Accountability in Homeschooling

I need accountability in life.  That’s why I do my to-do list.  Without it I might forget to do things, or I would talk myself out of a project in favor of something useless like watching TV.  But with my to-do lists, it provides me a sense of accountability.

Even this blog is an example of my accountability.  If you go back a few years, you’ll see I posted VERY sporadically.  That’s because it wasn’t on my to-do list.  It got pushed aside for other things going on in life at the time.  Then I decided that needed to change.  So I put it on the list.

Bible reading was the same way.  I kept forgetting to read my Bible until bedtime and by then I’d be too tired to read so I’d just “read it tomorrow”.  Sometimes I had to catch up on six days of Bible reading and as you might imagine, my focus on individual passages was not the greatest as I was more skimming the Bible than focusing and reading it.  (I have to admit I am still sometimes guilty of that but I am trying to actually FOCUS on the words.  With one day of Bible reading that helps out a lot!)

Homeschooling was the same way.  I would homeschool but if there were projects and such I might just say “ah forget about it”.  I would procrastinate and in general get behind.  I think my kids take after me too because without accountability they, too, fall behind.

That’s why I like my current system.

I use OneNote a lot.

For curriculum we are using Easy Peasy because it makes planning easier.  However, unlike before, I don’t let it replace my involvement.  That was the one thing that turned me away from it before is I felt like I wasn’t necessary.  However, experience and practicality have taught me otherwise.  Some examples:

Lilly is in sixth grade and the curriculum does not contain a handwriting lesson.  However, her handwriting is atrocious so I’ve added that to her lessons.  Also, it assumes that she should know her math facts from years earlier but she still is not as adept as I would like so I add XtraMath

Sierra is in first grade.  She really wanted to do more school and short of pushing her forward to grades that had “more school” there really wasn’t anything I could give her that was challenging enough.  She finds preschool and kindergarten work too easy – except she hasn’t yet learned to read.  She can read some NOW, but at the beginning of the year, cat and rat were confusing to her.  So I couldn’t just put her directly in first grade because that assumed a proficient reader.  So I took the reading lessons from the tail end of kindergarten, added some handwriting lessons (because again, no handwriting class), and added XtraMath again and that’s pretty much it.  Occasionally I have to swap out her English lessons because it involves her writing a paragraph or a sentence or something and that would be hard, what with not knowing how to read proficiently yet.  However she’s doing well on phonics sheets, and other such easy worksheets.  And she loves the projects.

Jordan, David, and Mark have a mish-mash of stuff.  They have the Bible reading from Sierra’s lessons, I took the math from the kindergarten level, added XtraMath to Jordan’s math, and then the bulk of their lessons is the preschool english – learning letter sounds, arts, crafts, etc.  Mark just does the letter stuff and a coloring sheet.

This isn’t even mentioning the teenagers’ lessons.  I am having to build their Mythology and Matthew’s computer science course from web resources that aren’t laid out in a nice daily format.  Plus sometimes I am having to create quizzes and such and adding it to their curriculum. 

So I’m very involved.

But there is NO WAY I could organize all of this without OneNote.  As you might well imagine, most of this would fall by the wayside if it weren’t for my organized ways.

Each child has their own Notebook in OneNote for the year.  Within each notebook I’ve written out a section for each of the 180 days in their school year.  On each Day section I’ve written out pages with each of their subjects for that day.  Lilly and Sierra, for example, have Music on Mondays, Art on Wednesdays, and P.E. on Fridays, but Math every day.  It would be very confusing for all seven of my kids to have to know what to do when without this system, I think.

On each page, I copy their assignments from the Easy Peasy site.  I add checkmarks, add any additional items that need to be there, etc.  For example, the teens are supposed to write a journal entry each day for Bible, but the website doesn’t remind them of this.  So I add a checkbox for writing a journal entry every day.  I make sure that lapbooks have “construct your lapbook” days, so that the pieces aren’t done then forgotten.


All of the notebooks and such are on my OneNote account but I opened each child’s individual notebook on their own devices (those children that have devices anyways) so that they aren’t bombarded by all of the notebooks.  They know each day what is required of them.  It took a couple of weeks to acclimate everyone to this system (for example, having them mark off the tasks on David’s and Mark’s school since they were the same as Jordan’s, or reminding Lilly to write her work in her notebooks we bought her).  But now things are moving a lot smoother. 

