Tag Archive | large family mothering

Finding Beauty in Motherhood

“Surely mercy and goodness will follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever….”

Yesterday was one of those days…..because I was trying to throw one too many things into the mix. I thought,”I’ll just keep the kids busy with their school work with one half of my brain and with the other I’ll list some stuff on Ebay.”

Right! My dear children could not seem to focus unless I was focused on them. Every time I turned my attention to them they were not busily working on their math. Plus I was trying to keep the little girls from eating us out of house and home, plus making a birthday cake and keeping the house somewhat orderly for an art class that we’ve been hosting on Wednesday afternoons. Finally I gave up in frustration. Then I scorched and ruined a whole four quart pot of chili, I was really looking forward to eating it too! Then Blue-eyes didn’t get home until 7:30. Right at the time my three year old daughter pooped in her underwear.

My flesh was rearing it’s ugly head. I felt seriously like railing accusations at my husband (who knows why, except that at that moment it felt like all my woes were caused by him coming home late) instead I calmly, through clenched teethe told him I didn’t know of any other husband who worked so much and a couple other things. I went to bed feeling like a looser mom and an ungrateful wife.

Joy comes in the morning though. Before Blue-eyes went to work this morning he gave me lots of kisses and promised to be praying for me today. Good ole’ blue-eyes! What would I do without him?

Usually when I start to feel like this I know I need to gather my chicks under my wings and go outside, somewhere beautiful, just them and me and God. Somewhere where I can breathe deep, have the sky above me. My old stand by is the forest. Any other day it can be called the woods but on these days it is the forest.

The smell of pine trees, moss, the earth, calms my nerves and gives me peace. Today I needed this and I wanted to share with you the beauty that I found. I found beauty in motherhood like I always do when I take the time to look.

I’m sure there will be lilacs in heaven. After spending the day surrounded by such beauty our spirits are tempered with grace. Add some Tintin books and art supplies from a garage sale along the way home and we have a quiet, peaceful afternoon and I can work on my blog!

The Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens in Woodland Washington


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Homeschooling Boys Part 4, Sit Down, Little Son

“A boy’s will is the wind’s will and the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts…….” Longfellow

blog 038I hope you have enjoyed reading this series of blogs as much as I have enjoyed writing them. Now, hopefully, I will be able to figure out how to print them off so I can include them in my son’s school records for this year.

While the previous posts have described the heart and soul of my son’s education, this post is all about what has provided the structure and therefore it is of no less importance.  Although, I must say, on his part, less exciting and certainly requiring more self discipline.  I will not be including the literature based curricula that we have used for history, geography, and science because they are not considered “school” by my kids, too much fun. They go along with the second part of this series, Homeschooling Boys Part 2, For the Love of a Story. 

Here is an entry from his history notebook from last year entitled “Leif becomes a Christian”. I love the bright glow covering everything!

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Another history notebook entry.

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We work on all of our literature based curricula in the afternoons or evenings and I do not feel the need to keep to a schedule with any of them.  We do what works out each day and they are thought of as a treat for sure! On library, field trip or homeschool group days our time is limited so we are likely to skip them.

Because we pretty much have either a pregnant mama or a nursing baby at all times at our house, our school day needs to be very relaxed. I do not try to start each morning at a certain time or be too rigid in any way. No one here thrives on stress, especially me! On the other hand, our days are full of routine. I think it provides kids with a great deal of security when they know what to expect from their days.

So, loosely, this is what our mornings look like. The school bus stops right outside our house at 8:00, that’s kind of the signal for the kids that it’s time to get up. A few of them are in bed reading.  They get up, do their “morning chores”, come down for breakfast, and then choose another small job to help get the kitchen and breakfast area cleaned up. The boys then go outside to take care of Willy and the chickens.

I try to start each day out with God’s word. Thankfully, our church has an excellent Sunday school. (If any of our kid’s current or former Sunday school teachers are reading this, please know how much we appreciate you!) The thing I like the most about it is that it doesn’t turn God’s word into “twaddle” (a Charlotte Mason term) and cutesy songs, but rather gently feeds the kids “the sincere milk of the word”.  Kids often understand the things of God much more readily that we give them credit for!

I have just used the kids Sunday school lessons then as the structure for their individual Bible time each morning.  Kindergarten through second grade they memorize Bible verses and the commandments. Each morning they copy their memory work into their journals and when they are very young that is pretty much all I require of them for handwriting.  The girls seem to enjoy writing at a younger age.  But for the boys that’s about all they can handle.

Now that my oldest son is in third grade he also has Sunday school paperwork. He reads or I have read to him a couple assigned chapters and then he has ten or so questions to answer. This has been a wonderful way to get my kids into the word each day. He works on a couple questions a day. I make sure he writes the answers in complete sentences. I also have him read the story out of the Bible story book to increase his understanding.  He is also studying and memorizing sections of Luther’s Catechism.

