Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How to eat an Oreo Cookie

Recently we had friends over who taught us the "Civilized" way to eat an Oreo Cookie. It was so absolutely sublime that I just HAD to share it with all my bloggity friends.

1)It must be a REAL Oreo Cookie. Anything else is inferior.

2) Using a thinner fork, or a knife, insert the prongs into the icing of the cookie.

(We had 19 kids in the house... we ran out of forks!)

3) Dunk Oreo into a mug of milk. THIS IS IMPORTANT!! You Must obtain enough milk to reach Depth of Dunkability... the oreo must be thoroughly submerged.

You cannot see them, but there will be bubbles coming up from the cookie. When the bubbles stop, there is the perfect amount of milk saturation. The cookie will be soft on the outside, but crunchy on the inside. Absolute perfection.

4) When pulling the oreo out of the milk, one must turn it on it's side. This allows the surface tension of the milk combined with the grooves in the cookie to keep the milk from dripping off. If you put it vertically, the milk just runs out and ruins the whole thing. See?

5) Eat. And enjoy. ;) You do not need to have your hand under the cookie as nothing drips, but habits are hard to break.


You may be wondering exactly WHY I have wasted good time writing this? Well, I do have a point. The point is to SAVOR simple things. Enjoy them. Make the moments last. As I have said before, the days are long and the years are short. The children will all grow up, and someday it will just be me and my wonderful husband puttering around our house. And I want to remember how wonderful it was to eat an Oreo cookie. Or read around the Christmas Tree. Or play a loud silly game. Any of the fun things which sometimes get pushed aside for the mundane in life... laundry, diapers, and piles and piles of dishes.

So go eat an Oreo Cookie, and ENJOY!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

New "Curtains"

Remember the other night when it got down to 58* in our house?! Well, I decided to stop putting off one of my projects and get it done. I have been planning on making coverings for my windows in our living / dining room. We have 5 windows, and this room is by far the coldest in the house. So I decided to do something about it.
I had an old quilt from my mom which I cut up. I used the middle to make into two rectangles... I hung them up by putting safety pins on the back, and hanging them on small nails. See how cute they turned out? Two windows look like this:

On the third window, I put a crib quilt my mom, grandma, and I quilted when I was pregnant with my first baby. All the quilts are up by safety pins. (See the gifts someone put on the window sill? The kids are so excited to give their gifts...)

Over the door I put a quilt my mom had made for me a few years ago. I need to find the third "branch"... I have no idea how it came off.

For the last window I had a quilt I had worked on, but never finished. It was not big enough, so I took the red sashing I had taken off the quilt from the first two windows, and added it as a border. I still have to cover the rough edges, but it works for right now. (Seeing the photo I realize I need to hang it straighter... that will get fixed!)

When I proudly showed it to Eric he said, "It's great. Except that it has Snowmen on it!"
At my chagrined look he followed with, "Wait. That didn't come out right. It's just that it's a WINTER scene and won't be good all year round." (Well, we won't put it up in the summer!!!) He finally gave up trying to dig out of the hole he put himself into. There was no recovery.
So how about you? What do you think?!?! I love the snowmen.

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

Happy Christmas Eve! My kids are into celebrating anything we can, so they celebrated Christmas Adam yesterday (Adam came before Eve, so any day before a holiday's eve is the holiday's Adam... they're strange, those Peterson kids...). I was a bit busy getting a burst pipe taken care of. Thank God for good friends. Our Pastor helped me find the break and repair it (from the outside - we were able to take a panel of siding off instead of cutting a hole in the drywall...). Another friend came over and looked at it with me and will return on Friday to help Eric fix it so it never will freeze again. I cannot tell you how thankful I am for these friends we have made here.

That and running water. And showers. I love a good, hot shower.

We did another of our Christmas Traditions, which was to read the book The Best Christ Christmas Pageant Ever. Oh how we laugh at that book. This year they laughed especially hard at this part on page 55:

"Since none of the Herdmans had never gone to church or Sunday school or read the Bible or anything, they didn't know how things were supposed to be. Imogene, for instance, didn't know that Mary was supposed to be acted out in one certain way - sort of quiet and dreamy and out of this world.

The way Imogene did it, Mary was a lot like Mrs. Santoro at the Pizza Parlor. Mrs. Santoro is a big fat lady with a little skinny husband and nine children and she yells and hollers and hugs her kids and slaps them around., That's how Imogene's Mary was - loud and bossy."

After they stopped laughing hysterically, Sara (age 5) said, "Mama... you're not fat."

Sweet thing. So delusional. ;)

I don't slap them around either, but that's beside the point.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Not Me! Monday - Dec. 22

I DID NOT let my children eat chocolate cake for breakfast this morning. Nope. Not me.

Christmas Adam and other

Just wanted to let you know that it's cold here in Kentucky. My computer says it's 9* F, but feels like -5. Our house was 58* when we woke up this morning, and our pipes were frozen even though we left every faucet dripping. Thankfully one bathroom is OK, so we can get water and go to the bathroom. I am thankful for that. I really need to sew some insulated curtains for the windows to see if they keep us warmer. Thank God for our two kerosene heaters, and lots of warm quilts.

A friend is taking all the kids (minus Bethany) shopping for gifts today. Bless her heart. I pray for her sanity. She does this every year. I love it. It's rare for me to have the house to myself. I plan on working on our Christmas letter, unless my fingers freeze first.

We had a really nice weekend... did our traditional caroling party. This tradition started when I was in high school and some neighbors would get the list of shut ins from our church and we would drive all over creation in the attempts to visit them all and carol for them and drop off cookies. We have continued this tradition in my home every year. Some years we sang in the barracks, others just in the neighborhood we lived in. Here in Kentucky we have sung at the nursing home, hospital, and this year we went up a street.

We encountered something I never dreamed... NO ONE opened their doors! Well, two people did, and they enjoyed us. Other than that, one person shut the door as soon as he saw us, and the rest never opened it. How weird is that?

What are your favorite traditions and memories? One of my favorite memories was when I must have been about 5 or so. We went to my Grandparent's house. On Christmas Eve evening many of us went in the car to look at lights and see if we could see Santa's Sleigh. I looked and looked, but figured I must have missed him, because when we got home, HE HAD ALREADY BEEN THERE!!! Wow, that was cool.

