My sincerest apologies, I’ve not been posting very often lately.  I’m making a feeble attempt at lesson plans and I’m doing EVERYTHING I can think of to actually avoid them.  Today, I ran out of things to do, so I decided to post… It will put it off for a couple more hours at least. 😉

I’m not sure what the hang-up is… I’m excited about starting school this year.  I feel more organized than I have been in a couple years.  The girls are excited, the boys are excited, we’re all aflutter for the new school year.

Off topic, I went shopping yesterday for uniforms for the little folk.  Yes, yes I did.  I know it’s evil, but I’ve done it before and I loved it.  One, it is a joy to look at dressed and lovely children.  Two, I can take them in public and we look SO incredibly put together.  But, honestly?  Do you want to know the REAL reason why I LOVE uniforms so much?  You can’t kill them.  It’s true.  I think I owned the same skirts all through my four years of high school.

There are so many perks to uniforms.  I know that all of you who were public schooled felt desperately sorry for those of us who attended parochial school.  (BTW, yes, I’ve been asked, and I am a born again Christian but I was born and raised a Catholic.)   You wasted your sympathies.  WE didn’t mind.  As a matter of fact it was painless to get dressed in the morning.  My hardest question was pink, blue, or white?  Because those were the only color of polo tops we were allowed to wear… with navy pants or a navy pleated skirt.  Personally I like the red, white, and blue colors myself, but I honestly don’t care so long as they have a color, a couple buttons, and they seem utterly impossible to stain.  The little girls are getting jumpers.  Again, stain factor.  If I could justify it, I’d attach a jumper top to Tim’s shorts, just to save his shirts.  🙂  Okay, maybe not.   But, in high school, you can appreciate that when you got to do things, you didn’t wear your school clothes, your regular clothes had stayed nice and weren’t worn out or you didn’t just wear them the day before.  I know all of us girls liked it.

Bunny trail over, I’ve got work to do…

So this morning I just wanted to find some nice, easy, painless lessons for Copywork for the little girls.  I don’t know if Rebecca will be able to do much of this this year or not, we’ll see.  She has remarkable hand control and likes to do everything Elizabeth does, so perhaps.  Copywork need not only be for those who can read.

I found this site, which has EASY copywork for little girls, nice short sentences.   She has listed both Bible verses and English proverbs.  I think you’ll also appreciate the Ambleside link about copywork.  It supplies suggestions and much needed help if you just don’t know where to begin. It also links to a Yahoo group.

Aside, I need to write out my goals for this year.  For each child my goals are entirely different.

My goals for Ana is character building and biblical awareness.  I could honestly not care one whit if she did NOT advance at all in history, science, math, reading, literature, or spelling.  Truth be told, she’d be capable of graduating from practically any public high school this year in all subjects with the notable exception of math. 😀  But, I do not feel as though we’ve raised this child with a sound biblical basis.  Perhaps it is because her mama has been a baby Christian for so many of these years and I was only just learning myself.  But I do know that we spent a long time instilling in her a strong academic base which is useful in the world, but all that truly means very little if she isn’t standing on the firm foundation of Christ.   I would suggest for those of you with children in middle school and pre-middle school ages to truly examine what foundation you’re building upon.

Our ONLY goal last year was to interest Christian deeply in books.  Though he isn’t aware of it, he truly grasped reading quite late.  We started him on phonics at 5, but his speech was awful and it was just one more thing he couldn’t do.  He really had speech issues until about age 7-8 and given time, you’d never know now that he had any speech issues at all.  He needed time.  And when his speech wasn’t so great, it’s a little hard to teach phonics and then be able to pronounce each sound correctly when you can’t make all the sounds.  We would approach reading a bit at a time, hit a wall, and back down a bit.   We came into his fourth grade year with him about a good two years behind in reading and having had ZERO spelling practice.  Our only goal?  Get the kid reading, reading well, and liking it.  We instituted the family rule – read or sleep at naptime and gave him great books to read with boys as the main character.  We got him a reading lamp and allowed him to stay up an extra hour later than the little kids if he was reading.  We severely limited screen time.   We read aloud (as we always had) and we encouraged him to talk about books while discouraging discussion about computer games and television characters.  It worked.  I can say the child read the Hobbit this summer with ease, he’s just finished Eragon, and he’s now reading Redwall.  He has been consuming books as of late at the rate of 2-4 books per week and loves biographies and non-fiction.   We’re thrilled.  We honestly didn’t know if all of our efforts would ever get us to this place, and now that we’re here, I wonder why was I ever worried?  LOL.  Isn’t that always the way?  Now that he’s reading easily, I think we’ll find he’ll fly through his spelling rules.  He’s very good at memorization.  I will say that his handwriting isn’t great and that’s a focus for this year.  He is an absolute perfectionist when it comes to neatness and instead of just writing neatly, he’ll write, erase, and then re-write everything he does.  He examines everything letter by letter and it hasn’t been conducive to cursive, kwim?  With cursive, you have to keep continuing and cursive just about drives him through the roof nuts.  So, we’ll need to get him over this little perfectionistic tendency this year.  Christian, on the faith front, got saved when he was 8 years old.  He’s shown fruit since then and has an amazing sincere heart (and WORRY) for those who are not saved…  My goal for him this year?  Help him commit to memory verses and help him to get into the habit of reading his Bible on a regular basis.  In other words, instill habits.

