The night before our open house a few days ago, Child #3 chucked a chair down the stairwell and this is what happened:
Now, I’d like to say that I handled this situation well, but that would be a lie. We were frantically trying to clean for this open house, and it was stressful. So I cried, but I didn’t yell. And that’s an improvement for me. This particular child felt badly enough. I didn’t need to make him feel worse.
What was one to do? There was clearly a visible hole in my wall. Well, I did three things:
I called my adept father-in-law, as my husband was at work, and asked if he might want to fix a hole in the wall? Of course he did. He came right over.
I was making supper, so I stopped all necessary prep-work and popped a bottle of wine. All situations improve with a glass of wine.
After all, God is going to sell this house in His own good time, with or without holes in the walls. I might as well relax a little bit.
3. I blasted out Louis Armstrong. My absolute favorite song of his is When You’re Smiling. Click HERE for it. Just listen to that trumpet solo! It’s at 2:20 in the video. Now if that doesn’t put a gal in a better mood, I’m not sure what will.
For those of you who are new to this series, click HERE for Baby #1 and HERE for Baby #7. (Yes, I know, these are a little out of order.) Today, I’m writing about Baby #2 and Baby #3, for you see, we unexpectedly had twins, nine years ago. So here we go.
Pregnant with Twins
This was a wild ride. We were so excited to be pregnant again, because we wanted a big family. Our little girl was just one year old, and she would get a new brother or sister before she turned 2!
But this pregnancy was different from my first “dream” pregnancy. I was growing wider and wider faster than the time it takes to blow up a big balloon. Everyone would smugly look at me and say, “Well, this is your second baby. Of course you’ll be a lot bigger.” I knew that, but would insist that, “No, this pregnancy really feels differently. I think I’m having twins.” At this point, most people smiled and laughed at me. But if I said it once, I said it 50 times. “I think I’m having twins!”
And I was right. A week before my scheduled 20-week ultrasound, I began having severe lower abdominal pains, and so I was ushered to the ultrasound room to see if anything was wrong. The technician squeezed that cold gel on and maneuvered her magic wand, as my husband and I gazed at the screen. Hmmm, I thought, there seems to be a lot of arms and legs in there.
Sure enough, twins! We both laughed and laughed, and I felt vindicated. So we celebrated and ate at Taco Johns.
This was also about the time that I began having contractions too, which landed me right in Bed Rest. This was not fun. Thankfully some very kind friends helped watch my daughter, and we also received quite a few meals. But in the meantime, I reread the Lord of the Rings series and listened to Rush Limbaugh on the radio for entertainment. (If you haven’t read the Lord of the Rings, you should. It’s so good. And as for listening to Rush Limbaugh, I can only say that I was desperate. We didn’t have Catholic radio at the time.)
Towards the end of my pregnancy, however, my body had had enough. I began to retain fluid and my blood pressure skyrocketed. I was preeclamptic and made to come back to the hospital the next day at 5am for an induction.
Labor & Delivery
We were excited, nervous, relieved–all of it. What was this going to be like? There was only one thing I knew. It would be drastically different than my first labor and delivery. First of all, I had to be in the operating room, in case of an emergency cesarean section. And secondly, I was given pitocin to start the contractions and an epidural to block any pain. It was wonderful to not feel all that pain! (With my first, I did not have pitocin or an epidural, and it was dreadfully painful.)
As I said, I went in at about 5am and by 10am was ready to push. It all happened so quickly. Boy # 1 was born easily, but whisked out of the room so fast that I didn’t even hear him cry. I was worried, but was not able to ask about him because immediately after he came out, multiple nurses were sharply told by the doctor, “Hold that baby in place! We don’t want him to flip!” The doctor wanted Boy #2 to stay in his head-down position to avoid a c-section, so the nurses firmly held him by pushing down on my lower abdomen.
He did stay in place and was born just minutes later. And I heard him cry, which was a relief. He was alive and healthy! And so was the first one, I would soon find out.
I asked my husband what he remembered about all this, and he said, “I sliced through the doctor’s glove while cutting the first umbilical cord. He wasn’t very happy with me.”
In the end, it was all so very beautiful – a great gift from God. Even though I had to take some kind of terrible magnesium drug for the eclampsia afterwards, I was only so grateful to have three children!
