July 4th Conversation

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As I was posting the above pic as my FB cover photo for July 4th, I expressed that I feel sad. Elijah, my 16, asked why to which I replied, “America is screwed.” His answer? “It’s your fault.” “Why?” I asked.

“Because you didn’t run for President.”

I volleyed with, “The scary thing is, I could run and I COULD get elected. I could run on ‘I don’t know what the heck I’m doing but it will be better than the future we’re looking at.”

Elijah’s suggested platform: “I’ve got this here Presidency for Dummies book. We’ll all be fine.”

There you have it, folks. I’m announcing my candidacy. Just write me in. I’m running not as an Independent but as an idiot because I don’t want anyone to be under the impression that I have any experience other than, if you consider having 12 kids a community, I am, in fact, a “community organizer.”

Happy 4th of July!

What’s not shared is lost…and I didn’t want to lose this conversation because it made me laugh…..

Michelle

Junk Food Connoisseurs

Every once in a while, I let the kids pick out the over-priced processed forbidden fruit type of food that I was raised on.  While I grew up with a regular diet of Hostess treats, I get a kick out of asking my kids if they want Ho-Hos or Twinkies and having one ask, “What’s a Twinkie?” No, we don’t live under a rock but we do live without commercials.😉  The kids were being especially entertaining while on one of our adventures in junk food shopping. I’m glad I decided to record “just in case.”

What’s not shared is lost,

Michelle

What should freak me out

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photo via

I’m a spaz. I tend to freak out; I have mini panic attacks. If you ask my kids, mini is not the word they will use. But I know it and I’m gradually getting a grip. When I have to make snap decisions on the fly, I “usually” am all over the situation. I’m great at problem solving in most circumstances which comes in very handy with catering. However, I’m not always “calm” in said situation. I don’t start yelping like a chihuahua or anything but I do get intense and can bark at people i.e. my kids. I make things worse when I second-guess myself. For example yesterday, as I drove off to take my cadets to their Civil Air Patrol squadron meeting an hour away with a side-stop to drop off my ballerinas to their sister’s for their ballet lesson, we heard a BAD noise. We had only driven about thirty seconds away and pulled off into a neighbor’s driveway. We had a flat. I was on a schedule and my kids were depending on me. My first thought was to go let the neighbor know I was in the driveway and ask him if he needed me to pull out into the road so I wasn’t blocking the drive. My second thought was to call Triple A. My third thought was to call my husband and ask him what I should do. So I called him first. He said to talk to the neighbor then call Triple A. Hmmm….wish I’d thought of that. o.O

SO, I walked up the driveway and an older gent and his buddy were chatting while having a brew. Wouldn’t you know that the friend who JUST so happened to be there had an air compressor on his truck? Yep, he filled up that tire and we were able to drive the 30 seconds home, throw our stuff into The Great White Beast and get back on the road. God spoke to me through the two old guys and the air compressor. AS SOON as that man said he had an air compressor, God said, “You’re first thought should have been ME!” He gives me this situations all of the time. That He cares that much about me to take time out of His schedule, that is what should freak me out first and foremost. I should also freak out that this flat did not occur on my way to Indianapolis with my two little boys on board or on my way back. I had only been home an hour from that supply run when we left for Ohio. Ohio, where I could have been when the flat happened. But, NO, I was less than a quarter of a mile from home! That freaks me out! Thank You, Lord, for taking care of us! Also, thank You that this was not our flat:

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photo via

I’m learning to not be shaken, thank you, Building 429.

While it’s the HARD things that try my faith, it’s these little things that remind me God is on my side and if He will take time to fix a tire, He wants to work through the big stuff, too. I need to REST in that. Fretting and freaking accomplishes nothing. It just makes each situation more stressful. Years ago, I bought a little card with a Helen Steiner Rice poem and it’s a prayer I’ve been praying since I was a yoot:

“God, teach me to be patient,

teach me to go slow;

Teach me how to wait on you

when my way I do not know.

Teach me sweet forbearance

when things do not go right

so I remain unruffled

when others grow uptight.

