Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Ministry of Homemaking

    I shared with you all a few weeks ago that I was deep into the book Large Family Logistics.  I am still slowly going through and gleaning nuggets of wisdom and applying them where I think the fit is right.  I wasn't my normal self trying, to change a million things at once or going all or nothing (can you believe it??).  I slowly started adding changes and let me tell you... WOW!  Our home has changed for the better and it is VERY noticeable in my attitude and stress level.  It's also noticeable in the laundry room, yard and really all over our house.

   What I'm coming to realize is there really IS an "art" to homemaking.  If done well, it IS hard work but it is also very fulfilling.  I'm also seeing that there is ministry in homemaking.  I am serving my family and loving them intentionally.  With a plan I am less likely to push them aside to finish something or yell.  You see pushing kids aside and yelling, at least in my home, came when I was overwhelmed or stressed.  I was trying to cook or catch up on laundry or the house was in ruins.  Now, for one, I'm not really "behind" in anything because it's all planned out.  Two, when I see something I don't stress and add it to my mental running task list, I know it's already planned for.  Three, I am working less in some areas.  And four... did I mention I have a plan??  Sometimes I'll start picking up and think, no wait, this will be getting taken care of in about an hour, enjoy your family until them.

   This book, instead of giving you a plan, helps you make your own plan.  I have tailored ours to our family so finely that it would probably not work for anyone else.  BUT that's why it's working!  I think I mentioned before that even though it's for large families it would be great for small ones too.  Hey, I plan on using some of these ideas even as an empty nester someday!!

Here's some things that have changed in our home:
The washer is always empty when unexpected messes come.  Laundry is always caught up including sheets and beach towels (this is a minor miracle in and of itself over here!).  I am up early with my husband on the days he works.  I make him breakfast and we sit and talk and eat in quiet enjoying each others company before he leaves.  By the way check out this study-

GETTING A PROPER GOODBYE: Studies by insurance companies have found that if a husband gets a goodbye kiss from his wife, he's less likely to crash his car and more likely to live five years longer than men without the affectionate smooch.

  I sit and talk and read with my kids at breakfast.  They are learning to sit and have conversation and enjoy each others company instead of wolfing down food and running.  They are wolfing down pancakes and homemade granola and tasty egg dishes instead of toast, pop-tarts or cereal.  We are finding more natural times to read the Bible and talk about it.  We are working like a team to clean and the house is much more tidy than ever before (well maybe it was this tidy when I only had 2 children).  I am not running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get everything done!  Not only are dinners planned but so are lunches and breakfasts.  No more PB & J four times a week!  We are getting ready to go camping and I am not feeling overwhelmed and crazy because, I have a plan!  It's all written out.  I know what I need to cook and pack today.  I know what needs to be purchased and finished packing tomorrow.  All our clothes are clean and ready to go.  The best part, if I have a day that falls apart or I just don't have it in me, it's OK!  I'm caught up enough and if I hop back on the plan/schedule as soon as I can it's no big deal.  BUT even though there will be those days, part of my plan includes planned days every week that I sleep a bit more and do a bit less.  I am not trying to be super woman everyday and because of that I'm actually having better results than when I tried to do it all everyday!

   I'll share with you later this week some of the things we are doing and what's working for us.  I'll tell you now and remind you then one of her best tips for me was to watch your family for a few days.  What's working?  What's not working?  What's stressing you?  What's not getting done?  Now, take a few days and sit and think on it.  What could you change?  How do the children fit into that change?  If it's going to add a lot more work for you or you will need to wake earlier/stay up later, how will you handle that change?  How will you get more rest if needed?  When will you relax and play?  How can your children help you?  And the biggest for me was asking my husband what he wanted to see.  Truly I didn't think he cared how I ran things!  And really, neither did he until I asked the questions a bit differently.  For example instead of how do you want me to handle meals, I asked him when he pictured our family eating together, what did he see?  After some questions like these the ideas started pouring out.  In fact it started making me feel a little uneasy!  But when I stepped back I realized for most of them it was my vision as well and where it wasn't, I could see the good in it regardless.  I want to be my husband's helper.  I want to help with his vision and goals.  The funny thing was, he didn't know what those were until I helped him start thinking about them!  I didn't lead him or direct him, just helped him start thinking.  Now he comments everyday I'm up with him in the morning how happy it makes him.  I asked him why he never asked me to do that before and when I even offered in years past he said no.  His answer, "I didn't know I wanted it or liked it until you started doing it!"  

