Monday, December 29, 2008

Daddy Time!

(originally posted on my other blog 12-29-08)

We have been blessed to have Daddy home for many of the last days. He has 10 days off in the last 2 weeks of December, and gets paid for all of them! I’m so thankful for his job!

We went to the park last week and all had a great time.

There’s a platform that is perfect for “King of the Hill” playing. Years ago, it used to rock, but now the springs have rusted solid.

It’s sure easier to play this with it solid. It seems, though, that King of the Hill inevitably leads to injuries.

She was all right, though she complained of a headache later in the day. She even played more King of the Hill a little while later. I played with her, and promptly (accidentally!) stuck my finger right into her eye...hard. She has sworn off King of the Hill!

The climbing logs were another popular challenge.

Everyone took a turn, even Missy. I held her hand and suggested where to step when she was stuck.

I love this time of year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sad Little Ducky

Ducklings by Victor Keech.

Do you guys know the "Mother Duck" song? The one where Mother Duck's babies disappear one by one then all reappear at the end of the song?

I was singing it with my 3yos, Troubles, by his request this evening. When I sang the "Sad, Mother Duck" verse, my strong, aggressive, manly little man put his face in my chest a started CRYING!

I stopped singing, of course, and asked him why he was crying. He said "Because that song makes me sad!" I hurried and sang that they all came back and he was still sniffling away, face buried in my shirt. I asked him if he wanted another song...he said "Sing that one again, Momma"

Needless to say, I did not.

(originally posted on my other blog 12-24-08)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

How Does He Do That?

(originally posted on my other blog 12-02-08)

My darling little son, Troubles, has a way with words. Really, he is such a thoughtful little thing! Grandpa is visiting today, and Troubles had the courtesy to ask him "how he shaves like that?". He asked Grandpa several times, but Grandpa didn't understand his question. Finally, Troubles touched the top of his head and asked again: "How does he shave like that?"!

What a funny little fellow!

"Are They All Yours?"

I very often get the "How do you do it?", "Are they all yours?", "You have your hands full!" or even the dreaded "OMG!" when we go out. I know those trite comments frustrate and annoy many parents of larger families. They wear on me, too! But instead of snapping back with a sarcastic answer (like I want to do), I use the exclamation to give glory to the Lord and perhaps get a chance to share the Gospel. I also try to remember to smile when we are out, so as to not make my children look burdensome.

Taking the Lord's name in vain seems pretty common in my area, and it bothers me the most. I don't speak like that to my children, and hate that others do! So now I answer that exclamation with a praise: "Isn't He wonderful! Look how He has blessed our family!" After they pick up their jaw, the other person is in a better place to ask intelligent questions and have a good conversation. They are often a bit embarrassed at their mis-use of the Lord's name, as well.

"Are they all yours?" invites "Yes, thankfully, they are! Aren't I blessed?" I babysit a couple of kids, so if they are with us, I say "I babysit these two, but the others are mine. Aren't I blessed?"

"How do you do it?" is usually answered with "By God's grace!" and "You have your hands full!" gets answered with " No, the Lord doesn't give us more blessings than we can handle! I hope to have more Blessings someday!"

Only once I was asked "If I knew what causes that?". I was taken aback, but answered, "The blessing of God". Having practiced giving a positive answer to the common reaction of seeing our family, I was able to not lose my witness when asked a particularly rude question. I have been able to share the gospel many times with folks who are intrigued by our family. I may not be able to be a missionary to Africa or China, but I can share the gospel with those in need of the Savior here in my little town!

Call it 'Habit Training' for Momma!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Chores In Our Family

One of the most time consuming things about having a larger family is the chores. Since we all live in this house all day long, it gets messier than the home of the family across the street, where everyone is at work and school all day long. We must clean up and do it often!

One day a few years back, I sat down with chores in mind. I broke each job down into its componants and wrote detailed lists. Then I decided which chores were most appropriate for each child. The smaller children got the easier parts, of course and the older ones, the harder.