Another memory which definitely molded me forever was the Christmas I was either 13 or 14. I wanted a stereo more than anything. One day while my parents were at work, I snooped in their closets. (Hey - I admitted my son didn't have clean laundry last week... this is nothing compared to that!) I saw a STEREO in my Dad's!! I was so excited Christmas morning to get my stereo. And... it was a present for my mom, not me. It served me right!!!

So now, everyone can bring in the bags, tell me where they are hiding my gifts, and I will NOT look. Oh no I will not.

So let us know your favorite Christmas memories and traditions! If you blog it, link to my blog in the comments. I love reading about other's traditions.

Oh yeah - the girls want me to let you know to be ready for Christmas Adam tomorrow. Since the 24th is Christmas Eve, they have declared the 23rd as Christmas Adam.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Littlest Star... Smeak Preview

One of my friends posted some photos and a video of the show we were all in last weekend... can you pick the Petersons?! Head over Here to see it and leave her a comment to let her know I sent you! (You can tell her she should make me a jam cake while she's at it, too!) Come back here and let me know which photos had the Petersonclan in them... I just might have to award a prize for the one who can pick them all! Maybe one for those who know us in person, and one who can pick out just from following my blog. Feel free to search my old blog site to find photos for identification purposes... And have fun!

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's all fun and Games, Until it's not.

I have been working hard at creating memories this season. Tree, eggnog, cookies, the works. Eric wants to start the tradition of watching "It's a Wonderful Life", but since I think that is a totally boring movie, I am protesting this introduction. He'll win, though. He always does. ;)

This brings me to the point of this post... just because it makes for great memories, does not mean that it is always fun for the organizers. Anna (age 9) discovered that just the other day as she was making pancakes for the kids to cut with cookie cutters. She leaned her head on her hand and said, "Phew - this is harder than it looks like it would be." I used the chance to tell her that making memories rarely is fun for everyone, that lots of times it is just plain hard work for some, and fun memories for the rest.

It took me 37 years to learn that the point is not that We love it, but that THEY love it. And we love THEM. So we do it.

She's already way ahead of the game.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Children's Shoe Storage

I have 9 children. That makes for 18 growing feet. That's a lot of shoes, people. If I were to have to buy shoes, it would also equate to approximately the ever growing bailout package. (Did you realize that if the government had given the bailout to the citizens we could have EVERY ONE OF US paid our mortgage off and completely gone off grid with water, heat, and electricity?)

Ahem. Anyway. Feet. Shoes. And lots of them.

I am so very thankful for people who hand down clothes and shoes to us. I keep most of the decent condition shoes, as long as I don't have too many in that size and color. I will not keep a white sneaker if I already have one in the same size, but would keep another color.

We used to just throw them into a large trunk sized bin, but that made it too hard to find shoes when we needed a new pair or said child could not go to church because her shoes were too tight. Or worse yet... had Leprechauns stealing only one of them. Amazing how often one footed Leprechauns attack our house in the night.

This last time I did clothes exchange, I organized our whole system, especially our shoes. I got out the brown lunch bags. I labeled the side, and the bottom flap with the shoe information. For example - Girls white church shoe size 5. Put the pair of shoes in, turned them so I could see the flap, and slid them into the bin. When I was done, I had a whole trunk of shoes that I could tell exactly what I had in what size, because I was looking at all the bottom flaps. When Daughter #2 outgrows her size 1 youth shoes, I can pull out the bin, pull out the size 2 shoes, put the size 1 back in those same slots and we are ready to go.

This works for me! Head over to Rocks in My Dryer to see other ideas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Quick Mercy Update

I know there are many people checking the blog to see about Mercy, so I will relay the info I got briefly over the phone. I'll write a long report tomorrow for those who care...

- Mercy's heart is NOT any worse than it was in Sept. So we will not have to look at Chemotherapy... yeah!

- The ENT is looking at maybe putting tubes in her ears to help with hearing, and to start working on de-bulking the hemangioma around the eye this summer.

- Mercy will have a specially made contact for her which will have a rigid center and a soft outside... the doctor thinks this one will stay in better. That remains to be seen. After we have two weeks of consistent contact wearing, we will start patching the eye up to one hour a day to try to strengthen it.

I think that is the Cliff Notes of Mercy's day. Eric tried to make it to Lexington in the snow, but it got bad, and there was an accident on the highway, and Mercy was screaming her head off, so he exited when he could and is at a hotel until it clears tomorrow.

I'll fill in more details when I have them!

Two out of Three Ain't Bad

This week we have been really busy. 7 of the 11 Petersons were in the church's Christmas play. It was fun to do as a family, but took quite a bit of time. Between that and trying to get to the end of Week 17 of school before Christmas break, wrapping gifts, setting up the tree, and scores of other things... my house has made a downhill slide into cluttered and not been picked up. If you look in the corners of my kitchen counters there are crumbs. Our vacuum is broken, so the house has not been vacuumed since Saturday. One child had not gotten his clothes in the laundry for who knows how long, and didn't have enough clean clothes to go to Cinci with Eric at the spur of the moment. (How's that for Reality Blogging?! I can't believe I just admitted that on the World Wide Web.)

As I sat in my recliner this morning, enjoying the lights on my tree and trying to ignore the mess on counters, etc. I reminded myself of something that I try to keep in mind all the time. TWO OUT OF THREE AIN'T BAD. I am sure you are asking what in the world I mean.

Let me explain.

I have multiple full time jobs...
- Train the children.
- Educate the children.
- Keep the house clean and everyone fed and in clean clothes

The list could go on, but these are my top three priorities in my home. I have found I can do TWO of the three, but cannot juggle all three successfully. I can keep the house spotless and decluttered, and keep up with school, but their discipline gets dropped. I can disciple my children wonderfully and keep up with school, but the house goes to pot.

In this season we are making memories, and trying to get school done, but the house is a bit less picked up than I would like. (That may well be the understatement of the year.)

And as my husband tells me quite regularly, "Get over it."

