11/20/11

Selfish Reasons To Have More Kids

I read a book a while back by economist Bryan Caplan called "Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids". It was very interesting to me because although I have long heard the Christian reasons to have a big family, this writer's focus was purely secular and economical. Through the years as I have processed the idea of more children, some of the factors that make me inclined not to have more children are selfish, whether for me or my born children. I want to give each child enough love and attention, I want to be able to take reasonable care of myself and my husband so we are capable healthwise to be parents and then into the future, grandparents. Whichever way my thoughts of the moment sway, there are certainly few pleasures in this life which can compare to nurturing and caring for a baby or young child.

From the first flutters of tiny feet in my womb, to the feeling of their soft naked belly against mine as they savor the food God provides through me, few joys can compare. Baby laughter gurgling over with joy, toddler words with their soft inflections and childish questions fill my heart with delight and sorrow as I know too well that they grow quickly.
Even the growing brings its own joys. Late night conversations with a daughter, coffee in bed brought by a tall handsome son, and helping them gain new skills are a pleasure in themselves.

Every bit of being a mom is a treasure, the intensity of it makes the moments away more valuable, but there is nothing that brings as much joy and fulfillment as spending my days watching these small people as they discover their world, from the sweet taste of an apple on the lips of a two year old, to the delight of words in the works of Shakespeare and the heart crying out of the Psalms.

My whole being is pulled toward the Lord in love and thankfulness as the tides are pulled by the moon as I reflect on His mercy in granting me, most unworthy of women, the pure pleasure of mothering His children.

10/23/11

My Shrinking Family

I have seven children, but last week I found myself going through a day with a couple fewer children. It was a weird and scary preview of things to come. I have come to rely so much on the help of some of these older ones and in the meantime have neglected to expect from the next few the help they are capable of giving. It was a sober reminder that today is the day to direct and disciple these children. The time goes quickly and too soon these arrows will fly.
Now is the time to train.
Top training goals for the week;
#1 Basic room care
#2 Replace belongings after use
#3 Teach them to look for ways to help
#4 Schoolwork done neatly (it gets done, but neatness could be improved)
we love being together

8/21/11

Work Hard

A relative recently allowed a young man to live with her to try and help him get on his feet. He had been able to get jobs, but struggled to keep them. She made an agreement with him that as long as he would help her around the house he could stay there without paying rent. Unfortunately the arrangement was short lived. This nineteen year old "boy" when asked to do a simple job responded with attitude and insolence.
at Rock n Water with Emelie and a few of my young men
This was a good refresher for me on the importance of getting our kids working. Galatians 5:13 says "Serve one another in love." Although in a modern culture we sometimes have to manufacture work, (really how much hard work is there to do in a home on a small city lot), it is important that young men especially be pushed a bit beyond what we think they can do. I have always wanted to be a fun and lovey mom, but I do want to be a mom of men, and not perpetual boys, so I will try to stifle my sometimes misguided loveyness to push these young men of mine so they may actually become men and take on their God given role as providers and protectors.

7/19/11

Kitchen Remodel

I have been a very infrequent visitor here. We remodeled our kitchen which involved moving into our trailer for three weeks while the contractor cut up the floor and sanded old paint off the walls. We had a very intense time of painting and trying to keep cool during our remodeling adventure. We are not quite done, still waiting for electricity and lights but we are enjoying having a kitchen sink again and the ability to feed my family without cooking on the 2 square feet of counter space in the trailer kitchen. During this busy time we also had our oldest daughter graduate from our homeschool, a wonderfully exciting rite of passage.

Here are some photos of the whole adventure






5/16/11

I Dropped Off The Face Of The Earth

Not really, but I am going through an unusual season right now. My oldest daughter is graduating and I am trying to potty train my two year old, I am speaking at a homeschool conference on Endurance and I also just took a twentieth anniversary trip with my husband, all while planning a kitchen remodel and finishing up the school year. So, although I know there are many women out there as busy as I, it has been an easy choice with this much going on to read aloud to the four year old instead of updating my blog.

I am thinking alot about endurance as I prepare for this conference. A friend of mine who seemed like a really godly mother and wife, left her husband and children about a year ago. As I throw a ball to my little girl I can't imagine the absolute insanity that would have made her feel that her decision to leave her children was wise or justified.

