"When we had our children, our ideas changed somewhat. Thenceforward we lived only for them; they made all our happiness and we would never have found it save in them. In fact, nothing any longer cost us anything; the world was no longer a burden to us. As for me, my children were my great compensation, so that I wished to have many in order to bring them up for Heaven" -- Saint Zelie Martin, mother of St. Therese of Lisieux, canonized October 18, 2015 along with her husband St. Louis Martin.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Fast October Update

1)  Meet Harry!

Bilbo fell in love with this little guy and came home from the pet shop determined to earn money for him.  I wasn't inclined to follow through on the purchase, but my husband was up for it, so...
how I can I say no to a 9 year old boy who wants a turtle?!

(photo credit: Arwen)
 2) "Miracle of the Sun" cookies.  Of course I have to blog this, because I didn't make them (Bilbo and Galadriel did), but they turned out so cute!  The 13th was miserably dreary, so the fake sun made me very happy!

3) Sneak peek at my "purple wiseman" for a nativity co-op I joined!  I can't wait to see what the other wooden dolls will look like!  These get a coat of Mod Podge, they have faces, and I added a different sparkle to their turban (you can't really see it in this picture, but there is purple glitter on their robes).  I'll try to remember to get a picture when they're all finished!

4) Just because I want to document, Bilbo got chosen to be the Miter bearer for the Bishop's Mass at our parish's 100th Anniversary Mass.  So special!

5) We've got two birthdays this week, and the first one is today: my husband's!  He's sitting with my little girls at ballet right now, but cake is waiting for him when he gets home!

Arwen turns 16 this week!  I hope to have some fun pics to share soon!  

Have a good week!

Friday, October 6, 2017

15 Months

15 Months

6 teeth

23 pounds


It's funny, no one can ever imagine life without one of their children.  Each child is so unique that they are simply irreplaceable.  Not one of my other eight children is "Sam".  His looks, his personality, his scrumptious little self!

Why "Hello"!  Yes, I love you!

I caught Sam on the couch with his brothers watching football last weekend.  Sam really doesn't sit and watch TV, but I thought it was darling while it lasted.

And then, Eowyn.

Ok, Eowyn break.  Because she's my baby too--baby girl!

7QT: Fast Friday

(Linking up here)

I know, these are "quick takes".  I'm emphasizing "quick" today.


Pumpkin Farming

 It's that time of year again!  We returned to our family's traditional pumpkin farm.  It was a gorgeous sunny fall day and we beat the school kids to the picking this year, so Bilbo scored an enormous pumpkin!

This fun trip made me acknowledge that my hopes of growing our own pumpkins this year were a fail.  I mean, I never even bought seeds.  Then it was too late.  But, if I had grown them, we wouldn't have had this awesome field trip.  I would, however, have saved myself $6 on Bilbo's pumpkin (robbery!)  Next year!!!  


fuzzy friend

Favorite new play space: the waiting room at Speech Therapy (for Legolas)!


 I got this picture of my FIVE sons watching football.  Eowyn photobombed the "my boys" picture.  She's kindof owning it in her pink dress.  Princess among the throng.


I call this "happy and happier!"



(Ginormous mushroom found in our yard after a rainfall.)


Arwen's first sketch from art class.  Funny, I totally remember the kids who took art in my high school doing the exact same still life exercise.  Arwen isn't a huge fan of still life, but I thought she did a pretty nice job.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Acorns, Apples, and painted Rocks

I used to read about the Charlotte Mason method of education.  As a young homeschooling mother, I was enthralled with philosophies of education.

"Masterly inactivity"... a little phrase coined by Charlotte Mason encouraging the teacher to stand back and let the child take the lead, gently guiding or placing helpful materials in the path of these little minds at work.

I think I used to be very actively attentive to being inattentive...if I managed to be inattentive in my early years as a home educating mother.  I was so very eager to teach my children so carefully, so ambitiously!

With 9 children, the days of playdates and nature walks are pretty much over.  We might go on a hike as a family, but this isn't part of my "natural science" education!  You know, with 9 children, I might actually just be inattentive.  And...sometimes, I think there is something masterful going on.