My children are healthy and happy. Hopefully they will have good memories of growing up in a large family. They are learning the Bible, and learning how to serve God and put others ahead of themselves. I need to get over the fact that my house never seems picked up. We could do all these things, but I would be a wreck if I tried to keep a spotless house too.

So my advice right now? This week? Said to you and also to myself? TWO OUT OF THREE AIN'T BAD. And GET OVER IT.

Forget the pile of dishes, and the desk you cannot see under papers, and go make cookies with your children. Enjoy them this season... it is short. They will grow up and be gone before we know it. The house will be perfectly decorated, and everything will stay exactly where I put it. Of course, Anna reminded me very clearly that by that time I won't be able to remember where it was put anyway, so I should just get used to not being able to find anything. Haha. Very funny.

We're off for a day of baking cookies (didn't happen yesterday), and having cookie cutter pancakes with ice cream topping syrup... shh... don't tell the nutrition police. The girls have decided they want to stay in their jammies all day.

And just for the record, I did not move ornaments from limbs that had four or five on one branch to fill in that big, glaring spot at the bottom which didn't have any at all... I'm getting over it. Aren't you proud of me?!?!

Mercy's Big Day

Just a reminder to ask people to pray for Mercy and Eric today. Our plans changed (as they often do) , when we were informed by a friend of bad weather in Lexington (where I was going to be driving through at o dark thirty in the morning)... and when we realized that if I went yesterday Bethany would have 2 days without me (she really likes her Mama these days)... well, the best decision was to have Eric go up yesterday. He is not sure he will get home tonight, but hopefully he can get to our friend's house a little North of Lexington.

Anyway- I write all that to let you know that I am the one home today, and Eric with Mercy. Please pray for them... she has a big day scheduled. I'll post when I know something.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Funny Nathan Quotes

Yesterday Nate had left his blanket on the floor, and I was trying to motivate him to get it cleaned up. I hadn't told him what I wanted yet, though. I said, "Nate! I need a big helper! Are you 3? I need a big 3 year old to do a mission."

He said, "Big 3 year olds are not big enough to clean things up quickly!"


As reported by one of the church nursery workers:

She asked who they thought walked on water.

Nate replied, "My DAD!"


In other Peterson news, we were in the church play on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 7 of the 11 Petersons were in it, so we had a grand time. Today is a rainy, warm day, and the children are a bit grumpy from so many nights of going to bed hours late, so we will probably just stay home and chill out. Maybe we should make cookies instead of school today...

Josiah is about to finish reading through the Bible this year. All he has left to read is 2 Peter, 1, 2, 3 John, and Jude. We have told the children that any time they read entirely through the Bible they can go on a weekend trip with the parent of their choice and do something special. He is wanting to go to the Space Center in Alabama. With Eric, of course. I have spent my lifetime allotment in Air and Space Museums.

Angela is close to finishing too. Maybe she'll want to go shopping at the outlet malls or something. They both have been more consistent in reading their Bibles than I have this year.

My theory is that things are only bribery if it is for a negative behavior. If you are rewarding good behavior, it is an incentive. So- "Here, we'll get you this candy if you'll just be quiet" is bribery." Anyone who can say all the verses from the Roman Road will get a pack of M&M's," is an incentive. See the difference?

Tomorrow is Mercy's big day for appointments... we have two eye appointments, an echo cardiogram, a meeting with the cardiologist, and a meeting with the hemangioma doctor. If her heart is worse, we will be set up the start of chemotherapy. If it is stable we will keep watching things for another couple months. Please keep us and her doctors in your prayers! We greatly appreciate every one of them!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Growth of a Hemangioma and the Things I Have Learned

[This is reprinted from my old website. Enjoy the lessons I have learned!]


I often write about my Sweet Little Mercy... let me fill you in if you are a newer reader. She was a beautiful Christmas Gift... arriving just after midnight on Christmas morning. When she was born she had what looked to us like a bruise along her left temple. The pediatrician told us it was a port wine stain. Here is a photo of when we brought her home from the hospital...

Following medical advice (thinking it was a port wine stain, and there was nothing we could do about it), we watched it grow (Jan. 3),

and grow (Jan 22),

and grow (March 5).

In March, we got an appointment with a dermatologist, who recommended laser surgery. They told us she would not be at all uncomfortable, which was a bold faced lie. Four people held her down for the laser, while she was screaming bloody murder. It obviously hurt her, and after this I refused to return to that doctor. We went to a pediatric dermatologist in Louisville until she was a year old.

(April 15 - on a high dose of prednisone, resulting in the bloated cheeks. You can see the burns from the laser. These later ulcerated, got infected, and resulted in some terrible scarring.)

(June 2)

When she turned a year, and the hemangioma was still growing, we moved from having her care in Louisville, to getting her seen monthly by a specialist in Cincinnati. We are so thrilled by Doctor Adams and her staff.

(Jan. 2008)

I tell you all that to tell you what I have learned. Mercy is a beautiful child. Everyone who sees her agrees about this. This week I realized that when I look at Mercy, I don't see the hemangioma... I see MERCY! I see her sweetness, and her smile. I see how adorable she is, and see the potential for a wonderfully full life.

And I realized that is how God sees us. When he looks at us he looks past the awful things we do - past the growths which deform us, and make us less than perfect, and HE LOVES US! He sees us as we are meant to be. As He designed us. He doesn't look at our horrible parts... He sees the sweetness He put in us!

If you are like me, you wonder sometimes how in the world the God who created the universe could even care about you. When there are so many people out there who are so much better and more beautiful then I am, why does he bother about me? But He sees the me He knows I can be. The one I was designed to be if I could just get past my own selfishness and greed. He takes my sins, forgives them, and seperates us as far as the east is from the west! He can't see them anymore.

Mercy's Hemangioma is still growing. If we were to just look at the hemangioma, it would seem that she is just getting uglier. Her face is not "normal". People stare when we go places. But we see past that, to the beauty we know is there. So does God. Be encouraged, my friends, He loves you more than we love Mercy. And while we hope the doctors accomplish what they claim they can do - make Mercy's face look normal someday - we would still love her even if they couldn't. She would still be beautiful to us because she is OURS.

