Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I know, I know

I haven't posted in a week or something. I have plenty on my mind, but nothing interesting to say.

Yesterday morning began with all the fire alarms in our house screaming at 6:46 a.m. Actually it wasn't all of them. We live in an old house in a "transitional" neighborhood. That means we needed to buy an alarm system. So we have a number (means I don't know what the number is) of smoke detectors in our house that are hard wired to the alarm system. If those are activated, they will call the fire department automatically. Those were not going off.

We also have several (I think 13 or so) that are just your basic, ordinary, run-of-the-mill smoke alarms, except that they are linked somehow. If any of the thirteen smells smoke (or breaks or malfunctions or has a dead battery or a piece of fuzz in it), they will all go off. This is a great idea, in a house as big as ours, if there were actually a fire.

There wasn't. But these are the ones going off. Lots of them. Screaming. Did I mention it was 6:46 A. M. in the morning? It was not time for the entire clan to be awake. And yet.

There. We. Were.

All. Of. Us.

It really wasn't a bad day, considering how it started.

The hard thing about this week is that it really isn't anything special. We returned from our Thanksgiving journey to the Grandmas' houses. We are trying to get through the laundry disaster that we inflicted on ourselves. But that's not our real problem.

Our real problem is that we are in The Holiday Mood. We feel like celebrating. We have eaten several turkeys and pies worth of food. We shirked responsibility for a full week, really. And it felt great. Now we know Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat. There are presents being purchased, secrets being kept. We haven't decorated yet (and I'm not sure we should, considering the toddlers - today we've cleaned up 2 dog food messes, a pile of rice, and several decks of scattered cards), but others have, and we can see the lights and garland everywhere we go.

The last thing we feel like doing (and I mean me, mostly) is buckling down, putting on our big girl panties, and getting crap done. Today is Wednesday, and we've almost made it to another weekend, which will further disrupt our already fragile ecosystem of labor and reward.

I don't know if I, personally, have the will power to pull us out of the holiday tail spin. And Thanksgiving was early this year. IT'S NOT EVEN DECEMBER YET!

So. Here's hoping I pull my head out of my butt and get my proverbial act together sometime soon, or we will definitely be doing school all the way to August.

Um, Merry Christmas, everybody.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Before I say anything else, I have to just directly link you to THE place that anyone wanting any help or information about the hair of humans who probably have ancestors from somewhere in Africa, which is: It is a blog by a white mom of a gorgeous black daughter. She is to trans-racial adoptive hair care what Michelle Duggar is to big family motherhood. She has her act together. So there is the blog about that.

Here, however, is a humbler source of thoughts and information. Really, it's a confession of sorts, with the potential of some testimonies of lessons learned along the way. And the way, by the way, is a pretty short way, at this point. She has been my daughter for over two years now, but hair-wise, has only needed something special for more like a year or less.

That's not to say her hair didn't need more than what I was giving it, but the truth is that baby hair is pretty forgiving. Older hair, curly, especially of the African Ancestry variety, needs more specific T.L.C. than I really was prepared to give.

So, Sopie, which is what we call her sometimes, short for sopapilla, has now and for a while now has had hair that needs some important love.

And here is what it needs.

1. Not shampoo. Shampoo takes all the oil and flex and life out of it, makes it crunchy and hard impossible to detangle. It doesn't matter what kind of shampoo. Even shampoo that looks for all the world like something that ought be used on her hair with pictures of people who look like her and words like olive oil and moisture should still not be used.

2. To be in a protective but not painful style, braids or whatever will stay in and keep her hair from needing detangled every day.

3. To be detangled. Which requires . . .

4. Lots of some kind of really good for it conditioner, without alcohol, like Kiss My Face conditioner or the stuff they sell at Trader Joe's.

5. Oil, reapplied almost daily.

6. To be cleaned sometimes (like once a month or after every meal) with super watered down apple cider vinegar. The easiest, quickest, most obnoxious and frightening way to do this is to fill a bathroom sink with warm water and add 1/4th cup or so of the vinegar and give the child an upside down head dip/aka, a swirlie.

