Archive | April, 2011


28 Apr

Hi there! This is Yetta.

You might remember Mom writing about “saying goodbye”to one of my brothers who was headed off to Basic Training… well, 8 weeks later, today, he is done! Dad and Mom both went to watch him graduate.

Like most days, the kids all started out with school. They did their math. They practiced their reading. And all the other classes they were suppose to… hopefully they didn’t take advantage of me not exactly knowing what all is expected of them. ;) I have always found that the days go pretty well as long as the kids are busy. However, by the time they have been up from quiet reading time for about 45 minutes playing outside, they come in and ask the question: “what should we do?” Does this happen in every home? Do your kids [think] they run out of things to do?

Oh, well… today, I was ready for the question!! I was sitting at my computer returning a few emails when the first one came in ready for ideas.

First, was the painting party. I gave each of the kids a piece of paper. I already had paints and brushes set up on a big tray, so sent them all outside to the front yard to paint pictures! It actually lasted a good full hour and they painted some great pictures!

Shortly after they had everything cleaned up, before they even asked!…. I set up the tennis tournament. It was great, because everyone got to play. And again, it lasted for a long time. Yay for a beautiful day to be outside!

The yonger kids enjoyed riding bikes while watching.

After tennis it was definitely about time that I think about dinner, so I sent 4 of the kids outside with the bag of potatoes and peelers. That did NOT take very long. They were done within minutes!

And finally, at the end of a fun busy day the house always needs a little straightening up. I love “the-five-minute-clean-up”. So do the kids!

It works like this:

1. I give short assignments: vaccum the floor/ dust the living room/ clean the entry way/ empty the dishwasher/ fold a basket of clothes – always some thing that take about 5 minutes for them to do together.

2. They get to watch a short cartoon on youtube (bugs bunny/ donald duck/ mickey mouse/ chip&dale/ etc.)

3. Repeat 1 & 2 until house is tidy!


Who’s ruling the roost when you aren’t there?

27 Apr

I walked into the house yesterday to find my two youngest children with their noses in separate corners. Attempting to conquer another area in the yard, I had been working with the others outside.  These two had come in a little ahead of me to play a game of cards, which apparently wasn’t as “fun” as they expected and they ended up with their noses in the corners of the dining room.

What happens when we (as parents) are not home? How are the children cared for? How do they communicate? How are they disciplined?

My favorite place to be is at home, yet sometimes I need to be away. Whether it is simply a few hours or an extended period of time, the children’s caretakers should be informed of what we expect.  What is acceptable  behavior and what is not? How should the unacceptable be addressed? What form of discipline do we trust the caregiver to use? Although this may look different in each home, it is worth taking the time to be prepared.

Through the years, our older children have become aware of the house standards.  Authority has been given to them in our absence, and likewise they have earned our trust and respect in handling it.  Not everyone has the luxury of built in sitters in the home. In fact, it took us many years to get to that point! Whoever it is that steps in to that role for your family, be sure to give them some tools to work with.  Don’t let those sweet little ones rule the roost!

Loving older sis took the time to confront the kiddos, discipline, and follow through with some constructive instruction. Much to my appreciation, she even thought to have them fold their hands behind their backs, keeping the muddy fingers off of our freshly painted walls!

Our Travels with Adele and Simon

26 Apr

I love going to my sisters’ homes. Since I don’t get so see them very often, I do my best to soak up every last detail of their lives.  I have learned to keep a small notebook and pen in my purse to jot down bits of fun information.  By the time the visit is over I’ve usually gathered a few recipes, some housecleaning tips, creative homeschooling ideas, favorite movies and almost always – titles of unique children’s books.

It was during one of these visits that I was introduced to Adele & Simon by Barbara McClintock. Adele and Simon are siblings that live in Paris.  The younger of the two, Simon, has a habit of loosing everything.  What really draws the children in to the story is searching for the things poor Simon has lost. In the process of studying each page, they become familiar with famous locations throughout the city.

Arriving home after our last visit, I looked for other McClintock books from the library.  Before long we were traveling again. This time while enjoying the comfort of our living room, we joined  Adele and Simon with their adventures in America, covering locations from California to D.C.

