March 31, 2010

Week 50 of 52

Forever In Blue Jeans

I've accepted Carin's challenge, as a Mom, to get back into the picture. The idea is that once a week you take a picture of yourself.Give the camera to your hubby, the kids, the grocer. Who cares? Just pass it off and say, "Cheese." It's that simple. If you'd like you can post your picture on your blog. You can let me know you posted so I can check out your pics. You can check out my previous weeks or Click the button below to add your name to theLinky and take a look at all the others. If you want start fresh for 2010, Carin has a new challenge, "Shoot Me!" Check it out on her blog at Forever in Blue Jeans.

Allen took this picture of me and my girls.  How God has blessed me!  I just look at this sweeties and my heart melts. 
And for all those who were wondering where I have been... Passover preparations (post to follow someday ☺)... Easter preparations... schooling... homework... studying (not as much as I should be)... sewing (another post to follow ☺)

In case I don't see you before the weekend, Happiest of Easter celebrations from Wachter world!


March 29, 2010

Homeschool- What About the Scoffers?

"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.  For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:"  2 Peter 3:3-6

So the fact of the matter is, when you make the decision to home school, you will most likely encounter strangers, family and well-meaning friends who think they know better than you.  In the best interests of your children they will question your motives, intentions, reasons, strategy, curriculum, schedule, you name it.  Even though, the home school movement is far larger and far more widely accepted than when I set out, I still hear more than anything else, "How do I get my family on board?"

The best answer is much easier said than done.  Of course, that would be to do what you know is right for your children and let the rest work itself out.  When we started home schooling we didn't have much contact with our extended family on my side or my husband's so we were spared a lot of input.

The biggest objection came from my parents.  Education is very highly valued in my family.  My mother, an elementary school teacher,  was substitute teaching when we started formal schooling.  She was openly skeptical that Kaitlin had any chance of growing up healthy and well adjusted without public school socialization.  Mom has never been one to keep her opinions to herself, either.  When it comes to my children, though, I have the tenacity not to pay much attention to what others have to say.   It didn't hurt that she lived four hours away and rarely visited.  I politely listened to her objections during our weekly phone calls and then asked her about work to change the subject.

As part of Kaitlin's lessons in learning to read and write, I had her draft letters to relatives out of state each week.  She loved getting mail and would eagerly do her assignment knowing she would get something back in return, unlike tedious copy work in a tablet.  My mom would carefully write her a reply each time.    Somewhere around third grade, my years of patiently listening to complaints and objections paid off.  I was moved to tears, when in one of those weekly letters, mom wrote to Kaitlin about how blessed she was to have her mama home schooling her.  How she was learning so much more than kids her age and what a good job I was doing and what a nice young lady she was becoming.

Now, for those who don't know my mother, it is hard to appreciate that compliments are few and far between to begin with.  To admit that she might have been wrong is nothing short of a miracle.  I felt like I had arrived.

My father and step-mother's objections were a little different.  They wondered how I could adequately teach without a teaching degree.  How could I teach things like higher math and sciences when I was just a nursing major?  What about college?  How would she ever get into college?  I took the same approach with Pops as I took with Mom.  We're Italian and we can argue and debate for hours and get no where.  I knew the best defense was to avoid discussions of school. 

And it worked.  KK was somewhere around fourth grade when people started calling and emailing me saying things like, "I know we've never met but I ran into your dad and he told me I should call you for some advice about how to teach my son to read.  He's been in school and he hasn't learned yet and he is already in third grade."  It was very gratifying to hear my parents tell me that I should give so and so some advice because their children needed some help.

I say this, not because I was doing a particularly good job.  Not to tell you how great I am at this whole deal.  Because, I am not.  But to tell you that maybe the best defense is no defense at all.  Staying pretty, keep smiling and in time your schooling will speak for itself in volumes.  My parents were won over, not by anything I said, but because they saw a difference in my children both in scholastics and in their character and virtue.  Maybe your family is different from mine, but I am guessing not.  If I had debated with my relatives it never would have convinced them that we had made the right choice.  They had to see it for themselves.

In the meantime, I prayed.  In the meantime, I taught.  In the meantime, I tried to keep a good sense of humor. Most of all, I tried to remember, even if they never came to agree with our choice, this was not about them.  It wasn't about me.  Ultimately, it wasn't even about Kaitlin.  It was about a call from the Lord and obeying what He would have me to do.

