Friday, February 24, 2017

7 Quick Takes Friday

1. Federation 2017: Violin

Last Saturday, Mary participated in Federation by playing violin (click here for more). Tomorrow, John, Mary, and Margaret will participate again by playing piano and taking a theory test.

Blood, sweat, tears, stubbornness, parenting failures, and feeling like a parental loser go into these things. I hope some good character comes out of them, but feel like God only knows right now.

2. Presidents' Day

I was planning to teach regular school on Monday, but our rec club advertised a Presidents' Day sports clinic, so we decided it would be fun to try it out. Chris escorted the 10-, 8-, and almost-6-year-olds over there and hung out with them the whole time. They had a blast learning tennis, soccer, and volleyball.

3. Another Biker!

This week, Joseph (4) taught himself how to ride a two-wheeler! In retrospect, I note that our firstborn is the only one who ever had training wheels and whom we ever had to teach how to ride. The next three learned by striding around alone and then could ride a two-wheeler by four years old.

Within a day, Joseph had taught himself how to brake and do sharp turns.

Then the siblings organized a Race Day for Joseph, and I was instructed to provide a picnic lunch on the driveway. John made a Blue Ribbon for the winner, whom we all knew was going to be Joseph.

That night, my precious four-year-old boy--who reminds me, "I'm a little bit big and a little bit small!"--fell asleep clutching his homemade First Place blue ribbon.

4. Aviation Museum

We took a tour of the Carolinas Aviation Museum at homeschoolers' day on Wednesday.

Friends together

This was the Museum's first homeschoolers' day and it was not at all prepared for the huge numbers we represent (more homeschooled students than private school students in our state!). We were told not to make any reservations because there were tours at least hourly, which were first come, first serve, but by the time I arrived at ten on the dot, when the Museum opened, all the tours for the day were booked up by those who had arrived 15 minutes earlier. Thus, we guided ourselves around the very crowded Museum.

(Note: The girls in Mary's sewing class were in attendance, so they all organized that morning to wear the skirts they sewed themselves. They're now working on shirts.)

In all honesty, the children's favorite part was the lunch hour when they ran around playing games in a safe, fenced-in area on the tarmac.

5. Graduation of Chores

Just like in the last pregnancy, I am starting to feel the stirrings of needing to make sure all my children are working to their full potential for their respective ages. I will become less and less able to do all the chores around here, and I will need more time off my feet resting, so I need them to do everything they're capable of doing, plus their doing so is simply good for their characters.

This week we graduated the two oldest children to taking over all the washing of dishes. I've noticed various mothers with various family sizes have all manner of ways of organizing this responsibility. What we are trying first is having John (10) have four designed days per week (that never change) in which he washes all dishes at all meals, and Mary (8) having three days when she washes all dishes at all meals (but both leaving heavy pots for me to hand wash). The kid not doing dishes sweeps after all meals. The six-year-old wipes the table or shakes out the tablecloth.

One week in: so far, so good. The fighting and arguing that was occurring daily has seemingly disappeared.

Other areas that need improvement over the months is more consistency with their doing vacuuming and laundry, which means my taking the time to teach and require it: difficult since I'm always faster and better at chores than are they. Step by step!

6. Update on Nightweaning

Thomas (20 months) is not proving nearly as cooperative as his older siblings were. Many nights, he's woken up almost hourly. One night he screamed so much that Mama got only two one-hour stretches of sleep.

Finally one morning, Thomas broke the coffee mug my dad gave me and that I've used every morning for ten years. Coincidence or revenge? You decide. (tongue in cheek)

Please pray that things get better. Mama and Daddy are really, really tired.

A mama in the earlier stages of mothering might think with hope that a five-time mama knows the basics of nighttime parenting, how to get everyone to sleep decently, but that sure isn't true over here despite owning at least ten books on sleep tactics, having tried so much, and having woken multiple times per night to care for children for more than 3,000 nights straight now. I try to say cheerfully that at least I know how to get them to sleep through the night by around six years old!

[UPDATE 2/25/17: Coincidence or the power of prayer? You decide! Last night after I posted this and went to bed feeling pretty glum, Thomas happily slept in his crib from 7:15 p.m. to 5:15 a.m. without any crying. I never had to tend to him or do anything. He woke up chirpy. This is like a miracle.]

7. Thomas Speaks!

Thomas at 20 months had a vocabulary that consisted of Mommy, Daddy, and Wow.

Today I handed him a piece of cheese, he smiled at me shyly and then said clearly and carefully, "Cheese!" I said it back, and he said it back, and then we had a party of crying out, "Cheese!" to each other.

As a person who could live on bread and cheese alone, I think he picked a pretty good word to expand his vocabulary.


Sleep deprivation may be a contribution to my blues, but I'm not feeling like an awesome (good, or even decent) mom, wife, or human being lately. School got interrupted a lot this week for life experiences, and there are daily battles (for hours) going on over piano practice. I have a four-year-old who pees his pants multiple times daily but I've come to see that as "just normal," and my toddler nearing two doesn't talk. I truly have no idea how to accomplish things like getting kids to be quiet in the car or not hit each other, to pick up clothing or respond when called. Lent is fast approaching and I feel paralyzed about what to do because I've worked on the same virtue every Advent and every Lent for at least five years and seem to make no progress. I burned the dinner black tonight, which I wish were an uncommon occurrence, so my husband rescued us with delivery pizza. I have so many fires to put out in my life, any one of which could take up all my focus in a day. So, most of the fires just smolder because how can I possibly tend to them all?

For more 7 Quick Takes Friday, check out This Ain't the Lyceum.


  1. Awe....I'm sorry that you are feeling that way. Although, I do totally understand because I feel like that a lot as well. And, it seems magnified when you are sleep deprived. I have 6 children (baby is almost 6 months) and my 2.5 year old we've resorted to letting sleep on the "blue bed" (aka: the couch), my just-turned 8 year old is not reading much yet, we barely did school this week between outings and a birthday, etc. But, with that said, I do have to comment that I read your blog and I think you are doing a great job!

  2. I am so sorry you are feeling this way, but I can surely relate. Many weeks, I feel like I'm drowning. And I only have 3 children. My 10yo often fights me on schoolwork and behaves like I'm asking for the world when I simply ask her to do a single math fact sheet. I'm struggling to get my 7yo to read, and although he's an extremely intelligent child, it's just not clicking for him yet. And despite the fact that she has proven she knows how and is capable of using the potty, my 4yo will NOT fully potty train. My house is constantly a mess. We sometimes skip school days because *I* don't feel like it. And it seems like NOTHING is ever done.

    I just finished reading a book last weekend that helped me look at things a little differently entitled "Teaching from Rest: A Homeschoolers Guide to Unshakable Peace" by Sarah Mackenzie (the Read Aloud Revival lady). The theme that really stuck with me throughout the reading is "WHY and FOR WHOM" am I doing all this? When I get so focused on checking off the boxes and getting through the curriculum and accomplishing all my tasks on the "To Do" list, I missing out on the here and now. And am I doing this to prove something to others or because it's building a relationship with my children? Are they really getting anything out of their schoolwork if I'm a screaming maniac or trying to rush them through so I could check that off my list?

    The book is a quick read, and it's really made me sort of re-evalute the way I go about our days. I haven't come anywhere near actually accomplishing this "peace," but I'm working on it, and this past week was so much better.

  3. Sorry it's been tough. Maybe it's a good idea to jot down a list of all the ways that you've been a good mum this week. It can be easy to lose sight of the good amidst a week of so-sos (or terribles). Here's to a new week and more sleep! :)

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