Favorite "Meditation of My Heart"

Call unto me,

and I will answer thee,

and shew thee great and mighty things,

which thou knowest not. --Jeremiah 33:3 KJV

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I'm tired...(Actually I was tired in June 2011)

Have you ever been exhausted?  Maybe you needed a break and no one was cooperating and then your hubby did something stupid or maybe a couple somethings?  Well, below in green is an entry that I never published from June 2011.  I put it in green because I was GREEN with envy when I wrote it.  I was envious of well rested, vacationed, and not financially stressed families!  I was STRESSED and my hubby spent our "just us-get away vacation" fund to put Invisalign on Corrine's teeth without exactly discussing it with me.  Then hubby went to Dallas, TX for 14 days of debate tournaments and teachers meetings without telling me about his decision on Corrine's teeth.  I find out and I "get to" write the check while he is gone.  He has been home 2 days when I write this entry in GREEN.

Now some folks think Mr. Workman and I NEVER fuss.  We are always happy with each other and I know a few of you reading this have said that I would never understand wanting to strangle my hubby.  Let me assure you, most of us have had days like the one below.

June 26, 2011  Do you ever get so tired and so worn out that you are pretty sure you will never feel any different?  I'm afraid I have crossed the line from perpetually tired to exhausted, ready to give up tired and depressed that I never get a break.  So I look for things to give up or the throw over board....Give up what?  I'm not sure...I love teaching, working seems required to pay the bills and being THE mom is a permanent gig so I'm not sure what to throw overboard, but I have some good ideas and some not so good ideas!

I mention to some that I need a break and I'm told that "You decided to have all those children."  So obviously they don't want to help or want to punish me for having so many great kids...I'm not sure.  Either way,  they are missing the point that I have had 3 full nights of sleep since October 4, 2009 and I'd like to try nights 4 and 5 consecutively while being away from the many stresses in life.

My hubby is probably my greatest source of help and my greatest source of work.  He wants to be helpful, but he just doesn't seem to want to be completely helpful.  For example, that I'm sure many wives can relate to, he let me nap today, but I get up to a sink overflowing with dishes, no supper, and all the work that was already there when I laid down is still waiting on me.  I have BEGGED for us to take time away, but he won't set the dates and doesn't want to spend the money.  I understand being tight, but his choice of putting Corrine's braces before my mental health is probably not the best choice he has ever made.

I am so glad those feelings of exhaustion have come and gone several times quickly, but I thought I would post this now as a reminder to my hubby (who rarely reads my blog, but our oldest kid does) that our tax return will be here in less than 20 days so maybe he should be planning a mini-vacation for us!  However, I know that mini-vacations are only temporary refreshment and for sustaining strength I must seek it through the Lord who has been most generous in giving me the strength to meet the needs of the family He designed for us.

My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength
of my heart, and my portion for ever. ~~Psalm 73:26

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Things I Don't Waste My Time on (so we are wasting $$$)

20 piece McNuggets for $4.99, frozen dough bread/rolls, frozen pie shells, frozen pizza & Happy Hour Sonic Drinks...these are some of my money wasting vices. 

It is simply too easy to get 4 pre-schoolers silent in the car with a 20 pack of nuggets!  I make homemade bread 3-4 times a year, but the simple, no mess, thaw and bake is my all too regular "cheating friend"....sure I pay $1.75 per loaf & I could make it for $.65, but it is worth the extra for the mess to not be on my counter within reach of lots of little hands.  The same is the reason for my love of frozen pie shells.  My kids LOVE homemade pizza, but I love 16 minutes to one minimally dirty pan and lunch is served.   Finally, who can pass up crushed ice drinks, especially for a dollar.  I'm fairly sure that we spend $12-15 per week on drinks with crushed ice.  Isn't that crazy?!