You are the same. God loves you because YOU ARE HIS. He created you! Let Him love you. Let Him forgive you. Forgive yourself. Forgive the others who only look at your "ugliness" and know that God sees you how you can someday be.

Please Help Us Get Research Funding

Most of you know, but some of you are new at following my blog. My sweet Mercy (who will be 2 on Christmas Day) has a large facial hemangioma we have been working to get under control for almost 2 years. Please read about it (and view the photos) here.

Mercy not only has the hemangioma, but also has some issue with her heart, and other minor things. Our prayer is that these will not effect her in a permanent manner. They have found that some of these children have varying vascular issues. You can read more about PHACE Syndrome here. A Google Search will get you a lot of information.

Unfortunately there is not a lot of research being done on PHACE Association. This is resulting in grave misunderstanding among the medical community on what causes this, and what the treatment protocol should be.

Due to this, there is currently a petition going on to try to increase funding for research into PHACE Association. Would you mind signing it for my Mercy's sake? We would really appreciate it. Head over here to sign, if you would like to. I am also posting the whole petition here so you can read it first.

Thank you for your help!

To: National Institute of Health

To: The National Institute of Health
Stephen C. Groft, Pharm.D., Director of Office of rare Diseases, Office of Rare Diseases
National Institutes of Health, 6100 Executive Boulevard, Room 3B01, MSC 7518
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-7518NCI

Elizabeth Read-Connole, Ph.D.
NCI Representative to Office of Rare Diseases Committee Cancer Etiology
Branch, Division of Cancer Biology National Cancer Institute, NIH 6130

John E. Niederhuber, M.D., Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
NCI Plaza North Room 5016 Bethesda, MD 20892-7398

Sonia I. Skarlatos, Ph.D., FAHA, Acting Director, Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, NHLBI Gene Therapy Coordinator, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

Rashmi Gopal-Srivastava, Ph.D.,Office of Rare Diseases, National Institutes of Health 6100 Executive Boulevard, 3B-01, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-7518

J. Fernando Arena, M.D., Ph.D., Division of Clinical and Population Based Studies Center for Scientific, Review, National Institutes of Health
6701 Rockledge Drive Room 3135, MSC 7770 Bethesda, MD 20892-7770

The Hemangioma Investigators Group has formed a consortium to address the need for research into vascular anomalies and PHACE Syndrome. This petition is in reference to RFA for the Vascular Anomalies Rare Disease Clinical Research Network

As a community of patients and families and friends who are living with vascular anomalies/PHACE Syndrome we are appealing to you to consider this application favorably. There is much to be learned about these diseases and the only way that will be accomplished is through research and trials.

While vascular anomalies are not new, the diagnosis of PHACE Syndrome was first reported in 1996. PHACE Syndrome is a rare disorder that requires the collaboration of medical disciplines including, cardiology, dermatology, hematology, oncology neurology, radiology, and surgery. There is a wide spectrum of symptoms and complications involved in vascular anomalies/PHACE Syndrome. PHACE Syndrome and the entire spectrum of vascular anomalies have been inappropriately diagnosed and managed due to an inability of the medical disciplines to collaborate on diagnosis and treatment.

Since the first reports of PHACE Syndrome appeared in the literature, there has been an increased interest by physicians and scientist. Medical Institutions across the country have recognized the need for multidisciplinary teams to manage patients and have supported research targeted at developing treatments. Unfortunately there is no funding for vascular anomaly research. The lack of funding for vascular anomalies has limited research and this is directly affecting how the growing number of diagnosed patients are managed each year. Patients and families are left with little information or understanding of the long term implications and treatments of PHACE Syndrome and other vascular anomalies.

NIH Funding for the proposed consortium would help provide desperately needed knowledge and understanding to disorders filled with so many unknowns. Our hope is that by finding solutions to complex vascular anomalies like PHACE Syndrome, there will be applicable treatments and insight into the more common vascular anomalies like hemangioma and vascular malformations.

Our patient/family led groups as well as patient advocacy organizations have been pleased with the representation within this consortium. There are doctors from many different specialties and many different medical institutions working together for one common goal. These dedicated researchers and scientists have been involved in every aspect of managing vascular anomalies/PHACE syndrome and are committed to moving forward. They have created an innovative proposal and our groups enthusiastically approve of their efforts.

By signing this petition we, as a community of patients, family members and friends show our support for requested funding by the NIH.


The Undersigned


Again, here is the place to sign. Thanks for taking the couple minutes to do this for us!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Online Budgeting

I have tried many, many budgeting plans in the past. When it was just me and Eric and one child, it was pretty easy to use physical envelopes like Larry Burkett recommended. I would pull out all our spending money in the right bills and put them in the correct envelopes. If I went to the Base Exchange and bought a shirt and some curtains I would run it through in 2 transactions and pay for one out of the clothing envelope and one out of the household envelope. It worked, but was time consuming.

Then, ten years ago, we adopted two children and had another one all in a four month span. Did I mention that Eric was deployed for much of the 18 months following our growth from one to four children?! It was also the year of the rabbit in Japan (where we were living at the time), but that is beyond the point.

At that time, my budgeting pretty much fell to the wayside. I had much more important things to do. Like making sure I didn't lose any children while they scaled the piles of clean laundry waiting to be folded. And small things like feeding them and stuff.

Since then we have gone to paying for everything by debit card, which only additionally complicated things. Oh yeah, and I have had 5 more children.

So for the past 10 years I have struggled to find an easy budgeting system which would allow me to keep track of what I spend while not taking HOURS each week. Because uninterrupted quiet only comes in 3 minutes at a time around here, and I certainly don't want it to be spent thinking about money.

I have found a really easy system! I tried it before, but they didn't have our bank online. Now they do, and it is working!!! Go check out Mvelopes and see what you think! It hooks up to your bank account and downloads all the transactions. You set up your budget and divide the money in your accounts into the different categories. When you have a transaction from the gas station, you can just drag it over to the "Gas" envelope, and the money is subtracted from the account. They have a quick tour you can take to see the way it works.

If your bank is connected to this program, it is SO EASY. This morning it took me 2 minutes to drag the 9 new transactions to the appropriate "envelopes." I quickly saw that we only have $3 left for food, but that we have a LOT extra in gas. It has also let me save up money into categories for school supplies, car registration, and other things that I was always spending all the money without noticing. Now we are not spending all our money every month, I am just spending what is in our categories.