On Mondays I prepare a week’s worth of lessons at a time.  It usually takes two hours or less, but that’s because I have to write the Mythology class practically from scratch as I go (it exists, but it’s not in a checklist type format and organizing that plus creating tests for it, takes time).  The good thing about that, though, is Emily wanted me to create her two weeks of lessons every week because she thought she’d be able to do two days of work every day and finish early.  It’s not working out like that for her, but I am continuing on my course.  Today I finished Day 120 in her lesson plans  So in six more weeks, my weekly input time for lessons will drastically drop off, as I go from 7 kids to 6 and no longer have to write a course.

The children work on their lessons during the week.  I do Bible lessons in the morning at breakfast with the little guys, and I go over Sierra’s words for the day.  She has to go over them three times a day at different times so I get the first and last time of the day.  Sometimes I have time to get the boys started on their Easy Peasy grammar but not always.

On Fridays, I go over all of the elementary school work.  That would be Sierra and younger.  Mostly I just make sure all the OneNote boxes were checked off, and that the work is all stapled and put into my portfolios I’m keeping for the children and then I reorganize their folders and tidy up their area for the next week.

Saturdays I spend the day baking and prepping food for the next week (breakfast and snacks), plus I go over Lilly’s, Matthew’s, and Emily’s work.  Theirs takes me longer because they’re older and I expect more out of them.  Plus their workload is more.  I am not a task-nazi though.  When they haven’t completed their work, I notate it on my attendance sheet and then give them a screen shot of what they have to make up.


As you can see above, Matthew has quite a bit of work to make up!  But this is because life happens.  So I allow my system to let life happen.  As long as we don’t forget the work, it can be made up as soon as possible.  The dates are representative of the days on which the “Day” was supposed to have happened on.  That’s for my accountability so I can prepare the week, taking into account holidays and such.  Day 5, 10, 15, etc is designed to be on Friday, for example, but when you consider holidays and other days off, it just doesn’t always work out that way.  This allows me to have a sliding schedule.  When they have completed all the work for that day, I check that day off.  At the end of my check session, I enter the dates for the next week’s school lessons.

I like this system for lots of reasons.  Another reason is that, as a working mom, I don’t have access to physical books and such when I’m at work.  If they were working on book work, they’d have to send me screenshots of their books and such.  This is easier.  They just tell me what day and subject they need help with and I can open it up on my phone and offer assistance within minutes.  To me, that is important, because then I am still involved with the learning process.  I don’t have to feel like an outsider looking in.  I am looking forward to the little guys learning how to read so they can start texting me questions.  Right now their lessons are the only ones I really feel left out of, so I try and spend some extra time with them after work to make up for it.

Accountability is a powerful thing.  This system keeps me accountable as a working mom, and it keeps my kids accountable to their schoolwork.  When they have quizzes and online activities, and I can’t be there to “prove” they did it, they are required to take screen shots and paste it into OneNote.  This is good for me because then I don’t have to constantly test them to “prove” they’re learning.  I can see they are simply by the quality of their work.  But more importantly, with the accountability in place, I don’t have to wait until it’s too late to notice a problem.  I can see as they go along what problems they’re having.

It is true that a paper curriculum could do this as well… But with this I don’t have to worry about books getting torn up by my toddlers, I don’t have to worry about papers getting lost, I don’t have to worry about buckets all over the place (this is basically like a virtual workbox system!), and it’s free!  That’s a big thing for me because even though we’re in a better financial position than we were before, I still am supporting eight children which is not cheap no matter how you slice it.  So free is good!

It is a bit of extra work on my part, but the week flows much smoother as a result and everyone gets their work done.  The boys are learning their letters, Sierra is learning to read, Lilly’s cursive is absolutely beautiful, Matthew is learning the importance of time management, and Emily is well on her way to prepping for college.  So for me, the work I put in is absolutely worth the return on that investment as I am creating an orderly, effective school room.