  Ok, this is waaay too long sorry!!  I'm done now!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer Time

  I am writing this post early. Hopefully by the time you're reading this we will be DONE with school!  At least that was the plan at the beginning of this week when I wrote this!  I am looking forward to lazy days and laying in the sun.  Oh, wait, I forgot... I have 5 kids.  So... I will be keeping up with 5 crazy kids swimming, biking, hiking and lots more ing words!  Funny, as a kid summer seemed so laid back and slow.  It doesn't feel that way as a parent!  I bet our parents felt the same way.  I think that means were old.  Oh well.

Summer and sunshine, here we come!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Come Along Kids

  Oy! The things little sisters have to do when they have lots of big brothers.  They really do get dragged around to all sorts of things.  Currently we are dragging our girls to homeschool softball nights.  The boys have played for years.  It is just like backyard baseball, nothing competitive, they learn how to play the game and have fun playing.  Well, this year Carter graduated to the oldest boys team which plays from 8-9:30pm.  Yup, that late.  And that's after the younger boys play from 6:30-8.  Hannah has a ball playing of the playground but poor Miss Addison is WAY past her bedtime.  To prove being the 5th makes you not only creative but adaptable this is how she handled the late night...

Wagon by day... bed by night.  She was all cozy and comfy and stayed in there for quite awhile.  I didn't think she'd really fall asleep.  She almost did but in true toddler fashion as soon as her eyes closed she popped up...

No way she's giving in that easily!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

More Volunteering

   So if you know me you know I don't sit still for long.  Since we are done at the school library we figured we'd be so bored without more to do!!  Not really.  What really happened is we are blessed with an co-op organic farm literally 3 blocks from our house.  It is not cheap.   But, we had a friend ask us if we wanted to "share a share" and we were all on that.  Half the price, half the veggies (which are sometimes in overwhelming amounts) and best of all (this is me speaking positively now) it is a "working share" which means we get to help out on the farm to cut our prices.

    We are learning about all sorts of veggies we have never heard of.  My 7yo loves kholrabi and eats it raw cut up like little french fries.  He actually calls it french fries!  We had our first taste of scapes and bok choy which I've always wanted to try but didn't know what to do with.  We have had some fantastic salads and yummy stir fries.  We'll start our farm work in the next week or two.  Wish us luck!  I wonder if I should have told them I have a black thumb?  Hopefully they can help me turn it green!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Volunteering Complete!

    So with the school year over we are done volunteering at the library! Well for this school year at least. Woo hoo!  We learned a lot this year.  We learned helping others isn't always fun but you feel great when you are done.  We learned elementary age kids check out a TON of books especially on animals.  Because of that we can all tell you (especially Carter) that those books would be found in the 599 section of your library!!  We learned a lot about organizing, order, the importance of decimal points and focusing on a task that is sometimes mentally tiring.  Depending on school budget cuts and all those good things to be decided we are waiting to here if "Ms. Dawn" will be there next year.  If she is, so will we.  It was a great way to help others and being the book worm I am, I always left with a new list of books to find at our town's library!

  Here's a "celebration" pic of being done!  I do have to say I was a bad friend and didn't tell her I wanted a pic and we met up on her day off so she came with no make-up and comfy clothes.  She said it was totally unfair of me.  I totally agree and will only show you... my closest 1000+ friends!  Ha!  Sorry Dawn, next time I'll warn you and maybe have a better camera!  For those of you who know Dawn and haven't seen Carter in awhile you can see how much he has grown this year!

Thanks for letting us help Ms. Dawn and West Elementary!  

Monday, June 20, 2011

"Baby Caleb" is 11!!

  How is it that he still seems like my "baby Caleb"?  He's growing too fast!  Caleb is my sensitive second child.  He has the biggest heart ever.  He loves loves loves our babies and it doesn't take long for them to figure out "Buddy" is the guy to hang with.  Addison will actually call him when she wants something or wants to play.  I trust him to keep her safe over his big brother!!  He is a nurturer.  He loves animals as much (if not more) than people and He loves the Lord.  He truly desires to understand and obey God's laws and ways.  Loving God and loving others is not an issue for this guy!  Sometimes loving or caring too much is though ( I totally get that!).  He, like all our kids, has many names.  Caleb Matthew, Caleb, Mattie, Buddy and Buuud!  Buddy came from the little's not being able to say Caleb.  Mattie was my nickname, Paul's mom's nickname and my Grandma's nickname!  His middle name was picked out thinking of all three and still makes me smile every time I say it.  Usually I am the only one who calls him Mattie.  And Buuud was given by his Papa.  Remember the Cosby Show and that little girl always called her friend Bud but it was all drawn out... Buuud?  That's where that came from.