My husband created a spreadsheet with all the chores listed on the left-hand column and names of all the children (rotated, so they are in different places) in four columns toward the right. One child has a certain aspect of each chore for a month. On the first day of the month we change to the next column. Everyone has a new job. After four months, we are back to the beginning. Each child has learned each job completely.

An example: The kitchen is cleaned very quickly after meals in this manner. I wash pots and handwashables and put away food, one child sweeps, one clears and wipes the table, one wipes down the chairs and pushs them in when the sweeper is finished, one clears and wipes the counter and stove. The smaller children wipe the table legs, clean the front of the dishwasher, stove and fridge. One picks up any toys or big things on the floor for the sweeper.

I can now call on any one of the six oldest children to do a job by themselves or with a partner and it gets done well!

Our 'jurisdictions' (to borrow a term from the Duggar Family) are: kitchen, bathroom, living and family rooms, bedrooms, playroom and animals. We have had the same chart for a couple of years now, and I am planning an upgrade. The children and I have taught all the little ones the chores, so it's time to 'graduate' the older ones to new assigned chores and allow the six and seven year olds the responsibility of the 'big kids' chores.


Having a large family means multiplied joy, friendships, and happiness. It also means multiplied food bills, gas bills and BILL bills! Christmas and birthdays can strain the finances of any family, but especially a larger one. Thankfully, gift giving occasions do not have to be burdensome!

We choose not to celebrate each childs birthday with a 'friends' party. On their birthday, each child gets special privileges like choosing the meals and being excused from most chores. They choose their desired dessert and receive a couple of presents from Dad and Mom and their brothers and sisters. It's enough, really.

Once a year we have a big party that we invite all our friends to. We do not accept gifts from friends. Rather, the children spend time choosing a ministry they wish to bless, usually from among the various outreaches of Voice of the Martyrs. They make a presentation board and develop activities for the party based around that choice. They collect donations and mail them in.

For Christmas, we shop sales year round. Much of the shopping is done by the time the season rolls around. We have the children draw names so each one buys a gift for another, and they love it! We don't put a limit on the number of gifts per child, though it's usually three or four at the most. Instead, we have a spending cap for each. That way, if one person wants ONE more expensive gift, they can ask and they *might* receive it.

Children really can be satisfied with less extravagance. Allow them the
privilege of NOT being spoiled rotten!

A 'DUH!' Moment

As a young girl, I loved hot cereal. My mother would make Cream of Wheat or oatmeal once in a while (most often, I had cold sugar cereal), drop a pat of butter in the bottom of my bowl, add the oatmeal, sprinkle on some sugar and cinnamon, stir it up and place it in front of me. I felt so special!

When my eldest was ready, I prepared her hot cereal in the same manner. When my next began eating it, I simply added a bowl to my routine. Then we became foster parents and added twins. Soon, it became a trial to make hot cereal. As soon as I was done preparing bowls, someone wanted seconds and I was getting tired of it. Slowly, without even thinking about it, I served hot cereal less and less and cold cereal more and more.

After a few years, we had many Smalls and just a couple of Bigs. Hot-cereal-more-often became a necessity for financial reasons, and I had learned the dangers of cold cereal and felt guilty about serving it anyway.

After sitting down and trying to eat my serving and being asked AGAIN to prepare seconds for someone, I had my most humiliating DUH moment.

"You could season the whole pot and they could serve their own seconds!"


How much easier is it now, to serve hot cereal? Sometimes common sense is hard to come by in my brain.

Care to share your simplest tip or your own DUH moment? You might make someone's day!

Illness in a Large Family

My dear friend has four children four and under. She is in the trenches of Littles-only parenting and! Her children recently were ill for a couple of weeks. It reminded me of a period of time that I'd rather forget.

My five Lambies were 6 and younger. I also had several foster children. They caught something that went round and round and round for THREE months. It wasn't a simple runny nose or an annoying cough. It was a puking thing. Awful. I had some throw up all over the place, every week, at least once, for three solid months. I remember picking chunks off of someones sheet for the umpteenth time and crying out to the Lord for help. I was at the end of my rope! I couldn't stand it any longer and needed help!

