There’s a sight I never did want to see.
Ruby’s math papers, tea-drenched. She’s heartbroken to have to wait to finish her math until the papers dry, to be sure.
Happy Friday. I hope yours is going better than mine!
Charlotte Serenity turned three years old today. A new pair of slipper boots from Grandpa and Grandma (because soft fuzzy things are her favorite – proven when she wore them to bed tonight) and a new dress because Momma can’t seem to let a girl birthday go by without a sewing project were a few of her favorite things.
A new doll that looks remarkably like Charlie herself – who also got a new dress to mark the occasion,
and three candles in a German Chocolate cupcake marked the grander celebrations of the day. She had a fabulous day, and was more excited about the fact that she was three than the cupcakes or the gifts. Being three, she tells me, is a really big deal. She wanted to know if she’d still spill and need a bib when she’s three. With her… the answer is yes. Spills are still gonna happen. Sorry.
Baby Big Girl.
I read recently that that which is not flexible can become brittle, and that which is brittle often breaks.
That statement has me thinking this non-scheduled drop-everything-and-go life I lead with these six little people has been on purpose. Sure, I did this on purpose. I’m busy raising flexible children with this well-refined technique.
In all seriousness, it has worked for us. On Sundays, when church doesn’t get out until 2pm and we don’t usually eat lunch until 3:30pm, all six of my children just go with it. No one even complains. I carry pretzels in the van and often have takers when we’re on our way home, but no one says a word. Skipping naps is no big deal, five stores in one afternoon is common and accepted, and bedtime is 8pm. Usually. Sometimes it’s 9:30, especially in the summertime. They rarely melt, they don’t fuss, they just know that this is life and roll with it.
When we took our last trip with our minivan, there were seven of us in a seven passenger vehicle. Plus luggage for seven. Plus a small dog. On the way home, we were packed to the gills. No one could get out without climbing over seats and preferably out the front doors. On the way home, we got a flat tire. We had to unload the back of the van to get to the spare. The spare that was rusted on tight. The spare that wasn’t sufficient to drive the four hours home. Four hours later, we were headed out again, four hours from home. No. One. Complained.
That was the moment when I wondered if I’d ruined them with all the flexibility required to maintain sanity around here. That moment when I was exhausted, wanted to cry, and my kids saw the two hours of wandering Walmart while they put a new tire on my van as an adventure. We’ve never before spent half an hour smelling every candle in the aisle, after all. We’d never walked the toy section talking about what looked fun, what looked crazy, and what we would choose if we had the funds and space to each pick something fun. We rarely get the chance to sit in a restaurant and eat, and leave our supper mess in some other space.
That fact was commented upon by both of my older daughters. Being able to walk away from the dirty table was the highlight of the night by my dear kitchen helpers. Not long after that trip, we were given our 12 passenger van. Space was amazing, as is the ability to pack in places other than the foot space of my children.
But still. I’m still unsure about the flexibility that happens around here. It’s so completely different than the way I grew up. Is this a necessity of a larger family? Is it merely a byproduct of my personality? Do share, what works for you?
The rooster lives. He’s moved to our pasture next to our house, but regularly takes to the front yard. He’s joined the group of six children, one dog, and two kittens that runs for Blaine’s van when he gets home from work. It’s comical.
In a discussion of naming the rooster, Charlotte announced, “We should name him “Some other guy’s rooster”. I made that name up.” We’re still laughing.
Blaine and I celebrated our 11th anniversary on Saturday. What was planned to be a relaxing day was changed with a phone call at 9am. Blaine headed out to cut up a tree that landed across a driveway and I made a birthday dress for Charlotte. I’m attempting to scale down the dress to fit an 8 inch doll so she and the doll can match. So far, I’m on try #2 and it’s a tad ugly. Fun times.
Pierce came into our bedroom in the night on Friday night and Blaine told him to come to that side of the bed. Pierce cried for Momma and Blaine told him to leave Momma alone and come to Daddy instead. Pierce turned tail and marched back to his bed, screaming all the while. Hello, stubborn child.