Elizabeth is 7.  She’s reading 3 & 4 letter words and can spell  fairly well phonetically.  We’ll be bringing her up to par in reading this year.  She seems to have a mind for things academic, but her handwriting frustrates her – hence all the copywork planned for this year.  School comes easily to Lizzie, but she has never been challenged.  I think her weakest point is that if she were challenged, she’d fold.  Although I have noticed that she is becoming more and more diligent and is beginning to develop a certain strength.  It is an incredible blessing to see a child you thought would be perhaps less strong than others, begin to come into her own.  I think it GREAT part, I owe this blessing to her not being the youngest child.  My pregnancy with her was extremely difficult to say the least.  She was the child to follow Hannah and we found out we were expecting Elizabeth only a short month after Hannah’s death.  Emotionally it was difficult and physically it was VERY difficult.  After having been told that Hannah was essentially “a freak incident” and that we wouldn’t have a repeat of preterm labor, the doctors discovered they were very wrong.  At twenty weeks they decided to place the cerclage to stitch shut the cerclage because in their words, “the baby would die anyway…..”  So they wanted to give her the best shot they could, but none believed it would work.  They weren’t entirely sure they could place the stitch with the funneling we had and I had an extremely short (under 2cm) cervix at that point.  They weren’t sure it wouldn’t put me into labor or that it wouldn’t rupture the membrane.  And, at 36 weeks, my little footling breech, with the cord in the neck of the cervix, was born via C-section.  She was our very own little miracle and it would have been MIGHTY tempting to risk no more babies right then and there.  To see her grow and become a little girl with her own personality (and WHAT a personality) is a gift.  And honestly?  Where we’re at right now? It’s a reminder of God’s grace  (her name is Elizabeth Grace) on this family and that He gives good gifts, very good gifts indeed.

Rebecca is our next child.  She’s a very strange child.  I say that with all the love of a mother’s heart, but she is an oddball.  The child could spend her entire day alone, just picking flowers.  She’ll talk to us willingly enough, but she is very much a loner and you can see it when the other children play.  They don’t exclude her and she’ll play if they ask her, but you can tell she is very much content to live in her own world.  She can focus for amounts of time and learns readily enough…  Strangely, she grasps concepts so quickly and can memorize anything, and yet you can tell her mind isn’t with you.  She memorizes the names of flowers, what they look like, where we’ve found them.  We call her our little Hippie Peace Child.  She can sit and pet her favorite rabbit, Peanut, absent mindedly for hours and then comes back to earth and connects with us again.  She’s a peaceful little thing for the most part and rarely, if ever, argues or fights.  I can’t imagine ever having to discipline her and I think she’d fall apart entirely if we yelled at her.   Getting upset with her, because she often acts as you’d expect from a two year old, with accidents or whatnot, is useless.  She absolutely doesn’t MEAN to, she just lives in her own little world.  DH & I have consigned ourselves to the facts that she will live with us the rest of her life.  I say it with a sweet smile of contemplation and know that she has many years ahead of her to grow and develop.  At times we wonder if there isn’t something amiss in that head of hers, but academically I wonder if she won’t far outpace ALL of her siblings in the next 3 years.  There is something strange in the way that she simply absorbs information…..  What gifts God has instilled in her are just a whisper right now but I wonder that we won’t be amazed at the way she blossoms over the next years…..