7. I think there is another something I am not doing right, but did I mention I am just learning?

The tricky thing about all this is that not everyone does it the same. From my admittedly limited European ancestry perspective, some people of apparent African ancestry seem to not love their hair, and treat it with less love but apparently more care, if that makes sense. I want Sopie's hair to be styled so it is protected (healthy) and requires less daily maintenance. The less daily maintenance, in addition to the fact that I don't have time to do it, is mostly because I don't want her to hate her hair or her ancestry. I want her to love the hair God gave her. So, at 2 years of age, I don't want her to a) have her hair roughly styled by lovely, well meaning strangers who are trying to make it look awesome b) have to sit any longer than necessary, left out of all the sibling action.

So, we are doing 6 - 10 divisions with less than perfect parts and not super tight, braided and just twisted around my finger at the end, no rubber bands anywhere. It is unbelievable to me that it stays that way without holders. I remember being envious of little girls with that kind of hair when I was in grade school.

This hair style isn't going to win me any awards for most stylish kid. But that is consistent with the way I parent all my kids. I am not trying to make my kids the best dressed/best looking kids on the block. I just want them to look like they have parents. To be modest. To be warm enough or cold enough, preferably. To be, um, un-hole-ey. We mostly don't wear hand-me-downs shirts of activities we haven't actually participated in, schools we have not attended, sports we don't play, places we haven't gone, or vacations we haven't been on.

I try to have my kids look just good enough for people to not look at them and say, "well, you can sure tell they're from a big family." That's another blog, don't remember what it was called. But my adopted daughter is my daughter. She will not be dressed or styled to the nines with the rest of my gang looking healthy, loved, and a little scruffy. They're all mine. God didn't give her to me so I could keep her looking perfect. I'm s'posed to love her. And I do.

And part of my loving her is helping her love herself. And her hair. When she is old enough to say, mom I'd really like to sacrifice my entire Saturday and do 'this' to my hair, I'll do it, or have an older daughter do it. But for now, healthy and strong and at peace (relative peace) is my highest objective.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I have written a song. Goes like this:

Lower me down through the roof, forgive me of my sin
Stir the waters up again, I need someone to help me in
Spit in the dirt, put some clay in my eyes
Wash me in the muddy river seven times
I believe, help me believe
You are my Healer

If I can just touch Your face, I know I can be whole
I'm not dead, I'm asleep, come awaken my soul
Just touch me Lord, say the word, it is done
Just call me forth from the grave and I'll come
I believe, help me believe
You are my Healer

Lord I believe that
Your Word is true and
You are the same so
I trust in You

That I will live and will not die, I will live and will not die . . .
You are my Healer

There is nothing I am facing You don't have dominion over
There's no weapon formed against me, and no enemy can prosper
Jesus, Name above all names, from forever to forever
I am trusting in Your Word, words that You have spoken over me

Healing is a tricky, hard, divisive thing. Because, on the one hand, we really believe that God can and does heal. It is in the Bible. I believe the Bible. Not sure what the point is in being a Christian if you don't believe the Bible.

But the Bible says all sorts of things about healing, lots of them having to do with faith. And faith is a hard thing to quantify and understand, and sometimes the stuff I've heard people teach about faith makes me feel like I'm playing some sort of mental posturing game. On the one hand, I absolutely believe that He can . . . anything. On the other hand, I don't necessarily believe that He will because He doesn't always. Sometimes He does. Sometimes He doesn't.

So then there's kind of a question of what happened when He didn't. Was it not in the plan? Did He have something else in mind? Or did we not pray or fast or believe enough? Did we flunk?

There are mostly examples in the Bible of when He did. There are no stories of a guy coming up and saying, hey, if you feel like it, could you maybe heal me? And Jesus saying, sorry, man, you don't have enough faith.

There is the thing about how He couldn't or didn't do many miracles in his hometown. And Paul had that thorn thing. And Jacob's thigh got messed up when he wrestled with God and was never right again. But most of the stories are success stories.