We went to friends’ from church last night for supper. They don’t have children. They were nothing but gracious, but there’s nothing like the glaring realization of exactly how crazy your life is as seeing it through someone else’s eyes. I believe there were three glasses of water spilled, one dear child wanted seconds on dessert, and all the kids were dancing in their larger-than-ours living room like there was no tomorrow. Sterling commented on their TV screen saver, saying “All they’ve taught us about are leaves and sticks” and I corrected one child or another every 35 seconds for the duration of the night. Oh my.
The kids cleaned their room to perfection Saturday morning. By Sunday night, you couldn’t see the floor anymore. When you multiply belongings times six, it doesn’t take more than a few items per kid to make a room look like a tornado hit it. Frustrating.
I’m 15.5 weeks along now. I quit getting sick at 13.5 weeks. So thankful.
On with the day. School, co-op homework, house clean up, laundry, mowing the lawn, and finishing a sewing project await me. I’m exhausted already!
I’ve had an empty container hanging on my wall for three months, waiting for me to be inspired and figure out how to use it in my attempts at decorating. I finally found something looking like this:
at the local craft store. It was $10. It’s a bunch of sticks! We have five acres, surely my dear exploring son has an in as to where he can find me some similar sticks for free. Surely.
Yesterday, with the admonishment that they must be as long as his arm and no fatter than his thumb, he set out. He came back, minutes later, with this:
I’m not even quite sure what to say. It’s not quite what I was going for. When I asked about thinner, longer sticks, he informed me there weren’t any. Five acres, much wooded, hundreds of trees, and no sticks. Wow.
Turns out, my $10 bunch of sticks at the store is on 50% off this week. I may be paying for sticks, my friends, because empty was better than this.
In doing so, I may break my dear son’s heart. He thinks they’re beautiful. If you come over and see the sticks on the wall… now you know why. I’m not sure I have the heart to tell him it’s not what I had in mind.
A rooster has declared our yard home.
Exactly. Huh what?! This is the second time a chicken – first a hen, now a rooster – has wandered onto our property and taken up residence. I’m not quite sure what the draw is, other than the dog leaves it alone, to make them want to move in and make themselves comfortable.
The kids asked if we could eat him.
I know. Not “Can we keep him?!” but “Can we eat him?” They saw a rooster and declared him one yummy supper.
At 4am when he began his wakeup call, making him supper sounded like a fabulous idea.
(Yes, it’s raining. No, I did not step out into the rain… in my pj’s… to photograph the rooster. I stood on the porch. There’s only so much I’m willing to do for a chicken.)
I’ll keep you posted on the saga of the rooster. The last time, the hen lasted three days before she disappeared in the night. What fate she met, no one knows.
As part of the Old Schoolhouse Magazine’s Review Crew, I’ve been privileged to receive for my review a paperback copy of Seed Sowers: Gospel-Planting Adventures by Gwen Toliver. Seed Sowers is available here for $12.50. Published by Westbow Press, Seed Sowers is a collection of stories written from interviews of many missionaries. They detail God’s grace and tender mercies for the people He’s chosen to call into foreign lands to further the spread of Scripture translation into every tribe and nation.
I read the book myself, and then a few stories to my children. As they age, my kids will most definitely have this as required reading, but for now, I chose a few that were less harrowing. Some of these stories are nothing but incredible, and some include death… but that’s never the end of the story. Scriptures are published, spread, and people are coming to Christ as a result.
I loved this book. As a little girl, I attended Wycliffe banquets and dreamed of the day I’d get to go off into the wilds of some foreign land and tell others about Jesus. As I got older, the reality of being unable to do this on my own, and the uncertainty if this was what I wanted or what God wanted, changed my perspective and I haven’t thought about it much in recent years. These six children are my mission field, at least for now. But reading these stories of the perseverance of God’s people to pursue living in less than ideal conditions, learning foreign languages, and determining the cause of Christ is worth the risk – it’s incredible. Inspiring. And humbling.
