Fine.  I can accept it.  Workboxes aren’t going to work for me.  The system is so far from Workboxes, I can’t even say it’s tweaked workboxes.

What I can say is that I have olders that are independent workers and this system will work for us.  And really, which is more important?  The popular system that everyone has to have, or the one you can commit to longterm?  So, I admit it.  I failed.  But I’m okay with that! 😀

I packed away and/or sold useless materials.  All the books that were so “Disney-fied” or were just wretched, I’m taking to Half Price Books this morning for credit to hopefully spend on books I NEED.   Prayer for guard against temptation would be appreciated here……

With newly cleaned off bookshelves, I was ready to go.  Remember those $4.99 file folder holders I got at Target?  Yeah, these are those.

An organized system

An organized system

Okay, so the plan is to integrate the things that I LOVED from Workboxes into my system for lots of little people.  I desperately NEEDED to consolidate the system.  12 workboxes couldn’t work for me.  It isn’t possible.  That said, MY kids work great off a visual system, so we have weekly charts – the Tapestry weekly plans, but we’re also (together for the olders) breaking those down into daily plans.

I LOVE how she “reloaded” her boxes every night.  We’re planning on following that suggestion with me taking out the days work, checking, and filing into 2.5″ binders for each child (same tabs as the file folder holders) each night and then reloading the file folders with  the next day’s work.

I honestly don’t care what order my older kids work in.  They’ll receive a large block of “school” time and be set free.  I love Tapestry’s attitude that we are train our children to be masters of their time and of their schoolwork.  Ana has always been very independent.  She basked in the short time we did Ambleside because I gave her a week’s plan and she lived in the glory of organizing and managing her time.  Christian NEEDS this training.  He’s a great kid.  You can set anything in front of him and say, “Get it done.”  And he’ll have it done.  It will be perfectly neat, perfectly done, and er, well, perfect.  It will have 200 eraser marks where he redid it to BE perfect, but it will be done and done well.  He has, in the past, needed the guidance of “here is that next thing” BUT he’s never had any freedom or guidance to manage his time.  I’ll admit to this.  This will be awesome for him because he IS one of those kids that handles responsibility well.  And while we’ve always stacked responsibility on the shoulders of the oldest, we haven’t given him that opportunity to really shine in this area.  I’m excited, can you tell?

So, this is what the file folders look like inside:

File folders with tabs

File folders with tabs

Obviously not every child has the same activities.   When you get to the littlest one,  Abigail, it’s just Arts & Crafts and Letter Activity.

Now, the only thing that’s left is getting Mom organized.    I’m getting there… I’ve cut out eight seahorses for my counting board.  I’ve cut out every uppercase and lowercase letter from templates from DLTK.  They’ve been put on cardstock and I take them in for lamination today.  I have my calendar for my bulletin board for the little people.

I feel good.  I finally feel organized, a little.  I’ll admit I’m still in a bit of a fog over Tapestry.  I’m reading, swallowing, and digesting ALL the material.  So far I love the layout.  I AM using Sonlight’s science guides for science.  I LOVE that they sell them separately.  It’s so nice to have that planned daily because I am REALLY lazy and discontent when it comes to science.  And what does discontentment mean?  Well, it means I’m not thankful.  And it’s true.  I have a bad attitude towards science.  I LOVE science, biology, living science, life cycles, rocks, stars, you name it.  I HATE how boring science actually is in the classroom.  Which reminds me…  Guess what little critter decided to form a chrysallis?  I didn’t realize how big he had gotten and couldn’t find the aquarium, so I was ill prepared for him to get to this stage.  He managed without help from me.

Chrysallis - We knew him when he was just an egg.

Chrysallis - We knew him when he was just an egg.

We’ll tape the lid to something from the top so that when he opens his wet wings and stretches them out, he won’t tear them on the container.  We’ve had that happen and there is NOTHING more heartbreaking than a butterfly that you’ve crippled by negligence.

On my To Do list yet –

Organize MY binder
Make MY file folder
Do activities for the preschool ziploc activity swap
Make letter activity sheets for the first nine weeks and any coloring pages.
Hang up my calendar.  Wish me luck.  I didn’t in 2008 or yet in 2009.

That’s it!  Have a great day!

I hear the slogan, “We will not forget” an awful lot.  And mostly, I think of 9/11 and think, “But we have.”

And when I ran across these articles today, they same slogan and knee jerk reaction came to mind.

Why do you homeschool?  Do you remember why?  Do you remember how you ended up on this journey and where your original destination was?

For my husband and I we each had different destination points.  While we’ve managed to maintain a grip on one (the easier), I feel we’ve allowed ourselves to forget the greater purpose.

As I’ve spent the last few weeks, researching and comparing curriculums, cores, books, guides, and articles, I’ve been searching for the answer to our families need for all things academic.  It is not that these things are not important, it is that they are not the most important thing.  Why do we homeschool?  To raise up strong and capable children for God and to further His kingdom.  Obviously for this we need children that are well educated, well spoken, and capable of presenting themselves and His word.  That said, we tend to lose sight of our real goal in all this.  We end up with children that are well educated and are well spoken, but they don’t understand they were created and made for HIM.  They were never educated for the goal of education, but educated only to further His purpose.

And so I ask you, what good is all that education if you’ve fed your children a steady diet of the world and raised them for the world?  All is lost at that point.  They will serve the master they’ve been taught to serve.  You must choose Mother.  You must choose Father.  Whom shall you train your child to serve?  You can only have one master.

