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

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, Motherhood

Do you have kids?Lose Yourself.

IMG_8526 (2)Lets get REAL.

Over the course of the Holidays I found myself in stores more than usual, which is pretty understandable. While buying gifts for my kids and husband, certain topics seemed to arise between myself and whoever the sales clerk happened  to be that day. They would often ask leading questions to see if they could better understand my needs as  a buyer such as “who is this for ….and how old are they, etc. I was asked if I had children and how many etc. So I asked the question back. The sales clerk looked me in the eye and said” no, I never want kids.”  I asked her if she didn’t want them because she didn’t like kids. She said “My reason is bigger than that. I feel like I would lose myself” She seemed pretty proud of herself in the way she responded . In a way she is right , you do lose yourself some what.

I spoke the truth that day. I’m not always so bold but  I replied ” yes, you will lose yourself but you will find a new self”. She was shocked and said nothing further so neither did I.

I am not my old self , I am a person called Mama who loves with a mama bear love I never knew before I had a child. I put my little tribe before myself and their needs before mine continuously. I care deeply that they feel loved and secure and that they  have all their needs met by a Mama and Daddy that love them sacrificially. I am a better person than I was because I learned what it takes to be a Mom, and what it takes to have to stay up all night with sick kids, how to be by their side as they learn how to read, how to plead with God as they have an emergency operation, how to comfort a teen that’s really down on himself, teach them about the Jesus and countless other things. Lose yourself dear Mother and be glad that you are not lost but changed into somethIng beautiful.

large family, Our Tribal Tips

The Last Laugh

IMG_0127 This is a quick tip for large families who are looking for a tangible way to save money and frustration.  Please read :

I got away from using plastic  cups years ago and I switched to glass because I liked the way my drinks tasted and stay colder . I also didn’t like the way plastic cleaned,  and with all the chemicals going to plastic ya just never knew what was safe anymore.  I even went back to using glass baby bottles. However, when baby number six was old enough to understand the joy in the sound of smashing glass my days became challenging. Not a day would  go by  without something broken. We bought plastic dishes just for him yet any chance he could he would go for someone else’s cup or take his glass bottle out of the insulator and smash it.

I clearly remember walking through Home Depot with  five children under eight years old at the time, and my husband , trying desperately to concentrate on new ceramic tile choices and trying to make sure we took his bottle away from our toddler as soon as he was finished drinking.  We were unsuccessful, and as we turned our back’s on him to discuss choices we heard a smash and whipped around to see this huge smile on his face. It was getting depressing.  We knew something had to be done  , something needed to change,and yet I refused  to go back to plastic. So I brainstormed and thought about some cups that we used  while we were camping. They were steel and they were unbreakable. I jumped on Amazon.ca and found stackable stainless steel cups and we have never turned back.  True story… When the cups first arrived we washed them and let everyone have one to try. The ” Glass smasher” took his cup and threw it on the ceramic kitchen floor. You should have seen the shocked look on his face  when that cup bounced and did not break.  I burst out laughing and so did the other children, I finally had the last laugh . But seriously, they save so much room in the cupboard, are washable , droppable and  maybe somewhat unbreakable. Yes , I left one on the back bumper of my van and drove away one day. When I found the cup  it had a big dent in it but was still serviceable and might I say it looks pretty cool like as if it stopped a bullet. My boys like to take turns using that cup. Check them out they are worth every penny🍹.

Fox Outfitters Stainless Steel Pint Cups, 16 Ounce. Check out the amazon lmk below….

https://www.amazon.ca/Fox-Outfitters-Stainless-Steel-Ounce/dp/B00GXUQ2QM/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1514953250&sr=8-3&keywords=Fox+stainless+steel+cups

 

 

 

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 Meals

Large Family Meals

Meal times are very special around here, especially dinner time. We love to sit around the table with each other and feast on good food and good words. My children range from 27 years old (on his own now) down to 2 and I have used the same approach with all of them. Buy real food, make great recipes, insist they taste everything. For the most part everyone’s palette has become very broad, but there is always a small exception in the vegetable department where one child or another may have a veggie that really grosses them out. So I make it a mission to prepare them differently to try to find a way they may like to eat them . For example, some children will eat cooked peas and some won’t but everyone will eat them raw, so we mostly eat them raw. I myself find cooked peas repulsive, along with cooked beets, but I can eat them both raw any day and without trepidation. Above are some photos of some of the food we ate this evening. Baked sole, roasted cauliflower and potatoes, Brussel sprouts (yup,they eat ’em) and a salad full of raw veggies. The good words will come from a devotion book that will be read aloud to all (tonight it was “what does the Bible have to say about that?) and a few times a week we will also include some time in the Bible and a good novel that is appropriate for all ages.

This year was the first time we had 5 children in skating programs that started at 5 p.m  5 to 6 times a week for about 3 months. It totally ruined our supper hour and made way for a hectic and unrelaxing snacky kind of dinner while mostly standing at the rink. This is not a healthy lifestyle and there is no time for meaningful conversation with your loved ones at this pace. Also because I always had to feed my small army on the go there was extra preparation in advance while school was being done that made the day all the more crazy.  Some families live like this all the time!! I could not continue like this forever. I guard my time with my family and really believe that the hours we spend on character training and relationship building are more important than any extra curricular program out there. That is not to say they won’t ever do sports or music but we will not prioritize them over family time.

We are blessed to have a lot of variety in our meals . I bulk up my meals to make 2 or 3 of everything, several days per week so that we can eat something once and put the other 1 or 2 in the freezer for later. This helps me to have lighter days when there isn’t much time to throw together a killer lasagna or sloppy joes. It also helps us to have a large monthly menu so that we don’t get tired of eating the same thing all the time or eat the same meal for days on end. I have never been that kind of girl but am thankful for a husband that doesn’t care if he eats the same thing every day. He loves our leftovers. He also loves coming home to a hot and tasty meal after a hard days work, and need I say ….I love preparing it for him:)

I often have friends ask how I got my kids to eat fish. Well I lied…..Just kidding that was my mother (she lied to my half- sister till she was 15 that those were really “CHICKEN” nuggets…lol) I simply started out with baked sole as above ( non smelly fish with a very subtle and light flavor) and did the following:

Baked Sole Recipe:

As many fresh or frozen fillets desired

Squeeze lemon liberally all over

Sprinkle salt and dill all over

Sprinkle Italian bread crumbs all over

Drizzle olive oil on top

Bake at 400 degrees for about 30-45 minutes (depends on thickness of fillets; look very easy flakiness)

Don’t expect kids to eat it all the first time either. Sometmes it take a few tries before they get used to it just like with other foods!!