Does that mean all was okie dokie?  No, siree!  As a matter of fact, just about the time my folks came around, we were slapped with a legal battle threatening the custody of our daughter, grounded primarily in our decision to homeschool.  I had to sit in the witness stand as the state's attorney accused me of being a radical.  We were isolating our daughter.  They implied that we were members of some cult and that she was not receiving an education equal to her peers.

I am not going to say it was easy.  Quite the opposite.  It tore my soul apart at times, threatened to ruin us financially and often sucked the energy from my body and spirit.  Am I glad we went through it?  I suppose I could have lived without the years of torment.  (Chuckling here) but I gained much from the whole experience.  Not the least being a deeper trust and reliance on the Lord than I ever thought possible.  After years of legal battle, multiple lawyers and several children later, I came out on the other side with a stronger conviction than ever that there was no other option but home school for our family.

We faced social services.  We were sent to psychologists, counselors and psychiatrists,  for which we paid thousands upon thousands of dollars.  We were required to take Kaitlin for scholastic evaluations.  They tested and questioned us about our political views, our moral stand point, our religious beliefs.  They told me I was a bigot because of my opposition to homosexuality.  I was a religious fanatic because I sighted God as my main reason for home schooling.  I was an unfit mother because we were vegetarians.  They asked Kaitlin questions implying she was abused and neglected.   

Guess what they found out?  In fourth grade Kaitlin tested on a college level for her language and reading skills.  She was far above her grade level in everything but math.  And in math?  She was equal to her peers.  She was declared well adjusted, socialized and perfectly normal.  It was indeed a satisfying day when the very state's attorney who had so vehemently accused me, looked me in the eye and said she couldn't imagine ever meeting a nicer family and what an honour it had been!  The judge who had ordered all the tests, counseling and evaluation smiled and nodded in agreement as if none of their words had ever been spoken and the last four years had just been a walk in the park.

Guess what else?  All current research says exactly the same thing!  Children who are home educated are well beyond their peers not just academically but also socially.  There was a time when home school parents were concerned about their children getting into college.  Especially, because they do not necessarily receive a diploma.  (That depends much on your curriculum and the state in which you live.)  Quite the opposite is true today.  At least in our region, colleges are now recruiting home school graduates and giving preference to home schoolers for acceptance into their programs. 

When we go into a public place, we can never get away without someone approaching me and asking if I home school.  When I answer in the affirmative they always reply, "I knew it!  Homeschool students stand out about the rest." 

I do not mean to imply that those who do not choose to home school are inadequate, it is not for every parent, every student or every family.  I am merely sharing my personal experience and stating the findings of studies, that began largely to discredit home schoolers.  For those who have made this choice and are facing opposition, I hope you will take away from here encouragement to stand in your decision, a resolve to rely on the Lord through the trials, strategy to face family and friends with the scientific evidence to support your beliefs and the confidence that if you remain steadfast and move forward in educating your children at home that one day their light and accomplishments will shine forth as your best defense for the decision you have made.

If all else fails, remember the most important thing in facing scoffers is to remember that you will have to one day answer to your children, your self and your God as to how you chose to raise your family.  All the rest really doesn't matter after that.   


March 27, 2010

There's an Aflack in My Shoe!

You know how, when you have toddlers, you drive by a field of grazing cows everyone in the car says, "Moo.  Sammy, there are cows!"  Or at a lake filled with ducks you look at your little sweet heart and say, "Ducks... quack, quack?"  Eventually, the toddler starts to say, "Moo" each time they see a cow and, "Quack" when the ducks appear as if that is the animals name.

I've mentioned this before, but in case you missed it, this is an integral part of the story.  You know the insurance commercials with the duck that walks around saying, "aflack?"  When Ellie was a few months old and playing in the bathtub with her rubber ducks, someone got it in their head to say, "Duck says aflack."  Eventually, Ellie came to say, "aflack" every time she saw a duck.  Of course it followed that she came to call ducks aflack.

For those who live on the east coast and enjoy all that Chick-fil-A has to offer, you will appreciate that they also taught her that cows say, "Eat more chicken."  Those are the hazards of having little ones follow big kids with a twisted sense of humor.

