Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wonder-FULL Wednesday: Rivalry

I am hoping to get this posted before I start getting *HATE* texts from those of you who are staying up waiting for me to get busy. :-D

Anyway...I have had two separate topics on my mind all day & still haven't quite decided which one to write on tonight.  Both topics are issues that I am dealing with right now, although certainly not for the first time!


Let's go with.....


Me (to hubby), "Which topic should I write about?"
Hubby (always so helpful), "Whatever you feel inspired to write about."


Ok, how about (DRUM ROLL, PLEASE):


Yes, we do actually have kids who argue, fuss, fight & bicker.  They are bossy, and sassy, too.  Ugh.  I am a person who truly shies away from conflict.  Hate it.  Absolutely HATE it.  I am equally adverse to bickering & general ugliness.  I don't like loud words.  So, when my kids get into these sorts of moods, it is like <fingernails on a chalkboard> to me, & I deal with it accordingly.

My kiddos were so excited (and so was I) that today was a day off of school (teacher training).  A day with absolutely nothing on the schedule.  So, we slept in a bit & then had breakfast (biscuits, gravy & sausage).  From the time two of my kiddos got up until we sat down at the table (about 45 minutes), they were at each other's throats.  Ugly words, mean actions...the works.  I cautioned them several times...but they just didn't believe me.  Normally, they sit next to each other at the table....and, when they came to the table, they pushed themselves as far away from each other as possible.  This is where I stepped in.  I moved them closer....much, much closer.  Almost touching, actually.  Then, after thanking the Lord for our food & praying for the attitudes at the table, I dropped the bomb on the two peace-breakers:  They would be spending the ENTIRE day TOGETHER.  No reading (yes, a punishment for my kiddos), no electronics, not even any Adventures in Odyssey.  They had the choice of either sitting & staring at each other all day or playing---nicely--together. 

I warned them that, should I hear any harsh words at any point in the day, I would tie their arms to each other.  Yes, I would do that...I have, in fact.  Amazingly, they were pretty kind all day long.

Now, do I think that there will be no ugliness tomorrow?

Nope.  I'm not naive.

Will I force them to be together?

Yes I will.

I do not believe brothers & sisters should fight.  They should be friends!!!  After all, we all have to learn to deal with & appropriately handle other people throughout our entire lives.  The home is where we start that learning process.  Rubbing shoulders day in & day out can really start to wear on attitudes.  Maybe one has a headache.  Or had a bad day at school.  Or is 'hormonal'.  In my book, none of these are justification for treating others badly.  I tell my kiddos (large & small) that we all have to handle our emotions, physical discomforts, disappointments and still treat others the same way we wish to be treated by them (See: Golden Rule in the Holy Bible).

I have found through the years that, when we allow an undercurrent of frustration to continue between kids, maybe chalking it up to 'a stage', it affects our whole family.  If brother picks on sister, sister sasses back, brother pesters again, sister cries....Mom & Dad get stressed...Mom yells at another kid...that kid is upset & gripes at a sibling....well, you can see where it goes & it's not good.

As with any other behavior we wish to instill in our kiddos, teaching them to manage their attitudes & treatment of others takes time and training. 

If your kids don't get along, then I would recommend that you create situations that require them to work together.  Maybe doing a joint chore or playing something together such as a game.  One time won't cut it.  You will need to have them be together-a lot.  Supervised togetherness.  Nip any bickering in the bud.  Provide consequences of ugly words or fighting.  Gush compliments at politeness & considering each other.

This kind of training can be done at any age.  Well, maybe not an infant...but you get it.

The key is that YOU are there...maybe in the background, but YOU are constantly monitoring the situation for glitches so that you may quickly step in while the fuses are still hot & redirect. 

God put each person in our families to help each one of us with an area in our life.  The family home is the ideal place to be tried.  This is just as true for children as adults.

Teaching our children to get along when they are young will go miles towards helping them handle others in their adult lives.

DISCLAIMER:  Yes, I have 'off' days too.  Yes, I yell at the kids.  Yes, I have to apologize.  Yes, I am not perfect.  Just so ya know!  :0)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wonder-FULL Wednesday: To Share, or Not to Share...THAT is the question!

Well, I blew it!!!  I totally forgot to blog yesterday (Wednesday).  And I even had a topic all ready & everything.  Just.  Totally.  Forgot.  I know some of you will forgive...and some won't (you know who you are! :))

So, I'll just keep right on as if it's Wednesday & nothing is any different.

A sweet mommy friend of mine was puzzling over the issue of sharing the other day.  Hmmm....well, we've DEFINITLEY been there, done, it seemed like a timely topic.

Sharing is competely optional.


All done.


Fooled ya!

Seriously, it is, though.

Like most good mommies, I wanted to teach my 2 sweet little girls to share politely with others as well as EACH other without fuss.  Of course, I also wanted world peace & and an end to world hunger.  Yeah, they are all pretty much in the same category.  When we first encountered this issue, my hubby & I *SURPRISINGLY* didn't see things the same way!!  What?!?!  You teach your kid to share, no questions asked, right?  Not according to him.  Ooooohhhh.  I fumed!  He was really so strange. *sigh*  God love him.

