homeschooling, large family

The Power of Siblings

It’s  hard not to be insulted sometimes. I was speaking to an adoption practitioner recently and she asked me why I thought it was a good idea that a black orphan from Haiti should join our family to compete with 6 white siblings. “What for? You have 6 already  ?” She asked.” Someone might think you are collecting them.”…I’m not even going to go there today. Instead I’m going to talk about the power of siblings.

I know that children can influence other children heavily.  The news we read on any given day can attest to that. Now let’s go to siblings. Siblings share a most special bond, a powerful bond. They can be one another’s encouragers, friends, frenemies, the people who teach to forgive, share, love, serve, bless,and sometimes…. hide 😜. There’s a familiarity with one another and an unabashedness that surfaces when they are around one another. Together they will act completely unlike you have ever seen before in each other’s company. My husband is one of 7 and let me tell ya there are some things that have surfaced at family gatherings that the siblings think are hilarious and I think are totally GROSS😝. Other times the rivalry can be a lot of fun,especially around 💦 water.

The typical time I see jealousy ( not competition) is when a child gets a gift and it’s not their birthday,or it is their birthday,or when I take one of the 6 out on a special date and this is usually a short-lived kind of jealousy cuz they know their turn is coming soon. This is a learning curve too.

I feel that my children learn good sportsmanship through their companionship whether they are playing street hockey,chess,cards, track,etc,and they are often with other friends or strangers in these moments as well. They can cheer each other on, advocate for one another,stick up for each other,be mischievous together, and sneak attack their parents.

They learn a lot from one another. Many times I’ve had my hands in the batter of something and a younger child has been taught a math formula or a new word by an older brother or sister. Sometimes they can be great teachers.

Sometimes I am confused by the negative questions from social workers about our large family. I always have to point out that I was a single Mom for over a decade and my only child at the time was alone a lot . He always had to be at a friend house or invite someone over or day camp, daycare, babysitters etc. He begged me over and over for a brother, it was sad, because I couldn’t give him that.

Now I have this amazing Tribe of people who are my family and who are so excited to adopt someone in and give them a humongous part of ourselves so that they can enjoy and live out what we have and it just isn’t happening.

I remember reading  a news article that summed up what it was like to grow up as an only child in China.  The number one thing that they said they would change if possible , was to have a brother or sister in their life so they weren’t so alone all the time. They somehow sensed that there was a special connection they could have that was different from a friend.

I’m sure I’m just touching the surface here on the Power of siblings here but I just wanted to offer a different perspective.

 

 

homeschooling, large family

Unschooler? Me?

554F67DB-5A66-445C-8305-56C8FD100F09So I took an online survey a couple of days ago. I wasn’t really sure what my homeschooling label was so I took the test to figure it out. Well, The survey result said that I was an unschooler. Ok, no offence to unschoolers because that’s totally cool if that’s your style but that’s Not how I envisioned myself. I am completely a curriculum junkie. I love learning and so do my children,  so I’m attracted to all types of curriculum and all kinds of subject.  I pull subjects from different lines of curriculum because they are attractive and meaningful, have a biblical worldview, and are kinda in the “middle” when it comes to graphics. They can’t be too distracting or too boring.

I also keep my eye out for new books that come along.  I actually pray before each homeschooling conference I go to that the Lord leads me to the books that He wants me to use for the upcoming year.

Because we are self-employed our budgeting plan does not always work out the way we think it will. Last spring we found we were a little cautious at conference time, so I made a very big list of books that I wanted to try and find at secondhand sales.  Well, the Lord had something else in mind.   He had given me a new sweet friend  about a year prior that I actually met at homeschooling conference. We had hit it off and we’re becoming close via text and phone calls and one day she asked me if I had a list of books that I was going to buy at the conference.   I said yes, and she asked me what was on the list. She actually had about 90% of the books that I needed in her house and she was no longer using them so she offered them to me.   I was a little confused so I asked her how much she wanted for the books, but she said that she wanted nothing. She really just wanted to give…..such a sweetheart.

When I met her at the conference she filled up my trunk with so many books it was full. It really helped us out a lot and we were so grateful and thankful.  There was even a Christian English series I wasn’t 100% sure about but she insisted that I take them and look at them, and all I could think was yes Lord, if this is what you want us to have then that’s ok with me.