Timothy.  Sigh.  Our only goal for Tim is to teach him to sit still for SOME undetermined length of time.  We’d also like to teach him that not all work is physical.  In one ear, out the other, Tim’s mind is always on work.  The boy wakes up in the morning, puts on work jeans, and says, “Mom, gotta go work…” And he heads out the door for the day.  Did I mention Tim is FOUR?  He moves straw, does chores, “chops” wood, stacks wood, moves the wood, cleans up the yard, moves the wheelbarrow, examines the garden, and so on goes his day.  He’s something else all right….. 😀

And finally Abigail.  We have no goals for Abigail.  She’s two and my only goal is to take as many pictures as I can.  She’s growing up SO much faster.  Why is it that each successive baby only gets older faster than her siblings and HOW is that possible?  How?  And it seems remarkably unfair.  If I could just freeze her at this age I would forever.  I LOVE the age of two.  Sigh.  How will I ever give up having babies and toddlers?  She loves doing school and sitting next to her mama. My goal for Abigail is really a goal for me.  I don’t want to just “get it done” I want to do everything WITH her.  She loves to help me cook, help me sew, help me with the baby, help Mama, help Mama, help Mama.  My goal for ME is to let her do it even more, and she is going to do a short preschool with Tim.  Do I believe in preschool?  Not really.  But I do like a good excuse to sit with my littles for concentrated times each day and just really be WITH them, mind and body.

And baby Sarah?  Well, she’ll be tagging along with everything.  We love her as much as she loves us.

And now, sigh, back to lesson plans.  I suppose this little diversion this morning was long enough.  I’ll be adding links as I run across useful ones.  Hopefully I’ll be able to report tomorrow morning that I’ve got them all done.  We have a wedding shower this afternoon for a cousin and so just Mama and all the girls get to go.  I’m trimming everyone’s hair this morning and we’re going to “do” our hair all fancy and with curls and do our nails.  Why not?  I hear the boys are cleaning the garage.  Hurrah, glad it’s not me.  It isn’t often we have an excuse to just be girls…  I also hear Daddy is taking the boys fishing while we’re gone.  I’m a bit jealous, but cake can soothe a multitude of hurts.  Have a good Sunday.

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Some things you take for granted.

You take the sun rising each morning for granted.

You take creamer being in the fridge for your coffee every morning for granted.

Clean socks… No one knows how they get there, but they aren’t appreciated.

Babies.  We get pregnant, we make it to the second trimester and we take healthy babies for granted.
I haven’t had that luxury since Hannah’s death.  I’ve always walked on tiptoe until about week 14-16 when they place in that beautiful purse string stitch, the cerclage, around my cervix.   We tell the kids they “lock” the door of the uterus.  They stitch it up tight so it can support the weight of the baby.

I had a doctor’s appointment this past Monday.  It was a wonderful thing.  I was seeing a doctor I really adored and I love his staff!  As a bonus, we got our first ultrasound and what did we see?  A perfectly healthy baby.  Really it couldn’t get much better.  Sounds lovely doesn’t it?

And it was!  All of her little arms and legs and parts were there.  Unfortunately the placenta isn’t cooperating with our game plan.  We’ve had previa before – marginal previa.  Where just a naughty little lip of the placenta hung over the edge of the cervix.  And really?  Worse case scenario?  The absolute WORST thing that could happen?  I’d have to have a cesearean section a few weeks early.  Would I love it?  No.  But, ah well, a healthy baby is the goal and a healthy baby is worth the price paid in a pound of flesh. 😉

I didn’t realize I was at such high risk – several risk factors.

~Previous previa – twice
~Previous D & C  – to remove retained placenta after Ana’s birth
~Grand Multi-Para – lots of babies
~Previous C-Section
~Advanced Maternal Age (have to love that at 32, lol.)

Previa usually moves!  As a matter of fact, out of all the people who are determined to have some type of previa, only 10%, a teeny tiny 10%, still have it by the time they need to worry in the late third trimester.  And here we sit… Our little ticking time bomb.  Because we can’t wait for the third trimester. Oh no.  That cerclage was supposed to be placed in July.  And it won’t be.  And if the previa doesn’t move in August, it won’t be placed then.  And we have the unfortunate coincidence of having total (a.k.a. complete) previa.  It’s the least likely to move.  If it hasn’t moved by the beginning of September we’ve effectively closed our little window of opportunity to put in the “magic” stitch……

So what does it all mean?

I wish I knew.

I was one of those mamas who took a healthy baby for granted.  I mean sure, I had to jump through hoops, but a healthy baby?  After the surgery, everything has gone fine in the past.  And, after all, there is that *unmentionable* thing to be mentioned….  I lost one baby.  When Hannah was born at 26 weeks, she lived 12 days.  Who has TWO children die?  Who?  No one.  Right?  Not in this day and age……..  So that was, albeit not politically correct, it was my reasoning.   I had given up one child and why would God ever allow me to lose two?

And so here we sit.