It is acceptable to utilize a curriculum to acheive your end goals.   It is NOT okay to allow that curriculum to take the place of active, living faith… Your children are a witness to your day to day priorities.  If math or reading or history should take place above the daily Bible reading and teaching they will KNOW what is more important to you.  They’ve seen how you prioritize.  If the computer or the blogging, or your research or your email takes the place of your morning time alone with Him and His Word, they will KNOW what your priorities are… Even if you have fooled yourself.  I am very guilty of this.  Sometimes I think through our failings, we are able to bless others.  Is that not why we’re allowed hardships?  I struggle with this on a daily basis as the world competes with God for my attention, my focus, my teachings…..

That’s all I’ll say on it for today, but I ask that you please read the two links today.  And when you are planning for this fall, I ask that as you write down your priorities, you place Him at the very top of the list.  And much further down, list your priorities and make sure each is accountable to the first.

Homeschooling is Not About Education by Chris Davis

Solving the Crisis in Homeschooling: Exposing the 7 Major Blindspots by Reb Bradley

Thank you so much to Paula’s Archives for the links to these two vital articles.

It’s a common enough theme.  I’ve been asked how we can afford it.  I’ve been told by others that they would have more, but children are too expensive.   It’s a common discussion on MOMYS, on Quiverfull, on any large family forum.  Bottom line, either people want to be assured it’s very affordable or that’s it’s completely unaffordable and therein they are not compelled to have another child.

Bah humbug.  The question never was, “Can you afford it?”  It never should be.

I’ve tried to address it in my various forums.  And, mostly because I’m lazy and I want to get onto the rest of my day, you’re just going to get a copy and pasted response.  Enjoy.

Okay, well, there’s never enough. Period. I know people who have their 2.1 children, who make $100+ K, and who don’t feel they make enough $$. I know another family that makes approximately $30K/year, they have four children, they have paid off all their debts (NOT that they never had them, but that they paid them all off!), and only owe about $30-$40K on their house. It’s new too, they built it about 5 years ago, and no, it’s not LAVISH, but it certainly is comfy and they love it, on an acreage to boot.

A lot of “comfort” depends on what area you’re in. You might make the big bucks on the east or west coast, but I’ll GUARANTEE you won’t be able to buy as much (housing, food, gas, etc.) as we can here in the Midwest. Here you can buy a NICE house in a NICE neighborhood for $125K. And a gorgeous house, newly built for less than $200K and you’d have a REAL yard, unless of course you’d like acres, and then you could do that too.

Having a large family is NOT affordable. I’ll say it again if you’d like. A lot of people want to know that it is easily affordable and you’ll be able to have all the toys and all the frills that a family would have if they only had one child. Well, you won’t. A long time ago, when I first started on Quiverfull digest, I latched onto this saying, “Children aren’t expensive, lifestyles are.” I think that’s an awesome saying and I think all young couples should latch onto it. Because by the time they find out it’s not true, lol, then they’ve figured out what’s really important.

Yeah, that’s right. It’s not true. Lifestyles are expensive. So are children. No, they really are. If you have seven children, I can almost guarantee at least 1-2 trips to the ER per year. Not to mention paying for a delivery every 18 months. It’s true. While little ones don’t eat much, let me tell you, by the time they start to hit pre-teen, teen years, you’re left thinking, “But I DOUBLED that recipe? Where’d it all go?” No matter what your lifestyle is like, six children eat for six children, not for one. That’s a fact.

Let’s go onto the “but” though – C’mon, you knew there would be one.
We won’t be paying for our childrens’ college. Evil aren’t we? But the Army paid back $64,000 in student loans of dh’s and then put him through over $35K in more school and we took on another $30+K in college loans while we were in. We found a way. And our parent’s didn’t pay for it. Let’s take our own children for example. When they’re little you have visions of doctors and lawyers dancing in their heads. But as you have a half dozen, you’ll see, hopefully, that they are VERY uniquely gifted. As a rule, U.S. couples have 1-2 children that they just KNOW are little geniuses and even if Little Junior doesn’t “apply” himself, they’re still willing to fork over $40K to send him to get the paper degree in Dances of the Northwest Cultures. As parents of a large family, we are in a unique position. We can see that some of our children are going to be very academic, some are very industrious, more than academic. I know in our culture we prize academia over every other thing, but it only leaves kids feeling short. Why would we do that? Is not a happy, hardworking child’s worth valued as much as a bitter, sour child who always fell short of their parents’ goals? Our oldest is VERY academic. She knows she is expected to get scholarships. She gets up in the AM and she is very devoted. She is going into the 8th grade is narrowing her focus already. We’ve geared her schooling towards her PSAT with the goal being a National Merit scholar. My goal isn’t to pay her way. It’s to EQUIP with her what she needs to succeed. That can’t be bought.
Our oldest son is not as  academically inclined as our daughter. But the child has a heart a mile wide and two miles deep. His love for his God and his country is pretty awesome in a 10 year old. He wants to serve. He has no academic goals, but of course our duty is STILL to equip him… both by building him up with strong character, his academic abilities still need to be strong, and he needs to be willing to serve.  Again, OUR job is to equip our children to use their unique GIFTS.  God wired them each in a different way.
Our third child only wants to act. It’s been that way since she was three. We really are at a loss what to do with it – It’s a gift, I have no doubt. I’m just a little clueless how we can use it for good instead of evil. Sigh.