And in many of them, He says something like, your faith has healed you. So faith/healing preachers quote that and tell lots of stories about people who were healed in order to build up the faith in the room before they pray for healing. The Centurian who said, you don't have to come, just say the word. The hemorrhaging chick who touches his cloak in the crowd. The Gentile mother who let Him call her a dog, and said, fine, just give us the crumbs that fell off the table. The blind man screaming out, "Son of David, have mercy."

But there are lots of stories where the person didn't have all that much faith. They guy whose friends lowered him through the roof, I guess his friends had the faith that time. The man who couldn't get to the water in time (and did anyone else notice that Jesus didn't seem to heal everybody that was hanging out there, just him) who wasn't even sure he wanted to be healed. The dude whose body they threw on Elisha's grave and he came back to life. The funeral procession Jesus stopped for the widow's only child.

He had compassion, it says.

And all those questions and uncertainties are just unresolved stuff, until someone you love or someone you know or know of that you really want to live is really sick, and needs to be healed or they're going to die. And then it's personal. God, now would be a really good time for You to heal.

And I'm praying and saying, You healed people who hardly knew Who You were, people Who didn't even believe in You. How much more, for those who seek Your face night and day, who love You with their whole lives? How much more then, God?

And as you pray and fast and worship and pray and believe and pray, there is this nagging question in the back of your mind that you don't acknowledge because that would be not-faith, and you don't want to jinx the thing, but it's there, that says, what if He doesn't? What if we are at a funeral and you've written this song and it doesn't happen? Is He still good then? What if He can help but doesn't? What do you think about a God Who lets bad stuff happen to people He loves? He is all powerful. He can stop bad stuff from happening. You know He can and sometimes He does, so what do you do with Him if He doesn't?

Some people just decide that He mostly doesn't do that anymore. They frame whole theologies about it. We call them Cessationists. (not sure about that spelling) God is done talking, done working miracles, done healing. All that stuff ended with the apostles.

Some people believe He still can and does, but since it is so risky, whether He will or not, they just don't ask. If I don't ask Him for it, I won't be disappointed if He doesn't do it.

But He is the same God. He still has compassion. The rules have not changed. He has not changed. He still has sent us to preach, baptize, cast out demons and heal the sick. It's one of the last things He said. The apostles were people just like us. Heck, they walked and talked with Him and ate fish He'd cooked. We're doing the whole thing on faith.

I am certain He does and can and will. But what if He doesn't?

Remember Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael? You may better know them as Shadrach, Mishach and Abednego. Rack, Shack, and Benny. They said something to Nebby K that is one of my favorite bits in the Bible. They said, "Our God is able to save us, but even if He doesn't, we're not going to bow."

Our God can, but even if He doesn't.

The other morning I was praying with friends, fellow comrades at arms, really. And I was wrestling with that thing, and had Rack, Shack and Benny in mind, and I had a revelation. Not just a head revelation. A whole body, mind and spirit revelation. He is Good and He is God no matter what. And it seemed to me, in a way I was honestly a little embarrassed of, that whether He healed or not didn't matter. His goodness was so huge and pervasive and I felt so very certain that whatever He did was just right and I was the opposite of afraid.

I am pressing in. I am believing. I am fasting and singing the song, my friend will live and will not die, she will live and will not die, she will live and will not die, she will live and will not die. And I am confident in the superlative that He is good in a way that is above and beyond all that I can ask or think.

Praise Jesus.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Supermom Fitness Update

Some of you probably want to know this, and I would imagine many couldn't care less. Sorry to the latter group.

I am doing well. I weigh 192.5 lbs. That is the least I've weighed in almost 16 years, and maybe more than that. When I began my 2nd pregnancy I either weighed 189 or 198, and I can't remember. Either way, I'm closing in on the record.

I think we didn't have a scale when we first got married. Bad idea. I know what I weighed when we got married. And that's the last I know.

