Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
The Gordons playing "All My Tears"... beautiful, isn't it?
Here are the words:
When I go don't cry for me
In my fathers arms I'll be
The wounds this world left on my soul
Will all be healed and I'll be whole
Sun and moon will be replaced
With the light of Jesus' face
And I will not be ashamed
For my savior knows my name
It don't matter where you bury me
I'll be home and I'll be free
It don't matter where I lay
All my tears be washed away
Gold and silver blind the eye
Temporary riches lie
Come and eat from heaven's store
Come and drink and thirst no more
So weep not for me my friend
When my time below does end
For my life belongs to him
Who will raise the dead again
It don't matter where you bury me
I'll be home and I'll be free
It don't matter where I lay
All my tears be washed away
It don't matter where you bury me
I'll be home and I'll be free.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
"I wonder how much we ever really enjoy anything we have put no personal effort into. If we wove cloth, for instance, we should remember the long bright days of spinning, and the air and sun; and the sound of the wheel would all be in it, the songs we sang, the food we ate that time, what everybody said, how the puppy ran away with the wool. A whole warp and woof of memory would be there forever. But now a piece of cloth means only how tired my feet were and how hard it was to get waited on in the store."
And there's a hysterical story about two grown women chasing a baby pig for 40 minutes flying around a barn like windmills. If you have this book at your library, I highly recommend it. Even better, find a copy for your own to keep. It's written month by month about the adventures in a seventeenth-century Connecticut farmhouse in the 1930s. I love to look up the month I'm in when I'm out on the garden bench with a cup of coffee or glass of iced tea. :)
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Friday, October 03, 2008
If the Federal Reserve had an inflationist attitude during the boom, it was just as ready to try to cure the depression by inflating further. It stepped in immediately to expand credit and bolster shaky financial positions. In an act unprecedented in its history, the Federal Reserve moved in during the week of the crash-the final week of October-and in that brief period added almost $300 million to the reserves of the nation's banks. During that week, the Federal Reserve doubled its holdings of government securities, adding over $150 million to reserves, and it discounted about $200 million more for member banks. Instead of going through a healthy and rapid liquidation of unsound positions, the economy was fated to be continually bolstered by governmental measures that could only prolong its diseased state.
-- America's Great Depression, Murray Rothbard
What kind of Micky Mouse operation is this?
For anyone who is interested, there is a timeline of the Great Depression here: America's Great Depression Timeline
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I think our "tolerance" ties right into our philosophy of homeschooling... that God created each of us with a purpose, that He gave us gifts and interests that, if allowed to bloom, further our preparation for fulfilling that purpose. I think being in a large family *and* homeschooling is what gives my children the freedom to develop as they are meant to... without undue judgement, and with acceptance for who they are.
My 18 year old likes colorful outfits... and people may think she looks strange, but she seems to be a trendsetter. Her one week in public high school she wore striped leggings... before that week they were considered outlandish, after that week our small town was full of teen girls wearing striped leggings. I actually accompanied her last night to her University book store, as she had some textbook returns and needed my debit card to credit the return on. As we were walking down the stairs to the book store a woman coming the opposite direction stopped and said "oh my! don't you look cute!" to Jane - I asked if she often received compliments on her clothing, which she designs and sews herself, and she said "oh yes, I often have people asking me where I bought something, or if I made it myself, and if I sell the clothes I make" - so I have to think she's not *too* outlandish. :) Who knows, maybe it may be a source of income for her some day, and aren't I glad I didn't reign that in? Often she will sew something, or alter thrift store clothes in some way, because she can't find what she wants in stores... and 6-12 months later Target and Delias stores are FULL of that outfit.
A friend and I were driving to a Bible study one night, and she asked me, "do you ever think of telling Jane to tone it down?" and I said "what do you mean?" and she said "all those outlandish colors and patterns she wears and the funny looking hats" and I just said "why?" And she didn't answer me... I guess she figured I didn't get it. But I did know what she meant. The clothing creativity thing gives Jane joy... why would I rob her of it to be in favor of what is trendy now? Especially when she seems to be right on the cusp of what will be trendy tomorrow? Her sisters LOVE her talents, take delight when she creates something for them, or one of their dolls. No matter what the world might think of her... at home she is always thought wonderful and has eight adoring fans.