And the rest, we’re waiting to see. But my point here is not only should you NOT pay for your child’s college, but that NOT every child SHOULD go to college. We, as a culture, consider it the end all be all, and it leaves an awful lot of kids, who could be hard working, happy, and strong and feeling good in their unique GIFTS, feel stupid, worthless, and short changed. And those children who have vision, know where they want to go, what they want to be, are driven, and are academic – well, they’ll get scholarships anyway.

As for house space, we’re working on stacking them. Our oldest shares a  bed with her “beloved” Abigail (2) and while there were some shortfalls (while we potty trained) they get along VERY well when Abby doesn’t pee on her blanket, lol. Truth is, Ana, if given her own room, would be hyper-protective, and rude about it to her sisters. This is a built in character builder for her. On the other side of the room is a set of bunk beds for Rebecca and Elizabeth. Underneath that is going the trundle for Miss Sarah who will be moving up there in approximately 5 months. Now, if we need to, we can switch the full bed AND the twin bunks to twin over fulls and put trundles under each of them. The girls room CAN hold at least eight, reasonably, lol. We hang and color code almost all of their clothing. And we don’t keep extra. Ana has learned that good clothes are for good and you take care of your things. If all girls had to share a room (AND BE NICE) with their little sisters we’d see girls who take care of their stuff and assign value to them. And it’s good for the little girls to learn that things are special and belong to someone else so they can’t treat them badly and can’t touch everything they’d like. The boys share twin bunks. There are two bedrooms upstairs, one is more like a glorified large hallway. The boys don’t care. I love boys. My goodness they’re easy.

DH & I share a cubby hole that was meant to be the computer room. There is enough room for our bed, for our dresser, and he can even walk on his side of the bed! Since it’s our bedroom and we SLEEP there, we’re not too stressed about it. Our living areas are huge. But see this all changed with the culture of America. This was an old farmhouse. The people congregated in the kitchen, which of course, was eat-in. This is where they lived essentially. The living room is modest sized. The bedrooms are small because children and parents didn’t retreat there… The family stayed together, worked together, and played together. And then SLEPT in their bedrooms.
DH mentioned to me the other day, I’ve been morning sick and the house isn’t exactly spotless. Well, that might be an understatement. But, he mentioned, with the chaos, that maybe this house WAS too small. It’s not. As a matter of fact, I feel we have more space here than we did in town. Because I can cook a huge meal and have elbow room. Because the kids go out and run and jump and scream and then come in and sit still. (I like that part of living in the country.) So, living space isn’t very relevant.

Yes, money is tight. It always is. Mostly because we’re not great with  money.   But, we’re listening to good ‘ole Dave and we’re getting there. This last year I really wondered if it would be responsible for us to get pregnant before the end of the year. Due to the year change, our surgery will be in 2009, but the baby won’t be born until 2010. Which means we’ll max out our deductible this year and then turn around in January and max it out all over again. Sigh. But you know what? I’ll bet you in 20, or 10, or 5, or EVEN 2 years from this January, I won’t look at that little face and see the hospital bill. I bet I just see the face of a child, a blessing, that I’m so grateful to have that I don’t even notice the cost.

So,  I’m pregnant. And it’s going to cost us a mint. Did I mention I HATE being pregnant? Hate it. I hate that I have to have surgery every single pregnancy. I hate that I throw up from the anesthesia. As a matter of fact, delivery is WONDERFUL compared to week 14.

Things that are precious have a cost, a high cost. If they didn’t cost a lot, monetarily, emotionally, or physically, they wouldn’t be considered precious. If you could walk out in your backyard and pick up a handful of diamonds, they would be worthless. Afterall, they’re just shiny rocks.
It is their COST that gives them value, that makes others consider them precious. The U.S. does not appreciate their children. The years gone by from disease and poor medical care has made children fairly easy to raise.
They are no longer precious. But ask an infertile couple what they would give to have a child.

In 2001 we gave birth to our daughter, Hannah Elizabeth. Unfortunately she was 26 weeks along and less than 2 lbs. She had decent chances, statistically speaking and did really well for a little while. On Day 12 we held her while she died. It wasn’t a short death. It wasn’t a painless death. It was long, and they gave her several morphine shots. You know your life has been changed forever when you stop praying for your child to live and instead pray for her relief through death. Life is precious. Her life was all of 12 days long. Sometimes it is not the length of time you live, but the impact of your life on those around you….. And if that is so, her life had true meaning.

Housing, space, money, college, it all means very little. If you have a house, it is enough. If you have space, it is enough. If you have food, the money is enough. If there is a will to get to college, it is enough. These things are very much not relevant compared to the preciousness of one life. And if you have the opportunity to give the world one precious life, it is a trick of the mind (and more as I know many Christians would believe and attest) that it should be denied because they might have to share a bedroom, or you can’t pay for four years of college.

Someone asked me that today.  A someone who would be genuinely interested in the answer.  So it stopped me and I thought, “Well, how AM I?”  Truth is, I walked around here yesterday afternoon with a bad attitude… You know, the teen angst thing, where “nothin’ goes my way and everyone hates me, I guess I’ll go eat worms” kind of an attitude, lol.

I had a Nemo day.

nemo

What?!  Yes, a Nemo day!  I’m always surprised when most people don’t know what I’m talking about…  But there is that possiblity that our family made this up in our heads, lol.

Do you remember in the movie when the Dad is talking to Nemo and he’s frustrated with him and Nemo is angry and they’re talking about going out in the ocean, but Marlin doesn’t think Nemo can, because of his special fin?

Marlin says, “NEMO!  You think you can do these things, but you CAN’T Nemo, you just can’t.”  I’m paraphrasing here, I don’t remember all the words, I haven’t seen the movie THAT often!  But I have Nemo days.  I think I can fit big, adventurous things into one day and then I get really frustrated when I find out I can’t.  This was yesterday.

