Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Good News Cruise

Our older three were in a musical last Sunday. They've been practicing at AWANA for a couple of months, and they all did a fantastic job! It was called "The Good News Cruise" and it was very cute. Most importantly, it was a clear presenation of the gospel. Nathan had the part of the captain, and Megan got to be Kay LaHay. Nathan's part included a solo, but Megan's didn't. She desperately wanted one, but she understood that the older kids got first dibs on them. At the very end, though, the director decided that one of the verses of the songs should be a solo, and Megan got to sing it! She was so excited!

Carsten's Birthday

Carsten turned 3! His personality is really starting to blossom. He is a very hard worker. He loves to haul heavy things in from the car to help Mommy. We call him our little lumberjack. Carsten also has a very firm sense of how things should be. He doesn't like to deviate from his determined path. He and Justin are best buds, and Carsten hangs on every word Justin says.

For his birthday, I had assumed that we would do a Spiderman theme. Carsten has like Spiderman ever since he turned two and got his first "real" underwear. They had Spiderman and friends on them, and he was hooked. "Spiderman" was one of his first words. Imagine my surprise when I started planning his birthday, and he announced, with great emphasis, "I NOT have a Spiderman birthday. I want lots and lots of Ele's." Ele is his stuffed elephant that he sleeps with.

Hmmm, lots and lots of Ele's. Carsten does love elephants. When we took him to the zoo awhile back, he just sat there in front of the elephant's enclosure completely silent. Then he said, in that little low, husky voice that just melts my heart, "That's mine."

I couldn't decide on how to implement the Lots of Ele's theme. I sent out a cute elephant picture for his invitation, and then I hit on the idea of cupcakes with little elephants on top. I figured I could make them out of marzipan. Of course, I wasn't thinking about how LONG it would take to do all of them, but I managed, just barely, to have them done before the party.

We weren't sure how he was going to handle all the attention at his party. He goes to great lengths to avoid being the center of attention. He was VERY embarrassed to have to open his gifts, but he was polite, he said, "Thank you," very quietly, in a sort of monotone, after each one.

He was happy about his party, though. Afterward, he said he had a good time. I still can't be believe he's three!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Steffen is Walking!!

Well, Steffen has finally started walking! He's 13 months old. He started taking steps 2 weeks ago, but has been a little (a LOT) resistant to giving up crawling. This week he's been doing a lot more walking. He's not a toddler yet- he's more of a wobbler. He thinks he's hot stuff when he walks, an opinion that is validated by his siblings who cheer him on.

Megan the Gymnast

Megan loves gymnastics. She's on the Level 2 Girls' Team and has started competing this season. This is a video of her most recent meet a few weeks ago. She did really well!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Has it been that long??

Wow, July was my last post!! Where did August and September go? For that matter, where is October going?

We have been busy, busy, busy! We started school early in August and our days have been a blur of homeschooling, classes, Classical Conversations (CC), gymnastics, church, AWANA, laundry, cleaning (not nearly enough of that), and other things. Good thing God gave us the Sabbath! We are certainly "laboring and doing all" of our work the other six days.

School is going well. We had some bumps at the beginning of the year. I had decided to try some new things that didn't work well for our family. When you have six kiddos under age 9, not every program is going to be a good fit. We're pretty much back on track now, although I did sign the kids up for WAY too many classes this semester. They're loving them, but the expense and busy-ness is just too much. Next semester I will be wiser. For now, we're starting to "get in the groove," so to speak. I've tinkered with our schedule and even our curriculum, and I think we've found a happy balance between educational excellence and, well, real life.

I'm tutoring CC (5th and 6th graders) on Tuesday morning while all my little people are in their respective CC classes. We really do enjoy the Foundations portion of CC. All the classes cover the same material, so we work on it together throughout the week. Everyone from Nathan down to Justin. Carsten joins in too. He's very insistent about doing everything the big kids do.

I'm also teaching Latin on Friday afternoons. That's been fun and it's kept us on track with our Latin studies here at home. We're using the Latin for Children curriculum. I highly recommend it. It comes with a DVD that you can either use to teach the children directly, or (as I do) use as a how-to-teach aid. Anyway, it motivates the kids when they're learning together.

Bryan and I have taken the position of AWANA commanders this year. That's been a big commitment, but we've found it very rewarding. There's such a great group of people that we're blessed to work with, and they make it enjoyable. There are just about 80 kids signed up. AWANA is a good, biblically sound program, and I know the kids are going to benefit from learning God's word. He promises His word won't return to Him void, and that's a promise that we hang on to when we're with the kids on Sunday nights.

