Monday, December 29, 2008

Daddy Time!

(originally posted on my other blog 12-29-08)

We have been blessed to have Daddy home for many of the last days. He has 10 days off in the last 2 weeks of December, and gets paid for all of them! I’m so thankful for his job!

We went to the park last week and all had a great time.

There’s a platform that is perfect for “King of the Hill” playing. Years ago, it used to rock, but now the springs have rusted solid.

It’s sure easier to play this with it solid. It seems, though, that King of the Hill inevitably leads to injuries.

She was all right, though she complained of a headache later in the day. She even played more King of the Hill a little while later. I played with her, and promptly (accidentally!) stuck my finger right into her eye...hard. She has sworn off King of the Hill!

The climbing logs were another popular challenge.

Everyone took a turn, even Missy. I held her hand and suggested where to step when she was stuck.

I love this time of year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sad Little Ducky

Ducklings by Victor Keech.

Do you guys know the "Mother Duck" song? The one where Mother Duck's babies disappear one by one then all reappear at the end of the song?

I was singing it with my 3yos, Troubles, by his request this evening. When I sang the "Sad, Mother Duck" verse, my strong, aggressive, manly little man put his face in my chest a started CRYING!

I stopped singing, of course, and asked him why he was crying. He said "Because that song makes me sad!" I hurried and sang that they all came back and he was still sniffling away, face buried in my shirt. I asked him if he wanted another song...he said "Sing that one again, Momma"

Needless to say, I did not.

(originally posted on my other blog 12-24-08)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

How Does He Do That?

(originally posted on my other blog 12-02-08)

My darling little son, Troubles, has a way with words. Really, he is such a thoughtful little thing! Grandpa is visiting today, and Troubles had the courtesy to ask him "how he shaves like that?". He asked Grandpa several times, but Grandpa didn't understand his question. Finally, Troubles touched the top of his head and asked again: "How does he shave like that?"!

What a funny little fellow!

"Are They All Yours?"

I very often get the "How do you do it?", "Are they all yours?", "You have your hands full!" or even the dreaded "OMG!" when we go out. I know those trite comments frustrate and annoy many parents of larger families. They wear on me, too! But instead of snapping back with a sarcastic answer (like I want to do), I use the exclamation to give glory to the Lord and perhaps get a chance to share the Gospel. I also try to remember to smile when we are out, so as to not make my children look burdensome.

Taking the Lord's name in vain seems pretty common in my area, and it bothers me the most. I don't speak like that to my children, and hate that others do! So now I answer that exclamation with a praise: "Isn't He wonderful! Look how He has blessed our family!" After they pick up their jaw, the other person is in a better place to ask intelligent questions and have a good conversation. They are often a bit embarrassed at their mis-use of the Lord's name, as well.

"Are they all yours?" invites "Yes, thankfully, they are! Aren't I blessed?" I babysit a couple of kids, so if they are with us, I say "I babysit these two, but the others are mine. Aren't I blessed?"

"How do you do it?" is usually answered with "By God's grace!" and "You have your hands full!" gets answered with " No, the Lord doesn't give us more blessings than we can handle! I hope to have more Blessings someday!"

Only once I was asked "If I knew what causes that?". I was taken aback, but answered, "The blessing of God". Having practiced giving a positive answer to the common reaction of seeing our family, I was able to not lose my witness when asked a particularly rude question. I have been able to share the gospel many times with folks who are intrigued by our family. I may not be able to be a missionary to Africa or China, but I can share the gospel with those in need of the Savior here in my little town!

Call it 'Habit Training' for Momma!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Chores In Our Family

One of the most time consuming things about having a larger family is the chores. Since we all live in this house all day long, it gets messier than the home of the family across the street, where everyone is at work and school all day long. We must clean up and do it often!

One day a few years back, I sat down with chores in mind. I broke each job down into its componants and wrote detailed lists. Then I decided which chores were most appropriate for each child. The smaller children got the easier parts, of course and the older ones, the harder.

My husband created a spreadsheet with all the chores listed on the left-hand column and names of all the children (rotated, so they are in different places) in four columns toward the right. One child has a certain aspect of each chore for a month. On the first day of the month we change to the next column. Everyone has a new job. After four months, we are back to the beginning. Each child has learned each job completely.

An example: The kitchen is cleaned very quickly after meals in this manner. I wash pots and handwashables and put away food, one child sweeps, one clears and wipes the table, one wipes down the chairs and pushs them in when the sweeper is finished, one clears and wipes the counter and stove. The smaller children wipe the table legs, clean the front of the dishwasher, stove and fridge. One picks up any toys or big things on the floor for the sweeper.

I can now call on any one of the six oldest children to do a job by themselves or with a partner and it gets done well!

Our 'jurisdictions' (to borrow a term from the Duggar Family) are: kitchen, bathroom, living and family rooms, bedrooms, playroom and animals. We have had the same chart for a couple of years now, and I am planning an upgrade. The children and I have taught all the little ones the chores, so it's time to 'graduate' the older ones to new assigned chores and allow the six and seven year olds the responsibility of the 'big kids' chores.


Having a large family means multiplied joy, friendships, and happiness. It also means multiplied food bills, gas bills and BILL bills! Christmas and birthdays can strain the finances of any family, but especially a larger one. Thankfully, gift giving occasions do not have to be burdensome!