It is that time of year again, when thoughts turn to summer which brings about my favorite footwear, sandals.  I took the children to the local Stride rite a few weeks ago but was most unhappy with the sandal offerings this year.  They are all a hybrid between a pool shoes and a sandal made out of rubber.  Great for the back yard, but not what I want my kids wearing out. And I really didn't want to pay $50-$60 a pair for plastic.  I am a traditionalist when it comes to kids shoes.  I insist they be made out of leather.  Shoot me.

Which brought me to the internet looking for sandals.  As I often do with shopping, I quickly became overwhelmed and turned it over to Brianna, who loves to do it and can make a dollar stretch pretty well, too.  She would once and a while name a maker and ask me if they were a good brand or not.  Once she had the watching box filled with choices, she asked me to look through them and choose a pair that I liked.  I narrowed it down to two pairs for Elisabeth but could not make up my mind.  I told her to ask Pa which ones he liked best and to order those.  Which she did.  Aren't these adorable? 

And that brings us up to yesterday. When Ellie's new sandals arrived in the morning mail.  It seems that Brianna didn't realize the reason that this line is called squeaky shoes.  So, when her shoes arrived in the mail, she couldn't wait to put them on. Are you all familiar with squeaky shoes? They have little squeaky things in the heels to encourage kids her walk on their toes to walk on their heels instead.  Which is not an issue for Elisabeth at all.  But that didn't keep her from having some fun!

She got these shoes on and took off running and then realized they were making noise. She thought that was such a blast that she spent the next THIRTY minutes running in circles around the basement stairs squeaking away. We were trying to have our lessons but to be honest we were all rolling so much that we got very little done. After all those loops, I guess she finally got dizzy because she came running up to where the rest of us were sitting and gave us a huge grin. She swaggered a bit and then said, "There's an aflack in my shoe!"


March 26, 2010

Home School- My Philosophy

In order for you to understand my answers to many of your questions, about how we schedule our day and the curriculum we use, how we make it all work and still find time for fun, first you must understand my approach to home school.

There are several ways to go at it.  You will find those who favor classical education and the unschoolers plus everything in between.  The truth be known, even though I tried many approaches that worked for other families, none of those seemed like the right thing for our family.  The first step to a happy home school is to learn, above all, home school is about what works for your child and family.  If you miss that then you've missed the whole boat.  In trying to define our home school I had to determine first, what didn't work for us.  Lesson plans, schedules and goals were it.  Those things instantly set us up for failure.

I am goal oriented and by writing out lesson plans and to do lists ahead of time, I found I quickly became stressed and unpleasant when things went off track and I couldn't stick to the plan.  I became a slave to the schedule and felt like a failure at the end of the day when I didn't accomplish what I had set out to do.  When you are home schooling you will rarely accomplish all you set out to do in the way of school or household duties.  That meant that most days I was discouraged by the time we put our lessons away.  With my attitude of defeat the children, also felt like they had not succeeded and school became a task that none of us wanted to face in the morning.

Learning is fun.  Learning should be fun.  I wanted it to be fun.  Trying to fit our family into the mold that I had to work with, that is the traditional school model, set us up for anything but fun.  I had to learn how to break away from what I had experienced, as to what school should be, in order to bring joy to our education.  I really believe that these formative years should not be about what the children learn so much as about teaching them to LOVE learning.  If we can instill that in them, rather than the common worldly attitude that school is a drag, they will go through their lives seeking to learn always and they will learn much more than if we dogmatically cram facts into their little heads.

An important step for me, was to really examine what my goals were for home schooling.  I mean what did I want my children to take away after the required 12 years of education.  It wasn't facts and numbers.  I had all that when I graduated and yet had little in all of it to make my life successful.  I had been a straight A student through private grammar school and a straight A student in all honours classes through four years of public high school.  I maintained a 4.0 throughout college.  What the world regarded as successful did not help me out much when it came to honouring God or to practical living.  No, I decided what I really wanted my children to have in order to graduate was a love of God, a personal walk with Him, a love for learning, and close family ties.  The rest could iron out if they had those tools.

When you have seven children and you are trying to home school, it is nearly impossible to separate the home and the school parts.  Things rarely line up in their little compartments and there will always be something to spill over into your school time or your housework time.  There will always be a sick child, a move, a neighbor in need, a missing school book, appointments that must be kept.... something to interfere with carefully laid plans.  In becoming a home school mom, one must learn to combine the two.  It will take some experimenting to find a balance that works for you but keeping your humor along the way, and a good stash of chocolate, will  help.  In a future post, I intend to share some secrets and tips that have helped us to find a way to make both home and school harmonious for the Wachter clan.