So we use some living books, some mastery mathematics, tons of novels and readers, copy books, outdoor and indoor sports, mega art, nature days, free play, play dates, host gatherings, the list can go on and on.  I think I use a somewhat Charlotte Mason philosophy mixed with the freedom of unschooling, throw in some fun schooling and a whole bunch of traditional curriculum. Making any sense?

So I think if I had to pick a short label for my type homeschool it would be Eclectic Freedom homeschooling. I would love to hear how you describe your homeschool. Please comment below😁

large family, Large Family Logistics

Live Streaming Church

A406BF77-33A1-4D8B-B4FE-9ECEDEE8F776Hey friends! Here we are live streaming church from 🇨🇦.  What a blessing to be able to follow whats going on back home and feel like we haven’t missed out on anything. We  usually do home church if we are going to miss church service. Sometimes it’s a lot of work gather our own work and pick out a message to teach the kids.  Best thing about home church is that we get to face each other as we are sitting on our comfy couches, and pick our own songs so that Daddy can play them on the guitar.  We have building blocks close by to entertain the youngest while they’re sitting and learning how to be quiet. Church is a process no matter where we are. We believe in a family integrated style of church so that our children are worshipping with us and listening to the same message as we are. We have been doing Church this way for a long time so our four oldest at home right now (12,10,9,7) could probably run church without us. Our four-year-old still has lots of wiggles but can usually make it to the end with a bathroom break and some snuggles. Our 2 year old is a pretty calm child and can usually match the four-year-old and maybe even sit longer because he is still in diapers.

Usually when we go to our church in town someone will come up to us at the end of service and tell us how amazed they are at how well our children sit and listen.  When they tell us that their kids could never do that I always tell them that I believe they can. Most kids these days are not homeschooled like ours are and are already  taught to sit quietly in school so why not sit in a church service that is only an hour long?

Really, it comes down to some training and a little patience. To try this on your own, Start out with a few minutes, expect no more, but go longer if your child is quiet. Smile at them and use hush tones to correct them when they get antsy. Be prepared to remove them swiftly if they can’t be quiet so as not to disrupt church for the others. Keep trying every week and try to go a little longer.  Sometimes an incentive works but I would leave it as an incentive and not an expectation. I sometimes offer chewing gum to the kids if they have done well after church. I don’t bribe them before hand, I just offer it and say this is for a job 👍 well done. Try it and see all the sweet memories you will have of your family worshipping together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

homeschooling, large family

School At The Pool

Some homeschoolers take their books with them on vacation and some don’t. I feel like there are a lot of hours in a day and knowing that the morning weather is a little chilly in the morning here we felt like this was a good way to pass the time and stay caught up in our school work. So our morning looked like this:

 

This is the beauty of freedom homeschooling. We go wherever we want and learn so much about life around us. We enjoyed talking to people from all over the world 🌎 today, a cardiologist and his sweet wife and a mourning widow with great kids . We spoke with our oldest kids about the memorial we stumbled across yesterday outside Pulse nightclub while looking for a hero of a street preacher. We spoke about the hate that filled the night about a year and half ago and that no one should have to die the way they did. We spoke about the sadness of it all.

These sun filled chill days are so precious to us. My hubby and I take turns working out in the gym with a view of our family and each other. We watch the littlest guys play and enjoy themselves while their siblings concentrate. They are also plowing through books while we are here, playing, swimming, working on lots of Florida inspired art, talking about the next adventure that awaits.

 

 

large family, Large Family Logistics

The Love Of A Father

IMG_0253IMG_0270There is something so sweet and special about a genuine love from the Father. I can see it in my children’s faces  when they get a warm scruffy kiss from daddy or tossed into the pool for fun or told that something they just attempted was really dumb.  Yes, our children can attempt dumb things sometimes, like throwing baseballs towards glass windows because their sisters are standing on balconies trying to catch their pitches.

I remember once when we  were staying at a condo in Montreal one of my four children under four years old decided to fix the sound of that the toilet was making. They lifted up the lid of the tank and dropped it on the floor and it broke.

We went to a local hardware store and could not find a tank lid to match the toilet so we had to buy a whole new toilet and install it. It’s a good thing that daddy is handy. (Reminds me of hilarious saying he always tells our boys : it goes like this ”  if they don’t find you handsome they better find you handy “) Our kids have put us in lots of awkward situations but whenever daddy is around he handles it in stride with an even temper and maintaining a loving way of correction with them.  He is so good at not yelling and being able to correct them with seriousness yet loving kindness. They respect him and adore him.