Psalm 100 has been an inspiration to me as I daily seek to understand how to run the race of life, I think that  much about our purpose and position is clarified here.
Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God
It is He who has made us and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.

To sum it up, God is very good, and we are His people, so let's serve Him with singing and thanksgiving.
With my two oldest at the Secret Garden Play which they had roles in.

4/21/11

5 Simple Steps To Create An Orderly Home

In a previous post, Orderly Homes Equal Orderly Brains I talked about preparing our homes to be places where children can learn. Here are a few simple ways to do that.

#1 Create a place for everything- When we lived for 6 months in a travel trailer while building a home in Mexico we functioned with the bare minimum of stuff, a basket of Duplos under a bed, basic schoolbooks. Children learn better in an environment with some open space, be vigilant about keeping stuff put away and teaching your children to do the same.

#2 Categorize toys- Have you ever seen a workbook page which asks your child to match up items which go together, for instance; banana, apple, orange, fork. Clearly the fork does not belong in this, the fruit category. When you categorize the toys in your home you are providing that same exercise in a more hands on way. Keeping each type of toy separated and instructing your children on where things go is key to intelligence. Jane Healy, in her book titled Your Child's Growing Mind says, "After years of studying young children's learning I am convinced that patterns are the key to intelligence. Patterning information really means organizing and associating new information with previously developed mental hooks....children who can see relationships (among things and ideas) and organize input at a sensory level seem to have an easier time organizing thoughts and ideas."
Categorizing and verbalizing the categories help build intelligence.

#3 Keep a minimum of furniture- If you have ever seen a catalog for children on the autistic spectrum you will know that sensory overload can occur in an overstimulating environment and that a white space can be used to calm a child down. It is easier to learn in a space that is open, bright and tidy. Children also need plenty of floor space to build puzzles and Lego cities, as well as creeping and crawling, two essential exercises for brain development.

#4 Keep your floor clean- A quick sweep or vacuum each day is sufficient, but keeping floors safe for young children to play on is important. Sand play, while important for brain development, shouldn't be done in the debris on your floor.

#5 When you buy toys, make them worthwhile- We use the verse from Philippians 4:18 which says, "Whatsoever things are pure, lovely and of good report, think on these things," as a guideline for buying toys. We try to stick to a few toys that are well made and lovely, such as Melissa and Doug puzzles, Playmobil, and for my little girl, the adorable Calico Critters, as well as musical instruments, art supplies and great books to keep our children occupied.

Getting our homes cleaned out and ready for learning can be accomplished, it is the maintenance that requires vigilance, window cleaning, dusting and vacuuming are ongoing chores, but with an orderly framework in place, it will be a manageable task.

4/6/11

All In A Day-What If My Children Won't Complete Their Chores

The beautiful thing about children and chores is that the more you work to establish good habits, the easier it is to enforce them. Chores are a good example. Several of my children are very automatic about making their beds, doing their scheduled dishes or clean up and keeping their things picked up. They have been doing the same things every day for a while now and they don't really have to think about it.
 I have found that most of my children balked with chores until about age 8, and it got steadily better after that. I have a thirteen year old son, who willingly, without being asked, string trims and mows the yard, tidies the house and vacuums the rooms. He also gets up in the morning and does his schoolwork quickly without a fuss. A few years ago that same child might have thrown a minor tantrum over a school subject or a chore. I am however, struggling right now with chores with my 10 and unders, but I believe that every day we are getting closer to that day when they begin doing their chores cheerfully without a fuss. Until we get there, I will continue to remind, reward or rebuke them as needed, trusting that the good work of being orderly and willing is being worked out in them and will in time be an overflow of their own good will toward the family as opposed to its current status of forced labor.

Now go see what the other All in a Day moms do:
Carrie @   Our Full House

Christi @  Ants on a Farm
Elizabeth @   Yes They're All Ours

Kathy @  Kathy Mom of Many

Kristy @   Homemaker's Cottage 

Lori @   Happy Busy Mama

Monica @   Natural Mama

4/2/11

Orderly Homes Equal Peaceful Homes

Today was not a day when my brain or my home was very orderly. My husband was working out of town, my oldest daughter drove herself two hours away in her newly purchased car to do CPR training for a camp she works at, and my next two were gone to perform and help at a play they are involved in. That left me home alone with four children, 10 and under and with a mind full of concerns for the older ones.

