homeschooling, large family, lifestyle, Motherhood

Motherhood ( Breathe )

imageI love the motherly closeness depicted in this piece of art that I bought from my friend over at rugged infinity (posted with permission). I think she did a really great job showing exactly how a momma feels as she draws a young one close. Even as they grow large and don’t exactly fit under our chins like they once used to we still hold them as close as possible, even just in our minds sometimes. So why do we feel like they are driving us crazy sometimes? Well because we are normal and because they can be so frustrating sometimes. Can you say potty training? Can you say baking powder instead of flour in the cake batter;and smashing a Pyrex dish 2 minutes later? Can you say toddler siblings trying to beat each other up over a dinky car? The list is endless really. No matter how many children you have there are moments where you want to hide in the bathroom and call your bestie while you sneak chocolate into your system. Listen, motherhood is a tough gig and it’s important to remember that no Mom is perfect. So cut yourself a break.

I made a vow to myself about a dozen years ago. That vow was to do my best every day and go to bed happy, knowing that I had accomplished my goal. I still repeat this vow to myself all the time. I know that I have signed up for a huge task with homeschooling and MommyHood, and being a helpmeet but I just do my best every day. I make sure that everyone in my family, hubby included, has had one on one time with me, and that I have taken the time to slow down and stop and stare into each persons eyes. I make sure that I have had a conversation with each one because I know that they are growing before my eyes.

When things start to feel tense and overwhelming I try to take a deep breath before responding, so that I am not responding in anger. I could almost repost this and add more information about homeschooling with boys, which I may do one day soon. Boys can make things quite tense, my boys anyway. I have met the odd Mom that says she has an angel boy or two but I find that mine are very high energy and so they just have different needs than my girls who are quite easy to manage.

I want to encourage all you large (and small) family Moms (especially you homeschooling Mommas) to just slow down, even put the school books aside and work on relationships and Training instead of going so hard at the curriculum all the time. Take a hike in the woods, play a board game, do art all day, teach them a new craft, snuggle them close and do a read aloud together, tell them you love them often, and remember to breathe.

 

 

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😁

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.

 

 

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 🙌🏽

homeschooling

How WEIRD Are US Homeschoolers?

IMG_8717 (2)I must admit that I was completely ignorant to the term homeschooling when I first heard it. I am originally a city kid, born and raised in  Montreal, Canada and I still love that city.  Its such a diverse and multicultural place to live. The best foods, parks, fashion, service,and night life are all in Montreal. I will not be convinced otherwise.

I grew up going to public school, being bullied ferociously from grade 2 on , until I eventually learned how to defend myself (in grade 9 by kicking butt) and fell in with a horrible crowd of imbeciles which perpetuated my down spiral into imbecile kingdom. My parents divorced which made matters 100 x worse and I made many wrong choices.

Fast Forward about a decade and a half later:

I find Jesus, marry an exceptional husband and I am pregnant with my second child. I am sitting at a Christian Minor hockey league game when I meet a really cool lady who tells me she has “8 kids”. My mind does a little wobble and I respond with , “How do you get them all to school in the morning?” Cool lady laughs at me.

“I homeschool” she says.

I am stunned.

I had never heard the term “homeschooling” and immediately picture  lots of kids lounging around, chaos abounding, couch surfing, lots of goofing off, a t.v blaring 24/7 and a huge mess of a house. “Why on earth would you do that ?”, I demand.

She fills me in with a lot of her own reasons such as more family time, discipleship, character training , more diversified interests, curriculum control, etc. ,and I am super intrigued. I ask if I can visit her house (don’t even know her), and she graciously says YES!!

I was hooked after that first visit. When I met her children and watched their family dynamics and how they interacted with one another and with us I knew that I needed to try something so out of my world different and see if I could do a better job than what I saw was done with my 16 year old through a public education.

I never thought she was “weird”. I thought she was cool, different, lovely, sweet and kind. She oozed Jesus and was an amazing mother. I never thought her children were weird either. They were sweet, fun,  adorable, athletic, beautiful, well spoken and so completely involved in our conversation with their parents. They were so different than the kids I had been meeting over the years in the public schools that my son was attending.

I started attending homeschool conferences so I could gather lots of info and be fully prepared for the adventure my family was about to embark on. I met a lot of opposition from people who thought I was going to do something weird. Goodness people, do you see what is going on the world?

When I finally told my Mom (at 35 yrs old) just a little about my days of being bullied she asked me why I never told her. My response…. ” Most kids don’t tell their parents what goes on in school”. Hence, news articles of children, sweet young children bullied for their looks…..bullied to the point of suicide….without their parents ever knowing.

I find people get homemaking and homeschooling a little confused. If I mention that I make bread….”its because we are homeschoolers”.If I mention I can foods….”its because we are homeschoolers”. If I mention I make soap, knit hats, drive a large van etc, then I am a “typical homeschooler”

Yo, I dont care if you think we are weird because the results are in. Homeschool kids are great, fun, and cool !! They are very well educated and well rounded individuals. Post secondary schools and employers are seeing the benefits to homeschooling along with the rest of the world.

7 years later we are thriving in our homeschool and we are loving the results. I have met people along the way that some would consider weird but who cares? There was a lot more weirder people when I was in school and I hear its the same way now.

 

 

 

 

 

homeschooling, large family

SNOW SQUALLS

This is a post for all my readers/followers (thank you …) that do not live in a crazy place like Ontario, Canada. I thought you might like a glimpse of our lives and weather here. We live about 45 minutes North of Toronto , Canada near a large lake that creates what is called “Snow Squalls”. When snow squalls are in the forecast the people who don’t appreciate snow (Myself) groan and all the children leap for joy. If you are a public school kid then school is cancelled and if you are a homeschooler then school is cancelled. Its only fair…they gotta have some fun too 🙂

The skies can go from clear to grey in seconds, without warning, and the snow can dump inches to feet within hours. All wreaking havoc on the roads, sometimes power failures and many people just struggle in general to get around the road closures and some can’t even get home because a road closure means a police officer is blocking all access to your road home.

My kids just love it, and  so they race to get on the loads of winter gear they need and mom slathers a salve on their face to avoid frostbite. They go first to the animals .Our cute little outdoor rabbit is snug in his cage and waiting for treats and play time. Next its the hens, who always demand attention by squawking and crowing. They are really good at telling us how much they love their treats and attention. After everyone is cared for its play time!! They get out the sleds, crazy carpets, gt’s and just go nuts having a great time pulling each other around and sliding down the hill my hubby makes with a snow blower. When they come in they ask for hot chocolate with marshmallows and cookies. Ofcourse I oblige. I love them and I want them to always remember the good times together.

Life this far north can get super complicated sometimes. Cars won’t start, backs hurt from shovelling, playdates and get togethers get cancelled, mittens and hats get lost, winter gear is often needed part way through the season as they grow and it’s really costly. The only solace I have in it all is that my kids can have tons of fun and not notice that they cant even see the house across the street sometimes when they are in the thick of it.