Seed Sowers contains 165 pages in 21 chapters. Each chapter contains one or several stories from one missionary couple or team, One chapter details the story of Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, and Roger Youderian, killed on a mission in the Ecuadorian jungle by the Auca Indians. It doesn’t end with death and the question why God allows the destruction of His people, though. It doesn’t ask why. It tells of God’s plan for His people, and how, despite man’s best efforts to squash the spread of the Gospel, seeds were planted, and fruit was brought forth. Fifty years after the five men were killed, a church service was held at the scene of the incident, and men who had been involved in the murders stood and worshipped the one true God. It’s enough to give you goose bumps.
When I began the book, it started to look like it would be only happy stories. Knowing that’s not exactly the way it goes, I was a bit frustrated. That was soon remedied, however, and truth was told, in all of it’s ugliness. It’s not at all gory in it’s detailing, but I did appreciate the author’s honesty in telling how bad things happen. It’s part of living in a sinful world, and there’s no getting around it in this life.
Wycliffe Associates is mentioned often, no great wonder when I realized Mrs. Toliver has been serving with Wycliffe Associates since 2010. She serves with her husband John and their eight children in Dallas, Texas at the Linguistics Center there.
I highly recommend reading a copy of this book. It’ll open your eyes to the needs that are out there, make you far more sensitive to the call you’ve been given – whether it’s to go yourself or support someone who has. A quote from Nate Saint, recorded just a few weeks before his death, struck me. In part, he said, “…Rather it is the simple intimation of the prophetic Word that there shall be some from every tribe in His presence in the last day…”
To read what other members of the Review Crew thought of Seed Sowers, visit the Review Crew Blog.
I always pad our leave times. Always.
We plan to leave 20 minutes before we actually need to. If we have a lot of things to get into the van, if anyone needs fancy clothes, or if anyone needs a hairdo nicer than a ponytail, the leave time gets padded 30 minutes.
Almost always, we arrive on time. (If it’s me and the kids. If my husband is coming, all bets are off. Love the man, but punctuality isn’t something he’s ever learned. Ever.)
Every once in a while, we manage to leave at our padded time estimation. And then. Things like arriving in a town 30 minutes away 20 minutes early happen. That’s when the kids and I look at each other, realize that showing up 20 minutes early at 8:40 am is less than cool, and make a 20 minute trip to Walmart for a padded mailing envelope that we didn’t get during our normal shopping trip. And four children decide they need a potty break. And just like that, we’re running on time or late again, and life is back to normal. Whew. That was close. My cape was showing.
In all seriousness, though, I get asked all the time how I do it all. I shake my head and say I don’t – I just do whatever is screaming at me the loudest. Usually that means cared for children and a less than perfect house. Just about the time I think I might just have my moment together, we get somewhere only to find out Charlotte’s shirt’s backwards and she failed to put underpants under her skirt. Or we back down the driveway before I remember I left the sleeping baby sleeping. In his bed. Not in the van. Or I find out two dear children “finished” school every day this week and yet both “forgot” to do one subject. Or I ask why the zucchini is out on the table and the kids stare at me like I’m nuts and I repeat myself only to get the same blank stares before I finally realize the word I meant to say was pepperoni – at which point I’ve lost all the respect my authority requires and we all dissolve into fits of laughter.
It’s a good thing that every once in a while we arrive 20 minutes early and I feel like I really can do this job. Because most of the time… my depravity is showing.
A family from church brought this to the last potluck. It was awesome. I’ve made it three times since I got the recipe, and we all love it. My favorite parts: it goes in the crockpot, doesn’t require me to thaw anything out to cook, and cooks for 2.5 hours. I’ve made it with pepperoni, but one time we added too much… that made it a bit spicy. Careful!
I double this in my 6 qt crockpot to feed 8 people. There’s usually a little bit leftover.
2 c water
1 clove garlic, pressed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 8oz can tomato sauce
½ t Italian seasoning
1 small onion, chopped
1 med. red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 med. green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
½ lb sliced mushrooms
1 ½ c elbow macaroni
½ c mozzarella cheese, shredded
Ground meat, cooked (opt)
Place first 12 ingredients in slow cooker; blend gently w/ spoon. Cover and cook on low setting for about 2 hours, or on high for about 1 hour. Add macaroni, cover and cook on high for 30 minutes, or until noodles are tender but not mushy. Uncover, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese . Cover and let sit until cheese it melted.
