
And then! And then, the next day, kid #3 needs to be at place 'c', and picked up from place 'd'. I need to decide whether to keep all the kids home with me, and trust that Mr.TheZoo will make it after work and through traffic to pick kid #2 up at the required time, or to bring the other five children with me to a crowded street fair without another adult and WAIT with them ALL for a few hours.
Anyone with toddlers knows that they don't sit for hours. They don't even sleep in a still position.
So, if anyone has ever wondered why I have become a hermit in my old age...it isn't my age, it's my kid's ages.
Older kids can shoulder more of the burden of going places, and I don't have Mr. TheZoo to help at home, because he's working hard to provide for TheZoo.
So, next time you invite me to something (and don't stop inviting...please!), and I have a look of extreme concentration and seem to waiver between yes and no...Please know that I'm not trying to get out of something. It isn't that I don't want to have fun, or to help, or to be involved in community outreach.
It's that I have to assess whether I will be any help after I spend the entire time out in discipline for six kids, feeding six kids, helping three kids go to the bathroom, cleaning up after the six kids, and coaxing the six kids back into the vehicle.
It often feels like a pointless battle to me.
When at home, we can do our chores in the morning, and then I can send kids outside to play for the rest of the day while I tackle a project, fix meals and snacks,  and deal with discipline in the safety and comfort of my own home.
To anyone that has scratched their head and wondered at my reluctance, really, it isn't you...it's me!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Watching Evie

It's crazy, watching this little two year old live life.
She's quick, as a two year old generally is, physically and mentally.
She follows older brothers and sisters everywhere. She repeats what they say and do, and asks lots of questions.
Evie has her favorites of the group. She picks the siblings that are most attentive to her, and that genuinely want to help her or play with her, rather than using her as a toy.
She has chosen her eldest sister (16 yrs), and her eldest brother (11 rs), and her youngest brother (3 yrs).

Watching Evie can cause deep reflection regarding relationships with people, and how we view and react to the world around us.
For instance. She was enamored with a rather friendly cat that belongs next door. The cat is a beautiful marmalade that the children have dubbed 'Macaroni'.
Evie moved toward the cat, her hands and arms poised to pet Macaroni. But. The cat came toward her. She stopped, with a shocked look on her face, and backed up a few paces. Then, she sat on the ground near Macaroni, leaning forward to pet, and the the cat jumped up and got in Evie's lap, then proceeded to lean in to her walking all the way around her. Evie didn't know what to do with herself. She cringed, and a look of terror was on her face.  She didn't cry, or scream, but she simply did not know what to do with this creature that she had been longing for, and running toward. Macaroni didn't make her give chase. This cat wanted to be loved, and came toward Evie, expressing affection and hoping for some in return.

You just had your own parallel running through your mind, didn't you?
Mine was with God. I look for Him, I want his grace, his love, his blessings. But when He doesn't make me chase him in futility, when God makes himself present and clear, I become terrified. He might want something from me that I don't want to give.
I don't know what to do with the love he freely shares. How can The Creator of the Universe care about *me*? And the only requirement from Him is my love.

Guess what happened next? One of Evie's brothers saw the whole scene with the cat. He came over and squatted next to Evie, and began petting the cat. "See?" He said, "Be gentle with the kitty. The kitty likes to be petted. Go ahead, pet gentle." She saw that the cat was turning to jelly under her brother's gentle hand, and she reach out to pet, also.
In fact, when she got up to walk again, she called "C'mon, Macaroni! C'mere! Come w'me!"
The cat got up and followed her around. 

I am more than blessed to have church leaders that model a relationship with God. That show me that God may ask something from us that's scary, but that all it really is, is our love.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012


I really wish I had something insightful to say to day, but I don't.
I just spent the last hour and a half waiting for a scan to finish on the computer.
That time was spent hugging and kissing kids as they woke up one at a time, and getting them something to eat.
Truly, I'm glad the computer scan took so long.
I made a grocery list, decided what would be eaten at my house throughout the day, cleared off some counter space (again). I was able to visit with the 11 yo, and spend lots of time snuggling a certain 4 yo that is rather affectionate.
Now I feel compelled to be certain that blog posts are written either after children go to bed at night, or long before they get up in the morning.
Mornings like this one are the ones that I'll be missing when TheZoo is all grown up.
I won't miss diapers, or six kids vomiting all over their pillows, or washing three sinks full of dishes every. single. day.
But I will miss those quiet sweet moments when the children are still and receptive.
I hope they are as refreshed as I am this morning.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My First Boy