Here was his thought:  "If it belongs to you, it's yours.  You have the CHOICE to share."

I didn't like that.  Nope.  But, being a good wife (and seeing as how he said this was how it was gonna be), I adopted his rules.

Ya know, I really did marry the smartest man on earth!  I now totally, 100% agree with this thought!  With that little bit of background info divulged, let me elaborate for you.

There are some definites in parenting.  Your children should obey (the first time, everytime...), should be polite & well-mannered, should grow up to be productive members of society. 

Then there are the gray areas.  These are the things we want to instill in our kids that we see as good character traits.  In my mind, this is where sharing falls. 

Sharing is an abstract thought, something that we can all choose to do.  Or not.  Sometimes, sharing isn't even the right thing to do.  Yes, you may have a stick of my gum.  No, you may not share my husband.  See what I mean?  Some things are just not meant to be shared (toothbrushes, underclothing, laptops, Kindles....)

So, how did we teach our kids to share (we DO participate in this practice, after all)?
Well, we leave it up to them.  If they are playing with the new toy they recently received for their birthday, and a sibling or other child wants to play with it, they have the option of saying no.  It is, after all, THEIR toy.  It was specifically purchased for them.  This goes for items they have purchased with their own money as well.  Pretty much anything that is specifically for them.  Consider this:  we, as adults, have those untouchables.  Those things we kinda don't want to share (like laptops), and it's ok  as long as that mentality doesn't extend to every situation where sharing is an option.

There are many things to address when teaching this to our kiddos, one of which is: Attitude. 

*Good example*
Child 1:  Can I play with your new car?
Child 2:  No, I just got this for my birthday, & I don't really want to share it yet.
Child 1:  MOM!!!  She's not sharing!!!
Mom: Well, honey, she doesn't have to, it belongs to her & it is new. 

Yes, we have had this scenario many times, no it doesn't always go smoothly (think toddlers), but we support the owner of the new toy in their decision - as long as the attitude & motive are correct.

*Bad example*
Child 1:  Can I play with your new car?
 Mom: You may NOT scream!  You do not have to share your new toy, but you DO have to be nice!  Now, because you were screaming, you will need to put the toy away & you won't be playing with it anymore today.

This is a pretty straightforward example when the item belongs specifically to the child. 

However, I do want my kids to learn to share, after all, it is something we ALL have to do no matter how old we are.  Not only that, we have to learn to do it with a cheerful heart. 

How do we teach that? favorite way to teach kiddos is through object lessons.  They are very tangible, real ways for them to "see" what you want them to learn.

In the case of teaching sharing, I might do something like this:
Get out something like cookies which they will invariably as me for.  How I respond depends on what I am wanting to teach.  If one kid has been real bad about not sharing, then I won't share with them.  I will explain that I just don't feel like sharing MY cookies with him.  They are, after all, MY cookies.  Yes, there will be frustration, even tears.  I will then explain that, when they are selfish, it hurts others.  Later, if I see that they have had an about-face about sharing, I make a HUGE deal of it!!  Praise, praise, praise  (and maybe even a cookie).  I tell them how proud I am of their act of selflessness.
*Note:  this may take a while, but it does work*

I have also made a show of sharing with other kids & excluding the selfish one.  Sounds harsh, doesn't it?  It may be, but it is effective.  No one likes to be left out.  I make sure to let them know WHY  I am not sharing with them.  I may say, "I am not sharing with you because you don't like to share with others, and I figure you're ok with that (they're not).  If you choose to start sharing nicely, then I will be happy to share with you, too, but for now, I am choosing not to share with you."  My choice, right?

Putting the choice in their hands is tricky, but if you are faithful to educate them on how to consider others, it can work grandly.

What about if it's a kid who is over visiting?  They get carte blanc with your kiddo's toys, right.  Not necessarily.  I mean, if I have company, do I let them use any & everything in our home?  No.  Certainly, if they ask permission, I will probably allow it (unless it's my toothbrush...) 

If you are having company, then pre-think some of these situations.  Does your child have a special toy (doll, expensive toy, lovey...) that they are particularly protective of?  Then put it away.  There is nothing wrong with not granting access to EVERY toy in the house.  Close doors (we have even put notes on closet doors:  DO NOT OPEN OR WE WILL BE FORCED TO CHOP YOUR FINGERS OFF!!!), pull out non-threatening toys & bring them into a common area.  The more you do to alleviate stress, the more your child will enjoy their play date.  I will admit that this idea didn't come to me until we'd had several kids.  I believe it came when we had some company with particularly unruly children.  During the course of the evening, their child (8-10 years) crawled into my little girl's doll carriage & flattened it.  He also got into the baby's crib & caused some damage.  OOOOHHHHH!!!  I fumed!!  His parents laughed it off: "Boys will be boys".  Um, not 'round here!!!  So, next time, I set some unwritten rules...then quietly went to make sure they were being observed.  Closets are off limits, as are bunk beds, and any closed door.  Yes, I have also spoken directly to unruly kiddos if their parents don't seem to be, shall we say, concerned.

