If you're more interested in my issues-focused/cultural commentary type posts, feel free to skip over this one. I won't pout.
I'll also include some cute pictures of my kids because I have those in abundance. :)
(1) I wrote a novel. It's about persecution and the church across Central Asia. I'm still editing it, but it has been good for my soul to remember details about all of the things we experienced and saw while living in Central Asia. I am prayerfully considering what to do with it and will keep you posted as I discover what that path is.
(2) We had another family live with us for 4 months. (From December 2012-March 2013) HERE'S THE BACKGROUND, and HERE'S ONE OTHER POST ABOUT IT. After a couple months here, her husband got a job, and perhaps 6-8 weeks after that, they moved into a house in the area. It's been an exciting time of transition and exploration for them, even while it's certainly required significant adjustments.
I'll share things from my view, since it's the one I know best. From our perspective, it couldn't have gone better. We became true, in-person friends, and our children became friends. Our husbands now meet for breakfast about once a week, and we have just begun doing so too. Their family is a part of our care group at church, and we all enjoy spending time together.
So we lived alongside one another for a season and now we're still growing alongside one another.
For those of you who have asked for specifics (perhaps you're considering something similar or whatever)-- While they were here, things did at times get difficult. We unfortunately dealt with a family of mice that got into all of our grains and bread, overflowing toilets from an overtaxed septic system, difficulties with scheduling time where they felt like they could come in the living room without interrupting something (particularly when we were doing homeschool in the living room on wintery days when they couldn't get outside, etc.), and then a flat-out-broken septic system.
We also, yes, are normal human beings who dealt with hormones and disagreements and misunderstandings and had to work through those things. But I think we're all the better for having chosen to do that rather than staying in our separate corners of the world, or even just separate corners of the house, and never letting our lives co-mingle.
As I mentioned in the other post, having weekly meetings where we could freely air grievances and work through issues proved invaluable to keep communication lines open.
Cate is now a close friend-- in many ways more like a real sister than just a friend-- and we are still growing alongside one another. We've both seen each other feeling fat, ugly, discouraged, teary, and seen one another's strengths & weaknesses. We've each spoken and heard hard but good things from the other The time of being together virtually 24/7 gave us both a different sort of relational experience than we'd previously experienced... and we're both the better for it.
(3) I had Theo. I mentioned a little bit about it here, but I'd like to write up the birth story sometime soon.
He is getting so big-- already NEARLY 4 months... which is both :) and :(. It doesn't make a bit of difference that he is our 6th... it is always so shocking the way time flies, and the way that newbornyness fades into memories.
He is such a joy-bringer in our home... and we're all so thankful to know him!!
(4) Considering something new for homeschooling- We've done different methods of homeschooling... primarily Sonlight or Sonlight-inspired style, with lots of read alouds and time spent together on the couch, but last year was a very hodge-podge collection of workbooks and books that allowed me to just. get. through. the year. I had no idea, upon choosing to do that at the beginning of the year, that we would end up needing a very simple and independent-style method that just allowed forward progress for each child, but praise God, He knew. And the year went great. The kids made progress, and I stayed sane. Win-win. :)
(If you're investigating your options, check out these great articles about homeschooling: HOMESCHOOL ENROLLMENT EXPLODES, and a HOMESCHOOL INFOGRAPHIC comparing public v. homeschooling).
This upcoming year, I'll be using The Mystery of History Volume I: Creation to the Resurrection as our "spine"-- the center of our curriculum. What I love about Mystery of History 1 is that it's a comprehensive, chronological history text that combines both biblical and world history from Creation to Christ. It is fascinating and written in a conversational style that makes teaching a wide age-group possible and even enjoyable.
Each child will be advancing on their own through Singapore or Saxon (for my oldest son) Maths. Littler ones will keep making individual progress in reading/writing through practice, practice, practice.
We're also going to do a mega-group-study on nutrition, human anatomy/biology, diet/exercise, and cooking. I'm super excited about this one. In addition to using informative texts on the subjects, we'll watch documentaries, use The Great Courses curriculum for some of our lectures, cook together, and read widely on the subject. Each of the children will be my "helper" in the kitchen one day a week, and my older two boys will each have one dinner a week that they are responsible for in its entirety (shopping list, prep, and cooking) so that they can learn about nutrition and necessary life skills.
I'm just really, really stoked about the upcoming year.
I'm also stoked about the opportunity Doug's giving me this year to get away "by myself" (with Theo of course) for a three-day planning & rest retreat, here in a couple weeks. It will give me a chance to sit down with all the books, sort out what we'll do and make a detailed plan for the first six weeks or so, as well as to draft the overarching plan for the entire year.
Since we aren't made of money (who is, these days?), we asked friends for ideas, and it turns out that one of my close friends' has a mother-in-law who's going out of town soon and would be delighted to have me housesit for her. Yay! So off I'll go, by myself, soon enough.
(5) AM I CRAZY? Every now and then Doug & I ask ourselves this, even though we don't *feel* crazy... because our lives LOOK so stinking different from "normal". We just don't fit the mold.
Here's my answer: six kids is crazy but no more crazy than five was, LOL. At least not yet. :) And I really, truly love my crazy, fun, bursting-with-life, joyful, busy home. The relationships and discipleship happening here on a daily basis are challenging for me, and keep me spiritually honest. I'm so thankful for the chance to spend my days with these neat people, even if they are just sinfully rotten and beautifully unique image-bearers like me.
This is a straight-up GIFT, that we're able to be together each day and learn and grow together. I praise God for it!
So... this has gone on long enough... but that's a general update of life in my little corner of the world. Hope life in YOUR corner is also something you're praising God for.