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine’s Review Crew has been reviewing many products from PeopleKeys. I received The Children’s Profile for ages 9-13. I used this with Liberty, age 10. We spent just a few minutes on the quiz, and then had great fun delving into Liberty’s emerging personality traits. She is a good mix of two different traits – fairly common – and the information regarding her personality was amazingly accurate.
Once we completed Liberty’s assessment, we had to delve into the DISC personality assessment world. It’s fascinating! While personalities are growing and changing at young ages, it was still pretty easy to see certain traits in each of our children. The more I read, the more their habits and actions and personalities made sense. I can’t wait to see who they become as they get older – while I got a glimpse into who they are and who they will become, only time will tell.
The DISC assessments offer huge insights into people and how they operate. I found out, after I got this review and it was the talk of our home, that a good friend uses these assessments in his business, with his employees, with his family. Given the chance to pick his brain, we spent several hours discussing personalities, the portions of the DISC graphs that relate best with one another, and how to interact with each of my children better based on what I know about them. Looking at the other products offered by People Keys, I can see how they would be only helpful in discovering learning styles, career choices, colleges, and more. Fascinating.
I have to say, I’ve done quite a few reviews this past year. I’ve tried a lot of great products. This one, though, definitely created the most buzz in our home. Learning what makes Liberty who she is has been amazing – it’s like peeking into her quiet, timid (SC personality!) brain and getting the inside scoop into how she thinks. With this dear daughter, who rarely voices how she really feels, this was pretty cool. It has me looking at my other children and noticing their personalities more, and with that knowledge comes understanding. Even Pierce (nearly 2) has an emerging strong D that has me seeing him and his determination and driving personality in a whole new light. Even parenting gets a little easier when I understand why they do what they do!
All of that to say… definitely look into PeopleKeys and the DISC assessments. You’ll learn so much about personalities, you child – even yourself. It’s pretty amazing to see how, while each of us is fearfully and wonderfully made, unique and in God’s image, we’ve been created with order. God is a God of order, and our personalities are uniquely ordered as well.
The Children’s Profile is $15 and is available here. Check out this and many other DISC personality assessments and related products on the PeopleKeys website. For reviews from other members of the Review Crew on this and eight other PeopleKeys products, visit the Review Crew Blog.
Many members of the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew have been reviewing Logic of English for the last month or so. Sterling (6 and in 1st grade) received and has been working on Foundations Level A. We received the softcover student workbook, hardcover teacher’s manual, Basic Phonogram Flashcards, Rhythm of Handwriting Cards in Cursive, Phonogram Game Cards, the Logic of English Student Whiteboard, and the Rhythm of Handwriting Quick Reference in Cursive.
I chose Cursive for Sterling since he’s not yet studied it at all. Foundations A was written for ages 4-7, and Sterling falls squarely into this category. Once we began, I realized Sterling had mastered certain aspects of this level, but not all. That part was a little bit frustrating. Sterling is a fluent reader of nearly every word he encounters, but hasn’t studied cursive. He loved figuring out if sounds were voiced or unvoiced, and while I can’t figure out how this will be helpful in the future, it did make a fun little game during our school day. Logic of English is written so that the student is never spending more than a few minutes with each little section – something Sterling really appreciated. He didn’t get bored.
Logic of English teaches cursive by learning strokes that are repeatedly used in cursive writing. While both Sterling and I had to keep looking at the flash cards that were part of the Foundations package to see which stroke they were talking about, Sterling easily learned how to do them with a fair amount of ease. Within days of beginning he was writing his first letters and was so proud of himself. I’ve been quite happy with the speed it moved him along – early success is key for this perfectionist son of mine. While I think that Ruby (5 and in kindergarten) might have benefitted more fully with this program since she’s still a beginning reader, Sterling is enjoying learning to write in cursive. We had zero tears, zero frustration – rather unheard of for Sterling and his desire to do things perfectly the first time or give up completely. With small steps starting him off easy but moving him along quickly, Logic of English has been a great in teaching cursive. If I had started this with him earlier, before he was reading well, he could have benefitted far more from the other parts of the book – but he still enjoys those parts, so we’ll keep at all of them.