How was your week? Here are a few highlights from mine.
We enrolled two of our children in a Catholic, Montessori school for next year. (I’ll still be homeschooling three of the seven children.)
As this particular school is 30 minutes away, and we’re growing out of our house quite literally, we’ve decided to move. (This decision was not made in a week, but over the course of this last year.)
This is a terrible process – the buying and selling of houses. Keeping mine clean for showings? Ha!
Child #4 was playing outside the other day, and he noticed a car slowly driving by, checking our place out. This car drove by a few times, and this child decided that that was enough. So, he stuck his tongue out, put his hands up to his ears, and gave a little sass to the driver. The car didn’t drive by again. And didn’t buy our house either.
I have the best father-in-law in the world. He took the children fishing. The boys on one day. The girls the next. They had a blast, cruising up and down the Missouri River, catching walleye – 17 total. We love eating walleye, by the way.
The following paragraph is the caption for the above photo. This little girl is my talker. I asked her about this photo, and she’s still talking to me, right now. Even while I type this. She doesn’t quit!
“Mom, you should have seen what this fish looked like inside! It was all red and black and yellow and grayish. It didn’t feel gross, but slimy. Mom, you should have seen it’s teeth. They were really sharp. And I got to see sacks of eggs. They were redish and pinkish. Like birds. And Mom, you have to put little fish on your hook. Grandpa had to do mine, because I didn’t know how. But Mom, you have to have those little fish to catch a big fish. And I drank a Dr. Pepper – a whole can! And I dipped my toes in the river, but it was cold. Mom, do you know that your rod bends when you get a fish on it?”
I had a few worthy questions about poetry the other day, so I thought I’d do a little explaining. But remember, this is just what works for our family. Your family may look a lot differently than mine and thereby have different needs and desires.
Question #1: How do you choose your poems?
I choose poems that I like, and you should too. I think this is really important. Your children will sniff it out immediately if you think a poem is dull or lame. And you’ll hate teaching it.
For example, if all your friends’ kids are memorizing Shakespeare, but you don’t understand Shakespeare, and it makes you break out in hives just thinking about reading all that “foreign” language, then don’t do Shakespeare! Quit stressing yourself out and pick something you do like and understand.
If you’ve never done poetry before, I recommend getting a book of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poetry. He’s just plain fun, and I love reciting Autumn Fires while raking and burning leaves in the fall. And all my children love belting out The Swing while pumping their little legs back and forth on swings.
Question #2: How do you teach a poem?
We always do our reciting at the breakfast table. Usually I read the poem first and then let everyone else have a shot at it. For the first couple of days, though, I have the children repeat after me, but they catch on quickly. If you have five children memorizing the same poem, it really doesn’t take that long before everyone has it memorized. Think about it. That’s six times of hearing the same thing every morning.
We keep at it until the poem is well memorized or I’m sick of it. Sometimes we work on a poem for a few weeks, sometimes for two months.
Question #3: Are you always memorizing new poetry?
Yes and no. There are certain poems that we always return to because they’re family favorites. I already mentioned Autumn Fires. We do this poem every fall because it’s what we’re living. We’re really raking leaves and burning them. And every winter we revisit Stevenson’s Wintertime and Robert Frost’s Stopping by the Woods on Snowy Evening. In the spring, we always do Gerard Manley Hopkins, which I mentioned in a previous post. The summer always brings us around to a more patriotic theme with Paul Revere’s Ride and the Declaration of Independence, which of course, is not actually poetry.
But again, throughout the year, we do whatever strikes me. We also memorize passages of Scripture too. (Now there’s an endless supply of good stuff!)
I also keep a running list of the poems that we’ve memorized over the years. It’s fun to see what the children have done, but then also it’s good to review our favorite ones from time-to-time.
I hope that clears a few things up. Just ask, if you have any more questions.
Now I don’t like to toot my own horn, as the saying goes, but I thought I’d pass along a few comments I received about my blog, as I found them interesting.
Praise for Musings From the Home*
“Your blog has the elegance of my minivan after I took the kids to a McDonald’s drive-thru.”
“It’s like a cross between gas station coffee and chili dogs. Nothing but class here!”