Well, you may wonder why I'm thinking that convenience is wasteful?  I'll be honest.  I'm trying to open up room in the budget for more savings and more giving.  So many friends and family are struggling with the higher prices, cut backs at work, layoffs and the costs of utilities and car maintenance.  For one friend in college, she seems to be "freaking out" over if she can afford coffee.  Another friend is facing utility shut offs every month as she makes tough decisions and is cutting the budget as close she dare to still have gas money.  These situations and more have me thinking that it is time to trim the excess waste, sort & sell the unused "stuff" that junks up the house and be in a better position financially myself so I can help others.  I'm REALLY re-evaluating needs and wants, treats and excessive "treats", $ makers and $ wasters.

I had eye opening experiences recently when a couple friends needed groceries. I have always tried to keep some extra groceries in case someone had a need and I was surprised how quickly those few supplies could be depleted. It really made me also re-evaluate our emergency supplies for a family our size. My inventory of foods revealed that I needed to do more stocking up for myself and for others, but I need to do this within my current budget. Suddenly gifts of beef from my folks, venison from Cousin Carl, and coupons and sales and menu planning are becoming even more important in the Workman household. I'm sure by March when I blog about "Made in March", there will be even more diverse recipes and crazy money saving projects!

Some of the hardest things to financially evaluate is things for the kids.  I recently splurged and bought Grace things she needed to update her new room to a teen room.  Grandma painted the walls and we repainted furniture to meet the new look, but she still needs curtains and a blanket or bedspread and a new twin bed would be nice too since she is using my daybed from college.  It is so tempting to get the extras that would make a beautiful room, but that would not make good financial sense.  I realize that Grace is watching my choices and someday she will want all that we gave her at home so if we don't demonstrate how to live within limited means now without excessive splurges, then how can I expect her to make responsible decisions later.  This part of being an adult and a mom and a teacher to my kids is tough stuff!  (especially since it would be easy to justify spoiling one of my best helpers)

And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all,
 as every man had need. ~~Acts 2:45

Friday, January 27, 2012

Things I Waste My Time on (so we don't waste $$$)

As a mom of 10 kids, there are lots of things that can waste my time.  If you are a mom, then I'm sure you could help me name some time wasters like facebooking, blogging, reading, napping, bathing...okay so I'm joking (a little).  (BTW-Have you noticed how FBing seems to be the new letter writing & phone calling?  It is PERFECT for moms because you can pick up and drop it again without offending the other parties because they rarely even know when you have come and gone.  FB is the highest form of meaningful, interrupted communication, especially for mom's of preschoolers! LOL!) 

However, truly when I look at the time I spend disengaged with the kids, (and not for relaxing purposes like listed above) a vast majority of the time is spent managing/scheduling the "things" of 10 kids.  "Things" like well child visits, shots, dental check-ups, vision check-ups, ordering medication refills, appointments with therapists and specialist, equipment (wheelchairs, braces, Oxygen, communication device, Brailler & cochlear implant to name a few) repairs and maintenance, violin lessons, basketball practice, home school grading, and bills. 

Of all these many things, medical BILLS take up the most of my time and specifically incorrect bills take LOTS of time to get resolved.  We get about 16 medical bills per month.  Most months at least a quarter of the bills have some type of error.  In some cases the amount in question is less than $100 and other times it is thousands of dollars.  In addition to being a mom, I have had to become a health insurance benefits specialist!  I've learned to question anything that doesn't look right on medical bills because I have found so many errors that if not found would have one-by-one demolished our budget.

So the FIRST thing I waste my time on is auditing EVERY MEDICAL BILL.  Below is a letter that I recently had to write Freeman Health Systems due to an error that would have cost me over $65.  It took me 2 hours on the phone with insurance and the hospital to discovery why the bill was unexpectedly high and it took me 30 minutes to write the letter.  Finding this error essentially saved our family $22/hr for 3 hours.  Typically, errors take more time on the phone and they are more in the range of $125-$200/hr saved....so I know this waste of time is a good investment!  BUT I dislike EVERY minute of it!  It puts me in a bad mood and I start doubting that hospitals/clinics are making this many "honest errors".  BTW-If you have been to Urgent Care at Freeman, like Corrine in my letter below, watch your bill.  It can save you money.