He whispered, in that moment, "Change their toothbrushes". Really. I dried my tears, finished the job and did as I was told. The sickness cycle ended with that. Praise God....He really does care about the little things and will help those who call out to Him!

Here are some pointers for those of you with little ones to keep the sickies at bay:

Replace toothbrushes every few months! Sterilize them occasionally with peroxide between fresh ones.

Of course, wash everyone's hands often, including yours, Mom!

Boost the immune system with wholesome, natural foods so you have less chance of getting sick in the first place. One of the best to add is real, fresh from the cow, raw milk. It truly does work wonders!

Cut out or drastically reduce processed sugar, especially if you've been exposed to a cold. Sugar greatly reduces your immune system's ability to fight off buggidies. Increase zinc and vitamin C, through food sources, not mad-made synthetic garbage.

Use coconut oil as a moisturizer on hands and faces. It has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.

Load up on fresh, raw garlic. Yeah, you'll stink. It's better than being sick! Mince it fine and add to applesauce or yogurt for little ones. You can use a spoonful of honey, too.

Make a soothing throat syrup with honey and garlic. Lemon juice added to hot, hot water with some salt and honey is very soothing and helps heal as well.

If all fails and your kids are sick with tummy troubles, take this hint. We bought eight identical buckets, with handles and pour spouts in the cleaning department of Target. When someone complains of nausea, all the buckets come out of the garage and each person gets one on their bed. Since doing this, I haven't had anyone miss and barf on the bed. Even the toddler is able to get it in the bucket (thankfully!).

Just 15 Minutes

Most people wonder how in the world large families 'get it all done'. We know the secret....we don't!

Most of us do, however, know to use small amounts of time wisely. Ten or fifteen minutes can so easily slip by with nothing accomplished, or it can be put to good use and something memorable can be done! I use the time spent eating in the morning, and at lunch, for some read aloud time.

Reading Scripture in the morning leads to some wonderful discussions. We are all gathered anyway, let's use that time! Memory work can easily be done at the table, too. Choose a family read aloud for lunchtime. The kids will enjoy hearing it, and they will look forward to the story every day.

We also read aloud before bedtime several times a week. It's the 'Daddy-book' since it's only read when Daddy is home. Currently we are reading "The Little White Horse" by Elizabeth Goudge.

Making memories doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming. It can be as simple as snatching a few minutes to read with the kids consistently.

Two-Minute Clean!

One of the strategies I use for keeping the house clean is "A Two Minute Clean". I began teaching this to my oldest when she was only two and a half or so. I call out loudly "Two Minute Clean!!!!" so everyone can hear it, and they all rush around the house grabbing anything in their way, putting it where it belongs or throwing it away. Many hands can really make a difference in just two minutes! Do this three or four times a day and watch the piles and clutter disappear.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jars, Oh, Jars!

(originally posted on my other blog 11-12-08)

I've been canning this year and was blessed by a friend, Lori, with a good number of jars. I was actually able to fill them all up! A couple of weeks ago, I went to the store to buy some jars and was surprised by how reasonable they were. I put two
boxes of pints jars in the cart. Later in the trip, I bought something unexpected, and ended up putting the jars back, expecting to get them the next week. When I went back, the price has risen by three dollars a box! I changed my mind, that's for sure.

I went home and put another wanted ad on Craig's List. I had previously asked, and received a half dozen quarts and a dozen and a half pints. This time, someone answered in a huge way!

Joe, a man in his mid-70's, wrote that he had about 60 quarts and 60 pints that he'd let me have for free! I drove out and met him, and collected the jars. He had a real-and-true in the ground fruit cellar, a rare thing in these parts. He and his wife canned often, over 25 years ago. These great jars had been waiting for me all that time! They were quite dirty, but after being washed, I only had to throw out two for damage to the rims. WHAT A BLESSING!

The final count was 71 quart jars, 9 pint and a halfs, and 118 pints, along with several neat old glass Gatorade bottles with lids that will store kombucha well. I think I'll have enough jars for a little while!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Missy Speaks!

