A place to be real about a life of chaos, with eight beautiful children, homeschooling, special needs, adoption, sanity or the lack thereof.........a rubber hits the road sort of journey that I thankfully do NOT walk alone!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Shop Class 101

Well, the first week of school promptly threw me into the old routines and late nights of marking. It's always a bit of a shock to be truthful but I'm well into week two and feeling better about my "total loss of control"! The laundry has gotten behind, the bathrooms are in a terrible need of overhaul and I haven't baked in a while! The kids are chomping at the bit to do the fun stuff and have already scheduled our first trip to the orchard. But...it is nicely coming together to be an awesome year!
I wasn't totally surprised when Stable Chick asked me on day two if she were to do two days of work on one day did that mean she could have the next day open to work on a project if I ok'd it? Well...I carefully hesitated. I didn't want to be too excited she was showing ambition and determination to start off on the right foot..." Tell me about your project" I replied. I listened as she ran me through the plans she had drawn up and the need for power tools and she'd already looked out the scrap wood in the wood pile and we have left over paint from the bedrooms and......Her enthusiasm was not to be contained so I agreed to the project and the next morning first thing I found her gathering the tools and the following is what resulted...

Notice she is wearing all required PPE (Personal Protection Equipment!!!) First she cut...this was a well designed project...you see there were two of them and they were designed to fit one inside the other for storage so these cuts had to be precise.

It's starting to come together....anyone have a guess what it is?

By mid day she was winding down and was quite pleased with how it had come together...

Jagger was interested in what was going on....

Viola!!! Two very happy puppies. Stable Chick had done some recent research on raising the level of feeding bowls especially in older dogs to prevent digestion issues that could potentially be quite dangerous. All who know her know she'd do anything for her MANY pets this will come as no surprise. She finished her project with time to spare and I think I'll chalk this up to shop project #1 for the year!

One of the many perks of schooling my gang at home include the ability to step outside the normal "box" of conformity and curriculum and allow them to achieve success tackling projects such as these. What a better way to learn and feel success and pride than to complete a project you planned from beginning to end....Way to go Stable Chick....You make me very proud!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Perspective ... It's not about me!

Well...the first day of school has come and gone. Every year I decide this year...this will be the year I am so organized and "ready" and keen and ... inevitably every year is more chaotic, harried, frazzling, and down right frantic...or so it seems. Today is day three and I have hit my stride already. The children are settling in to routines that whether they like it or not are a relief to even them.

This year I will teach SK, Grades 3,4,5,6,8,and 10. The oldest three have complete schedules that organize all of their curriculum, quizzes, tests and assignments down to the due date while I am riding a little by the seat of my pants for the younger 4. I've maintained my old stand by curriculum for the basics of language and math but this year have decided to teach science and world history en mass! Call me crazy but in a weak moment...one filled with insanity I'm sure...I decided a more creative less "text booky" way of approaching some of school would lesson my marking work load and create an excitement in the children that would have them asking to do more! I'll let you know how that all pans out!

By the end of day one with all children in bed or at least in their bed"room" I came in for a landing looking a little like I'd been dragged through a hedge backwards. I had finished my marking (why did it seem like so much on the first day?), put through a few loads of laundry, put my jammies on and made myself a cup of coffee. I was D-O-N-E, done! Good grief, why did this seem so difficult. I had planned and prepared for weeks, ordered and paid for lots of curriculum, had some new stuff that was very exciting, moved the school room around and arranged for the two oldest to do their work in their rooms which meant bedroom reorganizing. I have mistakenly thought this whole "homeschooling" thing was like falling off a bike yet every year I feel like I learn to ride the darn thing all over again!!

As I sat "recovering" from the day I found myself feeling quite proud of what I had accomplished. From the planning and organizing to curriculum choices, to getting all the first day of school pictures taken I had done pretty well. I even found myself going through each child and celebrating "how far they had all come". It went something like this......