What if a child repeatedly refuses to share what belongs to them...and they are rather...uppity about it.  Well, when the other children come to me complaining (c'mon, you know they will!!), I say things like this (keep in mind, I just love to use's a fault of mine...):
"Well, he doesn't haaaave to share, although I suuuurrreee would be happy if he did, buuuuuutttt apparently he is more interested in being selfish, sooooo you will just have to find someone else to play with since heeeee only likes to play alone."  All the while casting disapproving glances in the direction of Mr. Selfish.  Oh, how they don't  like mom to disapprove.  Very effective.  Especially if you coddle the complainer a bit, ("I know you are disappointed, would you like a cookie?  I know it's not the same as playing with a car, but maybe it will help")  I know, I'm evil.

As a closing, I would like to address older kid's belongings.  We have a household where we have (pretty much) adult children (don't tell her I said that) all the way down to toddlers.  This can create much anger, frustration & tears where belonging are concerned.  I can sympathize.  How many of MY things have been broken, used or otherwise mismanaged by kids?  How to handle? 

Well, cleanliness is strongly encouraged.  What is put away cannot be accessed by small hands.  If it was not put away properly, it's destruction gets little sympathy from me.  The key is to provide the older child with locations to safely keep their belongings.  Sometimes this is a safety issue.  My boys have pocket knives...their 2 & 3 year old sisters, do not.  There is a reason for that!  So, they are kept in a safe place in my room (I am planning to buy combination safe boxes for the boys for Christmas).  Smallish kids who get into things they shouldn't...are reprimanded immediately, sometimes having to replace items broken with their own money.

Ok, I have droned enough about this topic...I hope it helps.

Like I said, sharing is optional, and I chose to share this info with you.

You're welcome. :0)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wonder-FULL Wednesday: Job - Epic Fail!

I know some of you may have wondered where I have been the last couple of weeks.  Well, I've been here.  At home.  Having the time of my life.  Not the best time of my life, mind you...but it has definitely been "A" time of my life.

About 3 months ago, hubby & I made the decision for him to take a new job.  Hallelujah!!!  After 10 years of being self-employed, someone else would worry about taxes & payroll.  We have insurance and a regular paycheck deposited right in our account.  It's amazing....amazingly horrible.

You know, I have always been a believer in being careful what you ask of God because He might just give it to you.  I think that was the case here. 

Don't get me wrong, there were lessons learned from this experience, but when hubby announced that he was putting in his resignation....cheers went up all over the house!!!

So, what was wrong with the job?

Let me put it this way: in the month of October, he was home 5 days total.  Yeah.  Awful!  We knew that there would be some travel with this position, but it was estimated at 2 or 3 nights at a time.  Hmmmmm....we won't go into some long tirade about streeeeeeetching the truth.  Suffice it to was a tad more.  Like twice as much.  Every week.

Meanwhile, back on the home front....

I started out doing great!  We had a plan, a was all good.  Then came October.

As his schedule got more & more crazy, so did I.  I found I couldn't even enjoy him being home because I was already panicking about him leaving again.

Physically, I felt ill.  Exhaustion was taking a firm hold in my life.  Complete.  Utter.  Exhaustion.

I finally reached a place where I began to feel anxious & trapped.  Parenting 8 children with a partner is tough stuff.  Doing it alone: impossible.

Yes, my kids are great, but they are still kids.  They have constant, unending needs.  My days were a constant mental challenge.  My brain hurt.  The younger ones had gotten out of control...badly.  In short, I had gone into survival mode.  The highlights of my day were naptime & bedtime.

This past Saturday night, when I found out he wouldn't be making it home in time for church...I just fell apart.  When he came home & saw my status....he saw it as the sign he'd been looking for to resign.

Oh, the great relief!!!  I cannot explain how I felt.  I'm not sure I have fully comprehended it.  My body is still out of whack from the stress & anxiety I had been feeling.

I in no way want to put my husband in a bad light.  This time was miserable for him too.  We had prayed, counseled & really tried to put God first in the decision to take this job.  Maybe it was the right thing to do so that we would see that it was the wrong thing for us.

So, we are back to self-employment & the phone is ringing like crazy!!!  New opportunities are steadily presenting themselves.

God is good.  Yes He is!

We have grown from this experience.  We have learned more about faith.  I have learned that I cannot parent alone.  Maybe I could have done some things differently, but I now have a new appreciation for my husband's strength of presence.  Just having him here gives me strength to do what I need to do to be a good mom.

Do you find yourself in an impossible situation?

Have you prayed about it?


Every. Single. Minute. of Every. Single. Day?

Is He answering by asking you to give up something that gives you a sense of security?  Find your peace & security in's the only REAL peace & security you'll ever have.

My God is real.  I feel like I am recovering from a 3 month long illness.  Sometimes, I can feel the darkness creeping back in, but I have the strength to fight it because we are where we are supposed to be.

So, the moral of the story:

Make sure it's God's will & not your will.  If it's His will...YOU WILL MAKE IT!!!

Disclaimer:  I am not advocating that you make a sudden major decision because you are unhappy.  I am simply telling you my testimony...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wonder-FULL Wednesday: When Mom is Feelin' Poorly

This will be a short posting...basically because I feel funky.

So...the question for today is:




I am terrible at asking for/accepting help when I need it.  I can alway rationalize that I am ok & that it's probably not as bad as I think (read: I'm probably being a drama queen).

As mothers, we carry a huge load. 