Having been far too long since I have visited my sisters, I hope one day soon- notebook in hand, to spend time with them again.


My Lessons in Grace With “Great Aunt” part 2

25 Apr

One of the first things I learned about Great Aunt was that we had very different taste.  She was known as being an excellent cook and had many favorite recipes.  Yet, after her husband died, her eating habits were not what they once were.  Living alone can have a way of changing things.  What was once important no longer was.  Never-the-Less,  I think we were both taken by surprise, at least I was.

I love lettuce salad with a variety of fresh veggies tossed in the mix.  She much preferred a good Jello salad with some canned fruit added.  We made all of our own freshly ground whole wheat bread, while she was much happier with a white wonder bread.  I tried to go easy on the sweets,  she gladly consumed them.

Most of the time, especially in the early years, Great Aunt ate with us, which I think she enjoyed.  Although since she was used to being in her own space,  I made a point to occasionally bring meals in to her dining room.  Sometimes a room full of voices is too much for anyone!

Wanting to find ways to please her and make sure she had good nutrition, I enthusiastically cooked up big batch of mashed potatoes, meatloaf, and steamed broccoli.  Bringing a warm plate of food into her room, I was sure she would be delighted.  I knew she liked meat and potatoes! To my surprise and disappointment, when I came back to pick up her plate, she had hardly touched it! She really couldn’t pinpoint what she didn’t like. It just did not suit her taste.

As Mark and I talked, we were concerned about her lack of eating.  It wasn’t that she didn’t have a good appetite, she could put away a fair amount of Jello salad and instant pudding.  We decided to experiment by serving her the same meal,  pre-made in the form of a “TV Dinner”.  We found one that had meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and broccoli – perfect!

I carefully arranged the microwaved instant “food” on to a plate so as to look as nice as possible. Sheepishly, I brought dinner in to Great Aunt.  I truly wanted to hide in the corner  watching, to see what she would do. To my amazement, when I came back to pick up her plate, not only had she eaten every last bite, she gave me the sweetest complement and asked for more! A bit stunned, I honestly didn’t know if I should be hurt or pleased!

Two things happened after that discovery.  One, cooking for Great Aunt became much easier.  The second was much more difficult for me – I began to deal with a pride issue I  had been unaware of. I have to admit, being brought up in  a home that made everything from scratch, it hurt my pride a bit to be in the grocery store buying a “TV Dinner”.  I self-consciously hoped I wouldn’t see anyone I knew!

How funny! I never would of guessed buying TV Dinner’s would be so hard!  It probably seems silly that it would bother me at all, but living in a small town at the time, we were known as the big family with lots of kids. It would be one thing if I only had to buy one or two boxed dinners, easily hiding them under some more nutritious groceries. Maybe no one would notice.  No, I was buying one to two weeks worth of instant dinners at one time.  Can you imagine how that fills a shopping cart? Especially since, just one meal often did not satisfy her growing appetite!   What went through people’s mind when they saw me coming? In my mind there was no doubt – “Look what she feeds her children!”

Looking back its easy to wonder why I even cared. But I did care.  Over time it mattered less. Let people think what they would. In truth, they probably didn’t even notice.

The biggest blow to my pride was the cold hard fact: Great Aunt much preferred TV Dinners to my cooking. Her meals became much easier, she gained a healthy amount of weight, and she was happy.

Full of Anticipation!

21 Apr

This week we have begun the official Bi-Annual Sort Through All of the Clothes Process.  It isn’t one that I especially look forward to, although it is much easier now than when all of our children where young. This year, I only have four wardrobes to go through, other than my own.  The main motivation for conquering it now, was to be prepared with outfits for Easter.

When I was little, I remember my mom making a point to have us wear something extra special. Often she would surprise me with a new dress or pair of gloves and a fun hat. We are not purchasing new outfits for all of our dear children, but I do want them to look nice and fresh.

Easter is a wonderful celebration! It is well worth taking the extra effort to build anticipation and even some expectation for the special day.