There is also the "many hands make light work" and "we're all in this together" philosophy that a large family can have. We help the younger ones learn to help. We are accepting of their limitations, we are patient with their mistakes. Older ones are expected to help younger ones.
If I'm helping Steadfast with something, and Fanny needs to go to bed, one will change her diaper, while someone else finds her favorite blankie, another will warm her bedtime cup of warm milk, another will help her drink it and brush her teeth, and yet another will tuck her in bed and turn on her Fisher Price aquarium and kiss her nite nite. She's whisked off in seconds and safely tucked in by five sets of loving hands who adore her. It's a job I prefer to savor myself, for our babies grow far too fast, and I love that one on one time the bedtime ritual brings, but it's a blessing to know the times I can't be there, she still feels warm and loved and cared for.
If I'm busy working on a sewing project I can say "can someone take care of dinner?" and suddenly there will be one teen in the kitchen, another teen in the garden plucking fresh cucumbers or tomatoes, a five year old keeping Fanny happy while a 7yo and 8yo quickly put a cloth on the table and set it. Same with dinner clean up... I can leave the table to go breastfeed Bronwyn, and come back to find the table cleared, the floor swept, the dishwasher humming, and pans soaking. Not all put upon one child... but work shared by five.
And they pass on their skills. Elizabeth used to be the egg gatherer, she passed it on to Catherine. Elizabeth used to empty the trash and Mary would put in a new bag. Mary now empties the trash and Catherine puts in a new bag. Jane and Elizabeth used to empty the dishwasher together, now Elizabeth and Mary do. Jane used to fix lunch for the littles, now Elizabeth does with Mary as her helper. These are "passings of the baton" that I never orchestrated... it's how the large family lives together, breathes together, works together, helps each other and teaches each other. Just as, in playing school, Mary helped Catherine learn to read Bob Books and in turn Catherine is teaching Lydia... because it's *fun* to teach your little sisters new things, and then share in those skills together.
It's not that the children do all the work, and I do none of it. In a large family there is enough work to keep me busy 24 hours a day, and still have enough work left over to share. Even with school work AND chores, they have more free time than chore time. :) After all they need that free time to develop their own interests and talents that God has given them to nurture. :)
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5, 6
Sometimes people ask me what scripture we base our family size on.
I think they expect me to quote verses like
"Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” - Psalm 127:3-5
Or to quote all the "Be fruitful and multiply" verses.
Or they expect me to recant how, throughout the Bible, God considers children a blessing to be desired (in the stories of Abraham & Sarah... of Isaac & Rebecca... of Rachel & Leah... of Hannah)
But for us it was not only what we found in scripture, but in looking at God's original perfect design. He did not create birth control. He made us to *naturally* have many babies. There was a study last year that showed our bodies actually do not do well menstruating month after month, because they were not intended to do that. They were created to have babies.
Generations were intended to overlap - Families were meant to be a seamless garment. God did not create The Generation Gap... humans did. Now that our children have an age span of 6 months to 18 years, I see clearly how God intended that in His creation the older children would come along side the aging parents and "fill in the gap"... that older children would grow comfortable with babies before moving on to have their own babies. That the younger children would grow comfortable with nieces and nephews before moving on to have their own babies...
It was an incredible feeling to feel the immense relief and joy we felt when we fully gave it all over to God. I never thought there would be such freedom when we let go of the "should we have more, shouldn't we" have more children decision, and gave it over to God. It was such a relief to let go of it, and let Someone far wiser take over.
God's plans are perfect... Baby after baby I have seen how perfect those plans are. It fills one with peace to know that there is an entire Bible full of all those scriptures that illuminate it as His perfect and flawless plan.
He created our fallopian tubes... how could I go and cut them and tie them? Are there any other parts of our body that we decide to go and *make them* stop working? Why would I mess with His design when His design is perfect? He is not going to let me give birth to any people He doesn't want existing... why would I take that power onto myself? WHO am I to tell Him who is necessary or unnecessary on this earth? He knows far better than I do! He sees the past, present and future. He knows the plans He has set out. It just seems crazy for me to want to interfere with my limited vision.
No, pregnancy is not easy. I have had hyperemesis gravidarum so bad I have been dangerously dehydrated and lost 36 lbs. I have had a few miscarriages that I have grieved. I have had gestational diabetes, and pre-eclampsia. I was told to abort Catherine to save my own life. Nevertheless, these experiences have only been opportunities for God to show me His grace! If we have life so perfect, why would we need God?