Seriously, our homes kinda just run to the ground when we are gone or otherwise out of commission.  It's not that the family doesn't KNOW what to do or SEE what needs to be done.

They.  Just.  Don't. Do. It. 

Sometimes I alternate between being aggrivated about having to tell my peeps everything & just telling them, and getting over it.

Ok, so when I'm not feeling up to par...

1.  I ignore the idea as long as possible, hoping that it's a figment of my imagination.

2.  I pass out hints that I'm not feeling great, hoping for some divine (or otherwise) intervention.

3.  I finally accept that I can't do it all, crawl to my bed & hope for the best.

Sometimes I get help from outside the home & sometimes I just dump it on my older girls, feel guilty, try to assuage my guilt by throwing privileges or gifts at them when I feel better.

When all is well & the sun is shining in my part of the world, I just clean up the mess...and thank the good Lord that I rarely don't feel good.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wonder-FULL Wednesday: Organization Part 1

One question that has been asked of me pertains to organization

About 5 or 6 years into being a mommy, I began to realize that I needed to get a handle on the clutter. 

No, it didn't come naturally.  I had to research, try, research some more, ask questions & try more.  Slowly, I have morphed our home into sort of an organized chaos.  It's not ready to be featured in one of those organizing & storage magazines that I can never seem to pass up at the checkout, but it works.


Today, I'll talk about one area of our home that requires some organization: the Laundry Room.

I don't know about you, but next to the kitchen, my laundry room is where I spend the bulk of my time.
When we first married, my poor hubby was always running out of clothes of sort.  My garage was my laundry room.  UGH!  I had to share it with the spiders & bugs, all sorts of important "stuff" my hubby & I felt we had to keep, and, oh yeah, THE CAR!!!  On top of all that pleasantry, it was either stifling hot, bitterly cold or damp & dirty....always dirty. 

In short: I HATED IT!

I'm not sure that it was the chore that I disliked as much as the location.  However, after dealing with that for about 12 years....we were finally able to make some dreams come true.  We had drawn out plans to include our garage as part of our house, creating three new rooms: a homeschool/play room, an office, and a laundry/craft room (I guess that's kinda like 5 rooms).  One year later, we sold it & moved. 

*sigh*  Just when I had it perfect.

Fast forward a bunch of years to now. 

I currently have a 'sufficient' laundry room.  I would prefer it to be a tad roomier, but we make due.

As with pretty much every area of my life, the way I have organized my laundry room has been adjusted numerous times.  Don't feel that you have to do something the same way forever unless it happens to work forever (which it rarely does).  Life changes require minor touch ups to your organization and sometimes even some major overhauls.

As the kiddos have gotten older, I have them sort their own clothes into these baskets (these 3 support 6 kids).
No, they don't always do it right, but the largest part of my job is done for me.  I just go through them quickly as I am loading the washer, tossing what is in the wrong place into the right one. 
These three baskets are 'Lights', 'Brights', & 'Darks.

In order to help them with sorting colors, I tied ribbons to the handles which coordinated with what I wanted in them.  These ribbons are from the 'Lights' basket.  When we first implemented this plan, we grabbed some clothes & compared them to the ribbons, deciding where they would go.
More often than not, the baskets are done right....except the boys have real issues with taking their underwear out of their pants...WHAT'S UP WITH THAT???

This basket is almost ALWAYS overflowing.
It is the "Outgrowns" basket.
Out of season clothing also gets tossed here until it can be packed away.
It never ceases to amaze me that we can go for months & add nothing to this bin, then BAM every kid
is adding to it!!!  It's crazy!!  If they could just grow at different times, it would sure be cheaper.

Directly over my dirty clothes baskets, I had a clothing rack installed.
It has a free-motion bar because I HATE those little divided hanging bars.
Really.  Who wants to take the time to divide their clothing?  Dumb.
This was laundry day, so everything is empty, but more often than not,
the baskets are all like that last one & the rack is bulging with clothes waiting to be put away.

Love the extra storage over the hanging rack.
Hate how it all shows.
Cabinets are a dream.

My most excellent hubby built me this little closet right next to the washer & dryer (which is stacked).
It is a hard-workin little closet.
I store my laundry soap, hangers, tool bag (no, the pink tools do NOT stop him from using them!), the mop, broom, a stool,  & extra paper towels (can't see those). 
The drawers house: extra covers for the Shark mop (worth putting on your Christmas list), dusting/cleaning rags, all sorts of batteries, light bulbs & dog-related stuff.
I love my closet (is that wierd?)

One other thing I forgot to take a photo of is what I actually put the kid's clothes into when they are ready to put away.  I don't like baskets.  They are bulky.  I use clear, flat under-the-bed storage boxes.  They are fairly cheap & you can stack a bunch & not take up too much room.  When the clothes are folded, I can put them in piles according to where they go...pj's, socks/underwear...etc.  Then the kid can just transfer the pile from the box to the drawer
 (yes, I said KID!).  Each kid gets their own box.

That's it, I guess.  Next week, I'll discuss another area of organization...any thoughts on which area???

 Leave me some comments!

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Calgon Moment


Cooking dinner @ about 6.

Kids are all outside playing.

Backdoor flies open.