Here are a few things I am working on to help the day go smoothly:

-Prepare each person’s clothes ahead of time.  Be sure they are washed and pressed. Check if they need tights or socks. Usually by Sunday morning at least one shoe has mysteriously disappeared! Try to find them both ahead of time. (My youngest already found her tights and was using them for “dress ups.” I may just put a padlock on each outfit!) lol

-Explain the sequence of events with the children so they know what to expect.

-Don’t forget to practice, practice, practice…     For instance:

-How should the children sit in church? We used to line up all of the dining room chairs and practice with the stuffed animals.  The children had fun being the pastor, the usher the  passing the offering plate, or the musician leading  singing.

-Practice the table manners ahead of time.  Simple phrases like,  “May I please have some…”, Thank you for dinner!”, and “May I please be excused?”

-Last of all, remember the post, “Embarrassing for Everyone“? By now, hopefully all of our children will remember not to complain about the pickled beets that their Aunt Ethel made- but rather, find something to compliment the chef on!

Yesterday we conquered the little girls clothes. Today we are on to the boys.

May your days be filled with a growing sense of anticipation and expectation!

Seeing the Fruit

19 Apr

Yesterday, I was remembering my earlier post on March 10,” I had given up hope…”  I had almost thrown out those trays of pepper seeds we planted.  It had been a few weeks and there was no sign of seedlings coming.  Then, when I least expected it, up they came!

Likewise, over the last few months you have heard bits and pieces from our character class.  Feeling like we had lost some ground, we had focused on honesty,  humility, peacemaking, obedience, selflessness, teamwork, trusting… and a other qualities.

Can I take a moment and brag about my kids a bit? We have been so pleased to see the fruit of our labor? Having focused on the youngest four, they have taken these lessons to heart.  It has been a delight to see them act in selfless ways, working together as a team, enjoying each other’s company, and being quick to obey.

Is our work over? Far from it! It is a boost though to see such positive results. I want to encourage you, especially those with little ones, don’t give up! The work you are doing will bring fruit. It is worth the effort!

The pepper seedlings are now in the ground. They are so small! I can’t help but wonder if they will make it. I am considering now how best to nurture and cultivate around these maturing seedings. I will do all I can towards enjoying the fruit of my peppers, other plants,  …and our precious little children!

My Lessons in Grace With “Great Aunt”

18 Apr

This story covers a six year period in our family’s life.   For some time, I have intended to record it in written form.  Already being stretched in writing for Not Without Aim, I decided to reserve the first day of the week for this topic.  A little unsure of how many Mondays it may take… I will begin.

It had been an eventful spring. Three weeks before the birth of our eighth child, we closed on the sale of one home and on the purchase of another.  The same week this son was welcomed into the world, my much loved grandmother’s life ended. (She is worthy of another story on another day!)  It did not take us long to settle in to life on our hobby farm.  Enjoying our little chunk of land to the fullest, the garden was planted, ducks and chickens were wandering the yard, and fencing was put in place for goats and pigs.  We put every square inch of those few acres into use!

By mid summer one of our “Great Aunt’s” health began to decline.  She could no longer live alone and entered a health care facility.  She very much wanted to move in with us as soon as possible.  There was no question in our minds. Yes, of course, we would be honored to care for her.  In an attempt to make a wise decision, we tried to take all things into consideration. We weighed out the pros and cons.  Although the cons were apparent, our foremost desire was to care for her.  With the family’s support, we began to reorder our lives, again.

Our growing family of ten had already pushed the limits of our small house.  Either we would have to build an addition, or purchase a larger home.  Revisiting a place I had kept my eyes on over the last year, we found it not only for sale, but also vacant.  By Thanksgiving we had sold the “little” and we (and Great Aunt)  moved in to the “big.”

While we spent the morning moving in our own boxes, Mark picked up Great Aunt and all of her belongings.  By mid-afternoon, they had arrived.  As I considered her position, 8o some years old, never having had children of her own, twice uprooted in the last few months, and suddenly planted into an active large household, I knew it was essential to make her transition as easy as possible. More important than settling my own family, was to first get her settled. Working together, Great Aunt’s living room and bedroom began to take shape, filled with her own belongings.  She could not have been more thankful. We were pleased.

That day marked the beginning of “My Lessons in Grace With Great Aunt.”