Now if it had been my first four it would have been a different story. I am pretty sure that Emelie could make dinner, do the dishes and put every one to bed at ten years old, but my current ten year old is a little different, partly due to my more relaxed training and partly due to being his intelligent, yet slightly egocentric boyish self. The real fault however, in how erratic my day was, lies not with my children, but with me. Having a brain full of the many different activities and duties involved with a largish family with a big age span meant that I was not fully here today. I was distracted from really training and directing my young children by my busy mind that was trying to accomplish more than was really sensible or wise. Taking care of our injured dog, getting quotes for a kitchen remodel, cleaning bathrooms, string trimming, watering plants, planting plants, cleaning the kitchen, juicing oranges and sorting out schoolwork are just a few of the activities I was involved with today. How peaceful it suddenly became this afternoon and how the strife and raised voices ceased when I finally put aside all the chores and chose to direct my children. The babies were bathed while I cleaned the bathroom and had the ten year old doing dishes. The dog was cared for under my supervision while the 8 year old cleared the dining room. I switched gears from doing my own thing, while they did theirs, to a different approach of guiding them in helping me with the chores with the reward to follow of a game played together.

The best part was when I held my two big-little boys on my lap and chatted about the day. Being home with young children can be very intense, we all have other things to think about that distract us and pull us away from guiding them, but peace in the home is obtainable and a big key to that peace is being content to direct our children and work with them as we seek to point them towards the Lord Jesus, the true Prince of Peace.

3/16/11

All In A Day-The Sunday Morning Rush


Sunday mornings are like many mornings in my home. Any time we have somewhere to go early in the morning; whether it is history co-op, church or a field trip we work as a team to get out of the house in a timely manner. 

My older children are great with getting their chores done and my lovely oldest daughter will often get up extra early to make muffins for a snack or pack sandwiches for our outings. I often purchase cold cereal for Sunday Mornings, the only day we eat cold cereal, or we will eat something simple like yogurt and toast.

My handsome oldest son is usually pretty quick to get ready so he will often help by dressing and changing our baby, who is 2. I always pick out the clothing for the 2 and 4 year olds, but I often get help from one of my 3 oldest to get them dressed. I question them on tooth care and check faces and hair and then make sure the house is reasonably tidy before we leave. Our living room stays pretty clean and my sweet second daughter is great about getting the kitchen cleaned up, but I do really struggle to get my room and bathroom clean before we leave, I would rather make myself look pretty than my bathroom as I leave the house!

 We have never lived very close to the church we attend and usually use the 30 minutes on our way to church to wind down and maybe listen to some worship music as we drive. With seven children our family is small compared to many, but we like going places together and I love that it is so easy to get out of the house.



Check out the other All in a Day Bloggers...
Carrie @ Our Full House
Christi @ Where the Creek Meets the Lake
Elizabeth @ Yes They’re All Ours
Kathy @ Kathy Mom of Many 
Kristy @ Homemaker's Cottage 
Lori @ Happy Busy Mama
Monica @ Natural Mama
Renee @ Bakers Dozen


3/9/11

All In A Day-Clutter


As I said in my previous post, having an orderly home with clear categories lays the foundation for our children to categorize the learning that they are doing. Because of this we are very careful to only have a certain few categories of toys. It is also very important to us that the children put those toys where they belong when they are done playing with them.

The other major sources of clutter in our home are books and papers. We do have plenty of bookshelves which are categorized by type and the fiction books are in alphabetical order, but when it comes to my personal books and papers my clutter fighting seems to go down the drain. I have a big basket of homeschool catalogs and magazines which frustrates me everytime I look at it, and the bill paying desk is currently buried under papers that I have yet to sort and file. I typically spend some time on the weekend getting all the clothes and books put away, those clothes and books that I have hurriedly stacked on my dresser in between grading grammar assignments and helping a math student and never seem to get back to during the week.
Our five clutter successes are as follows-
1. Rarely shopping which means I have less stuff to sort.
2. Checking rooms daily to keep them from becoming unmanageable.
3. Keeping our main living area clean with clear surfaces, at least one room nearly always looks good.
4. Using my Dymo label maker to label clear bins for art supplies, shelves for puzzles and games and the linen closet for proper placement of sheets and towels.
5. Having small, well sorted bins for a few categories of toys. (Playmobile, Lego, Tinker Toy, Wooden Trains, Loving Family, Calico Critters and Dress Up) I guess I have about as many categories as I have children!