Afterwards he usually moves on to math. We use Math.U.See. I was able to attend a work shop put on by the company a few years ago when we made the switch and it just makes a lot of sense. Plus, each lesson is on DVD so I really don’t need to teach it.  Now that my oldest daughter is learning algebra I’m really thankful for this! They have tailored the curriculum to the SAT but not to the yearly grade exams. So typically a child using Math.U.See might not score well on standardized testing in the elementary years but will score exceptionally well later on.  I love the way it teaches the different concepts and all of my kids like math now! I also like the fact that it doesn’t go by “grade” level, leaving everyone more comfortable to work at their own pace.

Everyday he reads a little aloud to me but I try to never weary him. When he was still sounding out most words I would have him read one page then I would read one. Taking turns gives them a break and keeps the story interesting. While unlocking the written word with your child is amazing and exciting, it can also become tedious, for us and them! Just remember that they learn line upon line, precept upon precept. Even just sounding out a few words a day is practice and practice means progress!  Even now that he is reading a lot on his own I’ll have him read aloud to me. I think it is an important skill to be able to read aloud with confidence.  Right now he is reading My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, and is loving it!

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Although I wasn’t planning to, this year I have also added Spell to Write and Read to his formal studies.  He and his brother were busy writing war stories this fall and I could see that he needed more spelling knowledge. blog 033I have been using this curriculum with his sisters for the last couple years and I have learned so much! So many of the mysteries of the written English language now make sense to us! For example, ch says /k/ when the word is of Greek origin and /sh/ when the word is French. Why the silent k in knock etc.? Because it is “the ghost of a forgotten sound”,  in old and middle English the k was actually pronounced and the spelling of the word never changed. Cool! There is so much more, too! Probably next year he will join his sisters in their study of the Greek and Latin roots in the English language and Spell to Write and Read compliments that perfectly! I was able to attend a workshop  with the curriculum’s  creator, Wanda Sanseri a few years ago. If you look into this curriculum it seems a little over whelming but it is well worth pursuing. I use it in a self modified version that has worked really well for our family.

His war story is several pages long. One day he said,”Mom, how come our stories sound like a kid wrote them instead of like a real story?” Hmm……Well, for one thing kids did write them! It opened up a discussion about adjectives and interesting sentences structure! He took it to heart, too. Later on in his story he wrote, “We grabbed guns and knives and ran to the army trucks and zoomed off through the woods to the battle field.” Not too bad!

He is growing up though! The other day he was reading something about the Civil War and he came up to me looking very serious. “Mom,”he said, ” I used to think it would be kind of fun to have a war here but I didn’t know war was so terrible. I’m going to pray that we never have a war here!”

Growing in wisdom, growing in grace. I ‘m looking forward to watching the rest of the story unfold! And like Mary, the mother of my Lord, and every other mama, truly I am blessed among women!

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In closing I wanted to share this poem that I found!

God made a world out of his dreams,

Of magic mountains, oceans, and streams,

Prairies and plains and wooded land.

Then paused and thought,”I need someone to stand,

On top of the mountains, to conquer the seas,

Explore the plains and climb the trees.

Someone to start out small and grow,

Sturdy and strong like a tree” and so

He created boys, full of spirit and fun

To explore and conquer, to romp and run

With dirty faces, and banged up chins

With courageous hearts and boyish grins.

And when he’d completed the task he’d begun

Surely He said,”That’s a job well done!”

Author unknown

Baby Lucy in Cloth Diapers Score One for g Diapers

ImageBaby number seven and we have switched over to cloth diapering! Something that even a year ago I never imagined I’d do. First of all I must say that cost was not my deciding factor so if you are looking for the cheapest way to go this blog may not be the most helpful.

Secondly, I believe in a young earth. I believe that the Bible actually is literal in Genesis and means just what it says, that God created the earth in six days. I also believe the scripture that says that “the earth will wax old as does a garment”. I am not trying to “save” the earth. I do not think the earth will be here for a thousand more or even hundreds of more years because it seems that the Biblical prophesies are being fulfilled that tell us the end of time is near.

I wait for the day when Jesus Christ will descend from Heaven with a shout and gather together his elect from the earth and take us to live forever with God. Then it says that the earth will burn and the elements will melt. Jesus has gone away to prepare a place for us, a new heaven and a new earth wherein righteousness dwells.

I don’t know about you but when I read the end of the book of Revelations, heaven sounds so beautiful…….so beautiful! And I can’t wait to go and live where I can see God.

On the other hand we all know that disposable diapers are not biodegradable. We’ve always recycled our cans, glass, cardboard etc. and reuse and reduce. One of my boys has been interested lately in land fills and wondering what becomes of our trash. I’ve been convicted because it’s not something I’ve thought much about. To me I put the stuff in the garbage and the truck comes and takes it away and it’s gone….but is it?