Limiting Screen Time

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time you’d know I’m a huge fan of technology.  However, as with a lot of things, too much of a good thing is a bad thing.  In this case I mean screen time exposure.

Playing games, watching tv, chatting with friends… these are all fun things to do to help the mind unwind from a tedious day of work or school.  Things to do to help you relax and perhaps escape into a world of fantasy for a little while, catch up on the latest news, or whatever entertainment you engage in.

However when it causes you to shuck off chores, get attitude, and in general be a foul person to be around and especially when you’re a child, this is a bad thing.  A VERY bad thing.

Recently Shane finally agreed the teens need screen time limitations.  They were on their devices ENTIRELY too much, and I’ve had screen time limitations in place for my children since the get-go.  So I was a big fan of limiting the teens but for the longest time he wanted to tread lightly since we’d just gotten custody.  Didn’t want to rock the boat too much I guess. 

Anyways they proved multiple times that they couldn’t handle the freedom.  With unrestricted screen time they became bitter, jumping all over their siblings for the slightest disturbance in their free time.  They constantly complained about chores, even though there were not even a fraction of the chores they had to do when they lived with their mom.  Their grades suffered.  They had attitude.  Constantly.  I wanted to slap them upside the head on a regular basis just because of the attitude.  It was a very unpleasant environment.  This went on for about a year until Shane started staying home with the kids and got to see it first hand with himself.  That, combined with severe abuse of their devices in other issues, he agreed to lock them down.

It is a like night and day.

I have a screen time app (ironically called Screen Time!) that lets me limit their time.  There are lots of controls.  I have bedtimes set up, lights out, school time, daily limits, and my personal favorite, blocked apps.  No more Kik which deletes all chat history when someone else logs in.  Talk about a creeper app.

Most importantly though, I have tasks set up. Most of the available tasks are their normal chores, or things they do.  For example, brushing their hair, getting dressed, making their beds.  These things just weren’t getting done amongst the various children and so I created tasks for reward time.  I give them two free hours a day on the weekend and one free hour on school days.  Beyond that they have to use their tasks time.

In addition to regular items, there are chores – their kitchen chores, or mowing the lawn, doing the laundry, etc.  Each task has an amount of reward time associated with it.  I even have tasks available to take their little siblings out to play, and help them brush their teeth.  I made sure everything was there.  Not all the tasks have a lot of time with them.  For example, ten minutes for brushing their hair.  That’s probably a lot but I felt it was important and Lilly just never did it.  However with a screen time reward, it gets done every day now, with very little reminder from me (usually only on days she’s really sleepy on).  Even completing their school work gives them bonus time.

What this system gives me is that the teens are now in a proper “submissive” position.  They no longer have the power when it comes to their devices.  I do.  Well, Shane and I do!  And in my opinion, that’s the way it should be.  When they’re adults, they can have say so over what they do, but until then it’s our job as parents to guide them on the right path.  How can we do that when a huge part of their life is kept hidden behind the screens?

Now they do their chores, not just willingly but almost eagerly because then there are direct rewards.  No other reward system has worked for me.  We’ve just recently added a new level to our reward system too.  I don’t accept their tasks unless they request time.  On Sundays I reward all their remaining tasks and whatever doesn’t get used by lights out, will be converted to cash.  One penny per minute.  And that’s their allowance.

I think this is a great system because it forces them to choose what is more important.  Is watching YouTube all day more important or would you rather buy that shirt at the store?  They get no other money except birthdays and Christmas so this is a big thing I think.  Especially Emily as she just got a phone for her birthday (an actual real working phone, not just one she will use on WIFI as a tablet).  So until she gets a job she needs a way to pay for her service, because we made that a requirement of her having the phone.  We paid for the first two months but after that it’s her responsibility.  I think that’s more than fair, especially considering she’s 18.

I think the only possible flaw is that I may be too generous in my time rewards but that’s something that using the system will tell us.  We’re planning for 10 dollars a week per child.  More or less depending on usage but that’s our target number.

I think it’s great how much more pleasant the teens are under this system too!

Busy Busy Mommy

You know, a lot of people say that the busy season is the Holiday season, right around Thanksgiving until after Christmas.  But I tell you… if you’re a do-it-yourself mommy of a large family, it pretty much starts now and lasts until after the first of the year.  That’s right… about half a year of prep work!