Funny as it may sound, when I finally threw out all plans and just began to enjoy the learning, my kids came to love school, ask for school when we weren't doing it and we accomplished more than I ever thought possible.  Not that schedules and planning can not work for some.  I have heard from many who say that getting on a schedule was the turning point for them.  For me though, my happy home school started when I decided that I was not going to write what I wanted to do in my lesson plan book, but instead give my day and home school over to the Lord, and then write in what we had completed.  At the end of a session I no longer sadly looked at boxes of assignments that weren't completed because the baby was teething and I didn't get to it, but instead was able to look and see that we read the Bible together, practiced counting while we laid out silverware at lunch and read words aloud from our reader while I folded laundry.  Not a bad day considering I had I had to run and visit a sick friend in the hospital and take a phone call from my Aunt.

Maybe you have just one child and you can sit at the table and focus just on school 5 days a week for the allotted time 180 days a year.  I have never had such a luxury.  And I am not sure that is really what home schooling is about.  When we set out on this journey, I knew I did not want our life to be about school.  I wanted school to be part of our life.  There are months that we try to dedicate to more intense learning, to really focus on the essentials, but as a general rule I try to find ways that learning is part of our everyday routine, just as I try to keep God in everything we do.  The best kind of teaching is when you slip it in there in such a way that no one notices they've been doing school.

So, sometimes learning happens in a neat and orderly way at the school table.  Sometimes, it happens at the dinner table. Sometimes it happens in the car.  Or under the tree in the back yard.  Perhaps as we go about our chores.  But in becoming a home schooler the key to remember is that learning is always happening, it just may not be in the way you were expecting.

For now I will leave you with this.


March 25, 2010

Week 49 of 52

Forever In Blue Jeans

I've accepted Carin's challenge, as a Mom, to get back into the picture. The idea is that once a week you take a picture of yourself. Give the camera to your hubby, the kids, the grocer. Who cares? Just pass it off and say, "Cheese." It's that simple. If you'd like you can post your picture on your blog. You can let me know you posted so I can check out your pics. You can check out my previous weeks or Click the button below to add your name to the Linky and take a look at all the others. If you want start fresh for 2010, Carin has a new challenge, "Shoot Me!" Check it out on her blog at Forever in Blue Jeans.

Looking at the old camera card there are no good pictures of me this week.  Kat, there is the answer to your question from a few weeks ago.  I can take plenty of lousy pictures!  Here look for yourself.  Allen took this one at the zoo.  I think I must have blinked.

And then there is this one he took while Elisabeth was "helping" me with Aedan's quilt.  Of course I was in my nightgown.  Why do men always take your picture when you have no makeup on or you are in your nightgown?  Don't answer that.  I know it is the same reason that the first time I dyed my hair, it took my sister to mention it weeks later before Allen noticed I had gone from being a burnette to a red head.  Men do not notice details.
One night when I was dressing to go out, the girls were digging through my closet and found my wedding dress.  They begged me to try it on to see if it would fit.  Amazingly enough, if I didn't breathe it did zip up. 

I am nearing the end of 52 weeks and can not tell you enough... what a blessing it has been.  Get out there and grab a kid, a friend, that hubby of yours and get in the picture!


March 24, 2010

Just Something Cheerful

Today I received word from two very precious friends of the loss of loved ones.  I couldn't help but think of Heidi and Tony tonight as I sat to write my post and think that they needed something cheerful to boost their spirits.  

So instead of the post I was going to write this evening, here is something a little more cheerful.  We love you both and your families and are praying for you tonight.  



"Look at us, said the violets blooming at her feet, all last winter we slept in the seeming death but at the right time God awakened us, and here we are to comfort you."  ~Edward Payson Rod

Allen had to stop at Home Depot Sunday after church to pick up a board for a window he is working on.  While it is still far too early to think of planting much, these pansies were irresistible.  Elisabeth thought so, too.  

Church dress and all, she hugged the pots as she carried them all the way from the car and deposited them in my kitchen.  She looked too adorable for me to resist a few pictures.  I really like the way the blue of her dress highlights the yellow.  My friend Susan would do some editing and make this a great picture but for me it will have to suffice to remember her squeals and giggles as she ran with her little treasures.  

She was so excited, I just couldn't bear to plant them without her so she managed to wiggle out of her nap, too.  What can I say?  When it comes to spring flowers, she is a girl after my own heart!  