I was seriously UNmotivated to get moving.  Then about noon, it hit me… What for supper?  Hmmm…. What was I in the mood for….  And then I piddled around until I decided it was too late to thaw anything out and so I came up with my brilliant plan…  I have two very fat ducks, that are messy, and begging to be eaten.  And I haven’t butchered poultry since I was 12.  So, Ana was excited, Lizzie was moderately elated, Rebecca was heartbroken, and Abigail was disgusted.  We put the kids down for a nap.  Pioneer women we were.  Er… well, that was how we FANCIED ourselves.  Not hardly.

I was fine for the “doing away with” of the ducks.  I was fine for the plucking.  About the time we dipped them in hot water for pin feathers, was about the time the smell hit me.  Yes, that’s right, a newly pregnant woman REALLY deluded herself in that it wasn’t going to bother her.  We quickly changed the game plan from nicely browned, crisp, roasted duck to skinless, marinated duck.  We skinned them.  And that’s when we discovered that while the books might advise you butcher them at 7-8 weeks, I don’t think they realize how LITTLE ducks are.  We had duck snacks for supper last night.  My husband literally laughed and laughed hard the minute he saw them.   Apparently ducks are actually mostly feathers.

Let it be said that I had a pretty good attitude all day long ’til the smell hit me and it was time to clean up after removing everything IN the duck.  Then I started feeling pretty sorry for myself.  Afterall, there was no quitting half way through. 

So, when asked, “How are you?” today, I really thought of my poor attitude yesterday.  And, honestly?  I’m a little ashamed.

How am I?

I have a beautiful, HEALTHY, little girl that is turning one today.  She has these crystal blue eyes and she loves me, ME, best of all.  She is my constant sidekick, and I light up her whole world.  I’m pretty good.

Littlest Sister

Littlest Sister

I have a beautiful, HEALTHY two year old.  She is talking and playing and becoming a whole person.  She THINKS now and reasons things out and she giggles, and she’s picky about her kisses, though I can usually convince her to share one or two with me.  Even if they are only pathetic cheek kisses instead of smacky lip kisses, I’ll take ’em.

I have a strong, HEALTHY, rambunctious boys who are good, really good boys.  They like to work and work hard.  They are the pride and joy of my life.  And they love their Mama and Daddy.

My “big” girls… 5, 8, and 13.  Each is unique and beautiful and wonderful.  I haven’t lost them to the world and they enjoy books, and outdoors, and fresh air, and green grass.  They appreciate beautiful things and nature and they really ENJOY life.

How am I?  I’m good, really good.  I have a husband that loves us, that takes care of us.  And yesterday, well, shame on me.  I should have sat down and made a list of my blessings.  More than “good”, I’m grateful.  Go forth and be grateful today.  Each day, each blessing, they are gifts from God.  A long face, a bad attitude, they are not because of circumstances, they are a lack of gratefulness.  Recognize it for what it is and purge it from your life.  Count your blessings and then kiss each one.  Serve instead of being served.   Be thankful.

Timothy was a good little boy…  A very active, energetic, slightly frenetic, albeit creative little BOY.  His mama loved Timothy very much… Most days.  But it always seemed as though the occasional, odd day would come along that sweet Timothy would seem to get into everything.

Poor Timothy.  He just didn’t understand.  He was only trying to help.  Why did Mama have that funny look on her face?  Why did her mouth get all tight around the edges and her eyebrows furrow together like that?  Why did she look like she wanted to say something…. But didn’t.   It was because Timmy’s mommy was biting on her very own tongue.

Timothy isn’t much of a sleeper.  As a matter of fact, some might call him an “early bird.”  Rising at the crack of dawn each day, Timothy, our sweet little hard workin’ boy was raring to go from the first light… Some times even earlier than that.  Many days it was before Mama had had her coffee.  And Mama desperately needed a full cup of coffee in order to be prepared to take on the day a la Timmy.  And, even more amazing than Timmy’s ability to wake early even though Mama was shockingly quiet, was his ability to tiptoe down the stairs and into the kitchen with no one hearing him.

But, never fear, if there was one thing Timothy was good at – it was making coffee!  Oh yes!  Coffee was Timmy’s specialty.  He would get out her favorite mug.  He knew she liked it ‘specially well because even though he had dropped it, and broken off the handle, and chipped it, she refused to throw it away.  And he KNEW she really LOVED creamer, because you should see the absolute FIT she’d throw when he’d drink it all up in a cup.  Oh, yes, Mama loved her creamer.  A good, strong shot of creamer, some coffee… What else could Mama want?  Cocoa!  Mama always loved it when Daddy made her cocoa!  But why was his so lumpy?  Daddy’s cocoa didn’t look like that.  Oh well.  Timmy figured he’d just cover it up with a bit of whipped cream!  Oh drat!  Why did it always have to stick to the spoon like that?  Just shake it harder.  Whooops.  We’ll wipe that up later.  Oh Mama is going to be thrilled.

(Little Timmy takes the coffee into Mama’s computer room.  Mama is indeed…. um, well… speechless.)

 

 

Disclaimer: Even though the author does indeed have a sweet little four year old son Timothy, she vehemently denies that the boy in the story bears any resemblance to her son.  All events in the episodes of stories about Timothy are indeed fictionalized.  Any such similarities to events or persons are purely coincidental.  Mmmhmmm….