So here is what I'm doing right now:

I'm exercising every day. The least I do is go up and down my stairs for 10 minutes. But mostly it's treadmill. I have up-ended my daily schedule - group school is after lunch and, if there are at least 2 babies still asleep when that is over, I get on the treadmill. Otherwise I do it after kids go to bed. (also, I'm alternating group school, a double lesson for one group one day, the other group the other day, and the fun book (last book on Sonlight read-aloud) we are reading at bedtime to make up lost ground)

I am eating only meats, veggies, low carb stuff with these exceptions: a steamer (milk and sugar free flavored creamer), Trader Joe's sprouted wheat and simply lite chocolate, for which I have to earn a cup or slice or 2 squares by drinking 2 quarts of water, and peanut butter which I have to earn with one quart per tbsp.

That's about it. Learning self control.

I'm doing that till Thanksgiving. For the holiday I'll have more healthy carbs, sweet potato pie with pecan crust, no sugar, stuff like that. Then will go back to the plan till Christmas, party again, and re-assess.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Laundry Pure update

It has been nearly 3 months that I have been using the laundry pure thing, and I just wanted to report on it. I am still skeptical. I am still in disbelief. I still don't understand how my clothes are getting clean. I keep smelling things after washing them with no soap or hot water or bleach, keep checking, and they still are getting clean. It is an amazing thing, and honestly, it seems too good to be true. I am afraid to trust it. But it is true. My clothes and other stuff are getting clean, load after load, without soap or hot water. I'm not making this up.

If you are thinking about doing it, if you are an earth day, every day kind of person, if you want to save money in the long run, if you have people in your world who have the kind of sensitive skin that makes soaps a problem, if you want your stuff, especially cloth diapers, to last a whole lot longer - I recommend this thing.

I have only used it for 3ish months, but I probably do more laundry in 3 months than many families do in a year. And I am saying on record here that all my stuff is getting as clean or cleaner as it ever has with Tide with bleach. Bumgenius diapers, Fuzzibunz Mama Care products, stinky pits and stinky washclothes and towels - all of it.

I don't know why or how, but I have not bought or used any soap in 3 months and all our stuff just really is clean. No hot water. Sometimes if we put too much in (and we do that because our main laundry guys are 8 and 9 - one fills it too full and one not full enough, go figure) we have to run it an extra time. Last week the too full guy ran a whole load of already clean and folded shirts. The washer was so full that some of the shirts were still folded. Didn't run that again because they were already clean, but you get the picture.

And over the weekend, I did laundry at a friend's house and twice almost forgot to put soap in!

I will let you know if I change my mind about this thing. But at this point I am quite mystified, but completely convinced.

Some of you asked, and there is an additional attachment that makes it work for hard water, I didn't find out about the other electrical attachments, and there are no more refurbs at this time.

What's the big deal about gay marriage?

Well, it is official. Our country is actually going to hell in a handbasket. We chose to elect a man who is not just pro-choice. He is just really pro-abortion. We chose, in more than one state, to legalize the use of marijuana. We elected the first openly gay senator. And we chose, in at least 2 states, to legally recognize gay marriages.

A good friend said, last night at dinner, we shouldn't be surprised, when we've been teaching this stuff in the schools for the last 30 years. And it is true. In fact, having been educated all 17 years in the public school system (Voddie Bauchem calls it the Government Indoctrination Center) I have a lot of mixed up worldview things I'm continuing to work through myself.

Like, what is the big deal about gay marriage? I mean, it is certainly not what I believe, but what harm is there in it? Those people are close to each other, what's the harm in them having the rights that married couples have, legal authority in medical situations, for example?

After all, homosexuality is a sin, but there are lots of sins. And yes, it is a sin against the body, but so are fornication and adultery. Why single them out? What is the big deal about gay marriage?

Here is the deal, and I'm afraid it is big. I have sin issues in my life, sins I struggle with regularly. So do you, I suspect. Except You, Jesus. (He reads my blog, you know. He's not an official follower, but He keeps up.)

And I probably have sin issues that I don't fully realize are sins. It's called deception. I've certainly been there before if I'm not now. Like forgiveness, I can be walking in unforgiveness for quite some time before the Holy Spirit brings it to my attention.

