How we do it

This post was written by my oldest.  It covers so much of what so many of us deal with daily, I had to share!  Enjoy!

I’ve had a lot of interesting comments and conversations lately and they got me thinking.  Stuff like:

Six kids? How do you do it?”

“You must be SuperMom.”

“You homeschool? I couldn’t do that.”

“All boys? Wow. You sure have your hands full!”

The most prevalent questions are a variation of how on earth I pull off what I do. So…here’s how.

I make different choices.

I have six boys, age 4 months to 9 years, and I homeschool. That’s my biggest priority.  I stay home with them and don’t “work outside the home” (anyone that tells you stay at home moms don’t work hasn’t been an stay at home parent for any period of time), but that includes MLM’s.  I sold Discovery Toys for a period of time. It didn’t last long.  I did enough to basically get my kit for free and a few other toys, but that is completely behind me and I doubt I’ll go back. I made knitting and spinning project bags for the fiber fair last year and enjoyed it… for a time.  That’s also very much behind me. I still have bags at my local knit shop and if I get a wild hair to make some in my spare time to relax, I have a place to take them, but the frenzy of “how many bags can I make for the fair in two months” is not something I want to do again at my children’s expense.

I’m home because I choose to be.

I also don’t frequent a gym, go to every social event I’m invited to, or go on vacations without them. This is my focus and my kids know it. That matters to me. Seasons in life change and I’m sure as they get older I’ll have a little more freedom, but right now my place is at home.

We do it together.

I’m teaching my kids to pitch in. Six children age nine and under is a heck of a lot easier than when we had five children that were six and under (twins had a lot to do with that). My older two especially are huge helps around the house.  They volunteer to play with the baby. Everyone has chores, but theirs are getting more complicated. They’ve cooked dinner by themselves and done laundry and cleaned entire rooms.  They help with yard work and gardening projects. We frequently set a timer to see how much we can get done in five minutes. Or two. Or ten. We have a dance class we have to be to fairly early once a week, but everyone helps out to get us out of the door on time. There is no way I could pull this off by myself. They’ve learned that if they help with the “have to” stuff, we have more time for “want to” stuff.


Consistency, consistency, consistency. I have to follow through with chores and school lists and assignments and finishing dinner and cleaning up after themselves and there’s a lot of reminding and sometimes nagging. If I’m not serious about their requirements, they won’t be either. If they’re not allowed to whistle in the house, then it’s never allowed and that includes me. If there are exceptions to the rules, they’ll find those loopholes and drive through them with a truck. If it’s not a battle I’m willing to fight to the death, then I try not to get into it at all. Between ASD and giftedness, rigidity is the rule around here. If it’s not a big deal, then we try not to blow it into one. I’ve learned to pick my battles carefully. Sometimes it isn’t much of a hassle, but when it is, it had better be worth that fight. For example, eating with your hands at the table isn’t acceptable, but if you’d rather stand at your place instead of sit, that’s much more negotiable. If it turns into wandering around the house with your food, it’s over, but I have one son who prefers to stand in one spot to eat. He usually doesn’t move when standing, but if he’s in a chair it tends to jiggle all over the place and he ends up on the floor. At home, it’s easier to let him stand (with rules). He also knows that isn’t acceptable if we go out to eat, so it works for us.

I’m not SuperMom. I struggle much of the time. I have crazy days and wonderful days and days where I’d like to park them in a line on the curb and rent them out for the day. I’m lonely sometimes and extremely pleased with them sometimes and ready to pull my hair out sometimes. There are days where I cherish the little milk covered face looking up at me and the three year old twining his fingers through my hair while their brothers play happily together, and days where I wonder what on earth was I thinking to have so many little bodies to take care of and teach and be responsible for.

Don’t we all though?

And it begins again….


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Tomorrow is the first day of September.  Just about everyone is beginning school….whether public, private or home.  The leaves are beginning to change in my neck of the woods.  Backpacks and sweaters are appearing, and the local radio ads have switched from summer fun spots to office supplies and cold weather wear.

As my daughter has worked on a curriculum plan, and we’ve sorted, stacked, and reviewed books, I can’t help but remember doing the same things.  Teaching reading, history, and science.  Pouring over new ideas for math approaches, or struggling with literature decisions.  How much is enough?  Too much?  Have I missed something?

Relax, Mom.  You’ve got this.  Do something everyday.  Keep at it.  The perfect book, kit, plan, etc. may or may not be out there, but you can be effective whether you have them or not!  Our children don’t need to see “perfect”; rather, they need to come to understand “consistent”, or “required”, or “effort.”  Those things don’t cost money.  They aren’t produced by someone else.  They are home-grown.  Homemade.  And priceless.