And this one someone took while Ellie was kneeling to say her prayers.  Well, you have to admit it is kind of adorable.

Now, if that doesn't just warm your heart and make you smile... well, I just don't know what will.


March 23, 2010

Prayers for the Other Kat

Instead of posting today, I'm going to ask you to use the time you would use reading my blog to pray for my friend, another Kat.  She has been suffering chronic pain for some time and will be undergoing a hysterectomy  this Thursday. You can read more about it at her husband, Steve's, blog, by clicking on the picture below.

If you feel so inclined, you can pop over to Heart 2 Heart and leave her some words of encouragement.


March 22, 2010

What's This?

Look how frightened Emma is!!!!  Allen is ready to attack!!!!  All that excitement for what???? 

A spider.

Yes, they all three jumped high and fast when I caught sight of a spider scampering across the floor of the family room.

Well, at least they all got some exercise tonight.


March 21, 2010

The National Zoo

Today was beautiful so we decided to continue our tour of the Smithsonian Museums outdoors at the National Zoo.  The boys have been wanting to take the metro on one of our trips and with a stop right near the zoo this seamed like an ideal time to do it.

Unfortunately, it didn't work out as well as it typically would.  With 3 protests being staged on the Mall today and a Marathon traffic was extremely heavy on the train.  To make matters worse they were doing repairs on the line so the number of trains running were reduced and the number of lines open were reduced creating long waits.  We were literally crammed in standing for the entire ride.  Fortunately, the people we were stuffed in there with were very cheerful and friendly people so it was as good as it could have been.  All told the one hour trip took us 3 hours.   And now we remember why we don't spend much time in our great Capital... so near and yet so very far away!

By the time we got to the zoo it was noon and the breakfast we ate at eight had long since given way to hunger.  There was a unanimous vote for lunch including our friends Charity and Sarah who were traveling with us.  Another unfortunate turn of events was that everyone decided it was a nice day to go to the zoo and so it took the better part of another hour to get lunch.   

At last we did get off to see some exhibits, such as the elephants, lions, tigers and apes.  When we were eating breakfast this morning we asked each of the children which animals they wanted to see most.  Samuel said, "Dinosaurs!"  I told him they do not have Dinosaurs at the zoo and he would have to wait until we went the Natural History Museum. He was psyched to find this.

Not long after this we decided we were beat... and we still had a long trip back home.  Ellie and Sam didn't even make it out of the gates before they both conked out.

You know it has been a long day when a four year old boy goes to sleep in the middle of the zoo of his own free will!

I thought Elisabeth's little legs were too cute not to take a picture.  So here you have it.

So for our 6 hour round trip we spent four hours at the zoo, fed the kids chicken nuggets and french fries for lunch and took a picture with Sam's head in the replica of a dinosaur skull. 

Was it worth it?  Absolutely.  New adventures, fresh air, sunshine, exercise and time with the family... Priceless!


March 20, 2010

I Know the School Year is Coming to an End...

Every fall we return from vacation around the first week of October. I then spend the next week de-cluttering, organizing and cleaning my house. No closet, shelf or drawer goes without notice. Summer clothes are put away and winter clothes are put out. Each piece of clothing is checked for the proper fit and discarded, mended, ironed or replaced as needed. The fridge and pantry are stocked. The gardens are cleaned out and put to rest before winter sets in. I make lists, write lesson plans, order school books and eagerly embark on a new year of home education.

Those who have known me for any length of time will tell you I am quite a fanatic when it comes to neatness and orderliness.   Alas, these are two words that don't always coincide with home schooling. By December I am looking around my house and shaking my head in dismay. I try to figure out what happened to my book shelves, that just a short time ago were arranged by subject matter and size. By March, though, it is clear we have been hard at work for some time and surely the school year must be coming to an end by the state of neglect all around my house.

The laundry room seems to be the most evident as dirty clothes might be spilling from the laundry room into the hall way.  Not only are the boys' clothes no longer organized by outfits, but they can not even find a clean pair of overalls to get dressed in the morning.  The ironing is backed up so deep that there are clothes waiting to be pressed that the kids can no longer fit into.

Our meals change a bit in the desire to spend time outside and do school at the same time.  An occasional cookie for lunch and whatever can be carried outdoors for dinner is the order of the day.  

