Family PIc April 2015

Family PIc April 2015

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

It's Not Quite Like I Thought It'd Be

Today, my firstborn turns 18.

Eighteen years ago I was struggling with preeclampsia - my feet, hands, face, and abdomen were swollen beyond anything I had ever imagined.  After a protein urine test over the weekend and a doctor visit on Monday afternoon, it was determined that the little boy growing inside of my womb needed to be born immediately.

And, just like that...I was officially thrust into motherhood.

I had a lot to learn...but I knew that God had created me to be a mother.  He had given me this child to nurture, to teach, to prepare for the world.

...Then came sleepless nights...and I thought, "I can't wait until he sleeps through the night!"

...And then came toddlerhood...and I thought, "I can't wait until he learns to go potty...and dress himself...and feed himself!"

...Then there was preschool...and I thought, "I can't wait until he learns to read and write!"

...Early school days came and went in a flurry of commotion...and I thought, "I'll be so glad when I get him to the point where he wants to learn independently!"

...He turned 15...and I thought, "Yay, now he can drive!"

...Along the way, he began to learn to pull a man's load of work around our home and in our community...and I thought, "I'll be glad when he decides on a college to attend and chooses just the right career for himself!"

And, now...he's 18.

High school graduation is near...our school days as teacher-parent and pupil-child are almost over.

He sleeps through the night, goes to the potty and dresses himself, reads and writes, learns independently, drives his own car, and has decided on a college to attend.

He has grown to be a young man that fills me with pride.

He has big plans for his future.

...And they don't all include mom and dad.

All these things I "couldn't wait" to happen...have happened.

My firstborn son is now officially a grown man.

When I held Nathan in my arms for the first time (all 5 lb. 13 ozs. of him), I never imagined I could love him more.  As the years have flown by, I have found that I love him with a greater intensity than I ever imagined. 

There are emotions that only a mother understands - a teetering between wishing he were little again, and yet, enjoying what he has become. 

Today, I admit, I'm sad.  I'm sad for the times I know I messed up and didn't truly cherish the moments.  I'm sad that his hugs are a little different.  And that there are no child-like snuggles or bedtime stories now.  I'm sad that he no longer depends on me. 

Years I was constantly waiting for the next stage, it was hard to enjoy the moments at hand.

I thought I'd be GLAD when he was finally 18. 

...But, somehow, it's not quite like I thought it'd be...

Monday, February 8, 2016

Girls' Afternoon Out!

In an effort to get my mind off the longing for Baby Miller to arrive, and to spend some special time with my older children before Baby comes, I decided to take my two girls out for some fun this past Saturday afternoon.

Eva and I talked Friday night, and we decided we would plan to do the following:

1.  Get pedicures (2nd pedicure for me...1st for both my girls)
2.  Peruse the aisles of Whole Foods Market (because Eva loves that store)
3.  Shop for Eva new tennis shoes
4.  Get milkshakes

Eva made a list on a little slip of paper...she's so much like her momma!

We had the BEST time! 

Although both girls were a little nervous about their pedicures - not knowing what to expect - they both LOVED them...and can't wait to go back sometime! 


It was such a fun memory for me - watching Kedesh getting her toenails polished PURPLE. (If you know me, and my control-freak nature, you'd be so proud of me.  I was thinking PINK, but I totally let her choose her "favorite color.")

And I loved watching Eva soak in every detail (including her massage chair, which she loved!).

We found Eva some cute tennis shoes - and I was saddened to learn that her feet are officially bigger than mine.  I can't believe how grown she is getting!

We walked around Whole Foods Market for an hour - smelling every bath salt and every bar of organic soap, looking at everything from lentils/beans to fresh almond butter. 

Although we hadn't planned to actually buy the end, we bought Eva some bread...well, because that is her favorite food...and she begged me!

Afterwards, we went through the drive-thru of Cookout and ordered 3 milkshakes - vanilla (me), red cherry (Kedesh), and oreo (Eva).