Because my 7th, 8th, and 9th children are actually left to their own devices for nice long chunks of time.  (To be honest, I think it was my 4th child--11 year old Galadriel--who got out the paints for the rocks.)  I know I've posted about the fairy house creations before.  And sand cakes.  This fall Legolas and Eowyn discovered fallen apples from our neighbor's tree.

The artistic addition of flowers from a "Rose of Sharon" bush.

And somehow all of this inattention out of me allows my children to do things that draw my attention.  I marvel at their imaginations, and their sweet creative play.

It makes me happy and gives me great joy.

I feel like I should conclude this post with some profound insight into the philosophy of education.  I don't have one.  I just let my kids play outside, but somehow I think that Charlotte Mason would look on and say, "exactly".

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Tell-all Lice Post

It just seems like I should go ahead and share the fun adventure of what it was to have lice for the first time ever.

#1   We have neighbors who let us know that they had lice.  We did not allow our children to play with them after we found out, but we played for many hours this summer before they alerted us.  And by "we", I really just mean my little girls: Galadriel, Rosie, and Eowyn.  But Galadriel had been spending more hours with her nose in a book this summer, and Eowyn is only 3, so she sort of tagged along, but often just played apart from the older girls.  In other words, "we" means Rosie, my 7 year old.

I was feeling like the "mean mom" because everyone else in the neighborhood was letting their kids play with the family who had lice, but I was going to give it a two-week time period to "clear".  I was just waiting until the next weekend to let the kids play again...

Sunday morning, 8am, I grabbed a brush to throw Rosie's hair into a quick ponytail for Mass.  I SAW A LOUSE crawling along her scalp. I froze, then calmly announced to my husband "We have lice.  Rosie has lice."  I saw a pink-handled school room scissors on our sink counter (I still have no idea why it was there).  I grabbed it, told Galadriel to "Get a plastic garbage bag and the tea tree oil", and began to CUT Rosie's hair to the chin.  Within 30 seconds, she was bobbed.  When Galadriel arrived with the trash bag, I sealed all hair in it and sent it out of the house.

Then I turned the water on high and began to work the tea-tree oil into Rosie's hair and scalp (undiluted, which I will say now is not recommended as it is awfully strong and can cause reactions--Rosie did not get any bad reaction, but I did not know this at the time).  The oil seemed to instantly kill the lice on contact.  Maybe this is not true, but they sure fled the oil and by the time I worked around the neck and both ears and towards the front of the hair, I think I got every live louse, and they were falling, dead, onto my hands and the brush as I worked on Rosie's hair.  I rinsed everything off down the drain as I got any dead (or living) lice.

By 9am on Sunday morning, I could see nothing in Rosie's hair.

We went to a later Mass (my husband and kids had gone ahead to the 9am) with Rosie's new bob soaking in oil.  We smelled terribly, and we sat in the vestibule of the church.

Upon returning home, I bagged up every couch pillow, all of Rosie's stuffed animals, and anything else that I thought might have a lingering louse on it.

I stripped all of everyone's bedding and any stray laundry and began to wash everything in hot water.

I sent my husband with a list and he obtained a nit brush and new brushes for every female in the home.

I googled how to get rid of lice.

I soaked Galadriel's hair in olive oil (to suffocate anything living) and covered it with a plastic bag:

still cute!
After 8 hours, I washed, blow dried, and nit-combed (and picked) Rosie's hair.  I then soaked it in apple cider vinegar, put on a new plastic bag, and sent Rosie to bed.

Day 2:  shower, blow dry, nit comb/pick (for about an hour).  Washed all bedding again.
I did another olive oil treatment, I put tea tree oil around everyone in the family's ears and necks as a preventative, and I shaved some boys' hair (again, as a preventative).

At this point, I had learned that lice eggs hatch in 7-10 days, usually on day 8.  As I saw no living lice, I decided to do everything in my power to kill or remove every single egg before the 8 days were up and a new wave would hatch.

I called a professional carpet cleaner and had all of my (4) couches and area rugs and carpeting cleaned.  This was probably unnecessary, but very psychologically therapeutic, and honestly, it needed to be done anyway.

