Friday, December 31, 2010

Winter Break Wonderments

We took 2 weeks off of school for our winter break this year.  Usually I am indifferent of any break or vacation because I still have the same amount of work to do if not more from extra activities.  I'm not complaining that's just part of being a homemaker/mother/wife.  Well this time I was really looking forward to the break.  I told the children maybe this means I'm getting older and am wanting to slow down more. Hopefully not-I dont have time to slow down yet.  : )

Here are some highlights of our winter break:

1.  We bought a winter, porcelean village set and this year I did something different.  I put this set down at everyones level instead of up where it can only be seen and not touched.  I wanted the younger ones to be able to play with this set up. David and Peter set it up.  We told everyone the "rules" of how to play with them-be gentle, no clanking them together, etc).  This little village has brought hours of entertainment.

The winter village

Molly can spend half the day playing with them

2.  Peter and I watched the eclipse together.  It was a little cloudy, but still fun.  We also got to see our neighborhood owl swooping around the back field.

Peter watching eclipes

Lunar Eclipes
 3.  Finally got around to cooking the only pumpkin from this years garden.  Washington had such an odd spring weather, which in turn made my garden to be a flop!  Hopefully next year will be better.  Amy and I roasted the seeds and made pies with the pumpkin. 

The lone 2010 pumpkin
Yummy pumpkin pies!
4.  Ben, who can be quite industrious, hooked up the laptop to the TV so that we all could all enjoy a nice (screen saver) fire in the fireplace.  It's got the sound effects and everything!

Our TV/Fireplace

 5.  We finally are finishing our dinning room!  The biggest wall is now painted.  I thank Ben for this.  If he hadn't taken on filling of holes, sanding, and doing it all so quickly it wouldn't be done yet. 
Molly doing her part of the dinning room project
 6.  Of course on vacation one should have leisure time!

Amy staying up late reading a good book
Board games!

David reading

Playing cards
Kids took pictures of a hungry squirrel-with chicken bone?

Sam & Molly remembering summer days

7. We think of, miss, and pray often for Seth.  God loves him even more than we ever could.  We received a letter from him this New Years Eve Day.  He says he's doing well and will be glad to be home.

Our back yard sunrise

Friday, December 24, 2010

Motherhood Moments

Molly has been sick off and on for the past few days.  She is a lot better but just has an aweful cough.  Last night, as she was coughing away, I was trying to remember all of the things I can do to ease her discomfort: give her tea, water, cough drops, turn on the vaporizer.  I can never remember if the humidifier or the vaporizer is better.  You'd think I would remember after eight children, but I don't.

Well, Molly and I were up on and off until at least 3:30 in the morning.  She was in torment and I was in torment.  As soon as I would doze off she would wake up coughing again.  At one point she was just wide awake so I prayed for her, sang to her, hoping somehow this would help her sleep better and longer.  But it didn't.  Oh well.  I know there are bigger problems.

This morning I woke up wishing I could sleep a lot longer while Molly woke up singing, "It's the best day ever, it's the best day ever............."  Talk about praise being perfected in the mouth of babes.  While I am lamenting about my lack of sleep she is obeying Psalm 149:5  where it says
"Let the saints be joyful in glory;  Let them sing aloud on their beds................"

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dual Initials

David was so happy this morning to realize that he and his dad have the same initials:
"D.O. for David O'Brien and D.O. for Dad O'Brien!"

Friday, December 10, 2010

Molly's Memory Verse

Molly enjoyed learning her memory verse this week.  She learned it in less than a day since I turned it into a song for her. Hmmmmm, I should do this more often  : )

Watch her sing:

Thank you Letha for recording her!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Traditional Autumn Hike

Kids Autumn Collection 2010

For years, our family has loved hiking, playing in woods, etc. Anything that has to do with outside and exploring. So for the past ten years, we've had a tradition of taking a hike every autumn. Naturally, we call it our, "autumn hike" .  Well, Sunday found us on our annual autumn hike .  Even though it is December, it is still officially autumn.  Usually our hike is done on Thanksgiving Day (or around that time if the weather is bad).  We collected lots of leaves, pine cones, ferns, and other interesting things. The smaller children are always fascinated by all the many different kinds of rocks.  Afterwards, we get a poster board and Steve and the children glue all our treasures on.