In runs Ella Grace (age 3) hair a-flying.  She makes a *mad dash for the bathroom.*

Meanwhile, my dad knocks on the patio door...he is delivering the 18 or so eggs he just robbed our hens of so that we might have fresh scrambled eggs for breakfast.

As we admit him, we hear screams coming from the bathroom.  I send daughter #1 to assess the situation (although I'm fairly certain what has happened).

I return to my conversation with dad...

Back door flies open as #1 sticks her head out & screams at  #4 to come pick up her clothes & shoes off of the bathroom floor (this is pure, unmitigated hypocrosy in it's finest form, to say the very least).  As #4 comes in...#1 is rubbing her oversight in (loud enough for me to hear) by telling her that E.G. didn't quite make it to the bathroom in time, & lost it.....on her clothing & (yes) her school shoes.

In the meantime...the rice is burning.

My dad is laughing.

Daughter #1 informs me that the dog ran through the bathroom....right through....yeah.'s all ok, cause she just put her in her kennel.

Are you needing *Calgon* to take you away just reading all of this???

Seriously, this is rather normal around here, if complete & utter chaos can be considered normal in any way. 

You might wonder, "How does she handle all of that?"

Well, today....fine.  I just instructed #4 to clean her stuff & the rug up...put it in a basket & put it by the washer.  Then to mop.

But, wait....before you think I have nerves of steel & a halo to match...let me tell you that by Wednesday or Thursday....this scene may very well make me want to curl up into the fetal position in the back corner of my closet.


It is times like these, though, that I think....

I really should blog this stuff...
people will get a real kick out of it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wonder-FULL Wednesday: How We Roll (down the road)

For those of you who missed last week's "Wonder-FULL Wednesday" post...I apologize for not letting you know that we were going to be out of town.  However, on second thought, it's probably not a good idea to announce to the whole world that we will be leaving the homestead unattended!
*Not that I don't trust you guys, of course.*

I have pretty much run out of questions to answer, so until someone asks more...well, I'll just keep giving up some fascinating little tidbits of info on our family's comings & goings.  Hold on to your's riveting stuff! :o)

So---where did we go?


Shepherdsville, Kentucky.

To many folks this town means absolutely nothing, but to our family (as well as many of our friends), it is a place of heritage & roots.  It is where we gather twice a year with like-minded people to learn more about God & how to more successfully become like Him.  It is a wonderful place on a hilltop that never fails to bring a tingle to my skin as we come 'round that last turn & see the campus sitting there.  I wonder how many thousands of people travel that road & never even glance at the grounds that mean so much to so many.

Anyway, I digress.

So, we packed up (5 suitcases, 4 garment bags, 1 snack bag....oh, forget it...we were stuffed to the gills!!!), and headed down the road.  It only takes until the 12th of forever to get there from here.  That is fairly managable in 2 stages, but, we drove it all. the. way. through.  We finally arrived somewhere around dawn the day after we left.  It was painful.  I won't lie.

The first full day of being in Kentucky was our 5th child's (aka our 2nd son) BIRTHDAY!!!!
  Whoop-whoop!!!  We love birthdays around here. :0) 
Barrett Paul is now 7, & so stinkin' handsome & pretty much smarter than any other kid alive.  Really.

The Birthday Boy just a few weeks before he turned 7

This is our group of sweeties partially rested up & ready for the fun to start.

You may wonder why we load up 8 kids & tons of luggage, drive 13+ hours just to attend church.  Well, it's our life!  Our whole purpose in this life is to serve God, so we try our best to mingle with other folks from all over the country (world, even) when we get the chance. 

Relax ladies...he is VERY taken!
(Envy is a sin...better go pray)  LOL

I can imagine that some of you moms may be asking,

"Isn't it hard to take all of those kids on a long trip,
and then sit through several hours of church at a time?"


Of course it is!!!!

I won't lie to you, I get very stressed out. 
I have been found in the restroom crying.
I have chewed out the amazing man I'm married to for not helping more.
I have offered my offspring to the lowest bidder.

However, I cannot stress enough the importance of doing the hard stuff when it comes to doing what is right for your family.  In doing so, you are letting your children see what is the most important to you: their well-being.  Yes, it would be MUCH easier to stay home most of the time, but to what benefit?  I admit that I usually do not take the little ones to both camp meetings...usually only the fall one.  However, I really felt that I made a wrong decision this past June when half of my family headed down the road without us, so, we may be there everytime we have the money.

You know, we have teenagers & 'tweens' as well as little kids, and I love that we have an opportunity to introduce them to other godly young people.  They usually come home talking about the new friends they have met...some of which have even made the trip to Texas to visit!  COOL!

"Can you see all of our faces?"
"Yeah, mom!" 

Triple Trouble!!!
I love that my boy (in the middle) is growing up with good young men!

Time spent under the pews can create lasting memories!

I used to think that little kids didn't get much from the services, but, many times over I have been proven wrong by the questions of a little one.  They do hear, they do think. 
Especially if their name is in the Bible (HA!)

 One other wonderful thing about going to camp meeting is the opportunity to serve others.  My family loves to work.  The older girls wait tables during meals, clean restrooms & play music during services.  My younger crowd loves to work at the snack bar at night, carrying trays, washing them & doing trash detail (of course, that free ice cream is a great incentive).  My hubby usually has something to do with driving folks around the huge property on golf carts. kids. 