It starts with Halloween.  I basically refuse to buy Halloween costumes for 20 bucks or more.  I may or may not spend more making their costumes, but for one they get to be EXACTLY what they want and for two, my costumes last for years.  The Spiderman costume I made for Jordan two years ago is still in great condition, with the exception of the spider pen markings having faded.  And this is with them playing with the costume as a regular dress up AND article of clothing on a regular basis.  Same with the dress I made Sierra for her fairy princess costume.  She wore that thing at least every week for the past couple of years and she finally had to stop wearing it – not because it was torn up, but because she outgrew it and couldn’t fit her arms into the sleeves anymore.

So yeah, I make the costumes.  I actually started a couple of weeks ago, getting everyone to finalize their Halloween plans.  I’m starting with Lilly’s costume and trying to do one a week until Halloween.  Seven costumes to do after all.  The current line up is as follows:

    • Emily: fairy goth princess, or something to that effect
    • Matthew: still undetermined
    • Lilly: Mangle from Five Nights at Freddy’s (the child is pretty much obsessed with FNaF and Minecraft)
    • Sierra: Batgirl
    • Jordan: Ninja (he was a ninja last year.  Guess he really liked it!)
    • David: Hulk
    • Mark: Sheriff.  I wanted to do an LED stick man, because I think it would look hilarious on a toddler running around, but finances aren’t allowing for that this year and I still have another little guy for another year that I could do this for.  Plus Mark really likes his “pews”.
    • Luke: *IF* I do one for him, which I’m still not 100% sure I will since he won’t actually be GOING trick or treating, it will be a pumpkin.  This is more of a if I have time and finances allow costume.  Plus Lilly kept begging me

So Halloween costumes are going to keep me busy until the end of October.  Emily and Lilly have a birthday next week so I have a cake to make.  I’ll also be throwing in Christmas presents on top of what I already have planned.  I have already crocheted two Christmas presents thus far and I’m going to try and keep my one a week pace.  We’ll see if it happens but that’s my goal.  It’s a lot of work since this is on top of the other work I already do.

As Thanksgiving approaches of course there is the usual festivities of planning and purchasing for the big meal, as well as the prep work involved with that.  Plus at the beginning of November is Sierra’s birthday so I have to plan for that, with a birthday cake. 

Then there’s the usual Christmas decorating, another “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament to buy (plus I have to replace Mark’s because his broke).  Then Christmas cards, planning the Christmas meal, and purchasing whatever Christmas gifts we can. 

Long story short is my evenings for the next few months are going to be filled with sewing, crocheting, and cooking.  It is a busy, busy, busy time.  But it’s well worth it.  I end up spending less, and the kids have more fun.

For example… Lilly’s costume.  She looked up a Mangle cosplay and sent it to me to watch.  It’s basically a skin-tight long sleeve black shirt and black tights, a baggy white tee shirt, some spray paint and makeup, and a little bit of work.  Throw in a pink wig, and a crocheted fox tail and fox ears and she is good to go.  On top of that I have a crochet activity mat I’m going to work on for Luke.  That’s just for this week too!

Fun times.

But if I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t do it!  That’s how I make it work.  I enjoy doing it.  If you don’t enjoy DIY, you probably will talk yourself out of it no matter how frugal it is. 

Pictures will be forthcoming throughout the months as my finished products are completed and utilized!

Until then!

The Importance of Rest

I have posted some of my routine and how I make it work as a working mom.  It is a busy insanely full schedule.  But I have time for everything I *HAVE* to do, as well as time for what I *WANT* to do.  I even have time for a little bit of personal time.

However, in order to fit everything I need to do into a single week, I have to work HARD.  I work from practically the time I wake up until the time I get into bed.  It’s very often frequently “go go go go” all day long.

Until Sunday.

Sunday is my day of rest.

I think it’s extremely important to have a day of rest.  It’s easy to procrastinate and then use Sunday to frantically scramble to get everything done, but I think that’s counterproductive.  The Bible commands a day of rest, and if you read around, it seems as though it’s meant for our benefit, not as a rule.  The “rule” was put in place, I believe, because as people, we tend to fill our time to the max.  Every available minute of time is filled with activity.

