Parental Favorites

You know, there is something that I have never completely understood and that is parental favoritism. In the Bible, for example, Isaac and Rachel each had a favorite child between their two sons. Isaac favored Esau and Rachel preferred Jacob. This is so bizarre to me. I have five children and I could not pick a favorite from among them. The thought of losing any of them is horrible. They all make me smile, piss me off, make me want to hug them and make me want to strangle them.

I could no sooner pick one child above the others than I could stop breathing. Yet favoritism seems rampant. I just don’t understand it. Then again there are a lot of things people do that I don’t understand. I guess that’s why I’m not a people person. All the emotions confuse me.

What I do know is this: my children are a part of me. I carried them inside me for nine months only to give birth to each without the aid of drugs. Each one of them is my favorite. Each one I would protect with my all.

I can’t help but wonder what a parent feels exactly for the non favorite child.

Hug all your children tight tonight!

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A Day in my Homeschooling Life

There are many blogs out there where different moms profile their typical homeschooling days. Mine have finally settled into some semblance of order all I thought I’d join the throng!

I usually wake up between 6 and 7, sometimes earlier and rarely later. It all depends on when the boys wake up. They co-sleep in a sidecar crib beside our bed, with Mark next to me in the king size bed. Rarely, my alarm wakes me up. Usually, it’s one of the boys. We all tumble out of bed, I wake up the girls, and begin my morning routine. First getting dressed, making the bed and crib, starting some clothes in the wash, and getting children dressed. After that I make breakfast. This morning was biscuits and gravy. I wish I’d had sausage but alas. It was still tasty.

I usually get Lilly started on her homeschool while I make breakfast, after she’s gotten ready and tidied up her room. She starts with her Bible lessons and we sit in the kitchen with our tablets while I cook. Usually the preschoolers all play in the dining room or watch Netflix on their tablets during this time. Sometimes she can get started on math before breakfast but usually this is time to eat so we put everything on hold while all the kids gather around the game to eat. I take the time to check email, games, etc on my tablet. I also set up all the tabs I needed for the various school levels. I use Easy Peasy Homeschool Curriculum. It’s a free online Christian curriculum and I’ve really taken to it. We started it around October and are getting close to wrapping up the first year using this curriculum. My kids really love it and it’s all online all they get to use their tablets for most of it, which they like.

Anyways after breakfast and cleanup, the preschoolers wander off again for a bit till 9:30 or so while I continue working with Lilly. I take this time to do any read aloud material we may have for that day. At present we’re reading Viking Tales. Big joke in this house while singing that and making up lyrics to the tune of the Dragon Tales tv show theme song lol.

Finally I send Lilly off to the dining room to work on math, history, and reading while I put Mark down for his first nap then pop the clothes into the dryer. Then I bring in the little ones for their preschool. It consists of me reading them a bible story, followed by some preschool work on Easy Peasy. I also include some kind of fine motor skills activity each day. Right now they’re having fun learning to play with tangrams. Finally I read them a story, often from a library book.  All in all their school takes somewhere between one to two hours. Mark usually wakes up about halfway through, around 10:30. When we finish preschool it’s lunch time. We all eat lunch then cleanup and I put all the under five crew down for a nap.

Naptime is some of our most productive time of the day. We finish up science, writing, vocabulary, art, music, p.e., or whatever other subjects she may have that day. I also finish up my laundry. Sometimes I bake during this time. I try and get outside and walk/run with Lilly at this time too. Right now that exercise mostly resembles walking as I am most certainly not a runner right now lol. Maybe one day. I also use this time to get a good start on cleaning for the day.

Around 2 (sometimes 3!) the crew wakes up, though Mark usually wakes up around 1. This means of course that by the time the others wake up, Mark is ready for a nap! Alternating nap schedules are so much fun!  The rest of the afternoon is spent talking to children, breaking up fights, making and cleaning up after snack, and then at 4, getting dinner started.