Teach me to let go, dear God,

and pray undisturbed until

my heart is filled with inner peace

and I learn to know Your Will.”

I’m not there, yet, but if you walk in our commercial kitchen when I’m faced with a deadline or a fondant piece just fell off of a cake or there’s no money for the bills or the kids are fighting again or I forgot to buy sugar, you will catch me muttering, “Unruffled…unruffled…letting go….inner peace…unruffled…”

What’s not shared is lost,

Michelle

I’m Up Already

This blog has been yelling at me to sit down and include it in my morning routine. Alright already! I’m up. I’m here. I have a morning routine….when the heck did I become a morning person?! I keep giving myself excuses as to why I don’t have time to post but, truth be told, I just haven’t had it at the top of my priority list. Our family was involved with a play at the local theatre, business has picked up for our little catering business, school, nuff said. We’ve been swamped and I’ve been tired. I’m extra tired because, since opening our business, this night owl has been evolving into a morning person. I’m still getting acclimated to this thing called “moving” before the sun shines it’s face.

Unless I stay up late, I, typically, get up between 4 and 5:30. How stupid is that? If, IF, this very light sleeper has not been startled out of sleep by a five-year-old staring at me or whispering to me, “I need to go potty,” and/or the loathsome cat decides to meow incessantly and jolts me out of sleep and/or….fill in the blank….IF I’m permitted to wake up on my own, I get up around 6am. I get up, start coffee and the laundry, fold a couple loads, get dressed, Bible, blitzes and emails, oh my.  When did this happen? Part of me misses being a night owl but I am pretty zonked in the evening and am not very productive. I sat down with this post and 4:45am and realized that I *like* being up before everyone else. I’m still not completely converted…I want to go back to bed. I feel sleepy but if I lay down now, I will sleep all morning and I have to pack for my birthday get away.  I have only scrapbooked once since starting our business. I am WAY behind and need to get back to it for my family’s sake and for therapy. I’m looking forward to solitude but, by golly, I’m chugging a Rockstar and staying up late and (crosses fingers) sleeping in to my heart’s content in the morning.

I might even write a blog post while I’m there! Will wonders never cease?!

What’s not shared is lost,

Michelle

I will send the bill….

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I grew up with a dad who felt his primary obligation to the family was to “bring home the bacon.” Oh, and to “exact justice.” But that’s another tale. It’s the “financial” burden that has always griped me. My dad was raised that women were lesser beings and that their roles were not as “important” or arduous as men’s.  I am by no means a feminist, but when I hear the occasional comment made from a male whether in print or via a friend weary of hearing her husband’s reminders that “he’s the one paying the bills,” I want to punch the guy.  This financial worth thing has been on my mind so I decided to look into a little of my “financial worth” just for the fun of it. Let’s just pretend for a moment that I have been hired to serve….

I have given birth 12 times. The average surrogate mother’s fee ranges from $20,000 to $35,000 plus expenses. I have never received an epidural or any other type of pain reliever while in labor. That being said, I gave myself the maximum fee of $35,000. I know they charge extra for the pain relief but I have no scruples about earning for braving transition. There was also that labor that lasted seven days….I could charge extra for that one…

So…

12 x $35,000 = $450,000

That’s the minimum.

A quick search on nannies resulted in the following:  “Check your state guidelines to determine whether live-in nannies qualify for overtime above 40 hours per week. For part-time nannies, hourly nanny rates start around $12 per hour and can run as high as $20-25 per hour in affluent areas, particularly those without public transportation. You get what you pay for.”

I don’t really know how long a child “needs” a nanny so I’m just going to guess until they no longer need a babysitter. I believe in Indiana, a child must be 14 to be of “legal babysitting age” so I’m going to go with that.

So….

For 12 children receiving in-home nanny care from 0-14 without overtime:

$3,066,000

I didn’t add in overtime just to be fair to my olders who have helped tremendously with the youngers. If they were getting paid, they would have earned a pretty penny themselves.

I could stop at $3,516,000 but why would I want to do that?