Without a commanded day of rest we’d probably always be on the go.  Until we crashed and burned. There’s only so much go you can do before you just have to rest.  You have to give your brain and body time to do nothing.  Or you just have a melt down.

So when I’m tired, or I don’t feel like doing stuff, I remind myself how nice my day of rest is.  Also, if I get my work done early in the week, the rest of the week is kind of lazy going and sometimes I even have time for tv or something during the week.  That’s always a rare treat.  Or I can just lay on the bed and play with my kids.  These are the rewards I work for.  The day of doing nothing.  I could stare at the ceiling if I wanted to.

Yesterday was Sunday and it was awesome.  I finished my three daily chores first thing in the morning (I always set my clothes out for the next day, I always make my bed, and I always read my Bible).  Then for the rest of the day, I basically just chilled.  I played Minecraft with Lilly, Emily, and Matthew for several hours.  I watched some TV.  I prayed.  I played with my little ones.  I did chatted with my mom, who was visiting.  It was extremely relaxing.

Today, it was back to the fray, trying to get done with my weekly chores as early in the week as possible.  Since it was a holiday I worked my tail off today to get almost everything on my weekly list done.  It will make the rest of the week pretty easy going.  And by next Sunday, I’ll definitely be done in time to rest!

Why I’m Happy to be Working Now

It’s so funny.  Years ago, before I had my extended opportunity to be a stay at home mom, I remember how much I hated work.  I remember the seemingly-endless hours day in and day out.  I remember missing me daughter immensely and not being able to do anything about it.  Most of all, I remember feeling trapped.

Then I met my husband, Shane.  He is a wonderful man and even though he felt it would be tough to get by on just his income, he was willing to let me have my dream and let me be a stay at home mom.  I worked really hard at it too.  I learned all kinds of tips to frugality, such as culturing my own sourdough yeast so that I never had to buy another packet of yeast from the store again (homemade bread always seemed cheap till I accounted for having to purchase yeast…).  Now that I can grow my own yeast, no need to purchase it.

I learned about routine – and how to get my house orderly and clean in a routinely manner, week after week, shifting as necessary for life.

I learned that life happens.  And I have to go with the flow. 

I learned about the value of being able to have ANY kind of food on the table.  So I no longer longed for those things I couldn’t have.  I did learn to make my own things like pizza.  I learned how to stretch hamburger to feed my enormous family even “meat centered” meals like hamburgers, hot dogs, fried chicken, and meatloaf.  I learned about buying meat and produce on sale and in bulk so that it cost less in the long run.  I learned about saving the water I cook chicken in for chicken broth later.  I learned to make my own spaghetti sauce and make it taste much better and cost much less.

These were all valuable lessons.

But there was another lesson I learned.

I learned that not having the money to provide for my children was not fun.  I learned that being stuck in the house all day because we couldn’t afford a large enough vehicle was not what I wanted to be doing.  I learned that living in a rotting, decaying, mold-infested building just because it was all we could afford was not where I wanted to be in five years.  I disliked not being able to pay even small $20 medical bills. 

I learned that even others on public assistance look down on you when you have as many children as I do.

No one seemed to care that I wasn’t *ON* public assistance when I had them.  But life happened and there I was – 6 kids and on food stamps and WIC, and trying to pretend I didn’t hear people talk about me when I had to go recertify for WIC.  I hoped no one was giving me the “evil eye” when I would check my grocery items off of my Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone (that I’d had for 3 years, was no longer under contract, and really wasn’t costing me anything) when I then paid for my groceries with my EBT card.

I felt like I didn’t have the right to be poor and on public assistance because I had so many children to take care of. 

Never mind that I had learned to reduce my laundry costs to about a buck or two every several months by making my own laundry detergent.  Never mind that I could make a pack of 24 hot dogs stretch over the ten people in my family for 3 entire meals.  Never mind that I never purchases pre-packaged goods except for very rarely, and usually when we did it was for my husband’s lunches at work.

