Thursday, September 3, 2009

I've lost it! I've really lost it this time. I can't find the fruit of the spirit anywhere...

This is only day 3 of homeschooling for the fall, and I'm going crazy. The kids are trying my patience in every which way and if I had a heart-problem, I'd probably be hospitalized at this point because of the excess stress and elevated heart-rate.

I don't know if this is just a symptom of all of us adjusting to the new schedule - I know it can take a few weeks to get used to sitting down in a controlled manner, getting the bookwork done - but I don't know how I will do it if something doesn't change. I have about 14 weeks of curriculum that I really want to get finished by Christmas, so my goals right now are really important! I just don't know how to motivate my kids to be more... attentive, quiet, helpful, grateful!

Then, on top of that, I have a 1 1/2 year old who is so clingy and wants to be in my arms or on my lap any time he's not stuffing his mouth in the high chair or sleeping.

Okay... I think I'll be searching for some motivational tools. Like a star chart or treats... for ME! Well, I guess I could do something for the kids too.

Now that I've vented, there will be a positive list of ideas on my next blog post...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Organization for a large family...

Well I've really done it now! I have spent hours and hours thinking about how to get my kids to do more chores; I researched on the Internet how to make it happen; I've even read the books about raising responsible children!

Now I'm trying to put this all into action and I've created a chore chart for our family, so there is a sense of motivation and achievement when the kids help out around the house.

Here are the main principles. First, I will give the children allowance every week. I don't like the idea of "paying" the kids to do work around the house when they are part of the family, and we all must work together to keep things going. For example, I would not withhold allowance from a child who had broken his/her arm and couldn't help out in the house that week.

However... there needs to be some motivation. Here's where the parental ingenuity comes into play. I would like to see these chores done by a certain time every day... say 12 noon. So in order to motivate the kids to do it on their own, there is a catch. If their chore has not been completed by the pre-determined time, it becomes open game to be assigned either to another child or to myself. In that case, at the end of the week, the child who was supposed to do it has to pay, out of their allowance, the person who completed the chore in their place. Ouch! So... here's hoping it all works. The bonus to this methodology is that if a child is being lazy and doesn't do a chore, it isn't going to be left undone until the next day. Instead, there is great motivation for another child to pick up the task and complete it... because they can make extra $$$!

So onto the chart. All in all it cost me an hour or so of planning, about $4 in supplies and somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 hours to make. I used velcro strips that I bought at Walmart, which I then glue-gunned onto the colored poster paper and the white poster board. Each of the different chores are movable so that I can assign each child a different set of chores each week. Also notable, each child has a specific color for their "personal chores badge" and the "markers" for couple of chores they do every day.

Personal Chores: There are certain daily tasks that I would expect the children to do everyday... chore chart or not. I've been trying to implement these over the past few months, by having a sign on the inside of their bedroom doors that tells what they need to do before they leave the room in the morning to have breakfast. There are four simple tasks: Make bed, pick up laundry, clean up toys and put away any books. As it relates to the new chore chart, I've made a daily "happy face" that each child can stick in their spot for that day of the week once they've completed their "personal chores".

Daily chores: Each child can see their daily chores next to their name on the chart. There are 2 daily chores, and 1 weekly chore. I will likely assign that the weekly chores get done on a certain day, probably near the beginning of the week. Once their chore is completed, they place one of their colored markers on the velcro spot for that day. So each day, they should be placing 2 markers, except for the day that they also complete the weekly chore.

On the occasion that the child does not complete their chore, for example if Ethan did one of Sabrina's Tuesday chores, Ethan would place one of Sabrina's colored markers in his Tuesday spot (so then he would have 2 of his color, and one of hers). That way, at the end of the week, we would see that Sabrina owes him money because he did one of her chores.

I think that covers the workings of my new chore chart. I know that the next few weeks will be a lot of effort to implement this new system, but it should really pay off in the end! That's actually the reason why I decided to wait until summer to get something like this going... that way when we get back into homeschooling this fall, it should be running smoothly without much prodding from me! Cross your fingers for me!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Never give up when you're stuck in spit-up

There is an intricate dance between perseverance and resting in God. We are told many times to "Be still and know that (He is) God" and to rest in Him, yet on the other hand, we are supposed to persevere; never give up, fight the good fight of faith.

