Friday, January 30, 2015

Random 5 on Friday: Laundry Style #Grateful2015

Because every Mom knows that laundry is a BIG DEAL, my Random 5 is devoted to laundry today.

1. I have never have a designated laundry area, especially not a folding area. For the longest time, my washer and dryer were in the kitchen. Now they're in the basement.  I fold wherever I can, on the couch or dining room table.

2. I have never had a new washing machine, though my parents once bought me a new dryer. We've always bought used machines and had fairly good luck with them. The shortest-living washing machine was the front loader we bought very gently used.

3. Recently both my washer and my dryer started acting up. It became apparent that they were both going to die very soon. When you have 10 people at home, and do not live in town near a laundromat, this is a major concern.

4. It wasn't in our plans, but Steve bought me a brand new washer and dryer set because they were on SALE. I had to train all the older children on how they work. Everyone was a little intimidated by them.

5. In the process of getting the old machines out of the basement and the new ones in, we set up a long table beside the dryer for my first ever designated laundry folding area. No more waiting until school-time is over to use the table, no more folding on my bed and having toddlers step on laundry piles, and no more tying up the couch one evening while I fold and no one can sit there. No more excuses, basically. It may not be the prettiest part of my house, staring at an unpainted cinder block wall, but it is the brightest part of the basement, right at the bottom of the stairs. He even put down a foam floor mat to make it comfortable on my feet and legs while I stand there.

Yesterday I took my tablet down to play music and I folded laundry without being in anyone's way. If the kids needed me, they could see from the door of the basement right where I was. I do want to add something nice to look at on that wall, but I'll have to figure out how to hang something on the cinder blocks.

I'm very grateful for my new laundry machines and my folding area!

Check out other Random 5 on Friday posts that are linked up over at The Pebble Pond. 

April E.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Two Little Girls

Once upon a time there were two little girls. They were the oldest of three, then four kids. Their two younger siblings hung out in a cramped waiting room while they took dance classes.



Now those cuties are 18 and 19.5. They're beautiful young women following God's unique paths for their lives. They're sisters with so much in common, and yet so very different from each other. Each holds a special place in the heart of their family, and their seven younger siblings all adore them!

I can't believe those two little girls are all grown up.

April E.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Review: A Saintly Killing by Martha Ockley

A Saintly Killing from Kregel
Saint James Church in Little Worthy is celebrating its 900th Anniversary. Faith and the other church members are all busy trying to prepare for the big celebration. Everything is thrown into jeopardy when the artist painting a picture of the church is found dead in her little art studio beside the church. As suspicion falls on first one member of the church and then another, Vicar Faith Morgan finds her police-woman instincts reviving as she helps the police solve the crime.

A Saintly Killing is the third book in the Faith Morgan Mystery series by Martha Ockley. I've read each book as it was released, and I've enjoyed seeing Faith grow in her confidence and hope as a Christian, in her role as vicar, and personally. I've also been glad to see Faith healing relationships with her sister as they work to care for their mother who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. Her relationship with former boyfriend and partner Detective Inspector Ben Shorter is much more complicated.

Little Worthy is full of very interesting people, some with secretive or unpleasant personalities. As the story unfolded, my suspicion as a reader fell on several different characters. Martha Ockley drops little clues that the reader can notice and wonder about. Then she slowly makes sense of the different clues as Faith Morgan works out the mystery. Initially, my suspicions were aroused by one character though the motive seemed a complete mystery. Toward the end, a red herring was thrown in that I started to fall for. Even when Faith dismissed certain characters as no longer being considered as suspects, I still suspected one of them. The ending was a surprise, though not a complete surprise.

I personally am enjoying seeing the subplot of Faith and her sister Ruth helping their mother as she progresses through Alzheimer's Disease. Since this disease has touched our family personally, I am always interested when it works its way into books or movies. The author handles it gracefully and naturally. Her depiction of Marianne's confusion and dementia is similar to my Mother-in-law's progression. I will be interested to see this aspect of the story unfold in future Faith Morgan mysteries.

A Saintly Killing is another satisfying cozy murder mystery from Martha Ockley! I thoroughly enjoyed it! The Faith Morgan Mysteries keep getting better and better!

April E.

Disclaimer: A Saintly Killing is published by Lion Fiction, an imprint of Kregel Publications. I received a free copy of this book from Kregel Blog Tours in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was received.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Our new journey with a far-sighted preschooler and amblyopia ...

My little cutie has new glasses. I think it was God who prompted me to ask the eye doctor to take a look at her eyes when we were in for our yearly eye exams. I had just noticed that sometimes one eye turned in a little bit, especially when she was tired. I didn't expect to be told she actually needed glasses, and that she would need to wear a patch for 1-2 hours each day.  Farsightedness and amblyopia. Thankfully, any strabismus (eye turning in) is very minor and we primarily need to work on strengthening her weak eye.