Both Elizabeth and Jane are my right hand women. If I am sick with morning sickness, or recovering with much pain from a cesarean section, I do not even have to say a word, but my big girls take over, cook dinner and get babies to bed! I will be lying down thinking "I need to get up and start something in the kitchen" and when I arrive in the kitchen, dinner is already started! My children are such an immense blessing! It is not just words to say, "Children are a blessing"... they actually are!
When they are all young it is easy to lose sight that we'll reap rewards for our efforts. A two, 3, 4, 5 year old can be such a tyrant/mess maker/whiner! Yet as they get older, the family unit works together so that the burden is lighter. The joys are multiplied, the burdens are divided. You have multiple people who think your baby is just as cute as you think she is. You have multiple people who see the toddler do something cute, and laugh with you for days afterwards. You have multiple people to make sure the 4 year old does not make a huge toothpaste mess while brushing her teeth. You have multiple people to keep an eye on the babies during naptime so you can go for a swim or take a nap yourself. You have multiple people to help fold laundry, clear the dinner table, weed the garden, and, not only does it make less work, but it makes the work that there is far more enjoyable.
People ask, “When you have so many children how do you make sure they get enough attention?” Are you kidding? Do you know how many hugs and kisses are lavished on people in this house? I can guarantee you that my 21 month old gets far more hugs and laps and boo-boos kissed and books read to her at home in a large family than she would have, had I not had her siblings and had I instead put her in a daycare, and went off to work. You really do not need to worry about my children getting enough attention. Not only do they have a mom at home with ready arms, they have six playmates and friends who have learned how to co-exist peacefully!
I planted a small garden this year... Catherine and Lydia seize any weed that dares come up. Mary and Catherine are both eager to water at the slightest sign of wilt... mostly so they can get each other wet, but hey, the plants benefit. Together we sat eagerly waiting with our toast and mayo, waiting for those tomatoes to be just right for our first tomato sandwich of the season.
My older kids reinforce good character in the younger ones... the burden does not all fall on us as parents. They reinforce by example, they reinforce by telling the stories of the consequences they suffered when they made a bad decision, they reinforce by knowing the rules of this house, and gently guiding the younger siblings with "Papa said..." or "Mama said..."
The older ones include the younger ones in baking bread, in playing games, in doing hair, in holding baby chicks. They comfort them when they are sad. They read stories to them. Though I may feel stretched mothering such a large span of ages that have different needs and different appointments here and there… In other things, my burden is much lighter. I often look at my children interacting together, the older heads bent down beside the younger ones, and I feel so full to bursting, so immensely blessed, so incredibly rich... with blessings pressed down, shaken together, and spilling over... even with awful morning sickness, miscarriages, high risk pregnancies due to several health issues and living with multiple sclerosis... The shadows of those "sufferings" pale by far in the Light of His Grace.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Today Bronwyn turned half a year! She celebrated by getting her first tooth, and is already starting on a second. She is 16 lbs 8 oz (7484g) and 26 inches (66cm).... still breastfed only, no solids yet. She grabs everything in her reach, and is learning to sit... still a bit wobbly, but getting there! :)
Love how this shot shows her chunky "little" legs...
Monday, August 11, 2008
She is so incredibly snuggly. Every time she reaches up her round little arms, wanting to be picked up, my heart melts into a puddle and I can never refuse. :)
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Dr Siersema arrived with her gentle ways and quiet voice and said yes, it was time to call a nurse to assist, and to have a baby. The nurse arrived and made tea and Steadfast and the two women sat and drank tea in front of me and made small talk, which I found greatly annoying because I had reached transition by this time and just wanted to concentrate alone in my bubble... facing backwards on my knees in a rocking chair rocking in a beam of sunlight through each wave of pain... I asked them if they could please be quiet and Steadfast said I was being too serious, and I said "because I have to push" - and at this tea cups were set hastily aside and the work began.