I do still go online with our bank and balance our checkbook every few days to a week. That helps a lot too, since it never seemed to balance when I waited a whole month.

Proverbs 13:11 - Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.

There is a cost to the mvelopes program ($10 - $12 a month, I think), but the first month is free, so you can try it and see if it will work for you. I know we are saving much more than we are paying for the service. I also know that I feel a lot more in control of where our money is going, and that peace is priceless.

Go check it out. Also check out Biblical Womanhood's Frugal Fridays for more frugal ideas. Even though the price of gas is down, we can all use to save all the money we can.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm just a Rebel Wanna - Be

I went from a friend's blog to My Charming Kids and discovered the neatest idea... for a $10 donation which will be split between three charities - one for bereavement when a baby you are carrying has a terminal diagnosis, and two which are for adoption grants. In exchange for that donation, you can be entered in a drawing for a totally cool camera which I have been saving up for for over a year. And I have nowhere near the money saved yet.

With Christmas coming, we spend so much for our presents, and food, and everything else. I think that we should find extra charities (or ministries within the church) to give to. Our pastor has encouraged everyone in our church to give a tenth of what we spend on Christmas to missions. $10 is no where near that, is it?

I don't think that giving gifts is bad. I love to give my family gifts they will enjoy. But are we also giving to those who desperately need us? Are we giving our lives for those who are less fortunate?

I'm off my soapbox now. And I consider it a privilege to help out. Whether I win a camera or not. But I won't be opposed to prayers that I win, OK?! ;)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Scrapbooking for a large family

I am not sure if I have shared my scrapbooking technique with you all or not. I have friends who do loads of wonderful scrapbooks, both digital and real. I love looking at them. I think it would be fun to do them. But I get bogged down in the details. I have done some digital scrapbooking, and this blog works as a scrapbook, really, but formally I have not done much. I'm way too busy wiping noses to scrap about them.

So at the end of last year, I had a great idea. For 8 cents a print at york, I can get all my favorite photos from the year printed out. Then I go to Stuff Mart and buy a photo album. I then stick all the photos in the album. Sometimes I write notes, mostly I just plain get them in.

So there you have it! My method of scrapbooking. Safe, easy, relatively cheap, and no scissors or stickers to lose.

A friend of mine said that this year she has done a photo book - a couple pages for each month. That is a pretty good idea too. It wouldn't take long, and you could then have a book printed for less than $15 plus shipping. Can't beat that!

It's what Works For Me! Go to Rocks in my Dryer to find out some more things which work!

Some More Thoughts on Christmas

Christmas... Peterson Style

With the Christmas season full on, things get a little crazy. I think that a special season like we have just shows the imbalance our society has every day. It's just my opinion, but I think our human nature is too prone to do everything to excess. Except serve God.

A few years ago we started looking for ways to change the emphasis of Christmas from GETTING to GIVING. Can you imagine how long it takes 9 children to open all the gifts on Christmas morning? Gifts aren't bad. I love giving gifts. I love receiving gifts. I love seeing my children enjoy gifts. But I hate the greediness which comes at this time of year.

We were already moving toward this train of thought two years ago when I went into labor shortly after church on Christmas eve. Interestingly enough, Mercy Noelle joined our family at 12:57 ET on Christmas Day (the time zone of the hospital, and therefore her birthday), but at 11:57 CT (the time zone we live in.)

So now we had a child with a birthday on Christmas day, we had the Christ child's birthday to celebrate, and we wanted to get away from the greediness of getting gifts being the emphasis. Sound like an impossibility?

So here's the traditions we have come up with... see what you think of them. We love them.

On Christmas Eve we celebrate the Christ Child's birth. We go to church for some acapella carols and a candlelight service. It is the children's favorite service of the year. This year I am going to add a birthday cake and ice cream when we get home, and a special breakfast. We also use our Nativity Set to tell the story of Christ's birth, with flashlights working as spotlights.

Christmas day is Mercy's birthday. She is only going to be two this year, so we will just do gifts and cake. As she gets older she will be able to pick her favorite meals to eat also. We do have friends over for a late afternoon dinner and usually the helicopter crew flies out to join us. I can't see that people should be lonely for Christmas. So Mercy is the only one of our children to get birthday parties with people outside of the family each year. How's that for lucky?!

No, we don't do gifts on Christmas day. We start gift giving and opening on the days following Christmas. Each family member gets their own day. So we open the grandparent's gifts on one day. Aunts and Uncle's gifts another. We assign a couple children per day on the days after. This enables all the children to get lots of attention, photos, and love on the days they GIVE their gifts, not on getting them. On Emma's day to give gifts, she gets a photo with each of her brothers and sisters, along with what she gave them. If you were the scrapbooking type (I'd like to be, but am not) you could make a scrapbook page for each child on the day they GIVE them.

We divide things up between the 6 days from the 26th to the 31st, with Eric's and my gifts (usually we spend between $30 and $50 per child... this year will be closer to the lower amount. Less if we can find nice gifts cheaper) being given on New Year's Eve.

Then it's New Year's Day. The children LOVE our New Year's Day traditions. We usually buy a couple games for them to open that day, and we play games and eat junk food all day. They are allowed to each pick their two favorite snack foods. We start the morning with donuts and cinnamon rolls. Warming them up is the only cooking I do all day. We have deli lunch meat (a treat for us all) and rolls for lunch. We eat junk the whole day. They love it.

I know that many of you have family nearby you need to work into the holiday schedule, and you share children, so things like this are not possible. But I encourage you to take a look at your traditions, think outside the box, and figure out how to put the emphasis on Christ and giving rather than on receiving a long laundry list of way overpriced gifts.

Now if I could just find the time to put up a tree and write a Christmas letter I'll be golden.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Computers and Small Towns

In case you are new around here, I live in a VERY small town. There are only 2000 people in the town. It is one mile (literally) from entering to leaving. Usually people know I am pregnant before I know it. (Although the current rumor that I am pregnant again is NOT true.)