We homeschool. I’m a private tutor, a proven method for superior education. (Can I just interject and say that if all these years of people asking my kids where they go to school, if my kids had answered, “Oh, I have a private tutor,” folks would be all impressed and “Oh, la-dee-da” then commend us parents for going the extra mile to provide our children with exceptional education. I think we’re going to try this. I’ll let you know how it goes.)

For a private tutor – $10-$15 per hour. Holy cow. I have no idea how much time we’ve put in. I’m going to give a low-ball estimate based on the 180 day school year, average 4 hours a day (sometimes more, sometimes less – the kids do more on their own as they get older) and include all 12 kids AND preschool though we’re far from done. I want to know the grand total!

$1,555,200

We’re at $5,071,200.

I have to include my laundry service as there has been rarely a day in the past 20-some years that I haven’t done at least one load of laundry. I’d say the average is 6 loads a day, some days more. I looked at a couple of sites and laundry services such as Laundry Locker or Lazy Bones who charge by the pound or item and charge for each additive such as detergent and softener. I have no idea how many pounds of laundry I have done! If they charged by the mountain or trash bags, I might be able to guesstimate but that’s overwhelming. I can’t NOT include it, though, because I have spent so much of my life on it! So, going with Lazy Bones’ $1.70 per pound, and I average out the fact that in the earlier years of our family, we did not have MOUNTAINS of jeans, towels, etc., I’m going to guess 25 pounds per week. (I know this week, I’m working on at least 50 pounds if you could weigh it all.) 25×52 weeks = 1,300×27 years=35,100 x $.73($1.70-$.97*-the cost to do one load at home) = $25,623.

That makes $5,096,823.

I haven’t even included my earnings from being a private chef, private chauffeur, event planner, “administrative assistant,” not to mention MAID! Nope, can’t leave that out –  I briefly peeked at what a house cleaner earns: “Professional house cleaners typically set house cleaning prices one of two ways: By hour, or by square foot. Hourly costs range from $25 to $35; square foot rates are often used for a “first clean,” as a baseline for pros to work from.” If I “just” cleaned 5 hours a week at $25/hour, and we know it’s more some weeks, less during “those” weeks, that’s an easy $175,500

Ahem…. $5,272,323

I could go on but then this post would be one of those you look at to see how long it is then pass it up because you don’t have the time. Am I right?

You pay the bills? Well, sir, pay that one. Better yet, try doing all of the above. One of the reasons a woman’s brain is spaghetti is she has to tackle all of her professions pretty much every day, keeping track of it all and mentally preparing for the next task and the next day and the next week… A man’s compartmentalized brain would implode!

Well, I must be off…I have to “earn my keep.” The first thing I’m going to do is delegate because I didn’t even get to my roles as a business-owner…which I need to do today in addition to all of the above…sigh….

What’s not shared is lost,

Michelle

 

*I found the cost to do a load of laundry at home in this fabulous post, “A Cost Comparison of Home Laundry and Laundromats” on “The Simple Dollar,” a resource to save to your favorites. Incidentally, in this post, the author says it will take 600 loads to recoup the price of the washer and dryer which will take 2 years if you do one load a day, compared to going to a laundromat. Yep, our appliances paid for themselves a long time ago….

(Photo Credit: http://cdn.moneycrashers.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/man-paying-bills.jpg)

In The Laundry This Month

 

 

I started collecting the stuff I find in my washers and dryers (I have two of each, one washer is out of commission for the time being). I have a little brass pail on one of the washers and whatever I find I toss in the pail. (Change goes in a bank I have on the washer, too. I’m going to save up for a trip to Hawaii with pennies). I’ve been so intrigued by the variety and strangeness of the pail’s contents each month, I just had to start taking pictures! Now I’m posting the pictures because I can’t think of anything better to do with said pictures. I figure we can have some fun with this. Some people read tea leaves, let’s read what I found IN THE LAUNDRY THIS MONTH. This pic is actually from February.
FEB 2015I could do an eye spy. That’s what I’m going to do! At the end of the year, I’ll have a book printed for the kids! He he…in the meantime, there are stories that could be derived from the plethora of junk. And mysteries. For example, how in the heck did the buckle and clasp from a long-gone newborn car seat get in the wash? How did that horse sticker end up in my pail? It, obviously, did not go through the wash.  I see an old Creative Memories cell phone charm. Somebody has been digging through my stuff because I didn’t know I still had that thing. One thing I’ve learned for sure from this pic is that, the next time one of my girls says they can’t find a ponytail holder, I’m sending them to the laundry room.