I have a long way to go, we moved to a house with more closets and I have tended to shove things in temporarily until I could sort them, which slowly but surely is adding up to a big time commitment. Right now however, I would rather play with my little ones, read aloud and spend time discussing issues. Orderliness is important, but like everything, is best when in balance with the rest of the many aspects of our lives.

Check out the other All in a Day Bloggers...

Carrie @  <http://www.ourfullhouse.com/> Our Full House

Christi @  <http://antsonafarm.blogspot.com/> Where the Creek Meets the Lake

Elizabeth @  <http://yes-theyre-all-ours.blogspot.com/> Yes They're All Ours

Kathy @  <http://www.kathymomofmany.blogspot.com/> Kathy Mom of Many

Kristy @  <http://www.homemakerscottage.org/> Homemaker's Cottage

Lori @  <http://1happybusymama.blogspot.com/> Happy Busy Mama

Monica @  <http://www.naturalmamax4.blogspot.com/> Natural Mama



3/7/11

Orderly Homes Equal Orderly Brains

How can we train our children to love what is pure, lovely and of good report and to equip them for life and godliness?
A first step is to prepare our home to be a place to learn. When we set the stage to make our homes orderly it helps our children's brains run in orderly patterns. Dr. Martha Bridge Denckla, a pediatric neurologist and director of the Kennedy Institute Neurobehavioral Clinic sees hundreds of children with attention problems each year and she wonders how much of this growing phenomenon of inattention may be attributable to a lack of basic organization in our children's lives. She says, "I see an awful lot of parents...who don't have the ability to provide the basic structure children need, simple things; mealtimes, bedtimes. It would be like language deprivation. If you don't have organized tutoring at home, you don't know what it feels like to have a rhythm to your day."
In plain English, children need to have regular mealtimes and bedtimes., an orderly place to grow and learn and a mom who isn't always rushing them out the door to some new activity.

3/2/11

All In A Day-A Typical Day








Right now it seems like there are no typical days. We have only lived in our new community for about 3 months and with a daughter graduating this year, a house needing a lot of work and a variety of ages to school, we haven't exactly gotten on track. I have a Managers Of Their Homes schedule I made when my 2 year old was an infant, and although I have updated chore charts, I am still fine tuning them. Today was not a day I would choose as an example of our life, but it is real life, so here you go. 


4:30 My 4 year crawls in bed with us, she is not feeling good so we try giving her a bath to help her get back to sleep. I finally get her settled down about 5:30 at which time my 2 year old wakes up.

6:00 Hubby gives the two year old some almonds to snack on and I drowsily keep watch over him until my 8 year old comes and gets him. I fall back asleep and they watch Blues Clues in spanish.

7:45 I wake up to coffee brought to me by my 13 year old son. I sit and chat for a bit with him and my 17 year old. My 17 year old reads me portions of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. She finds lots of parts of the book meaningful.

8:30 Get quickly dressed, brush teeth, make bed. Remind the kids to get their chores done and get a dish of yogurt with oatmeal for my 4 and 2 year olds. Eat some yogurt and drink some more coffee.17 year old starts laundry, 15 year old does the dishes, 13 year old feeds the ducks and chickens, 2 younger boys tidy up and empty garbages.

9:00 My boys help their grandma, who arrived yesterday, unload her car. I tidy my room, get the baby dressed and give them a five minute warning for Bible time.

9:30 We sing several hymns accompanied by my oldest daughter on guitar. I have to remind the children that I don't want to sing a solo, (the boys are distracted by a chess game they were finishing) Grandma organizes her stuff in the room, littles play quietly nearby while we read our devotion from Long Story Short. It was good today and dealt with Jesus being the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We read verses out of Psalm 2, Revelations and Timothy.

10:15 I read a chapter out of Pocketful of Pinecones, by Karen Andreola. It is a nice book about nature study. We then go to the kitchen and eat an oatmeal cookie made yesterday by my 13 year old son.

10:30 I read Evolution Crunchers (author?) to my 3 middle students (15, 13, 10) ,they take notes on the reading and copy out the geologic column. We also read a few flood stories and were amazed at the significance of many Chinese symbols to our faith. The 15 year old has learning delays and the 10 year old is a bit advanced, so they work well as a threesome in many school subjects.