This fun, relaxing time puts a new meaning to the words "take a hike."  : )

Sam, David, & Molly

Molly needs a break!
Sam & David

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Birthday Month for Girls

November is the birthday month for the girls around here (including myself).  I call Amy my late birthday present because she was born 5 hours later than my birthday.  Molly, on the other hand, was due in December, but must have wanted to share November with us. ; )  She was born a couple of weeks early.

Amy Sue
Amy turned 12 this month.  She is such a blessing and so fun!  It's enjoyable having a girl after the four older boys.  The older Amy gets the more I enjoy her.  She really loves to serve; she doesn't wait to be told to do things, if there is someone who needs something she will take care of them.  According to Steve and the boys she is my "twin".  That is an extreme statement, but I too see a lot of myself in her.

Amy and Erin-Notice the "A" & "E" on the scarves Erin made
Amy and Friends

Molly turned 3 the day after Thanksgiving.  Molly has lots of energy and is very friendly.  She adores the color pink and fancy dresses to twirl around in. She is in love with her daddy!  Her world revolves around him more than I have seen in any other of the children.  She wants to do everything with dad and for dad.  She would even go to work with him if he let her (she does ask).
Molly & Mom

Molly on 3rd birthday
Molly opening birthday prizes

Molly at Rest
 I like this last picture of Molly.  Behind her is a "People at Work" poster Peter made for school.  Peter had propped up his poster to dry, and later we found Molly had crawled up on the ottoman and fallen asleep in front of the poster.

Happy Birthday Girls!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Microwaveable Corn Bags

"Corn bag season" is here again! With the weather getting colder I have had a lot of orders for corn bags again.  There are so many different fabrics to choose from so it makes sewing them even more fun.  My favorite, and the most popular, are the bags with the fleece covers.  The other favorite is flannel.
10x10 inch with fleece cover
The removable cover is so nice because you can just wash it if it gets dirty.  Plus when my children have used them while sick, I feel like I can sanitze the bag and have it ready for anyone to use again.

4x4 inch heat pack-flax filled
This year I started making a smaller 4x4 inch size for the kids to heat up and keep in their pockets while they are playing outside.  But instead of using corn for these I have been using flax seed.  Somehow this seems nicer for such a smaller bag.  It retains heat for about 20-30 minutes; it depends on how cold it is outside.

15x5 inch with flannel cover
Right now, the 15x5 inch bag seems to be the more popular with my customers.  Usually the 10x10 is most popular.  The season is young so this could change : )

Besides using them for keeping warm-they are great for aches and pains too.  Here is more info:

These heating pads are convenient, easy to use and keep their heat in for up to an hour.  Here are just a few ways to enjoy these heating pads:
  • They're wonderful in bed for cold feet, or to snuggle against your chest or back.   
  • Sports injuries
  • Headaches
  • Helps ease the pain of Bursitis, Arthritis, Tendonitis, Fibromyalgia
  • Earaches
  • Nursing Mothers
  • Cats and dogs like to lay on them. 
  • You can take one in your car as you warm it up on those chilly winter mornings. 
  • They are safer than electric heating pads - there is no fire hazard! 
Heating packs can also be frozen, and used as ice packs for injuries or carpel tunnel or reducing a fever.  I have done this for my children before.  Just put them in you freezer for 1-2 hours (or always keep on in there to be prepared).  We have used them as ice packs in the summer to keep cool on hot days and at night when it's been hard to sleep.

The other fun thing about the cornbags is that some of my children love to help in the making of them.  Sam, who is 7, loves to sew for some reason.  I am not kidding when I say that he asks me at least every other day, if not everyday, if there is something he can sew.  If I tell him he can't use the machine then he asks if he can "hand sew."  This is the part of sewing I treasure most.  My children get a reward if something they make sells, but my reward is so much greater.
Love toward their mother is not so great in children as the love of their mother toward them......               Martin Luther

Monday, November 22, 2010

Snow Sweet Snow!

One of John's birdhouses in the snowy distance.
 We have snow today! What a perfect way for the kids to start their week off of school.  Last night the boys and Amy got all of our winter gear out of the shed to be ready for today.  And boy did they get order to the house fast today so they could play.  My favorite part is staying inside making something warm to eat, lots of hot cocoa, popcorn and other fun treats for them to have when they come in.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Letters from Seth

So we have received couple of letters from Seth.  It was nice to hear from him.  Before he left he said we didn't need to write him and "please don't send any treats" because of stories he has heard about what happens when someone in boot camp gets a package sometimes.   I know things are intense for him not just because he says, but because he asked if we could send him letters. ; )  What he doesn't know yet is that we already have sent him a couple, but it takes about 7 to 10 days for him to get a letter.  We get his letters in  only two days.