JAN 2015

Playing catch-up, this one is from January. I spy a knob from a piece of furniture. I need to find out what’s missing its knob. There is a rock in both pics. It looks like the same rock! We don’t keep rocks, people.  I have reason to believe one of the boys is “borrowing” his brothers’ guitar picks because the green one keeps ending up in the little brass pail.

The crocheted doll pants are…weird. Did not know we had such haute couture in the house.

I see this junk as reminders of how blessed we are so why not? I have reminders here of my daughters’ pretty hair, my kids’ love of nature and creating art, of Christmas, imagination, my great-grandmother (I see one of her earrings up there – why, I don’t know), of music in the home and my kids’ love of making obnoxious noise to drive their mom crazy because they love me (pirate whistle in the top picture).

There you have it. Tell me my future from these, make up a story, judge my kids, or quiz me on the items and I’ll guess at what they are.

What’s not share is lost….in the wash,

Michelle

Music Monday – The Third Day Soul on Fire Tour

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Photo Credit: Lott Shudde, http://www.thirdday.com

 

Powerful. I went to a Third Day concert Saturday and it can hardly be categorized as a “show.”  Yes, the band performed but what they performed was heart and soul surgery. We were led. We were led to The Throne and sent forth to continue the worship in our lives. The album is Lead Us Back and the tour is Soul on Fire and if you don’t get to any other concerts this year, do try to make this one.  I would feel this way even if I weren’t already a Third Day fan. I went to this particular concert to meet up with almost 70 other fans (the Gomer Family) for pre and post-show gatherings and we had joked about how nice it was of Third Day to provide a concert for our party.  I thought I was going to serve cake and meet up with friends I seldom see in person but have been blessed to get to know and love.

What I found out was I was there for conviction. We have struggles here at the Fecher abode, just like everyone else. Sometimes we need slapped upside the head by the Spirit.  God bless Third Day for their anointed ability to slap people upside the head through their music. Your Words, Our Deliverer, Victorious – powerful.  Worship is a verb, a frame of mind and a lifestyle. It’s music like that found on the new album that challenges us to look inside ourselves and take inventory of what’s missing and what’s there that shouldn’t be.  I was prepped before attending this concert that this would not be like the typical rock-your-face shows that we are used to. I was expecting “mellow.”  Mellow is not the word.  Nope, nope, nope. Powerful is the word.  Lead Us Back is their first worship album since Offerings 2 in 2003. I hope they won’t wait that long til the next one.  Music speaks to us in ways nothing else can. Sometimes it’s fun, silly, beautiful, obnoxious, danceable, etc. but something we need a regular dose of in our music intake is, in case you missed it, powerful worship.

Get thee to a show: Third Day Tour Schedule

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What’s not shared is lost,

Michelle

 

A Stitch in Time

Several years ago, I met a “mom of many” who became a sweet friend but, at the same time, she made me sick. She sewed most, if not all, of her children’s clothes and they usually matched. Sometimes she would even match. Our kids were in homeschool band together and during rehearsal, moms would chat in the nursery and this friend would sometimes discuss sewing techniques she had discovered. I remember thinking, “I need to try that! (except when she spoke of an easier way to make the boys’ ties…my eyes glazed over for that one. I’ll just buy the matching vest and tie, thank you).  I used to sew all the time. In my younger days, I would take advantage of the quiet of the night and sew til 3 a.m. so as to finish my project. My first two girls had a few matching dresses, many that didn’t match, costumes, doll clothes and I made all of the kids’ stockings until child number 8. I have fabric for everyone’s stockings. I just don’t see that hunk of time sew. I asked my friend (we both had “only” 6 kids at the time) how in the world she found time to sew so many outfits. She told me that some days, she only gets one stitch done. Say whut? She said she leaves her sewing machine out with her current design left under the presser foot ready for the next five minutes she can sneak in and sew a seam. My personality type was stymied. I’m the kind of person who wants to get a project DONE in one sitting. I could not wrap my brain around it.