The SECOND thing I waste my time on is COUPONS and reading all the ads for best prices.  I have been tracking my savings and on average I save 30% with coupons.  This adds up!  In an average month, I save $300 with coupons and $75 with ad matches and going to the stores with the best sales.  I spend about 30 hours a month on this, but I figure $12.50/hr and BETTER quality and healthier foods is worth it!  Plus unlike the medical errors, I don't dislike couponing.  In fact, it appeals to the competitive side of me.  It is kind of like a big game of Memory, except I'm matching good sales with good coupons for a GREAT deal of savings!  For example this week's big score was Bear Creek Soup for $3 in the Big Lots Ad so I price matched at Wal-Mart (usually $3.62) and used a $1 off coupon so I made a 1/2 gallon of top quality soup for $2!  Then I got yummy frozen rolls for $1.25 thanks to a coupon and a Dole salad mix for 30 cents at Food 4 Less.

The THIRD thing I waste my time on is BLOGGING,.....we'll cover it some other time after I figure out some good reasons to keep blogging when I could be sleeping!  Goodnight all!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Driving Lesson One

Ready for her first driving lesson
 Our oldest daughter Grace is going to be 16 in April and for the last several months, she has been eligible to get a driver's permit.  Now as 16 is quickly approaching, she is becoming more anxious to learn to drive.  She has taken Driver's Education at our Home School Co-op.  She has studied the state driver's manual, and now it is our turn as parents to do our part.  So after a brief conversation with my hubby, it was decided that it is actually my turn to do my part.  (Don't worry...Daddy will be teaching ALL the boys...maybe even Jon and Nate!)  So you may wonder why Daddy is waiting until later lesson to get involved and why I'm not jumping for joy about the opportunity to teach her.  The answer is that she has rarely driven anything!  Grand-dad taught Grace to drive the riding mower....not straight or to where we didn't close our eyes as she struggled to make each turn, but he taught her to turn the mower on, engage the blade and butcher the yard in a weaving pattern that a drunk would struggle to copy.  After many gallons of gas and several tries to fix her original mowing, we said, "Good enough, I think we will start mowing again."

Now I have never been known for my patience.  Granted my kids have improved (or maybe just stretched) my patience, but I should still be VERY humble about the virtue of patience.  I didn't want to be a mom clinging to the car door, stomping my imaginary brake and yelling directions so I decided the ideal "calm" place to teach Grace would be at the farm.  When I told grandma this, she said, "What if she meets a car?"  My response was, "In the driveway?"  So with guarded expectation of "if I would let her" leave the yard, Grace and I switched seats for her first lesson.


So the first thing we had to do was to adjust the seat to the best position for her.  I had never considered Grace to be picky about her seating, but apparently when preparing to drive a vehicle, she needs the positioning and support of a NASA astronaut.  (7 minutes including pictures)


Next we reviewed where the gas and brake are and I discovered that she had to look at her feet when selecting the needed peddle.  I also discovered that Grace was going to insist that she needed both feet and preferably one on the brake, while one was on the gas.  So we practiced, with ONLY her right foot....gas, brake, brake, brake, gas, brake....notice the peddle that I'm focusing on.  Then I had her turn on the car and we practiced shifting between P-R-N-D and the importance of keeping her foot on the brake.  (10 minutes)

Almost to the church


Finally I explained to her, that the Durango will go when she removes her foot from the brake and I suggested she try it without using the gas so she could use the brake to stop and get a feel for the brake...well, Grace had to look at her feet to find the brake and when she located, she applied it with all her might.  I must tell you; I NEVER thought a person traveling at 3MPH could be thrown through a window of a car, but I now know it is probably possible...ALWAYS wear a seat belt, even in the driveway when rolling at 3 MPH.  Lucky for me, Grace caught on to steering turns fairly well with only a few laps around the oak tree and the yard.  Backing up seemed more challenging, but Grace had perseverance on her side....well, that and the fact that Grand-dad attached the porch hand railing to last a lifetime...yeap, can't even tell that she "nudged" it, while I said brake and she looked at her feet. (20 minutes)