I have also seen the effects of a divorced mostly non existent Dad in my own life. I did not respect my Dad and really struggled with loving him. I was not guided the way my children are here in front of my eyes.  Without knowing it I searched for that love and tried to fill that void. I thought men were stupid,  replaceable  and temporary.  The problem was that  without knowing the love of a father I was self destructing. Well I found that love from God and I know that the main reason my hubby is a GREAT Dad is that he knows the Father too. Through his word we know the heart of Jesus and the love ❤️ He has for us and we learn how to love others. We aren’t perfect, that’s normal, but we try.

If your story is similar to mine, please reach out to someone who knows Jesus and talk to them about the love they have found so they can share it with you. You are loved by a Father in heaven ,greater than any father on earth whether you know it or not. You have nothing to lose🤷🏻‍♀️

 

homeschooling, large family, Motherhood

Break From My White Straitjacket

img_0208-e1516065291649.jpgI meet the end of fall dreading winter and snow and endless grey days shut in with nowhere to go and a pile of kids with energy to burn. I don’t know when exactly it got really bad but it did and every winter I  start thinking about how I can escape and feel alive again. I want to feel like I’m going to make it to spring where there will  be  beautiful pops of color and warm sunshine and beach days, park picnics with friends.

Every inch of snow seems to tighten the strait jacket in my mind and it feels like weeks are endless with toddlers and myself shut inside because of freezing temperatures. Getting outside requires tremendous effort but is totally worth it if I can get outside for more than five minutes before little people scream that they’re cold and want to go back in.

I fight the urge to sell my home and run away in an RV with my kids and just live on the road. I also pray🙏 like crazy. I also take vitamin D daily thanks to my dear friend Tami from Kentucky.

God is such a good father too because he knows I need to be released and have a time of refreshment.  I am so grateful to have escaped my jacket and be blogging from Orlando!!! We enjoy long sun-drenched pool days once our schooling is complete for the day. We play and laugh and walk and swim and workout in the gym and feel so connected and amazing that going back to a home covered in snow is very hard.

For a few blessed weeks our lives are tapped into a state of living that all Floridians experience as normal. I have to admit that every time the fall season rolls around I feel completely abnormal that I will soon be living in a snow filled land that I could not survive in without the mod cons of today.

So we run. Actually,  we pack our van huge and renew passports and we drive a loooooong time for several days until we are finally in the sunshine state. We bring our school books, our sandals, and our wonder and we enjoy each other ,Gods creation and our freedom. We enjoy the American flags, the pretty palm trees, the outdoor basketball court and fire pit at a new-to-us hotel in Columbia and the friendly generous souls we have encountered here. We enjoy the pools and the beaches and the large condo with laundry machines in the garage so I can spend time sorting stinky socks in fresh air and ☀️ , and the fun food and drink chains that we don’t have in 🇨🇦.Its all such a soothing balm to my soul . Praise the Lord 🙌🏽

large family, Large Family Meals, Uncategorized

Best Taco Salad Ever🥗 (Recipe)

IMG_0210

Hey folks😋. Here is my version of a well loved classic. I made this the way I thought would blend well, using ingredients my family loves. I wanted to share it with you because sometimes it’s so hard to throw together a healthy large family meal that’s kid friendly in under 20 minutes. My main motivation today for a quick meal is that we wanted to spend as much time at the pool as possible before hand and even more quality time with our kids after supper and before bed time. If you think you need to tweak it then be my guest. My original thought was to add some salsa and chopped tomatoes but I did forget about them and in the end I realized the result was still great.

Here it is:

Spread the following into a 9 x 15 glass dish and layer each ingredient as you go

One whole head of iceberg lettuce washed and chopped into manageable pieces

A half cup of shredded cheese

One can of rinsed black beans

1/2 cup of green sliced olives with pimento inside

1 pound of fried hamburger meat seasoned with one package of taco spice

Drizzle about 3/4 of a cup of thousand Island salad dressing all over this.

Now add another half cup of Mexican  shredded cheese.

Lightly toss all together and sprinkle cheese on top and a half bag of crushed Dorito  chips all over the top concentrating on the middle.

Yum!  It’s now ready to enjoy .