Wow....lots of people call me crazy ... in fact I've been laughed at, judged, questioned, even told I wasn't doing anyone any favours by schooling at home yet "I" had overcome!!! I wasn't going to let other people tell me this wasn't in their best interest. The children were all learning to the best of their abilities in what I considered an exceptional way. Some were struggling with learning challenges but man oh man had we reached some huge milestones!! Hard work pays off and even when insurmountable behavioural "ick" reared it's ugly head, "I" handled things and got everyone back on track while keeping some sense of order. "I" have now identified through various assessments and learning tools what if anything causes each child learning angst and "I" had chosen curriculum accordingly. The children were all going to succeed and even if I was pooped at the end of a day I know how much ground we covered........ON and ON it went. Remember this is just me talking to myself. For those that know me well, know I don't tend to toot my own horn but this moment was just for me....you know an encouraging self pat on the back.

Without warning my self talk turned to shame. What was I thinking!!! This isn't about me. This is NOT about what "I" have accomplished. This is about the joy of parenting and the privilege of doing so NOT alone....not for the benefit of watching the successes as a result of "my" hard work, but because this....this parenting, teaching, wearing of many hats is a choice I made for many reasons not the least of which is to glorify God. Without Him where would I be? Without His gentle guidance in times of chaos and challenge who would have reached any success? I have been blessed with a wonderful husband who supports my teaching of the children in many ways. I know that was part of the "plan" all along...despite my own detours through life. My children ... all of them are precious blessings from God that I have been given to nurture and teach for a season... to lean on Him. I hope to live my life as an example for them and when I fail or fall short, to use that also to teach what I have learned in the process.

We have attained heights many thought we would never see academically, developmentally and physically but wait....."we" are not through.

This homeschooling journey is exactly that... a mere speck in time, only a tidbit of what is yet to come!! My job seems sometimes overwhelming but I dare say I may toil more than is necessary. What a privilege to give all that I can to raising my children with solid moral values that are so soundly based in our faith in God. They have been entrusted to me for a time and He alone can make all things new. After all...who did I think was responsible ultimately for all of the successes so far?

When I find myself focusing on all the "stuff" that needs to be completed, all the marking to be done, all the projects planned and completed, all the "requirements" to be met before we are finished...I will remind myself to refocus on that which is far more significant and become thankful for the road we've travelled and celebrate the new trip that begins in this moment! Take joy in the times of turmoil and know that the struggles will strengthen them for what God has planned for them tomorrow!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cat Lover is Double Digits!!

Aside from the obvious lack of blogging I've been doing it has seemed remarkably crazy this last six weeks. I have no less than 40 posts rambling around inside my head and I will do my best over the next short while for the few that read this to get it done!

Cat Lover has finally reached the important milestone (at least in her mind) of double digits. At the beginning of February, child #3 turned 11!

This child, without a doubt, is my fiery, full speed ahead, act then think (only intermittently and when it doesn't change the outcome), run don't walk, fast talking, sensitive, strong as an ox, bull in a china shop child that I wouldn't change one little bit!

This "spirited" child single handedly changed my outlook on parenting the "strong willed" child. She is responsible for my "attitude" change. You see before I was a parent of multiple children I can honestly say my judgement of other parents with "challenging" children was unfair and to be honest down right cruel. Thoughts such as "Get some control over your child", "If that was my child......", coupled with pat stereotyping of children behaving "that way" in public and therefore what kind of parenting they "had not received" had more than once been my response. Cat Lover humbled me within three days of being under my charge.

Cat Lover arrived at my home with a white bear, a garbage bag of belongings, gum in her matted curly thick hair, sad crystal blue eyes and a TEMPER!! She trudged up my front walk with her head down at the age of just three and entered our home. The worker gave me a brief synopsis of everything they knew about her and her five year old sister (Songbird), which was very little and left. I closed the door and found Cat Lover standing in the living room clutching her bear beside a bean bag chair she had carefully placed to hide the puddle she had just left. My heart broke instantly and this sweet child had grasped hold of it and now owned a piece of it forever. Within days what had started as withdrawn, quiet whispers had become raging, loud screams that were often accompanied by furniture moving.