The smaller children were playing with playdoh this afternoon. I let them get the playdoh toys out as well, which is a special thing. I was in the kitchen making dinner; Missy was using the playdoh press. She spoke very clearly, these words:

"Momma, look at me. I made poop. I know how."

It warms a momma's heart!

(originally posted on my other blog 10-27-08)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cranial Helix Aspera

(originally posted on my other blog 9-22-08)

My son Troubles and daughter Missy love snails. They are entertained for hours by finding a snail or two and playing with them. They are very gentle and rarely ever crack a shell, let alone crush one. I don't mind this slimy past time, as long as they wash their hands when they come in. This however, I did mind...a little bit.

But who can resist that face?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

That Terrible Salt

My three year old son is allergic to MSG. Really allergic. If he eats it, he throws up violently until it's purged from his system...just like his Daddy. We discovered this last Thanksgiving. It's not a big deal, because we rarely eat anything with MSG in it.

I have shown the kids the mega-container of MSG available for purchase at Smart and Final (a warehouse store) and mentioned that I could kill their Daddy with it. \:\)

The other day, Troubles was not feeling well and told me he felt like he had "The Terrible Salt" in his belly. How's that for reasoning from a three-year-old?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My Oldest Thing

(originally posted on my other blog 7-09-08)

What's the oldest thing you have? Here's mine:

It's not too much to look at, but it's a great old book from 1743. It's bound with hide and written in Latin. It's Volume Seven of a series on Catholic teachings, I think. I'm pretty sure this page mentions the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and eucharist.

I don't read Latin, so I'm not certain of the specifics. If you can translate, please comment!! It has a coverplate from Sutro Library in San Francisco, CA as a lovely valley with a few log homes and a man with a pickax working on the soil.

I got a bit curious about my old book last night. I didn't have the Internet when I bought it! I googled Sutro Library and found it still exists! I also read about Mr. Sutro, who loved books, was mayor of San Francisco for a short time, made millions in the railroad industry and mining, built the Sutro baths, (I had heard of them, but hadn't put the two together). Some of his library was burned in the 1906 earthquake, but some still exists in the Sutro Library. Here's a link about him.

Adolph Sutro

I called the Library this morning and described the book and asked if they had any information about it's history. The lady on the phone took the information, searched in the computer, took some more info about the book, then asked if she could have the Head of Antiquities call me tomorrow. She said "This is very interesting....I know she will be eager to speak with you."

Here's hoping they want the book back for a cool $25G! One can dream, right?? I actually had it appraised years ago. The hippie with the pot smoke floating about his head said it was worth about $200.

I'll let you know what happens with it!

*Update* The Librarian called me back and said that they do indeed have a copy of the book, and she hasn't any idea how this copy ended up in a swap meet in Rocklin, CA. Poof- there goes my 25G...oh well.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Camping Pictures

(originally posted on my other blog 7-7-08)

As you may remember, we camped a little over a week ago. We went to our lovely Sequoia National Forest, which we SO enjoy visiting.

After setting camp, we explored, enjoyed and relaxed. We were blessed to be with our dear friends, R and E and their three kids. R is quite adventurous, and among other things, knows how to rock climb. He brought his equipment and all the children got to climb up and repel down!
I have many more pics, Grandma, if you want them. All the children made it up to Daddy, even Troubles! They had a great time.

We also fished in the pond, with a few little fish being caught. We hiked, enjoyed smores and learned that crushing fern and rubbing it on nettle burns makes the stinging stop.

I found a wonderful exoskeleton of a dragonfly nymph that had "made the change" while clinging to a blade of thick grass. I collected it, but it was accidentally crushed before I got a picture. We also got to see a newly emerged dragonfly resting on his discarded exoskeleton. Here is a photo essay on the process. We observed chipmunks, squirrels, birds of various kinds, water skimmers, trout, and lots of insects. We collected pond water and creek water for observation under the microscope.

At home, we found tiny plants and microscopic little worms in the pond water and had a discussion on why you always boil water from natural sources before drinking it! We haven't looked at the creek water yet, so we won't find anything living, I think.