And thank you Judith Viorst for writing the truly original Alexandar and The…  as we’ve enjoyed it over and over and over again.  Gosh, I wonder why.

Entry 2?

I know how busy ya’all are…. It being Spring and all.  You can hardly tell here today as it is a very chilly 50 degrees.  We *did* get internet back as I’ve been missing it desperately, wanting to do some writing and planning of some of new curriculum for the oldest two…  And wanting to post, but since I didn’t have any pictures, and I know ya’all LOVE pictures, I resisted the urge to post at all.

 

First a couple of my newest chickies…  DH ordered a few of every kind he could think of that were available from McMurray’s.  Unfortunately, we lost several.  Eight to be exact.  They felt it was probably my use of alfalfa as bedding as it can have mold or mildew in it and chicks are extremely respiratory sensitive.  Despite this fact, they DID honor their livability guarantee which just SHOCKED me and I was so very impressed by that.  Honestly, I’d have rather had the chickens.  But it was nice that they performed so honorably.

My favorite chicks have been the Hamburgs, which unfortunately were decimated in the last two days of death.  But, I also LOVE the Blue Andalusions!

Blue Andalusian Chicks

Blue Andalusian Chicks

 

If you look in the background of these chickies, one of which is my new Buff Orpington rooster, you’ll see the rainbow of chicks we received!

Rainbow 'O Chicks

 

We’ve been very busy creating a colony for our rabbits vs. keeping them in hutches.   It’s in the works, so I promise indoor/outdoor pictures when we get the opportunity.  Christian bought a Flemish Giant buck this last weekend and  he’s a cute little guy.  I have ZERO idea what we’ll do with him, but he is very loveable.  And Lizzie finally got to pick up her little pygmy doe.  Angel is the sweetest addition we’ve gotten so far and we LOVE her.  Wait ’til you see!!  She is too cute for words.

Legend has been growing like a weed and he has the most beautiful personality, not to mention he is one GORGEOUS German Shepherd!  We have recent pictures of him as well.

Legend, sitting like a good boy.

Legend, sitting like a good boy.

Legend on alert.

Legend on alert.

He is absolutely an amazing dog and we love him dearly.  He’s TRULY been a family addition although he certainly listens to Ana best of all. 

And finally, we prepared dandelions for a midafternoon pick-me-up.

Sauteed Dandelions

Sauteed Dandelions

We sauteed dandelion greens in butter, garlic, orange peppers, and onions.  The taste was wonderful, but way too salty.  I added a bit of extra salt and it definitely did NOT need it.  We’ll try again tomorrow.

Friday we’re making dandelion syrup for the weekend pancakes.  It should be a lot of fun for both the  kids and myself.  I’ll post pictures!  Thank you Donna from BabyWearers for the idea!!

So, two days ago on another forum we were asked to SHOW what a day was like for us.  Another forum had asked to see what our school rooms / school day looked like in homeschooling families.  So, yesterday,  the camera followed us around all day….

Morning comes around 5:30.  I get up with dh to make the coffee and see him off…  Still dark, and chilly.  No fire. 😦 

No ashes either.

No ashes either.

 But any morning that starts with coffee is a good morning. 🙂

And a favorite cup

And a favorite cup

A little computer time

A little computer time

But then

Sun's Up!

Sun's Up!

Chores will be a little chilly this morning.

Chores will be a little chilly this morning.

But first, a little breakfast of granola

But first, a little breakfast of granola

Or with strawberries :)

Or with strawberries 🙂

Preparing Breakfast for Dogs

Preparing Breakfast for Dogs

Big Brother Juices

Big Brother Juices

Sweetest Pea helps me sterilize for milking

Sweetest Pea helps me sterilize for milking

Girly Girl milks Cinderella

Girly Girl milks Cinderella

She milks Cinderella first, because Cinderella holds still, doesn’t kick, lets milk down easily, and pretty much pours it out into the bucket.   Gypsy… Um, well, not so much ANY of those things.  Old Bat.

I strain, measure, and chill

I strain, measure, and chill

 By this point, all little girls, big girls, and Big Brother have showered and are dressed.  Big Brother watches Shortie Pie while the rest of us go out and do chores.  His turn comes next.

Chicken Chores - Feeding Leftovers from Juicing

Chicken Chores - Feeding Leftovers from Juicing

Feed all the babies.

Feed all the babies.

 

Big Brother gets a bale of alfalfa for the does from the other barn.

Big Brother gets a bale of alfalfa for the does from the other barn.

 

While I milk.  Yes, in my pajamas.

While I milk. Yes, in my pajamas.

Showered and Dressed... Only four hours after waking up.

Showered and Dressed... Only four hours after waking up.

Finally.  We’re ready to start school.  Everyone is dressed, everyone is fed, including beasts.  I WISH we were all organized too.  As this is technically a cross-post because I’m lazy and was supposed to take pictures of my school areas last week. (Different board – school areas in a small house) This is going to double for  both posts. 🙂  Wait!  That’s not lazy.  It’s MULTI-TASKING!  It’s actually uber efficient.  That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Books, functioning as school books, in general state of disorganization.

Books, functioning as school books, in general state of disorganization.

This was our $14 find at the last farm auction we went to.  It allows me to have the rest of my books on my bookshelves.  I am VERY grateful. 

More coming……

Lunch - Eggs & Oranges

Lunch - Eggs & Oranges

 

Eating Lunch

Eating Lunch

Air Freshener - Cloves, Cinnamon Sticks, Leftover Orange Peels

Air Freshener - Cloves, Cinnamon Sticks, Leftover Orange Peels

 During lunch time is crunch time.  It’s the small period of time right before naptime.  It’s really important that I use this time to get as much lined up as possible so that I can cram as much into naptime as possible, because all the little ones are asleep.   Mixing up the bread for naptime baking…

Making bread

Making bread

Mixing up tea for packaging and for me!

