First of all: DeeDee, if you're reading this, yes, I read your password-protected post a few days ago and have been praying and will keep doing so!! I tried to post a comment, but it kept claiming my e-mail address wasn't valid. For anyone else reading this, know that Germany is not the only country being TOTALLY STUPID in evaluations of what makes a healthy family and what doesn't.
Next, yes, I'm still here. My excuses for not posting here pretty much all have to do with my I-don't-do-New-Year's-Resolutions-but-January's-as-good-a-time-as-any-to-start-new-habits activities. So here they are.
Number one: with rare exceptions, I don't turn the computer on until the four younger children are in bed (8:00 p.m.ish). Last Sunday when I was still recovering from cold/flu and Jörn (dh) and Jacob (ds12) were in Malta and Marie (dd14) was at church, I broke down and let the other children veg out on one computer while I vegged out on the other. And yesterday, while Jörn and the four older children were all out and the two youngest children were sleeping, I also turned the computer on. :-)
Number two: when I AM on the computer, catching up on e-mails and sorting photos are high priority. I'm now completely finished with photos through May 2011 and have done the initial sorting and labeling of June through September 2011, but still have to edit (crop, straighten, red-eye: picasa is really cool for that) them and make collages of some before I can order them. I'm up to October 18th or something like that in the initial sorting, but October is being a pain because I have photos from five different cameras in four different time zones, one camera thinking that it's January. I only have photos physically in albums up to November 13, 2010, so when I've finally ordered the rest of November and December 2010, I'll also be spending time putting photos in albums. (I've already gotten January through April 2011 printed. It's complicated and uninteresting as to why.) Oh, and I'm down to fewer than 60 un-answered e-mails...
Number three: not in importance, just not directly related to computer time, I'm participating in a challenge to read the Bible cover-to-cover in 90 days (started January 9th). I did this last year for the first time (starting in July), and thought it was great, this time I'm reading The Message, which is quite interesting. In 1989 I read the KJV cover-to-cover five times in less than five months, because I was living in Mexico and so desperate to read ANYTHING in English, that that's what I read. On the fifth reading it suddenly clicked that this was REAL, that Jesus was REAL. Amazing and exciting and wonderful. And then I didn't even read the whole Bible again until 2006-2007, when I read the NIV aloud to the children. (Old Testament in 2006, finishing Malachi at a friend's house at a New Year's Eve party, New Testament in 2007.) I will confess that there were a couple of verses I re-worded or just plain left out, as my children were 8 and younger when I started, but not many, literally maybe four or five total. Over the years I've certainly read most of the Bible again and again, but reading it in one go in a limited amount of time is really cool for the big picture. (A good children's Bible is good for that too, actually. I'm currently reading the Egermeier Bible for the fourth time, this time to Katie.)
Number four: again, not directly related to computer time, since I'm not turning the computer on during the day anyway, I started thinking about what recharges me, relaxes me, helps me cope with daily chaos, and I've been making a concentrated effort to DO those things. One is play the piano, and since getting the piano tuned just before Christmas, I've played almost every single day. Sometimes only for two or three minutes before it gets too difficult with the weight of children hanging off my arms, sometimes even for an hour or more. I'm far from great, but I've finally improved enough that I'm enjoying it and can just about sight-read the pieces I used to play when I was ten or so. Another is go for walks, which I haven't managed much, but I like the idea. I especially enjoyed the walk I had two Saturdays ago with Sue. I do see her quite regularly, but almost never without at least a couple of children and/or our husbands, and it was a novel and exciting experience to get to finish whole sentences!
Number five: this one is directly related to computer time again, in that I've also been using the computer for writing, unofficially (in that I didn't sign up anywhere) taking part in a challenge to write 1000 words a day for the first 100 days of 2012. A couple of times (like, literally twice, I think) I wrote by hand, but I type a LOT faster than I write by hand. Blogposts don't count, though! (Of course, since I'm not officially checking in anyway, I could just count them for myself, if I felt like it, couldn't I...) And I also use the computer to read blogs, although since reading them at googlereader, this doesn't use up so much time and keeps me from being tempted to blog-hop much, and I have been fairly regularly visiting some of the Sonlight forums, especially the International one. And Facebook, which is not usually more than about five minutes a day.
Number six: something I regularly re-start is an attempt to go to bed at a decent hour, which I define as "by midnight." So that gives me four hours, absolute maximum, on the computer, and I most certainly don't get that every day, or even most days! Monday and Wednesday I have Greek until 9:00 and Friday we have house group, and usually at least one or two other evenings a week we play games (usually Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride), either just Jörn and I or with Marie, or with Richard and Sue.
And of course, I still want to read for myself, and I don't get a whole lot of opportunities to do that during the day, and occasionally write in my journal, and even spend time with my husband! And I usually put on a loaf of bread (takes me a total of seven minutes, if I have to wash the bread pan first, which I usually have to do, because I never wash it right away when I take the bread out) and sometimes hang up a load of laundry (depending on contents, can take 15 or 20 minutes, sheets only take about two minutes) and often have to take Helen to the toilet and sometimes get (or even make) a phone call and in any case, if Elisabeth has had a nap (which she doesn't often), she's up until at least 10:00 or so, so...
...all this to say that I haven't had much time to blog, and if I did, pretty much all I would have to say is all of what I just did, just repeated over and over again!