This guy? Right here? He's 11 today.
When I was in labor with him, I called the hospital to let them know I was coming.
The nurse told me that it was hot out, and I should drink water and take a bath because my  muscles were just dehydrated. She said there was no way I could be in labor if were able to speak to her on the phone.
So, we waited.
About an hour later, we just went to the hospital.
They still didn't believe me. Twenty minutes later, we had a baby.
JJ is named Jerrald, for his dad, and Conrad, for his Grandpa. Grandpa wouldn't let us name him LaVern. I'm happy for Grandpa's wisdom!
We thought J.C. would be a rather lofty nickname to live up to, so we went with Jerry Jr.
I am proud of my young man. He's come a long way. I don't just mean height and longevity. I mean in learning to live with people.
He was diagnosed with ADD and anxiety, and casually diagnosed autism. (by casually, I mean we didn't have brain scans done and analyzed to tell us exactly where in the spectrum, and what the official name of his 'condition' might be.)
We were assured that if we continued on the path of discipline (not punishment, for those concerned and over reacting already) that he would grow out of the ADD and anxiety.
By 'grow out of', the doctor really meant that he would learn to have some control over his emotions and find outlets for the energy that he experiences when he becomes anxious.
Anyone that has known JJ since he was two or three, knows the journey he's been on up to now, and if we run a playback in our minds, it's clear the maturity that has occurred.
I am blessed to be Mom to this young one, and I am looking forward to several more years at home with him.
Happy Birthday, kid!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Creative Outlets? Please?

Ideas are swirling around in my head.
I know. We've been through this before.
I have to put them down someplace, though, or they will stay ideas, and most of them will swirl right on out of my head.

I have tie dye supplies - except for the things to tie dye. need to get on that
I want to pick up some jewelry findings, as my children have expressed an interest in making a few things this summer.
I want to paint. The boy's room, the girl's room, the back bathroom, my bedroom, the living room, the kitchen. (I know this is lofty. I will be tired of painting after the first room.)
I want to paint the bunkbeds.
I want to reorganize the shed so I can find stuff.
It would be amazing to finally put the mop boards up after 5 years.
I want to build a computer station into my pantry and get the printer and computer off of the kitchen counter.
When I change paint and colors in the living room, I want to believe that I could really live with a change of color from the red and green. I like red. A lot. But, I also like turquoise blues and oranges.
Can I *DO* it?
I want to crochet. A lot.
I want to find someplace to put my scrapbooking, paper crafting stuff so that I can access it and use it!
I want to continue walking and increase to running.
I want to create a comfortable, fun, safe living environment for my kids.

That's all. For today. I'm sure something else will come up later.
My mind fills up with things I want to do, and how I want to do them.
Thank goodness for Pintrest boards, or I'd never remember what I saw, where, or when!
Often, my creative ideas are never given birth. It's terribly a terribly sad thing. 
It's to a point where it is almost painful to think of some of these projects over and over, each detail becoming a picture in my head, and I can't make it happen!!!

Here's to a summer filled with completed projects.  What are some of yours?


Friday, July 6, 2012

Back School Sales, Already?

When I was in school, and we were out for the summer, we would go shopping with Mom.
There was a time in July, just after the fourth, when I would be offended by the promotions at all of the stores with their 'Back to School!' sales and specials.
Really? Wasn't that rushing things a bit? There was still an entire month before we needed to get ready to go back to school!
I, for one, wouldn't be thrilled with the smell of a new Pink Pearl eraser for *weeks*!

Now I get it.
My children have been out of school for three weeks, and already I am in the throes of preparing for next year.
If you were to look at my online accounts for a couple of bookstores, you'd see that I have wish lists that go on for miles.
I go in to look at something particular, say, 2nd grade math. Then, my attention is drawn by some really cool science curriculum that we could use in a few years. My breath is catches at some really neat pre-school program created for home use that we really don't need, I probably wouldn't have time to use, but it looks SO fun!
I fall in love with different history and social studies curricula, and put them on the wish list. You know, to go through later.

Then, I find myself digging through the cupboard at home where we keep school supplies and extra workbooks. I am not sure how it is that I bought roughly 100 pencils at the beginning of the year and now we can find exactly 0.
There are about six crayons left, no markers, and a few broken colored pencils.
One of the children, I know for a fact, will take a pencil to a class, and return without one. Every time.

I am looking forward to the back to school sales so I can get those packs of supplies for 10 cents each, or buy one get one free, or the local Staples often has some of the basics for a penny each for a short time.

Early back to school sales mean to me now that I can be organized and ready before the week that school begins.

We've already heard a couple of ads on the radio, and I've heard a chorus of groans following.