When we got home, the first thing Kedesh did was snatch off her pink boots and socks and show off her purple toenails!

And, all our guys ooooo-ed and ahhhhhh-ed appropriately. :)

I'm so thankful we made time to have a very rare Girls' Afternoon Out!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Praise God for Angiosperms!

"Praise God for angiosperms!  Not only do they provide our lives with essential things we need to survive on this earth, they are also beautiful to behold."  (Exploring Creation with Botany by Jeannie K. Fulbright)

What are angiosperms, you ask?  Flowering plants, of course!  :)

Have you ever thought about how many flowering plants you come in contact with every single day?

Or better yet...all the products that come from flowering plants?

Roses, sunflowers, mums, and lots of other beautiful flowers we enjoy indoors and outdoors are all obvious angiosperms.

But what about fruits, veggies, wheat, oats, corn, rice, honey, sugar? ...Most of what we eat wouldn't be here!

But, we could eat meat, right? 

WRONG!  Most of the meat we eat (chicken, pork, beef, wild game) rely on angiosperms to live and our meat wouldn't exist without flowering plants. 

We could probably eat fish...but all the time?  That would get pretty boring!

How about cotton in our t-shirts, undies, and bed sheets?  Nope...not without flowering plants.  (*side note:  If you've never seen blossoms on a cotton plant, you are missing out!  They come in the prettiest shades of pinks and yellows!)

You get the picture? 

My kids were pretty good at recognizing the benefits of flowering plants in our discussion today - probably because they get to help garden a little in the summers. 

...And, they know their momma absolutely LOVES flowers - that totally makes them important, right? :)

So...for our Botany lesson today, we performed a flower dissection on a rose from the back yard.

Truth be told, sometimes our little Science labs wind up being a crazy headache, especially with the little ones...but, today, I still have enough sanity to want to write about it, which means everyone was interested enough to be attentive - SUCCESS!  ;)

(I DID have to steer our conversation back to flowers after Silas, my 5 year old, asked if he could go "kill a frog so we could dissect that" instead! ..."Ummmm, no, Big, we don't get to do that in Botany - that has to wait until Biology." )

Today, during our flower dissection, we started learning about how flowers make seeds...and that's important in learning about a whole lot of other things to come (pollination, seed dispersal, fruits)!

After our work, I sent them outside to soak up some much-needed SUNSHINE (it's been raining for a week here, but the sun finally peeked through today!)...and I encouraged them to look around them while they played, and to try not to take things around us for granted...

..and to "Praise God for angiosperms!"

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Officially announcing the newest little member of our family...

Currently 20 weeks and counting...EDD 2.19.15.  Maybe a Valentine's Baby??

We are always getting questions, and honestly, I really do love when people genuinely are curious and want to know about our family and what makes us tick.   I realize that our family is unique - isn't every family??  My family is my favorite thing to talk about!   Unfortunately, it's the condescending questions that leave me feeling misunderstood and hurt. make this post more fun, here are a few questions we have heard...and the answers we might have given (in no particular order).

1.  "Are you excited?" ...Yes, of course we're excited!  The kids can't wait to add another sibling to our sometimes crazy chaos.  It's the stuff that makes life fun and full of love and laughter!  Besides, how many kids get to grow up having "real, live baby dolls"?  (Forget those Toys R Us versions that only give a weak cry and pretend to wet their diaper - this is much more fun! ;) )

2.  "How many are you going to HAVE?" or "Are you going to have any MORE?"  ...Hey, when you already have 9 kiddos running around, that's a valid question - I totally get it.  For the record, we plan to have as many as God wants us to have.  No, we don't use birth control, ovulation kits, or natural family planning.  We realize that we are blessed we don't have to use those things.  We trust that God, the Creator of everything - from the Universe to the mitochondria in each tiny living cell -   knows best. 