My grandchildren aren’t heading back to a traditional classroom with a backpack, a lunchbox, and new jeans.  They are here, in my home, learning at Mom’s (and Grandma’s) knee.  Basic academics, traditional values, life skills, family dynamics, and a bit of silly thrown in are definitely part of the curriculum plan.

It’s gonna be a good year.

Life lessons while canning


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We have finished bottling peaches for the year, and one lesson learned was such a fabulous observation, I am still smiling (and thinking).  As we taught my two oldest grandsons to peel the ripe peaches and put them in the jars, the nine-year-old remarked, “It goes more quickly if I go slowly….”.  He was referring to the reality that peach skin will rip (rather than peel) more easily if you pull quickly, or are in a hurry.  He’s right….and not just about peaches.

For him, it held lessons about slowing down in order to complete his math more precisely, or learning to take care with his penmanship so that it only takes one effort to be done. I’m sure we’ll be referring back to it for other lessons as well.

For the adults, it is continuing to teach us to remember to take time to slow down.  Children learn more quickly when we are patient.  Jobs get done more satisfactorily when we slow down and think things through.

And for Grandma.  Slow down.  Accept what you’re given with grace and gratitude.  Stop waiting for what may never be.  The Lord’s timing is perfect.

Be still, and know that I am God.  Psalms 46:10

The importance of home


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Spent another afternoon at a follow-up evaluation for one of the grandkids.  One comment made by the therapist continues to ring in my head.  “Often, I will recommend therapy here in clinic, but what really helps is making changes at home, and utilizing strategies there. It’s the little changes and strategies that make the difference.  You’re already doing those.  He doesn’t need therapy; you’ve got this.”

Yes.  The compliment was appreciated by my daughter and I.  But more importantly, it was yet another reminder that what happens in our homes outweighs so many other things.  Whatever challenges, frustrations, set-backs, and bad days come our way, home is the place to tackle them.  Our children need our input and our support more than all the therapy, specialists, and office visits in the world.  I understand that those things are needed, but they cannot take the place of a loving home, parents who take the time to arm themselves with tools for helping each child, and trusting the powers of heaven to help.  Special needs children are just that-special, and their needs can be met by us.  That’s why they were sent to our family.

Nothing will ever take the place of a loving home.  Ever.

My love/hate relationship


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Okay.  I admit it.  There are things that leave me so conflicted, I can’t seem to decide how I truly feel.  My latest hair-pulling is found when I am at my copier.  I LOVE the ease of copying when the masters are spiral-bound rather than the typical glued binding, but then I often forget which reproducibles I have when they are bound that way and miss opportunities to use things that could add just the right thing to our studies.  OR I don’t spiral-bind my books, and copies come out lop-sided, messy, or missing a few letters on one margin or the other.

I think I may have to go to using three-ring notebooks and page protectors, but that gets pricey.  And I will need more shelf space….

What drives you crazy?

We still have hope…


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Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  John 14:27

We live in a world that is a mess!  Anyone who watches the evening news will agree.  Local, national, and world events can be shocking, disturbing…even disheartening.  What can we do?  We have these sweet, young, innocent souls in our homes who we want to teach to trust, hope, and move into the future with confidence.  Can we?  Can they?

The answer is a resounding YES!

Where I live (Utah), this Friday is a state holiday – Pioneer Day.  It commemorates the first pioneers coming into the Salt Lake Valley, and is quite the party in my neck-of-the-woods.  The Grand Marshall of the Days of ’47 Parade was interviewed about this event, and what he said has gotten me thinking.  Pres. Henry B. Eyring, 1st Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, remarked that he has spent even more time than he had in the past reading the stories of those who came west in preparation for his duties this weekend, and as a consequence of what he read, he will “try to be better.”  When asked how he stays positive in spite of the problems in the world today, he replied that God is aware of us.  He has gotten us through hard things in the past, and will continue to do so.

It made me smile. Pres. Eyring is right.

Regardless of what we hear on the news, man is not in charge.  (I realize that will come as a shock to some.) God is.  He will see that His purposes are carried out, and our safety lies is staying true to Him.  We can have peace in the midst of trouble, because peace isn’t something that we generate ourselves.  Peace comes from He who reigns.

Can we teach our children to trust?  Absolutely.  Can we move into the future with confidence?  Without a doubt. We simply need to follow Him, and teach our children where safety is to be found.  Let’s have a party!

Thoughts on teaching



Have you ever attended  a class or workshop which left you “flat” while all around you people raved about the teacher, and you wondered what you missed that they did not?  Maybe it isn’t what you missed.  Have  you ever taught information you were excited about, but didn’t feel the others caught your vision?

