Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Finicky Bath Baby

After weeks of giving Julia turbo-speed baths with her wailing the entire time (while her siblings filed in one at a time each crying in sympathy, wondering what kind of bath torture device I was using on their sweet innocent sister), I finally came up with a solution!

She didn't cry. She didn't wail. My little bathroom didn't transform into Grand Central Station.

It was bliss. It was wonder. I was to-ta-lly thuh-rilled!

Something about that face makes me think she enjoyed having Chloe hold her while I bathed her.

Monday, November 29, 2010

I Love This Time of Year!!

If you've been (like me) patiently waiting for the Vision Forum sales to get better-- they have!! The Christmas Sale is here!! And check out today's "deal of the day"! The new Jonathan Park CD is HALF PRICE! I jumped up and did a triple cartwheel when I saw that! The kids are going to flip!

Remodeling Tip

Uh oh! What's going on at the Clark house? Could it be. . . remodeling?!

Oh surely they wouldn't dive into a remodeling project with 7 kids, one of them a crawling baby! Gasp!
Oh but we did. BUT I have learned one thing after 3 houses worth of remodeling: be patient with the process. And since I am determined to learn this hard lesson, it's going to take forever to finish this project. And that's OK!! (Or so I keep telling myself)

Here's my tip: To make clean up super fast and easy, place a grocery bag over the paint tray.
Fits perfectly.
When you're done:
  1. place the roller in a clean bread bag and tie a twisty tie tightly around the metal part of the handle. Place in the freezer.
  2. Remove the paint-covered grocery bag inside out and toss in the trash can.
  3. Only clean the paint roller when you're totally finished with the project.
I LOVE simplicity!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

You're Invited

Calling all big families. I'll be hosting a blog carnival to answer all the burning questions people have about making it all work in a big family. Every other week, I'll have a topic for you to blog about and then you can link to your blogpost here.

Are you in?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Attitude is Learned

How wrong is this commercial? Let me count the ways.
Entitlement. Unthankfulness. Vanity. Oh my, I could go on.

I remember when we first got our minivan. Somebody joked: No more cool car. Now you're a minivan mom.
The truth is: I loved that minivan. It was big. It had room for our three kids AND all their stuff and friends could ride with us. And it turned on a dime. I loved that thing!

But now, we joke about how utilitarian our 15 passenger van is. It doesn't have 18 cup-holders. It doesn't have reclining benches. It doesn't have a lot of things, frankly. But it does have 7 of my children. And a huge trunk. And we can now take a whole 'nother family with us (as long as they're a small family).
I love our big giant van. LOVE it! And the kids do too. They love all the leg room they have now. They love that we can fit two weeks worth of groceries in the trunk (and for us, that's a whole lotta groceries) and still have room for all their footballs and soccer balls (because you never know when you might need them). They love that they can lie down in the back on long trips.

Protect your children from the self-centered media. Teach them what nonsense it is to say "you deserve it" in light of scripture. Teach them that being a good steward of their money is more valuable than feeding their pride.

And be thankful for the vehicle God gave you to transport your most precious cargo.

P.S. What's up with a boy wearing skin-tight jeans? Is that the fad for boys too now? Oh my! Skin tight jeans and a girlie haircut. Ugh. I have no words.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Discoveries of the Day

I've recently discovered:

  • if you leave an earthworm in a box of dirt for a month, it really stinks
  • if you leave a diaper on a baby for too long, you have to peel it off
  • poetry is far easier for kids to memorize than math facts
  • sarcasm is a hard (and really bad) habit to break
  • when you stay home a lot, you save a lot of money
  • I don't like staying home a lot
  • the library has almost everything I want to read
  • emailing InterLibrary Loan requests makes me very happy
  • Vision Forum sales get better and better the closer Christmas gets
  • Vision Forum's deal of the day was a genius marketing strategy
  • I wish I'd thought of it
  • I have a compulsive desire to make people think my life is easier than it really is
  • homeshooling 7 children is hard; no matter what I tell you
  • God's grace is always sufficient, but I have to ask for it first