   For those of you who don't know, when Caleb was 6 they thought he might have Muscular Dystrophy.  It was the scariest time ever and the most amazing.  They were sure he had Limb Girdle MD and then after tests he didn't.  They continued to test, sure he had X but after prayer and time the tests continued to come back normal or just off but not enough to classify him as having it.  The craziest test came for the final disease Pompeii Disease.  It came back positive :0(  We prayed and called all of our friends to join us.  They retested (the same sample) down at Duke University for the second time and it came back negative???!!!!  Yup, same skin, same lab, same doctors... same God doing miracles!  He stopped going downhill physically all of a sudden and started making gains.  Last summer I watched him run and cried. I couldn't believe he could do it.  He was finally labeled with just mild muscle weakness. That does give him issues at times.  He gets very sore especially in the summer after sitting all winter and he can't run as well as other kids his age.  He has very tight leg and hip muscles and doesn't make muscle easy.  Unfortunately that means he easily gains weight unlike his rail thin brothers.  The weight tends to level out after growth spurts though so that's good.  What he has discovered is having tight hips means you can rock a Rip Stick and a snow board!!  I am thrilled watching him grow and still rattled to the core when I watch any shows about MD or muscle diseases affecting children.  I know so many of their feelings as parents but was blessed not to have them become reality.  I pray and cry for them anytime I see them.

  Sorry, that got kind of downer... it was suppose to be a victory story!!  And it is!   Here are a few birthday pics.

New Rip Stick.  No more borrowing his big brother's.

Here's cake #1 just for family on his actual birthday.  It was a giant cookie with lots of frosting!  He decided it was better than mom's homemade because it had more frosting!  Thanks...

Cake #2 was an ice cream sandwich cake with chocolate whip cream, carmel and chocolate syrup AND peanut butter cup crushed up over the top... very low calorie!

Did I mention it was two layers of that??  It was DEElicious!!  

Thank you Lord for letting me be the parent of THIS child.  He challenges me and makes me a better person everyday.

Happy Birthday Mattie... I love you!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wasting Time

   As I am reading the book Large Family Logistics  one of the things I'm noticing is how much time I'm wasting... thinking I'm making things easier, I'm actually making things harder on myself.  The most prominent area, meals.

   Meals today were a huge eye opener.  In the book she's big on eating together.  We do this for dinner always, lunch sometimes and breakfast...rarely.  I've always let them grab their own breakfast and had some easy things to grab- oatmeal, cereal, toast etc.  Well, on Monday and Tuesday of this week I got up early and made Paul breakfast before he headed off to work (I did this for a short time before Addison was born... took me two years to get back to it!!).  I sat down and ate with Paul but made enough breakfast for the kids too and just kept it warm.  When the kids got up we all sat together and ate.  It was nice.  Afterwards they quickly did their "Table Chores" that we usually only do at dinner and off they went.  I didn't think much of it until today.  Today Paul is home and we all slept in a bit. I let the kids go back to our normal way of grabbing breakfast on their own and I did the two little girls when they got up. I was thinking it would be more relaxing and laid back...WRONG!!  It's now almost 11am and I just finished cleaning up the kitchen for the millionth time!!  Nobody did their Table Chores on their own.  I called them each in separately- waste of time #1.  Then I had to call them back for things they missed #2.  I called them a third time realizing we forgot the dishwasher #3!  Add to that it didn't matter that they did their chores because it was in the middle of people grabbing food.  Two had already eaten and three hadn't.  No big deal I thought...  I wiped up the counters and did a quick sweep...THREE TIMES #4!  I never realized how often I did it until not doing it for two days!  Then I got the girls dressed first- waste of time #5!  By the end they both had spilled and needed mopped up and changed.  Ergh!!

   It made me think about lunch too.  The counter is usually a mess along with the floor and while the littles eat in the kitchen the older boys may go outside or by the TV and then I have and kids all over.  Again, I don't always call for Table Chores, it just seems easier for me to do it.  BUT!  Let me tell you, two days of not doing it myself has proved how much easier being together is!