Now, on to more important things: Steffen turned one! My little tiny baby man is already a year old! I can't believe it. He is just so cute and has such a big personality already. He loves to do motions to songs and he can already say a few baby words. He took five steps last night, but he's been refusing to demonstrate for his siblings today. They are so anxious to see- I think he's teasing them. He gets into everything. No cabinet is safe with him around.

I know you'll want a picture of our grown-up little baby, so here you are! We combined his birthday with our Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) party. Such is the life of a sixth baby.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Oatmeal Pancakes

Okay, I mentioned Oatmeal Pancakes awhile back. Here's the recipe:

Mix together and set aside for 30-45 minutes:
4 c. old-fashioned oats
3 3/4 c. soy or almond milk
1/4 c. lemon juice

Mix together and add:
1/4 c. sugar (optional)
1 c. flour (I use spelt or whole wheat)
1 T. baking powder
1 t. salt

Then add:
2 T. extra light olive oil (optional)
1/4 c. milled flax seed, whisked together with hot water to make 1 c.

Spray a griddle with nonstick spray. Ladle batter by 1/2 cupfuls. (They expand quite a bit.) Flip when the bubbles begin to pop, and then cook several more minutes.

These are very popular around our house. I usually double the recipe and freeze the extras for Bryan to take to work as "breakfast sandwiches" with almond butter and jelly.

A Goodbye

Well, the past month has been a tough one for our household. We're finally getting to the point where we can take a breath, and we hope to get back to normal soon.

We said goodbye to Bryan's dad, Othell, on June 21st. He had battled prostate cancer for the past ten years, and he passed away at the age of 79. He will be missed.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Funny Carsten

This is a blast from the (recent) past. A couple of months ago, when Carsten had transitioned to a big boy bed, he and Justin were partying until late in the night. As a result, Carsten was having a hard time making it through lunch to naptime. He kept falling asleep. On this occasion, we had the camera handy.

Oh, and if you're wondering about his hair, this was during his Vaseline stage. He found jars of Vaseline and gel that I didn't even know we had...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What Do You Eat??

Over the past year, our family has made a change in our diet. We had been cutting way back on meat intake for a while, and then we cut back on dairy. This past year, we've moved to a primarily vegan diet. We try to stick with 90% vegan foods, with a lot of veggies, fruits, nuts, whole grains and beans.

The "90% vegan", practically speaking, means that we eat vegan at home with exceptions at restaurants and celebrations like birthdays. I stick with it the most strictly. My exceptions are pretty much confined to our monthly trips to our favorite Indian restaurant. I choose only vegetarian items, but I know they probably have ghee- clarified butter- in them. I've been doing this long enough that I've really lost the taste for meat and dairy. Daddy "celebrates" more than the rest of us. ;-) His diet, though, really is much better than it was before.

Anyway, I thought I'd just post what we eat for about a week, just for fun. People seem to be curious as to what you eat if you don't eat meat. Here goes:

Saturdays are our feast days. We're busy during the week, so our meals are simple then. I try to do something special to welcome the Sabbath on Friday night, and then we all like a big breakfast/brunch on Saturday morning. The kids, on this day, got up and ate apples and had a glass of almond milk. I guess this was their first "snack" of the day.
Breakfast: Oatmeal Pancakes with Orange Syrup, fresh raspberries, and orange juice. I'll post the recipe for the Pancakes. We love them, and I use the leftovers to make almond butter and jelly sandwiches for Bryan to eat for his weekday breakfasts. (He eats in the car on the way to work, so it has to be portable.)
Lunch: Breakfast was late, so there's not really much "lunch" to speak of. Just my homemade whole wheat challah with carrot sticks as a snack.
Dinner: Spaghetti (Bryan's absolute favorite), homemade whole wheat French bread, steamed broccoli, and a big salad with olives and cherry tomatoes. We had almond cookies for dessert.