This year, I told the will work too.  Our dear friends make pizzas for the snack bar & I volunteered to help.  I am almost embarrassed at how excited I was!  Seriously.  I haven't been able to work in years!  I was just thrilled! 

I never tossed the dough into the air, but I did a pretty good job, I think!

Isn't she a beauty? :)'s the aftermath of 10 people going out of town for 6 days:

Mt. Laundrimous

It takes 2 days to pack & 4-5 days (if steadily working)
 to get it all unpacked, sorted, washed, dried, folded/hung/ironed & put away.

It's tough, but we love the experience -and- it only gets easier as the kiddos get older.

At least that's my theory.....

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wonder-Full Wednesday: Chores

Today, I want to share something that is working rather well for us: Chore Sticks.  Like I have said before, I am not one to have too many original ideas, so I cannot take full credit for this one, either.  However, it is a compilation of ideas I have seen/heard here & there. 

That's usually how I work....

Hear something, tuck it away
see something else....tuck it away
Have a need....recall....adapt...put into practice

Sometimes it's a raging *success*....sometimes it's an epic *fail*!

That's life, I suppose.

So, here's the general idea:
*We have a house
*It needs cleaned
*We have 10 people making messes
*We should all pitch in
*Money isn't needed
*Good ideas are

I have tried all kinds of plans, tricks, name it.  And, it all long as I'm ok with reminding everyone to do it (which I'm not...but I'm coming around).

The newest adaptation started with me dividing our home into "zones".  I feel sure I heard that somewhere.  Here are our zones:

*Living Areas
*Laundry Room, Car, Porch

I didn't want to add stuff to the weekend, because we just never stick to it.  NEVER.  Then I get frustrated, and have to get pushy....the kids get pouty & ornery...the hubby has to give me the "just relax" talk....NAH...why go through all that???

So...these zones correspond with the days of the week.

I taped a reminder for myself as to what days
are what I knew I probably wouldn't remember!!

I bought a huge pack of colored popsicle sticks at the $1 store.  Then, I assigned each zone a color. 

Next, I thought up one word categories of cleaning such as:
Just to name a few.

I wrote a category at the tip of one side of the stick, turned it over & put what I wanted them to wipe/empty/polish etc.... Making sure to keep all writing at the same end of the stick.

Now, here's the part that seems to be the most appealing to the kiddos:  they do not have an assigned chore, it's just luck o' the draw!  Each day, following lunch, I grab all of the sticks for that day, make sure the words are tucked in my hand, fan them out, & let them pick sticks.  So far, I've been going oldest to youngest (5 years is the youngest in this case), and they draw til the sticks are gone.  Some get more chores than others...but no one has complained.  The funny part is:  the 5 year old had to scrub the tub, sink & toilet on Monday!  Ha!  I have no delusions as to actually having sparkling clean tubs when he does it, but HE sure was excited! :)

The stipulations for putting their stick(s) back into our handy little bucket are this:

-They have until 5 p.m. to complete the jobs they drew (no one has pushed this, so I haven't added an "or else" yet.)
-They must bring the stick to me & report in, so to speak.
-I give them permission to put the stick back in the bucket.

Here's our belief on chores:

"We all make the messes,
we all help clean them up."

Once again, since this is my blog...I can elaborate on a couple of possibly controversial things related to chores. 

The first one is:  All children should have chores in some form or fashion, and they should not be "gender specific".  Here is why:

*It teaches a cause and effect type of idea.  You make a must be cleaned by someone (preferably you). 

* Helping = privileges.  In our home, privileges aren't a given...they are earned.

*It prepares children for adulthood.  In my humble opinion, there aren't too many things more pitiful than a young adult who knows nothing about work or how to run a home. 

*It fosters gratitude (in theory) for the privileges they reap from a job well done.

*They learn to enjoy living in a tidy, and fairly clean environment (the idea being: they will carry a desire for that on to adulthood).

My kiddos pretty much run the gammut on chores.  Girls empty garbage cans, boys wash dishes, they all put away their own laundry (and I pray I never have to look for anything specific) get the idea.

One other thing we do not do is pay our children to do chores.  Keeping the house orderly & neat is not a payable job, it's a necessity.  Again, we all make the mess, therefore, we should all help to clean it.  With that said, I will now say that we DO provide ways for the kids to earn a bit of pocket cash with "Money Chores".

A money chore is something that is extra...beyond the everyday needs.  For example, we live on 10+ acres, & it needs mowed.  If one of the older kids take a notion to hop onto one of our 3 mowers & ride around for awhile, they can earn $5 per hour.  Pretty good, huh?

One way I pay out is to have someone dust my bedroom or clean my bathroom.  These two areas are my responsibility & do not appear on the kiddo's chore lists.  However, I don't like to do it, so I am willing to pay some green to get out of it. 