3.  "How do you AFFORD all those kids?" ...Well, Gregg has a wonderful job that he loves with a very good company, making a good salary.  But, we have basic cell phones without internet, we don't have cable television, we don't have car payments, we don't eat at restaurants as often as many families b/c we can eat much cheaper (and healthier) at home, we never turn away hand-me-downs, we buy quality items from yard sales and consignment shops, we rarely buy items that aren't on sale or get the idea?  We make what some people might call "sacrifices", but when I look around our home, and watch my children growing, I don't feel like we're sacrificing at all. 

4.  "You must really like being pregnant, don't you?" ...I'm going to be completely frank here.  There are parts of carrying a child that I REALLY love - like feeling Baby kicking around inside of my womb.  That has never gotten old to me!  I love feeling my older children rub their hands along my tummy and give it a hug in their anticipation for a new brother or sister.  I love the wonder and miracle of birth.  It awes me every time.  ...But, honestly, I don't enjoy the morning sickness, the migraines, the 50-60 lbs. of weight gain I typically experience, the aching back, the relentless fatigue, the swollen hands and feet, or the struggle with my prenatal and postpartum body image.  Pregnancy isn't easy for me...but it IS absolutely worth it!    

5. "Do you know what causes that?" ...We get this question ALL. THE. TIME.  I get a kick out of total strangers thinking they are being original and funny.  Gregg usually comments, "Are you asking because you honestly think we don't know...or because you need us to explain it to YOU?"  I've recently started to simply comment, "Yes...and we really enjoy it!"  I don't think we've heard a really good comeback yet.  ;)

6. "Aren't you afraid something will go terribly WRONG, especially now that you're older?" (Yes, people have actually said this to me.) ...Pregnancy and childbirth have their risks.  But, it is a very natural part of life.  I was a Biology major in college, and I know how to do my own research.  I have yet to see any convincing data that shows that a healthy woman shouldn't bear children during her child-bearing years.  The risks of "something going wrong" are there for women of all ages.  Gregg and I choose not to base life decisions on fear of what "might happen."

7. "How do you DO it?  You must have a lot of patience!" ...I never quite know how to answer this one.  It's like asking a mechanic how he rebuilds an engine, when I have hardly any idea what's even IN an engine.  He'd probably tell me he rebuilds it "one step at a time."  ...Or like asking a surgeon how he performs a quadruple bypass.  He'd probably tell me "taking one moment, one step at a time."  I guess that's how I "do" it, too.  Each day is different.  I take "one step at a time." I don't always say the right things or do the right things.  I've learned from trial and error...and just when I think I have it all figured out and I'm so proud of myself, my next child throws me a curve ball.   I was not born with enough patience...but, thankfully, I've developed more over the years.  God gives me grace...and so do my children.  It's part of being a FAMILY.  Over the years, I've been learning that there are some things more important than others.  It's been a delicate journey learning what to let go and learning what battles I must fight. 

8.  "How much do you spend on groceries?" ...This year, we have budgeted $850/month for groceries.  This does not count approximately $2000 in beef/year as we purchase our beef "by the cow." (we have a "cow" line item in our budget - how funny is that?)  Groceries include food items (of course), paper products such as toilet paper (see #9!)/paper towels/paper plates/napkins, cleaning products, and hygiene products.  (It does not include eating out, as we currently budget that separately at $150/month for our family of 11.)

9.  "How much toilet paper does your family use?" (Don't laugh - I've heard this question!)  ...I have no earthly idea! :)  It's a necessity...if it gets low, trust me, I buy more!  I absolutely do not have time to accurately document that one, but I can tell you, we have a lot of rear-ends to wipe. ;)

10. "What kind of car do you drive?" ...Our current family vehicle is a 2008 Ford F350, 15 passenger van.  Gregg drives the "little van" to work - a 2002 Chevy Venture mini-van.