Grace was actually catching on very fast, except for looking for the brake and the gas, so I decided that she could drive the dirt road about a mile to where the church used to be beside the cemetery.  This is where I was starting to wish for a hidden camera.  It was becoming obvious that America's Funniest Home Videos would have  received the video and just mailed us the prize money.  The highlights of the 1.7 mile drive to/from the old church were the following:
  • Discovering that Grace stops the car to sneeze or cough...or just when she needs a break from the fast pace of driving at 2 to 4 MPH.
  • Grace drove so slow that the problematic neighbors were changing the signs along the road from "No Trespassing" to "No Parking".
  • The old gravel road has branches that stick out.  I reminded Grace several times to watch out for them.  Finally I just let her hit a small protruding branch to which she declares, "I have to be looking out there too?!" as she motions to my side of the Durango.  (40 minutes)

As we approached the driveway to the farm again.  My Cousin Carl was standing along the road waiting for us.  While we were still 100 yards away or so Grace wanted to know why he was standing so close to the driveway because it made her nervous.  Carl was standing behind a concrete filled metal pole at the mailboxes which are well beyond the driveway.  (Not to say that he wasn't as nervous as her!)  Carl visits with us and has two fabulous offers...1.)  free venison and  2.) to open the gate to let Grace drive in the hayfield.

A zoomed in photo of "Traffic"
at a narrow gate

Grace and I picked up the venison and got it in the cooler.  Then she headed down the lane to the hayfield.  A long ways ahead of us, Cousin Carl pulls out with his tractor to take hay to the livestock.  Grace declares, "Great traffic!"  I point out that she won't need to pass him because he is going to the same place as us.  She said she could tell that, but it still was more to keep track of while she drove.


As we get to the hayfield, Grace must go through 2 generous "farm equipment wide" gates.  Grace slowed to several stops as she lined up with each gate.  Grace was thinking outloud when she wondered, "why the gates were so narrow".  Grace did an excellent job getting to the hayfield, but it was obvious that each new element was adding "more to this driving thing" than she had thought.

Once we were though the gates, the cows were gathered to eat and Grace had to drive around them.  She said they were looking at her judgemental-like and here is the kicker...I have to agree!  There were a couple calves who seemed to recognize the potential to be hamburger when in the presence of inexperienced drivers.  I even tried to photograph "The look", but it was getting darker and the field was bumpy with cow patties (and Grace didn't miss a one with my Durango.) (20 minutes)

I was really dreading Grace's first driving lesson, but she did very well.  She listened, followed directions and made jokes to ease both our tensions.  Don't tell hubby, but I'm really glad that I got to take her on her first driving lesson...and not just becauseit is over and he owes me!  Plus Grace and I used our trip home from the farm to stop and enjoy dinner together at cousin Sheila's Restuarant in Marshfield, which is always a treat!

Grace is a great young lady and she will eventually be a licensed driver so don't follow too close, she might sneeze! Love you Grace!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Why My Kids Don't "Do" Special Olympics...

Grace and Vanessa
Photo by Marie's Cottage Photography
When my oldest Grace returned to public school for one year in 7th grade, I was shocked to find huge, unanalyzed support of Special Olympics.  It was suggested to Grace to run for Student Council and she was excited at the idea. However, we learned that she would be required to fund raise for Special Olympics and to volunteer with the organization.  The volunteering was okay with us since we thought it would be good for her to assess the organization first hand and arrive at some of her own conclusions.  However, we simply could not allow her to fund raise for this organization that we believe is a hindrance to opportunities for inclusive recreation for people with disabilities.  As a result, despite my pleading our case, Grace was not allowed on the ballot for Student Council. 

Special Olympics is like a sacred organization in our country, but many former participants, like myself, have strong feelings that the organization has failed to evolve into an "inclusive, consumer driven" organization.  I know I just rolled out jargon so let me explain.  "Inclusive" means disabled and non-disabled would participate in all levels of the organization and its programs.  For example, programs wouldn't be "for" people with disabilities, but rather "with" people with disabilities or better yet "by" people with disabilities.  "Consumer driven" would encourage persons with disabilities to be involved as coaches, volunteers, organizers and not just program participants.  "Consumer driven" would recognize the diverse talents of each person with a disability, rather than a pat on the head for "bravely trying" a new activity, which may not have even interested the person.

