Home and Family, Homeschooling

Just keep going!

It’s official.  Cold season is upon us.  One daughter’s family had just kicked their coughs and sniffles, and now at our house the 5 month-old has been coughing for a few days, and it is spreading to the other kids. We went into the doc to verify it wasn’t anything more concerning than a normal cold, and he told us not to worry….but to be aware that everyone seems to be catching it.  (Translation-if you’re lucky enough to still be healthy, don’t go anywhere, meet with anyone, or leave your house.  Goody.)  Time to make sure each family has what they need from the store, and revamp school plans (slightly).

The plan:

Mom has been up for a few nights with the baby who isn’t sleeping, but the other five children are awake at their normal time to begin the day.  Hmmmm. Time to simplify. What does school look like with one eye open in between yawns?  Group time will involve less reading aloud (Mom is getting a sore throat), but more art and hands-on activity.  Individual work will utilize more learning/tutoring DVDs and less individualized verbal instruction.  Snacks now include spiced cider (for everyone’s sore throats), less dairy, and more fruits/veggies.  Breaks may happen at unusual times; if the baby goes to sleep, so does Mom.  Naps are allowed for whomever needs one.  But the basics get covered.  Outside time is still fun.  And we press onward.

Even if things turn for the worst (flu, bronchitis, etc.), we can continue to do something.  Charts of who had which med when, graphs tracking hours of sleep or fluid intake, learning about the science of the human body and infection fighting, and history/science/art/Schoolhouse Rock videos are waiting in the wings.

Life is a school, and when life changes, we may need to adjust.  We keep going as best we can.  And we do it with a smile and as a family.  If our children can learn that, everything else may be simply icing on the cake!

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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, 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?

Home and Family, Homeschooling

And it begins again….

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.

Cooking, Home and Family, Homemaking, Parenting

Life lessons while canning

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

Home and Family, Parenting

The importance of home

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.

Homeschooling, Organization

My love/hate relationship

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?

Home and Family, Parenting

We still have hope…

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!