I especially like how it introduces sounding out words and putting them together – I’ll definitely be using this with my younger children as they approach learning to read and write. Learning to put the sounds they say together to form words has been a struggle for several of my children, and I think Logic of English would likely eliminate that problem all together.
All told, the materials I received retail for $144. The student book and Teacher’s book are sold separately for $38 and $18 respectively, and the Foundations reusable materials I received are an $88 value.
To read more reviews on this and other Logic of English levels, visit the Review Crew Blog.
I can’t do it all.
I can keep the house really clean. I can teach my children their schoolwork. I can cook a pretty decent meal. I can take children to the zoo, I can get groceries for the week. I can wash the laundry and get it folded and put away.
But if I get a good day’s school in, the laundry falls by the wayside. We’re scrambling to finish up school and chores before supper. Supper might be pasta and a jar of sauce. If I get the house good and clean, school doesn’t happen. If we head to the zoo or the store, the house magically falls apart while we’re away.
I can’t do it all.
The verse “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” haunts me. All things? Me? It’s not happening. I don’t have enough hours in a day. I don’t have enough energy.
I. Am. Exhausted.
So I dug into Philippians 4:13 just a bit more. What am I missing? Why can’t I do it all?
And then I found the verses before (an including) 4:13.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Just like that, the word contentment comes up. And reminds me: exhausted might just be what I am called to right now. Struggling might just be what I’m called to right now. I’m not perfect. I can’t do it all. But in all things, I am called to be content. So I’ll wade (and waddle) along, striving to do this whole wife and motherhood the best that I can. And when I can’t, I’ll remind myself: I’m not called to a perfect house. I’m not called to gourmet meals. I’m called to walk with my God, serve my family, and honor my husband.
He just might have to find his clean socks in a basket in the living room, though.
Sterling (6) has been working on the Time4Learning website for many weeks now. As part of the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew, I’ve received a six month subscription to their website to try it out. Sterling is in first grade, and that’s the level I put him in at Time4Learning as well.
I have to say, at the beginning of this review, I wasn’t so sure. Getting Time4Learning set up wasn’t hard; Sterling didn’t have a hard time figuring out how to do it – I just wasn’t so sure this was quite up our alley. I tend to keep our school off the computer. I’m not opposed to them using it, I just like them to learn without electronic devices. In today’s day… I’m strange.
So Sterling jumped in, unsure if he liked it, having to be reminded to use the site, and anxious to get off as soon as his first little lesson was finished. And then. One day, he asked if he could do what he’d done the day before, because “That was fun!” Progress. I didn’t have time to search out his finished lesson, so I encouraged him to try another, and lo and behold, that was pretty fun too. I’m not quite sure how much he was learning – I pulled his reports and he scored 100% pretty consistently. I wish I’d done that sooner – I’d have moved him up a bit to keep him better challenged.
I love all the reports. I can see how much he used Time4Learning, how well he scored, what he did… it’s all there. He definitely appreciated the Language Arts sections better than Science or Math – the Science I was a little disappointed in, honestly. I dug around a bit, but unless I’m missing something, he was quizzed without having the opportunity to learn the material first. He did fine, but I had to explain a lot to him. That was the one and only time, though, that I had to look over his shoulder as he worked to help him out. If I’m going to have him learning on the computer, I’d like for it to be independently. It’s nice to have something that doesn’t require anything of me! Time4Learning did a pretty good job of that.
In the end, Sterling really enjoyed using Time4Learning, and it’s been really nice to have something to send him to do, something that’s learning, when I’m busy teaching one of his siblings. With a classroom of four, with four grades, I struggle keeping them all busy all the time. I get one started on a subject, get another started, get another started… and child #1 is finished and waiting for me to help with another subject. When that happened with Sterling, I sent him to work on Time4Learning. It bought me some time, he was still working on schoolwork and staying in “school mode” (as opposed to heading outside – where I’ve lost him). It is a good addition to our current routine. I’m not sure if will replace anything we’re already doing, but I think it could, if you wanted it to teach some of your lower level subjects.