Monday, November 22, 2010

How to Avoid Homeschool Burnout

My first year of homeschooling, I had only one goal: not to burnout. What I wanted most was to enjoy homeschooling, so I figured if I still loved it at the end of the year, it would have been a successful year.
It worked.
I started out planning to complete this and that and check everything off my list. But Elena wasn't soaring through the phonics book like I expected she would and Chloe had a hard time writing left to right, forget about how neat her penmanship was. So I backed up. I slowed down. I readjusted my goals. Ok, so it might take 3 months instead of 2 to get to lesson 50. Um, wrong. Try again. Ok, maybe it will take 6 months instead of 3. That's ok; we're still making progress.
I just kept slowing down and backing up until my academic goals for the year were way different than my original plan. Of course, you have to know my personality to know what a big deal this was for me. I'm a go-getter. I'm motivated. I'm driven. I will push myself to do whatever people say I can't.
Pushing myself to accomplish a lot in homeschooling means I'm exasperating my kids and wearing myself out. I didn't want that.
At the end of that first year, I was so excited to start year 2. I had avoided the all-too-common first year burnout! The year was a success!
And I am still learning to readjust my expectations. I want my children to love learning. I don't want my children to know gobs of trivia but hate learning.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Continued Discussion: What We Would Do

So, yesterday I asked how you would handle it if your daughter got pregnant out of wedlock. I loved Faith's answer: Encourage them to place the child for adoption in a 2 parent family.
But the girl in the book rejected that option, so I was thinking of what we'd do if our daughter wanted to keep her baby. Kyle and I stayed up late one night talking about it because I was so frustrated by the book at that point.
If our daughter had a baby out of wedlock or lost her husband after they had children, it's the same solution for us. We'd take her in. The most important thing for us would be keeping our grandchild out of daycare. Our daughter would go back to being in the daughter role-- helping clean house, helping plan meals, helping to buy groceries and cooking meals, all while caring for her child. I would not take over as mother to her baby. I would want her to mother her baby, for the sake of their relationship.
While Stacey lived with us, she was able to breastfeed her baby, Mariah. I homeschooled Stacey and we discouraged her from getting a job to "help pay her way". Although Stacey eventually chose to go back to a very different lifestyle, just that one year of caring for and nursing her baby was very worthwhile in our opinion.
We would not tell our daughter she has to leave home all day and go to work. There are plenty of stay-at-home jobs she could do to earn money while not giving her baby over to someone else to care for.
But we would definitely strongly encourage her to place her child for adoption in a 2 parent family; doing what's best for the child is the most loving sacrifice.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What Are Your Goals for Them?

What do you most want your children to learn?

I recently finished a fiction book that I almost quit. It was all about the relationships between mothers and daughters and how easily they can misunderstand each other. It was really frustrating to read how much these families hurt each other unintentionally just because they didn't understand each other.

In one part of the book, a college girl finds herself pregnant out of wedlock. (No, she wasn't a Christian at the time.) She reluctantly goes home to her parents. Wanting to help her learn to stand on her own two feet, they tell her they will care for her child while she works until she's paid them back for everything they did for her (paying hospital bills, etc, etc.) She wanted to be with her child so badly, she worked all the time, so she could hurry up and pay off her debts. Meanwhile, her child was learning to love her grandparents and is developing almost no relationship with her mother.

She did learn to stand on her own two feet. She became independent and confident in her ability to take care of herself and provide for her child. But she also missed out on the first several years of her child's life.

What would you do if it was your daughter?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Why We Don't Have TV Service

In a nutshell: A couple years ago, we got rid of DirecTv and our beloved Tivo. We switched to just Netflix. Then we did the unthinkable, we got rid of Netflix too. Our library has gobs of DVDs and our church library has tons too. We don't lack for reasons to sit and be entertained.

I think it's funny when people say: "Did you hear about. . .?" and then they stop themselves. "Oh, no I guess you wouldn't have. You don't have tv." I say: we do have internet. ;)
The great thing about the internet is you only read what you want to read. You don't have to listen to a bunch of bad news while waiting to hear the weather report. Which brings me to my point.

At a get-together, someone said: "Did you hear about the mom who . . ." (I'll save you the gory details, because I sure didn't want to hear them.) She said it all so flippantly. I put my hands over my ears and said "Nuh-nuh-nuh, I don't want to hear about that, thank you."

I explained that I hadn't heard about it because we don't have tv service (and those aren't the kinds of stories I go looking for). She looked dumbfounded.

I don't miss being so used to hearing about the evils of the world that I become desensitized to it all. I don't want stories of moms who do horrendous things to their precious children to stream out of my mouth as if it were a weather report.