Life can be hard some days. Sometimes it feels like it is me against the crowd, yet I must be noble and show them the better way - so I can't stomp me feet, throw a fit and plop myself down on the couch and cry when things don't go my way. I know that I have tons to be thankful for, and I do "count my blessings" almost every day. But life can still be quite a struggle and I know that it isn't flesh and blood - those tiny little bundles of energy called "children" whom I am fighting against, but I'm pushing against something much deeper.

My inadequacies, selfishness and pride keep me from loving my kids (and even my husband) the way I'm supposed to, and laying my life down for others. Just because they are children, doesn't mean I shouldn't treat them with the same love and respect I would treat a stranger... or even a friend. I came across a quote yesterday from Miss Manners:

"Rudeness to children counts as rudeness. The fact that people are smaller and blood relatives does not mean that it is open season on insulting them."

Now it's not as if I am berating and belittling my children every day... however, I know there is many a day when I could be more patient, kind and gentle with them. Hmm... kind of sounds like I just need more of the fruit of the spirit in my life!

So that brings me to perseverance. Right now my biggest struggle in life seems to be daily living. My biggest challenge is raising godly children, having a peaceful godly home and walking in the love of Christ. This is hard work! I often don't feel like it. There are many challenges relating to being a full-time stay at home mom who not only homeschools but has 6 kids under 10 to take care of!

But I know God understands my struggle, and that is why I know He will help me to persevere. Here's a little scripture passage I re-wrote to a Mommy-ized translation:

In and out of the van often, in perils of dirty dishes and children who don't share their toys, in perils with my older kids and my younger kids, in perils at the grocery store when the kids play tag around the cart, in perils at home when there is no quiet to be found, in perils among the mountains of dirty laundry that never seem to disappear, in perils among children who tell fibs and break things, in weariness and hard work, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst because I'm too busy feeding the kids to sit down to a nice meal myself, in cold and nakedness (when I get up in the night to take care of a fussy baby, wearing just my bathrobe)---

2 Corinthians 11:26,27
26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness--

Okay, so I haven't gone through half the persecutions that Paul ever went through... but I see a comradeship that comes through trials. My life is work in which I have a chance to either succeed and excel or just try to coast along and wait for my kids to grow up so I can "have it easy". Not so - this is the life that God has richly blessed me with and I want to do my best. I want to live it to the fullest. This is the challenge I've been given and, as I've learned in the past "it's not all about me!"

But this brings me to the resting in God which goes hand in hand with perseverance. In my weakness, Christ shows his strength. He said that I should take His yoke upon me and learn from Him, because His yoke is easy and His burden is light. That doesn't mean my life is less challenging, but it means that I do it with His grace. I focus on Him and trust Him with every day. That means turning to Him BEFORE I go nuts and want to pull out my hair.

Anyway, that's what I'm working on!

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Today I wrote some random almost "the Message" style poetry...

Feels like...
A whirling, swirling non-stop merry-go-round.
Tornado tumbling by, tossing trash at me.
Hideous, high-pitched hyenas heckling me.

So much noise, confusion, change but no change.

Inside I'm sad and somber. Silently serious.

Outside I cope. Work through another day.

Wonder what normal is, what normal does?

But I'm not hopeless, in mishap and despair.
And the weight I carry isn't mine to bear.

Still have to learn to let go.
Not very good at giving up.

I lift my eyes to the star studded skies, walking on a snow-blanket prairie that ripples as far as my eye can see. Where does my help come from?

Help comes from the master-mind, universe-creator Who sees-all, knows-all, loves-all.

Apparently I'm in good hands...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

And then there were 8...

So now we have a huge passenger van and 6 kids to fill it up!

In the flurry of a week, we've now gained another child in the form of our nephew. He will be staying with us for the next year... at least that is what we said we would start with.

Everything happened so fast, I've hardly had time to react. We got the call last Tuesday morning that my sister-in-law was having lots of trouble with her son again, and that something needed to change ASAP! There has been talk in the past about us taking care of him, but I had always felt a bit resistant to the idea. I was willing, but I also felt like I didn't want us to step in and say "Hand him over... We can do a much better job than you!"

I still don't really know what to think. So far things are going well. The kids love having their cousin to play with, and even homeschooling an extra child this morning worked just fine.

I'm a little scared to take care of someone else's child. I worry that he won't feel loved enough by me - I'm working on being more affectionate and affirming to my kids, and now I have another one to love!!! AHHHH!

I worry that he won't like me! Of course he is going to want his mom more than he wants me, but I want to build a relationship with him and that is going to be hard work. I'm not naturally outgoing and affectionate...

I also hope I don't screw up with the homeschooling! It's okay for me to be alternative with my own children, but someone else's kid. It sure is a lot of responsibility.