This has been a new experience for us. None of our children have needed glasses at such a young age before. Our children who do have glasses are near-sighted, not far-sighted. This is also our first time patching with one of our children. V is a very active and determined little four year old. We felt like she'd pull off a pirate-style eye patch with a band, because it would bother her.  I worried that she'd react to the adhesives if we put disposable patches on her every day.

With all that in mind, I went looking for a patch that would attach to her frames and found Patchpals.com. They had affordable, comfortable looking patches that could be either bought with embroidered designs on them or iron-on designs. We went with the iron-on style since they were less expensive. We bought 3 of them in two styles, partly because she couldn't make up her mind on designs, and partly so we could have back-ups in case they went missing. I also wanted to try both styles to see which ones worked better and were more comfortable. So far I like them both, but she seems to prefer the pocket style.

She's doing really well about keeping her glasses on throughout the day and looking through them. They fit really well and haven't been an issue at all. But wearing her patch lost its excitement after the first couple days. It's hard work for her weaker eye (I don't like the term lazy eye) to focus and she starts trying to peek around it or pull her glasses up or down. I'm aiming for lengthening her time period slowly.

This morning she wore it for half an hour before she started trying to lift her glasses up or down. Her brothers had her watching a video on a tablet, though, and I think that the video-movement was too much work for her eye. I reminded them that looking at books, coloring, or doing workbooks would probably be easier on her eye. So we exercised her eye another 10 minutes and then we told her she could rest her eye and take the patch off. We will need to exercise her eye again sometime today. I am trying to use those terms to remind her of why she needs to wear the patch.

We were really impressed with Patch Pals. They shipped the very next day and included a brochure that has pictures of other kids in their patches, as well as a little membership card that the child can sign promising to wear their patch to help make their eyes healthy and strong.  When Steve saw that he said, "Now that's a class act!"  They also have a facebook page for families to find support and encouragement. We showed her other kids in their patches to help her understand what was going to happen before they arrived. She asks to see other kids in their patches sometimes.

We still have to figure out the best ways to get her to wear her patch each day. For now, I'm content trying to work up to the recommended 1-2 hours. She has a follow-up appointment next week to see how she's doing.

Since I do write sponsored reviews, I wanted to let you know that this post is NOT a sponsored review. We're very pleased with the patches we bought and the service from Patch Pals. I didn't even intend to talk about them when I started to share about our new journey today. But I did want to mention them in case any other families are looking for solutions for amblyopia.

At least V no longer has a problem with bowed legs. She outgrew that, and I'm hoping and praying that she outgrows this problem, as well.

April E.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Yes, this is a self-congratulating list!

I am sick. I am congested, coughing, and my throat hurts. I have tissues piled around me at the computer (until I get up and throw them away) and my nose is red and sore from blowing it so much. Cough drops, ibuprofen, mucinex, and hot drinks are my friends. Life goes on whether I have the energy for it or not. Consequently, the house is a mess.

I haven't accomplished very much this week, so I decided to try to make myself feel better about myself by listing the things I did achieve:
  1. I finally got the four year old into underwear during the day!
  2. We celebrated my 11 year old's birthday.
  3. Everyone was fed.
  4. I got my husband packed and out the door on a business trip.
  5. I survived his 2 day trip during the worst part of my illness.
  6. Some schoolwork was finished, but not all.
  7. I got the kids to their 4H skit practice and Wednesday night church.
  8. I ordered birthday gifts for my soon to be 18 year old.
  9. I took care of the final details for my 17 year old to start her dual-enrollment college classes.
  10. I took my 5 year old to the dentist with 3 other kids in tow.
  11. I gave my husband a hair cut before he left on his trip.
  12. We all made it through most of the week with our sanity intact.
  13. I loved my family.
Hmm.  I was going to try to get to 15 things, but I can't think of anything else. I hate ending on 13. Not because I'm superstitious, but because it's just not an even place to stop. Never mind that it shows how completely non-productive I've been this week. But, the good news is I'm starting to feel a bit better. Still not great, but not quite as much like death warmed over.

Wait!  I updated my calendar. That's my 14th accomplishment!

Watching my 11 year old son pester his 4 year old sister right now I think number 15 should be ... I survived the boys being cooped up inside.

So that's 15 things I actually did this week ... along with blow my nose, drink copious amounts of coffee, and suck on cough drops pretty much non-stop.

 I hope your week has been more productive than mine.

April E.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Time for myself, as a mom of many?