But now…

Now I work, and I earn enough money that we are no longer on public assistance.  Because of my family size we’re not extravagantly wealthy either, but I’m okay with that.  I’m still using all the tips and tricks that I learned while I was a stay at home mom.  I now use my smartphone and my children’s devices to keep in touch with everyone while I’m working.  I chat with my eldest daughter (and the others two when they learn how to read and write and text), and my two step-children, as well as Shane.  I get pictures and videos sent to me time to time to let it feel like I’m still at home.  I even help my kids with their school work via text messaging.

I’ll post another post later about how things have fallen into place in my routine, with some more details on how I make it all work.

But it is NICE being able to go to the grocery store, and know that I’m buying the groceries with my own money.  It is nice knowing that we can now “afford our kids”, and I don’t have to have a mini-panic attack when I read or hear about people with scathing opinions of those on public assistance with “too many kids”.  It is nice going to the doctor, knowing I can pay the copays, and that I won’t have to sacrifice my children’s birthday present fund in order to buy the prescriptions that are needed.  It is nice being able to afford a nice house to live in, and more importantly, to be able to afford the repairs that are needed as my children inevitably behave like children and time to time break things (*cough* my boys *cough*).

I appreciated the public assistance being there when we needed it.  Truth be told, I was not mentally at a place yet where I could do what I am doing now.  If I’d been forced to this path I would have felt resentment and anger and felt a sense of “it’s not fair”.  But now that my husband is at home being disabled, he doesn’t feel the “restless spirit” of not working and I am keeping him in enough “honey dos” to keep him busy as he is able without being overly burdened as being the sole breadwinner would have done.  So he gets to “work” on his schedule and I get a few hours of peace and quiet haha!

Most importantly one of us is home with our children.  I have always felt it was important for one or the other of us to be at home and I’m ok now with it being him instead of me.  I can get done with the other stuff that I would do when I was telling my kids to “go away for right now” when I’m not home, and then I can spend time with them when I get home.  I don’t feel annoyed now when they want to help me with dinner (well ok maybe still a little annoyed but less so!) 

My job is awesome too because it lets me work flex-time which means I can work all my hours early in the day and spend almost half my waking day with my kids.  So it’s a pretty good balance in my opinion.

The biggest reason I’m glad to be working now is I have learned an important lesson.  I have learned that not everything is as it seems.  God knows everyone and what is going on in everyone’s life.  A lot of people assume they know but really they have no clue.  Recent events have told me that much.  Now as a working mother, who was a stay at home mother, and before that a resentful working mother, I’ve played multiple roles throughout life.  And I think I can see clearly a lot more things than I used to.  I don’t think I ever did before but if I did you can rest assured that now I would never even considering passing judgment on that mom at Walmart getting the WIC with the nice looking outfit and high heels on.  People might assume she spent grocery money on them, but who are we to judge?  For all we knew, she got them as a gift at Christmas.  So my lesson learned is judge not, lest ye be judged.  Very basic.  Very Biblical.  And very very true!

People matter more than money

That shouldn’t be something that needs to be said.  It should just be automatically assumed that people matter more than money.  However, events this weekend have shown me that at least with some people, the opposite is true.

We were supposed to watch my sister’s dogs this weekend while she went on her anniversary trip.  I didn’t see any problems with this arrangement because we’d been around their dogs before, pet them, etc.  They’d run around my children, no worries.  She has two huskies it just didn’t seem like a big deal.  It was payment enough for her letting us stay with her until our house closed.

At least that was my thinking.

When she got here Friday, she only had one kennel.  With both dogs.  They did both fit in the kennel but they were NOT happy about it.  Bruce, the big one, was fighting with Harley, the little one, before my sister even left.  But there was no offer of fetching the second kennel.  In fact, it was suggested that if they go too crazy, that I should put the big one in my laundry room, where the only damage he could do was scratch the paint off my door…  as if that were ok with me.

Shortly after she left, I was in my room, chilling a little bit, when Shane tells me that I needed to call my sister now and have her pick up the dogs.  I thought perhaps he was exaggerating because he was not eager to look after the dogs.  He’d already made a few comments that made me think this previously, and though he didn’t come out and say this, I thought perhaps that was the motivation of his statement.  I went to go see what was going on.