Okay... why am I getting into this!!??

I guess what I need to focus on is that this is about ministering love to others... giving even when it is uncomfortable for me. And if I can't do it for my own family???

Well this will be a journey, that's for sure. I now have more kids than any of my friends.

Help, God!!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Through the Looking Glass

I go through a lot of days where I struggle with me and I really don't like me. This time though, I felt inspired to write the same story with two different perspectives. I know there are many days where it is so easy to look at the negatives, and then become glum and grouchy. Yet, just changing perspective to the good things, the positive side, can make the same situation seem entirely different. This is something I need to work on more...


I wake up, tired... not really motivated enough to do the things I want to do. Then I lay in bed with the pillow over my head, trying to catch a bit more sleep.
Eventually the clock leers at me and I feel the guilt of staying in bed way to long.

I groggily sip my morning coffee, stumbling over small children who wander over and attach themselves to my leg.

"Get your breakfast" and then when there are the usual grumblings and repeated questions about what's for breakfast: "YESSSS..." I hiss, "we are eating cereal again!"

Eventually, I wander over to the dining room table, the centre of activity for our family. I crack the Bible open and read our devotions for that day, not without half a dozen interruptions and the complaint that I should be reading out of a different Bible because it's that kid's turn.

After assigning various duties to my school-aged children, and getting out the playdough, cookie cutters and rolling pin for the younger ones, it's usually time to change the baby and put him down for a nap.

Off to get dressed... I can't spend the whole day in my pj's. I stand in front of my dresser and pull out a favorite shirt to wear with my jeans. The shirt is pulled over my head and I feel like I should hold my breath, suck in... it's a little tighter than I wish, but I am going to lose that babyfat... just give me a couple more months! Then I see that my jeans are nowhere to be found - they must be in the laundry basket, waiting to be washed. So I'm stuck wearing my ugly, ill-fitting jeans that are too high waisted and make me feel even more roly-poly. But my favorite t-shirt just doesn't look right with these jeans, so back in the drawer it gos and I'm stuck wearing a different shirt which I'll just cover up anyway with my black hoodie.

I pass by the mirror and notice the wrinkles that seem to be multiplying every few weeks... Suck in, take a deep breath... time to get on with my day.

Is this for real???

Mornings come early when you have to nurse a baby in the middle of the night, but I usually awaken to the sweet sound of my preschooler singing to herself, and adding in an occasional (yet quite incessant) "Can I get up?!"

At least everyone has learned to stay in their beds and I'm not overrun be little people until I'm good and ready for them.

Many mornings, my husband is gracious enough to wake me with a morning cup of coffee - either a latte with flavoring of my choice or an Americano.

I lazily get out of bed, throw on some comfy track pants and begin my rounds of telling kids to get up, get dressed, and come to eat their breakfast.
Most mornings I have to remind them that they are having cereal AGAIN, but thankfully this is something they can get for themselves and I can get my bearings for the day. I'm not much of a morning person, you see...

The kids clamor for me to use their Bible for the devotions that day, and I take it as a good sign - they have an excitement and respect for the word of God, right?

Once the dishes are cleared and kids are occupied with some of their work for the day, I grab the playdough for my preschooler - thank goodness she is so easily occupied, and I then can take care of my baby and put him down for his first nap of the day. He's a cuddler and likes to snuggle right in to my neck while I rock him and sing. And such a good baby too... I'm so glad he is good about taking his naps during the day.

Then off to my room to get dressed.
I'm not so happy about my choices, and I feel like I could still lose a few more pounds since having my last baby, but hey... when you've had as many kids as I've had, I'm lucky that I don't have to wear elastic-waistband pants all the time! I look at my exercise bike hiding in the corner and promise myself that I'll jump on it this afternoon and get the blood pumping... At least I'm good and healthy.
Now to face the day.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New Year...

Well I'd like to say that I have great plans for this New Year...but I really have no idea what life is going to look like 6 months from now. My husband finished a Master's degree in Finance last Summer, and we've been waiting for the right job offer ever since.

Strangely, although life has been quite a bit more uncertain than usual, we are growing more and more in our contentment. It seems as though this "dry time" has caused us to re-evaluate everything in our lives, and bring it down to the basics of what REALLY matters. Stuff like our marriage, our kids and relationships with those around us. It seems so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and forget to check your heart and see if you are in a healthy state or not.

So this year, I'm working on a healthy heart... soft, open... ready to love others with God's love.