Here is a picture of all of us in front of the Sequoia in our campsite. The 'cave' in the tree that is behind me was big enough for most of the children to fit inside, all at once. Sequoias often have these hollows.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Potty Talk...

(originally posted on my other blog 6-30-08)

If you don't care for potty talk, skip this entry!

The Background: My three year old son, Troubles, is lactose intolerant. He gets diarrhea badly when he drinks pasteurized milk or eats regular ice cream. We buy him raw milk and special ice cream. He calls store-bought milk and ice cream "diarrhea milk and diarrhea ice cream" since that what he gets.

Last night we allowed the children to have ice cream, forgetting that he was out. We said that he could try some of the regular ice cream if he wanted and he happily ran into the kitchen bellowing "I GET DIARRHEA ICE CREAM!! I GET DIARRHEA ICE CREAM!!!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The BoogeyMan

(originally posted on my other blog 4-23-08)

My son is nearly three. One day, as we were getting out of the van to go to the bookstore, he announced, "I'm the Boogeyman!" I asked him what he meant.

"I had a big boogey in my nose." he replied.

"Where did it go?" I asked after checking his nose and finding it clean.

"I put it on Brother's yellow shirt....very gently." he said with a smile.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ty's Funny Comment

(originally posted on my other blog 2-19-08)

I have so many things on my list of things to blog about, but most need pictures uploaded, and I haven't done that, so...I will leave you tonight with this little gem:

Our friend was visiting Monday with his three children. Ty is five years old. He was sitting with my daughter Miss Banana, who is speech delayed. Since she knows Ty, she was trying to talk with him instead of being silent as she often is with people (other than our family).

Ty came to me and said, "Excuse me...?"
"Yes?", I answered.
He pointed to her. "She's speaking Spanish to me..."
"No, she's speaking English, honey" I said.
After pondering a minute or so, he replied,

"Then I don't speak English, I guess." and walked away.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I've Discovered a Natural Treatment for Nephrotic Syndrome that REALLY Works!

*Make sure to read the comments section. There's been lots of conversation about the specific way I use garlic, rather than the general way I posted originally.*

**Please do NOT DISCONTINUE PREDNISONE once started. Doing so can cause great damage to your child!  Garlic is to be used as an alternative to prednisone at the beginning of a relapse to prevent the need for prednisone, not a replacement when prednisone is actually REALLY needed.** 

My six year old son, Jack, has kidney disease. It's called Nephrotic Syndrome. A simple explanation: when his immune system is challenged by a bug, his kidneys begin to allow protein to exit the body through the urine. This damages the kidney and can lead to renal failure. When he begins to have sustained elevated protein counts, he needs a two and a half month course of prednisone.

We found out about his NS one month after his second birthday. I had noticed that his eyelids swelled slightly when he had a cold, but the doctors that he saw said it was nothing to worry about. One morning, after he'd had a little cough for about three days (no fever, no nothing else), I went to his room to wake him and found him swollen, terribly, from eyelids to toes. It was shocking! He was in no distress, so I arranged for a friend to come to watch the children and took him to the clinic.

Since he wasn't yet adopted, we had to go to the state Medi-cal-accepting clinic instead of Kaiser. The doctor who saw him did a fine job of examining him, consulting with other doctors and diagnosing his condition. Several hours after entering the clinic, he was admitted into the local hospital with consult with the big Childrens Hospital in the closest big city. Three days later, his condition was under control and he was able to go home. I had learned a lot in those three days!

For the next year, he relapsed and required Prednisone three to four times a year. Poor baby. That strong drug has so many terrible side effects! Blessedly, he is Prednisone respondant, so it worked and further kidney damage is avoided. I hated for him to be on it though.

I found little on the Internet as far as natural treatments. I did find that raw milk helps boost the immune system, so I searched out a local source and added it to his diet. We also had a year old son who was lactose intolerant. As an aside, he can drink the raw milk with absolutly NO trouble. I initially began the research on raw milk due to him. It just happened to benefit Jack as well.