Here is the address for Seth:

Recruit O'Brien, Seth A
2nd BN Echo CO, Platoon 2115
38001 Midway Ave
San Diego, CA  92140-2115

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dinning Room Fun Work

 So today some of the boys (and Molly) were tearing down the old wallpaper in our diningroom.  While they were working, all of a sudden Sam yells really loudly, "Thank you mom for the work!"  Wow-what a surprise!  I don't get thanked to often for giving my children jobs, but I guess taking down wallpaper isn't exactly a job, but more like a fun project to do.
Ben and Sam at work

Molly getting off wallpaper

Sam having fun scraping off wallpaper

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Breakfast Time!

Sam making pancakes
 My older children usually make their own breakfast, but lately the younger ones have been wanting to do the same. David and Sam now make eggs (fried or scrambled) just as good as the rest of them!  David's eggs are so good that he can even make them for his dad (who likes them just so). The other morning, Sam offered to make pancakes for everyone. Of course he needs help with which measuring cups to use still, but he knows not to over beat the batter, and when to flip them over, how to add sprinkles, and how to tell when they are done. What's the most fun for me is watching how much fun they have serving each other. It reminds me of something our pastor said recently, "We are most fufilled when we are serving." Amy adds, that he also said in chapel, "It's much better to be a giver than a reciever."

Molly telling Sam she wants "pink" colored pancakes with sprinkles

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Reformation Day (Boot Camp Day)

Seth is off to Marine boot camp today on Reformation Day.  There were lots of mixed emotions to say the least.  But on the other hand things were very peaceful.  Thank God for the unconditional forgiveness of sins.  What a gift!  The forgiveness of sins is the solution to lifes problems.  There is no peace without the forgiveness of sins.  During the course of conversations Seth made some sort of comment to Steve apologizing for not turning out the way he (Steve) had hoped.  Steve's reply was "You turned out exactly the way I wanted - forgiven!"  What a great word for all of us.  We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  But God sent His Son to die, rise again, to forgive our sins, while we yet hated Him.  What an amazing God to give such a gift. So this is the gift we as parents have received and are able to give Seth as he is off to his new vocation.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

When Dad Goes Shopping

The way I shop and the way Steve shops are about as far as the east is from the west.  Just ask our children.  When I shop I plan everything out to the last penny.  If one of the boys needs a new dresser or mattress (and they know I will be shopping for it) you will usually hear comments like "But I need one now," or "We'll be waiting till next year!"  The boys know I look into every stores prices and sometimes wait for special sales.  We do get whatever it is, it just might not be in the time frame they were hoping for.  As for normal food shopping I usually stick with the basics.

The other day I needed a package of spaghetti noodles so Steve said he would pick some up before dinner.  When he came home he had not just the one package I needed, but four other packages along with bags of salad and french bread, and lots of chocolate milk!  When Steve goes's party time!  Everyone knows when dad goes shopping whether it's for food, clothes, whatever, dad will get the biggest and the best, and the most!  You know it's going to be good if it comes from dad.

There was a time when my penny pinching self would have a hard time with this, but over the years (and with help from faithful friends) I've come to appreciate our differences and receive from Steve as from the Lord.  After all, Steve is the one who goes out and makes the money.  What am I thinking!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Today's Funny Saying by Molly Rose

Molly and John were having a conversation before school this morning.  At one point in their little conversation John told Molly that he used to go to school too.  Molly's response was,  "Yah, but now you're too big - you would bonk your head!"

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy 10th Birthday David!

David turned 10 on October 9.  He is so thankful that he just makes it so easy to give to him.  I took the whole gang shopping with me on Friday to pick out prizes for him.  We ended up getting an easel, acrylic paints, oil pastel and a few other artist items. Ever since he was very small he has been drawing and painting.  His specialties are knights, castles, ships, and dragons.

The easel seems to have brought out the artist in just about everyone.  If  David is not using it he's got people
asking him if they can use it.  What a hit it is!  I'll have to get some pictures of David's creations and post them soon.  Happy Birthday David!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

School's In!

We've started another year of school!  All of the children were looking forward to starting a new year.  This year is Sam's first year and he was definately the most excited. 

 This most exciting thing for me is that I get to be with my children teaching them.  Thank you Steve for allowing me that luxury!
Back:  Ben (13), Amy (11), Peter (14)
Front:  David (10), Sam (7)
Yes, Ben is taller than Pete right now for those of you who were wondering.  He had a major growing spurt this year.  Peter is just waiting for his now.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What? No T.V.!!!!