We choose not to celebrate each childs birthday with a 'friends' party. On their birthday, each child gets special privileges like choosing the meals and being excused from most chores. They choose their desired dessert and receive a couple of presents from Dad and Mom and their brothers and sisters. It's enough, really.

Once a year we have a big party that we invite all our friends to. We do not accept gifts from friends. Rather, the children spend time choosing a ministry they wish to bless, usually from among the various outreaches of Voice of the Martyrs. They make a presentation board and develop activities for the party based around that choice. They collect donations and mail them in.

For Christmas, we shop sales year round. Much of the shopping is done by the time the season rolls around. We have the children draw names so each one buys a gift for another, and they love it! We don't put a limit on the number of gifts per child, though it's usually three or four at the most. Instead, we have a spending cap for each. That way, if one person wants ONE more expensive gift, they can ask and they *might* receive it.

Children really can be satisfied with less extravagance. Allow them the
privilege of NOT being spoiled rotten!

A 'DUH!' Moment

As a young girl, I loved hot cereal. My mother would make Cream of Wheat or oatmeal once in a while (most often, I had cold sugar cereal), drop a pat of butter in the bottom of my bowl, add the oatmeal, sprinkle on some sugar and cinnamon, stir it up and place it in front of me. I felt so special!

When my eldest was ready, I prepared her hot cereal in the same manner. When my next began eating it, I simply added a bowl to my routine. Then we became foster parents and added twins. Soon, it became a trial to make hot cereal. As soon as I was done preparing bowls, someone wanted seconds and I was getting tired of it. Slowly, without even thinking about it, I served hot cereal less and less and cold cereal more and more.

After a few years, we had many Smalls and just a couple of Bigs. Hot-cereal-more-often became a necessity for financial reasons, and I had learned the dangers of cold cereal and felt guilty about serving it anyway.

After sitting down and trying to eat my serving and being asked AGAIN to prepare seconds for someone, I had my most humiliating DUH moment.

"You could season the whole pot and they could serve their own seconds!"


How much easier is it now, to serve hot cereal? Sometimes common sense is hard to come by in my brain.

Care to share your simplest tip or your own DUH moment? You might make someone's day!

Illness in a Large Family

My dear friend has four children four and under. She is in the trenches of Littles-only parenting and! Her children recently were ill for a couple of weeks. It reminded me of a period of time that I'd rather forget.

My five Lambies were 6 and younger. I also had several foster children. They caught something that went round and round and round for THREE months. It wasn't a simple runny nose or an annoying cough. It was a puking thing. Awful. I had some throw up all over the place, every week, at least once, for three solid months. I remember picking chunks off of someones sheet for the umpteenth time and crying out to the Lord for help. I was at the end of my rope! I couldn't stand it any longer and needed help!

He whispered, in that moment, "Change their toothbrushes". Really. I dried my tears, finished the job and did as I was told. The sickness cycle ended with that. Praise God....He really does care about the little things and will help those who call out to Him!

Here are some pointers for those of you with little ones to keep the sickies at bay:

Replace toothbrushes every few months! Sterilize them occasionally with peroxide between fresh ones.

Of course, wash everyone's hands often, including yours, Mom!

Boost the immune system with wholesome, natural foods so you have less chance of getting sick in the first place. One of the best to add is real, fresh from the cow, raw milk. It truly does work wonders!

Cut out or drastically reduce processed sugar, especially if you've been exposed to a cold. Sugar greatly reduces your immune system's ability to fight off buggidies. Increase zinc and vitamin C, through food sources, not mad-made synthetic garbage.

Use coconut oil as a moisturizer on hands and faces. It has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.

Load up on fresh, raw garlic. Yeah, you'll stink. It's better than being sick! Mince it fine and add to applesauce or yogurt for little ones. You can use a spoonful of honey, too.

Make a soothing throat syrup with honey and garlic. Lemon juice added to hot, hot water with some salt and honey is very soothing and helps heal as well.

If all fails and your kids are sick with tummy troubles, take this hint. We bought eight identical buckets, with handles and pour spouts in the cleaning department of Target. When someone complains of nausea, all the buckets come out of the garage and each person gets one on their bed. Since doing this, I haven't had anyone miss and barf on the bed. Even the toddler is able to get it in the bucket (thankfully!).

Just 15 Minutes

Most people wonder how in the world large families 'get it all done'. We know the secret....we don't!

Most of us do, however, know to use small amounts of time wisely. Ten or fifteen minutes can so easily slip by with nothing accomplished, or it can be put to good use and something memorable can be done! I use the time spent eating in the morning, and at lunch, for some read aloud time.

Reading Scripture in the morning leads to some wonderful discussions. We are all gathered anyway, let's use that time! Memory work can easily be done at the table, too. Choose a family read aloud for lunchtime. The kids will enjoy hearing it, and they will look forward to the story every day.

We also read aloud before bedtime several times a week. It's the 'Daddy-book' since it's only read when Daddy is home. Currently we are reading "The Little White Horse" by Elizabeth Goudge.

Making memories doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming. It can be as simple as snatching a few minutes to read with the kids consistently.

Two-Minute Clean!

One of the strategies I use for keeping the house clean is "A Two Minute Clean". I began teaching this to my oldest when she was only two and a half or so. I call out loudly "Two Minute Clean!!!!" so everyone can hear it, and they all rush around the house grabbing anything in their way, putting it where it belongs or throwing it away. Many hands can really make a difference in just two minutes! Do this three or four times a day and watch the piles and clutter disappear.