11:45 The 13 year old starts his TT Pre Algebra, 10 year old on the computer with TT5, I help the 8 year old do three pages in Math U See Gamma. The 2 and 4 year olds are "helping" Grandma get ready, I caught the 2 year old trying to put toothpaste on his toothbrush. 17 year old doing reading for school and 15 year old finishing a workbook on analogies (test prep).

12:30 Grandma leaves with 15 and 8 year old for a special outing. Emelie makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the rest of us while I help the 10 year old finish his math. We eat lunch very randomly today, I heat up some leftover strata from last night and eat it on the couch. The four year old has been asking me to play Movie Theatre with her (her whole day tends to go from one make believe to another right now). I put on King Corn (a government and agriculture documentary from Netflix) match socks and try to pretend we are doing all this at a movie theatre. The two year old makes a tall block tower from duplos.

2:00 This terribly unproductive day is flying by. I change the baby's stinky cloth diaper and wash it out, read him a story and put him to bed for naptime. Next, I head outside with the 4 year old and the 13 year old to work in my front yard. I am trying to landscape it which involves digging up all the weeds, hauling excess dirt away and raking it smooth before I put in some plants and flowers. My 4 year old gets in the van, parked very close and emerges with a hat from the Jelly Belly factory, a cup from In N Out and a baby doll. She informs me that she took her baby to the forementioned locations for a field trip. Amazing imagination and props to help her. The 13 year old helps me dig and rake for a while and then decides to clean the car. The 10 year old emerges from the house to work on his garden box that he is building from salvaged wood. My oldest daughter is in the house planning dinner and working on administrative work for her part time job.

3:45 Husband arrives home, we greet him and I continue digging for a while longer. When I realize my neighbor is spraying his walnut trees we all head inside. I was glad for the excuse to quit digging.
My husband is researching cars for my 17 year old. I work on tidying the front room and then get involved in a chess game with my 10 year old. Meanwhile the 2 year old wakes up, not at all happy, he is tending to wake up hungry and grumpy after his naps lately. Emelie is making Burundian Soup which she will post on her blog.

5:30 Grandma and the two children arrive back home. We sit down to eat, a lovely split pea soup, the recipe comes from a country in Africa (Burundi). Grandma contributed a loaf of sourdough bread, we drink water. The soup tastes great and was very economical.

6:30 Scott and Emelie leave for the Alpha class which they are taking at a nearby church. We have still not found a home church here, but are trying to continue fellowshipping with believers as opportunities present themselves. I help the boys with the dishes, dance a waltz with the 8 year old and read a book to the 2 year old at his request ("Read Book"). I love hearing him begin to talk and I love being with my kiddos. We finish tidying the kitchen and dining room, there was some yelling from the boys over who should do the dishes, but it all got ironed out quickly. We ate some grapes together and talked some and then went in the living room to read some books and try to watch The Grapes Of Wrath. We are studying migrant workers and The Great Depression in our history co-op this month and information seems scarce. The movie is pretty boring for the younger ones (good because it is also a bit depressing) the little set up a house and the 8 and 10 year old boys set up a running track. The two groups fight over the chairs (one group wants to jump them, the other group wants to sit on them) I send them to get jammies on and brush teeth. We resolve the conflict quickly, the older one has an issue with an angry response and the 4 year old is being selfish.  I then read another book to the two littles and put all the younger children to bed. The 13 and 15 year olds and I share a chocolate, watch a few more minutes of the film and then I send them off in time to greet hubby and oldest as they return from their class.

Not a day I am proud of, it was a little scattered and light on schoolwork, but any day that includes singing to the Lord, reading His word together and spending time with my children is pretty special.
"This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it" Psalm 118:24

Check out other All In A Day bloggers here,

Carrie @ Our Full House
Christi @ Where the Creek Meets the Lake
Elizabeth @ Yes They're All Ours
Kathy @ Kathy Mom of Many
Kristy @ Homemaker's Cottage
Lori @ Happy Busy Mama
Monica @ Natural Mama