Other money chores may include:
   *thoroughly cleaning out the refrigerators ($5)
   *Taking down the curtains, washing, drying, ironing & re-hanging them ($15-$20 or maybe a certain amount per window)
   *wiping baseboards ($3)
   *cleaning mini-blinds ($5)
   *washing window sills ($3)

On a final note: don't underestimate your children.  All ages can help.  A toddler is fully capable of putting her own clean socks in the drawer.  The trick is to not overwhelm them with an entire basket of laundry at one time.  A three year old with a rag can do some real damage to your dust.  A damp rag in a short-ish person's hand can clean all sorts of low places that my knees don't want me to get to.  Door knobs, walls, light switches can all be cleaned by a toddler.  Lots of praise will be the only fuel needed!

Now...grab some kids & go clean some house!!!  :)


If you would like to submit a question, you may comment here or send me an email to:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wonder-FULL Wednesday: Tears & Faith

Once again, I am a bit late getting the Wednesday posting out...but hey, there are still a few hours left in today :).

Here are today's questions.  I lumped them together because, basically, they are intertwined.

Do you ever sit down and cry for a bit or
are you past that stage now?

How has the Lord helped you keep it together
when otherwise you would've given up?


In response to the first part of the question, um....Is the Pope Catholic???  HAHAHAHA!! 
Yes, I do sit & cry a bit now & then.  Crying is NOT one of my favorite pastimes (I've been known to hate on a person who knowingly made me watch a movie for which I needed a tissue), so I don't do it very often.  I tend to bottle my emotions up for a long time, then explode like a volcano full of all kinds fun stuff!  As much as I would like to insert a *JK* here, I'm not.
If I cry...I'm done in.
But, I do cry.  It's so....cleansing.  Sometimes, it's just the thing.
As for the part about being past that stage...I have been a parent for nearly 18 years, and I have cried, recently, regarding the oldest child!  So, I am thinking that there is no "stage".  As a parent, I believe we will cry forever when it comes to our kiddos.  After all....Jesus wept regarding His kids....just sayin....
There is nothing wrong with crying or feeling frustrated or overwhelmed.  It happens. 
However, if it happens A LOT, then there may need to be some soul searching.  What is the source of your tears? 
Notice I did not include any outside sources in this list.
I did that on purpose.
See, there is only one person for which we are totally responsible for, & that is the one in the mirror everyday.  Yes, outside sources are often a reason for our tears, but HOW we respond to those events/people is entirely up to us.
I've been depressed.  I know that tears coming from depression seemingly have no source.  Those tears need help.  Don't be ashamed to ask for it.  Your family needs you whole & it for them.... has the Lord helped me???
I think a better question would be:
How has He NOT helped me???
As I've mentioned before, I never signed up for this life....He saw fit to give it to me.  So, I have relied heavily on Him to supply my strength.  After all, He promised NOT to give us more than we could bear (through Him...always a catch...), and I, for one &  am holding Him to that promise.  The Bible says that children are a blessing, and they are.  If I begin to feel that they are, shall we say: less than a blessing, then it is usually due to something I am doing.  Maybe we are over scheduled...or under scheduled.  Maybe I am hormonal, & therefore *gasp* irrational.  Possibly I am expecting too much from the kids or even myself. 
When God began dealing in my heart to home school my children, I truly did not want to.  I was scared.  What if I screwed them up for life??  Whew...let's let someone else do that...then we can blame them!!!  LOL  Anyway, I learned quickly to ask His opinion about how our days were to run.  While I never woke up with my lesson plans miraculously filled in through divine intervention, I did have an occasional stroke of genius or come across someone or something that was just what I was needing at the time.  In other words, He always provided.
I am not homeschooling right now, but I still ask for His help every day.  I specifically ask for wisdom & strength to get through whatever the day will throw my way.  I can truly tell a difference from the days I forget.
I don't know if I've ever felt like giving up, but I have felt woefully under trained & very inadequate for the job He has set before me.
I'll close with a scripture that He laid on my heart a few years ago as I was REALLY struggling with my lot in life:
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me"  Philippians 4:13
I would love to hear from you, whether it be a question or a comment, so feel free to either leave a comment here or drop me an email at:
I look forward to hearing from you....

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wonder-FULL Wednesday: Are We Done Yet?

Question:  How do you know when you're finished having children?

Answer:  WoW! What a question!

Luckily, I received this question in plenty of time to think about it (and pray, too).  This is a question I think probably most parents face.  I mean...who wants regret???  Not I!!! 

Since I am neither God, nor your spouse, I can only tell you what we did & opinionate to my heart's content  *for whatever that's worth*.

Let me first tell you a bit of our story:
As I have mentioned before, we didn't set out to have 8 just happened.  We thought 3, maybe 4, would be just fine.  God felt differently.  Now, I know that there are some folks who roll their eyes at the thought of God even caring how many kids we have, but I know FOR A CERTAINTY that He cared about the size of our family.  When we started out, we were like millions of other families...planning each birth as it seemed convenient for us.  The first two are just over 2 years apart...both girls...couldn't have planned it any better!  Our first son was 3 1/2 years later.  That was great timing, too!  Both girls were potty trained & on their way.  Baby #4 was also 3 1/2 later.  Still good.

From this point, it gets crazy!  When I was pregnant with #5, we made a major move (would NOT recommend that!!)  BTW.... there are only 14 months between #4 & #5.  Life was starting to get really busy.