“It smells like my gym locker after football practice.”
“You call this a blog?!”
“It looks like a kindergarten classroom after play-do time.”
“It’s like riding on a tractor inner-tube down a drainage ditch.”
“Your blog has the nutritional value and substance of a twinkie.”
“You’re like the pink, plastic flamingo in my grandmother’s front lawn. Just scrappy.”
And finally, “I like it, mom.”
So, if you too should happen to like my blog, be sure to pass it along.
Ok, fine. Those comments above are all from my husband, except the last one. That one came from my 5-year-old who can’t even read.
I’m all about cats killing animals, especially of the rodent variety. And I don’t mind at all if they proudly drag those dead carcasses into my garage. And it’s really not so bad that those dead things sit there until I notice them, whereupon the cat proudly rubs against my leg and then eats it.
But robins? No, this is where I draw the line. These lovely birds are a sign of spring! They’re a sign of life! And beauty! They’re one of the first birds to return to the cold, cold North after ten months of winter!
You know what my Grandma Martha used to say about shooting robins, right? (Click HERE for her murderous threats to guns and little boys even thinking of such things.) I wonder what she’d do to this cat?
You bet Strider ate this robin too. But no, not the feathers. They were strewn all over the place. I had to have my son vacuum up his mess. At least with mice and gophers, the whole thing disappears – snouts, tails, guts, and all.
We’re done with “school.” We’ve been done for awhile because we started the year extra early, like in July, because I wanted to be coasting when the baby came, which was in February. (Click HERE for the post on her birth. Whoa, what a story.)
But even though we’re finished with the big stuff – Math, Latin, Grammar, Writing – we’re not really done. We never are. I always liked to have something for the children to do otherwise they get bored. And start fighting.
Poetry is the one thing that never goes away. We’re always memorizing something because it’s fun. And it’s not hard, as we always do it at breakfast, and we all do the same piece.
Every spring we do Gerard Manley Hopkins. He was an Anglican, but was received into the Catholic Church by none other than John Henry Newman in 1866. Hopkins then became a Jesuit priest and spent the rest of his life teaching and writing poetry. (He was a terrible teacher, by the way, but excellent at writing the most beautiful poetry.)
We just finished up with Hopkins’ God’s Grandeur, Pied Beauty, and Spring. If you haven’t already done so, do yourself a favor and read them. In fact, print them off, go stand outside in the warm sunshine and recite Pied Beauty aloud to any birds who might be listening.
Declaration of Independence
Now, however, we’re gearing up for summer and the 4th of July, when we revisit our patriotic poetry. We’ll do Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Paul Revere’s Ride and the Declaration of Independence. (Not the whole Declaration of Independence, just the first paragraph and a half of the second.)
If anyone is interested, I’ll write more about the rest of our Summer School later.
My husband and I decided we needed to get outta Dodge, as the saying goes. (Where did that saying come from? Anyone know?) And of course, we wanted to go south, where it’s warmer. So naturally, we went to South Dakota.
The Black Hills
We stayed in a beautiful cabin at Newton Fork Ranch. Long ago we gave up on hotels, because with our big family hotels are impractical. Cabins, on the other hand, are great because they can provide multiple bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen. Kitchens are a must, as one does not want to take 7 children out to eat very often.
This cabin was the highlight of our trip for the children because it sat right on the side of forested “mountain” complete with a trickling stream. They all insisted that their favorite part of the whole trip was throwing sticks and rocks into that stream and climbing that mountain. In fact, they made both my husband and I do just that – throw sticks and rocks and hike the hill, which I found rather difficult and somewhat frightening.
Prairie Berry Winery
My favorite part of the trip was stopping at Prairie Berry Winery and drinking wine. This place, thankfully, is kid friendly. It even has a table set up for checkers, which my children played. And we only had a few gaping stares from others as we traipsed in and sat down. One bold woman remarked, “Looks like you got your hands full!” To which I promptly laughed and replied, “Yes, which is why we’re here!” And I lifted my half empty bottle of wine up for her to see.
I’m not really sure that these wines should be called wine, however. Many of them are made from anything but grapes. The Lawrence Elk, for example, is made from currants. It tastes like sparkling Kool-Aid. It was very refreshing after hiking a few miles though. (My husband condescended to drink a glass of it. He gave the rest of the bottle to me.)