Time4Learning for PreK-8th grade is $19.95 per month. Additional students are $14.95. High school levels are $30 per month. No contract is required, and they offer a 14 day money back guarantee. Sign up here.
One day last week, I fought with a new hair pony that had a bow attached. The girls and I discussed how it was cute, but so hard to get the bow to lay correctly.
The next morning, Sterling came to me, all excited.
“I fixed it!”
Why? Why did he feel the need to ruin the bow and hand me a plain old pony? Because it had not been working properly. And… he fixed that.
Today, Sterling hollered from the bathroom that he needed more toilet paper. Ruby grabbed four rolls – three to fill the obviously empty extra roll holder I keep in the bathroom, and a fourth to replenish the one on the dispenser. When she got to the bathroom, she found the roll holder full and the dispenser empty. She asked why he hadn’t grabbed one from there.
“I thought those were just for decoration!”
Seriously? We decorate the bathroom with extra tp, but we don’t use those? Since that extra roll holder has been a part of our bathroom for several years, not always full, how observant is he? And how often has he made do with what was on the roll and been the culprit of the child who fails to change the roll?
Just for the record, Sterling is six. Ruby will be five on Tuesday. Ruby understood. Sterling obviously had bigger things to think upon than the upkeep of our hygiene materials in the toiletry department.
It amazes me how entirely male Sterling is. Fearfully and wonderfully made, eh?
Someone told me once that, to have a large family and remain sane, one must have a good sense of humor. I’m always rather enjoyed the funnier side of life, but children have slowly taught me to see things that way on a far broader basis.
When Pierce pooped on the floor at the eye doctor’s, it was horrifying. But, now we laugh. And I’m certain he’ll hear about that one when he’s older. And when he gets married. And when he’s potty training his own son.
When my then two year old asked, in a Baptist (ie. dry) congregation why she wasn’t allowed to take communion, followed by “Does it have ALCHOHOL in it?!” in a very loud voice, I was mortified. We didn’t share all the same convictions, but that didn’t mean we needed to offend everyone in that. But… now we laugh.
So now, I’m trying to remember to just laugh. Skip the embarrassed and go straight to enjoying my children. It’s all I can do, anyhow. Embarrassed doesn’t get you very far anyhow. Anger doesn’t either. In an eye-opening moment, my dear baking-loving daughter brought me a broken (6 year old!) rubber spatula in two pieces and a dollar, I wanted to cry. Am I seriously so stinking uptight when she legitimately broke something that she felt like she needed to bring money to help replace it when she showed me what she’d done? Hello mirror. That reflection is looking pretty stinking ugly right about now.
When Pierce bit Charlotte and ran for the bug bite medicine, I scolded. And then, I laughed. Because who would have thought of that?!
When I’m rushed for time and my dear, fun-loving Ruby decides that the train she needs to color for math needs stripes – about 30 different colored stripes – I’m learning to go with it. I’m doing my best to back off from the hurrying up and slowing down to try to enjoy life. Including the most colorful trains you ever did see in one math book.
When Sterling left his 2 week-old crayon box out in the sun one afternoon this week, we examined what wax does in heat, what colors melting on colors looked like… and then I handed him a new box of crayons. It’s just not worth getting crabby about. (Contrast this to the melted crayon he was required to scrub off the sidewalk this summer and you’ll note progress. I hope.)
When naked Sterling, fresh from the tub and 20 months old, plopped himself down on the frozen turkey my sister had just removed from the freezer but it had yet to make it off the floor and into the sink to thaw… Sterling saw it as a perfectly sized stool. And then he froze. On two counts. But oh, we laughed. And laughed, and laughed. Do you know how good that feels?!
Motherhood, it turns out, is pretty stinking funny. Embarrassing, certainly. Humbling, definitely. As iron sharpens iron – but, I’m learning, play dough in the carpet does a pretty good job of sharpening iron too.
How do you want to be remembered when your children are grown and gone? I’m aiming for easy-going, go with the flow, laugh-instead-of-cry, grace-extending, and quick to forgive. And slowly, with God’s grace, I’ll learn from my mistakes and get better at this.