The difference I see with homosexuality is that many (not all) who are either in a same sex relationship or wish they were, adamantly insist that it is not a sin. Like I said, that's deception. Jesus loves them enough to let them know, and they will either repent, or rebel against Him. That is between them and Him. My job is not to condemn them. The Bible and their consciences do that. My job is to love them and bless them and pray for them.

But for our government (or some of our churches or denominations, for that matter) to officially recognize homosexual union, is for them to say it is not a sin. We are officially pardoning them, agreeing with them that it is normal and right and fine. We are officially, as a nation, or at least as states in the nation, making our law against God's law.

I am not sure that marijuana is any worse for you than alcohol or cigarettes. None of them are all that beneficial, I think. But I guess, within reason, none of them are sinful in and of themselves. An addiction to them is, but I would argue that Jesus doesn't want us to be addicted to anything but Him, and many are addicted to video games or soap operas or chocolate. We don't, wouldn't legislate against something that some people are addicted to.

But we are making legal and officially recognizing as normal and right and good, we are institutionalizing and sponsoring, something that God calls an abomination. And that is a really big deal. Not the biggest deal to me. Calling the deliberate execution of an unborn human a legal right is probably a bigger deal. Telling Israel to shove off and wait for the bomb to hit is a pretty big deal. Digging ourselves to China in deficit spending is a pretty big deal too. Even if you like what we're spending the money on, and I don't mostly, you can't spend money you don't have, and we're doing more of that right now than ever.

So, if you are reading this, and you are a person who identifies yourself as a homosexual or leans that way - I'm not condemning you. The Bible does, but it condemns me too - you're in good company. It condemns all of us. But at the same time, it offers a way out. And not like, "stop sinning and then Jesus will save you". More like, "come as you are, no sin is too big or too hard, you are forgiven, and whatever else you bring Me, I can help you with it."

I need mercy from Jesus, and I'm glad to extend it to you. And I am sorry that so many of us Christians have failed to communicate the love and mercy and compassion of Jesus to you. We are wrong to do that. I hope you can forgive us and receive Jesus forgiveness. When we did that to you, that wasn't Him.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


My husband and I just voted.

We stood in line for a half an hour.

We were the only white people we saw.

I was intrigued to learn recently that some people, people I respect and think highly of, actually have convictions about not voting. They have reasons they believe are Biblical to not vote. Fascinating.

I am also aware that there are many who would rather vote for a 3rd party candidate than for someone who has a real potential to win that they don't completely agree with.

This election is difficult for a couple reasons.

Romney is a Mormon. That is different from being a Christian with slightly different theology. I think he's a moral guy who is deceived. Not my favorite.

Romney is recently a governor of a pretty liberal state. So it is hard to know exactly where he stands on some things.

On the other hand, I think I have a pretty good handle on where Obama stands, which is different from where I stand on a few significant (to me) points.

Our friendship with Israel has weakened during Obama's presidency.

Abortion rights (not just the continuation of Roe vs Wade) legislation and funding are a big deal, and he is extremely on the side of making abortion easy and accessible to anybody, including minors and especially minorities, no parental consent necessary, no waiting period, no real concern for women's health, no research and care about women's bodies and spirits post-abortion, at any time during a pregnancy. Even if we can't overturn Roevwade, and I'm not sure we can't, there is much that could be done to decrease the number of abortions that happen, and Obama is not interested in that.

And, in general, Obama has been a big grow-the-government, government as the answer to the problems, kind of guy. Bigger government, bigger debt.

Is Romney a guarantee on these issues? Not necessarily. But I think he can win, and I think he will be a lot better. I know that's pragmatic. I like the idea of having a man with African ancestry in the white house. But not at this cost.

I think that's the best I can do with the vote I have, and what I feel responsible about before God.