   I will be keeping my eyes open while I read this book for more areas where I'm wasting time.  I'm pretty sure I'm not handling chores in the most efficient manner and I think my procrastination in  cleaning the boys bedroom and doing laundry are making my life harder than need be.  Funny, I feel like putting it off or in the case of meals, letting them get them themselves was saving me time and work but I'm realizing I'm making MORE work for me.  I've been told that before but never saw it clearly.  I see it now!!

How about you?  Look at your "normal" and see if your working double or triple by being separate.  What can you do together as a team to make more time for the fun stuff??

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Large Family Logistics

   I'm a little MIA this week but I have a good excuse!  I am completely engrossed in a new book!

    This book is FANTASTIC!!  I have read so many books on homemaking and parenting (both passions of mine) but this is the first one where I didn't read it and think, "Yeah that's great but what do I do with my littles??" or "What would my bigs do the whole time??".  It's coming from a mom who know's that families ARE split by "bigs" and "littles".  I promise you, if you do not have a large family, next time you meet one listen carefully.  We ALL split our family into bigs and littles and sometimes middles!  Anyways!  This book is a little pricey but it's big.  It's a hard cover, probably 8x11 and still a good 300 pages.  It covers everything from our heart and attitude to practical ways to get chores and phonics done in the same day.  I think it would  be just as helpful to a smaller family.  Obviously the ways to split up chores or things may be a bit different but  finding ways to build fellowship and care for our husbands and homes is pretty universal.  I can't wait to share with you some of the things we are trying!

  If I don't post for a few days know that I will be back and bubbling with ideas to share with you!  I'm not sure the picture above will bring you there so if it doesn't, here's the Amazon link  Large Family Logistics.

Have a great day loving your family and loving the Lord!

Friday, June 10, 2011

My Bookends

    My first and my last... my bookends.  Carter 13 and Addison just turning 2.  Sometimes I just sit back and think about the two of them.  They are surprisingly similar and fill me with such joy.  In Carter I see my oldest child and all the new things he's doing.  I look up at him and smile and remember him looking up at me with Buzz Lightyear wings on telling me, "Mama, don't talk to me like that! I a space ranger!!!"  I look down at Addison and think how quickly she will grow.  How much I need to stay in this moment and hold on.  She looks up and reminds me she has no desire to stay in this moment!  She is up and onward.  Wanting to grow and be big and do new things.  I wish I could freeze them both in time... sometimes.

  My first and my last are so far apart yet they have so much in common.  Both of their names were from TV characters we liked (not the character but the name!).  We found out we were pregnant with Carter on Memorial Day weekend.  Addison was born Memorial Day weekend.  They are our only two who LOVE/loved Winnie the Pooh.  In fact I got the CD from the library for Addison of Pooh music and Carter is the one who grabbed it!  He listens to it all the time! LOL!  The other thing they have in common is being in a trying stage for their parents at the same time!  Let me remind you, Addison is TWO and Carter is THIRTEEN.  Enough said.  Funny the other similar thing is even though they are so far apart they seem to need the same thing from us as parents... to know we mean what we say.  We've always said a 1-3 year olds job is to test us and make sure we really meant what we said.  Apparently that is a thirteen year olds job as well!  It can get quite tiring at times but then I see this...

    I hear Addison call, "Car Car" and I hear, "Over hear Addie!!" and she hops up and snuggles or sits and has a conversation with her biggest brother and my heart again fills and I find renewed energy to keep going... and to keep meaning what I say and assuring them that yes I am sure that's what I meant!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


  I took a walk the other night and it was so beautiful and peaceful.  We have a very small lake about a mile away and as I was walking I had to take a picture of what I saw... kid you not this is taken on my old cell phone!