He said that the two dogs had been fighting really bad and he let Harley out and they put him in the bathroom.  However, every time he tried to get Bruce, the dog tried to attack Shane.  When we stayed with my sister, she had said that he responded better to a female since he had a female alpha (referring to herself).  So I thought I would try and pet him, to try and calm him down.

In hind sight this was stupid, but I really wasn’t thinking clearly at the time.

When I reached my hand into the cage, he growled at me, but it wasn’t until he snapped that I panicked.  He nipped me a bit and I went for the only area I could where there was no teeth – right up under his neck.  It was good that he couldn’t bit me – I had him pinned against his cage, but it was bad because now I couldn’t get my hand out without being bit.

Time seemed to stop here.  We stared at each other for a few minutes.  I’m honestly not sure how much time elapsed.  I sort of lost touch with reality.  After that unknown amount of time, he scratched my arm, twisted his head, and basically mauled my hand as I tried to quickly get it out of the cage.  I don’t even think it hurt.  I went to my room, sat on the edge of my bed and tried to unlock my phone.  I was dimly aware that I was bleeding on the carpet so I went to the bathroom sink to wash my hand off.  Suddenly I felt very nauseous, and I couldn’t stop shaking.  I started to ask my sister to bring the other kennel but Shane took the phone from me and I could hear him demanding she take the dogs immediately.  I then kind of dropped into a stupor where I was only aware of the water running over my hand.

Shane and Emily poured hydrogen peroxide on my hand and got me to my chair where they did some impromptu first aid on it.  It was determined I needed to go to the hospital and I felt incredibly peculiar.  Reading about the potential after effects of a dog fight was too much.  Finally Shane took me to the hospital, after we determined it was taking too long for my sister to get there. 

Once we got there, the hospital reacted pretty quickly initially, getting my hand with some antibiotic bandages, getting an x-ray on it, etc.  Then we had a long wait before they had a room ready for us.

During this time I finally started to feel ok enough to chat on my phone.  My mom was asking how I was.  I told her what all had happened thus far and we got into a discussion about what all had gone on with my sister.  Apparently she had griped on Facebook about how she was out $600 for her anniversary trip, and then went on a rant which included multiple cases of profanity about me and my family, and her ill-opinion of us now.  She went on to illustrate herself as blameless, and the victim, pointing out how “even after” allowing us to stay with her for 5 weeks and after my children broke a laundry list of item, I did something to get bit and now we wouldn’t watch them, so she was out all this money.  She never mentioned that I paid for the things that were broken, or that we cleaned up behind ourselves well enough that it was cleaner than when we got there.  She didn’t mention how she frequently screamed profanities at my children, forbade them from playing with the baby toys because apparently they weren’t playing with them correctly (Mark would put the big toddler Legos in his mouth for example).  She didn’t mention how we were forbidden from using her dishes and spent that 5 weeks eating off of paper plates and Styrofoam bowls even though we washed not only our dishes, but their dishes, and how we tried to be considerate to their budget by handwashing the dishes instead of using the dishwasher since dish soap is cheaper than dishwasher tabs.  She failed to mention how she would scream at my young children and banish them to outside in hundred degree weather because they were talking during her tv show.  She also failed to mention on her rant how she would then act baffled as to why the teens wanted to stay in the room we were sleeping in and how everyone was being “antisocial” by “hiding out” in that room. 

It’s a mystery to be sure.

Fact is… I was willing to reimburse them the money for their trip.  It turns out they went anyways after all was said and done, but not before they publically chewed out my family, blocked every one of us, and had her entire family block us.  While all this was happening I was trying to recover in the hospital, hoping my hand would stop hurting soon. 

She never once asked how I was.

She never once asked anyone else how I was.

In her words, I just “needed a little Neosporin”.  I kid you not.  I had muscle tissue poking out of my skin from one of the wounds.  I had fifteen puncture wounds on my hand.  I required a ten day run of antibiotics.  A week later, all of the wounds are still there, my hand is still bruised and a little sore.  Just a little Neosporin though.

People astound me.

I will say this… people matter more than money.  Money is just a tool.  It is a useful tool, but it is not worth cutting off your family because of it.  It’s also unwise to make assumptions about things.