Mixing up tea for packaging and for me!

Naughty Little Brother gets to sit by my feet.

Naughty Little Brother gets to sit by my feet.

 Sweetest Pea had been helping me.  See the stool?  I turned around and she was gone.  Yet, her clothes remained?  Was she zapped?

What happened to Sweetest Pea?

What happened to Sweetest Pea?

 Nope a potty break.  Apparently it required the removal of all clothing?

Time to read before naptime.  They're ready!

Time to read before naptime. They're ready!

One's Out!

One's Out!

Two Down!

Two Down!

Mission Accomplished.  Three all asleep.

Mission Accomplished. Three all asleep.

Little Girls and I finish up the bread.

Little Girls and I finish up the bread.

Oldest two read history for today.

Oldest two read history for today.

Then it’s time for Mama and oldest two to feed the baby goats lunch.  They get fed three times per day.  One more month ’til weaning.  I’ll be glad.  It’s fun, but a lot of work.  The little girls are listening to Mary Poppins on CD.  We have a very strict family rule for naptime.  You read or you sleep.  If you choose not to read, you choose to sleep.  Period.  There are no other choices.  Often, the older kids and I will do science or history in this time frame.  Today I’ve got work to do.  But for the benefit of the “school room” discussion, let me show you our science room! 

Designated science area

Designated science area

Not only are we blessed with a designated science area, but we also have our very own Home Ec room! 

Home Ec Room

Home Ec Room

Tongue in cheek, sure, but also goes to prove that ANY size home is suitable for schooling.  You do not need to feel like you can’t suitably school your children without a designated area.  Oh hogwash!  Can it be nice?  Sure it can.  If it fits your family’s lifestyle.  I can say that I like our situation right now better than I have at any place we’ve lived (military CA, two houses, moved back, then to town, and now) since we began homeschooling eight years ago and this is the smallest home we’ve been in in the last eight years.  Or possibly the last 13 years.  And it’s perfect for us, for our lifestyle. 

Off the soapbox, back to the day…..

Gotta get a little work done.

True Vine Stuff

True Vine Stuff

Sold a lot of lip balms and Drench bars last week and need to restock.  Must be chapped skin and lips… That time of the year I suppose.

Mixing up Drench

Mixing up Drench

Decided to try something a little new for someone’s little boy and ease of application instead of a tube…

Drench Drops... Hmmm....

Drench Drops... Hmmm....

Cutting Labels

Cutting Labels

Stamping Soap

Stamping Soap

shot47bigkidsA little snack while journaling.  The little ones will be up shortly.  Time for clean-up.  Packaged up a few orders and ran to the Post Office.  Called Daddy on the phone and he’ll be home after a bit.

Back home in time to do some clean-up before Daddy comes home. 🙂  Um, like fold some laundry?

Blech.

Blech.

Girly Girl helped me make supper (baked salmon, fried potatoes, green beans) and we picked up the kitchen.  Princess and Pumpkin Head cleaned the living room.  Big Brother vacuumed and corralled Shortie Pie. 

Daddy came home, mama milked, and Little Brother helped me feed the babies.  Girly girl finished up supper and it was almost ready when I came in from milking. 

Would have LOVED to put these up last night, put DH tells me they can wait for the weekend.

My new laying boxes!!!!

My new laying boxes!!!!

He’s right of course.  The chickens could care less.  I think they’re lovely and he did such a nice job on them.   I’d lay twice as many eggs if I were a chicken!

We watched American Idol and tucked the kids in bed with all their blessings.  I admit I sat up and watched the Duggars last night.  They never fail to fascinate and inspire me.  Can you even imagine 18 children?? 

Have a great day!!

 

 

So sorry I’m so late posting this morning!  Woke up to no internet!  Apparently it was just one of those flukey things.  So, it’s all fixed thanks to our very nice cable man and I am grateful.  Now, I have to go work on something very special.  But, I promise to show you what it is soon.  Have a great weekend!

Reprint Friday everyone!  This is a reprint from my old blog dated July 15, 2008… Enjoy and have a lovely weekend

Yesterday was a bit of a… hmmm?  What’s that word?  Revelation!  That’s it. That’s the word I’m looking for!

Yesterday was our first day of school.  July in Iowa is sticky, hot, and sticky… Did I mention sticky?  So, we started school and we’ll take a break in late fall when the weather is gorgeous again.  So, new curriculum, new schedule, and new kids.  Well, okay, same kids, but I was hoping for at least the magical transformation of my three year old into this lovely, obedient preschooler.  Didn’t quite happen….

So here I am on Day 2.  I’m behind, lol, and I wonder, “How can that be?  How can I be behind on the SECOND day of school?”

See this year we are taking a new approach.  I’ve always made our own lesson plans, pulling eclectically from a hodge podge of materials that I’ve chosen based on merit.  This year, in a state of utter exhaustion, and admitting I’m not SuperWoman (who knew?!) I went with Sonlight.  Whew boy!  Didn’t QUITE realize *I* would be reading aloud 2-3 hours a day at a bare minimum…. (Three cores, yeah, that was genius.)

Yesterday was absolutely filled with revelations… Just one after another.