Undaunted I forged ahead determined to make a difference and get things under control in short order. Our first outing occurred only two days later while Chief was at work. I had a few errands to run and afterwards decided to stop at a local coffee shop and take my three girls in for a treat. I was a "new mom" once again after seven long years of waiting and I was proud to be out with my children. I ordered coffee for myself and chocolate milk and donuts for the girls and basked in the many smiles, and nods of acknowledgement I got as the girls all held hands and waited patiently for our order to take their seats. We couldn't have been seated for more than a minute when the unthinkable happened. To this day I don't know if it was the wrong kind of donut, the temperature of the milk, the colour of sprinkles or the way the wind was blowing but Cat Lover burst into a rage and started punching and kicking me as I tried to lovingly scoop her into my arms to find out what had prompted her outburst. It didn't take me long to realize the entire coffee shop was now glaring at me with judgement bursting from their pores as I obviously had no control over the situation. As calmly as possible I gathered this flailing child in my arms and left praying that my then seven year old would have the presence of mind to bring her new five year old sister and my purse to the van. I thought I was going to die. The two older girls climbed in the van silently and after putting Cat Lover in her car seat, confining her in her seat belt ducking punches and kicks I pulled out of the parking lot in tears. What had just happened? Why were people assuming they knew what was going on. Didn't they understand what this poor angel had been through in her short little life? My embarrassment turned to anger as the picture of the sea of disapproving faces burned on my mind kept flashing in front of me. As I drove down the road trying to drown out the screaming with a Fruit of the Spirit Kids Cd, I was suddenly and irreversibly convicted of my own behaviour in the past. I had been one of those people. I had stood confidently categorizing and judging. I had determined on more than one occasion for sure that there was obviously no parenting going on. Surely they weren't doing their job! Never...........NEVER again would I stand in judgement of a situation going terribly wrong.

It's hard to believe isn't it! She is so darn cute!

Sorry for the quality and size of this picture but it's the best I could do. I think it still clearly shows what seems impossible. This child could move full five drawer dressers in front of closed doors while on a time out.

Now she is a beautiful 11 year old! She still has a really bad temper but daily is learning new coping mechanisms and has stepped outside of her comfort zone to take on...ballet, piano, and is becoming quite a good artist. Over the last seven years she has learned alot but so have I....who has taught who??

Active.... Accident Prone....


Happy Birthday Cat Lover!!!!!

You are a special gift!!!!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Christmas at Last!

Finally.....after all the prep and all the waiting....Christmas morning arrived!

Karate Kid broke the record this year arriving at our bedside with the lame excuse that his clock had stopped and was it time to get up yet!! Oh good grief...that takes the cake. I had to get up just to see if he had actually come up with this one on his own and to my amazement...the darn clock had actually stopped!!! Back to bed he was instructed to go and the next anticipation, excitement ridden child did not arrive until nearly 7 o'clock. Now that's more like it!!

Ok....the usual routine...Mom and Dad have to go down first put all the lights on and get the cameras ready and of course make sure we have everything in order for the smoothest morning possible (translated....we put a big pot of coffee on!)

The kids wait anxiously for the ok and smile accordingly for the "I can't take it any more Mom" picture on the stairs. Then they are sprung and surprisingly without looking into the living room come to the dining room table to see if Santa ate the cookies and left a note! He always does!

Then the fun begins.......every year gets a little easier. The children are really good at taking turns and not surprisingly the morning goes without a hitch!

Some years we seem to get it just right and this year happened to be one of them. Cries of "Mom and Dad this is just what I wanted!", "OH, this is so cool!", "Can I try it out now!", "Will you help me put this together!", and the most important one overheard this year by Princess......"Wow I am so blessed!" It's good to note here that she was talking to herself and didn't even lift her eyes as I watched her examine her favourite gift! I guess we've done something right along the way!