Usually I LOVE living here. But it has been an adjustment. Like trying to get things fixed. You better not need to get into a hardware store after noon on a Saturday. It'll be closed. Start those house projects early so you know what you need to buy at the last minute. A friend of mine has had her van in the shop for over a month and they have yet to START on it. And I dropped my sick computer off at the computer doctor's office last TUESDAY and they still have yet to be in to finish working on it. Sigh.

So I hijacked Angela's computer, but it doesn't have e-mail. If you have tried to reach me, I didn't get it. Please e-mail me at peterson dot carri at gmail dot com until I get my old computer set back up. Boy do I miss that thing!

So - bottom line - small towns are great. Until you need something. Then they move v e r y s l o w l y .

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

MOMYS Cookbooks

I have people asking for MOMYS Cookbooks... see here for a review of the greatest cookbook ever printed... at least for large families. Anyway - I have three left. I can sell them for $35 ppd. Less if you want more than one. I know it sounds like a lot for a book, but there are 1600 recipes in it, and it is a beautiful book. So head over there to read about them, and my three will go at a first come, first served basis.

Moms of Lots of Littles

Today, I want to write a specific post to the Mama's of Lots of Littles. Or maybe Only Littles. And by Littles I mean the children too small to really be a helpful member of the family. Once I heard an interesting thought... when children are little (under 7 or so?) they are not a productive member of the family... they cost more to feed than they are able to help out. In the middle years they even out... they can help enough to balance the food they eat. By the time they are bigger, they can help enough to be a positive member of the family's society. I think that was from an Amish or Mennonite background, but I think it has value.

OK- we can argue semantics for a while... I know that a person's value is not just dependent on what they can produce, but go with me on this. I now have Older Children, Middle Children, and Little Children. Things are easier than they used to be. When the baby is fussy, I can sleep in a little. I rarely have to do the dishes. I even split the cooking duties, so if I am in a project the children still get fed.

BUT- I remember when I only had little ones. I remember it well. I still get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think about it. My mind flashes back to that 4th story apartment in Okinawa, Japan, where my husband was deployed or working all the time. I remember the loneliness and isolation. I remember pacing the floor with Anna who cried all the time her first 6 months of life. I remember being so tired I was dizzy. I remember crying as I surveyed the laundry piled over my entire sofa, as high as my neck. Oh do I remember.

Here's my encouragement to you... THIS TOO SHALL PASS. You will survive this. And, surprisingly, so will your children. They will grow up. Althugh the days are very, very long, the years are so very short. As hard as it is at times, enjoy your children.

Here are my suggestions for your sanity in these years:

1) Have a routine. Notice I didn't say schedule. Routine. Go from one thing to another in order so they know what to do, where to be, and what is coming next. This will help you. Have each person have a place to be and something to do.

2) Teach them to play alone. This is hard if there are a lot of them, but it is important.

3) GUARD Naptime. If they don't all sleep, make them read on their beds. Give yourself some quiet time. And use the quiet time for YOU - not to catch up on housework.

4) Teach them to help you. When you are emptying the dishwasher, let them do the silverware. When folding laundry, they can fold kitchen towels and washclothes. When cleaning the bathroom, they can wipe down the sink with a cloth while you do the tub. They can empty the garbages into the kitchen garbage can. Work together, room by room. Before long, they will be able to do the simple things on their own. Then it is just a matter of time before they can do bigger things.

5) Snuggle up on the sofa and read to them. Some of our favorite times were reading aloud together. I rarely do it any more. I wish I did.

Someday you will be past the All Littles Stage, and be able to look back and realize that it's easier. I promise. If not, you can come and cry on my shoulder and accuse me of lying. Until then, enjoy your children, and keep doing the next thing. Don't forget to train them well. Things which are cute at 2 are not so cute at 12. I promise you'll survive this. I did!

Monday, December 1, 2008

And the continuing saga....

After all my complaining about our chickens a couple months ago, I thought I should update you on the current egg output. We are now averaging 10 eggs a day. I think that they are enjoying the cooler weather, along with a healthy dose of realism setting in when about 15 of their compatriots ended up in the stew pot. These mamas are laying quite well, thankyouverymuch. They also DON'T HAVE NAMES. This is important, because no matter how well they are laying, they will be in the pot next year this time when next spring's birds get going.

In other news, we had a lovely Thanksgiving complete with turkey, ham, all the fixin's and some seriously good pies. Yum, yum. We had 23 people (including Bethany who doesn't eat yet) around our table... thankfully the weather was good and the 15 children could play outside. This also made it possible for the flight crew to fly the helicopter in and land in our field to join us for dinner. That's always an exciting event. Children young and old love to see it.

After the weekend, and the extra days off school, we are having a rough start to the school week. Hopefully tomorrow will go better. Bethany has a bit of a cold and was fussy this afternoon. Lucky for me, housework is loyal and will still be there tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Keeping Track of Chores and Rewards

Yesterday I started a series on "How I Do It"... in response to people's insatiable curiosity about, well, how I do it! So if you are not a regular reader, go here to read my first installment.

One thing I am not good at is remembering when I assigned a job, if it was done, if it needed to be done again, if someone needed to have another job since they didn't do the first one well, etc. I still can't remember much of it, but I have finally figured out an easy reward / discipline system I thought I would pass on.

We were given a bunch of "Tickets" that the church was getting rid of. You could buy those rolls of tickets, or just cut up paper, whichever works best for you. At the beginning of the week, each child gets 10 tickets. I write their initial on the back of it. If they do not do a job I have asked them to do, they hand me a ticket. I cross out the initial so it can be used again.

Each ticket is worth $.25. Or they can trade some for extra computer time. Or staying up late. Or extra toppings on ice cream sundae night. (I even said that 100 tickets can be turned in for a day off school.)

If they do after meal chores exceptionally quickly the whole family earns an extra ticket each. If they go exceptionally slowly they all lose one. Set a successful mousetrap? Ticket. Change a poopy diaper? Ticket.

This is an easy way for us all to keep track of things. They keep their tickets, and I am no longer responsible for remembering everything. Which is a win win situation all around. They way outnumber me, you know.

It's something that Works for Me!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reality Check

Another Funny... I was just correcting school for Emma (Grade 2) , and came across this letter (written exactly as she wrote it) to some missionary friends we write to every month.