I sat here today sorting books and we’ve just recently picked up several of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle’s books.  And I found myself a bit resentful to be honest.  When we started reading Mrs. Piggle Wiggle I was reading rather intently, with the wild idea that I’d get something useful out of it.  You know you must be over your head a bit when you have a child’s book in front of you with a funny little woman on the front and you’re hoping beyond hope that SHE will have the secret to heeling your three year old.  Wrong.  Just wrong.  So as I put away these books this morning I really thought she was mocking me a bit from the cover.  She should be grateful she didn’t find herself in the trash can as I couldn’t find much use for her…  powders and candy.  If only.

My second thought came as I RE-sorted all the math manipulatives.  Our three year old (Noticing a trend?) came up with the delightful idea of playing with the lacing beads, attribute blocks, dominoes, stamps, pencils, paint brushes, and lacing animals… all at one time, in one big pile. 

And the thought occurs to me that “Quiverfull” is kind of like buying a timeshare.  Oh, it looks good on the brochure.  The cuddly, big family, curled in front of the fire… I think they use the SAME brochure.  But about ten years down the line……..  It just takes on a bit of a different look and you’re thinking, “Hmmm… would I have bought into this if I had known what I know now?”

Ahhhh…  In all seriousness I adore my children, with the exception of above mentioned three year old.  But I will be the first to admit there are days, lately, of utter exhaustion.  Those lovely moms of many know just what I mean!   Apparently, simply based on the fact that I get pregnant easily, this does indeed qualify me for Mom of the Year.  We have two olders (planned) 12 and 9.  Then, with Quiverfull conviction securely in hand, we’ve had the last six in seven years. 🙂  So now, they are trained well enough that I can take all of them in public with me.  And people are fairly certain that because they are all dressed, wearing shoes, and I look reasonably sane, that I really must be this amazing, fantastical mama, with a heart of gold and unlimited patience.  As I am not terribly fond of hypocrisy, I try to explain to them that this is simply not so and that I am a mama just like everyone else who does indeed occasionally lose her marbles.  This is of course then hurrahed as humbleness and I’m even more wonderful than before.

Let it be said here and now…  I am not SuperMama.  My kids would laugh at the very idea!

So, now that I’ve set the situation up for you, here’s the rest of the background.  We have really great older kids.  They’re wonderful. We adore them.  They are the kind of kids you LIKE to spend time with.  To about age 4.  We love our resident four year old VERY much.  She’s an absolute delight.  But, age three NEVER fails to disappoint…  We pretty much hate age three.  Bring on the two year olds, but I don’t like three.  It is inevitably at age three they discover they have opinions.  Generally, contrary to my own.  And at about age three, I always have a new baby…  (When don’t I have a new baby, my mom would say.)   So, despite the fact that I’ve gone through this several times, I see my sweet, adorable two year olds and assume that THIS child will not go through this willfull, naughty stage, and we spoil them to death.  Only to pay for this six months later. 

We’re at that stage.  Add in one potty training 22 month old, and one needy infant and mama NEEDED to get out of the house last week.

So, we get dressed and we head to the park.  We’re all in high spirits, congratulating ourselves on being dressed and out of the house by about 9:00 when the weather is still cool.  And as we walk we bump into an older mom, pushing her three year old in a stroller.   Now, I’m in a great mood, but I’m wiped out and you know, you just know you’re having one of those days when….

Other Mom:  “How many of them are yours?”

Me: “All of them!”  Big smile

Other Mom: “Wow! I don’t know how you do it.”

Me: “Oh, it’s not so bad.  They’re good kids.”

Other Mom: “You must be Mom of the Year.”

Me: “Why?”  And realize this is said in genuine shock and a little horror mingled with true confusion.   There.  That was my genius answer. 

It never ceases to befuddle me why people think we just have it all figured out because we’ve had LOTS of kids.  Like because I’ve been bestowed with children, I’ve also been bestowed with endless wisdom… Don’t I wish it? !

Truth is, the more children I have, the more sure I am that I don’t know it all.  I always joke that when we had our first, I was pretty sure I knew it all about parenting.  After all, I had read all the books and we were doing everything right.   With the birth of number two, I just KNEW that I knew it all.  I had two, both of them keepers.  With the birth of our fourth, who was a very high needs baby, I began to suspect that we might not know as much as we thought we did.   Then came number five… a baby who had constant diahhrea until I stopped breastfeeding, a baby who turned into a toddler who was VERY behaviourally challenged until we stopped giving her soy.  (WHO KNEW?!)  It was then and there I admitted I didn’t know much at all.  As a matter of fact, there were days when I considered it a miracle that I hadn’t left any behind somewhere.

Okay, okay, so the quiverfull brochure has lost some of it’s charm.  I did about seven loads of laundry yesterday and I’m ALMOST caught up.  I am using THREE, count ’em, THREE Cores in Sonlight this year.  I have a 7th grader, a 4th grader, a 1st grader, a K, a Pre-K, a potty training almost two year old, and one seriously high needs newborn that lives in her Moby…  THIS was NEVER on the brochure. 