Finding time for myself, as a mom of 9 kids, is difficult. As I type this I'm sitting in the living room in the dark. My husband has already gone to bed. Two teen daughters are awake, in different rooms. I'm sitting in a room full of sleeping sick kids, and one 4 year old who napped too much this afternoon and won't give up yet. Hopefully she'll fall asleep soon. This is as alone as I've been lately.

Okay, I did run errands at the community college, the library, and Wal-Mart alone today, but it didn't exactly feel like alone time. I was gone for 1.5 hours, but I didn't let myself slow down and enjoy it. I didn't call a friend and get coffee. I just hurried home to the sick kids so my teens could return to their school work.

But I've grown accustomed to this. Even as an introvert, I've learned to enjoy the more quiet moments, even if I'm not completely alone. I still find time to refresh myself, in small snatches, and I survive. Yes, I get tired. Yes, I get grouchy sometimes. But, it is all in my perspective. I can enjoy the semi-peaceful, semi-quiet, and semi-alone moments as they come.  Or, I can sit around being angry that I haven't gone out for coffee in months, am past due for a haircut, haven't had a date night lately, and I don't get spa days or writing get-aways.

There is beauty in even the mundane moments. Right now, I have four sleeping "babies" and one almost sleeping "baby" laying scattered around the lamp-lit living room. (Don't tell the 8 and 10 year olds I called them babies.) Lullaby music is playing, the smell of Vick's cherry chest rub for kids fills the air, and my four year old finally talked herself to sleep. She has always been one to talk herself to sleep. She knew I was near, and she felt loved. Someday I'll miss those falling asleep conversations. Someday I'll miss having kids wake me up in the night because they are sick and need me. (Okay, maybe not that one.)

For every energy-draining argument I have with a teenager, every debate with a tween, every temper tantrum from a preschooler, every interrupted night, and every chore or school struggle, there are also moments when someone asks for a hug, wants to know if I love them still, tells me they love me, and even rare moments when everyone is happily occupied so I am able to sit and read a book.

When I am physically spent, I can head to bed early, or collapse on the couch with a preschooler in my arms to nap for a couple hours, as I did today. When I am spiritually spent, I cry, I pray, I journal, I dig into God's Word, and I pour out my heart to my husband.

Then in the morning I get up and do it all over again.  Because no matter how loud and crazy my house is, no matter how ordinary the days are, I love my husband and my kids. I love my stressed-out, busy life.

I have a couple favorite quotes and a favorite Bible verse that encourage me.

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I will try again tomorrow."
             ~ Mary Anne Radmacher

“Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
             ~ Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery

"The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."
            Lamentations 3:22-23

I love knowing that no matter how exhausted or grouchy I am, no matter how difficult the day has been with attitudes or arguments, tomorrow is a new day. When I get up each day, we start over.  And if I get myself up early enough, I can even start my day with peace and quiet before the kids get up. 

Which means I should probably go to bed now, before someone needs me again.

April E.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Come and meet some of my fellow Crew members!

I told you a few weeks ago that I'm returning to the Schoolhouse Review Crew for 2015, formerly known as Homeschool Crew. We are excited to be back on the Crew, and I wanted to share some of my fellow Crew members with you. The entire Crew can be found in the Blog Roll ... just click on the button. But this post also contains blog buttons from some of the other Crew members. Have fun exploring their great blogs!

Schoolhouse Review Crew

Every Bed of RosesBen and MeFootprints in the ButterUnder The SkyCircling Through This LifeHomemaking OrganizedPea of SweetnessAs We Walk Along the RoadSunnyside Farm FunLife with the TribeFor the Display of His SplendorBe The OneHome Grown Hearts AcademyAs He Leads is JoyCounting PineconesCounting Change AgainDaily LifeMom's HeartSuper Mommy to the RescueTots and MeTreasuring Life's BlessingsHomeschool Coffee BreakHome Sweet LifeChickens, Bunnies and HomeschoolFarm Fresh AdventuresFinch n WrenWestWordBlogsimplelivingmama.comOur Good LifeA Moment in Our WorldGolden GrassesHomeschool DreamsAt Home: where life happensThe Mc Clanahan 7Homeschooling 6Life at RossmontPuddle JumpingLadybug DaydreamsMarching to a Different DrummerEverything Then SomeOne Mama's JourneyTenacity DivineOzark RamblingsA Learning JourneyAdenaF blogJensen Family CircusI Choose Joy!A Glimpse of Our Life photo BlogButtonDelightfulLearningcopy.jpgThrough the Calm and Through the StormMama's Coffee ShopThe Open Window Autism BlogPhotobucket HomeschoolingforHisGlory Little-Homeschool-on-the-Prairie


And of course ... there's ME!

ElCloud Homeschool

Feel free to grab my blog button from the left sidebar!


April E.