Our curriculum becomes a little more flexible, too.  Not only do lessons often get moved outdoors, but I try to find ways to work playing in the sandbox and spreading mulch into our lesson plans.  History and Science become optional as I try to cover the "important" subjects in the limited amount of time I can get the boys to sit still without begging to go outside and play.

If the dirty laundry, empty fridge and messy cabinets weren't enough to attest to our successful season of learning and hard work then the full boxes in my record book will have to do.  Because even if I don't choose to embrace it, as soon as the days turn warm and the sunlight lasts into the evening, the children can no longer focus on geography and spelling and by default the school year will quickly come to a close.  So until next fall, when I will once again organize the cupboards and stock the pantry for another productive year of learning, I will concede and employ the greatest lesson I have learned in my years as a home school mom, you can't beat them so you might as well join them!

With that, I will see you in the garden.

March 19, 2010

In Other News...

This week has been full of so many bits of of fun happening the old Wachter estate.  Stick with me and maybe you'll find something of interest to you in here. 

I know Spring is just around the corner.  Allergies have kicked in full swing with itchy eyes and runny noses for the last three weeks.   If that wasn't enough to make me realize that the year is marching on without me, we turned our clocks ahead one hour this week.  Sunday, when the spring forward cost her an hour of sleep, Brianna was quite disgruntled.  Then when she realized that it was dark in the mornings again she decided enough was enough.  My little rebel decided to make the transition a little gentler and declared she was only going to change her watch ten minutes a week for the next six weeks.  

But we all managed through and even made it to our Bible class Monday evening.  We were working our way through the book of first Samuel when we got a phone call from Brianna (she babysits the youngers) telling us that Nathaniel had a tick on him and it didn't look so good.  We live in the country and tick removal is a regular evening ritual in the summer.  Just the same, Brianna is not one to panic and she wouldn't bother me unless she really thought something was wrong or if she needed to know was it ok to feed the kids dessert, but still I figured, a tick can wait until we get home.  Allen was concerned about it, though, so I offered to run home and remove it and then come back in time for the second session.

Because of it's location, and the size of it, the tick had been there quite some time without notice and was engorged to the point that I have never seen a tick.  The skin around it didn't look so great, either.  Anyone, from our neck of the woods, knows about deer ticks and Lyme disease.  So, Tuesday was off to the doctors.  It turned out that the tick was not a deer tick, although it was hard to tell because it was so distorted, but Dr. Harper confirmed it was a dog tick.  The dog ticks around here carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  Which is also quite serious.  The good side was this.  The doctor said it is far too early to have ticks this time of year so that fellow must have been hanging around all winter.  If Nathaniel had contracted Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever from it we would have already seen severe symptoms.  Therefor he declared Nathaniel fine and healthy.  The whole episode was worth it to see the smile on his face when the doctor patted him on the back and told him, "You beat the tick!" 

Yes, the boys have had an exciting week around here!  On Wednesday morning, the mail truck broke down in front of our house and a tow truck had to come haul it away.  If that wasn't enough to keep a boy in awe, after some very rainy days, (we got about 4 inches between Friday and Tuesday morning) Tuesday dawned clear and warm.  The children could barely sit still to finish their lessons before going outdoors for the afternoon.  Where they have been ever since... except to come in for meals and to sleep.  And that is the reason we do double school days in the winter... why try to get a boy to sit still on a beautiful spring day?

While I ran around the yard with them, I had the pleasure of discovering my first bloom of the year.  Which is as least equal to ticks and mail trucks if you ask me.

But you know how boys are.  They can not be outdone.  So this morning, the were ecstatic when we woke to find the trash truck parked in front of our house.  It, too, had broken down.  The company sent a replacement truck and a repair truck.  Nathaniel got out his camera as the other boys stood by and watched the mechanic do his work.  Which didn't help much to get everyone ready to and out the door on time for our Thursday errands and appointments!

After six months of screeching every time she spots a stink bug, Elisabeth has finally overcome her fear of the little critters.  She discovered the joy of catching them and flushing them down the toilet.  One might have thought she got a new "Happy Day" the way she chases them down whooping in delight now.  

With so much adventure behind us, I can hardly wait to see what tomorrow will bring!


