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


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.


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



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.


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!


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.