I have to admit, my favorite part of back to school shopping is still for clothes.
I know, we don't need so many since we do school at home, but we still like to look nice when we go out, and I do require that everyone get dressed each morning. Okay, most mornings.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Dealing With the Heat

We really don't.
Have you seen the weather maps on the news lately?
The entire country is red, with temps 90 and higher.
Except for the Puget Sound area.
That's where we live.
It's not a joke that we complain about the heat when it's 75 out.
It's funny, but it isn't a joke.
Today is when our summer seems to begin around here.
We are sliding easily back into the routine of which windows and  blinds get opened when. When the fans come on, and where to play in the yard.
Our house stays nice and cool until about 4 pm, then the temp rises to between 80 and 90 in about three minutes flat.
The shade under a tree is cooler than the house.
That's when we grab cheese and fruit and veggies and crackers and eat dinner outside.
This usually happens for about three weeks out of the year.
I'm on pins and needles, though, reading news articles about the heatwave across our country.
About massive storms and power outages and water shortages and people dyeing because it is so hot.
Wondering if it will happen here.
We've had temps over 100. A few times, for a few days in a row. That isn't pretty for people who strip down to their lightweight fleece for summer.
Sure we wear shorts, with hoodies! We don't know how to be hot and dry.
I guess the malls will see a lot of business when the temps go up as we attempt to find some air conditioned relief.
Okay, so I'm not complaining. Right now, I'm enjoying. The sun is out - a rarity here - the ground isn't slick and muddy, and the temp is comfortable.
Enjoying the present!


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth!

It's Independence Day!
Today, a friend of ours that came to the USA from South Africa will be attending his citizenship swearing in ceremony with many others in Seattle.
There will be fireworks and bbq parties and patriotic songs everywhere!
It's fantastic that a country so divided over politics will still celebrate one day in unison, with pride and joy.
Happy Fourth!


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

When Plans Change

Today I was going to write a blog post.
I didn't know what it would be about.
I didn't have even an idea.  My brains storm list didn't hold anything promising for today.
I went over it a few times, and nothing seemed just right.
Then, I was distracted by facebook.
And, I ended up praying with someone.

So, here's today's post.
Find someone on your friend list, and pray for them.
In fact, type out your prayer and message it to them.
Don't just say 'praying'. I mean, that's nice, but do you always truly pray for someone when you say you will? Or do you get distracted and forget to.
Be specific. With just one person today.
Do it.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Down to Two

There are just two kiddos at home right now. The youngest two.
2 and 3 years old.
Yesterday afternoon, was quiet, relaxing and strange.
The little ones wanted to play out front riding their bikes and playing with other wheeled toys.
Since there weren't any bigger kids at home, Mr. TheZoo and I stayed out front to watch them.
We put up a couple of camp chairs and hung out in the driveway.
We had conversation. We joked around with each other. It was refreshing and weird.
I began to reflect. Was life this casual and relaxed when we only had two children? The older two.

As I looked back, I thought it might have been, but it didn't feel like it at the time.

Both of us worked, there was day care to drop kids off at and pick up from. There were soccer practices and games, there were all the things that we were part of to go to meetings for and activities to do.

There was the learning how to be parents of two instead of one.

These days we are not on any committees.  We are part of very few groups.  We still volunteer for things, but now they are individual, short term things rather than long involved commitments.

Instead, we raise seven children.
That's pretty time consuming work.

And, it has never happened before, but for a few days, the older five kids are gone. And we are down to two.

They are loving it, and so are we.

We get to celebrate the younger two for a few days.  We got them a couple of treats that they don't have to share.

I had forgotten how far a box of cereal goes when it serves two tiny people instead of seven ravenous ones!
When I was at the grocery store to pick up a couple of staple items, I decided to do something different for dinner. Since I wasn't making a meal for nine, I decided to buy a package of refrigerated pasta. The kind that I never buy because the servings in each package are usually two, and they cost about five dollars each. I would have to buy five of them to serve our family.
I picked up some ravioli stuffed with mushrooms and herbs.
It was so good.
We do serve our kids 'grown up' food, but truly, we also grocery shop frugally.
That means that we don't use many expensive ingredients. Like mushrooms that aren't canned.
Mr. TheZoo enjoys mushrooms a lot.  I used to make stuffed mushrooms. BUT to make them now, for the entire family, would be a cost akin to us eating out.

Bedtime is relatively easy. They are little, they play hard, they are tired at bedtime.  They don't need to tell us a thousand things before they go to sleep.

Mr. TheZoo and I watched two movies last night. Back to back. And we both stayed awake through them.
Mornings are fairly quiet.
There are only two children making breakfast requests (the one meal that the children get to make individual choices - within reason).

But, having just the two youngest ones home isn't anything, really, like having only the two older ones.
Now I have voices to miss hearing, and necks to miss hugging, and cheeks to miss kissing.  Now instead of the house feeling full of activity, it feels quiet and empty.

I am pleased to enjoy a bit of 'time off'. I know this is an extremely rare occurance.
But I'm also looking forward to getting back to normal.
Well, what passes for normal at TheZoo, anway.