Papa-son and Mama-cita's Kiddos

Papa-son and Mama-cita's Kiddos

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Guess What We're Driving?

We went camping a couple weeks ago and barely fit all our stuff.  We came home knowing we would really be needing a full-size van.  (We were chillin' in a 7-passenger minivan.) No more living the mini-life for us!  William was set on finding and buying one before our big trip east for Christmas.  Cool.  We had a few months to find exactly what we needed.

The Lord worked it much sooner than we anticipated!

What we were looking for was simple.  A good price and good mileage.  That's it.  We are no-frills kinda-peeps so the actual look of the van wasn't a big deal.  (Note: there was one red abd white stripe 1977 van on sale for $1000 that I REALLY didn't want to have to drive.  I do struggle with humility still!)  We had a little disagreement on the size of the van.  I was hoping for a 12 (or special-made) 13-passenger van.  William was set on a 15-passenger.  I was a bit reluctant seeing how we'd only be a family of 8.  But, he was certain and I trusted his conviction that we needed the extra space in the back.

The end of the story is we are now the thankful and utterly amazed owners of a REALLY BIG WHITE 15-PASSENGER VAN (aka truck).
Me driving the van to church after almost crying
trying to back it out of the gate and onto the street!

But that's not it!  Can I tell you how incredibly overwhelmed we are by how kind God has been to us?  We started looking on Monday. Craigslist is our style and only from a private owner.  (William refuses to buy from a dealer.)  We found the van on Thursday morning, contacted the owner and set up for William to check it out the next morning before work.  William had a good feeling about this.  Kinda like he did with the Prism (which is still riding sweet for us!).  He came home and we all piled into the minivan to drive to buy this big beast.

The "new van" as the kids call it, is a 2002 Ford 350 XLT.  It was used by a daycare that went out of business (meaning it had regular 6 month checks) and only had 46K miles!  It's truly newer and younger than our other cars!!!!  Is that not incredible?!

And to show you how the Lord continued to bless us and provide, we sold our minivan the next day in less than 24 hours simply by being parked outside our home (like the Jetta!).  When all the numbers are said and done, we really only paid $4200 cash for our sweet, new ride!

Now, if you would all pray that I would learn how to park it parallel to our garage, that would be very kind!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The First-Ever Whitney All-Family Camping Trip - Part 1

We did it.

We went camping.  All of us.  Together.  In a tent.  And we loved it!

We planned.  We practiced setting it up.  We waterproofed our gear.  We made adjustments.  We made stuff.  We compromised.  We made more adjustments.  We packed and loaded it up and left!
Here's one of the practice runs in our wild-looking backyard.

The drive to the site was about 2.5 hours long.  We had lots of screaming and crying.  Unhappy Autumn and Miserable Paloma.  We arrived and had a fairly secluded spot.  Pops mentioned the screaming baby who could possibly keep other campers up at night and I think that really helped!  This was one of those spots that you had to walk to.  Not far, but far enough when you've got to haul your stuff along with 5 kids that can't really pull any weight just yet.
Here's Daddy running with the cart to unload all our stuff.

Setting up our temporary home away from home was a breeze, thanks to Pops' dry runs at home.

People laughed when they saw how big it was but with 2 adults, one pack-n-play, and four kids in sleeping bags, we needed the space!  The kids were so happy to finally arrive!


Our first meal was italian sausages (for Papa and Mama!) and nitrate free, uncured hot dogs (for the kids) with a side of campside fried potatoes and zucchini (from our garden) with diced onion.  DELICIOUS!!!!  (Since being pregnant, I can't get enough meat/protein!)  And the little leftovers of potatoes and zucchini went right into the fire to minimize trash!  Love it!

One of our compromises was a treat of smores.  You know, all the bad for you stuff, nothing homemade.  This was Joshua favorite part of the trip!  He and Daddy sitting in the dark by the fire after all the others were already in their sleeping bags.  (Oh- in case you're interested, Pops wanted a dessert he could bake/cook in our cast-iron dutch oven but I had a hard time planning for something like that!  Ideas?  Let me know!)
S'more face Saraina
Shocked Joshua intrigued by something.

So, bedtime arrives.  Autumn went down well, the bigger kiddos did okay.  Pops and I laid down and shortly after I heard a rumble.  I quickly say, "Is that thunder?"  It was around 9 or 9:15pm.  We were exhausted but we knew day two of our trip would be a travesty if our junk all over the campsite got wet.  So, out we went and in came all our stuff that shouldn't get wet (like our cast-iron pots and pans).  We had no other tarps to keep the firewood dry so we put the kids plastic square table over it, hoping we'd be able to make breakfast in in the morning.
Autumn somewhere under those warm blankets in her pack-n-play.
Paloma and Saraina and Kadin still snoozing in the early morning.
Joshua just waking up.
Papa and Mama's sleeping section.  No pads or air mattress.  PAINFUL!
Note: bring a rake to clear tent area of acorns and sticks before setting up the tent!

No rain comes.  We wake the bigger kids to have them go potty.  (NOTE:  this the ESSENTIAL for me if I ever go camping, especially being pregnant and needing to use the "facilities" often.)  Pops thought I was out of my mind when I asked him about 2 weeks before our trip to make a potty for me using the 5-gallon empty coconut oil bucket.  I had him cut a large hole in the lid for the potty seat and then doubled plastic bags and secured them to the buscket prior to snapping the lid on.  Voila!  A sturdy, clean, and available potty for us to use when needed!