I was thinking one day about diapers from seven babies. What if there was no land fill so we just had a diaper pile out in the back corner. OK  you see where I’m going with this. Ewwwww……….for a few hundred years. I don’t think anyone would use them if that were the case.

My parents raised fifteen children in rural New Hampshire. They were “green” as a lifestyle before it was cool. We raised much of our own food. “Organic” without even thinking about it. My mom used cloth diapers. I remember all those diapers fluttering in the breeze on the cloths line. My mom even milked a cow and made butter. Yum. Reduce, reuse and recycle were the way to go. Not to be cool and progressive mind you but just because it was inexpensive and felt right.

I guess I feel convicted about it. It’s part of the labor of love we call parenting. Less convenient, yes, but how did my mom do it? Well, for one thing her life revolved around her family and home. She was not so busy with things away from home like a lot of us modern moms. Her social life was mainly with neighbor women who were within walking distance. Most of them also happened to be a part of our church family. Oh, those quiet, homey country days! (Were they actually so idealistic, Mom?;) I’m ready to just move on out, milk a cow, hang out the clothes on those long lines…..*sigh)

Where was I now? Oh, yes, cloth diapers! Image

We decided to go with g diapers because they seem to offer the most convenience. The best place to get what you’ll need is on the g diaper website. Our local Fred Meyer stores carry some of their products as well.

They offer a biodegradable, flush-able, disposable liner. (They say flush-able but you have to take the inside of the liner out and throw the outside away, as it is not safe for most septic systems. This seems like more trouble than it’s worth to me.) But the disposable liners work just as well as the LUVS that I’ve been used to. I have not had any problems with leaking, even over night. You can compost the wet liners, not poop, of course. I would love to use these all the time but they are more expensive than I am comfortable spending. You can buy a case of them online, $52 for 128 liners. You would plan on changing them as often as you would any disposable diaper. Fred Meyer’s sells them in a package of 32 for $16.99. I will definitely have these on hand for night time and when I am out in town or anyway from home for a good portion of the day.

On normal days I have been using cloth liners. I just purchased the Gerber brand organic cloth tri-fold diapers. ($6.99 for four) They work well too but need to be changed more often. The g diaper website sells cloth liners that sound more efficient than what I’m using. They sell a six pack for $32, no folding and they have a fleece outer layer that draws moisture away from baby’s skin.

G diapers also sell a disposable thin liner to put over the cloth insert. This is so when baby poops you can just flush it. No swishing in the toilet or anything. Now that is really cool! They come in a box of 100 for $8.99. Lucy usually poops right away in the morning so I would just need to use one a day with her first diaper.

The g diapers themselves come in a pack of two, the snap on plastic pouch is included, at Freddy’s for $29.99, or six from g diaper for $79.99. At least with breast fed baby poop, I need to change the plastic pouch every time Lucy poops making one pouch per diaper not quite enough. You can order extra plastic pouches, six for $22.99.

G diaper website also offers starter kits etc. for a discounted price. That would make a lovely baby shower gift! All this adds up and that is why I’ve slowly been adding in the things I need. But when you think that you can reuse them for a long time, even with other babies that may come your way, it makes it a little easier to spend the money. Last night Blue eyes and I were figuring out how much money we would roughly spend on disposable diapers per year and that adds up too! I think we came up with $300, if we used 5 LUVS a day. So two years would be about $600!

The g diaper website says that you would need 6-8 diapers to fully diaper a baby. Remember if cost is important to you there are other more affordable options. Econobums is one brand that a few friends have been happy with.

The g diapers are machine washable and besides the plastic pouches, are fine in the dryer.       You shouldn’t soak them in water or use bleach. Just put them in the washer with detergent and white vinegar. That will keep the cloth outer looking bright and the whites clean. (I just wash Lucy’s with the rest of our household laundry. Blue eyes thought that was kind of gross but…..I always tell him it’s only baby pee or poop. The things motherhood does to you!) Also a tip from my niece, on a sunny day set your cloth inserts and plastic pouches out in the direct sunlight to bleach them.

When making the switch I would recommend that you keep some disposables on hand for back up until you are sure you have what you need. I do anyways, but you will also need to plan on at least doing a small load of laundry each day. Packing the diaper bag will take a little more forethought as well.

It’s been about a month now and it has been a lot better than I imagined. The hardest part has been trying to stay organized. Sometimes I have a hard time rounding up all the pieces when I need them but more orderly folks shouldn’t have that trouble. Image

One more thing, Lucy, and a lot of my babies have had very sensitive skin. She pretty much always had a rash on her bum, even though I change her often. I am happy to report that things are looking a lot better in that respect. One day I ended up putting her back into disposable diapers for the day and she broke out like crazy! Poor Honey! She obviously had a reaction to something in the diaper.

What is your favorite diaper rash remedy?