Over that past year Steve and I have gone back and forth about whether we should stop our television service or not.  When I've wanted to get rid of it Steve has not; when Steve has wanted to get rid of it I wanted to keep it.  My favorite time to have a T.V. is in the fall when the weather is gets cooler so we are in the house sitting around together watching the football games, etc.  Well we really got rid of it this time.  You should have seen the looks on our children's faces and heard the gasping expressions! What shock.  Now what do we do?

Well, we have been having such a great time!  At least I have.  We all just talk more for one thing and one of my favorite things is just to hear the children's conversations with each other.  That is such a treat for me-from Seth on down to Molly.  Even the arguments are fun (if I can say that) because Steve is right there to give direction and be the referee so to speak.  That is by far more entertaining than any football game or movie.  Have you ever watched seven and nine year olds play a board game?  That is extremely entertaining!  Just watch them play without any input from someone who knows the real rules.

I'm not saying this is it and we will never have a T.V. again, or that everyone else should get rid of theirs, but for now this has been great for us.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Children Say the Funniest Things!

Yesterday Steve took Molly and Sam with him to run a few errands.  During the course of the errands, the van was having trouble and wouldn't start.  So Steve had to walk home with Molly and Sam.  Molly was asking why they were walking home (it was just from Safeway store - not far from home) and Steve told her because "the car wasn't working." While on the way home, students from the high school were doing their usual jogging.  As Molly saw them jogging by she told her dad, "Look!  Their cars don't work too."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Vaux Swifts

Over the summer we have had the chance to see Daren quite a few times.  His work brought him up to our area.  Daren is quite the wildlife photographer, birdwatcher, hiker, etc.  A few days ago he told me about some birds called Vaux Swifts.  Each September thousands of migrating Vaux’s Swifts roost in chimnies to rest while on their southern migration.  There are certain chimnies that they go to each year so people make it a point to go with blanket and lawn chairs to watch the festivities.  I read about one place even having a spagetti feed at the school where the birds roost.  Daren sent me a link to a video that I will post .  It really is amazing! 
Psalm 104.

Amazing video:'s_swifts_roost_in_eugene,_or 

Site from Monroe, WA about the swifts

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Isn't this a sweet picture!  This is my nieces daughter (my great niece?) Isabella.
She is the cover model for Welsh Heritage Farms which is the local apple orchard located near Mankato, Minnesota.  This magazine goes out all over southern Minnesota for their apple festival called Gwyl Gan Afals (Festival of Apples).
Congratulations Amber , I'm sure your so proud!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Marine

In case anyone hasn't heard, Seth has joined the Marines.  He is 19 now about ready to head out to boot camp any day.  But before he heads out he is going to Minnesota for a week to see the relatives out there.  They were kind enough to pay his ticket.  To be honest I wasn't thrilled to hear he was going because I want to spend as much time with him as I can before he is off for four years (and more).  I'm over it now though : )
A few of  us are already missing him. 
"Vocations differ from us:  farmer, fishers, and men of all order, who handle creation's wares, carry God's gifts to their neighbors.   He who engages in the lowliness of his work performs God's work, be he lad or king.  To give ones' office proper care is not selfishness.  Care for one's office is, in its very frame of reference on earth, participation in God's own care for human beings."     
 Luther on Vocation
by Gustaf Wingren

Monday, September 13, 2010


Tonight I was reminded of the blessing that children are.  Everyone had gone to bed early except for Sam and I.  He and I stayed up to watch a little TV.  While we were sitting on the couch Sam decided I needed a neck rub.  So he rubbed my neck for a short time. Then he got up went to the other room and brought back a sleeping bag, blanket and pillows.  He put the sleeping bag and blankets on me and asked, "Do you need a pillow on your feet?"  He knows me - my feet are usually cold so I end up putting something heavy on them like a pillow.  So after giving me pillows for my feet, back, and head he offers to rub my arms.  This went on for about 20 minutes.  What a perfect way to end the evening - getting to enjoy a special time with Sam.

Molly Rose

Molly Rose is 2 1/2 years now and oh so sweet!  Last night she fell asleep on the couch so I let her stay there since I was too tired to take her to her room.  Usually when she wakes up she comes to see me or her dad, but this morning she woke up and started singing "Jesus Loves Me."  How sweet she is!