3/1/11

Turn off the Television

Okay, here we are at another major way children are left to themselves. Letting the T.V. babysit young children is a huge temptation, and with sick children at the present one I am guilty of. I admit it, I have let Ella and Ezra veg out in front of Mr Rogers Neighborhood and the Scholastic Robert McCloskey collection. Not quite as bad as Nick Jr, but still, studies show that letting young children sit in front of the T.V. causes their brains to become less active than when they are sleeping. Letting them run around without guidance, is actually slightly better because at least they can seek out the developmental input they need. Jane Healy in her book, "Endangered Minds" says, "Preschoolers in America watch an average of 28 hours of T.V. each week." that is a huge amount of time that they are not playing outside or cutting and pasting, or talking to parents. It is time lost.
When I was teaching Sunday School to preschoolers from a poor neighborhood in Mexico, I was astounded by their inability to sit and listen to a story. Without using food as a tool to keep them seated and quiet I could not even read a simple story out of a toddler Bible. I have had the same difficulty when dealing with American children who watch a lot of T.V. Their ability to sit and listen to a story has never been developed. They are so used to watching fast paced cartoons that the attention it takes to sit and absorb the rich vocabulary and word pictures from a great children's story such as The Maggie B. by Irene Haas, or Winnie The Pooh, by A.A. Milne is just not there.
I have a photo of a group we had while we were in Mexico. There were 9 children gathered around a sofa listening to a big sister read. Even the little ones sat with complete attention on the story. Ezra, my two year old comes to me daily with a request to "Read book," using his simple language to communicate a desire to be together, discovering the world of words.
There are a few shows we watch. My goal is to never turn on the T.V. for my toddlers, but lately having gone through a move, a sickness and dealing with all the projects in this house, it has been a convenient activity to use. We use Phillipians 4:8 Whatsoever things are true,pure, lovely, and of good report (paraphrased) as a guide to choosing shows and we are very careful about content and quantity. We like videos such as Signing Time, Blues Clues and the Scholastic Videos which are basically good storybooks made into a movie. As a family we rent from Netflix shows such as Man Vs. Wild (nature study and geography, with a bit of anatomy thrown in) documentaries and the occasional childrens feature such as Meet The Robinsons's. I have even snuck in a few videos completely in Spanish, if they are going to veg out, at least learn a foreign language while doing it, right?
Turning off the T.V is a huge first step in nurturing the spiritual and intellectual growth of your children.

2/23/11

Laundry Tips


A Willing Helper
My laundry tips have more to do with having willing helpers than any brilliance on my part. We have seven children and every day that I am home I try to do at least two loads of laundry. My second oldest daughter has had to work extra hard with schoolwork, but she is an A-1 wonderful helper in the home, especially with laundry. She is always willing to start a load, fold them and put them away.

My mother was always very detailed with laundry, you never wash darks with lights and you always separate towels and jeans from lighter weight clothes. The towels and jeans take longer to dry and will presumably wear out other clothes in the dryer if you wash them together. So I am pretty careful about how I sort, and we make sure to check pockets. I have had to spend lots of money fixing a pump on my front loader that was clogged with the contents of young boys pockets.

We lived off the grid in Mexico for a couple years, during that time we were insistent on the children wearing clothes more than once and we had labeled pegs in the bathroom so that they could use the same towel for a week, we were also buying water by the tank load so any means of cutting down on water use without being gross was necessary. Now that I live in the U.S. I am less of a dictator about dirty laundry but still have a fit when one of my 4 boys puts clothes in the laundry that they had just failed to put away when it arrived in their room.

In our current house the laundry room is large and sunny with plenty of room for folding clothes so we are working on keeping the laundry out of the living room, but it is still more fun to fold clothes while watching a movie. The main thing is to fold them while they are warm so they don't get all smushed together and wrinkled. The less stuff to iron the better.

This is not the area I feel the most in control of, but I sure do love taking care of my children by keeping them in clean clothes and working together with them to get the clothes clean.

You can see how other big families handle laundry at these blogs,

Carrie @ http://www.ourfullhouse.com/ Our Full House

Christi @ http://antsonafarm.blogspot.com/ Where the Creek Meets the Lake

Elizabeth @ http://yes-theyre-all-ours.blogspot.com/ Yes They're All Ours
Kathy @ http://www.kathymomofmany.blogspot.com/ Kathy Mom of Many
Kristy @ http://www.homemakerscottage.org/ Homemaker's Cottage

Lori @ http://1happybusymama.blogspot.com/ Happy Busy Mama

Renee @ http://bakersdozen.typepad.com/ Bakers Dozen


2/19/11

Little People

I was having such fun the other day watching my two year old play with our toy kitchen. He and his sister were stuffing plastic food into a little oven and later, pouring water from cup to cup, as they prepared a "meal". Little people are developing and changing so quickly, it is a joy to watch the development happen.