Friday, November 02, 2012

How you do it, travel

I haven't done one of these for a while. People frequently say something like this to me: I don't know how you do it. My answer is usually, I don't do it very well. But I thought it might be fun (or not) to give specific examples of how I don't do it very well to make everyone else feel better when they realize they're doing it way better than me. Or I can relieve your guilt. Or maybe it is even possible you could learn from and improve on what I do.

So, travel.

I am writing this from lovely Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, where I and a friend brought my 13 and her 2 children (2 vans) and my dog to visit another friend and her 5 kids (and sheep and goats and chickens and the new hamster they purchased for my 3rd daughter's birthday - hey, at least it's not mice ). That's 3 moms and 20 children. Hollar back.

We packed the bare minimum. Clothes to wear and clothes to wash, jammies if you like. Most of the kids have a back pack with their stuff, a couple boys shared a bag, and I have a bag for the 4 smallest and diapers and wipes.

We made 2 stops on the way here, one at (gasp!) McDonald's for fries and sandwiches. They frankly couldn't pay me to take and distribute soda ('pop' for you Indiana people) throughout my van, what a nightmare. We also brought a case of bottled water, pretzel rods, apples and granola bars (the kind without chocolate). The bottled waters are distributed in a very stingy fashion, not because I'm penny pinching on the agua, but because I don't want them to have to pee. The other stop for for gas and potty and some decaf coffee, because there is enough caffeine in decaf to keep me awake while driving.

I nursed the baby at both stops, but had eldest daughter drive between the two stops so I could care for the small people.

Here at my friend's house, the large children are camped out in her basement, the middle children are sleeping in her middle children's room, and the babies are with me. That way, when they wake up early in the morning or the middle of the night, I am there for them, and can, hopefully, keep them from waking the entire household.

I'm totally burning the candle at both ends, because we three moms are waiting for the moment when all 20 of them are chilled out and we can have a good heart to heart, staying up till 1 a.m., but my babies were up a little after 6. And of course, anytime the littlest squawked, I grabbed him and nursed him, so he wouldn't wake up the other ones.

Being at my friend's is a little crazy, because I think I can help with meal prep and clean up and serving and all, but really all I can do is herd the cats (small children) and nurse, and I can barely do that. And everything we do or don't do is about scale. So my friend with 5 wants to go for a walk, friend with 2 agrees, I say, "I'll see you when you get back."

But I want to be the kind of active, healthy mom that goes for walks, so I work up a small amount of tornadic activity, barking orders to any helpless big kids that happen to come near enough to my tractor beam to get sucked in, trying to get coats and shoes (or at least socks for the kid whose shoes are probably back on the counter in my kitchen) on all the humans. We fill a double stroller, a wagon and a ergo, which I really just use as a cover up because I'm nursing while walking, and walking the dog while nursing and walking.

I run a load of laundry at night so that the kid who pooped in her pants and the kids who got honey all over the front of their coats (who serves tea outside?) and the kid whose diaper didn't get changed in time all have something to wear the next time they mess up their stuff. I did not bring cloth diapers, and I'm glad.

I try to contribute, but feel like something of a leech and a burden, so I'll give some money to my host, because I know what it costs to feed a small army. I am also feeling bad about all the games we have ruined forever by losing pieces, but books the babies tore the covers off of, and the new carpet and furniture they might be looking for after allowing us to visit.

But this is a house that loves children and a family that loves us, and a friend that loves me. I am blessed to have friends that are such a blessing, and a safe place for my children to chase chickens and play games and be themselves. Sometimes we do venture out to places like the beach, or other cool Wisconsinish things to do, but only after counting the cost, not only of getting in, but also feeding people while there, and the vast amount of resources consumed just in the getting there and getting home involved.

The truth of the matter is, we don't do as much as we did when there were less of us. We try to say yes when we can, and we are trying to be the family that our kids want to be in, but we also say no a lot because we can't do everything.

We have a 15 passenger van that we fill when Daddy is with us. If we expand (meaning have even more children, and we hope we do), I think we would just take 2 cars, rather than pay all year for a bigger vehicle that we would really only need for long trips, a few times a year.

That's all that comes to mind. Questions?