Dear Mr. Mrs. _____________ . Haw are you? I ame Good I ame riting Fast cus I want to be don whith school Frome emma Joy


Lest I actually feel like I am doing a good job or something.

A little humor to brighten the day...

I've been relatively serious lately, so here are a few funnies which happened recently:

Me: Phew, Nate. Your hair smells like a sweaty boy. You need a bath.
Nate: Does your hair smell like a sweaty boy?
Me: Nope. I took a shower. My hair smells pretty. Smell it.
Nate: It smells like DEAD FISH.


Emma: I'm playing the song Om-pa-pa for my piano this week.
Sara: I'm playing Om-ma-ma!


And no- these are not my children, nor do they play them on the web, but it's a pretty funny homeschool song. Just so we don't take ourselves too seriously. [Editor's note: I am pulling the video link since it is not working...]

Monday, November 24, 2008

Well, Here we are...

I finally did it. I have been trying to move over to my own website (and am slowly moving my entries from homeschoolblogger over here...), but have finally gotten my own domain registered and working. Thanks bunches to my brother for all his working with my ineptitude. Feel free to subscribe to the feed... it won't be long before I am here permanently.

Not only are we moving around on the web, we are moving around in my house also. See, when we moved here, we had 6 children ages 11 to 8 months. They were pretty small. Fast forward four years, and I have 9 children ages 15 (almost 16) to 4 months. There are more of them, they are bigger, and they are noisier. I have never been able to handle the noise very well. (Ironic God gave me 9 children and sensitive ears, isn't it?!) They also stay up later, so I have people around me from the minute I wake up in the morning until the minute I go to sleep at night. We were needing some serious re-visiting of where everyone is in the house. For the sake of my sanity, you know. Those in patient treatment facilities are way out of the budget.

Sometimes it just works that you need to re-think the flow of your day, and how you are going to run everything. Where will everyone be? Will there be traffic jams? Can you anticipate trouble areas? Thinking fresh sometimes finds a solution you didn't see before.

Anyone who knows me at all knows I LOVE to move around furniture. Every few months I get this gleam in my eye, and anyone who can be found is trapped into hauling furniture from one place to another. They all roll their eyes and humor me. For I AM my mother's daughter after all. She does the same thing. I come by it honestly.

Eric always lets the boys know that they are getting plenty of practice for when they are married, and their wives ask them to do this very same thing. He also spends much time reminding them that many times their wives will ask them to do things which don't make sense, but men just do them so they can love their wives. He begs Angela to remember this when SHE is married and wanting a change of living room arrangement. She smiles while rubbing her shoulder muscles. The boys groan when I ask for things to be moved in yet another arrangement. I pretend not to hear a bit of it since I am mentally trying to figure out how to get our current furniture to work better in a room which still has the same awkward dimensions.

I was in desperate need of figuring out new places for everyone. I have 5 independent scholars, a kindergartner, and the three and under crowd. (Three of them.) Having them all in the same area was just too chaotic. So we rearranged. Now the three girls are in the rooms upstairs, each in their own spaces so they don't bother each other. The two boys are each in their rooms. The kindergartner is at the table with me, and I am able to work on keeping the three and under crown under control, which is not as easy as it sounds.

This has really helped the last two weeks. I have not felt I am ready to lose my mind even once recently. So here's my take home tidbit for you... find a place for everyone. Train them to STAY THERE! Train them to work without you watching them every minute of the day.

Keep posted this week... this post is one of at least 3 "How do you do it?" I posts I am planning for the next few days. Upcoming topics will include Children and Chores, and Keeping Track of It All...

I often get asked how I "Do It All". Anyone who knows me in real life knows I don't even TRY to "Do It All", and much of what I DO try fails miserably. And what works in MY family won't necessarily work in yours. So rather than specifics, I hope to share principles which will help you.

1) Everyone have a place...
2) Everyone stay there unless called by Mama.

Let me know if this works for you! I'd love to hear from you either via e-mail OR comments! Happy planning!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sassy Little Thing (Mar. 3, 2007)

True story... today Eric was kissing me, and turned to the kids and said, "I LOVE kissing your Mama!"

Anna said, "Kissing is so totally gross."

Me: I'm going to remember that, and quote you someday, when you are married.

Anna: By the time we are all married, you'll be too old to remember!

I told her I was putting it on my blog so the whole world (or at least the few people who stumble here by accident) would read it. My children are so funny.

Here's a picture of the two silly children mentioned in these posts:

A Funny Conversation (Mar. 1, 2007)

To preface this story I must start at the beginning and let you know that we have been battling Pink Eye. A "cure" for pink eye, besides going to the doctor and spending a lot of money for eye drops, is to put some "Mama Milk" in the eye. Supposedly the antibodies present in the milk will help to battle the infection.

Recently Josiah, almost 10, got pink eye. I told him there was a solution... to put milk in his eye. I said that there was a bag of milk in the fridge if he wanted to try it. He asked, "Where did it come from?" Pause. "You don't want to know."

"That is so weird." he responded.

Fast forward to dinner two days ago. Joe stated that his eye felt like someone punched him.

I said, "You know what you can do to solve that."

Anna (age 7), "What's that?"

Me: Put milk in his eye.

Joe: Mama- that is so gross!

Anna: What's gross about putting cows milk in your eye?

Joe: It's NOT cow's milk. That's the gross part.

Anna: You would put MAMA's MILK in your eye?!?!

The entire table erupted into uncontrollable laughter, and Josiah promptly disappeared under the table in mortification. It took much pleading (among the giggles) to get him to re-emerge.

I love the stage where boys are embarrassed. I had suggested to Josiah that a great science fair project would be to test the saturation point of each kind of diaper to see which is really the most cost efficient (the cheaper ones need to be changed more often, so I have always wondered...) but he told me he could never hold his head up in the local homeschool group if he did that. He would be too embarrassed. So funny!

Of course, Eric and I love to kiss each other and turn all the kids red. :)

Rocket Science (Feb. 22, 2007)

Ever think that Rocket Science is easier than this?!