   Isn't that beautiful!! It's really not that pretty of a lake!  But that night I could have sat there forever. I have nothing really to say besides isn't God the Creator AWESOME!! 
 Just wanted to share.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cha Cha Change

   Have you ever noticed how change sneaks up on you?  It can be good or bad but sometimes it just hits you out of the blue how much something or someone has changed.  Today was that day for me.  In our marriage I have always had the "live out loud" faith.  Few people meet me and don't know where I stand in the world.  My husband however has a very quiet faith.  Even with his wife! I have had to pry thoughts and feelings about faith out of him often.  In the past few years though he has really changed.  About 7 years ago we left our nice comfortable church and started out on a search.  We weren't sure where to we just knew we weren't in the right place anymore.  New churches, new friends, homeschooling conferences and events have all challenged and changed us for the better.  Especially in the past two years or so I've noticed my quiet man opening up and sometimes saying things that stop me dead in my tracks.  For the good!  He has often come home in the past year or so from work telling me people have come up to him out of the blue and asked him if he's a Christian.  When he says yes they make comments like, "I can tell by the way you treat people." or "I knew it.  You're different from the other guys."  Pretty amazing huh!  Reminds me of a quote (can't remember who it's by) "Preach the Gospel at all times.  When necessary use words."

   So what does this have to do with today??  Well, over here it seems one thing after another is breaking and needing to be fixed.  Both of our cars are really acting up and we really don't have the money to fix them over and over or to buy a new one.  One car acting up is not so bad but I was starting to have visions of one of us calling the other to come pick them up because the car died and then the other not being able to because the other car won't go either!!  It's really been stressing me out! I also have been feeling a lot of pressure when it comes to the right choices for our schooling and even parenting.  Trying to remember to trust the way WE are being led even if it's different than everyone else has been a real struggle for me lately. Adding to that, as we all know, rising gas and food prices along with growing kids eating more and involved in more things... it just seems like lately we are sinking.  Normally this does not phase me.  I use to be very, "God is in control and we will all be good.  I don't know how, but I know we will."  But lately I've been very anxious and panicked over it.  So today when we had just fixed our old car and it was running well and then it suddenly started hissing and sputtering I felt like I was about to lose it. Our normal school day was completely thrown off by Daddy being home and family projects that needed to be done. THEN I go to get on the computer to email "my group" online that has the best ladies in the world to pray and support you and my computer wouldn't turn on!  Well, it would turn on and then just turn itself off!  It was the straw that broke the camel's back.  I just lost it.  Paul could see it written all over my face that I had just been pushed too far.  Then, he did something he had never in our almost 18 years of marriage ever done.  He grabbed me in his arms and held me and started to pray.  I was shocked.  He hates praying aloud besides a simple prayer with the kids at night.  He will sometimes pray with me if I ask but he has never just done that on his own.  Then in his prayer he asked for peace for me and to calm my fears.  He also acknowledge the fact we are being attacked here on a spiritual front.  I was blown away!  I couldn't believe that was my husband!  And suddenly it was so clear.  Satan does not care when you are sitting on the sidelines doing nothing!  In fact he's quite happy to leave you alone.  But, when you are shining a light in this dark world he starts noticing and acting. This is a GOOD thing... in a weird way!
   Our family has had the opportunity lately to minister to others in very quiet ways. We are not flying to Africa to be missionaries but we are consciously trying to love God and love others.  We are trying to offer ears to listen and arms to comfort.  We are trying to speak words that will build up and edify.  We are trying to be an example of love.  The Lord has brought people to us who need comforted or encouraged and has somehow led us often to say just the thing that person needed to hear.  One time this happened I didn't even understand why a Scripture verse even applied to that moment!  I shared it anyway and was later told there was nothing better that could have been said at that moment!  It was pretty cool!  We are far FAR FAR from perfect.  In fact we bickered in front of our children often the last two days in the midst of the stress.  Not my best wife moments for sure.  But, after all of that my husband blessed me in a way I never would have imagined.  He helped me to see clearly the good changes that have happened to him and to us as a couple over the past few years. He took my hand and walked me back to our Savior and he opened his heart to me in a new way.

   Change.  Learning to embrace these new phases in our life as our children grow.  Trusting when it seems there is no way to "fix" things.  Remembering to follow the path He has led US to even if we are alone.  Remembering that while circumstances and people change He never does.  All of these things drawing us closer as a family and shaping the man I love to grow in faith and leadership is a change I feel blessed to watch and be part of.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."  Proverbs 3:5 & 6

Monday, June 6, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

  This is pretty much a wordless post!  Here's our exciting weekend in a VERY small town!

Waiting for the BIG parade...

There were A LOT of tractors in this 20 minute parade!!

Then off to a local church community outreach!  A big fair full of games, food and "rides".

Water balloon toss...

Face painting...


A tiring but fantastic day!
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