Breakfast: We need to be quick in order to get to church at 8:30, so I made QUICK bread. Orange Quick Bread. Even though I made it with spelt and cut the sugar in half, it's still kind of a treat. I opted for muesli, but then ended up sneaking the last piece of Orange Bread when I got home from church. Justin wasn't happy about that. I guess he was planning on doing the same thing, but I beat him to it.
Lunch: Lentil Nut Mini Loaves, Baked Potatoes with Chives, Steamed Kale, and Fresh Cherries for dessert.
Dinner: I decided we just HAD to run some errands, so we found ourselves out around dinner time. Poor planning on my part. The kids had had Lara Bars in the car earlier, but they were HUNGRY. Anyway, we went to a Souper Salad, and got big salads and vegetarian soup with fresh melon for dessert. We made (mostly) vegan selections. I think a couple of the kids got ranch dressing, and I can't vouch for the cornbread. As a sidenote: It was a perfect opportunity to see that here in America, one can make himself a full "salad" without touching a single vegetable.

Breakfast: Steel Cut Oatmeal with Almond or Soy Milk. The kids have theirs with a touch of molasses and cinnamon. (My Opa from Tennessee gets us the best molasses.) I have mine just with cinnamon. Later, we had apples for snack.
Lunch: Stir-"Fried" (really steamed) Veggies and Rice, Steamed Bok Choy, and Kiwi for dessert. The kids had Bananas with Almond Butter for snack before gymnastics.
Dinner: Almond Butter and Jelly Sandwiches for the kiddos, Big Salads for everybody. Mango Smoothies for dessert (mmm, yummy!) (Bryan eats a late snack at work, and then usually has our "lunch" for dinner when he gets home. He gets home late, so that works out better during the week.)

Breakfast: Fruit Salad (with lots of yummy fresh and frozen fruit) topped with milled flax seed and Almond Cream Sauce (made with almonds, dates, and water).
Lunch: Leftovers!! The kids had spaghetti and I had stir fry. We had had baked tortilla chips (just baked corn tortillas) and black bean dip (black beans and salsa whirled together in the food processor) as a snack earlier. We had been raking mulch all morning and we needed some fortification!
Dinner: Pecans and raisins for afternoon snack, then Big Salads and Vegetable Soup for dinner. My friend Kristi gave me the idea to have salad stuff (lots of variety) in the fridge just to pull out whenever. Then everyone assembles their own salads. It's fun for the kids and really healthy too. I also fixed the kids smoothies. These are a good way to get them to down some things they might not otherwise eat. (In this case, I was trying to get a certain avocado-hater to consume some heart-healthy fat. Shhh...)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Why you should NOT buy dyed mulch

Well, here it is! The mulch that marks the beginning of our yardwork. We are finally starting to get some things done on the outside of the house. Our first step was to mulch in the large (100x50) circle in the driveway. The kids were excited about spreading it, and I'm happy to have their help, but...

The mulch is dyed black, and this was the result.

Justin says he's like the "Epicomian" (Ethiopian) in Kipling's Just So Stories. Let's just hope it's non-toxic...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Okay, I REALLY hate snakes. This one was slithering across the driveway when Nathan and I were taking the trash cans up to the road. Then, he got up in a tree. (Nathan wants to know how I know it's a "he.") Our good-for-nothing cats were calmly munching their dry food all the way back at the house. He (or she) was about 3 feet long.

My skin is still crawling.

(Click on the picture to enlarge it.)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mommy, you have to put this on your blog!

"Mommy, you have to put this on your blog!" That's what Nathan said as he marched triumphantly away from his gymnastics fun meet, proudly waving his certificate with six blue ribbons on it.

The fun meet is an annual event for the gymnasts who aren't on the teams to show off their skills. The older (non-preschool) kids get scored based on their performance, and then get a corresponding colored ribbon. Blue is the best, and Nathan got all blues! He was so excited.

We had a great evening. Evan and Justin participated with the preschool club, and they were adorable. (Carsten is too young, and Megan is on the Level 1 team, so she will have her first competition sometime in late summer.) All the younger kids got medals. Justin told me before the meet that he was going to get gold, "because silver is just a loser!" Not sure where he heard that. Maybe he's going to be competitive.

At any rate, a picture is worth a thousand words, and a VIDEO, well, that's hard to calculate. Hope you enjoy the latest thing we're trying out on the blog- Live Action!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Hello Again!

Well, the long silence following my last post makes it seem as if I've been buried under a great mound of laundry. Almost true, but not entirely, I promise!

(I am currently typing with one hand while nursing baby Steffen- every capital is a sacrifice.)

So here is what has been going on around here in short form:
Feb. 27th- Megan turned 7!
March 15th- Justin turned 4!
March 29th- our home Passover Seder with just one other family- a really fun evening
March 30th- church Seder with over 200 people!

