Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Great Taxi Hi-jack, Prt. 1

(printed in the Northern Boone County Bull's Eye, Vol. 1, No. 18, Wednesday Feb. 23, '05))
I realize this is The View from the Front Porch column. Usually it’s a “step back from the fast pace of life” kind of column. But our family temporarily had a different front porch about four years ago, and I thought perhaps you’d enjoy a view from that porch occasionally.
It literally had a view of the about peaceful. But it was in India – so we sometimes moved from peaceful right on into adventure.

It was 2001, and our entire family (seven of us total at the time) was in Mussoorie, India, working with Engineering Ministries, International (EMI). Now just being in India was plenty of adventure for me – a woman who had never even flown in an airplane until two months before we left for India.
Nate had committed to overseeing EMI’s India office for a nine week period. He had a group of six interns that he was responsible for overseeing their design work for various ministry projects that EMI had going on throughout the country. Twice, this required him to leave Mussoorie for days at a time to go do some surveying at a job site. Thus began an adventure within the adventure...
Nate had been down to Hyderabad (about 2 days travel distance from Mussoorie) with two of the interns, Tim and Shawn, for several days. They were returning, and had made it as far as Delhi by train without incident. When they arrived in Delhi, they discovered the train they wanted would not be leaving for several hours. Their brilliant minds deduced that hiring a taxi to take them to Mussoorie (maybe an 8-10 hour drive from Delhi, although only a couple hundred miles away) would be quicker than waiting all day to catch a train and then riding it for several hours. They had the only EMI cell phone along with them, so they called to let us know their plan, and to say they should arrive sometime before midnight.

The next time we heard from them was that evening. It seems their taxi driver was driving insanely. They claimed he was fine for the first couple of hours, but after they made a quick pit stop, he had been getting worse and worse. He spoke little English anyway, but he was even more unintelligible now, with very slurred and slow speech. He would keep driving slower and slower, weaving all over the road and driving on the wrong side of the road (which is the right side over there.) At one point he had stopped in the middle of the road and put it in reverse for awhile. Nate, Tim and Shawn were wondering if when they made that pit stop, someone “slipped” the taxi driver some drugs, in order to make him wreck, so they could follow up on the crash scene and plunder the “westerners” – not an unheard of occurrence over there. They were calling to ask us to pray, and to see if we had any last words of advice before they resorted to the desperate measure of taxi hi-jacking. Words of advice on hi-jacking a taxi? Sorry, we were all rather inexperienced in such matters. But the adventure will have to continue next week...

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Never a dull moment...

By: L.A. Kohl
Feb. 8, 2005
(published in the Wed., Feb. 16 '05, edition of the Northern Boone County Bullseye Vol. 1, #17)

While sitting at the breakfast table the other day, with all but one of our children present, my husband said, “Thank you all for making life so interesting.”

It was one of those “out of the blue” things to say, but he sincerely meant it. I, on the other hand, was thinking that I could do with a little boredom now and then.

Here’s a for lunch time recently, our three year old decided to stand up in her seat at the dining table, and promptly slip forwards and send her full glass of milk flying across the room. I don’t just mean she spilt her milk...I mean she tried to send it into orbit. We had to mop the floor, wipe down the walls, take the screen off the window and wash it, wipe down the window, and wipe off a near by shelf and everything on it. Oh, and let’s not forget all the food on the table that now had a nice milk sheen look to it.

We had almost finished cleaning up the mess, when I heard an ominous crash from the kitchen...the sound of breaking glass that every mom dreads. One of my older girls, who had been trying to help clean up, somehow knocked my favorite vase into the sink and broke it. It wasn’t one of those cheap little vases you get a bouquet in from the gift was an antique, purple glass one that matched some other antique purple glass things I own. Needless to say, that was one of those moments when I wished life wasn’t always quite so interesting around here.

Or how about this one...last week we were rudely awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of a toddler crying her eyes out. She shares a bed with her 13-year old sister, and had managed to throw up on both of them. The very next night, we heard a “knock knock” on our bedroom door. It was our 13-year old informing us that her little sister had done it again. Upon rushing to her room we found that in actuality the little sister had just wet the bed this time. Oh well, it was still unwanted bodily fluids that meant another 3 AM shower for our young teen. I know she was wishing life didn’t have to be so “interesting” around here, because the third morning I remember her prayer at the breakfast table being something like, “Dear Lord, thank you that my sister didn’t do anything in our bed last night!”

But, in spite of it all, I have to come full circle and say that I fully agree with my husband. It is a major blessing and joy to have a large family, and I like the “spice” that all these children add to our lives. I know that some day, many years from now, life will slow down for Nate and me. We might even get bored occasionally. Until then, we’re just going to hang on and enjoy the family life ride!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

How do you manage?

By: L.A. Kohl
Jan. 8, 2005
Published in the Wed. edition of the Bullseye, Feb. 2, Vol. 1, No. 15

“How do you do it?” is a comment I frequently hear in regards to having a large family, homeschooling, etc. I’m often unsure of how to respond, except that most of the time I feel like saying, “I don’t know!”

But my mom recently told me about a “Dr. Phil” show she had watched. He had a family on his show that had seven children, and apparently their home life was a shambles. One of Dr. Phil’s solutions to their problem was giving the children “chores”. Apparently the mom was a control-freak, and had been trying to do everything herself. I guess I don’t have a “control-freak” bone in my body, because I’ve never had a problem with delegating chores! So now I know the answer to that “how do you do it?” question. It’s as simple as this – “I don’t!” At least, I don’t do it all.

For instance, come over at mealtime throughout the week, and you’ll find my older four girls rotating the duties of setting the table and after meal clean-up. On any given day you will also find a girl doing her laundry, if it’s her assigned day. Even my ten-year old now does her own laundry, as well as one of her younger sister’s. On various days of the week, you may find a girl vacuuming the living room, sweeping or mopping the kitchen, or cleaning their bathroom – depending on what their assigned chore is for that day.

Don’t get me wrong...I don’t set around watching TV while forcing my kids to do all the work – there is always plenty for me to do. And my house is far from spotless because I’ve got all these little munchkins doing various jobs. Many days they sleep in too long, or we’ve got other things to do, and things go undone. Some days they just conveniently “forget” that they were supposed to do that chore; or they rush through a chore, and so it really only gets about half done. Thus, our home has a very “lived-in” look to it – but hey, with nine people living here, what do you expect?

A family can be a team, with the parents as the coaches/trainers. Your “team” may be large or small, but everyone can still participate. In my husband’s farm family of eight, it meant plowing, feeding cattle, raking hay, etc. There were only four in my family, but my mom had a full-time job on top of her “mom” responsibilities, so for my brother and me it meant doing laundry, helping clean house, and doing dishes. And that did not mean loading them in a dishwasher, like it does for my kids. (Somehow my parents couldn’t justify buying a dishwasher until after my brother and I left home.)

Now that you know my secret, don’t be afraid to give your own child some duties. (All the kids out there are despising me right now.) A little work never hurt anyone, even a child. In fact, I’m convinced that a little work is extremely beneficial for them.