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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?

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Home and Family, Uncategorized

You’re the mom.

As our family wades even more deeply into the therapy and intervention options as more of the grandchildren are diagnosed with challenges, I find myself truly grateful for good information, but am also reminded of one over-riding truth- “mother’s intuition” is not to be ignored.  Or discounted.  Or ridiculed.  After all, that’s what led us to investigate in the first place!
While many of the recommendations we have received are wonderful, and the resources we have found have added tremendously to our ability to help our children, Mom needs to listen to her heart, and prayerfully implement (or not) those recommendations.
As a society, we have handed over too much of our responsibility to the “experts” and as a result, question ourselves WAY TOO MUCH.

So, repeat after me- “I am the Mom.”  Now say it again- “I am the Mom” ’cause you are. God sent these children to you to raise. You are the grown-up in their life, and they are depending on you to do what is best for them. If the local “expert” and your heart are at odds, take it to the Lord and then move forward with His direction.

After all, you and He are the ultimate “experts” on your child!

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Validation of sorts

This post was written by my oldest daughter. Full of happy news and food-for-thought. Enjoy!

Welcome to my zoo!

For the record, I’ll be referring to the professionals we’ve dealt with by their initials.

We’ve had a really busy few months with lots of appointments. Boo in particular has been to see a lot of different professionals.  Occupational therapy, audiology, speech pathology, auditory processing…loads.  He’s now been diagnosed with sensory processing disorder (like Bug, but other end of the spectrum.  He’s always on overload) and now auditory processing disorder.  Bug is dyslexic on top of the SPD.  Little Man (and Boo?) may have anxiety (no diagnosis yet but NM thinks it’s likely).  So many puzzle pieces and things to look at and ways to adjust life.  It can be a little overwhelming sometimes.

But there’s a theme that’s emerging that I’m excited about.

When we saw CG for Bug’s dyslexia, she was fascinated by his perspective of the world (as am I frequently).  After discussing it for a while…

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Home and Family, Organization, Uncategorized

One evening of work is worth it!

In the past week, there have been a number of reminders to me of why I do some of what I do-such as:

We had apple pie with our Sunday dinner that took me a matter of minutes to put together. How? Bottled apple pie filling. Our family spent one evening last autumn working and have enough pie filling for the entire year ready to go! We use it for pies, crisps, empanadas, etc. So yummy!

Last evening we took an hour and a half and bottled hamburger and beef chunks (I found a great sale and stocked up on each). I now have around three dozen bottles waiting for upcoming meals. Gravies, tacos, enchilladas, spaghetti sauce, soups and chilis, all kinds of things. Quick. Tasty. No sweat.

I realized I was out of carrots for the chicken stock I was making (from the carcasses from Sunday dinner), so I threw in a handful of dried carrots we have in our storage. Easy. No worries.

Our grandson needed a geography assignment for the day. Not all the planning for March was done, so we grabbed a reproducible book of maps and orienteering off the shelf and made a quick copy. Done.

As crazy as my life is, it would be so much more complicated if I didn’t have food storage, a library, and other tools to keep life moving and melt-downs to a minimum. Next…!

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What Should a 4 Year Old Know?

YES!

A Magical Childhood

What should a 4 year old know?

It’s back to school time and children all over are starting preschool.  Many parents are frantically searching the internet to find out if their little ones are “on track” and know everything they should.

I wrote this article about what a four-year-old should know many years ago but it continues to be the most popular page on the Magical Childhood site.  I don’t think a week has passed in the past eight or so years when I have not received a letter from a parent, grandparent or teacher about it.  Parents and principals especially have said they wish more parents realized these things.

So in honor of the new school year, I’m posting it here…

What should a 4 year old know?

I was on a parenting bulletin board recently and read a post by a mother who was worried that her 4 1/2 year old did not know enough…

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Home and Family, Homeschooling, Uncategorized

I cannot live without my books!

I live in the land of the American pioneer.  Those hearty souls who loaded up all their worldly goods and took themselves and their families westward to establish a new home.  I often think of them driving the oxen or pushing their handcart across the plains and mountain ranges of this great land.  The fortitude required to press on in the face of all opposition is fascinating to me.  Some came as adventurers.  Some wanted a new life and something to call their own.  Many came for religious reasons to settle in a land of their own choosing to live their beliefs.

In the city where we live, there are museums and displays recounting the trails and trials of their journeys.  Many have reproductions of the wagons and handcarts they used for transporting all they brought to begin a new life.  I sometimes think I could simplify my life enough to fit in a wagon until I look at my books.  I would need a box car on a train! In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “I cannot live without my books!”

I love the public library.  I really love a good book store (new or used).  I can lose myself in them for hours.  One of my greatest joys, though, is to pull a stack of books off the shelves in our home and be transported to another time and place, or to simply find what I need to research the latest idea or challenge.  Yes, the internet has some good information, but I relish the feel of the pages in my hand.  I am definitely hard copy girl!  We currently own over 3,500 volumes, both fiction and non-fiction.  My academic texts are organized by subject. They range from the three R’s to pedagogy tomes.  We have classic literature, comic books, household and gardening reference, books dealing with health and wellness, religious commentaries, and a copy of The Oxford Unabridged Dictionary that has over a dozen volumes and makes me smile when I see it on my shelf.  My kitchen has over 70 cook books. There are books in every room.  You will even find a volume or two on the back of the commode in my bathroom.  (And my amazon wish list has a good dozen or two on it at any given time.)  Can we possibly use them all?  Yes!

Just yesterday, one of my daughters came home with a question about writing goals and curriculum for young children.  Within minutes we had a pile of around  half a dozen books to look through for ideas and inspiration.  I was reminded yet again how much joy and empowerment there is between the covers of a good book.

What books did we use?  Here is a list of what I found (and I am still making a longer mental list for her next visit):

The Educated Mind by William Bennett

The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer

You Can Teach Your Child Successfully by Ruth Beechick

Catherine Levison’s books A Charlotte Mason Education and More Charlotte Mason Education

Teaching the Trivium by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn

Teaching Children by Diane Lopez

She is currently reading The Core by Leigh Bortins.  During her next visit I may hand her Unit Studies Make Easy by Valerie Berndt, Homeschooling by Samuel Blumenfeldt, or books from E. D. Hirsch’s Core Knowledge Series.

While I don’t swear by any one of those books, I reference them regularly.  They are all written by articulate, inspiring authors with their own ideas that worked for children who are not the same as my own, but I find great ideas in each, and encouragement in all.  My job, as I see it, is to glean the best from the various methods and texts and create something for my own family which meets our needs and interests.  Without books, I would have a very limited access to these and other minds.  So much would be missed!

So I could probably pare down my clothes, furniture, and even my kitchen equipment to fit into a wagon, but my books?  I don’t think so.