From 4 till dinner is ready I digitize school work into Google Drive. Paper has a short life expectancy in my house. It always seems to grow legs and wander off into some dark hole, often the trash. So I take snapshots of all their schoolwork and store it in Google Drive. I also finish my day’s housework. Finally around 6 is dinner then cleanup. Three days a week we do baths for all the kids and then at 7 the boys go to bed followed shortly thereafter by the girls at staggered intervals. Evening is my quiet time for doing research, writing in my blog (lol), doing work for the business Shane and I are trying to start up, crafts, reading, etc.

It’s a busy schedule but I really love it. I am never bored. That is something I could never claim when I worked in an office. I almost always go to bed sore and tired but it’s so worth it. I get to spend a day enjoying my kids, teaching them, cleaning house, and baking like I live in Little House on the Prairie. I still don’t have time to do half the stuff I want to but alas I try.

Anyways I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my typical homeschooling day!

A Word of Caution About Technology

Sorry I’m late with this week’s entry. I debated about not doing one at all. We’ve been going through a lot of issues here and it’s been stressful.  I’ve spent a lot of time with my head buried under the covers this week lol.  I had someone on a Facebook group I’m in suggest that we may be under demonic attack. I’ve never really read much about that our thought about it really but it makes me wonder lol. Luckily I have God there to keep my spirits high so my lows are really short lows.

Anyways my cell phone plan recently came up for renewal which means the option of getting a new phone. Now I was still happy with my Galaxy s3 but Shane had no phone. He had used one of my phone upgrades to get an iPhone and then one of the kids put it in a glass of tea. Then he used another line upgrade to get a rugby. That one lasted a while. It meant I had my iPhone for like for years though lol. He finally said I deserved an upgrade so we had two line upgrades and upgraded both our phones to Galaxy s3 phones. We loved them. Then his fell out of his pocket one day and he ran over it with the car. No upgrades in sight. I searched online and finally found a used smartphone that was less than $100. He dropped that one on the ceramic tile of the bathroom and cracked the screen. Now we had no upgrades and there were not currently any used phones online that we could afford. I had my upgrade coming up in March and I thought he would use that to get another phone. Instead he surprised me. He said he wanted me to upgrade my phone and he would take my s3.

I looked for what was an actual upgrade that was free. I settled on the s4 active. It’s kind of like an s4 lite. Nevertheless I’m happy with it…now. When I first got it I found I was unable to use my previous launcher (Homee) because it kept crashing. This for very annoying very fast.  It worked fine on my s3 but apparently there was some conflict on my s4 active. So I tried using the default launcher. This was fine for a week or so but then I started noticing odd missed calls. Eventually I got around to looking up the number and find out it was my local police department!  Then I noticed I had some OUTGOING calls to 911! I certainly wasn’t doing the dialing but I had a good idea I knew who it was. See the default launcher on my phone had this obnoxious emergency dialer area where you can dial 911 and emergency contacts. And I could find no way to turn this off. I often let David use my phone (in kids mode mind you) but he liked to turn the phone off and then the only features he could access were my lock screen and the emergency dialer.

All was not lost though! I downloaded Go Launcher Ex and Go Locker. Now I have a pretty launcher again but no non emergency toddler 911 calls!

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“Ten More Just Like You!”

Have you ever heard someone “threaten” their children by saying, “I hope you have green mute just like you!”  My parents used to say it to me. I have since learned that it means you’re a handful. Apparently my parents’ curse came true lol. I don’t have ten more like me but I do have five plus three step children!  And they are all handfuls. I think I shall refrain from passing down the parental curse though lol.

First take Lilly. She is really smart but in role-playing terms she’d have a high int score but a low wis score. There are times she makes the absent minded professor look like he’s completely on his game. She is super smart but such a daydreamer. This is not necessarily a bad thing though because she is amazingly creative. It was pretty much impossible to discipline her a lot of times because, for example, if I sat her in time out she would use her hands as toys and make them talk to each other.

