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Anything worth doing…

23 May

I sat down on the plane next to a young man. With his laptop open, he was busy at work. We exchanged greetings. Not used to traveling alone, I had brought a needlework project to pass the time. It turned out to be much bigger and more detailed than I expected. I had been inspired by my mother-in-law who has a way of making gorgeous works of art with a needle and thread! Looking down at where to begin, I felt a bit overwhelmed. The young man with the laptop paused from his work and looked over at mine. He simply stated, “Anything worth doing takes time and hard work, but in the end it’s worth the effort.”

Looking back to that day, 22 years ago, being pregnant with our 5th daughter, I know he was right.

Marriage, raising children, supporting a family, nurturing relationships all take work, endless, tiring, draining work.

Was it worth it? Is it still worth the effort? Would I do it all over again? (Glad I don’t have to, but YES! YES! YES!

– Last night I had a date with just one of my daughters. (very precious time)

– Sunday we had all 14 of our children plus spouses and friends all together for a picnic. (a mom and dad’s heart doesn’t get much fuller than that!)

– I just got home from taking the younger half of the family fishing. ( 10 Blue Gills – and no, I don’t fish, I just detangle fishing line)

– I have a husband that is taking me out tonight because he loves me. (What to wear???)

Life isn’t perfect. Our relationships are not perfect, but they are always worth the work!
I am so glad I never gave up!


By the way, after many years, I did finally finish the needlework project.


How in the world did we end up with 14 children???

26 Apr

Recently a friend of mine invited me to be a guest on her web site, Notes at Naptime with Shara.  She had been getting after me for a couple of years now to do a pod cast.  As much as I love and appreciate Shara, I wasn’t real excited about hearing myself on a recording, much less sharing it with anyone else!  Finally, when she asked again, I decided to swallow my pride and go for it.  This story is about the incredible way we came to now have 14 children.  If you take the time to listen, you might want to get a cup of tea and put your feet up.  It takes close to a half hour.  I happen to think it’s a great story and worth your time!


Stop and visit Shara, Kirk and their beautiful family at Notes at Naptime. 

Managing Toddlers while Schooling

16 Aug

I think one of the biggest challenges of  teaching at home is trying to keep the younger siblings occupied long enough to be able to focus on the older students.

Even families whose children go to school must deal with the same issues, as they try to help their young students with homework in the evening.

Over time, out of necessity, we found several ways to make this process much easier.

Children, of all ages, love routine.  As I planned my school schedule of topics to cover, I also mapped out my little ones’ morning.  If they still took two  naps a day, that gave me two natural blocks of available time.  But once that season passed, I found the toddlers loved to be in the mix of things. Sometimes they would be included in class, other times were set aside for their own quiet play.

For instance:

9:00 – 9:30:  Bible Class with family  (Give the little one crayons and paper. It is a good time for them to learn to sit still and be quiet –  for 30 minutes, on your lap if needed.  If you have practiced Blanket Time, this is an easy transition.)

9:30 – 10:00:  Toddlers Play Time (I kept several bins of toys tucked away so I could pull out a different one each day. The child should not be allowed to leave the designated area.  If the next older sibling is available, it is a great time for them to be given a “babysitting job.” It is a good way for the older to learn to serve. ) *btw, don’t let them leave the area without picking up their things.  It is a habit worth developing!

10:00 -10:30: A half hour educational movie. (I liked to look for something that might help them learn their letters or numbers. Remember to keep the volume low so as not to distract the students.)

10:30 – 11:00: By now the little ones are ready for some action and attention.  It is important to remember to give them your focus as well or they will demand it in unacceptable ways.  Take time to go outside, go for a walk, roll down some hills, PLAY!

12:00  Lunch (Sit down together. Give the kids a chance to talk about what they have been learning.)

1:oo  QUIET TIME!  If you have been following Not Without Aim at all, you know I love quiet time.  It doesn’t matter what age, little ones should nap, readers should be reading, if reading hasn’t been mastered yet- picture books are available, and if anyone happens to fall asleep napping (that would be me), all the better!

1:30 Back to class – quickly before the babies awake!

3:00 Time to be done!  Free! Go outside, play, explore, create…

Taking a little time to plan ahead goes a long way in keeping a step ahead of the crew.


Reality in our home, and most -I would think, is that some days it feels like discipline issues consume a lot of our time and energy.  Don’t be discouraged. This training is just as important as the academics! Without the painful process of learning self- discipline, the academics are useless!

In answer to a question…

11 Apr

I think one of the most difficult issues in training our children is to teach them to be quiet. For some it comes easily right from the start, while others have so much to say and with such great volume! Here are a few tips:

-Teaching little ones some basic sign language – before they are able to talk is very helpful.  To begin with, it gives them the ability to communicate some basic desires.   In addition, it provides an action for them on which to focus.  For instance, I remember numerous  meals when the baby in highchair would loose control. Simply asking him to quiet down was ineffective.  If in addition, we required a response in the form a hand motion saying, “Yes,” the crying usually would stop.  The process included gently taking the child’s hand to help him learn to make the motion.  Not only encouraging the  the habit of responding when spoken to, it also distracts the child, helping him to stop crying. These three are what we used most; YES, PLEASE, and THANK YOU.



“Thank you”

(photos from

-These responses should be continued to be required as the child grows. An appropriate response of “Yes, Ma’am/Sir” or “Yes, Mommy/Daddy” confirms that the child heard you and instills respect.

-Eye contact is extremely important.  In a busy household, it is easy to throw out a request, “Quiet down!” and never even look at the child.  The child may or may not even notice that you said anything.  I learned that if I made the request once (ONLY ONCE) in a quiet voice and looked directly at the child and held the gaze until they obeyed, the outcome changed dramatically! We should not have to shout, repeat, count…

– In an effort to teach her youngest the quiet concept, my niece wisely created a LOUD/ quiet game. It is a great way to have fun teaching littles ones how to whisper. It could be as simple as playing “Simon Says”, acting like loud monkeys / quiet bunnies or practicing musical dynamics with Piano/ Forte.  The important thing is to be creative and practice, practice, practice!

-Be consistent.  These are concepts that don’t happen overnight. Have fun and laugh over the mistakes.