Let me briefly summarize my objections:

1.  When trying to enroll a child with a disability in a community sport, children with disabilities are frequently turned down and referred to the "Special Olympics", even if the sport is not offered by Special Olympics in the area.  The existence of "Special Olympics" often makes local YMCAs and park boards believe that they need "special training to work with special kids".  The situation couldn't be further from the truth.  Kids are kids and each is unique.  Every child just needs an adult that is motivated to learn about abilities and to create opportunities.

2. Kids with disabilities are diverse.  Some kids are good at reading, some at math, some at art or music or caring and listening or helping.  However, the Special Olympics reduces the person with a disability to a single interest for their PR.  Like their athlete's oath says, ""Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."  The oath makes me gag.  I can guarantee you that most Special Olympians have faced opposition and difficulties a lot tougher than a 50 meter dash!  By the way, The Olympic motto is Citius, Altius, Fortius, a Latin expression meaning "Faster, Higher, Stronger", and the Olympic creed:  "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."  Now that is MORE like it!

3.  The Special Olympics rarely changes hurtful, exclusionary behaviors in peer groups.  In fact many teen volunteers actually believe that Special Olympians NEED segregated sports because "THEY" "might go off" or "hurt someone" or "be inappropriate" if THEY were included with non-disabled peers.  Just because the peer has a great day helping with the Special Olympics, it doesn't change who THEY sit by at lunch the next day. 

 4.  Smile!  When volunteers list their motivation for being involved, it is almost always for the smiles.  That in and of itself is okay, but it is often presented as though the volunteer doesn't think the participant regularly smiles. 
5.  Pity....it is such a pity that the volunteers are not trained to avoid using pity drenched comments and encouragement.  Patting a participant on the head should be grounds for dismissal and don't even get me started on all the inappropriate hugging between volunteers and participants.  In many cases, parents have set physical touch limits concerning strangers for the safety of their youngsters, but Special Olympic volunteers tend to tear down these limits as though they think they are the ONLY people who will hug this youngster.  The hugs are based on the volunteer feeling good and are not respectful of the close relationships (with hugging) that the Special Olympian already has in their life.
What needs to change?
1.  Persons with disabilities need to be involved at all levels of the organization, not just participants.
2.  The Special Olympics needs to be a resource for local community programs and offer them assistance (especially in finding and funding or borrowing modified recreation equipment).  Literature, 1-800 #s, and webinars would be a great start!
3.  A new "grown-up" motto PLEASE!!!!
4.  True "no pity" training for volunteers and include volunteers with disabilities.  Require debriefing trainings after events to work on changing behaviors to be more inclusionary.  THEY and THEM thinking should be challenged by the experience of volunteering, NOT solidified!
5.  Scholarships should be available to help athletes with disabilities train in inclusive environments.
Yes, I know this blog has made some people mad, BUT remember these are MY views as a past participant and as a mom who will not allow my children to participate until the Special Olympics catches up to the inclusive, self-directing, self-advocating world that is available to me and my kids.  Special Olympics ideals have changed very little since the 1960's and laws such as the Rehabilitation Act, IDEA, Fair Housing and the ADA have opened doors to inclusive opportunities that Special Olympics is still trying to keep shut.  For now, I think my kids are better off without the outdated ideas and experiences.
Paralymics Motto:  Spirit in Motion.
In 2001, the IOC has written its commitment to equal access to athletics for all people into its charter, which states, “ The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play....Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement."