I have implemented that principle of getting things done in bite-size pieces in many areas but mostly with housecleaning and business projects. I can organize a pile for five minutes then stop when the timer goes off. That’s a big deal for me! I did have it down for the sewing at one time but got out of practice. Now I have a new laundry room with a sewing table and I feel motivated and obligated to get back to it.

One area I struggle with the “one stitch at a time” method is writing. For example, I need to quit right now and head to the shop to carve a cake and make curly Q fondant strips for the mane but I’m having a hard time stopping because I’M NOT DONE, YET!!! Oh, fine….I’ll be back….

Okay, I’m back. It is not easy to get back on the train of thought after being derailed by the to-do list. So…where was I? Oh, yea…early this morning, I took a moment to read a post from one of my favorite bloggers and guitarists, Mark Lee.  His latest post is “Embrace the Chaos,” which totally describes my life, talks about learning to blog amidst the nuttiness of life rather than wait for that ideal day or idea. He also suggests working this habit into other aspects of life.

That takes practice and an attitude of “must write.” People often ask me, “how do you do it all? How do you balance the big family, homeschooling, theatre, owning a business?” Balance? Um, no. We have had to learn how to blend.  Having babies constantly in our home became a part of our norm. Home educating became a part of our lifestyle. Theatre came into our lives and it’s just “what we do.” The catering scene has become a big part of our days and that’s just it, it’s something that becomes a part of our schedule. Sometimes we work what needs done for the business around our homeschool; sometimes homeschool is worked around the job that needs done. I know I need to squeeze in two loads of laundry a day in order to maintain the piles and keep everyone in clean socks and underwear. I use a lot of post-it notes and checklists to stay on track. I’ve also learned to use a timer to limit time spent decluttering or cleaning projects. If I didn’t, I would spend the whole day on that one project until it was done. I have other things to do! Like write. I have blogged many times here about how I haven’t been blogging, yet have not once considered quitting. I don’t think I can. Some of us think through the written word! I need to blend the writing into the batter and stop treating this as if it’s “extra;” something I can do after I get everything else done. Being  practical, if I need to set a timer, I’ll have to learn to stop then pick it up later and add “another stitch.”  I received a Bluetooth keyboard for Christmas and it’s one of my favorite tools. I fumble around with texting and trying to email on my phone.  My keyboard not only removes that frustration but I can sit in the car waiting for play rehearsal to finish and start another post on the WordPress app…which I have done. But you’ll have to wait for that one…it needs a few more seams.

I did it. I have proven to myself that it’s possible for this “must finish” personality that I can step away from the project and come back to it later then just  add to it in between the other parts of my day. Guess what else I did today? I started hemming some jeans I found at Goodwill. I only have them cut and pinned…and waiting for the stitching to begin.

What’s not shared is lost,

Michelle

 

Music Monday – Lead Us Back

March 3rd. March 3rd. March 3rd. Lead Us Back, Third Day’s newest album is out MARCH THIRD!

Now, repeat it back. What day does Lead Us Back release? This is just review. There will be a test. If you are new here, I really, really love Third Day.

We were able to preorder ours awhile back and…..IT JUST CAME IN THE MAIL TODAY!!! WOOHOO!! I started writing this post before we received this so timing couldn’t be more perfect!

Third Day

 

We were also able to sing along with the first single, Soul on Fire, at a concert this fall before it’s release and it had me hooked from the first listen. It’s like a rally cry between myself and God and it comes with the attitude that the victory has already been won and I have the confidence that I WILL be a soul on fire.

The members of Third Day do seem to “get it” and by “it,” I mean the battle is won. It just so happens that “Victorious” is another song from the new album and “Victory” is on the “Miracle” CD.