Next is Sierra. She is very compassionate and charismatic. She’s a natural leader. I have watched her just standing around and flocks of people come to her and within twenty minutes she is the leader and everyone is following her direction. The problem with this lies in the fact that she’s four and doesn’t always make the best decisions. I call her my little mastermind. She very much has her brothers dancing on strings. If trouble is brewing, she is likely the one who instigated the problem.

Then I have incredibly shy and sensitive Jordan. Around strangers I can’t get him to even look at them much less talk. Yet around the house he is so sensitive. If someone messes with his hair for example he screams SO loud you would feel like your ear drums were exploding. Anyone wrongs him, high pitched squeals follow. Sometimes I swear he is channeling aborigines or speaking in tongues because he comes to me and speaks absolute gibberish in that high pitched squealing voice of his. It was worse when he couldn’t speak. Then he would just now and hit people while bawling his eyes out. Now that he can talk he’s generally a much happier but he still is so high strung. He has amazing engineering like qualities though. He is utterly obsessed with taking things apart, as well as turning light switches on and off, buckling belts, taking batteries out of and putting them back in things…  it will be interesting to see what he grows up to do.

Enter poor misunderstood David. He is at that “I know what I want but I can’t talk to tell you” phase which results in a good bit of screaming, hitting, throwing, and biting. I have learned to communicate with him, as has Sierra. He is really funny. He is also super strong and very brave. Sometimes Jordan is afraid to go dinnerware because it’s dark but David will just storm in which gives Jordan the necessary courage needed to face the dark lol. I have seen Jordan and Sierra grunting and struggling to pull something across the room and David comes up and just zooms it across the room like it’s nothing. He is the always on the go child. If I could harness his energy we would be able to power a small city for years.

Finally there is Mark. So far he is the best natured of all my children but it is still early yet. He always has a smile for everyone. He does have his moments though, related primarily to his limited mobility of crawling and everyone else’s ability to run into other rooms. It is somewhat satisfying to have everyone else try and quiet him down unsuccessfully but then instant hush when I hold him!

With as interesting as my children are it makes me wonder what I was like as a child!

Understanding God

I don’t think I, or any other human on this planet, can ever fully understand God. But there are moments of clarity. Moments when the lightbulb over your head flashes on, if even for a moment or two. There are times when you just KNOW. I think these are times God is speaking to your heart. At least that’s how it is for me. I recently had one of these moments while I was watching my boys lay down for their nap.

To say my boys are high strung would be putting it very mildly. Even though they’re only three and almost two, these two boys both have VERY strong personalities and a mighty sense of self worth. I have watched them chase each other around the house trying to get the other back for hitting him, only to have the hittee start chasing the hitter back to get HIM back!  They will screech at the top of their lungs if someone looks at them funny – and this is not an expression; they literally screech and scream. It is ear piercing. My house is very loud whenever they’re awake.

Enter naptime. The other day had been a particularly trying day. David had been unusually obnoxious. He was throwing crayons around, breaking them, and making it difficult for Sierra and Jordan to do their school work. He was running into the kitchen every few minutes to do anything from dumping over the sugar bin to getting drinks out of the fridge. Jordan was particularly whiny. Anyone looked at him, touched him, or even had the creation he wanted and the shrill alarm of his voice went off. I was so thankful for naptime. I almost wished I could nap too because I was so exhausted. Even naptime was trying though. They kept playing and being rambunctious plus I had Mark to put to sleep also. Finally though, they settled…and slept.

Now you might imagine I was thankful to be rid of a headache for a few hours. Perhaps I was but I looked over and watched David sleeping. He looked so peaceful. Jordan too. It was hard not to scoop them up and “hug them and squeeze them and call them George”.  It hurt looking at them. I felt so much love for them at that moment. My sweet little pains in the butt. I saw them grown in my mind’s eye. I knew that no matter how bad they acted I still loved them. I knew I hated having to discipline them and I would rather they chose obedience so I could reward them.