If prayer were the number one way a mom might be "leaving her children to themselves," the second temptation might be to simply ignore them. This is especially easy when we are homeschooling and busy with the so-called important work of teaching fractions, or government. With so many demands on our time it is easy to forget about these growing little people in our home. Letting them play on their own all day, while perhaps creating very imaginative and resourceful young people, will leave them without guidance in gaining self care skills, vocabulary, and moral training. Studies show that young children's brains are poised to develop new skills and we need to be available to talk them through the development of those skills.

This doesn't mean they need to learn their ABC's at a year old, it does mean that we as their mothers are nearby, able to guide them through their play and talk with them about our work. Providing opportunities to do large and fine motor activities will be much more useful than throwing workbooks at small children, it is guided, hands on activities, even such simple ones as learning to brush their teeth and put away their clothes, that will really lay a good foundation for life and learning. Keep them nearby, talk with them often, and take time out of your other activities to teach them about God, the world He made, and His good purpose for them in it.

2/16/11

All In A Day-Time With My Honey



How does a mother of seven (small family here I realize)  find time alone with her husband? When we lived in Mexico we had our "dates" walking up our dirt road to lock the gate, and now that we are in a new, old house that needs lots of work we often have dates to Home Depot. Our favorite time alone over the last few years were regular breakfast dates to Sweetie Pies in the California Gold Rush town of Placerville. We ate a hearty breakfast and then walked through the lovely town, peeking in book stores and checking out the cool baby stores.
We had planned to go on our first tropical vacation alone together last September when we celebrated our twentieth anniversary, but the wonderful gift of a new job for my husband precipitated a move and home purchase instead. We are thinking about going for it now though, the kitchen cabinets can wait, fence repairs can happen later, but taking time for each other and building our relationship is a trade off I am very excited about making.

Check out other big family bloggers here;
Carrie @ Our Full House
Christi @ Ants on a Farm
ElizabethYes They’re All Ours
Kathy @ Kathy Mom of Many 
Kristy @ Homemaker's Cottage 
Lori @ Happy Busy Mama
Monica @ Natural Mama
Renee @ Bakers Dozen

2/13/11

Pray

I am a little late in updating this week, it has been incredibly busy. We are meeting with a group of teen girls to study the book, "Lies Young Women Believe," trying to find a car for Emelie, celebrating Elias' birthday and working through church search issues. The Lord is really impressing on my heart an urge to pray more, it is really my only recourse in the midst of pressures.

In my last post I talked about a basic principle of not leaving children to themselves. When we do not pray for our children, it is the ultimate in leaving our children to themselves. Prayer should be our first response to a problem and number one on our to-do list.

When we first moved to Mexico, we left a homeschool dream world. Our creek provided plenty of nature study, we had a safe community of homeschool friends and no financial worries to bring stress into our home. Moving to Mexico was an extreme dose of culture shock. The sights of scantily clad girls on the Spring Break billboards, the smells of sewage as you cross the border (San Diego has their sewage treatment facility conveniently located next to the T.J border) and the new friends we made, regenerate ex-cons, made our new community a challenge and joy to settle into. Psalm 46:1 says that God is our refuge, an ever present help in trouble. As we met each new experience and challenge, going to Him in prayer was our refuge and He was faithful to keep us safe and growing as we walked through the trials.

Whatever your situation is, whether dealing with the regular challenges of raising toddlers, or the more intense challenges of financial stress, family struggles, special needs, or cross cultural ministry, while raising toddler, God is there, He knows how many hairs are on your head and He promises to walk with us through the valley. Pray without ceasing.

2/6/11

Don't Neglect The Little Ones

So what is a good basic principle for taking care of little ones, really for taking care of your whole family? Proverbs 29:15 says, "A child left to himself will bring his mother shame."