We also wrapped up Classical Conversations for the year, took a trip to the symphony (Evan recognized the French horn and identified when the different instruments were coming in- yeah CC!), and the two older kids went with some friends to Enchanted Rock. Then, of course, there was gymnastics and school and church (Our Awana program just finished for the year) and all those other things. And I forgot to mention the Keepers at Home mother-daughter sleepover and the Contenders for the Faith father-son fun night.

I'm not just behind on laundry and blogging- Steffen is 3 months behind on his check-ups (he looks healthy to me, and I've seen lots of babies) and I've realized that I really need to schedule next year's school (I placed the curriculum order today.)

I do plan on getting a few pictures up soon, so don't give up on checking in entirely! ;-) And look for an update on the laundry soon- I think we may be coming up with a solution!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Since it is ever so much more fun to blog about laundry than to actually do it...

Our laundry is endless. This is, in fact, a true statement, because at any given moment, clothes are either in the washer, dryer, hamper, or on bodies just waiting to be put in the washer, dryer or hamper. Usually, there are clothes in all four places. Truthfully, the hampers are winning the "most clothes" contest.

Now, not all of these clothes in the hamper are dirty. Many are washed and just waiting, very patiently, to be folded. Herein lies the problem. Clothes are patient. They just wait, quietly, without any fanfare until someone needs them. They know that they are needed, so they don't make a fuss. Because of this, they get overlooked. Now, if clothes whined and demanded attention, they'd be folded and put away promptly.

Back many, many long ages ago, when I only had 2 children, I ran across a message board devoted to large families. One of the questions posed was this: What do you do if you haven't sorted socks in awhile? Isn't that silly? What kind of a question is that? You just sort them and put them in the drawers by the neatly folded underwear and PJs. Now, though, I know. I know all about that question. And I have the answer: Let them sit in a basket and everyone can just grab two of the same (relatively same) color.

Of course, this isn't a REAL answer, but it is the current "system" in place at our house. It doesn't stay like that, I assure you. It goes in cycles. I get them sorted and folded and put away. (I have long since given up on putting socks in drawers- they go in a bin by the shoes and all the kids guess at which ones fit.) Then, more socks appear out of nowhere and invade the laundry room once again. Now, before you get judgmental, please remember that our family can go through 98 socks in a week. (You can check my math!) And that doesn't include the kids taking off their socks and losing them somewhere in the house, thus necessitating the wearing of a new pair.

Well, that's plenty of blogging about laundry. Now, I must go and fold 8- yes 8- loads of laundry.

And I still won't have finished it all...

Nathan's Birthday

Nathan is 8! And for the second year in a row, his birthday party had to be delayed due to sickness. (We were all down with bad colds.) But we had a fun time the next week. He wanted a chess theme, so that's what we did. Those are chocolate and white chocolate chess pieces on the cake (made with a candy mold.) Almost all of his friends were able to come, and they all played and played. They were having so much fun that we didn't even interrupt them to play the "planned party game." It couldn't have been as exciting as running around outside and playing tag in the dark. We did give them glow-in-the-dark necklaces so that we wouldn't lose them.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Happy New Year!

We've been down with bad colds the last couple of weeks, so this is a little tardy, but...
Happy New Year!
We had the pleasure of having my aunt and uncle and their 3 kids, as well as my mom and dad and my 3 siblings come over for New Year's Eve. It was great fun. We ate very unhealthy food and engaged in dangerous pyro-maniac behavior- all the things that make New Year's Eve what it should be.

Daddy and Bryan got lots of good pictures...

Steffen got to know his Tante Marina.

Opa got attacked by his boys.

The girls sprayed their hair bright pink for the occasion.

Samuel and David treated us to a fireworks display. We let them (with a little supervision- or was it encouragement?- from Bryan) handle all the dangerous stuff while we shivered under comforters. It was about 34 degrees and very windy.

Steffen kept warm, though.

And Carsten kept the fire going.

We came inside and rang in the New Year. There were all sorts of noisy and mess-making bright colored things. And we sang Auld Lang Syne, with "da-da-dums" where the some of the words should have been.

(Yes, it took about two hours to clean everything up the next day. I thought about using a shovel and hose...)
The cousins had a good time seeing each other again.

And, although the adults aren't as cute as the kids, I'll stick some pictures in here just for Mutti, who always complains that we're never in the pictures:

Finally, this shot of Justin, with his crooked hat, dirty face, and full glass, just seems to epitomize the end of a very fun New Year's Eve.