I nit-combed/picked for two hour or hour-and-a-half sessions for the first few days.  I'd find about 20-25 miniature (probably dead) nits each time.

Then we discovered the Cetaphil treatment!  We rubbed the cream onto the scalp, blow dried it, and went to bed.  In the morning we shampooed our hair and blow-dried again.  "We" because I did this to Rosie as well as all of the girls and myself, just as a preventative in case any of us had lingering eggs that I hadn't discovered.  (I know, I was a little excessive, but unwilling to risk spreading--remember that there are ELEVEN of us in this family!!)  After that I could no longer find any more nits.

not loving the salon (Eowyn)
Rosie (thickest hair ever!)

 As we neared the 8-day (hatch day) mark, I began to get very nervous.  We did new Cetaphil treatments, and I decided to go ahead and cut Eowyn's hair too.  It was long

and I figured that she was at higher risk if anyone else was going to break out with lice.  So, she's bobbed too, and cute!

Now we are two weeks out (plus a day) and lice free.  I never saw a live louse after 9am two Sunday's ago on Rosie.  

The first days were brutal in terms of the stress that came with dealing with the unknown--who is next? Did I get them all?  And I spent so many hours combing through Rosie's hair that I can't imagine if more of my children had needed such treatment.  But, it wasn't the worst thing to do all of the deep cleaning and laundry--let's face it, it feels great to have a clean home!

We still aren't seeing other people.  I think maybe the three-week mark will make everyone feel more like we're "all clear".  Or a month.  That part has also been a bummer.  Even if it's understandable.

Anyway, that's it! 

That's what I did.  God was merciful in keeping it limited to just Rosie.  I am so so thankful!! Lots of people were praying.

And let's just hope and pray that I never have to do that again!!!

PS: just good to know: dogs can't get human lice and humans can't get "dog lice" (which is also a thing)--because I am not sure WHAT I would have done with my fluffy 50-pound labradoodle!!

Friday, September 8, 2017

7QT : Friday!

1) We are at the Two-Week mark for being lice-free!  I am still  paranoid and scratching  not convinced that we are in the clear, but I am breathing sighs of relief.  Unfortunately, our neighbors just texted that they have it, so we'll still be playmate-less for another couple weeks.  Let me know if anyone wants the deets on how I (so far) managed to keep the lice from reappearing and from spreading to any of my other 8 children!  If you don't ask, I'll assume it's a topic we'd rather avoid discussing!

2)  Ballet lessons began and Eowyn has done nothing but dance this week.  Funny thing, it's Galadriel who began lessons.  Eowyn begins next week.

Galadriel is so excited that she was placed in the pre-pointe class, which she's a little young for age wise.  It's a half hour longer than the advanced beginning class, and she loves the challenge.

3)  Sporting new bobbed haircuts because of (see #1).  Cute though, right?

4)  I am officially not nursing Sam.  He is officially sleeping through the night in his own room.  While I have always nursed my children for at least a year, (except for Aragorn who got cut short by three weeks because I was starting my second trimester with Gimli), I REALLY struggle physically with nursing.  Think chronic mastitis, thrush, cracked and bleeding nipples... So, I do it for the nutrition and bonding, but it's a labor of love.  While I hate my babies to grow up so fast, I am not going to lie--I am not sorry to be done with the nursing.

Sam seems to be ok with it too!

5) Piano lessons began today, Flag Football for Bilbo starts tomorrow, at some point Rosie gets to start soccer.  The fall activities have begun, and ohmygoodness!!! There is no way I can keep it all straight!

6)  My wise and prudent husband implemented a half-day on Friday rule, where if we get in good schooling 4 days of the week, we can do just Math and two other subjects on Friday.  This was a brilliant idea.  Ask me, I'm the teacher.  

7)  Really horrible pictures taken through my car window, and I was riding shotgun, but look at this!!

I think it's a flock of herons?? We see them at our pond all of the time, but only one at a time.  I should google this before I blog it.  If they aren't herons, I apologize.  I didn't know they ate anything except the fish I see them catching, and I certainly never saw five together!  Cool.

Happy Weekend!!