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Perfect Boy

Every year I try to write something thought provoking in memory of the tremendous losses that our country has had since the Roe V Wade decision.  Typically the loss of inventors, scientists, artists, doctors, and other highly intelligent, highly creative and highly motivated are the focus of  the Roe V. Wade pro-life literature.  There is the whole undertone of "what if our society killed the next Edison, Bell, or Gates", but like I wrote last year in "52 Million Kids that Can't Change the World" every child has potential and deserves to be born, to have an impact on society and to be impacted by society.  Rarely are the fetuses with disabilities such as Downs Syndrome, Spina Bifida, Hydrocephaly, and physical deformities considered for the loss to society and their abilities to inspire, encourage, and develop our capacity for love and compassion.
Tommy "Superman" & his mom Kim

So this year, I want to introduce you to a remarkable young man who helped develop an equally remarkable mother and remarkable family and a remarkable church.  A young man so remarkable and so perfect that the family's priest draws beautiful images of parallels between the relationship of Christ and his mother.  I believe strongly that every voting American needs to meet Thomas "Tommy" Supernault and his mother.  Unfortunately, Tommy passed away suddenly at the end of November of 2011.  I really wish that I had introduced you to him sooner, but like his mom, I thought Tommy would be with us for longer.  I am sure my introduction would have not done his life justice.  Below is the tribute that his mother delivered at his funeral.  It does his life justice.  It explains why we must protect fetuses that could become Tommy Supernaults, just as vigorously as we work to protect potential future leaders, researchers and innovators.   

By: Kim Saumier
This world, my home, my heart...will never be as it was before.

My Thomas was a good boy, perfect in every way. He didn't know hatred or jealousy. Most people would say that he didn't "know" if he was being made fun of or stared at but I say he didn't care. He loved and accepted everyone with his whole heart. Can you just imagine for one second what a gift that is? I think that most of you would know Thomas for his smile and if you were lucky enough, paid close enough attention you could see that sparkle in his eyes because it was always there. And then for his laugh and giggles, he sounded like that boy from A Christmas Story, only 1,000 better-it was beautiful.

He is beautiful. He turned the hardest of men into mush, his grandfather's, my dad and Doug(his other grandfather) loved my baby so much and Thomas loved them back even more. It was amazing to see. Thomas went through so much from the time he was born, surgery after surgery, piles of medications, feeding tubes, machines, equipment and enough supplies to fill 3 houses, just ask my husband. This journey hasn't always been easy, but it has always been worth every ounce of everything we've ever gone through. Being a parent of a special needs baby, there are things that we have to go through that most parents will just never understand. I had Thomas when I was young he was a preemie 3lbs. 11oz. They found Hydrocephalus at his 2 month check up and Schizencephaly that same day. I can remember saying out loud for the first time to one of Tommy's therapists "...because he's not going to ever walk..." We were in mid conversation, I realized what had just come out of my mouth and just broke down. I think I cried for a week straight. I had the thought in my head but had never actually said the words. He started having seizures at 4 months old, he lost his ability to suck. Started PT at 5 months-we worked on sitting up-didn't happen-heartbreak. Crawling-just not there. We worked on standing-more heartbreak. We used a walker thinking he needed to be moving to find his balance-nope. We worked on keeping him stretched and range of motion-SDR then Tendon releases-more heartbreak. We worked on feeding, we surely weren't losing this too-gtube, nissen, pyloralplasty-devastation and despair....Through all of this there are also the lingering feelings of "he is never going to have a family, no mother-son dance, no babies for him, and for me. How will I do things, afford anything, get from here to there?

This is a long hard road but the rewards, the blessings, Thomas has given me are everlasting. What I have learned from my baby far outweigh all of that. I may not have seen it all of the time along the way and still get lost sometimes. He taught me that acceptance and giving up are worlds apart-this was the hardest to believe-but Thomas didn't give up on me because he is a fighter. He is perfect and pure and he healed my heart every time it broke. He made me strong, shows me true love, taught me patience...he makes me good and grateful and brave...Thomas was all of these things from the second he was born...He is my superman...