Sometimes presenters teach others they way they would want things presented; when we are the presenter, we need to be aware of others’ learning styles or the end result can be that people who learn the way we learn tell us what a wonderful job we have done, and yet others can be left largely uninspired.  If you regularly teach groups of people, whether children or adults, it can make such a difference to keep in mind the different ways folks learn.  In order to engage those around you, use varied methods of presentation so that everyone has a chance to catch at least something.

  • Chalkboards/whiteboards are great IF you are a visual learner, but not so great for kinesthetic folks UNLESS you allow them to write on the board. They can scribe for you, or write answers to questions you’ve asked.
  • Try adding music, pictures, maps, and interactive activities to whatever you are teaching.  It is an invitation to others to join in the fun.
  • Invite a guest speaker to help.
  • Spend time writing well-thought-out questions.  Give them something about which to think, and give them time to quietly write before they need to answer.  There is nothing wrong with a little quiet before you get a response!
  • One of my favorite ways to involve those who seem bored or tuned out is to bring flannel board story figures and script, and have them retell the story you’re discussing.
  • Make a meal, or learn to say basic sentences in the language of the country you are studying for geography.
  • Draw outside pictures on the sidewalk that apply to what you did during the class.
  • Pass out paper and other supplies, and ask them to draw or paint illustrations for your newly-finished chapter or even reference book.  What did they learn?  (You can do this with adults; watch ’em cringe.)
  • Write a review or an advertisement for the class.
  • Create new words based on the information given, and put together a class dictionary.  Let them know ahead of time that this will be happening, so that they can be looking for ideas!
  • Break class members into pairs or small groups and allow some discussion.
  • Go on field trips, or bring relevant visuals and hands-on activities to the class.
  • Create a game to reinforce the principles or information taught.

Giving up some of the control in a classroom setting can be frightening.  I get that.  You start class with a plan.  You have material you want to cover.  But if the point of teaching is not simply the dissemination of information, but the learning of it, you MUST involve those around you.  It makes all the difference in the world.

And it’s more fun!

Heaven or Harvard? Anti-Intellectualism in Christian Homeschooling

I found this blog post on  All I can say is, “Amen!”


Heaven or Harvard? Anti-Intellectualism in Christian Homeschooling.

A few weeks ago, someone on Facebook posted a quote that went along the lines of “Raise your children for heaven, not Harvard.”  I pondered the statement for a little while trying to grasp the logic in it.  No, it still didn’t make sense.  It was like one of those pretty little sayings that sounded good, but didn’t actually make sense.

This saying assumes that there is a choice between the two.  One must decide whether they want to focus their efforts on getting their child to heaven or into Harvard.  Really?   Is it not possible for a Harvard-bound child to have a personal relationship with Jesus?  This doesn’t even consider the idea that parents can’t really do either thing for their child anyway.

There seems to be a growing fear of education in the Christian homeschooling movement which is concerning to me since our job is to educate.  It is like many are afraid that their children will lose their faith if exposed to certain ideas.  Statistics are touted as reasons why children need to be grounded in certain ideas if they are to stay true to the faith.  As a result, science is often taught from a perspective that mixes science facts with apologetics.  Exposure to other beliefs and religions may be limited.  This could spell trouble for a child headed to college because the child may encounter Hindus, Muslims, or atheists who are superbly wonderful people to be around.  The child will encounter science topics that may present information that had not been covered and countered by the apologetic curriculum.  With all this going on, the child may question his faith.  Many in the Christian homeschooling movement devalue higher education for this very reason.

What is the reason for this loss of faith?  Is it education?  Is it knowledge?  Is it fear?  Fear is the opposite of faith.  When we fear education, we teach that to our children.  We teach them to be on guard for attacks on their faith whether this is from an atheist professor or information learned in class.  As Christians, should we be motivated by fear?

Instead, we should let our children encounter ideas and facts that may be troublesome to their faith while they are young.  Let them grow up thinking about things.  Let them grow up wondering about issues that may cause questions to arise.  Do that while you are there to provide guidance and help them through those difficult questions.

Apostle Paul was a very learned man.  As a result, he was well-equipped to travel around and share the Gospel with different groups of people.  He would have studied Greek, philosophy, as well as the Law and the Prophets.   I am reminded of the time that Paul was in Athens and was confronted by philosophers there as recorded in Acts 17.


22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

Paul knew about Greek gods.  He knew the culture.  His education allowed him to connect with the people there and share the Gospel.

Christianity is about a relationship with Jesus Christ.   As a Christian homeschooler, I place high value on helping my children develop a strong relationship with Jesus Christ.  In their life they will encounter many trials.  They will have questions.  They will have doubts.  It is during that time that a strong relationship with Jesus Christ will make all the difference.  It is a relationship that is important.  It shouldn’t be about shielding the child from different perspectives and making sure the child is grounded in a certain belief system.