I also read that sugar depresses the immume system, making it much easier to catch any viruses that are floating around. We cut back on sugar. Around the same time, I began making our bread from freshly ground grain, and cooking much more food from scratch. Jack would still get ill occasionally though, end up on Prednisone.

Here's the natural treatment that works, though, even with elevated protein counts: A small clove of garlic, eaten with honey or applesauce, chased with a saltine if he has trouble swallowing the last bits of garlic, brings the protein count down in just a few hours. Seriously. Even at a 3+, it works.

He may smell like garlic bread, but he has not needed medicine but one time in almost three years!! I begin "garlikin' him up" as soon as I notice an elevated count and usually give it every day for a week, or until his count stays down without the garlic. We do daily urine tests during this time. (Click this for a link to the testing strips we use.After a week, I stop the garlic and keep testing daily. If the numbers go above 1+, he takes a clove, under 1+ and he doesn't. If his count stays good for several days without garlic, I begin testing every other day. When it still remains low, I test him every three or four days.

I'm so thankful that the Lord created this wonderful bulb. It's so very useful, even to the point of 'curing' us of our ails!

ETA: I originally wrote this post 1-25-2008. Jack has remained well, despite ups and downs in his counts. We still use garlic. He takes it himself and takes it with a saltine cracker, yogurt or applesauce.

ETA: It's now March 2012.  This post still gets lots of hits, so I thought that I would update.  Jack still is variable in his protein counts, so he has not "outgrown" nephrotic syndrome as his doctors thought he might.  We still successfully use garlic when his counts rise and he has not needed Prednisone.  He is now 10 years old and growing well!  We have removed wheat from our diet, 100% for many of us, including Jack, and mostly for everyone else.  Jack's eczema, which he had as a baby, but recently returned, has responded well to the removal.  I have been moving toward Mark's Daily Apple's way of eating for six months or more. We all feel a lot better without wheat!

ETA: It's now December 31, 2012.  We've had the worst cough and headcold going through!  Jack's counts increased to 2+ one day, and he had a little swelling of an eyelid, but garlic came through again.  His counts are down, his cold is gone and he is healthy with no prednisone. Jack eats a little wheat now and then, but it does affect his eczema, so it's kept to special occasions.  Someone else questioned milk in his diet, and I do have to say, that also, is consumed much less frequently than it used to be.  Most of us don't drink milk.  I cook with it now and then and we use whole cream or half and half in some smoothies. Jack and Troubles have almond milk smoothies.  We do use a ton of butter and no one seems to have issue with it at this time.  I don't bother getting raw milk anymore. My son who is lactose intolerant began to react to even raw milk, so he drinks almond milk.  Jack doesn't care to drink anything but water, but will have almond milk if we have some homemade granola.  

ETA: It's June 2014 now.  Jack had a bad relapse with some swelling of his face, arms and legs, and counts at 4+.  We had a change to our insurance, and were having a very hard time finding a pediatric nephrologist. Blessedly, I was able to find a nephrologist who only sees adults who was willing to see him.  Since he was in the middle of a relapse, and garlic wasn't seeming to be able to get it under control this time, I was getting nervous!  The doctor ordered bloodwork....more detailed bloodwork than any other doctor has ever ordered.  It came back as expected, showing a severe relapse, but no other issues.  Our new doctor (for he was willing to keep Jack on as a patient, after meeting him and seeing how mature he was) wanted to be patient with his system and see if he could beat this relapse on his own, without medication, and with the Lord's help and the garlic's, too.  With close monitoring, we were both delighted that after several weeks with elevated counts, sometimes quite high as I said, he finally came down to negative and stayed there!  His bloodwork after the relapse came back perfect. Praise the Lord with me!!

ETA: It's August 2015 now. Jack continues to have minor relapses, all controlled and eliminated with garlic. I now include GSE (grapefruit seed extract) when he (or anyone else in the family) is ill. These are drops that are stirred into water or orange juice.  GSE also comes in pill form.  This extract works like a natural antibiotic. Research it to see if it might be helpful for your family!