Then it occurred to me that surely this is how it is with God. He wants to bless us. He loves us no matter how bad we are and even if we frustrate Him and upset by choosing disobedience He still loves us. It sounds simple but at the time it was a monumental “aha!” moment.

It’s amazing to me how such simple things can bring your mind to God and his love. I often find little examples like that in my life. A lot of times His voice is crowded out because I find myself too busy to listen. But if I can settle myself enough to pay attention to the “still small” voice, I find I learn so much.

Click n Kids Tablet Follow-up

A few weeks ago I posted about how Sierra’s tablet miraculously lived through a dunk in the tub with only minor water damage to the screen. It took a week or so but all of that water completely evaporated. Now there is absolutely no visible water damage!  I was excited as every day I saw less and less water damage but as a former iPhone user, I considered myself blessed to have the tablet functional. When I saw all of the water damage completely disappear I swear I think I did a jig of glee.

We got Jordan another tablet too to replace the one David broke. This time I was smart though. I put the $28 2 year insurance on it. I usually forgo things like that because I usually don’t go around breaking my things. It has been a painful lesson but I have learned I am unique in this behavior. So in order to account for my children’s insane tantrums where they grab the nearest solid object and chuck it at another random child the floor, the wall or all of the above, I got the insurance.

Life is crazy around here and sometimes I feel like my throat is going to go raw from screaming in my feeble attempts to curb the chaos. A lot of days I relish the quiet of naptime and get highly agitated if any of my little ones refuse to cooperate with nap time. Yet I wouldn’t trade one moment of it. Whether it’s children trying to watch Netflix underwater or fingerprinting with the ketchup on my carpet, I love all my children in spite of and because of their high energy, high needs, intense curiosity, high intelligence…  it’s an adventure I’m not in an overwhelming rush to end.

Reflections

I have reached a point where I am so busy that everything is a blur. I don’t know how I got here and I don’t know how to stop it. It’s not necessarily a bad thing and it will give me plenty of memories for the older golden years that I understand to be lonely. Empty nest and all that. Somehow I doubt my life will ever be empty lol. After the kids grow up then will come the grandkids etc. Plus with an empty nest will come the challenges of maintaining my general routine but on a much smaller scale (except for holidays of course!)

It’s funny, too, how life can change in the blink of an eye. I find it fascinating how your petty concerns that seem so enormous one day sudden seem infinitesimally small the next in light of different circumstances. Yet addy the time they seem so insurmountable and impossible to live with and deal with.

I periodically have these flashes of insight where I catch myself reflecting on the moment and wondering how, in the blur of time, I got there.

Yet no matter where life’s crazy roads take us, I knew God intends it for our good. All of our trials and tribulations to test us, strengthen us, and perhaps even to enlighten those around us.

Right now my road involves chasing after toddlers, changing babies, teaching elementary age children. There is a harmony here. It may be a busy song but it is a beautiful one. I don’t think I’d trade a single sleep deprived day of my children for one of absolute quiet and solitude ever. I like quiet and solitude and I do look forward to nap time every day but it’s kind of like taking a pit stop in a car race. You don’t want to not be in the race at all but a brief reprieve is rather necessary to keep all systems functional lol.

Little things that happen can change perspective. Seeing Mark calling around and starting to sample table food, for example, causes me to realize that David is growing up and his irritable protests from his high chair are his way of saying, “Hey I’m growing up and I don’t need to be treated like a baby any more!

Seeing how my mother-in-law still needs to know every detail of Shane’s business to feel self fulfilled makes me realize that one day my boys too will grow up. It makes me wonder… Will I be like my mother-in-law or will I have the strength to let go and realize that they are men – adults in their own right. Or will I forever see them as little boys? For everyone’s sakes I certainly hope it’s the former. I would like to be available to help but at the same time know where my limits are. That shall be the goal to which I strive. Life is too short. And it’s too complicated for me, a mere human, to try and control. I think I will leave the controlling to God.