March 18, 2010

Week 48 of 52

Forever In Blue Jeans

I've accepted Carin's challenge, as a Mom, to get back into the picture. The idea is that once a week you take a picture of yourself. Give the camera to your hubby, the kids, the grocer. Who cares? Just pass it off and say, "Cheese." It's that simple. If you'd like you can post your picture on your blog. You can let me know you posted so I can check out your pics. You can check out my previous weeks or Click the button below to add your name to the Linky and take a look at all the others. If you want start fresh for 2010, Carin has a new challenge, "Shoot Me!" Check it out on her blog at Forever in Blue Jeans.

Today Samuel asked if he could take my picture. It was his first shot going solo with the camera so we got some interesting shots.

He did better on this next one except that I wasn't ready.

This one was a great improvement over the first one.

And then Nathaniel had to have a turn.

Well, at least he didn't start with his finger over the lens.

We're all looking the right way this time. 

Ok.  Try again.
Yes, that huge cookie was Sam's lunch.  After a day of baking, making salsa and jam, and fixing a meal for tonight, I didn't have the time or energy to make lunch.  So instead of cookies for dessert we had a picnic of cookies for lunch by the playground. 

OK... I give up.  How about one of those cookies for Mama!


March 17, 2010

The Book That Turns Into A Car

Some people think I am an ok mom.  But the truth is that I have a terrible secret.  I've been lying to my son for months now.  Well, not exactly lying... just misleading a little.  Kind of letting him think one thing, even though I know the truth.

The fact of the matter is that a few years ago, for Christmas, his grandparents gave Sam this book.  With some complicated maneuvers, that only KK could figure out, the book turned into a truck that was big enough for him to sit in.  It didn't go anywhere or do anything... it just sat there for a few minutes until it tipped over. 

Just the same, for a few days, he loved it and played with it.  Then it went onto the shelf in the playroom and wasn't touched again.  I don't like for my children to have too many toys.  I think they appreciate what they have if they don't have too much of it.  They have more fun with just a few things rather than a bunch of stuff that overwhelms them.  I prefer to stick with basics, too.  Play dough, dolls, trains, crayons... that sort of thing.  That way they use their minds and imaginations.  No video games and a very limited number of things that require batteries are found in our house. 

There is just one or two rubber maids of toys allowed in the play room at one time aside from these "basics."  The rest is stored in the attic and if they want to get down the box of Lincoln logs they must put up the box of leggos.  Periodically, when switching things up, I go through the shelves in the play room and sort out things that the children don't play with. 

Sometime last fall in one of these cleaning out sessions, the book from the Christmas before was freecycled to someone in need of more toys than us.  I am not sure what brought it to his memory, but Sam who had not touched it for months, started looking for it somewhere in the neighborhood of last December.  About the time he asked for it, before I got a chance to say anything, Nathaniel and Aedan came through the room and heard him asking did I know where it was and one of them said, "It is probably in the attic."

Normally, I just tell my kids how it is.  I don't see much point in them getting attached to things.  I quickly and easily say, "You didn't play with it and so I gave it to someone else."  But not this time.  Because... Allen and the big girls, who knew full where the whereabouts of that book, started teasing and really egging the thing on so that I could no longer say I had given it away without looking like a complete heel.  So I took advantage of his belief that it was in the attic to escape the look of disappointment on his sweet little freckled face.  I was certain he would just forget about it and that would be the end of it. 

Which would have been fine, except he didn't.  And now, everytime someone goes into the attic, which is several times a week since that is the only storage in our house, Samuel asks them to get his "Book that turns into a car." 

I don't know how much longer I can dodge his inquiries.  It has been three months and I am beginning to think I might have to be posting a new listing of freecyle. 

Wanted:  1 Book that turns into a car.


March 16, 2010

Free to Good Home

Girl.  Cooks.  Cleans.  Sews.  Does windows.  Vacuum not included.

Lest you think I am... (well, I can't think of the word... but you know what I mean!) you must understand the history behind this post... and of course understand... I'm just teasing!

Allen thought Kaitlin looked so cute when she was running the vacuum around that he took this picture.  Then he joked that he was going to use it to lure a husband.  I said I bet if I put it on my blog we could get a few offers.  Brianna said, "You wouldn't do that to her!"  We said, "Watch us."  Which of course we wouldn't really do.  Except that when we were out on our usual Monday night class and dinner date with KK the topic came up again.  I said I hadn't had time to write a post for tomorrow and maybe I'd just use that picture.  Kaitlin said she thought it was hilarious and gave me the OK...  It never is too early to start advertising for a good man, after all.