But, I also have one really neat daughter who is almost a teenager and I love her more than I ever did as a baby because she is absolutely fascinating to me.  I have a 9 yo boy who loves to take care of his Mama and loves God.  I have a 6yo who is a delight and makes me smile every single day.   I have a 4yo who is just never upset, always happy, and smiles the biggest smiles.  My three year old, while not well behaved lol, is very umm… creative.  The two year old makes me think every day, “Thank you God that we didn’t stop having children.  How would I live without her?”  (I still think this EVERY SINGLE DAY and she’s 2.5 now. )  She brings me joy every minute of the day… even cleaning up puddles.  And this high needs newborn…  Sometimes I think maybe she is an amazing blessing as well.  If she wasn’t so fussy how would I have an excuse to hold her all day in a family this size?  She’s in her Moby now, snuggled tight into me, snoring soft baby snores, and blissfully asleep.  She has soft woolly newborn hair, and soft, sweet smelling, newborn skin.   And while this may not be what I THOUGHT I was signing up for…  While it is SO much more work than I ever would have wanted…  While I go to bed every night wiped out and wake up in the morning with a long list of “To Do” options, it is so much better than I could have ever dreamed.

How does that quote go?

I’m not what I should be, but by the Grace of God, I’m not what I was.

Wow, what’s going on?  36 hits before 6:30 this morning?  You all must be dreadfully bored!  Well, it’s Friday for me.  (For ya’all too I suppose.)  I need the day to prep for a sweet and peaceful weekend of staying home and ENJOYING each other with no where to go!   May you all have a very blessed weekend with those you love and those that love you.

 

This is a reprint from my old blog and was almost exactly one year ago. 

Date: March 2, 2007

Our little business has really begun to take off.  We have shipped out approximately sixty orders since the last week of January.  That is impressive to us… It pretty much tops the amount of things we shipping in 2007, not counting wholesale orders.

This was a bit of a shock to me.

Also, we had the flu two weeks ago.  It is not a generic “we” that people use when talking about themselves.  It was a collective we.  I had the flu.  Ana had the flu.  Timothy and Christian had the flu.  Rebecca, Elizabeth, and Abigail had the flu.  And it was not pleasant.  I’m pretty certain the last time a bug knocked me down like that was 1999.  Only one child threw up and I consider that a rejoiceable success.

And I’m thrilled to report we were able to completely treat all symptoms with herbs.  No Robitussen, no achy, so you can sleep medicine!   We didn’t need Tylenol to combat the fevers.  It was a major success in our home and I’m very grateful we had everything on hand.  Except lemons and fresh ginger and that was quickly remedied by a very good and doting Daddy. 

Which brings me to the title of this entry.

I Can Do All Things.

I have heard of those mothers.  I think I once thought I was that mother.  I’m no longer under such delusions, lol.  I will freely admit that my younger children watched more television in the last three weeks than most likely the rest of their short lives combined.  I only wish I was kidding.  We did accomplish homeschooling… some.  I did keep up with the business though it meant long hours and little sleep and I wonder if that is why I was sick three full days whereas the children bounced back in under two?

And I discovered something about myself.  I *can* do almost anything…. I just can’t do them all at once.

I can be quite a decent wife.  I can be a sweet and rather discerning mama.  I can be a rather dutiful homeschooler.  I can run a moderately successful home business.  I can sew, and cook, and make everything from scratch.  I can work with a designer on new labels, talk with a printer about the new labels, plan my new wholesale accounts, plan our test prep., teach one small child her letters, teach another to read, another to count, another her body parts, another pre-algebra, and another multiplication.  I can wake up at 5AM with dh and I can stay up working on work ’til 1 AM. 

BUT

You can’t do it indefinitely and you can’t do it without a cost.  And you can’t do it all at once… or at least not longterm.

I was the “can do” mama.  For many, many years, I had a can-do philosophy.  If I heard of it, I was convinced I could do it.  I wanted to learn to sew.  And I did.  I wanted to grind my flour, make my bread, and spend hours upon hours in meal prep.  I wanted to run my own business, homeschool my children, use cloth diapers, and do everything I read about in Mother Earth News, all the while being a successful soccer mom, and coaching softball.

I’m exhausted.

And I quit.

LOL, I have come to accept that there are things for this family that are a priority.  And, now we are expecting our eighth child in twelve years.  I have one sixth grader, one third grader, one K/1, one preschooler, one 3 year old, a toddler, and I am oh so very pregnant.  It is time to delegate.

I have been reading how to make yogurt in my oven.  Today I quit.  I am buying a yogurt maker!  Don’t comment on how easy it is, I don’t care.  This is my line.  I can’t plan properly so that my oven is free.  I can’t keep up with our yogurt consumption.  I am buying a yogurt maker. 

My daughter is going to learn to make the bread.
My son is going to learn to grind all the flour.
My dh bought me huge tea jars so that I don’t have to pre-mix my pregnancy and childrens’ teas every morning.
I hired someone to turn my prefolds into prefitteds.
I am switching to all natural covers for the babies.  And I am NOT (absolutely refusing) to potty train Abigail before the baby comes in May.  (I can’t decide if that’s smart or stubborn.)
Someone else is making the wool covers. 
Someone else is designing the website and the labels.
We are having a printer print the labels.
I cut out all the soaps I don’t enjoy making.
I am simplifying.

Can I do it all?  Perhaps.

And finally, the admission.

I can do many things well.  But I can’t do it all well.  And that is a fact.  And a useful fact.  It is time I admit my limitations. 

In life,  we must all prioritize.  Where did True Vine Soap originally start anyway?  The goal was to give the business a name that would remind me to stay where I needed to be.  To keep me mindful of my priorities.  I am extremely grateful that I gave it such a name, and truly believe it to be God inspired.  Thanks to that, I think I am getting back to the right track.  We are so easily misled on rabbit trails. 

God
Family

Everything Else

Lord keep me mindful that I cannot do all things.  You have given me twenty four hours each day of which I am to be a good steward.  I pray that I would be mindful to take good care of those things which You have given me.  Keep me mindful Lord, keep me mindful.