I don't miss having tv service.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Keeping Perspective

I struggle with getting frustrated with my kids. That whole 2 part post on teaching children to think -- that was for me. I know that I need to do that, but I still struggle with frustration about why I have to do it. I want my kids to pick up the jacket instead of stepping over it. (Nevermind that plenty of 20-year-olds do the same.)
In the midst of a season of frustration, little reminders will pop up to remind me to focus on the big picture:
  • Three times in one day, I overheard Maya tell someone that I was her best friend
  • Lydia was running out the door, but stopped in her tracks, ran back to me to kiss me and say: "I love you and I think you're cute"
  • A perfect stranger comes up to me just to tell me my kids are polite
  • Isaac draws a picture of him hugging me, with a bubble above his head that says: You're the best mom ever
  • A friend tells me what a joy it is having my family over, because my kids are so well behaved
And suddenly I realize what a wretch I am for taking my sweet children for granted.

Today, focus on all the things your kids do right. See if it doesn't change your attitude.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Children's Church

I've been thinking a lot about the benefits and drawbacks of keeping children in worship. We have been to a lot of churches where children's church is not only available, but where parents are strongly encouraged to send their kids. Ushers will come and tell parents where their children should be and the church bulletin even says something along the lines of "your children will be happier and have more fun if they go to children's church".

2 year olds go to the 2 year old class, 1st graders go to the 1st grade class, teenagers go to youth group, young marrieds to the young married class, seniors to the senior class, etc. etc. We are segregating our churches exactly like the world segregates by age. If mentoring is taking place, it's not by the parents but by some professional (i.e. youth pastor). This type of divided family worship is not modeled in scripture. Instead parents are exhorted to disciple their own children (Deut 6:6-7).

At our church, one children's church class is available to children under 6. Half the parents send their kids; half worship as a family. The idea is: If your kid isn't old enough to understand all that is being preached in the service, they can attend children's church where a sermon will be suited more to their understanding. My question is this: if you have children's church, do you think you are finding out about it when your kid disobeys or has a bad attitude in class? Or if you teach children's church, do you tell parents when they need to discipline their child for some heart issue?

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
-Deut. 6:6-7
It is our responsibility as parents to disciple our children in the Word. (From the scripture above, it sounds like we're supposed to be training our children all. the. time.) So, if it's our job to disciple them, what difference does it make if there is one hour a week where they hear teaching they don't totally understand? How often do they hear you and hubby or you and a friend talking about things they don't completely understand? Is it better that you are able to be there with them to correct heart attitudes as they pop up?

Hubby and I were recently talking about the fact that in the past year at least, we have never had a children's church teacher tell us that Daniel or Lydia disobeyed or had a bad attitude in class. And we were both confident that it's not because they obey perfectly and always have great attitudes. ;)

I don't have answers, only questions. But I'm thinking about it. . .

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Book Review: First Things First

I was so excited about this book. Being the mom of a large family, I love reading about how other large families do things. The title sounded very promising. The book focuses on two main themes: the importance of the family's faith, and the fact that although the head of the household is an NFL celebrity, they're really just like everybody else. They did a very poor job of communicating these themes.
First, Kurt was not a believer at the time that professing believer, Brenda, met him. That didn't stop her from pursuing a relationship with him, despite the fact that this man who was unequally yoked with her would soon become the leader and father of her two children. According to him, she kept pushing him to "pray a simple prayer". It is not we, by our little prayers, who save us. God alone saves who He wishes (John 3:7-8). It is the fruit of our repentance that proves our salvation is true, not the fact that we prayed a simple prayer. (Matthew 7:16-23)
The Warners communicate a very real desire to show that their life is no easier than anyone else's. Their children, even the three-year-old twins, are away from their family the majority of the day, but they still have a full-time nanny and housekeeper. Brenda also says that she "needs" time each week with her girlfriends. Now, I will be the first to agree that time with girlfriends is a real treat and I love that time together. But to say that it is a need is completely unbiblical. Tell that to all the apostles who died a martyr's death and lived a life of pain and persecution for the sake of the gospel.
This book would be an encouraging, even inspiring, read to an unbeliever. But it truly has no place as a Christian book.

If you believe that you are saved because you prayed a prayer once upon a time, please examine yourself according to 2 Cor. 13:5 to see whether you are truly in the faith. If you look and act and think like the world, please consider whether you are truly saved. I John is the test. Does it describe you? The results can be life-changing. :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Are You a Neanderthal? I am!