Chapel in the Hills
My second favorite part of the trip was the tour my aunt and uncle gave us of the Norwegian Chapel in the Hills. My aunt and uncle were once the caretakers of this place for many years, but they came out of retirement just for us. They’re the best.
This chapel is an exact replica of the Borgund Stave Church in Norway built in 1050 and still standing. So, if you can’t get to Norway, go the Black Hills and tour this one built in 1969. Of course my children liked the sliding partition for the lepers to receive Holy Communion the best.
I asked my eldest daughter what she learned from the tour, and she exclaimed, “Your aunt said that there’s no such thing as white hair. She said that she has blonde hair, not white hair, and I’m not supposed to let anyone tell me differently. Mom, you’ll always have blonde hair too, I suspect.”
As an aside, my aunt is also wearing bright red lipstick. (She is my grandmother’s daughter after all.) She kissed every one of my boys on the cheek. She laughed and laughed, as they all ran to the van, desperately looking for baby wipes to get that lipstick off saying, “Ewwww, gross!”
And finally, we all greatly enjoyed the Michelson Trail. This was once an old railway that ran through the Black Hills. Now it’s a multipurpose, gravel hiking trail. My husband and I have biked on it before, so we thought we’d take the children and explore a different section. We found a five-mile stretch that began a few miles out of Hills City and was all downhill. So my husband dropped me and the four older children off and met us at the end.
At first it was glorious. The sun was shining. The trees were glistening. A stream ran alongside us. Then, it was terrifying. Gentle mountainside gave way to steep, scary cliffs. There were no guard rails. My children squealed in glee at the enormous canyons below. They pointed out distant deer while the wind whipped through their hair, and we flew at a fearful pace. Visions of wipe outs and falling children splattering on rocks below absolutely terrorized me. I prayed to their guardian angels. I asked St. Michael to protect them. I begged Holy Mary to wrap her mantle around them.
And we made it.
I do not, let me repeat, do not recommend that section of the trail for children! Nope. If you have children, stick closer to Hill City.
But boy, oh boy was that ride breathtaking! It even ran through the mountain in two places. Those tunnels were awesome.
Dear Readers, you asked for it; you got it. Drop me a line, and let me know how it goes. (For those of you who missed the supper post, click HERE for it.) Enjoy!
1 package (16 ounces) linguine
2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium peppers, chopped (I like yellow & red.)
6 tablespoons soy sauce
Cook linguine according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook beef, onions, and peppers until meat is no longer pink. Drain. Combine with linguine and toss with soy sauce and garlic.
1 package (16 ounces) of pasta
1 teaspoon parsley
6 teaspoons of grated lemon peel (about one lemon)
4 cloves of garlic, chopped or pressed
6 tablespoons of lemon juice (about one lemon)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
grated parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a skillet, sauté parsley, lemon peel, and garlic in oil until garlic is tender. Add lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Drain pasta and combine with lemon mixture. Top with parmesan cheese.
How was your week? Here are a few highlights from mine.
My penny-swallowing, car-jumping acrobatic son is doing well, as you can see from the photo below. Thank you to everyone who expressed concern! (For those of you who missed the drama, click HERE for the details.)
2. Last Sunday we took the children to Cross Ranch State Park. (Click HERE for their website.) It’s in the middle of nowhere, off of a gravel road, and on the Missouri River. It’s gorgeous, and it’s peaceful. They’ve got beautiful hiking trails of all lengths – anywhere from a mile to 10 or more. We did about a 2-mile loop.
3. Once my husband and I went by ourselves and did the 9 or so mile loop through the bottomland, cottonwood forest. Man, were we sore! This was back in the day when we were crazy and had already ran a couple of miles in the morning and then thought, gee, let’s go hike another 10. Not doing that again!
4. So anyway, back to last Sunday. The children loved every minute of it. And we only had two ticks on us. I was a bit surprised about the ticks, as it seemed awfully early for them, but I can handle just two.
5. We didn’t see any crocus flowers yet, which was disappointing, as they typically grow in abundance up on the Upper Ma-ak-oti Trail. In fact, we didn’t see any green plants, yet. No bugs either. Just ticks.