I wish that was all.  We have the added complication that if the cerclage isn’t in place, my preterm labor is severe.  I dilate painlessly.  I am one of those incredibly blessed women who do not know they are in labor.  Think I’m kidding?  Abigail and Sarah.  They’re my examples.  With both Abigail and Sarah, I went into a doctor’s appointment and found out I was, respectively, 6.5 cm and 6 cm. dilated.  Contractions?  Nope, nothing out of the ordinary.  As a matter of fact with Abigail, strong, labor like contractions did not start until I was at eight, and then we broke my water.  She was born about 15 minutes later.  Lucky me!  I love this part of labor, lol.  But.  Not. In. This. Case.

In this case painless dilation is a serious threat.  The biggest risk about going into labor with total previa is the risk to Mom and Baby.  If you’re dilating without warning, the little vessels inside the placenta begin to break.  Pretty soon you start to bleed.  Baby can die with no warning and Mama can begin to hemorrhage, sometimes dangerously so.

Many doctors head this off by doing an early c-section.  What does one do when one goes into labor at 20 weeks?  What about 24 weeks?  28?  What about when you’re choosing, by delivery, to end the baby’s life?  Or at the very least make life awfully hard?

I’m wondering in the next months what decisions we’re going to be asked to make?  Are we going to be asked to terminate?  The answer would be decidedly no.  Am I going to end up hospitalized again, like with Hannah?  What does a mother of seven living, homeschooling children do when she’s hospitalized for weeks?  Are we going to be asked to choose the life of the mother over the life of the baby… Effectively that’s what IS going to happen if we start going into labor at 24 weeks or earlier.

I wonder these questions.  I wonder more morbid ones as well.  Did you know you can bury two children in the same plot at the cemetary?  Why would you?  I know this.   I hemorrhaged badly after Hannah was born.  I still remember the very LITERAL sound of splashing blood.  Memories like that haunt you sometimes…..  There are darker questions you wonder… Do you have enough life insurance?  Have you taken enough pictures?  If the worst happened, which children would have memories of their mama?  It’s late… The mind wanders.

Most of all I wonder why God would put me in this position.  I’ll not shy away from the fact that I’m praying for His protection.  For mine and the baby’s well-being to be sure, but for more than that… For His protection from being faced with ALL of it.  I’m praying for the placenta to be moved, and this burden to be lifted, these choices to be removed.

And sometimes God says, “Yes, I’ll take this cup from you.”

And sometimes?  Well, sometimes He says no.

I do entirely trust that His will can and should be done.  I acknowledge that His will is far better than mine.  I live to serve and wonder how I’ll be used in this instance…….  I pray for His eyes to see.  And I remember the story in the Bible with the father and He is asking the Lord to heal his child.  And the Lord asked, “Do you believe?”  And the father answers, “I beleive Lord, take away my unbelief.”  And I pray that He’ll remove doubt and unfaithfulness from my heart.

Part of me rests easy.  The better part of me is patiently trusting, waiting to see and hear and experience both what is and what will be.

The other?  Ah well, she is researching previa trying to find the exact statistics of total previa moving by exactly 20 weeks.  I know her.  She’s the same one that could quote the statistics for a 26 week old premature little girl surviving.

I’ve said over and over and over again, statistics aren’t relevant.  Even if the statistics are 98% to 2%, if you’re meant to be in that 2%, it is as it will be.  And no amount of worry will change that.

All prayers are appreciated.

Yes, well, they aren’t fancy, but the kids designed the covers and I feel organized. They LOOK organized.
This one isn’t rocket science. I saved all those little tabs I made for my fileboxes and reprinted them, cut them out, and slapped them into page separators in the binders. Therefore, at night, after I’ve checked work, or at the end of the week, TA DA! File under proper heading. Truth be told, I MUST think as little as possible. If we were going to go spreading secrets then I’d be forced to admit that there are days (or weeks) that I don’t think a whole lot. Therefore it’s always good when as much of it as possible is done for me. I’d run back into the “I’m NOT naturally organized therefore this is a life saving process” but you’ve heard that before. 😉

We’re not completely done.  Elizabeth, the princess, is taking such an incredibly time picking out her pictures I was done for the day.

The binder covers… Each picture was chosen by said child and has something to do with the 1800’s – our time period of choice.

Binder Covers

Binder Covers

Each binder end is properly labeled for easy grabbing.

Binder Ends

Binder Ends

Each binder has file dividers:

Binder Tabs

Binder Tabs

These match the dividers in the fileboxes:

Filebox Tabs

Filebox Tabs

It should also be mentioned that we are going to be experiencing some health complications to deal with in the up and coming months and it has become VITAL to me that we keep records showing that we ARE doing school as I’m foreseeing issues. And it is always preferable to be prepared than sorry. More on that later…..

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.