We needn’t fear knowledge.  We needn’t fear education.  Children can grow up strong in the faith and strong in their education.  They can go hand in hand and a child who grows up wondering and questioning can be very highly prepared for the future.

So, how do we do it in our homeschool?  I try to keep these things important:

  • Fostering a relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • Teaching my children to question things and wonder.  Also, logic and philosophy are formally taught.
  • Teaching my children about people who believe differently as well as those who don’t believe in any higher power.
  • Teaching pure science without any Christian interpretation mixed in.

I place a high value on education because we are Christian.  I want my children to be knowledgeable about the world.  They are learning different languages and appreciating other cultures so they will be able to connect and communicate with those who are different from them.   They are exploring ideas about origins and making up their own mind.  Discussion is very important in our homeschool.  We talk about different ideas and wonder through things.  We also realize that some things don’t have answers right now.  I teach them to have an open mind about things that aren’t essential Christian doctrine.

I can’t make my child have a relationship with Jesus Christ.  I can’t get my child into Harvard.  But I can foster a love for Jesus and a love for learning.  Education is a beautiful thing.

Change is a good thing!


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One of the challenges of living as a homeschooling family is the reality that you spend LARGE quantities of time together.  While that is a tremendous blessing, it can also be hard.  And same-y.  Daily anything can become a drag.  This summer as you spend time together, and during your planning for the coming academic year, insert some change.  (If you have children that depend on a routine, plan ahead, and let them know what is coming!)

  • Take a few days and reverse your meals.  Have dinner for breakfast, and vice versa, or eat outside.
  • Plan your meals using different themes.  Try all finger foods for a day.  Or add a previously untried fruit/vegetable at each meal. Don’t turn on your stove for 24 hours, but still eat at home.
  • Introduce a different culture’s cuisine every few days, and learn to make food from another part of the world, or explore the same basic food from different countries.  Some foods appear in most places, just in a different form.  Sandwiches become quesadillas, bao, etc.  Looks for examples of soups, one-dish meals, salads, pies (sweet and savory), or desserts.  YUM!
  • If you generally spend Friday running errands, pick a different day of the week, or check out a few less-familiar stores.  You never know what you might be missing!
  • If you live in a “touristy” area, become a tourist for a day and explore all those places people come from all over the country to visit.
  • Spend time at a different local swimming pool, library, or park.
  • If you can have access to them, teach your children to use a typewriter, or carbon paper, or use a slate and chalk for a day rather than paper and pencil.
  • Have a game day as a family.  No academics.  Minimal chores.  Easy meals.  Play games together-board games, card games, go outdoors and learn hopscotch and jacks and kick-the-can.  Laugh together.

As we open up the world to our children, we encourage them to think a little differently.  Flexibility is a requirement in today’s craziness!  Take some time as a family, and develop some together!

Take time to celebrate this weekend!


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Well, it’s here.  Tomorrow is Independence Day.  The 4th of July.  America’s Birthday.  Time to go camping or hiking, eat something tasty and indulgent, watch a fireworks display, or simply enjoy time together as a family.  While all of these things are worthwhile, please take a few minutes and focus on why we commemorate the 4th of July.  Ensure your children hear the story of our Great Nation.  Remind yourself what blessings we have simply because we live here.  Make this weekend a little more special.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Sing patriotic songs together.
  • Read about the founding of our nation.  Books such as The Fourth of July Story, by Alice Dalgliesh, The Children’s Story, by James Clavell, or a biography of a Founding Father are wonderful ways to remember afresh the blessed past we have, and to recommit to maintaining our freedoms.
  • Watch a patriotic movie as a family.  Talk about the blessings and responsibilities we have as citizens of the United States of America.  One of our family favorites is the BYU production, A More Perfect Union.  Fabulous!
  • Attend a parade.
  • Take a few minutes and visit a veteran’s hospital to say, “thank you for your service” or do something thoughtful for a service member in your community.  Teach your children about the sacrifices made by those who are in the armed forces.
  • Send a few letters or packages to the troops serving overseas.
  • Talk as a family about things you can do to get involved, and help ensure the continuation of our freedoms for the next generation.
  • Post the Stars and Stripes at your home, and teach each member of the family proper care of our flag.
  • Find a game on the Constitution,  American geography, etc. to play as a family.  Pinterest, second-hand stores, or book stores are good places to look.
  • Pray for our people and government.  Petition the Lord for His grace and guidance as we move into the future.

The land in which we live is a gift.  Let’s focus on the gift as well as the fun of this weekend.  Have a truly blessed 4th!


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