This is really key to parenting. Whether you are dealing with self care issues such as tooth brushing and bed making, or character issues such as telling the truth and obeying authorities, the answer is the same. T-I-M-E.
If you are not aware of where your children are and what they are doing, how can you address issues that come up? If we as parents are always off doing our own thing, who will instruct your children in how to properly wash up, follow through on a task, be kind to other,etc, etc. Even something as basic as learning to speak happens much more effectively in a home where a parent is communicating face to face with the child as opposed to the child being left to himself with the t.v, or in a busy daycare type setting.

As we continue this discussion I will bring in research such as the studies cited in the book Nurture Shock, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, which statistically reiterates the wisdom from Proverbs. Children need parenting, they need parents who will Deuteronomy 6:7 their children, teaching them diligently all day long!
Now, I better go see what my seven munchkins are up to!

2/1/11

A Little History

A freezing hike at Rainbow Pool


Before I get into some of the nitty gritty info on taking care of little ones while homeschooling I wanted to give a little history of how I came to care so much about taking care of the toddlers.
I started out like most young moms, excited about parenting but without much experience taking care of children. Because my husband and I wanted to raise children who loved the Lord, we took a Christian parenting class to help develop some skills. Although the course helped us in many ways to teach our children good behavior, for example; obedience to parents, respect and politeness to adults, it failed to address child development. The problem with this was that when my second child was struggling with temper tantrums, speech delays and problems with motor planning, I attributed some of these behaviors to disobedience when they were in fact problems with development.
The parenting class put such an emphasis on outward behavior that I can remember being terrified that my child would throw a tantrum when we told her it was time to leave, or with other transitions, and her problems with low blood sugar made dealing with her when hungry or tired an exercise in frustration.. and an opportunity to learn patience.
I know there lies the other end of the spectrum, which I have experienced myself, where in an effort to make sure all the developmental needs of your children are being met; such as meals on time and sufficient rest, that you create a self indulged monster. This is not what I am advocating, my message is that child care is a two way street, we teach them to obey and honor, and yet we don't provoke them to wrath by ignoring their reasonable needs.
The realization that my child did need extra help has driven me to study children and their development, in an effort to partner with God in equipping them for life and Godliness. Although my journey has had some sharp turns as I work to correct a tendency to swing too far on either side of the pendulum, I have picked up some useful information on this journey that I would love to share with you on this blog.

1/26/11

A Child Left To Himself....

How does one go about homeschooling older children, taking care of a house and a husband, as well as the millions of other little tasks we moms have, without leaving the little ones to themselves?

Mainly it takes a slight shift in thinking. When we realize that the teaching and training of young children is just as valuable as the three R's we may be working on with older children we will put the effort into planning our day to make time for these little ones.

Today was an imperfect example, but a good real life one. I am fighting a cold of some sort and was at a new low for energy. Although my ideal is to have a Montessori like "prepared environment" we recently moved and I haven't quite gotten all the activities set up and instructed the little ones in their use. It was also a regular school day for us, so my top strategy for dealing with my low energy level was to just spend extra time reading picture books to the little ones, and catching up on grading and checking schoolwork, instead of my usual routine of heading outside after lunch for "field work" on our five acres.

Even without the perfect prepared environment I make a big effort to read picture books to the little ones several times a day, give them outside play time with an older sibling watching and work on teaching chores and hygiene. We do a lot of talking about what we are doing, for example, instructions on how to brush teeth, as we brush together, little made up songs about making beds as I help the littlest ones make their beds and chats about putting away toys and clothes in their proper "category" as we pick them up.

Our time with the littlest ones goes fast, and although it is a stretch sometimes to meet the needs of the various ages in my home, connecting with each one, and taking baby steps forward in training all of them is possible with a little planning and a lot of diligence.

1/22/11

Don't Forget the Babies!


Having homeschooled for 12 years, 17 if you start from the birth of our first child when my teaching journey really began, I have seen many homeschool families move from the toddler stage straight through to graduating a child from high school. Through all these years of hanging out with homeschoolers it is easy to see that balance is a hard thing to achieve. Trying to homeschool, keep a house tidy, care for babies and keep a marriage strong adds up to a big workload, especially when you add in caring for extended family, church needs and your community.
My initial purpose with this blog and eventual book is to encourage moms to not leave the little ones behind as they move forward with homeschooling older kids. Babies are a such a gift from God, cuddling with number 7 while I counsel my 17yr old on future plans has brought such joy to our lives, and I believe that with a bit of preparation we can take good care of these little ones as well as giving their older siblings a great education for the Glory of God.