I can’t help it; I wish Soul on Fire had come out before “Catching Fire.” It would have been an amazing theme song for Katniss. Can’t you see it? No? Okay, so load this video but don’t play it, yet, and turn the Youtube volume all the way down:

Okay, now load this Soundcloud:

Play the Soundcloud then start the video.

Am I right? Just sayin’.

Yes, I sometimes play around too much….I’m tho thilly.

Here’s the OFFICIAL Soul on Fire Lyric Video:

And Victorious:

I’m listening to the CD as I type and I have goosebumps.

And here’s where to preorder your Lead Us Back CD or CD Bundle (click that yellow tab with the plus sign down on the bottom right):

https://www.thirdday.com/home

Looking forward to seeing them next month! They are amazing live and we get to meet up with precious friends we’ve met through this awesomesauce band.  A Third Day concert isn’t just a show; it’s worship and a taste of Heaven. I hope you’ll join me during this Soul on Fire Tour as we worship together as we “Run to His heart till we are souls on fire!”

What’s not shared is lost,

Michelle

My Big Fat Mouth

I come from a long line of complainers on one side of the family and a long line of critical hot-heads on the other. I’m not worried about any family reading this because they will either know I am right or complain and criticize no matter how gently I put it. Left to my own devices, my mouth is a going concern. I am a complainer and have been critical of others. I have let expletives escape and I, man, can I gossip.

My mouth has been getting on my nerves. That realization occurs whenever I notice that other people’s mouths are getting on my nerves. I hear their tone or talking smack of others and ask myself, “Self, is that what you’ve been doing? Do you speak in that tone to YOUR kids?” When the answer is yes, I sometimes reel it in or I criticize and complain about the people who aren’t controlling their mouths. You all do it, too, you know it.

 God gave us mouths for his purposes and to eat pizza and chocolate. Our mouths should be used to encourage others, share what God has done in our lives, teach, pray and sing. However, God did not make us robots and will not control our mouths for us. A lot of people blame God for all the evil in the world. Do you know how we know? Because they used their mouths to tell us so. If God put a muzzle on every critical complainer, folks wouldn’t have the freedom to be atheists or mean, verbally-abusive husbands or foul-mouthed gang members making a drug deal in a back alley or the church leader persuading his followers to believe a falsehood as gospel. Blame God all you want, it’s our choice to control what comes out of our cakeholes and it ain’t easy.

James 3:3-5 says, “When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”

 When I think about how this comparatively small muscle covered in taste buds and used to make goofy faces and lick ice cream can steer what direction the rest of me turns toward, it makes me a little nervous. A lot nervous. This thing we use to sing lullabies to our baby we also use to lie, cuss, and manipulate. I came across a pile of MEMLOCK cards this morning. Memlock is a Bible verse memory system we use with our kids. It uses cards with “trigger pictures” on them to help you remember the verse. Anyhoo, the card on top read as follows, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29

Here’s the trigger picture:

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SO, when I hear my kids’ mouths doing their thang, I tell them to eat a “Let Donut.” Finding these cards on the tongue was a smack upside the head. I’ve been letting my mouth do the thinking for me much of the time. There are several other verses in this pack of cards categorized as “TONGUE.”

Proverbs 10:19 When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.

Psalm 141:3 Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.

Proverbs 12:18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

You don’t have to be a believer for these verses to make sense! There are so many more but suffice it to say that the very BEST way to get control of our mouths is to use it to pray for our mouths. For me, I want what comes out of my mouth to steer me in a direction that blesses others, helps the hurting, encourages, empowers and, to me, most importantly, leads my children closer to Christ each day. I want to be an example worth following and I’m not sure I’ve been that.

How could a Third Day song NOT come to mind? Nothing At All was the first song my husband heard from this awesomesauce band and drew him in. The pictures used in this video certainly depict what I’ve been talking about (click HERE for lyrics):

 Then, of course, we can’t forget Thumper:

 My admonishment for the week – “What did your FATHER tell you? Eat a LET DONUT!”

Be blessed,

What’s not shared is lost,

Michelle