For example, my sister assumed I was “messing with” the dog.  In fact, Shane was already telling me to call her and have her pick him up because he was literally about to get his aluminum baseball bat and kill the dog due to the fact that every time Shane got close, the dog tried to attack him.  My sister made mention that only Shane and Matthew were supposed to “handle” the dog.  But the conversation where that took place involved taking them out to do their business since we hadn’t finished our fence yet at our house.  I was trying to pet the dog, to calm him down.  If petting the dog resulted in a vicious hand wound, and that was expected behavior, there is no way on God’s green earth I would have allowed that dog in my house with my small children.  However being as we’d all petted the dog many times before and never had an issue, how was I to know?

But assumptions.  There’s a saying about assumptions.  And it seems to apply here.

I know the spirit of Christianity is forgiveness.  I heard a sermon once that said you couldn’t forgive someone who didn’t think they’d done any wrong.  You could only have a willingness to forgive – whenever they asked for it.  So I’m willing to forgive my sister.  But she has to ask for it.  And since I have never known her in her entire life to admit she was wrong about anything, I don’t expect she’ll ever ask for forgiveness.  Until she does, though, I think I’ll just live my life happily drama-free without her in it.  It’s not worth it. 

People are worth more than money, though, and should she ever try to make amends, I will forgive her.  But one thing I can and will do is despite all this, I will pray for her time to time.  Perhaps one day she will come to know God.  I really really hope she does.  Not just because of being saved but because I think she would then change and actually be a likable person then.

Time will tell.


We’ve recently had some drama here lately. My eldest step-daughter, now nineteen and married, has started smoking.  While the decision is, in my opinion, unfortunate, that wouldn’t have really been drama-inducing in and of itself.  After all, she is an adult now and can make her own decisions, even if I disagree with them.

The drama came from her calling up EVERYONE in the family and essentially bragging that she’d started smoking… as though it were an amazing thing that she could do.  And then, when they expressed their disapproval of her decision, she adopted a martyr viewpoint.  Posting on social media about how it wasn’t right for her family not to support her decision, that it was her life and her choice.  And while technically correct – it is her life and her choice, it is misleading.  She has made it sound as though the family, of their own accord, all decided to belittle her for this choice, when in fact she goaded everyone into a response.

I, myself, have remained fairly detached, until I saw that message.  The message insinuating that the family was attacking her.  It upset me because actually the my family was withdrawing from her.  This little thing called drama is just not something we enjoy dealing with on a regular basis.  And the drama llamas who create it… well we tend to avoid them as much as possible.  In FACT, Shane and I actually told Emily it wasn’t worth starting a fight with her sister over this.  That she was free to make a stupid decision and to just let it go. 

Apparently if you can’t support every stupid decision, you’re attacking the person.  Given the political economy of today’s society… yeah that sounds about right.  Inaccurate in actuality, but it is the way the butt-hurt of this generation tend to react.  I will never understand.

We all have choices we must make.  I’ve made many.  I chose not to use birth control and now I have six children.  My family disagreed with my decision but I didn’t feel it was right to force them into being ok with my decision.  As they’ve come to love my children they are now okay with it, but if I had tried to force them into accepting it, they probably wouldn’t be speaking to me right now.

I tend to err on the side of non-confrontational.  I don’t like fighting.  I don’t like conflict.  It’s one of my biggest struggles.  That and I’m too mean sometimes.  But God helps me grow and improve regularly, a fact for which I’m very grateful.

I responded to Dixie on social media with the following response:

You are free to make the choices in your life as you see fit.  And your family is free to make the choice to have nothing to do with you if they think that choice is stupid.  It’s called consequences.  You can’t force people to approve of your choices.

I have nothing against her.  Truth be told I didn’t even know she was “gloating” about having started smoking until today when I was told that’s what she was doing.  I don’t tend to pick up on these things.  I hope everyone can eventually get over whatever it is that is causing all this strife right now.  I think she should realize she can’t force people to accept her choices, and I think the people in the family who are extremely upset at her should rise above it for the sake of peace.  Compromises can be made (i.e. no smoking at my house).  It’s not worth losing family over.  More people in our work should realize this.