She was a girl. And I was shocked. She had been so active and felt so much longer in utero than her older sister. I was sure she was the wrong baby and Dr Siersema said "I can't put her back, she's yours to keep"... and obviously, born at home, she could not have been switched. I don't remember really meeting her. I don't know where she was while I got the 14 inner and 9 outer stitches where I had torn from ship to shore. The "kraamtijd" was not restful, as the nurse was new and inexperienced and I had a 1 yo to take care of. The nurse was there for a week and when she left, I found a dirty coffee cup she had left and I just laid on the ground and cried for an hour.. how was I going to take care of two babies and wash a coffee cup?
Little did I know that was the beginning of a long bout with post-partum depression. My life became a joyless monotany of changing diapers and feeding babies and making dinner and doing dishes. I wanted to sleep forever.
I had no friends in that strange land. I had a father-in-law who believed real Christians don't get depressed and so Steadfast was ashamed of me. It was a long dark tunnel of hopelessness. And I was isolated and alone.
My first memory of Rebecca is of when she was about nine months old and she was sitting on my bedroom floor crying and I was staring emotionless at her thinking "why doesn't her mother care for her"... I probably watched her cry for a good five minutes and then I realized, I was her mother. I picked her up and comforted her, but I still did not *feel* I was her mother...
When she was around 15 months old the sun broke through the darkness and I looked at her cute chubbiness and adored her... love was born that illuminated the darkness of that despair and chased it away into the far corners of my heart.
For years after that, she was one who often needed hugs and cuddles. I try to remember if I did cuddle her in that foggy time. I hope I did. I can't remember.... in those months I operated out of habit and routine... I functioned as a robot. Was it in my habit and routine to hold her a while after I had nursed her? Did I ever smile at her? Did I ever smother her with kisses as I have done her sisters?
Writing this causes a waterfall of tears to stream down my face. I so miss those lost months. Here is my tall beautiful girl whose babyhood I barely remember. A couple of weeks ago I could look at my first born on her 18th birthday and say "here's my grown girl, I remember when she was born and her hair curled from the damp and she looked up at me with those great eyes and I was smitten". I grieve that I don't remember meeting Becca.
I hope over the years we have made up for those lost first moments. She is a gem of a girl. Quick to help, level-headed... probably the most level-headed of all the womenfolk in this household. While I have been her teacher, and the teacher of her sisters, she has often been the one to teach me... she has taught me everything from being honest with myself ("I can't say that" "you can, Mama, you just don't want to") - to how to crop a photo in Paint... I treasure the moments she allows me to see the world through her eyes, because they often bring an "a ha!" moment with them that illuminates something that was once hidden... but should not be.
Just as Christ illuminates our souls and reveals what is there, that should not be. Where was Christ in Becca's baby years? I felt much abandoned by God in my first years of marriage. But I know He was there. I think without Him, I would have fallen much further from hope than I did. Without Him, I don't think Hope would have ever returned. Since Becca I've had a couple more brushes with post-partum depression, but none as deep and dark or as long as that bout was.
Dear Becca. I love you more than a mother's heart can contain. I am so immensely proud of you. I love the pretty pictures you take. I love your wry sense of humor. I love having another Jane Austen fan in our home. I do cherish the memories I do have of your childhood, and I admire the woman you are becoming. You were an adorable baby... your smiles broke through my gloom, and they still light up my life... even though now it is filled with joys overflowing... the joy of being your mother is one of the greatest gifts God could have ever given me.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Not number one because he's my favorite, because I can't have favorites, but because he's the very first nephew I ever had. He is the kind of nephew you look at and your heart swells and you think "what a good kid he is!" because he really is a good kid and the apple of his aunties' eyes. I can't find a single fault with him at all. Except, maybe, the fact that he climbs to really high places, which doesn't do my heart a bit of good.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Monday, June 30, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.
I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.
And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?"
- Robert Louis Stevenson
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Monday, June 09, 2008
"Many centenarian women have a history of bearing children after the age of 35 years and even 40 years. From our studies, a woman who naturally has a child after the age of 40 has a 4 times greater chance of living to 100 compared to women who do not. It is probably not the act of bearing a child in one's forties that promotes long life, but rather, doing so may be an indicator that the woman's reproductive system is aging slowly and that the rest of her body is as well. Such slow aging and the avoidance or delay of diseases that adversely impact reproduction would bode well for the woman's subsequent ability to achieve very old age."
(Source: Perls T, Alpert L, Fretts R. Middle aged mothers live longer. Nature 1997;389:133.)