***May I pause here to insert that, after each birth, we kinda felt out our hearts to see if we were finished, and each time, we agreed that we just didn't feel our family was finished yet.  So, we did nothing to change things.  This does not mean that I (me, personally) wasn't tired & very weary....I was, but God held me.***

Then came #6...the pregnancy was different from the beginning.  I had some medical issues that I hadn't faced before, and...not terribly surprising...we ended up with an emergency C-Section, and a baby in NICU for a week.  This was the point at which we began seriously discussing being finished.  However, we did nothing at that time.  For a year & a half, we prayed.  We talked.  We prayed.  We discussed.  We prayed.  We searched our hearts.  We prayed.  We made a decision.  We prayed.  We followed through with it.  We prayed.  We felt good about our decision.

I became pregnant.

What????? was true. 

Well, I admit, I was a tad excited.  After two boys, I was hoping for another girl to dress up.  We just figured that this was just a fluke, after all we were done. #7 was born (a girl).  She became the family princess.  The pregnancy was rather rough with health issues, and we had some issues after the birth, but she was our *The End*, so it was ok.

Fast forward 10 weeks...

Me:  "If I didn't know any better, I would think I was pregnant.  I feel awful.  Probably getting the flu."

Hubby:  "Yeah, probably."

A few more days later...

Me:  "It's totally crazy, I feel like I do when I'm pregnant!"

Hubby:  "Better check."

Me:  "Nah...not possible. (truth: I don't want to know)

A few MORE days later...
I am popping my non-pregnancy safe blood pressure pills in my mouth & it occurs to me:  If I AM (by some strange stretch of the imagination) pregnant, this pill could harm the baby.  UGH.  So, I did what I thought I would NEVER do again....I bought a test....and stared at it in complete & UTTER DISBELIEF as it went from pink to blue ( or whatever it did).  NO WAY!!! NOT POSSIBLE!!!!


I was.

So, 10 1/2 short months after baby 7 came baby 8.  God's final gift to the Young family.  She is a story in herself, but that's another blog posting.  Because of some serious health concerns as well as another C-Section, we had an additional procedure done at the same time.

Were we planning on those final two sets of little feet to pitter-patter around the house?  Nope.  God did it.

Do we feel like we made the wrong decison after baby #6?  Nope.  We feel like we did exactly what we were supposed to do.  God did it.

Ok, that's MY story.

Now, here's my advice about making a HUGE decision...

1.  Do NOT make a decision while you are pregnant, most especially during the first trimester!

     This would constitute as an emotional decision, and one that you may very well regret later.  During this time, extreme fatigue, nausea, emotions, extreme fatigue, emotions, extreme fatigue, emotions....(get it?) cloud your ability to make a wise choice.  When you are so tired or sick that you cannot even keep food on the table or clothing washed, it is next to impossible to imagine that adding another person to the family will be anything other than colossally impossible!!!  But, remember....this feeling passes.  The baby will grow.  The other children will grow.  You WILL (I promise) get your energy back....and then, when your baby turns 1 or 2, you will begin to stare longingly at every baby you see, wondering if that momma would think you were insane for asking to hold it. 


You won't.

Which leads me to....

2.  Do NOT make a decision during the first year after you have a baby.
     If you pass the first birthday mark & still want to curl up in a ball at the thought of having another one...then you may want to start praying.

Do NOT make a decision on a day like this!!!

Which leads me to....

3.  Do NOT make this decison without God.
     Pray.  Pray.  & pray some more.  Ask for direction.  Ask for peace.  Ask for strength.  He will lead you, if you ask.  He DOES care.  You are raising children for HIM (hopefully), so of course He cares if you have more.


"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."  Philippians 4:13

He promised, so, if He has chosen you & your spouse to raise children for His glory...well, He will help you do it!  I know how humbling it is to think that He cares about our family to that extent or that He sees us as worthy of the responsibility He has given us.  But, it's the only way I see to look at it!  I can also attest to the fact that, as long as we hold His hand, He holds ours.  When we try to do it alone, in our own wisdom, we struggle miserably.

4.  I advise you to NOT try to convince your spouse.  If they aren't sure you're family is complete, then you must respect that.  And vice versa.  Again, this is where prayer comes in.  If you feel that you are done, then ask for God to change your spouse's mind as a confirmation.  Be willing to wait.  God tends to be pokey (sorry, Sir).  If you want more & your spouse doesn't, pray the same prayer as above.  Having children is not a one-person decision, it's a 3 person decision.  Please, leave no one out.

5.  Stress does not lend to good decision-making.  'Nuff said :)

Yeah, you guessed it....
don't make a decision on THIS day, either.

I hope that I have offered some insight that you may not have thought of before, but more importantly, I hope I have been able to stress the importance of keeping God in your decision-making process.  So many people pick & choose when He is to be included in their life, tending to leave Him out when they are afraid He will not agree with what they want to do.  If you don't like what God is asking of you, then I suggest you ask Him for a change of heart/mind & for the strength, mercy & wisdom to carry out what He is requiring.

HE WILL!!!  :)

****Great question!  If you would like to send me a question for Wonder-FULL Wednesday, you may either leave a comment or email me at  photographer(at)kidshots(dot)net.  Or, if you know me well, just text me.  LOL  ****