It is especially fun to watch the cat crawl inside a box and look at me through the cello window as if to say "Help!! It's not right you put me in here!!! INJUSTICE!!! GET ME OUTTA HERE!!!"


Family Traditions!

As our family has grown "exponentially" in the last seven years one thing has stood out for me. The importance of family time and family traditions must take center stage. For Stable Chick these things have always been in place, but for some of the other children, a good portion of their lives were spent with a pretty large void in the place of traditions and family memory making in the positive sense. So.....we kicked it into overdrive and have done all we can to create the childhood we want them to remember while engraving on their hearts the proper heart attitude in everything we do.

Don't get me wrong...there are times we fall down in our efforts and there are times we can be disappointed in the results, but there is no lack of trying here!

Christmas definitely signals a time of much tradition! Sure there are all the ones leading up to Christmas Eve but the one the children start reminding me of very early in the season is the one that this year I left (as usual) a little late in starting. Like I don't know they expect that soft, wrapped gift right before going over to Grandma and Papa's house! Yup Christmas jammies!

Every year I carefully choose the fabric for each child based on their current favourite colours and whims. I trudge around my local fabric outlet looking for just the right selection and if I leave it until the last minute (as if that isn't the way it always goes!!!) I can manage a sale on flannel that makes the cost a little easier to swallow. No longer is it cheaper to have homemade PJ's...nope....this isn't about having seven children and not being able to afford Christmas pj's this is "all" and I mean ALL about the expectation of the homemade sort and the love that Mom puts into making them!!

I say this as if it is torture or too much work but surely you understand I wouldn't have it any other way! There is nothing better than the faces of my kids as they sit knowing what's in the carefully wrapped....(Yup wrapped even though they know what's in it!!!!) gift and waiting for me to give the ok to rip into it!!!

The trick here is that I must prepare them without anyone knowing which fabric or style I have chosen for each. They all give me their preference....you know ribbing or not, short sleeves or long, "Mom....I'd like pink with little monkeys wearing purple hats and orange mittens"....I try my best!!

Off to Grandma and Papa's for treats and a short visit. We take this time to give them a small gift and spend some quality time. This year we got them a digital frame and loaded some of their favourite pictures of the children on it. They really are cool.....I think I'd like to get one for us also!


A local feed and supply store always prepares a Nativity scene that the children look forward to every year. The display itself helps to reinforce the real reason we celebrate Christmas and that certainly isn't lost on the children but I have to be honest and say that they look forward to seeing the animals.

This year is seems they had to find a new camel since the last one was not too impressed with all the children gaulking at her and she became a little "distressed" (translated nasty!), so meet MOE!

Despite being segregated for fear of repeat "naughty" camel behaviour the children still spent much time getting as close to the large one humped beast as possible, stuffing hay through the fence at him and talking to him.

There were several sheep and two very cute lambs, one of which we didn't get a great look at because defying all stereotypes of these woolly beasts it exhibited intelligence and remained under the risers they had constructed so as to stay protected from the falling snow and stay warm! Who said sheep were "dumb"?

My favourite.............the donkey..........he looks alot like Eeyore don't you think? Man was it snowing that night and for a moment I questioned, "Why doesn't that silly thing go under the shelter?".

It didn't take long for him to realize parts of his anatomy were a little chilly so......

Notice the orange warming lamp...This "A" double "S" strategically placed his "A" double "S" right under it and it still makes me chuckle....

So as we approached Christmas and the crazy schedule of "here there and everywhere" we stopped to spend some family time.....we did alot of that this year and I am very grateful.....the kids are still talking about Moe and we'll be sure to visit the nativity scene next year in an effort to continue to focus our eyes on the Christ child's birth amidst the commercialism we refuse to let impact all that is important.