11. "How many bedrooms do you have and how do you place that many kids in those rooms?" ...
       We have 4 bedrooms.  One bedroom belongs to the 5 youngest sons (ages 2-10).  Gregg designed and built a set of quintuple bunk beds for them this summer.  They LOVE them!  Our only issue has been keeping them from frolicking late into the night - it's like having a constant sleep-over with your best friends!
        Another room belongs to the 2 girls, where they share a full size bed.  The room is painted pink.  Thank heavens for some pink!  ;)  We also keep the baby's crib in this room.
        The 3rd children's room has a set of full-size bunk beds that Gregg built years ago.  Currently, our 16 yr. old claims the top bunk, and our 17 yr. old claims the bottom bunk.  The room contains things like antique records and radios...and baseball trophies. 
        And, finally, the 4th bedroom is the master bedroom - that would be ours.  :) 

***SPECIAL NOTE (in case some of you are wondering):  We have 2 bathrooms, which is usually enough.  But, let's just say that ONE advantage to having lots of boys is that they don't mind peeing OUTSIDE ;)...and the girls almost always use the master bathroom.    

12.  "Do you think you are better than other people who don't have as many children as you?" ...Ok, I'll admit, this recent question stunned me.  I'd never really considered that thought.  If we have conveyed that in some of our responses over the years, I openly apologize.  If we did, it was probably b/c we felt like you looked down on us b/c we had "so many."  We've been around the block long enough to realize that everyone is different.  We also realize that we do not know or understand everyone's circumstances or decisions.  Some people wish they had more children, but they couldn't or felt they shouldn't...some wish they didn't have as many...and some consider themselves to have planned their families just perfectly.  We don't look at a couple with 2 children (or any number of children) and think we are "better" than them.  Not everyone was created to be a teacher, or a doctor, or a musician.  By the same token, not everyone was created to have a "large family."  We're just being obedient to what God has called us to do with our lives.  It's ok to be different.  We respect you.  We expect you to respect us, too.

13. "What are you going to do about college?" ...It's called planning.  We know it's coming, at least 18 years before it actually does.  When each of the kids is around 6 weeks old, we open them an account.  We save.  If they get scholarships, guess what?  They get to use the money we've saved for them for something else. It's a good educational motivator. ;)

So, yeah, we get lots of questions...and some funny looks...and some rude comments.

But, we often get some of the sweetest compliments and sincerest questions, too.

We can appreciate and handle both.  ;)

Life is what you make of it...and HERE WE GO AGAIN! :)


Saturday, August 15, 2015


It's been increasingly difficult to share vehicles with 2 teenage drivers in the house. 

Our spare vehicle is a 1973 Chevy pickup that is most reliable taking the trash to the dump and hauling wood.

We weren't especially comfortable with the boys driving it longer distances to classes or ball practices/tournaments.  So, I was usually left home without a vehicle while one of them took the van.  Poor me! ;)

Nathan will be a senior this year and has been talking about getting a car for probably 2 years now.  But he began looking, realistically, about 6 months ago.

Last Friday, he purchased his first car - on Kedesh's 4th bday.  He laughed and told her he bought her a car for her birthday.  She might actually think it's hers - lol!

Pretty proud of this guy for working hard, saving his money, and being patient.  I admit, it was pretty surreal watching Nathan hand over his money to the seller.

He wanted something different.  Anyone who knows Nathan wouldn't expect him to get any type of car that a "normal" 17 yr. old might purchase.

But, when Nathan saw the Jaguar on Craigslist, I scoffed.  His daddy, on the other hand, encouraged him to check into it.  Go figure! 

And, the rest is history.

His brothers and sisters had to check it out the first chance they got...

Then, we had a little photo session with just Nathan.  He was pretty excited, can you tell?

Nathan, of course, had to clean the car inside and outside - every nook and cranny. 
To do this, he enlisted the help of a couple of his siblings, who were gracious enough to help...

And, he ended up waxing it "until the cows came home!"

It's been quite a week getting all the paperwork completed at the local DMV (Boy, could I write a post about THAT experience...but I'm trying to keep this upbeat!)

Registration and property taxes are paid, tags are on, extra keys have been cut, and the new title with his name on it came in the mail today...and, just like that, my firstborn owns his FIRST CAR - TITLE IN HAND!