The potty worked like a charm.  And then we went back to sleep.  And around midnight, the rain came.  And came.  And came.  It got much colder but we were fairly warm until Joshua woke up to tell me his blanket was wet.  Wet?  Pee or rain?  Rain.  Water was collecting under the tarp in certain places.  Out Daddy went to check the tent.  It rained a lot and for HOURS.

Morning comes early in the wild and this morning we woke to wetness all around.  Daddy was up and out of the tent right away.  His mind was on FIRE.  He had to get a fire going and keep it going.  I was thankful I packed rainyday toys, just in case.
Paloma and Autumn played well as Daddy prepared breakfast
and the bigger kids and I played  a matching game.

But then it slowed down and stopped.  And because I was keeping an eye on Autumn and Paloma, Pops had to make breakfast solo, for the most part.  He whipped up my soaked pancakes and some maple syrup breakfast patties (compromise food!) and then... when he was almost finished... it poured down on us.  Back in the tent, except for Daddy cooking still.

Check out this video of Daddy working it in the rain!

(Problem uploading video!  Sorry.)

Here's a picture of crazy Daddy drying off his shirt by the fire.  Later on he tried to do the same thing with his sneakers when he realized they were BURNING!

That was the BEST breakfast!  Because we had to run in the tent, we ended up making a pancake sausage sandwich which was DELICIOUS!!!!  And no need for silverware!

So, we made it through our first night of camping in the rain and God even provided a fire for us the next day as the wood under that little plastic table kept most the wood dry!

More to come... Part 2 to come soon!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Could I Be the First Black Amish Person?

Pops and I watched a documentary last night.  We had been on a kick of watching weird-o documentaries and other things on Netflix that I can't quite describe easily.  But, gardening seemed to take us away from that.

Anyway, the video we *saw* last night was about the Amish.  (Note:  SAW does not mean that I actually saw and heard everything.  I fell asleep countless times as is my family trait from the Tomlinson side.)  My take away... can I be the first black Amish person?

Seriously, laugh all you want, we really have this growing desire to live more like them.  Of course, most of this started from our day trip to that IN Amish farm to pick up our 36 (butchered that morning, raised the right way) Amish chicken.  The family we purchased them from were so incredibly welcoming and generous!  Watching the older 2 girls help their mother sort and bag our chickens was amazing!  They worked efficiently, together, and without grumbling though it was messy work... but oddly not smelly!

Anyway, the video was very interesting.  What most attracts me to their lifestyle is their deliberateness in what they do and (what I view as) their seemingly one track mind.

Though we may not "get" why they live like they do, they are deliberate in why they live like they do.  There is a clear purpose.  And it seems they desire to live how they do to bring God glory.  I so respect that.  It seems like they've gone to ultra extremes to not be conformed to the world but to be closer to the Lord.

The Amish are often thought to be legalistic but I find their lifestyle so freeing!  Probably because sometime between living on Hermitage Avenue in the city and on Stratford Way in Frederick, I Iost any fashion-sense I had.  And I got tired of all the expensive chemicals I had to put in my hair to make my hair seem like it's not Black hair!  Ridiculous!  But, so the norm.  Trust me, since I went au naturale, I walk into a room and it seems my hair proceeds me.  I find eyes drawn to my hair because it's so big and different.  If only I could wear one of those Amish white hats or bonnet thing!

People think the clothes of the Amish are boring, I find them low maintenance and reasonable.  How cool that the dresses the girls wear are pretty much all the same and modest.  No worry about wearing a extra shirt underneath or will someone see something if I bend over.  Urgh.  Give me an Amish dress anytime!  (My birthday is in October!!!)

William's been talking about "getting off the electric grid" for a while.  And, honestly, I'm not sure he's joking!  He has been inquiring about an interracial Amish community.  Not online, obviously.  He seems ready to join.

Last weekend, instead of using our Weber charcoal grill, he got some stones and bricks and made a fire pit!  But, then he gerry-rigged this set-up so that we could grill on the grate of the Weber grill and could still put a big cast iron pot right in the wood underneath!
I made homemade spaghetti sauce (using tomatoes from our garden for the sauce) in the pot and he grilled the best hamburgers on top along with another cast iron pot filled with grilled "fried" potatoes.  We just may be one step closer to getting off the grid after all!

But, he does keep asking me, "So, do you think the Amish use toilet paper?"

I keep assuring him that Cloth Family Wipes are totally easy to use and clean.  If only he'd try...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Being Pregnant

... is kind of normal for me.  But, pregnancy is also such a miracle.  The normal is I generally know what to expect as far as my body goes.  That's also where the miracle shows itself.  Being pregnant, for me, is a season of needing God more but knowing His intimate care even more.

Carrying another life inside you is pretty remarkable.  I marvel that God created women to do that.  Yet it only points to how He carries us perfectly, without incident, and nourishes us with exactly what we need, when we need, in the way we need it!

So, you may think it old hat for someone to be pregnant... again... but it never is.

And for this pregnancy, my hope is that I will NOT once be embarrassed by someone else's look of disgust or disappoval regarding "all our kids."  They... all SIX of my WhitneyKiddos babies... are gifts from God, my Father.  And I know He only gives GOOD and PERFECT gifts!