(To Tommy)
You've made my will strong

Taught me right from wrong

You've made my eyes open wide
An angel forever at my side

You've made my words kind
A love few will ever find

You've made my heart melt
A truer feeling never felt

You've made butterflies come and go
ALWAYS brave without the show

You've been everything to me
...and I want the world to see

The precious gifts you give
FOREVER in my heart shall live...
Tommy's condition is now frequently detected by ultrasound.  Kim works with moms and dads through facebook, email and yahoo groups to encourage them to choose life for their unborn child diagnosed with schizencephaly.  Then she provides support and encouragement to the families who do choose life.  She is a wealth of medical, financial, emotional and parental knowledge and experience.  I am honored to know Kim due to our daughter Vanessa who also has schizencephaly.  Through Vanessa's diagnosis, I have discovered a group of moms with amazing strength, amazing character and amazing love....mom's like Patty, Laura,  Shelley, Jessica, Joni, Sarah, Jena, Amanda, Loren, Misty, Shanon and 120ish more...all of us developing in ways we never expected and all of us at different places in the journey and encouraging one another.  While we share frustrations, sorrows and grief, I have NEVER heard anyone in our group REGRET that they chose life for their child.  Unfortunately, there are no pamphlets at the doctors' offices telling moms-to-be who just had an abnormal ultrasound...."No regrets."

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Early Morning Phone Call

I got a call crazy early this morning.  The kind of crazy early that you hope the call is a prank because otherwise you know it is terrible, bad news.   Mr. Workman and I rolled out of bed, located the phone and answered it.  It was our 3 year old twins.  They were calling us from my iphone from their bedroom. They greeted me with a "Hi Mommy!" and from what I could tell, they even had me on speaker phone at 4:20am!
I can barely make a call from my iphone.  I have no idea how they knew to unlock it, navigate to the phone section and pick home.  I assume that was the last call that I made so it was easy to pick.  However, tonight as I was putting them to bed, Luke let me know that Grandma wasn't home this morning and he didn't know how to call Wal-Mart, which is apparently where Grandma is, if she isn't at home.  So I just checked my phone,  the call before the one this morning was to Daddy's cell phone, which was turned off.  I guess they thought they had called grandma. 

Needless to say based on the twins love of water and flooding the house, I'm just glad they didn't wash my iphone...and yes, it is put up REALLY high tonight!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Christmas Toothbrush Story

Like all mom's I try to teach my kids to share and be generous, especially with their siblings.  However, sometimes younger siblings can really damage their older brothers' and sisters' stuff so a balanced approach of teaching the kids what to share and then with whom can become a complex web of rules and developmental considerations...yet at other times, it seems like the rules are pretty obvious.

On Christmas Sunday morning, I had Christmas stockings full of fruit, candy and a couple special treats like friction cars for the toddlers and earbuds for the tweens and teens.  However, I had David at age 8, and he is right between friction cars and ear buds.  He loves electronic games, but that was outside of the budget so I had struggled to figure out what he would consider a fun treat/toy.  After a lot of consideration, he said something to help me out.  He mentioned that he had seen a picture of me getting an electric Bugs Bunny toothbrush for Christmas as a child, and he wanted to know if I still had it because it was "awesome".  So I started looking at Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens, etc and finally found a SpiderMan electric toothbrush that I was sure David would love!

On Christmas morning, I was disappointed to see that David had gotten up before me, opened his stocking gifts and was already settled into watching a video that he had gotten from grandma the night before.  I had hoped to see him open his stocking, and I wanted to know what he thought of his toothbrush, which I KNEW he would love!  So you can imagine my horror when 4 year old Matt met me outside the bathroom with toothpaste suds everywhere and letting me know he LOVED the Spiderman toothbrush.  I started explaining to Matt that you cannot take things out of someone else's stocking.  He said, "I know.  David said I could."  Well, as you can imagine, I was crushed that David had given away a gift that I was sure he would REALLY love. 

So later when David had finished his movie, I asked him about the toothbrush...was it too noisy? Did it scare him? Was it too much vibration?  No, no, no, he assured me that it got his teeth really clean as he pointed to his teeth and showed me his big smile.  My heart sank.  I knew I had to tell him what Matt did.  I called Matt to the kitchen with David and I, then I started to explain that I was so sorry that Matt had taken his toothbrush.  David glared at Matt and yelled, "You broke it! I told you to be careful when you tried it!"  I felt a little gag in my throat as I got the boys to clarify that they had both used the toothbrush.  Matt was especially proud as he declared, "David shared it with me."