"When you have five daughters, Lizzie, tell me what else will occupy your thoughts, and then perhaps you will understand."  ~Mrs. Bennet

This is part of Steady Mom's 30 minute blog challenge.


March 15, 2010


What do you think a couple of our marital status might do when, for the first time since 1994, we have the house all to ourselves while the kids are away for the weekend?

In a rare, actually the very first ever, occasion our kids went to our best friends house to stay the night celebrating their daughter's 10th birthday.  Little Emma was not comfortable going alone and our friends, who are like-minded as us on the idea of sleepovers and such knew that we would not be comfortable with the kids staying over at their house with children we did not know.  So they opted to invite our whole family instead and have an instant sleepover/Narnia/birthday party.

To say the kids were excited would be a gross understatement.  Between the spring weather and the prospect of their weekend plans, the excitement was too much to contain last week.  In fact, on Friday, Samuel asked me literally every ten minutes to check my watch and see if it was time to go yet. For weeks we debated how to spend the evening, although the options were limited since we still had Elisabeth and with our babysitters away that meant we were on duty. 

We settled for a candlelight dinner for three.  I was going to make Allen a special dinner but he beat me to it by planning a multi course meal complete with soup, dessert and sparkling cider.  But that is NOT the point of this post. 

What is it then???  The sound of the QUIET!  It was pouring down rain all evening and through the night and that was nice enough.  But here's the thing.  We could hear cars going by.  The refrigerator making ice.  The water pump in the basement turning on and off.  Things I have never noticed before-or at least not in a long time.  I could even hear the clock in the kitchen going, "Tick.  Tick.  Tick."  I DIDN'T EVEN REMEMBER WE HAD A CLOCK IN THE KITCHEN!

I know what you are thinking.  It must have been nice all that peace and quiet.  NOT!  It was horrible.  It drove me crazy.  I couldn't even think straight.  And to make matters worse, all I could think about was that someday all my children will be grown and it will be like this ALL THE TIME! 

I don't think I can stand it.  I don't think Allen can stand me when we get to that point.  I know many people who can't wait for their kids to get grown so they can do "their" thing.  But, the fact of the matter is, I like it here.  The way it is.  I like the craziness.  Even though, I try to train them not to all talk at once, I would rather 7 kids shouting across the kitchen table to the silence.   I enjoy people hopping on my bed to  chit chat at 11:30 at night.  I love snuggles when the sun comes up.  It was hard to go to sleep without the girls gabbing across the hall at a thousand miles a minute. 

Before the blizzard in February I was out running my normal Thursday errands.  Getting my hair done, allergy shots, groceries... every where I went all people talked about was what on earth they would do being stuck at home with their kids all weekend.  One woman commented on her need to stop at the liquor store and another said she had gone to walmart and filled a box with new toys to keep the kids happy.  Yet, another had gone to buy videos to see them through.

I can not imagine how a family who live together in the same house and theoretically must see each other at some point can be so overwhelmed at the thought of being in the same house together all at the same time for a few days in a row.  I say, "Bring it on!"  Our family saves all year for a few weeks of vacation in an isolated house on the back river where we can all be together uninterrupted, just us!  I can't fathom thinking so little of your family, your children that you brought into this world and raised.  Especially, at this time of my life when my nursery sits empty for the first time in my married life and we are planning our KK's graduation. 

And that is why the one thought that kept going through my mind all weekend was... "The silence!  The awful quiet!  Oh, dear Lord, please make it stop!"  As long as He sees fit, I will gladly welcome all of it, the kids, the laughter the tears and the racket that goes along with it.   



March 14, 2010

Can You Guess What We're Thinking About?

That's right.  There may still be snow on the ground but the talk around here is all about opening the pool and booking vacation... so what if it is not until September!


March 13, 2010

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

The warmer temperatures have thawed the ground for the Wachters to handle the back log of deceased in the freezer.

The stream in our woods was the sight of the graveside service.

attended by a large group of mourners

The service was led by Nathaniel who read selections from Romans 3 and 6.

The bereaved, Samuel, honoured his dearly departed with a musical selection on his hand carved whistle.

Between her tears, the resident mourner stated she had never heard a finer rendition of "Leaving on a Jet Plane."

The undertaker had her work cut out for her, as this was the first triple funeral ever performed on the Wachter property.

The dearly departed will surely rest in peace beneath gravestones chosen from the woods beside the stream.