We've had a crazy morning. Nate has had three baths this morning, and Sara
2. The big kids were found to not have been doing their work diligently,

and the baby was fussy. Ever try to explain pre-Algebra, when you have
about a 7th grade math understanding, with a screaming baby, toddler, and

preschooler?! AND the macaroni was boiling over at the same time? OF
COURSE the phone rang right then, AND the Kindergartener actually answered
it. Handed the phone to me with, "I don't know who it is because I couldn't
hear. But I think she asked for you." Thank God for naptime.

Here's how my morning went... deceptive... youthful innocence... then the truth....

Prayers for Mercy (Feb. 26, 2007)

Here is a photo of our precious baby, Mercy. She was born with a hemangioma on her face which has grown rapidly and now has almost closed her ear canal and is causing her eye to bulge. This photo is a couple weeks old, so it is larger now. Please pray as we go to specialists to see what can be done for her. Thanks!

The Dash (Feb. 17, 2007)

This week I have been thinking about my role in “The Dash”- You know… the thing which comes between the date of birth and date of death on a tombstone? The Dash. That’s what we live. So how’s your dash? Worth writing about? When we die, people will look at our tombstone and wonder about the dash. Our children will remember it! Just a thought. Probably not worth 2 cents. :)

I have been reading (or recently read) two books which have changed my outlook. One is called "Lies Homeschool Moms Believe" I was wonderfullly freeing to realize that the pressure I had put myself under to be like "Mrs. X" were really lies!!! No one else has the perfect house, perfect kids, perfect life, etc. We all have strengths, and we ALL have weaknesses! No one has everything all together. And if someone feels they do, the addition of a newborn will throw that theory in the trash. It's a great book. It's worth buying for the illustrations alone.

I am also in the middle of, "Lord, Meet Me in the Laundry Room"- it is EXCELLENT!!! I'll have to write a review on it later, after I have finished. But while you are ordering the first book, go ahead and get the second. You'll not regret it!

The Best Christmas Gift (Jan. 6, 2007)

I received the best gift this year! Baby #8 joined the family at 12:57 a.m. - 10 1/2 hours after my water broke. We are so thrilled to have Mercy Noelle join us! She is beautiful, and adored by her brothers and sisters. The tally is now 5 girls, 3 boys!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Moving over here slowly

I am slowly but surely moving all my blog from homeschoolblogger to here. Until then, visit me at http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/petersonclan

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Just call him the deerslayer (11/17/06)

Eric and Josiah went hunting today and got a doe. They are so excited! I am excited for the hormone free, free range meat to fill my freezer. People pay good money for that kind of thing! We also picked up our cow from the butcher this morning and filled a 16.7 cu. ft. upright freezer with all sorts of roasts, ribs, and steaks. We had to put an additional 38 additional pounds of ground beef in our other freezer.

A friend got a buck today, and is giving us his meat too. So we are well blessed in the meat department these days. I cannot wait to eat some of the beef. It tastes so much better than the store bought stuff!

Don't count your chickens before they hatch (9/9/06)

I'd love to be dreaming of cute little chicks. I'd love the opportunity to count a few eggs and dream of fluff balls. Unfortunately, no one told my chickens they should lay. The silly things JUST DON'T GET IT. Even though we have about a billion chickens in our field (OK- just 125 or so), we get about 3 eggs a day. Good thing about 100 of them are destined for the stew pot in a couple weeks... anyone like chicken soup?

Mother's Day (May 13, 2006)

In honor of Mother's day, I got a great present! We found out we are getting a new baby sometime in the beginning of the year! :) I am currently 6 weeks pregnant with Baby #8. The children are THRILLED. I made the neatest announcement of the baby... I took all the newborn photos (in the little baby burrito), and the photo of my oldest two getting their citizenship papers (they were adopted in Ukraine 7 years ago), and put them in a circle around Eric and I. Then put a blank one with a ? and the due date... it was beautiful. I have mailed one to my mil and mom... I cannot wait to hear their reactions. I'll try to upload it later . Like I said, I am new at this!

I also wanted to share something I wrote for Mother's Day... hope you like it!

What I love about Being a Mama:
I love the little girl giggles as they are playing house.
I love the silly meals we have, where everyone needs to make up a haiku, or speak in rhyme or something.
I love the softness of little baby feet which have never been walked on.
I love when the babies are crying and only Mama can quiet them. (And I am the Mama!)
I love listening to the silly songs the children make up.
I love having my little girls dress up in ballerina costumes and dance to classical music.
I love listening to my children practice their instruments.
I love the perfection of a newborn baby's fingers.
I love reading a book and giggling about the things that happen. (I almost didn't make it through McBroom's Wonderful One Acre Farm... the children brought me Kleenex so I could continue through the laughter!)
I love embarrassing my boys by kissing their Papa. I love that they will grow up knowing that their parents love each other.
I love that we have enough children that picking up their ages will get 44 items put away.
I love nursing a baby in the middle of the night when the house is quiet, and I have all the time in the world to snuggle them.
I love watching my big children play volleyball, football, or Frisbee in the fading summer evenings.
I love hearing the children yell, "Papa, Papa!" when their papa comes home from a long day at work.
I love watching the little children try to keep up with the big ones.
I love how a 3 year old talks, and mispronounces words.
I love seeing my big 12 year old son carrying his baby brother.
I love seeing my husband wrestle with the boys.
I love seeing my 13 year old daughter giving the little ones pony rides.
I love snuggling a toddler after a long day. Well, I just love snuggling a toddler!
I love having a 15 passenger van so we can drive the kids and their friends all at once.
I love watching strangers at the store get huge eyes as they count all the children.
I love having teenagers. Really!
I love that I have a large family.
I love teaching my children, and seeing their eyes light up at understanding something new.
I love a newborn baby burrito. Their sweet cheeks and wonderful smell.
I love that my children are the brightest, best, and most beautiful in the world.
I love a positive pregnancy test, and all the hope it contains.
I love that 7 children call me Mama. Not Mom, or Mommy, but Mama. The most perfect name in the world.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

We're Moving!

No, not really. Kentucky is where we are staying unless God speaks with an audible voice. But I am trying to move to Blogger since I have heard that it is much better to work with... we will see! Keep posted... we'll be adding new things soon!