So we had a talk about things that you share and things that you don't share.  Then I spent about an hour boiling and replacing EVERYONES' toothbrushes, especially as I thought about all those times my own toothbrush was unexpectedly damp...and as I realized that David had wanted my old Bugs Bunny electric toothbrush to USE again.  Icky!

BTW-Neither Matt or David could remember if they had ever tried my toothbrush!  I'm laughing now or I would still be gagging!

And this commandment have we from him,
That he who loveth God love his brother also. ~~I John 4:21

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Us vs. The Duggar's

NOTE:  FIRST let me say that this is NOT an announcement that we are adding to our family.  Now with that out of the way, let me explain what it is about.

Many people who learn about our big family ask me if I watch the Duggar's or read their books.  Since we do not have cable TV (yes, I'm serious...just the free local channels), I have not watched the Duggar's except youtube clips.  I've read some blog entries and one book, but in general, I know very little about them.  However, it is obvious that in popular culture the Duggar's are considered the standard on "how to be a large family", and I must admit I tried their homemade laundry soap as part of my research when figuring out my own recipe.  I've also tried a couple of their dinner recipes, but other than soap and dinner, much of their other ideas are not a fit with our kids' needs OR our income OR the size of our house.

So a couple years ago when I first saw the Duggar's central closet (http://health.discovery.com/videos/17-kids-counting-jim-bob-says-good-bye.html) my first thoughts were not positive.  I wondered how the kids got a sense of ownership. For example, if one got a new sweater for Christmas and now it is in a shared closet where siblings could wear it too.  Ownership, responsibility and taking care of one's own things is a BIG lesson that all our children must learn, but our children who spent their early years in orphanages have an extra challenge in understanding good stewardship of resources and ownership.  In fact, even though we have a toy room, I have always insisted that each child can have some toys in their bedroom too just to "practice" being responsible for something. 

Therefore you might be surprised that my Christmas break project has been....drum roll please.....creating a central closet!  So what changed my view?  Simple.  Kids who grow so fast that they cannot tell their current clothes from their outgrown clothes AND since we have what Corrine calls "pass-me-arounds", the clothes that I moved from David to Jon to Matt, would end up back on David!  Also with our current age range of 15 years to 3 years, the toy room was becoming impossible.  Little ones were breaking older ones toys and the older ones were getting angry; so I decided much more could be learned by having each child's toys in each bedroom rather than their brother's 3 sizes too small pants!

The plan is that each Friday our kids will pick out their clothes including socks, underwear, PJs, and outerwear  for the next week & put these 7 to 14 outfits in their closet.  At the end of the week, they can return clean leftovers AND I better not find leftover clean underwear!  (It will give me a double check system on unddies so now I just need one on tooth brushing...that reminds me that I need to blog the Christmas toothbrush story...I'll try to do that this week.)

So in the "Us vs. the Duggar's" match-up, we have now tried their soap, their food & their closet system!  However, I must share with you that when I think of amazing big families, I think of my mom's parents who raised 9 children without much money or the Amish families around Seymour, Missouri.  These Amish families often have 10+ children and no running water and no electricity, but their kids and their clothes are clean.  I'm more interested in how they manage their home, than how an upper-middle class, custom-built home owner with a reality show is managing their home.  However, I don't think my kids would agree to a few outfits each as the Amish do so I have to look to the Duggar's on this one.  By the way, I have nothing against the Duggar's, but the lifestyle they live is beyond what most of their fans/watchers will attain so their home leaves a lot of  large families wishing that they had their setup and discontent.  I think the Duggar's handle a tremendous burden of being so open and camera-ready with their lives.  So when people say, "have you watched the Duggar's?", well my honest answer is yes, but I admire my grandparents and the Amish.

Let your conversation be without covetousness;
and be content with such things as ye have:
for he hath said, I will never leave thee,
nor forsake thee. ~~Hebrews 13:5