So many Christians threw their support to Sarah Palin when we had a choice, ignoring the fact that she was away from her newborn special needs baby while she was campaigning from early morning until late at night. I'm not sure which is the worse evil: socialism or feminism.
Feminists say women should have a choice, but they only approve of one choice: leaving your children in daycare all day while you work. I recently heard Meryl Streep say: Once women experienced that fulfillment (of working outside the home), they never wanted to go back.
What a lie! Once they experienced the paycheck, their guilt was numbed and they happily traded a relationship with their precious children for all the things they could now buy for themselves. But then they needed "me" time (more time away from their children) because they were so exhausted after a day of trying to be employee and mom.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I Don't Want to Quit!

The other day, I was venting my homeschool frustrations to Kyle. He always sees things from a different perspective (he's a man, go figure), so he has good solutions for me to try. Anyway, this particular time I apparently had quite a few frustrations. Kyle said: It sounds like you aren't enjoying homeschooling. Do you want to quit?

I was taken aback. What?! Quit homeschooling?! Homeschooling is my life. It consumes my time and my thoughts: Is this curriculum working? Do I need to try something different? Is she an auditory or visual learners? Why did he respond that way? How should I have taught that concept better? etc. etc.

I was so shocked that he said that. He loves that we homeschool. He's so proud of what they're learning and how they're developing socially and emotionally as a result. I am too. Maybe I complain too much.

I said: When you come home from work complaining that some guy was really rude to you, or shocked that somebody left the coffee maker running with no coffee pot under it (yes, this really happened. A grown-up. Can you believe it?), I never ask if you want to quit. Those things happen. It's real life.

I am very careful not to express my homeschooling frustrations with people who don't homeschool. They think I must not like it. But Kyle loves his job. Even though people are sometimes really rude. Even though people sometimes act really dumb or thoughtless.
I love homeschooling. That doesn't mean it's easy. It's the hardest thing I've ever done.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Need Your Advice

*This is not a picture of our kitchen. But it sure is pretty, isn't it? ;)

1. We need a new dishwasher. We use it everyday. What do you recommend? If you have a big family, I really want to know what you have.
2. We also need a new vacuum cleaner. We don't have any carpet, but we do have rugs. I want good attachments. What do you recommend?


Note: There will be no monetary reward for information provided. You will receive your reward in heaven (if we buy what you recommend. and are happy with it. and if there are appliance review rewards in heaven.)

When We Were a Two Kid Family

Man, I love looking at baby fat. And this little girl sure had a ton of it! Guess who?

Wondering what I did to elicit that look of shock and dismay. . .

Sibling love makes me melt. I melt multiple times a day nowadays. I don't mind.

Name these kids.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Book Reviews: the Good and the Not-So Good

In his new book, Max Lucado uses the Book of Acts to challenge Christians to make the most out of our lives by making a positive difference in the lives of others. Adopt, feed the hungry, give to the poor, care for the homeless, etc. I was very excited about this book and kept waiting for the bottom line: share the gospel with those you are ministering to. But in the chapter with that exact theme, Lucado misses the point entirely. He reduces evangelism to telling people that Christ died for their sins. That's the good news, only if you first know the truth of the bad news: you are a sinner. Nowhere does Lucado suggest pointing out to sinners their true state, although it is clearly how Jesus witnesses every single time. I was so eager to praise this book and was so very disappointed. The goal of this book was to remind us all that we are called to be servants in Christ and we can all make the most out of our lives. But unless our ultimate goal in serving is to share the true gospel of Christ, "all our good deeds are like filthy rags". (Isaiah 64:6)

The book that changed Kirk Cameron's life and led him to join forces with Way of the Master ministries, is changing my life as well. This book is will open your eyes in a way that will make you ask: How did I miss this?!
If you are dismayed by the overwhelming number of so-called Christians who are turning away from the faith, this book will give you the reason and a hope for change. If you want to share the gospel with unsaved friends and family, but are afraid of rejection, this book will give you the encouragement you need. If you aren't sharing your faith at all, you desperately need this book. It will change your life.
I cannot recommend it highly enough. Truly.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

How Do You Socialize a Homeschooler?

This is hilarious!

I would have stopped halfway through this argument, though, and not said: "These are the ways my kids are socialized: blah, blah, blah". That misses the point entirely in my opinion.

What do you think?

Monday, November 1, 2010

The U.N. and Little Green Men

What do you think? Are we wasting gobs of money accomplishing nothing or what??